Day Sixty Five #DayoftheEndoftheWorld

An alarm went off upon entering the public auditorium.

Rufus and Clarissa followed suit. Lyle was able to calm them and I located the alarm and shut it off.

Then we waited to see if anyone would respond to it. After ten minutes when no one came to see who had tripped the alarm, Lyle and I began to debate whether or not it was a warning to us to avoid the  area; or an alert to them that they may avoid us.

I opt for the latter scenario, but Lyle is almost equally sure of the first.

The hall and its environs are well appointed, and will likely give up many a treasure to us and our persistence. Later.

Rebel Treasure thirty ninth post

Rebel Treasure thirty ninth post

EXT NEW MEXICAN DESERT – DAY
Riding above the haze of heat waves, a train with a dozen cars steams along the razor straight tracks, the only objects in the flat as a tortilla expanse. Two engines, one pulling the other pushing, propel the cars forward towards a distant mountain range.

AN ENCAMPMENT
Straddles the tracks, tents and piles of boxes laid out in neat rows, and to one side a newly constructed water tower. OVERSEERS, armed with bullwhips, watch over work parties of MEXICAN INDIANS that are unloading another train parked on a siding. With a BLAST from its steam whistle the two engine train slides to a stop near the water tower.

Louis emerges from a tent chewing on a cheroot. Seeing the train he reaches back in for his gun-belt, from which dangles his Bowie knife. He sees Lon in the cab of the first engine and waves.

LOUIS
Lon!

Lon dismounts from the cab as Louis walks up. He remains mute and unresponsive. Louis picks up on his attitude.

LOUIS (CONT’D)
Oh, so it’s that way, is it, Commander?

He salutes and Lon returns it.

LON
Tell me lieutenant, is everything shipshape here?

LOUIS
Aye, sir. As soon as you’ve passed we’re sending that train –
(points to the one on the siding)
back down the line and take up the tracks.

LON
Excellent.

LOUIS
And sir, may I see your manifest?

Lon hesitates briefly, then fishes the document from his inside coat pocket and passes it to Louis.

LOUIS (CONT’D)
(scanning the paper)
The last of the Mexican silver?

LON
Aye. See for yourself.

LOUIS
All right, I will. I’ll ride in the back.

CANYONS OF NEW MEXICO – DAY
Sunlight dapples the hilltops but does not penetrate down into the arroyo where the treasure train rolls alongside of a river that snakes its way at the bottom of the canyon.

POV OF THE ENGINEER
Ahead the twilight of the canyon gives way to sunshine. The sand under the tracks sparkles golden as it curves into a massive opening in a rock wall.

E/I ANTE-CHAMBER TO A CAVERN
The treasure train slows as it enters the cavern. Fanning out from the mainline are many branch tracks, and on them rest hundreds upon hundreds of boxcars, giving the whole area the appearance of a busy big city railyard. Work parties of blacks and Indians march along the side of the tracks under the watchful gaze of whip bearing overseers.

The track runs forward and hugs the wall passing by massive stalactites and stalagmites.

A STATION MASTER runs out of his depot, waving a lantern to flag them down. Lon steps down from the cab before it comes to a stop.

LON
What’s the problem, Carl?

STATION MASTER
The new circuit is finished, Commander. You won’t have to back out from the “bank” this time. Give us a moment to switch the tracks.

The station master seizes the rail switch and signals for his ASSISTANT to trip the other down the way. Jesse James appears from nowhere.

JESSE
Mind if I join you, Lon?

LON
Come on ahead, you can help me check off the list.

The treasure train veers off onto the branch line and puffs up a gentle grade and into the mouth of another cave whose lower stalagmites have been broken out, but whose “upper teeth” have been left intact, lending the whole the appearance of the maw of a vicious beast.

UNLOADING AREA
A fire brigade of WORKERS pass along box after box of Mexican silver from the parked treasure train. We follow the last of the boxes to the head of the line and find Lon checking the list under the vigilant gaze of Jesse. Two workers pry open the boxes with crow bars, then MOSES GRANT, a giant black man pours the contents of each one down a chute in the floor.

