Leslie Merriweather’s dream slipped from his grasp as he tried in vain to capture it. There was a retreating glimpse of colour and a vague hint of scent. But, alas, the fragments dissolved, and all was lost. Day 180 of dreams forgotten. On his 95th birthday six months ago, his beloved nephew Jeremy had gifted him with a dream diary. “Try it, Uncle Les; you never know what you might dredge up; you might even remember where you buried that gold.”
Not that Jeremy, his only heir, was greedy, but that he knew his uncle fretted about losing the memory of the treasure’s location. Truth be told, Jeremy was not completely sure there even had been any gold to begin with. Leslie was full of stories of how it had been in the old days. From his youth, Jeremy was fascinated by his uncle spinning tales of his adventurous past. As he grew older, though, Jeremy began to wonder how much was real, how much was fanciful.
True or not, Jeremy had been particularly entranced by tales of his uncle’s earlier days: spelunking in Mexico, silver mining in Peru, bronco-busting out west, and sailing to unknown parts on tramp steamers. Some of the stories were about pretty lasses – loves gained and lost. Some were about comrades on his exploits; all now passed into the great adventure in the sky.
Uncle Les would get a faraway look in his eye as he regaled Jeremy with his various escapades and, more often than not, he would retell the tale of the lost gold. It had all happened eighty years ago.
Young Leslie helped tend his family farm by the sea, but his wanderlust consumed him, and he had plans to set off down the road once the harvest was in. But meanwhile he could barely sit still and, heedless of the weather, would sneak out every evening, to roam the dark hills.
One night there was a storm so ferocious that the air fairly crackled and screamed with its intensity. To his dismay, Leslie saw that the lighthouse beam had given out, and he found himself uncharacteristically praying, praying for any poor sailor souls who were brave or foolhardy enough to be out on the raging seas.
He thought he caught a glimpse of Maddie, a neighbour girl in her yellow mackintosh, and thought he could smell the wild jasmine upon her. But maybe it was only a mirage. He even imagined he could hear voices over the tumult of the sea.
The next morning he ventured out in the early dawn to behold the magisterial calm of the sea at rest. And there he saw it – a group of men in uniform carrying away boxes from some weather-beaten sailors in a boat just offshore. He waited till the craft sailed off and then crept closer to watch the uniforms. They had opened the boxes and were running their fingers through the booty which he could not quite see, slapping each other on the back and passing around bottles of rum.
Early in the morning for a tipple, mused Leslie, as he kept his eye on them. More and more rum went down willing gullets. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, came the roar of hungry wolves. The men scrambled to pick up the spilled contents of the boxes and hasten away. In their drunken and frightened state, they did not notice that they had left some behind.
Leslie congratulated himself on his ventriloquist ability to sound like a wolf, as he clambered down to the now vacant shore. Thereupon, to his delight, he found several gold coins, which he proceeded to bury quickly. “I shall come back for these after my travels,” he planned.
Alas, through the years, due to subsequent storms and shifting earth, he could never locate the specific spot. Still, in his dreams, he catches a retreating glimpse of yellow and a waft of jasmine.
Marilyn Myerson, PhD Philosophy, has learned to take nothing for granted and to have fun. She retired from USF after 38 years of teaching, learning and kicking up her heels in Women’s and Gender Studies. Marilyn was the first outside hire in W(G)S, starting in 1973, when the department was just one year old. She was an administrator at various departmental and dean’s levels, including a stint as W(G)S Chair before her retirement as Emeritus faculty in 2010. She shepherded the Human Sexual Behavior class through its many incarnations, developed the original women’s health classes, and taught feminist research methodology. She is currently in three writing groups, and happily involved with OLLI-USF, taking art and writing classes. She created and teaches OLLI Imaginative Writing classes and facilitates writing groups.
Our lead image is “Fragments of a Star” by Sue David