“Sounds like a wild goose chase to me,” Garvin said.
“It may be.”
“So you’re offering me half?”
Baxter grinned. “Maybe. That’s all I’ve got to work with.” Now to play his trump card. “And that Anasazi sign on the cliff.”
“The what sign? Anasazi sign? Why do you call it that?”
Baxter resisted over-reacting. His grandfather had taught him not to celebrate when you’ve merely hooked the fish. “Well, the marker. It’s an ancient Indian marker. Like a carving, tapped into stone, the journal says. On a cliff. Isn’t that Anasazi?”
Garvin stood without regard to the popping in his knees and stared at Baxter. “Where?”
“Ah, it’s there in a hand-drawn map. By my great-great-grandfather. In his journal.”
“And he called it an Anasazi symbol?”
“Well, no. He just says an old Indian marker on the cliff.”
“Did he make a drawing of it?” Garvin wanted to grab Baxter and squeeze it out of him. Why didn’t he just say it? Tell him what the marker looked like.
Baxter decided to tell him. That would set the hook. “And it was sort of a spiral that went off on a zigzag line and standing on it was an animal. With branching horns.”
“Elk, yes. Yes! I know those symbols.” He knew them very well, and not just from books and his own explorations in the classic Anasazi rock art country. Pagosa Springs nestled in the northeasternmost corner of Anasazi territory, and a few years ago Garvin found a petroglyph the archaeologists hadn’t even noticed yet out near the Chimney Rock ruins. What he really remembered that charged through him now like a bolt of lightning was a night long ago, fifteen or twenty years past, when he hiked alone up beyond Upper Fourmile Lake, across the drainage divide and dropped down into Deadman Canyon. In a hurry to get to the Piedra River trail, he misjudged daylight. Darkness stranded him, so he sat and waited. Soon a glorious nearly full moon pulled up over the mountains and lit things almost as bright as day, and he searching for a way out. At one point, he missed the trail and got confused, stumbled off onto a game trail that faded into no trail at all. He climbed back toward the trail higher up, but a three-sided box of rocks stopped him, a strange cleft in the cliff the size of a small house. In the moonlight, angled to make shadows in the pits on the face of the cliff, he saw a faint design—a spiral going to a zigzag with a well-antlered elk hovering over a straight line.
Garvin swallowed and looked at Baxter.
Baxter saw it in his eyes. “That means something to you, doesn’t it? You know where it is,” said Baxter. “You’ve seen it!”
Garvin nodded. “Maybe. Long time ago. I’m not sure of the exact place. But yeah, I’ve seen something like it. Up in the mountains.”
Baxter leaned back. He’d almost landed the fish. Garvin wanted that Anasazi marker more than he wanted gold. Baxter noticed his heart racing. He felt almost faint. His body realized it before his brain. Garvin had confirmed that the marker existed. Which meant the gold, the family treasure, must be real.
Baxter stuck out his hand for Garvin to shake. “You can claim the Anasazi marker, and I’ll claim the family treasure. If there’s gold in it, I’ll give you ten percent. Deal?”
Garvin stopped pacing, his mind churning. He should bargain for more. “I thought we agreed to fifty-fifty?”
“You want that Anasazi marker more than you want anything else. I’ll let you have all the glory for that in exchange for ninety percent of my family treasure.”
“You bargain strangely. Maybe I won’t do it for less than half. I already know to go up and search for that lost petroglyph.”
Dammit, Baxter thought. He took a deep breath. It didn’t matter. Garvin wanted the Anasazi marker, Baxter wanted to hide. Any family treasure was pure bonus. He nodded. Put out his hand and they shook, a single vigorous bounce of their clasped hands.
“Fifty-fifty,” Garvin said.
“Fifty-fifty,” Baxter repeated. “Start tomorrow?”
“No. Day after. Thursday morning, daybreak,” Garvin said. “You have equipment?”
Baxter shook his head.
Garvin nodded. “Go downtown. Goodman’s. Ask for Joe Sample. Oriental guy, so that’s not his real name, but it’s what he goes by. I always mean to ask his real name, but I never remember. Anyway, he knows my setup. Tell him to start there, and then you can change anything you want. That’ll make it easier.”
“Thanks,” said Baxter.
“You got money, I hope. Good stuff’s not cheap, and cheap stuff’s not worth it.”
“I got money.”
“Five-thirty. Can you be here that early?”
“We’ll put that ugly truck of yours in my garage and take my ugly truck up to the trailhead.”
Baxter liked that. Get it out of sight. Perfect.
“It’d go faster if you let me study the journal,” said Garvin. He took a step toward Baxter, his eyes four inches higher. Baxter didn’t like being intimidated, especially by a tall old guy with creaky knees.
“It would,” Baxter said. “But we’re not in that big a hurry. You can figure it out on the trail.” He wasn’t about to relinquish control of the journal. Not until the two of them were way out in the woods.
Garvin backed down. He didn’t blame the guy. He wouldn’t give it up so easily either.
Short description for The G.O.D. Journal: After he accidentally kills his wife, Baxter runs. Hiding in his derelict boyhood home in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, he discovers a journal that leads to a treasure of gold. With the guiding hand of a deranged hunter and Wall Street financier, Baxter discovers true gold is concealed in the heart of a woman who helps him search for an Anasazi pictograph that is key to his family treasure. Read the full description….
Hot Water Press publications scheduled for 2013: Annie and the Second Anasazi (a trilogy set in the year 2054), and Soo Potter (an Anasazi historical novel). To find out when they’re available, sign up for notification by email here.