Essentially Ashland by Lance K. Pugh: I was 8 years old, sitting on my bed in San Diego late one Saturday morning and I was bored beyond words.
I was 8 years old, sitting on my bed in San Diego late one Saturday morning and I was bored beyond words. All my regular playmates were away for the weekend and near-terminal ennui conspired with a throbbing dullness, leaving me in an impenetrable fog as the minutes crept by.
In the middle of my pity party my mother walked in, excitedly holding an old metal tube that she purported was a pirate's treasure map. A closer look would have revealed that it was a Texaco street map, but my adolescent brain was quite certain it was a pirate map with a large "X" near the word "gold."
I quickly put on my pirate hat and eye patch, grabbed pick and shovel and headed across the street to a vacant lot and, according to my magical map, the resting place for handfuls of gold, just waiting to be found. An hour later found me despondent as the treasure was either moving around or already had been discovered.
Under these conditions I am sure that you would have taken a root beer break back in the kitchen as I did, while contemplating how to proceed. Just then my mother again reappeared, chirping loudly that she had spotted some glitter at the bottom of the two-foot hole. Buoyed by the thought of immense wealth just across the street, I stood proud as I glanced again at the map while imagining the reaction of my playmates when they saw what I had accomplished in their absence. I chuckled at the image of pockets full of overflowing doubloons. It was with a certain cockiness and a flair for adventure that I headed back to the hole.
Flintlock pistols, swords, daggers and dirks paraded into and through my mind as I screamed out "Avast, me hearties" and ran to my shovel before peering over and into the site. I held my breath as golden glitter reflected the afternoon's sunlight. I got down on my hands and knees and began scooping up what I believed were diamonds, emeralds and gold jewelry. I put everything in a pouch tied to my belt and seemed to swing on a rope across the street and into my house to sit on my booty and count my bounty.
It took me about a week to ascertain that jewelry comes in different flavors, one of which is costume jewelry, which might look, at a great distance (think Earth to Mars), like something of value. Lo, verily, it was next to worthless and should not be paraded about as if it were the Hope diamond unless you are fond of being the butt of a joke. My spirits rebounded when I learned that my diamonds were of the soft variety, though unable to cut glass, they were actually more valuable than the hard variety. I again began to daydream of forts, pirate ships, cannon and shot.
What would a pirate be without black powder? I took on the task and within a few hours had handcrafted about a quarter pound of gunpowder which I divided into four parts. Using hollowed-out gourds and some newspaper, I managed to keep the powder dry while inserting a fuse which hooked up with the other three fuses. Hiding behind a tree I struck a match that ensured that I would never forget that day.
The first gourd made a small bang while the other three took to the air and landed next to the side of the house and hosed it with sparks and roaring flames. By the time the fire truck arrived, the house had been doused and the flames had fled. I manned the workshop in the basement and became, for all practical purposes, invisible. Realizing that my parents were not at home at the time, a fireman left a note and drove away while I intercepted the note and began to re-landscape the charred wooden siding.
When my mother got home she asked me how things were going. I picked at some weeds and simply said:
"I had a blast."
Lance@journalist.com was last seen in Ashland watching a pirate movie last Saturday morning, though still wearing his pirate hat.