Weldon Springs Radiation story
Chapter Five

Draft 1, Where to hide the "hot" Native American Artifacts?

Anticipate changes and errors, This is only Draft One

Leaving Danny

I drove away from Bucks's house with mixed emotions so powerful I feared the onset of another seizure.

The news of Ambrose's passing, why had no one told me? The cave map and the deathhead pottery? Faded childhood memories of us as kids, the game of hunting for the cave, and the current Buck looking like he would follow Ambrose soon. 

Prison intuition screamed Buck would not survive whatever was wrong with him. It was too wrong, like a horror story wrong. Some pox?

I drove Calvin's car around, searching for somewhere to hide the box; however, everywhere had changed. 

Turning down Callaway Forks Road, I passed new houses and paved roads. There were still wild turkeys, but the birds now lived in people's backyards. Signs of no trespassing and no hunting were everywhere.

Is this how Ambrose felt when he took us back to the ruins of his childhood home overlooking Lake 33?

Where should I hide the items Buck gave me? If I were stopped, there would be questions, too many questions.

Taking them to Calvin's house was a no-go; only the nefarious seemed to visit his house—lean people with the same hungry faces I had seen in prison.

No, not Calvins.

Can't go home to the stables on Highway DD.

I thought about the beer Rob, and I used to hide in the hayloft or shavings bin. Even if I could go home, how safe was the hayloft?

Not safe at all.

My old marijuana hidehole down on Dardenne Creek? I was in high school the last time I opened the rock ledge. 

Damn, that was three or four lifetimes ago, the thought made me feel old.

At the familiar Dardenne Creek bridge, I parked the car and carried the box down the steep trail towards the creek.

"Don't drop the box, don't drop the box," I hissed.

The trail looked the same as before I joined the USAF or vacationed in prison.

Well-used and littered with trash of soft drinks and earthworm containers.

Every generation had their lazy slobs- my janitor's mind was kicking in.

The creek came into sight, and old memories-good memories washed over me. Redhorse suckers, carp, bullheads, and channel cats. 

I caught a Sauger in the creek; the Sauger was so out of place in Dardenne Creek. 

Like me, I'm out of place. Florida was sounding better all the time.

At my old hide hole, I set the box carefully on top of the hidden rock ledge and began removing rocks I had so long ago carefully selected to hide the natural ledge.

I was only a kid......

"Dammit!" I screeched. 

A pair of early-season copperhead snakes slithered out of the hole in panic.

The pretty snakes disappeared into the oak leaf foliage.

I peered into the crevice checking for more snakes and only saw items left from the school days, but no more copperheads.

As pit vipers went, the copperheads weren't really that lethal, just a painful injection. 

The thought made me giggle. Iraq wasn't really that lethal, just a painful injection of the unreality of warring religions. Was I going nuts?

"We can share this den," I whispered to the snakes. "No reefer for me as long as I am getting pissed tested by Uncle Sam, and you two can guard my other pot."

Spirit and power, the whole thing was ironic.

A death's head pot for a copperhead den, but how many people have actually died from a copperhead snake bite? Sick as hell, a painful bite, of course. Most people were just terrified of the arrowhead-shaped head and slitted eyes.

More irony, Buck had given me the flint spear point that most people would call an arrowhead, and the death jar had slitted eyes.

I picked up the Death's Head jar. The original artist had molded the clay into the head of a Native American warrior. The eyes were mere slits, and the mouth indicated stitches sowing the mouth sewn closed to indicate someone deceased.

The red clay had been dipped in black slip and burnished to a fine polish.

Decorated lines indicated the fine tattooing the warrior had possessed when alive.

I shook my head, "This pot is worth twenty-five grand easily."

I caressed the Ivory Woodpecker symbol around the right eye. The same symbol as on my arm. All the Death Head pots found in Missouri and Arkansas had the woodpecker symbol surrounding the right eye.

If the trophies represented a slain warrior of the Mississippian culture from the twelfth or thirteenth century, and if all the dead warriors from multiple clans had the same symbol on the pottery, then it only made sense the woodpecker was a symbol of Spirit and power.

Murder, war and revenge.

This area of St. Charles County would have been a conflict zone between cultures and the battles never recorded by written text. 

I recalled Buck's words, "I called Ambrose's lost cave the 'The death cave' because I took at least six death jars out of the cave with that war paint carving on the faces. Remember, we were kids, and you told me about the different arrowheads?

Four of the death jars were full of Cahokia arrowheads. Well, I think I get the shit from you. I never cared about history and stuff.

Dude, the buyer went nuts when he saw all those triangle arrowheads. You said the pot could be a Cahokia warrior, and the arrowheads were collected from dead Cahokia warriors. It's all about Spirit and power, right? You told me about Spirit and power."

"I will miss you, Buck."

"Spirit and power," I said, pushing the death jar deep into the hidden overhang, then the spearpoint and arrowheads, the map, and finally the 1967 license plate after taking a photo of it with my phone. The rocks were placed back with care and dusted with old leaves, watching out for copperheads.

The Missouri license plate in a sealed cave with barrels of powder was a mystery. 

Buck had said he had removed some of the cave powder? Where was the powder now?

I knew only one person who could solve the mystery of the plate: my little brother Mike, an IT genius and a deer slayer.

"Mike makes the best Venison sausage in Missouri and is the smartest person in St. Charles County."

Mike had not come to see me in prison either.

My eyes leaked as I scrambled up the littered trail to the car.

"Damn dust," I said, wiping my eyes.

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