Pink Eye Pete

written by Neema

1 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

Part 1 – The Story

“It was a dark and stormy night… No, that’s not how it started…, let’s start again.”

“It was dark, the seas were rolling, the smell of salt water permeated the air and the boat was heaving in time with the undulating waves. It must have been the remnants of the passing storm that they sailed through earlier, the crew was tired, or were they hung over, they were certainly green looking, we weren’t really sure”

“DAD!!! What kind of bedtime story is this??” asked Peter

His father replied “Oh! What? You have never heard this story before? Well it goes back centuries and it is related to our family so I thought I would tell it to you. And you like pirate stories so much, I though you would like it. I guess I can tell you another story, I think I have one here about a pink dolphin and the purple turtle…”

“DAD!!! NO WAY!!! I am way too old to hear THAT kind of story! Ok, ok, let’s go back to the pirates, but do you have to talk about that icky stuff??”

“Well, do you want to hear the story or not? I am sure you are old enough to hear the icky stuff now…” his father winked to his son with a smirk on his face knowing full well his son wanted to hear more of the story.

In fake protest, Peter responded “Sigh, ok, ok, let’s continue, but I hope this story is worth it”

“OK” his father replied, “let’s go on, and where was I?”

“The green pirates!” Peter replied quickly, betraying his earlier protests.

“Ah yes” continued his father “Ok, the storm had passed and left the crew weary from the earlier events that evening”

“The evening was a blur to the captain, between the storm and the drink and dealing with the other four pirates, Captain Pink Eye Pete, the captain of the Conjunctivitis was ready to dock in a friendly port and take some shore leave.”

“He tried to recall the events of the last week and found it hard to focus on what happened, he thought to himself it was too early in the morning, the sun hasn’t rose yet and the grog was still blurring his senses. He decided to go back to his bunk and sleep, now that the storm had passed. He remembered stumbling back to his bed and that was about it.”

“Pete awoke to a loud bang and heard the sound of crunching wood. Screams from his crew could be heard, he fumbled and stumbled out of his cabin and approached the source of the noise. The crew was frantic, there was splintered wood everywhere and the captain’s stomach sank as he knew the damage was severe.”

Peter looked wide-eyed at his father and said, “Were they ok? What happened next?”

His father smiled “Gee, is it getting late, should we continue this story tomorrow?”

Peter exclaimed, “NO, NO, no, it is not late… Please, can we continue?? PLEASE?!?”

“Ok, we can continue, but if you get excited too much, you will never sleep, we may have to continue tomorrow”

“Gee, dad, come on, I will be fine, please?”

“Ok, were was I, oh right, the boat crashed…”

“What be the damage boys?” the captain bellowed.

“Captain! We are taking on water! I think we are sinking, the hole is too big to repair!”

“What happened, who is responsible for this?”

“His first mate replied, Captain, we were so drunk from last night, we did not see the reef as we were steering around the island. When we spotted it, it was too late, we took a big glancing blow and ripped a hole in the side of the hull”

“Blast, of all the rotten luck! Can we still steer?”

“Et, we can captain, but we are in no condition to sail anywhere”

“Steer us towards that island we were trying to pass, perhaps we can make landfall and repair the damage there.”

“Aye, aye captain, we will do our best, lets pray that the winds of fortune will blow upon us today.”

“And make sure we don’t hit another reef, we can’t do for more damage on this boat!”

“So they limped off towards the island hoping it was a safe harbor to do repairs on their craft.”

“They weaved their way through the reefs and headed into land, the boat creaked and groaned in protest but they finally ran aground on the sandy beach.”

2 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

“Mr. Blinky, yelled the captain to his first mate, over see the repairs to the boat. I am going to head up the exploration of this island, maybe we can find some timbers to use for repairs.”

“So the captain departed the ship with two of his mates and his trusty companion, Percy the parrot.”

“What the captain didn’t know was that his trusty companion, Percy, was no parrot, but was instead a chicken, sold to him by a crafty merchant who convinced Pete that it was a rare white parrot!”

“Dad, that is so silly!” Peter remarked.

“It may seem silly, but back then, people did anything to make a living, event try to deceive a pirate to make a profit”

“So, Pete took off into the fog, with his mates and Percy. They made it to a clearing with many trees, a perfect spot to find timbers for the boat, but the strange fires and tribal markings on the pathway made him weary.”

“The captain could tell his mates were unsettled in this area, the mist hung in the air and the jungle sounds around them didn’t make the mood any better. In the mist as they rounded the path they were following, a large head partially embedded in the ground revealed itself. Drums could be heard in the distance. The captain had heard stories about wild natives in these parts, how some tribes actually shrunk the heads of their captives… He suddenly became quite un-nerved.”

