It was shortly after eight in the morning when I went ashore from the Vulcania. As I walked down the overbridge to the dock, I deeply inhaled the sweet scents of plumeria, wild gardenia and other growing things. I had my backpack, filled by the ship’s galley with food provisions for a long hike into the island’s interior. I had also packed my journal, a small pick, fossil brush, tweezers, a flashlight, a strong rope, and a change of underwear. I also had my bag of trinkets from Admiral E, including the walnut that had transported me to and from the Revenge. Since I had no idea where I was going, it would be no use to me now. I would walk. But that was fine with me. I wanted to see the Island.
I heard a noise from the ship’s promenade above me and I turned to look. I could see Albion walking ahead of two of the ship’s security officers. He had his hands cuffed behind his back. Apparently, he had not persuaded Captain D that the abandoning of his post was due to mental incapacitation. He seemed not to be bothered at all with his incarceration – he was laughing and chatting with the officers. In fact, he seemed to be enjoying himself. In fact, so did the guards who happened to be women. Indeed, they were all having way too much fun.
Then he saw me. He smiled even more broadly and mouthed something to me. I could not make out the words. Then he puckered up and made a kissing motion towards me. MWAH!
Coolly, without returning the smile, I acknowledged him with a slight nod of my head. He smiled again but shook his head as if he were bewildered by something. Then he and his guards turned a corner towards the general direction of the brig and disappeared.
Good, I thought, he deserves a time out, and at least he won’t be busting into my adventure this time.
I stepped off the dock and onto hard ground. Several twisting streets fanned out from the dock area. Each had souvenir stalls, closed up for the moment, lining the streets. I imagined that in a few hours when the travelers emerged from the Vulcania, the quiet street would be a chaotic mass of people haggling with the stall keepers over the price of plastic knick-knacks.
I needed to find somewhere where the locals congregated so I could ask questions about the Lemurian ruins and in particular The Sacred Vault. Gail had mentioned a tavern called the Sea Dragon that she and Captain D. frequented whenever that made this port. I located the tavern, but it was not open yet. I would be a bit wary of entering this establishment alone anyway. I looked a ways down the street from the tavern and saw some activity. There appeared to a stall that was open.
I made my way to the opening of the stall. It was, in fact, a large plastic tarp stretched three ways between two palm trees and a cinder-block building. Across a large window cut into the front of the building was counter and a few bar stools. Under the tarp were a few picnic tables and a dozen or so plastic deck chairs. A faded wooden sign was tacked to one of the palm trunks that read “The Phoenix: Fish Tacos and Seafood Cocktails”. Underneath that was a smaller sign: “Breakfast served, 7 to 9 a.m. Daily”.
There were a half dozen people under the tarp and seated at the counter, mostly local Island People and a couple of scraggly old men that might best be described and “old sea dogs.” A large man with an apron stood behind the counter wiping it down with a rag. He glanced up at me.
“The Boat-People are out early this morning,” he boomed. A mild chuckle rose from the patrons. I looked down at myself. I guess I did look like the typical tourist with my khaki pants, tee-shirt, and a Boston Red Sox baseball cap. All I needed a bottle of Dasani and a camera around my neck to complete the look. I weakly smiled and shrugged.
“Can I get you something, ma’am,” asked the bar tender.
“Um, something cold would be nice.” I slid onto a stool at the counter. The bartender flipped off a cap and set a bottle of Jarritos in front of me. I thanked him and took a swig. “So,” I started, “I am wondering if you could give me directions to the Lemurian Ruins.”
The bartender and one of the old dogs at the counter laughed. “Do you mean the one where the UFOs land or the one where the ley lines converge?” asked the bartender with a twinkle in his eye.
“Oh, I heard they saw Bigfoot out at the South Ruins. Maybe you want to go there?” said the old man. They both started laughing.
I must not have looked too amused because the bartender said, “Sorry, lady, but the Ruins are very popular around here for a lot of funny reasons. You really don’t need directions – just sign up for one of the guided day tours of the Ruins.”
“I was looking for one in particular.” I pulled a map out of my bag. “Could you show me where I could find the Sacred Vault?” I noticed the bartender glance at the old man. “I’ve never heard of it,” he quickly said.
“Really. Is there someone else here who might know?” I was not going to be shooed away that easily.
After a moment of silence, the old man answered. “Well, I reckon Old Tilly would know.” He pointed to a table in the corner near one of the palm trees. “She knows pretty much everything about the Island, old, new, other stuff.”
“Thanks.” I slipped a Lemurian shekel towards the bartender, picked up my drink, and headed over to the table in the corner. As I approached I saw a blanket-covered heap leaning against the tree trunk.
I cleared my throat. The heap stirred. Then I said, “Um, excuse me. Hello? Are you Tilly?”
A wrinkled hand emerged from the blanket and pulled it away from an equally wrinkled face. “Yeah, I’m Tilly. Don’t talk so loud. Geez, my head.” She looked at me closely as she straightened ” Whadja want?”
“I’d like to ask you a couple of questions, if you have a moment. The guys at the counter said you could help me.”
“They did, huh? Hey, Hector!” she shouted to the bartender, “bring me a Bloody Mary, extra Tabasco, oh, and a couple of fish tacos, light on the cabbage – gives me gas. Charge’ em to Boat-lady here.” I nodded my head to Hector.
“Okay,” she said, “Shoot.”
I sat down and plopped the map in front of her. “I need to know where on this map I might find the Sacred Vault.”
“Why? Well, I’m looking for something.”
“Something I lost”
“In a five thousand year old ruin? You really look good for your age. Oil of Olay?”
“Look, I just need this little bit of information and I’ll be on my way. Can you help me or not?”
Hector set the drink and a plate of tacos in front of Tilly. She took a loud sip of her Bloody Mary.
“The answers are not all that easy,” she said as she stirred her drink with a stalk of celery.
“What do you mean?”
Tilly reached into the recesses of the blanket wrapped around her and pulled out a blue silk-wrapped bundle. She set it on the table and unwrapped it to reveal a set of Tarot cards.
“Cut the cards,” she ordered.
To be continued.
L. Gloyd (2009)