Fifty Percent of Nothing
That night after dinner as they sat relaxing on the hotel balcony overlooking the serene Lake Izabal, John cleared his throat and began talking in a business like voice.
“Chris, there’s something I need to talk to you about. I’ve been meaning to do it before, but wasn’t sure how to bring it up. But now that we’re getting so close, I need to tell you.”
“What is it? Is something wrong? You’re not going to weasel out of our deal are you?”
“No, but there’s a detail of the deal that I didn’t tell you about,” began John. “When we find the cave, we can only uncover it, look in and maybe take some pictures, and then cover it up and leave. Then we have to keep it a secret. It’s a sacred place and we can’t defile it.”
“What!” Chris was on his feet and shouting. “After all you promised and all we’ve been through, we just look in, take some pictures and then cover it up! You must be crazy! You promised me fifty percent of what we find! You deceived me! So all I’m supposed to get is fifty percent of nothing! Big deal! Does this have something to do with your religion? Well I’m not Mormon. I don’t have to go along with it! I didn’t make any promises!”
John had expected a reaction, but not like this. He had never seen this side of Chris. “But I am paying you like I promise aren’t I?” he pointed out.
“That’s a pittance! I’ve made that much in a month with a good find. But I’ll tell you one thing, when we find it, I’m taking my share whether you like it or not!” and with that he stormed out of the room leaving John to ponder his next move.
The next morning Chris found John at the restaurant eating breakfast. He apologized for his outburst the night before. John was relieved that he had cooled down. He had actually been afraid that Chris might get violent.
“Are we still going up on the mountain today?” asked John. He wasn’t sure what Chris would be willing to do at this point.
“Sure I’m ready. Let’s find the cave first and then we’ll talk about it. I still don’t see why we couldn’t keep what we find. I’ll bet the Mormon Church would pay millions for those records. They don’t have any of them now. We’d be doing them a service.”
John let well enough alone and didn’t respond, but he was a little uneasy and wasn’t sure what to expect from Chris.
After breakfast they packed up and found one of the local cabbies that had a 4x4. They had him take them up as high as he could drive on the rough mountain road that was closest to their pinpointed area. They paid him off and started for the spot they had identified from the helicopter. It was just after noon.
They shouldered their packs and started off across the mountain-side. There had been an uneasy silence between them the entire morning, but as they walked Chris brought up the subject again.
“I’ve been wondering how you expect to keep this find a secret. As long as I know the location, how are you going to keep me from going back? I don’t think you are capable of killing me like the old pirate captains used to do to keep their treasure location a secret. You know I’m a professional treasure hunter. It’s in my blood. What’s to keep me from going back or telling someone else about it?”
“Well the way I look at it, once we sealing it up and leave, I’ve taken care of my obligation. If you do anything after that, it’s your responsibility. You suffer the consequences,” explained John.
Chris brightened right up. “I like it! Under that arrangement, I can have the whole thing.”
That wasn’t exactly what John had expected, but he didn’t say anything.
After hiking across country, and up a ridge for two hours, they arrived at the ravine. They had the coordinates on the GPS so didn’t have any trouble finding it. They set up camp in a small cave just off the ridge in a wooded area. No one would see them there.
After a quick lunch they dropped down into the ravine. The aerial survey had given them a general area so now they just had to pinpoint the exact location. They unpacked the metal detector and set it up. It had two sensors, one at each end of a four foot bar. It was designed to detect large metal objects at a depth of up to ten feet. As usual, John had bought a top-of-the-line detector. After setting up a rough grid, they commence walking it off. Within a half hour they had located one large anomaly, and several smaller ones. They spent a half hour checking the large anomaly from all directions to define the exact center, and then marked it with rock piles. By then it was almost sundown, so they returned to their camp and set up for the night. They ate a cold dinner, as they didn’t want to attract attention with a fire. Tomorrow they would start digging.