“He told his men that the path was becoming too thick and it was time to return to the boat and check on the progress of the repairs. They nodded in quick nervous agreement and began to make their way back to the boat.”

“Suddenly they were surrounded by natives! Pete instinctively took out his pistol, shot in the air and scared off some of the natives near him but the others had already grabbed his mates and began to drag them away screaming.”

“Unfortunately the shot had also scared away Percy, last Pete saw of Percy was a white streak taking off into the underbrush. But Pete had no chance to go after Percy and instead took the opportunity to escape the natives and took off away from the sound of struggling.”

“As Pete made his way to the shoreline, he saw his boat off in the distance, there were signs of struggle, fire burnt on the deck and he saw no sign of his shipmates.”

“He had a sinking feeling that the natives had discovered his ship and overwhelmed the crew while the repairs were taking place. He made his way to the ship as quietly as possible, hoping he wouldn’t catch the attention of the natives.”

“He made it back to the ship only to find what he worse expected, there were spears stuck in the timbers, fire burnt on the deck and the only sign of the crew was the crumpled form of Mr. Blinky at the base of the wheel. He made his way through the carnage to get to Mr. Blinky, and found he was alive but barely so. Blinky sputtered to the captain, We were surprised… had no chance to get to the weapons… they took the crew… don’t think they survived… I let you down cap… cap…, and he collapsed in a final exhale”

“The captain was at a loss, he had to escape the island, the natives were sure to find him if he remained but he knew as well that if he did not complete his obligation to the other pirates that he had made a pact with the previous night, his life would be at stake again!”

“His mind was turning in twenty directions and then it dawned on him, the small boat they used to land on remote islands was still strapped to the stern of the ship, it had a temporary mast that could be erected or it could be rowed as well, it would have to do. There were a few things he needed to bring with him, things that were priceless to him, things to fulfill his obligations, luckily they were in the stern of the boat as well in his quarters and the fires had not reached that part yet.”

“He grabbed what he could in several trips and brought them to the small boat, stacked the items where they could fit and undid the rigging. He eased the small boat down slowly, letting the rope down a little at a time for fear that if he preceded any faster, he might just tip the precious cargo into the lagoon by accident and loose it forever.”

”As the boat neared the water, the captain swore he heard the drums again. Fear took over and he had to escape! He climbed down the rope ladder to the small boat, took out his knife and cut the ropes, the little boat made an unceremonious splash into the waters, but all was safe.”

“As he began to row away, the heads of natives could be seen on the railings of the big ship, he rowed as hard as he could, spears rained down on him, some cut the water with a satisfying splunk and others stuck into the timbers of his small vessel.”

“He kept rowing and rowing and finally was beyond the dangerous reefs and out of reach of the natives.”

3 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

“He began to relax a little, knowing he was out of immediate danger and worked on rigging up the small temporary mast so he could sail to a safe port. After accomplishing that task he sat back and thought about where he might go next. As his mind mulled the choices, a noise ripped him from his thoughts and dropped him into reality, the sound of a glass bottle tapping against the wood of the tiny boat in time to the rolling sea. The night before a pact was set. He and four other rival pirates had finally ended their long and bloody feud. They had agreed to no longer fight amongst themselves and as per their mutual agreement had sacrificed a large portion of each of their plunders. To seal the deal, the huge swag was buried on a deserted uncharted island. Only the five knew the location and a map was drawn up with the location of the treasure marked by an X in the blood of each of the pirates. Then, to prevent the others or anyone else for that matter, from finding the treasure, they agreed to tear the map into five pieces, seal them in bottles and each pirate was responsible for casting the bottle into the sea when they were sufficiently away from the island.”

“Now, Pete was getting old, old for a pirate at least. He was in early 40’s and had his fair share of fighting and pillaging, but now was the time to give up the pirate’s life and settle down. The opportunity of the pact between the five was just in time for him, he had thought. He could give up a portion of his cache for the deal and live off the rest while no longer worrying about someone slitting his throat in the middle of the night.”

“Ew, gross dad!” exclaimed Peter.

“Well that was the way of the pirates” explained his father. “They were always looking over their shoulder and expected the worse, it was wearing on them every day!”

“Ok, were was I… Oh yeah, the bottle. So the rhythmic tapping of the bottle had reminded him of his final obligation to the others to cast the portion of the map into the sea. But being a pirate he always had profit on his mind and such a big booty may be worth revisiting… later in his life… when he may need it, so he rationalized to himself.”