One of the workers lingers to peer down the shaft after the contents of the last box are committed to it.

JESSE
Don’t even think about it.

Their work done, Jesse and the OVERSEERS begin to collect the workers together and march them out. Lon lingers behind with Moses.

LON
How are Sissy and the twins?

MOSES
(grinning)
They be fine, mighty fine.

LON
Up to a little journey?

MOSES
Is it now? Tonight?

LON
Moses you are leading your people out of here. Tonight we execute the plan. Meanwhile, I’ve got one more thing to do.

[next pt 40]

Rebel Treasure eleventh post

INT. SLIDELL RANCH HOUSE – KITCHEN
Mrs. Slidell and Morgan are holding an intense council over the table piled high with treasure.

MRS. SLIDELL
You’re going to do it, and like it.

MORGAN
I don’t like it, and I don’t think Horatio will like it either.

MRS. SLIDELL
Your brother is smart; he’ll see it my way. I think what they have uncovered here is going to lead us to the KGC
depository.
(an almost reverent reverie comes over her)
The fulfillment of all our dreams!

The boys re-enter noisily, hemming and hawing.

BEN
Alright. We’re interested–

MRS. SLIDELL
Excellent!

BEN
That is, if you can afford to make it worth our while. Not a lot, mind you, say 10 percent?

MRS. SLIDELL
I think we can afford to be generous.

INT. MORGAN’S SUV – DAY
The starch has gone out of Morgan as he sits behind the wheel of his SUV. He’s almost amiable. He seems to like being on the road, crossing the picturesque state of Tennessee.
Ben picks up the zip lock bag and fishes out a picture.

C.U. OF A PICTURE OF ALONZO TURNER
A carefree young man of nineteen looks back at us. His dark good looks are enhanced by his smart naval uniform, and he knows it.

LON (V.O.)
Annapolis, Maryland. January 14th, 1861. They sent us out to Old Ironsides this morning. Our assignment, study and sketch her rigging.

Rebel Treasure eleventh post

[next pt 12]

Rebel Treasure tenth post

Rebel Treasure tenth post

INT. THE SLIDELL GARAGE
Morgan enters by the side door, taking care to shut it behind him. He crosses to where the tools are hung on the wall and gathers together two shovels and a pick.
A huge glass jar sits on its side on a work bench in front of the wall of tools. A heap of gold coins lies where it was poured from the jar, and two neat stacks rise from the jumble. He stops briefly to admire the treasure on his way back to the door.After passing out the door, he stops on the outside to lock it. Further back in the shadows along the same wall, we see the body of cousin Toby, hung by its heels from the rafter.

EXT. THE TREASURE SITE – LATER
An eager Mrs. Slidell moves from one side of the fresh pit to the other, as the boys finish setting up a tripod from which they suspend the line from the winch mounted on the bumper of Morgan’s SUV.

MRS. SLIDELL
Morgan, be careful!

MORGAN
Don’t fret, Ma.

Morgan starts the winch and Ben and Riley guide a Wells Fargo strongbox up and out of the hole. The tripod groans under the weight.
When it’s safely out they crowd around all googly-eyed. Ben opens the hasp and throws back the lid. Gold bars, stamped with the Confederate seal, fill every square inch.

RILEY
Do you think we better get this to a bank right away?

MRS. SLIDELL
The kitchen will do just fine.

INT. SLIDELL RANCH HOUSE – KITCHEN
Mrs. Slidell turns a gold bar over and over in her hands, examining it. Before her the table is heaped with the contents of the Wells Fargo strongbox. Riley and Morgan enter each carrying gold bars.

MORGAN
These are the last of them, ma! Looks like you can now pay off the mortgage.

MRS. SLIDELL
Won’t that be a blessing!

She places the bar she’s been holding into its place with the rest, taking care to arrange it just so.

RILEY
I’m going to go give Ben a hand with the box.

Riley exits.

MRS. SLIDELL
Two treasures in less than twenty-four hours.

Morgan is pained by her observation.

