One Man’s Trash is another Man’s Treasure
By Maz McCoy
“What are you doin’, son?” the grey-haired man asked as he looked up, into the darkness, beyond the open loft door.
“Jus’ gettin’ some of these boxes,” came the muffled reply.
“Pa, we gotta clear this place out if we’re gonna…” The sentence was cut off by grunting indicating a struggle of some sort between man and box.
In the loft hatch the corner of a cardboard box appeared.
“Can you take this?” the voice in the loft asked.
The older man reached up, took the weight of the box and lowered it carefully to the floor as his son descended the ladder.
A broad grin broke through the young man’s dusty face. “Hi, Pa. Glad you came over.”
“Samuel, d’you wanna tell me what this is all about?” his father asked.
“Grandpa!” A small blond-haired boy, about 4 years of age, ran towards them. He stumbled just as he reached them and was swiftly caught up in his grandfather’s arms.
“Easy there, Jed. What’s your hurry?”
“I got a new kitten!” the boy informed him, breathlessly.
“You did? How many you got now?”
“I didn’t even know you could count to four,” his grandfather teased.
“I can count to ten and I don’t even hafta use my fingers.”
“I’m impressed. How ‘about we go see that kitten?”
“What’s in there?” Jed asked, his attention now taken by the box.
“I don’t rightly know. Why don’t we get your Pa to show us?”
“I wanna see!” the boy demanded.
Jed’s father smiled. “Let’s take this downstairs and see what we got.”
“Of course you couldn’t do that somewhere else!” Ellie stated sarcastically as she wiped a dust trail off the recently cleaned kitchen table. Three generations of the same family looked at her sheepishly as she walked over to the sink.
“We won’t be long,” her husband promised, turning his attention momentarily from the box that sat on the table. “The light’s better in here.”
Sam received only a grunt as a reply.
“What’s in it?” Jed asked excitedly as he stood on a chair to see. His father removed the lid and the child peered inside. Jed’s shoulder’s sagged in disappointment. “It’s just paper.”
“It’s rubbish, is what it is,” his mother muttered, her back to them as she peeled potatoes. “You should have just thrown it out.”
“I have to look through it first,” her husband explained. “You can’t just throw it out without checking. There might be something important in here.”
“Like a treasure map!” Jed exclaimed.
“Exactly,” his father agreed. “There might be a treasure map in here.”
Ellie simply scoffed.
“I really don’t think we need all these receipts,” Sam stated, waving his hand at a pile of papers on the corner of the table. He read the one lying on the top. “This one’s for a heffer we bought a few years back. I don’t s’pose we can get a refund now she’s dead.”
His father made no comment and Sam looked up to see him staring at a letter he held in the gnarled fingers of his left hand.
“What you got there, Pa?”
The old man handed the paper to his son without comment.
Recognising a change in atmosphere in the room, Ellie turned from the counter, where an unbaked pie stood ready for the oven. “What is it?”
Having read the letter Sam held it out to his wife. Ellie wiped her hands on her apron before taking it from him. She read. “Oh, my.”
“What is it?” Jed asked, trying to see what his mother was reading. “Is it a treasure map?”
“No, son, it’s something far more valuable than that.” Sam’s own father caught his eye but still said nothing.
“It’s a letter,” Ellie informed the boy.
“A letter? From a pirate?”
Sam, chuckled. “No, Jed, it’s from the Governor of Wyoming.”
“What’s it say?”
Sam looked at his father. “Pa?”
The man nodded. “Tell him. ‘Bout time he knew. Someone’ll tell him soon enough.”
“What is it, Pa?” Jed asked.
Sam looked from his father to his son. “It’s about something called amnesty. Something the Governor of Wyoming gave to your Grandpa.”
“Am-ness-tee,” Jed repeated. “What is it?”
Samuel looked back at his father. “It’s something more valuable than any treasure on a map.”
His father smiled, two blue eyes meeting his son’s with pride.