“So he cracked the seal on the bottle, removed the map and transcribed it to something he had with him, what that was, is lost to history now. Once copied, he tried to reseal the bottle as best he could, give his limited resources on the small boat and once completed, he cast it with a heave into the sea with a satisfying plunk as it landed in the water.”

“Now of course the bottle wasn’t sealed well enough and it soon filled with water and sank to the bottom, never to be found again.”

“As for Pink Eye Pete, after that moment, his whereabouts are all speculations and rumors. There was one rumor that he was spotted about 3 years later in some remote port. He supposedly had a grand house on a hill, a wife and two children and a large quantity of chickens. Some say that after a year of wondering from port to port he yearned again for the pirates’ life and returned to the sea. There was another rumor that a couple of his old shipmates had escaped the natives, hunted down Pete and had killed him in revenge for abandoning them all those years ago. But they were all rumors. Pete was never spotted again.”

“What happened to the treasure? Is it real? Has anyone found it yet? Where is it?” asked Peter intently.

“We don’t really know. Maybe someday you can go search for it like I did when I was younger. Hopefully you will have better luck than I did. All we do know for sure is that Pete did have children and that you and I are direct descendents of him. Even some of the furniture in this house was said to come from him.”

“WOW” Peter looked at his father in amazed wonderment.

“Ok, enough stories for tonight, time for bed, you have school tomorrow!” stated his father.

“AW!! But I want to hear more! Can’t I stay up a little longer??”

“Sorry Peter, it is really past your bedtime and the stories can wait for another day.” smiled his father as he tucked Peter in and gave him a kiss on the forehead.

“Sleep well, pleasant dreams.”

And Peter fell asleep, dreaming of pirates, treasure and secret maps…

4 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

Part 2 – The Discovery

And that is how I remember the story being told to me by my father, those many years ago as I looked through what was left of my old bedroom and reminisced.

So much had changed these past years, father was ill for so long, I had almost forgotten the good times. He loved to tell me the story of the pirates, that grin on his face and how he insisted it was all real, a part of our family history. The illness had long ago taken that grin away, but he fought for his memories and held to his beliefs. Even in his last days, he insisted that I take a closer look into our family history, and find what is rightfully ours. He would not tell me more, just told me to dig, and don’t stop until you find what is ours. I have to say his insistence was quite overwhelming to me but with the events of the last weeks, I had almost forgotten.

The estate was settled, since I was the only heir, I got the house as it was always just my father and I that had lived there and I had no brothers or sisters to squabble over the estate, everything was settled in a matter of days and the house and land were mine.

I had not been to the house in over a year, college and then graduate school for physics had occupied my time to such an extent that I rarely had a chance to visit this place. What free time I had was spent at the hospital, visiting father. So now that I had time, I decided it was time to look around.

My bedroom, it still had the same wall coverings, the same rug, my bed, dresser and desk, but most of everything else I had either taken with me or it was given away to charity, as I had no need for it.

Leaving the bedroom, I went to my father’s bedroom next. Nothing out of the ordinary here, there was his four-poster bed, a large dresser in the corner, the closet with all his clothes, another dresser, lamps, pictures and various knickknacks you would expect in a bedroom.

I recalled at that moment, a remark by one of my friends in school. He always said there were always neat things being hid in his parent’s closets but from a look in my father’s closet, I saw nothing neat, nothing hidden, nothing but clothes and more clothes. Was that strange? Not for me, I grew up in this house and didn’t find it strange at all.

Going downstairs, I went through the living room, couch, chairs, coffee table, lamps, television, magazines, newspapers, pretty ordinary stuff for a living room. The only remarkable thing in there was a mediums size painting of a pirate on the far wall and the pirate was holding a chicken while standing on a sandy beach. A portrait of Pink Eye Pete my father always told me, but I had always thought he’d picked it up at a yard sale and hung it up, just for my benefit.

I went into my father’s den, his sanctuary. Books lined the walls, most of them historical books. A roll-top desk sat in the corner; I always loved all the compartments in that desk, so much fun to play with when my father wasn’t watching of course. He never approved of me playing around the desk, said it was older than the two of us combined and that if I wasn’t careful I might break something! I continued to scan the room and saw a lantern from a ship that had been converted to an electric lamp, it sat next to the desk, to the right of that was a comfortable recliner, where the worn spots could be seen from my father sitting there for so many years. There was a table with a large compass built into it. Several select books sat on top of the table. Next was a short bookshelf with an old fashion tube type radio on it, I loved that radio, so much so, that there were times I preferred to listen to if rather than watch television. The glow of the radio, the tubes, the gentle hum, it was so different, and it always fascinated me.