MORGAN
Well, I hadn’t gotten around to that side of the house yet, ma. I would have found it.

MRS. SLIDELL
Maybe. And maybe not! I think our Mr. Gates bears close watching. It may be quite profitable.

MORGAN
For the Knights of the Golden Circle, you mean.

MRS. SLIDELL
Of course! Don’t be a ninny!

Ben and Riley enter, each bearing an end of the strongbox. They place it on the floor with a CLUNK.

MORGAN
So! No sign of any papers?

Ben reaches inside the box and raps the bottom. With a knowing smile he pulls up on some straps that release the false bottom, causing “oohs” and “aahs” from all watching.

INSERT
In between the reinforcements in the bottom are indeed papers: maps, bills, pictures, and wrapped in a fine mesh cloth is a book of some sort. With care Ben removes it from its resting place.

BACK TO SCENE
Ben removes the cloth with equal care and opens the book.

BEN
(flipping pages)
Judging by the dates, it’s a log Turner kept during the war.

Mrs. Slidell rummages through one of the drawers and comes up with a large size zip lock bag.

MRS. SLIDELL
Here, take this for your papers.

Ben and Riley retrieve the papers and slip them carefully into the plastic bag, all that is, except the logbook. That Ben keeps in a death-grip.

MRS. SLIDELL (CONT’D)
I suppose you will be returning home now? Where is home, for you?

BEN
Just outside Baltimore. And yes, we will be returning, as soon as we can catch a flight. Could we hop a ride to the airport?

Mrs. Slidell picks up the same gold bar she’d been handling earlier and passes it to Ben, much to the disapproval of her son.

MRS. SLIDELL
Here. Take this, I want you to have it. You’ll see that it’s different from all the rest.

Ben feels its heft, its solidity brings a smile to his lips. This one, instead of the Confederate seal, has San Francisco mint markings and the date 1860.

BEN
Thank you, Mrs. Slidell. I don’t know what to say.

MRS. SLIDELL
“Thanks” is just fine.

Riley picks up the false bottom and turns it over. He notices something, and so does Morgan.

MORGAN
Hey, that’s another map, isn’t it?

Ben takes the artifact from Riley. And they all look over his shoulder.

BEN
There’s that JJ combination again. And here’s a Masonic symbol, one that was shared by the KGC. Ever hear of them?

MRS. SLIDELL
You mean that old soviet spy organization?

MORGAN
No, ma. Not KGB, he said KGC.
(to Ben)
The KGC was some Confederate group wasn’t it?

BEN
Yes, and Lon Turner was a former member.

MORGAN
That makes sense.

BEN
This caption here – Sha-co-na-qe – the Cherokee word for the Smoky Mountains gives us a place.

MORGAN
Just over in Tennessee, huh?

Mrs. Slidell takes the map and holds it up close to her face.

MRS. SLIDELL
Mr. Gates, instead of returning by plane, would you like to swing by this place and check it out?
My son was driving back to DC today, anyway.

Ben looks at Riley, and Riley looks at Ben.

BEN
If you would excuse us for a minute.

They step out onto:

EXT. SLIDELL RANCH HOUSE – BACK PORCH

RILEY
So, what are you thinking?

BEN
I feel like we’re hot on a trail of bread crumbs.

RILEY
Having visions of rebel submarines?

BEN
The way I see it, I need to follow up every possibility. Let’s see what kind of deal we can make.

[next pt 11]

Rebel Treasure ninth post

EXT. SLIDELL RANCH – THE GRASSY SLOPE
Ben herds the Slidells up to the pit.

MORGAN
Looks like a bunch of junk to me.

BEN
It is. Or rather everything that was left behind.

He points to the circular hole in the bottom of the pit.

BEN (CONT’D)
What was pulled from there was quite valuable. Probably coins, and worth much more than their face value.

MRS. SLIDELL
How much, would you say, Mr. Gates?

BEN
I’d say in the neighborhood of ten to fifty thousand dollars.

MORGAN
Talk about grand theft!

BEN
And I feel real bad about it. But I do believe that I have some good news.
(pauses)
This was just a token treasure. Directions were placed here to point the way to a much larger cache.

