Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Treasure Trove

Jeanne examined the huge safe-door, with her head cocked to one side like a curious cocker-spaniel. Her blonde pigtails wagged back and forth as she shook her head. “The whole room’s a safe?” she said dubiously.

“I’m afraid so,” Rich affirmed. He had his hands in the pockets of his jeans and was leaning against the wall as casually as if he owned the building they had just broken into.

“Well, why can’t we just blast through a wall or something?” Jeanne whined.

Rich shook his head. “Too much risk of damaging the merchandise. I brought you along for your safe-cracking skills, so make yourself useful.”

Grumbling to herself, Jeanne examined the door. Then she rolled her eyes. “This is an insult to my intelligence,” she said.

“How do you mean?” asked Rich, the lazy gaze of his grey eyes fixed on her.

“It’s ridiculously simple.”

“Then what are you complaining about?” Rich asked, and now there was a touch of impatience in his voice, “Just get that thing open.”

“I told you,” said Jeanne, drawing a stethoscope from her purse, “I don’t get a kick out of this stuff the way you do.”

“Whatever,” said Rich, disbelieving, “I’ve seen your work.”

Without giving this a response, Jeanne turned her attention to the safe. Three clicks, and she was in. Rich let out a sigh of relief.

“What?” said Jeanne, “I told you it was simple.”

“Yeah, but it was also connected to a string of explosives. One false move and we were dead.”

“And you couldn’t have told me that?!” said Jeanne, her voice squeaking.

“I didn’t want to distract you. Come on.”

No matter what she had said, Jeanne was excited to see what was on the other side of the large safe-door. She knew Rich’s reputation, and had hoped for diamonds or gold or famous paintings. What she wasn’t expecting was—


The entire room was lined with them – shelves upon shelves of leather-bound manuscripts. Rich had begun ferreting through the shelves, looking at titles, occasionally pulling down a book to peruse its contents. Jeanne, however, stood stock-still in the middle of the room, staring around in fury.

“There’s no loot here.” She said.

“Hmm?” said Rich absently, tossing a book over his shoulder and returning to looking through the shelves.

Taking a deep, calming breath, Jeanne said: “Please tell me that these books are worth billions of dollars.”

“What? Oh, no. Not a single first edition in the lot. You know, for a man of such expensive habits, old Norton knows nothing about books.”

“Then why are we here?”

Rich shrugged. “Personal curiosity. Norton’s supposed to have the best collection, even if most of them aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Did I forget to mention there wouldn’t be much of a payout for this?”

There was a click as Jeanne cocked the pistol she had just drawn from her purse. “You know, I think you did forget to mention it.” She said dangerously.

“Look,” said Rich, raising his hands and smiling, “These books have personal value to me, and I needed your help getting in. Norton’s got plenty of other things you can take, and I know he won’t be back until tomorrow. You help yourself.”

“I’ll do that,” said Jeanne, “But first I think I’ll lock you in here. Then when I’m done cleaning out the place, I’ll call the cops and report a robbery. I’m sure they’ll be glad to find you at last.” She backed towards the door, keeping her gun focused on Rich’s chest. He seemed to hesitate, then at last said:

“Alright, I'll tell you why I’m really here.”

Jeanne cocked her head in confusion again, “Why you’re really here?”

“You think I broke into Norton’s – one of the best protected houses in the city – to look at a bunch of old books? Well, ok, I did, but with good reason – one of these books holds the directions to finding a treasure.”

With a high, barking laugh, Jeanne said: “Really? That’s what you dragged us here for? I never pegged you as the treasure-hunting type, Rich.”

“You don’t understand,” Rich shook his head, “This is no ordinary treasure.”

“Uh-huh, I’m sure,” Jeanne rolled her eyes, “Let me guess, this one has been lost for centuries, and is guarded by a curse left by the captain of some ship no one’s ever heard of, and Norton is a long-lost relative, blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard this story before, Rich. Usually in cartoon form. That’s why I rob museums and not graves – more certainty, fewer dead people.”

“Look, this isn’t a joke – I’m sure of it. This treasure is… well, it’s different. I didn’t want to share it with you, but since it's a choice between that and prison….”

“And how do I know you didn’t just spin this yarn so I wouldn’t lock you in here?”

Rich hesitated, “You have my word of honor.”

This made Jeanne laugh harder than ever. She backed out of the vault, still holding her gun on him, “I’m sorry Rich, but you should know that isn’t worth very much.”

And then she shut the vault with a final-sounding clang!


Today's Novel Idea Prompted by:
Image below, courtesy of Google Images!

Picture found simply by searching Google images for "door." Doors are always interesting, since they have to lead somewhere, and this one just caught my eye. I recommend browsing Google Images for any random thing you think might spark an idea.

And maybe tomorrow I'll do a prompt that isn't picture-based.

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