Other than a rug and a few nautical wall hangings, this was the room I always remember as a child and was always drawn to this room. I sat in the wooden swivel chair at the desk. I found it a little odd that the roll-top was down, my father rarely closed it but here it was closed and from what I could tell, it was locked as well.

I tried at the locking mechanism, but the latch did nothing. The open keyhole presented itself and I was at a loss as to where there might be a key. I couldn’t recall seeing a key in the desk, never mind where my father might have put it.

I decided to go to the kitchen to check the key hooks, to see if by chance the key might be there. I scanned the keys on the hooks and went through each of them one by one, checking off where they went mentally. Spare front door key, shed key, crawlspace key, freezer key, car keys and after going through the last of the keys, I had mentally check off what was there, no extra keys left and certainly nothing for the desk.

That puzzled me, where could this key be hiding?

5 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

I suddenly remembered a wooden box of items that the lawyer handed to me at the estate settlement. After a quick examination of the box, I had mentally discarded it, put it in the trunk of my car, as I had assumed it contained a collection of my father’s knickknacks. My father loved to collect little trinkets, never left them out for display but kept them in a small wooden hinge-top box. He would on occasion, bring the box out and handle some of the items. That smirking grin would be on his face and I had always wondered what he was thinking?

Going to the car, I opened the trunk, moved aside some of items that had settled on the drive here and found the wooden box.

The box itself was unremarkable. I noticed an inscription on the top that had my father’s initials, PS, which were my initials as well, except he was Paul Smith and I was Peter Smith. The wood was well worn but the construction of the box was such that it looked like it could withstand centuries of use. I opened it immediately and found an envelope at the top. There was a dark almost blood red wax seal on the back, the initials PS again, but around the initials was a strange design. I could not make out the details but there was something there, I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

I went back into the house, with box under arm and the envelope in hand. I returned to the den, sat in the swivel chair and looked for a letter opener, and swore to myself, it was in the desk! I gave up on that idea and tore at the back of the envelope in hopes to reveal its contents. After a bit of tearing, the wax seal popped off, crumbled into pieces and fell to the ground. I guess the mystery of the seal would remain a mystery for now. I turned my thoughts to the contents of the envelope. Upon opening the envelope, I upturned it and shook the contents out, out popped a small note and something wrapped in tissue.

The note was small, blank on one side and on the other, old fashion brownish-red ink calligraphy spelled out… “The adventure begins for you now!”

Nothing else, that was strange, I turned my attention to the tissue paper. I unfolded it and found what I had hoped I had been looking for, a key!

The key was not your ordinary key, it had a strange pattern in the teeth and at the end, there was an impression of a skull with the initials PS. I found this odd, why would my father have a key made up with a skull on it? My thoughts returned to the desk, I had to try this key. I slid the key into the keyhole. It fit perfectly. As I pushed it back into the hole I heard a discernable click and a faint sliding sound. Curious, why all that sound and I haven’t event turned the key? I turned the key clockwise to unlock the lock. Another click, another sliding sound and a second click and I could turn the key no more. I tried at the latch… click and the roll-top door slid open a fraction of an inch. I grasped the handles and opened it all the way.

There was the usual clutter in the desk but in the center was another envelope, propped on top of all the other items. My name was written on the front of the envelope, in the same calligraphic style as in the note.

I picked it up turned it over and saw the same dark blood red seal, with the initials PS and the strange pattern. Looking for the letter opener, I spotted a couple of blood red square stick, a small alcohol burner and a signet ring. The writing was backwards but I could tell it had the letters PS in reverse and now I could tell what the pattern was, it was bones and skulls, circling the initials! Ok, this was starting to freak me out, why would my father have a ring made with skull and bones on it? But maybe he didn’t, the ring, on closer examination, seemed very worn, nicked and scratched, and the gold, it looked different that other gold rings I have seen in the past, it looked faded, like the gold had faded with age. Maybe he had picked it up in a shop to add to his collection of knickknacks? But why had I never seen it before?

Turning my attention back to the letter, I found the letter opener and slid it into the back of the envelope and sliced it open. There was another letter in there. I retrieved the letter and opened it. Here was the same brownish-red ink. I never realized my father wrote with an old-fashion fountain pen. I focused on the contents and began to read.

Dear Peter,

I am sorry I could not have told you this sooner but my health has prevented me from performing many of life’s daily tasks and unfortunately the opportunity has never arisen for us to converse properly.

Do you remember the pirate story I used to tell you when you were younger? I am sure you do. Well they are all true. You truly are a direct descendent of Pink Eye Pete and soon to be the only living one. You will find a family tree in this desk that has direct evidence of your lineage if you have any doubts.