Mrs. Slidell, hands on hips, plants herself  in front of Ben.

MRS. SLIDELL
And how much of this “cache” are you two demanding in exchange for finding it?

RILEY
Oh, we’re not demanding anything, In fact, Ben here wants to see that you get all of it.

BEN
There is one thing that I would like to request up front though, if we find any papers belonging to my ancestor, may I have them?

The mother and son look at one another, see agreement and nod their consent.

C. U. OF THE SCREEN
Reveals the “junk” as it lay buried the day before.

BEN (O.S.)
This bed boxspring is representative of the whole slope here, with the jar roughly placed in reference to where it lies on this “map.”
(points to the ax head)
This is analogous to the Bowie knife buried over there. But note, if you consider that a handle were still attached it would point in another direction. Riley, note the bearing.

Riley has his GPS unit out and loads the bearing.

RILEY (O.S.)
I’ll get right on it.

BEN (O.S.)
This object we now see is a belaying pin, roughly placed at the point of the disc on this side.

BACK TO SCENE

MORGAN
(looks to his mother)
It all seems so involved, but we’ll take your word for it.

BEN
Good. This way, please.

He leads them to where the disc rests on the ground.

BEN (CONT’D)
The belaying pin was pointed in this direction,
(pointing)
which I have so noted in my GPS. But as a further check…

He lines up the letter “B” with the letter “P” on the disc.

BEN (CONT’D)
(with a broad smile)
A match. Lon didn’t want us to miss the way.

As Ben heads off on the tangent, first Mrs. Slidell, then Morgan fall in line behind him.

A POINT NEARER THE SLIDELL HOUSE
Riley’s detector sounds off just as it reaches the line the others are walking. The noise sets them off like race horses flushed from the starting gate, and they charge to where Riley stands in awe.

RILEY
Whatever this is, it’s huge!

Morgan takes one look at the detector’s screen and lights out for the garage.

MORGAN
Be back in a flash!

[next pt 10]

Rebel Treasure eighth post

Rebel Treasure eighth post

INT. MOTEL ROOM – EARLY MORNING
With the SOUND OF A SHOWER running in the b.g., Ben pores over the images captured from the detector on the laptop. He adjusts the scale of the image so all the objects are within view. He flips it 180 degrees and focuses it in and out.

IN THE SHOWER
Riley’s concert of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” is interrupted by a SHOUT from the room.

MOTEL ROOM
Riley barges through the door girt in a towel, ready for action. Ben is dancing around the room with his fists in the air.

BEN
He’s talking to us!

RILEY
Who’s talking to us, Ben?

Ben pulls him into the dance.

BEN
Alonzo! It’s a map, Riley! It’s another map!

Riley breaks free and stoops to look at the laptop.

RILEY
Bedsprings and junk?

BEN
Cousin Toby is going to flip!

EXT. MOTEL PARKING LOT – LATER
Ben and Riley have their things piled on the curb, waiting outside the motel restaurant. Ben closes up his cell phone.

BEN
Still no answer.

RILEY
I’m getting a bad feeling about this.

BEN
You’re getting a bad feeling!

RILEY
I’ll call us a cab.

SLIDELL RANCH – THE GRASSY SLOPE – DAY
Our mournful duo stand on opposite sides of a freshly dug pit. The items from within are strewn helter-skelter about the landscape. And at the bottom is a neat circular hole from which the glass jar had been plucked.

They pick up their things and turn towards the Slidell ranch house, in front of which are now parked two vehicles, a sedan and an SUV.

E/I SLIDELL RANCH HOUSE
MRS. LETITIA SLIDELL, a white-haired Southern Belle of a grandma with a smile as sweet as apple pie and coffee in the parlor answers the door.

MRS. SLIDELL
Good day, gentlemen.

BEN
Howdy, m’am. Would you happen to be Mrs. Slidell?

MRS. SLIDELL
(with a chuckle)
Why, yes, and whom do I have the honor..?

BEN
The name’s Ben Gates, and this is my associate Riley Poole. And I’m afraid that I bear some bad news.

