“As soon as I took a sip, I realized it was poison.”
“How did you get out of that one, Grandpa?” little Jake asked with great anxiety, as though the man telling him the story might not make it out alive.
“I don’t believe this one, Grandpa,” said another voice. Jake’s twin sister Olivia glanced over at book to give her grandfather a disapproving look that was unsettlingly intense for a girl of eight.
“How can you say that about Grandpa’s life when you’re reading that?” He pointed to the cover of the Harry Potter book she was reading.
“Because I know it’s not real, Jake. I know what’s pretend and what’s not.”
“Ms. Golding told me that fact can be stranger than fiction.”
“Ms. Golding also told you not to tell lies.”
“I wasn’t telling fibs!”
The children’s grandfather then kindly interjected with a hearty: “Cool your jets, Buster!” Then with a great huff he lowered himself down on the ground next to Jake who had his fists clenched and was glaring at the carpet fibers in front of him. “Now, tell me why Ms. Golding had to tell you not to lie.”
“I never told a lie!” Jake hopped up and stormed off to his room but then promptly returned with a pile of books. He dropped them next to his grandfather. “Davey Curtis didn’t believe me when I told him that the woman with the longest fingernails lost them in a car crash or when I said the tallest man was almost nine feet tall but he didn’t believe me because he thinks his dad is the tallest guy. Him acting stupid doesn’t make me a liar, does it Grandpa?”
The grandfather was too busy intently studying the books Jake had brought. Only Olivia bothered to tell him off for calling Davey Curtis stupid, to which Jake replied that she only cared because she like-liked Davey Curtis. The grandfather promptly cut off the argument, “Jacob!” Jake now had the distinct feeling that he was in trouble and straightened his back like a soldier at attention. “Jacob, meet me outside on the porch after you put that book back.” The unusually sharp grandfather grabbed his cane and hobbled out of the room.
Jake tried to send a questioning glance at his sister, but she wouldn’t look up from her book. A bit confused but mostly curious, Jake gathered up his books and slowly went back to his room. After placing his special books back on the shelf he got up and ran through the kitchen and out onto the porch. His grandfather was waiting for him on the stairs with a shoebox under his arm. Jake sat down on his grandfather’s right.
“Jake, some of the stories I’ve told you over the years have not been the complete truth. Some of the stories I’ve had to change because I’ve been sworn to secrecy till death, but I think it’s time for an old man to get some things off his chest. I can’t let all these treasures die with me so…” He took the top off the box. The orange light of the sunset caught on the glittering gold door knob looking thing on top of everything else. Jake wanted to reach for it but hesitated. His grandfather picked it up, inspected it and then placed it in Jake’s hand. “That,” he started, “is the one of the only pieces of evidence for the lost city of Dwarka. It was a city of gold in India that was flooded thousands of years ago and sank to the bottom of the sea. It was pure legend to most people, but my good friend Arthur and I thought there was a little bit more to it than that. We hired a boat and went looking. After a couple of weeks we became minor celebrities at the docks, and everyday a crowd of people would ask if we had caught anything. I’m sure they would have been thrilled to know we actually got something.
“The day we pulled up what looked like a spire made of pure gold- a spire is sorta like the top part of the church across the street, Jake- we probably make a little too much noise celebrating because five minutes later another boat pulled up. They told us that they were the Indian Directorate of Naval Intelligence and that we couldn’t bring the treasure back to land and they would be confiscating it. I was mad, but I thought we should have almost expected some inconvenient bureaucracy. Arthur on the other hand, didn’t believe them at all and argued with them until some of them started packing it away while one of them had a gun trained on us.
“Arthur noted that one of the crate they packed it into didn’t have any sort of symbol of the Indian government. Instead, it had one large image of a black bird on it. We didn’t know it at the time but that was our first encounter with the Ring of Prehistoric Brokers. Their job is to find strange and rare things and sell them on the black market. They caused trouble for us throughout the adventures represented in this box.
“The whole trip would have been a bust if I hadn’t snagged the top ornamental piece of that spire. We pawned it off so many times to pay for our subsequent adventures,” Jake’s grandfather chuckled as though remembering every journey that was made thanks to the bauble. “You know Jake, the sun’s almost down. I think that’s all the stories I have for today.”
“But Grandpa, you just started! I’ve got so many questions. Who’s Arthur? How come you never mentioned him in any other stories? Did you ever punch one of those guys from the Ring? Did you punch him in the face?”
“Tomorrow.” The grandfather closed the box. “And I punched a couple of them in the face.”