Pink Eye Pete did bury a treasure with four other pirates. He did have a family and he did have children. He also handed down several key pieces of furniture and belongings to his children and willed that each generation must pass them to the next so that they one day when the time was right the family of Pete Smith may return for the lost treasure.

I have searched for the map for many years at the expense of losing your mother. You did not know her but in the beginning she was very supportive but after giving birth to you, she had had enough and moved on. I don’t blame her but instead thank her for bring you into the world and waking me up to my responsibilities.

My search may have ended but you can continue where I left off. There is a note book in this desk that has notes on what I and your previous decendents have accomplished so far. Please use them and make notes yourself as you see fit.

I may have shown disappointment that you did not become a historian like me but am glad you pursued your graduate’s degree. I am sure your contacts at the university can help you with researching our past but be weary of letting others know of the map. There may be pirates in this modern day and age that would love to steal our family’s rightful heritage.

So, being the last living descendent of Pink Eye Peter Smith, the time is right for the treasure to be found. Find the map and you will be successful. I wish you well on your journey. I hope you will follow in our family’s footsteps and make history of your own.

Love, Father

And that feeling returned to my stomach, the one I felt after Father told me the story of the Pink Eye Pete for the first time. Like some grand adventure was about to begin.

I was saddened, excited, and trepidatious all in one. I resolved that I must keep my father’s memory alive and was determined to follow this through. My journey into my past was just beginning and I was ready.

Please go to the UOT Archeology Department for the next clue.

6 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

Part 3 – The Journey

He had thought to himself that he needed to read the notebook in detail and find out where he stood. Peter had also thought that the best setting to review this journal was at the research department at the Universities historical department. They would have to have additional documentation on Pink Eye Pete as he was a somewhat historical figure for the area. He set off for the UOT and began his journey.

Being a graduate student of the Science and Technology Department at the UOT had its perks. He had free access to all research materials, was a Teacher’s Assistant and had met many students while teaching and knew who to ask to find historical research material. Amanda Reckonwith was the perfect student to ask. She was graduating soon, top of the class, had excellent organizational skills and had one of the highest scores on the final in the class he was the teacher’s assistant for.

Peter had given her a call earlier but she didn’t answer. When he went to go find her, he had heard she was talking with the dean of her college, so he headed over to their department to find her. When he arrived at the School of Design, he saw Amanda running away, Peter called for her but she didn’t respond and got lost in the crowd of students.

Peter asked one of the nearby assistants what was going on and they replied that she had be accused of theft and was going to be arrested! He was utterly shocked. Seeing as she was one of his best students, he had never suspected her of such a charge and found it quite disturbing.

As he grasped the notebook harder in disbelief, Peter realized that he had almost forgotten his original reason for coming. He turned around in total disbelief and headed to the Library. This was sad news but he had to continue his journey. He was determined to find answers but would have to do the research on his own.

He found an open spot at the UOT Library and sat down to review the notes in the notebook. As he read, Peter recalled so many similarities to the bedtime stories that his father told him. The pact with the five pirates, the demise of Pink Eyed Pete’s ship on the reef of some unknown island, the capture of his crew by natives, his close escape from the natives and the torn fragment of a treasure map lost at sea, but there were other facts in the notebook that were not mentioned in the stories that his father told him.

Some facts he found surprising others he had only recently discovered. The notebook mentioned the signet ring, how Pete had used it in all of his correspondents and sealed them with the blood red waxy seal. It had also mentioned his family legacy. The legacy that each generation must tell the story of the treasure and pass down three pieces of furniture, a portrait of Pete, the scroll-top desk and the knickknack box including the knickknacks within to the firstborn child.

There were other facts that he was not familiar with but knew that they were important to the journey. The first was the suspected location of Pink Eyed Pete’s shipwreck and the general area where the natives lived on an island called Ootay. The second was on a well worn earmarked page of the notebook that stated the portion of Pete’s map was transcribed to something that Pete possessed with him on the small boat and that it was not lost but hidden from others. It’s exact location was not known but it existence was confirmed by the accounts of Pete’s first child, Paulina, who stated she saw the transcribed fragment and knew of its location but would not reveal its whereabouts until the time was right.

Peter had known about the island of Ootay and had heard his father’s stories of exploring the island before he was born but never connected that to the stories of the pirates. He had that feeling in his stomach again and knew he was getting closer and that the island of Ootay held the answers he sought.