MRS. SLIDELL
Do forgive my lapse in manners, won’t you come in?

She ushers them into a spotless kitchen, sparkling in the morning sunshine. At the table sits MORGAN SLIDELL, a fine specimen of thirtyish manhood. The creases on his shirt could cut the steak that he currently is carving for breakfast.

MORGAN
What’s the problem, Ma?

MRS. SLIDELL
That remains to be seen, Morgan.

Ben shifts uncomfortably from one foot to the other.

BEN
I’m afraid that someone has taken something from your property.

MORGAN
There, Ma. See, I told you so, you gotta start locking your doors.

RILEY
Actually, it was something way out yonder…

He points out the window and down the grassy slope.

MRS. SLIDELL
And who was it that did the taking?

BEN
We suspect that it was someone we know. But it’s only a suspicion.

RILEY
We don’t even know for sure what was taken, but we’re quite sure that it was very valuable.

The Slidells look at one another with absolute befuddlement.

BEN
Are you familiar with the Turner name hereabouts?

MRS. SLIDELL
It was a Turner that once owned this ranch, if I am not mistaken.

BEN
Yes, Alonzo Turner. He was an ancestor of mine. On my mother’s side.

MORGAN
We’re talking about back around the time of the Civil War aren’t we?

BEN
Alonzo was a Confederate naval officer during the war, but it was quite some time after that that he lived here.

MORGAN
So, you’re saying he left something of his on the property?

BEN
Actually, yes. And he left a map by which to find it.

MRS. SLIDELL
And if it is on our property now, it’s ours isn’t it?

Her question casts a silence over the room.

BEN
That is most certainly true, m’am. In fact when we were here yesterday…

MORGAN
You were here yesterday?

RILEY
Yes, we located where something had been buried…

BEN
But went no further, for we were awaiting your return, in hopes that we could come to some agreement.

MRS. SLIDELL
I see!
(turns to her son)
You see it too, don’t you son.

MORGAN
Yeah, I smell a rat.

BEN
I assure you both that our intentions were and are honorable. Why don’t you come with us and we’ll show you?

Mother and son exchange a look and shrug “Why not.”

[next pt 9]

Rebel Treasure seventh post

Rebel Treasure seventh post

EXT. GRASSY SLOPE – SLIDELL RANCH
Ben turns the map in his hands to align the “Y” of the two creeks joining, to the scene before him. He looks behind him to the farmhouse far in the distance. Toby’s van sits in front.

BEN
(to himself)
Well, I suppose that explains the “Lon” reference. It’s his house. Now for the other two.

Riley and Toby appear in the distance and wave to him. Ben returns the wave and points to the “JJ” side of the slope. As he crosses to that side, the two head in his direction, with Toby eagerly in the advance.

LATER
Ben is stooping, combing through the tall grass when the boys catch up to him.

RILEY
Nobody’s home.

Ben stops what he’s doing and straightens up.

TOBY
Don’t worry. The door’s unlocked, so I’m sure they’ll be back soon.

BEN
Okay, we’ll just see what we can find in the meantime. But no digging.
(to Riley)
Why don’t you get the detector and check the other side.

RILEY
What am I looking for?

BEN
My guess is that you’ll find a buried knife.

RILEY
Ah. And see which direction it points and follow it up.

BEN
Exactly.

Riley departs at a jog for the van.

TOBY
And what are we looking for?

BEN
The mystery of “JJ.”

THE JJ SIDE OF THE GRASSY SLOPE

TOBY
Hot damn. This is exciting!

Toby takes one more step and face plants.

C. U. TOBY’S FOOT
Something shiny glitters in the grass.

BACK TO SCENE

BEN
(pointing)
Hold on! I think you found it!

Toby flips around to look. He parts the grass to reveal a metal disc flush with the ground. Ben drops down beside him.

C. U. OF THE DISC
A series of dots run around the circumference with a random letter assigned to each. Ben’s finger points to the first “J.”

BEN
So, we just line up this “J” with the other to get our bearing. Ingenious, if you don’t have the letters, you don’t have the bearing.

BACK TO SCENE
Ben and Toby race off on the line of bearing, and stop where they can see it will intersect with the line that Riley is pursuing. Riley stops swinging the detector and makes a beeline for them. Toby is hopping up and down, barely able to contain his excitement.

TOBY
We got it now. I can taste it.

Riley motions them to step aside as he comes straight in on their position. The detector breaks out in a furious clicking.

RILEY
Whoa! Have we got something here!

Ben and Toby crowd in to view the screen.

TOBY
Ah! There’s nothing but a lot of junk.

C. U. OF THE SCREEN
Reveals various odds and ends – an axhead, bed springs, a straight stick of some sort and a large circle.

BACK TO SCENE

BEN
Oh, that’s not junk.
(pointing at the circle)
That’s a huge glass jar. Maybe one or two gallon.

TOBY
Just what we need two gallons of great-grandma’s preserves.

RILEY
What’s the matter with preserves? I like preserves.

BEN
Glass jars were the favorite backyard bank of the pioneers in this region.

Toby drops to his knees and starts to scoop up the earth with his hands, but stops.

TOBY
(rising)
I forgot. You’re right. We should get permission first.

Ben looks around at the still empty house and the setting sun.

BEN
Looks like we better call it a day, gentlemen. We’ll come back first thing tomorrow morning.

TOBY
I know a nice, clean motel where you can spend the night. My house still isn’t put back together, I’m afraid.

BEN
(looks at Riley)
Okay. No problem.

[next pt 8]

Rebel Treasure sixth post

Rebel Treasure sixth post

EXT. TOBY’S HOME – DAY
The trio drives up in Toby’s lime green van and parks in front of a Victorian era gingerbread house. Fresh holes pock the front and side yards, turning it into a playground for moles or prairie dogs.

They emerge from the vehicle and line up along the curb.

TOBY
As you can see, we can rule out the front and side yards.

BEN
It’s pretty obvious from the map that this is not the place.

TOBY
What? This is the family homestead.

BEN
I don’t see the confluence of two streams any where about.
(takes out his fax copy)
See. This is indicative of a site with a much larger scale.

RILEY
Was this property larger at one time?

TOBY
No, it’s always been a house in the town. The closest stream around here is clear across town, and was never part of the property. I’ll go in and make a couple of calls.

As Toby goes in, Riley takes out his detector, and commences combing the yard. Ben follows a walk around to the back and takes a look. Here, the yard is untouched. Toby steps out the back-door and joins him.

TOBY (CONT’D)
We’re in luck. There is a ranch outside of town that once was in the family. Someone else owns it now. A family called the Slidells.

They collect Riley. Toby takes the driver’s seat, and Ben helps Riley load the detector.

RILEY
Whew! For a moment there I thought he was going to have us fill in all those holes.
(as he gets in)
The Red Sox by three in the bottom of the eighth.

INT. TOBY’S VAN – DAY
Toby likes his country music loud, but Ben is oblivious, his concentration lost in study of the original map.

BEN
(raising his voice above the radio)
Do the letters on the back of the map mean anything to you?

Toby reaches for the volume and turns it down a shade.

TOBY
“LON” is short for Alonzo, but that’s all I’m sure about. You?

BEN
These two Js could be a nickname, and over here is CUCHILLO, the Spanish word for “knife.”

TOBY
You don’t say.

They slow down for a long curve, cross a culvert and come to a stop on the shoulder of the road.

TOBY (CONT’D)
This here’s the back of the property and that there is a stream. We can follow it and see if it crosses another.

BEN
I’ll check it out. Why don’t you and Riley go around and find the owner and get permission to dig.

Ben slides out of the vehicle. And Riley gets out to change to the front seat.

TOBY
(hunching down to speak through the window)
You mean, tell them there may be a treasure buried on their property?

BEN
Exactly! Honesty is always the best policy. Hopefully we’ll have another partner, eh?

With a grumble, Toby puts the van in gear and goes in quest of the owner. Ben crosses the road and climbs down to the stream.

[next pt 7]