He went to find research material on Ootay. After searching a bit and not finding what he was looking for, he conceded and asked the librarian at the front desk for help on where to find information for Ootay. She replied, “Wow, the Tiki Islands are popular this week! I think this is the second or third request I have had. That dusty old section hasn’t been touched in years and now all of a sudden we get a bunch of requests! Oh well, follow me, it is over in this direction.”

She led me to a darker section of the library, there was less noise here and there were no students to be found. The smell of old books was distinct giving a strange feel to this corner of the library. She stopped at a section of old leather bound books and scanned them with her finger. “Caldera, Marooned, Nada… Ah, Ootay, here you go. This should do the trick.”

7 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

Peter thanked her for her assistance and returned to his previous spot and began to flip through the book. It was a historical reference with beautiful hand drawn maps and descriptions from previous explorers of the region.

The narration read “On discovery of this densely fog-ridden area, we were stunned by the sight of a great stone mouth that swallowed flame deep in its belly as we progressed deeper.”

What a strange reference, but what really caught his attention was the reference to the vast flocks of chickens that seemed to infest the area.

Wow, this fit the stories perfectly, could this be the place where Pete had run from the natives and lost Percy? It had to be.

Peter, in that instance had made up his mind and was determined to travel to Ootay and find this place.

He was on a leave of absence from the Physics department to handle his father’s estate and decided that a few additional days would not hurt. Summer break was approaching and his obligations could wait until the start of the fall semester. So he went to the front desk, asked if he could check out the book for a research project and upon approval from the librarian, took off for a journey to Ootay Island.

Passage to Ootay was a small feat. This time of year most boats were already booked for fishing trip or tours around the Tiki Islands. He had found one passage, the Tiki Island Cruiser, but it was more of an island hopping luxury cruise liner, with dancing, dinner and entertainment. Their stop at Ootay would last no longer than a couple hours, typical for a cruise liner and the landing point was on the wrong side of the island. He would never be able to get to his destination and back to the port in time for the boat's departure, never mind the exorbitant price they were asking.

After wandering around the harbor for hours he stumbled upon an old sea dog who was willing to take him to Ootay on his fishing boat. The boat wasn’t big by any means and accommodations wouldn’t be grand, but at least the trip would be direct and the price was very reasonable. He made arrangements for payment and scheduled to depart later that day for Ootay. He retrieved what he needed from his trunk, his clothes were still packed from his trip to his father’s house and the only other thing he needed were the notebook and the book on Ootay he had borrowed from the library, both of which were still sitting in the front passenger seat. After retrieving what he needed, he returned to the boat and the captain weight anchor and they took off.

The trip to Ootay was uneventful, the seas rolled, the boat rocked, the old sea dog spun tails of mermaids and sea serpents, but all and all, it was without incident. As they approached Ootay, the old sea dog began to tell Peter of the landmarks, since he had never been to Ootay before his interest began to perk up.

“That be the Burnt Lighthouse in the distance matey. It is said to be made from the timbers of an abandon pirate’s ship, on the first day they lit the light, it burnt half the lighthouse down and moans of lost shipmates could be heard in the crackle of the fire. It spooked the keepers so much, they never rebuilt it.”

Peter asked, “Are we near the location of the stone heads?”

The old sea dog replied “Aye, that be up the coast a bit, into the fog ahead, before we get to the boardwalk.”

Peter thought to himself, “Could that lighthouse be build out of the wreckage of Pink Eyed Pete’s boat?” then he burst out, “Can we stop here? I have to look around and I know I can walk to where I need to go from here.”

The captain replied “Aye, we can, but there is not much here, and that is one long walk you be heading for. Are you sure about it?”

Peter answered unwaveringly “Yes, I ‘m positive, I need to depart here, this is where it all started, I am sure of it. I will meet you at the Boardwalk by this time tomorrow, if not sooner.”

“You seem sure of yourself boy, I’ll give you that. It’s against my better judgment but OK, hang on, I will turn to shore. It might get a wee bit bumpy when we hit the sand, just be ready.” grumbled the old sea dog.

Peter was sure of himself. This is where it all started in the stories, the reefs they passed earlier in the day, the tale of the lighthouse, the fog in the distance, it all made sense to him. He was sure of it. This is where the story took place, but now he knew that it was no longer just stories, this was real!

And reality jolted as the boat bumped into the sandy shore. Peter grabbed his provisions and jumped over the gunwale of the boat and turned to the captain, “Thank you for stopping, hopefully this will pay off for both of us in the long run. I will see you tomorrow!”

“Good luck matey” declared the captain, and muttered under his breath, “you are going to need it!”

And Peter took off on foot.

8 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

As he passed some fire pits on the beach, he noticed some fragments of wood nearby. They looked old, bleached from the years in the sun, exposed to the salt air, but it look familiar somehow. He bent to pick them up, getting a glimpse of the Burnt Lighthouse out of the corner of his eye and he had a thought. This wood, it was part of the boat, now part of the lighthouse, but it was part of something else he had seen, what was it? Drat! He couldn’t remember, but it was right there… he couldn’t think straight, so much was on his mind. He put the piece of wood in his pack, he would have to think about it later. Now it was time to head up the shoreline, to find where Pete encountered the natives.

As Peter walked up the shoreline, the ground became steeper and the jungle was encroaching in on his left. The other remarkable thing was the fog; it just dropped in out of nowhere and took over everything.

The sounds of the jungle were taking over as well. As the jungle started to get thicker along his path, he saw something remarkable, an old wooden bridge with two tribal signs on either side. Ok, this was getting spooky, but he had to continue on.

As he rounded the path, a large stone head appeared through the fog, it was lying on its side, partially buried in the soil. Wow, what a sight! Could this be the stone head that my father told me about? Then something surprising happened as he was examining the head. A chicken hopped out of the open mouth of the stone head, surprising Peter so much that he backed up and tripped over a long stone bench and crashed to the ground backwards. As he recovered, he looked up and saw the chicken. It was just pecking around the ground near the head like chickens do. Then another one appeared from behind the head, than another hopped on top of the head and through the dense fog he swore he could see hundreds of them amongst the crowded jungle underbrush, just pecking away at the ground, wandering the area.

9 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

Peter started to laugh, really laugh, here he was in this scary fog laden place, thinking that natives were wandering about, and instead of being in danger he finds chickens! He was in danger of being clucked!!

His amusement turned to wonderment. He speculated that these have to be the descendents of Percy, there is no other explanation as to why this part of the jungle is infested with chickens! Percy’s poultry ancestors! If he had the means, he could have opened up an egg farm here in the jungle but he was a student and hopefully soon to be professor, farming was definitely not in his blood.

He removed his backpack and went to retrieve his camera to take a picture and while feeling around the sack, he swore to himself as he felt pieces of the camera with his fingertips, the camera had broken when he fell over! Oh great, no one will believe me when I tell them about all these chickens!

As he picked himself up, he noticed another piece of wood behind the stone head. This one was not bleached out by the sun and salt air but was darker, and pitted with age. When he went closer to examine it, something clicked in his head, this was the same material that the knickknack box my father had was made from! It’s the same wood that he had found on the beach, it had to have come from Pete’s boat! He picked up a piece of the wood and put it in his pack along with a stray chicken’s feather he spotted lying nearby.

Then it came to him suddenly, that painting of Pink Eye Pete with Percy, he was standing on the beach in the portrait but his pose was a little funny, one foot was forward of the other and it was propped up on an object. Peter was sure it was a piece of wood that his foot was propped up on. He knew now that he had to return to his father’s house to look at that painting and the knickknack box closer. He turned to the chicken that had come out of the mouth, bowed to it and said, “Thank you Percy Jr. for helping me find my answers.” And the chicken clucked back while tilting its’ head questioningly at Peter.

Peter headed out, knowing where his destination lies. He had to meet up with the old sea dog at the boardwalk so he could get back to his house. The walk, though it had taken a couple hours seemed shorter now that he knew where to look for the answers he sought. He finally climbed the last hill, saw the boardwalk up ahead through the fog, and saw the boat docked at the shore. As he approached the boat, the captain glanced over and said, “You’re early! Did the jungle get the best of you? You look like you wrestled a gorilla!”

Looking down he saw the tear in his pants, probably from his fall and also noticed he was covered in dirt and scraps of the underbrush stuck to his clothes. He did look like a wreck!

Peter replied to the captain, “Nope I didn’t wrestle a gorilla but I did have a nice conversation with some chickens!”

“Chickens? You found chickens?? You are pulling an old sea hands’ leg here with a tall tale! Where did you find chickens?” asked the old sea dog doubtfully.

“Back in the jungle near the fallen stone head, there were hundreds of them, one of them surprised me and I fell over and I guess, tore my pants in the process. The camera broke in the fall so I couldn’t take pictures for evidence, but they were there, and oh, here is a feather.” Peter plucked the feather from his backpack.

The old sea dog grasped the feather, examined it closer and began to say, “Well I’ll be. That be a chicken feather all right. My father had an egg farm when I was a wee lad. I miss them days, nothing like fresh eggs for breakfast!”

Peter responded “Well you are welcome to them, there had to be hundreds of them in that spot of the jungle. But now, I would really like to depart, I have to get back to my father’s house and investigate something I saw in the jungle. So if you wouldn’t mind can we take off as soon as possible?”

“Aye, Aye captain… We be ready to depart, provisions are loaded, was just waiting for you. I can always come back and look at them chickens another day. Stow your gear and help me undo the lines and we will be off!”

So Peter and the captain departed Ootay Island. The trip was quiet this time as both were deep in thought. Peter’s thoughts were of the painting, the knickknack box and the missing piece of the treasure map. The captain’s thoughts were of chickens, fresh eggs and profit. They arrived at their destination and Peter thanked the captain for his hospitality, they shook hands and he headed for his car.

10 – Tale of Pink Eye Pete

He packed his things hurriedly into the car and took off for the house as fast as safety would allow. He finally arrived at the house, grabbed his things and ran into the house, heading for the painting first. As he approached the painting, he saw, that it was definitely wood under Pete’s foot in the portrait. He also saw that there was some writing on that piece of wood. He approached to get a closer look and could barely make out the writing. He went back to the roll-top desk to retrieve a magnifying glass, grabbed it and returned to the painting for a better look. He held up the magnifier to the painting and saw letters, they were very small and backwards but he could make out the letters. He grabbed the notebook, turned to a blank page and scribbled them down:

“ynitsed rouy kcolnu lliw thgir eht ot eciwt nrut ,llup ,tfel eht ot ecno denrut yek nosmirc eht”

He looked over the letters on the page and began to transpose them. He came up with:

“The crimson key, turned once to the left, pull, turn twice to the right, will unlock your destiny.”

The crimson key? He had never seen a crimson key. If there was a key, it had to be mixed in with the knickknacks in the box. He went to the box and dumped the contents on the couch. There were all sorts of odds and ends, from pieces of rock, to an old compass, a couple of old writing quills, buttons, old coins, and other items but no key. Where could the key be? He looked back in the box to make sure all the contents were removed and noticed something odd. There were some parallel grooves on the wood inside the base that was not consistent with just storing odds and ends. Upon further examination he also noticed that the wood in the base was thicker than any other side of the box. He knocked at it and a hollow sound returned to him. He shook and heard a faint rattle. He couldn’t see any way of removing the panel, so he tugged, poked and then finally pushed in a sliding motion, parallel to the grooves and the wood jerked ever so slightly to the right. He continued to slide the panel and underneath this false bottom was a small carved cavity in the shape of a key and in that chamber rested a blood-red crimson key, similar in style to the key for the roll-top desk.

He gently removed the key, noticed the initials PS carved in the top, the same skull impression and noticed the tooth pattern was different that the other key for the roll-top desk. This had to have come from Pink Eye Pete, there was no other explanation. Peter had wondered if he was the first to discover this key, the first to handle it since Pink Eye Pete put it in its resting-place.

His attention turned to the roll-top desk. This had to fit in that lock. So he closed the roll-top, turned the original key to lock the desk and removed it. He inserted the crimson key into the lock. It seemed to fit perfectly and once he pushed it back in the keyhole there was a double click. He nervously followed the directions from the painting, not knowing what to expect.

He turned the key to the left one revolution. There was a much louder click and a sliding sound.

Pulling the key, it stopped about half way and another audible click and a whir could be heard.

Finally he turned the key to the right, once, click, click, twice, click, click, slide, and then, POP!”

Peter jumped back at the pop in surprise. Then noticed a door on the left side of the desk, one that was not there before had popped open. It was so well constructed with the side of the desk that you have never noticed that there was a hidden compartment there.

He bent over, slowly opened the door and looked inside. There inside the hidden compartment was a piece of a wooden board. It had a rough triangular shape and the wood was the same as the box, and the scroll top desk. The side facing him was blank except for the initials PS carved into the corner of the wood. He gently removed the piece of wood from its hidden compartment. Upon turning it over, he noticed the carvings immediately. There on the surface of the wood was carved and painted a portion of a map. It was the portion of the map that Pink Eye Pete received from the other pirates! It was carved on a piece of his burning boat! A piece of parchment lay behind in the compartment. He retrieved the parchment. It was old, the ink was faded but he could still read it.

“To the one who finds this, you honor our family name and will reap the rewards of following our destiny.

Paulina Smith”

Peter had found the map!! Something that no one else in his family history had ever accomplished! Emotions welled inside him. He was elated for finding the map, saddened that he couldn’t show his father, but overjoyed that he could fulfill his family’s destiny.

He held the lost piece of the map over his head and shouted to the ceiling, “This is for you DAD!”

Continue the story