NT Franklin has been published in Page and Spine, Fiction on the Web, 101 Words, Friday Flash Fiction, CafeLit, Madswirl, Postcard Shorts, 404 Words, Scarlet Leaf Review, Freedom Fiction, Burrst, Entropy, Alsina Publishing, Fifty-word stories, among others.
Me and Bart Dig for Gold
It was a cool summer Saturday morning and I was riding my bike in circles on the driveway. I waved to Bart across the road as he disappeared into his garage.
Bart pedaled across the road and called out, “I have a great plan.”
“Does it include those shovels you have?”
Bart dismounted and handed me one. “Yup, sure does. We’re gonna dig for gold.”
Bart mounted his bicycle and said, “Follow me, time’s awastin’.”
We didn’t have a baseball game so the day was open. I pedaled up beside Bart and asked again, “Where are we digging?”
“You know the new house going up on the way to the park?” Bart asked.
I thought for a minute and it came to me. “The one that looks like it’s on two lots?”
We stopped at a road to let the traffic pass. “Yeah. There’s a huge pile of dirt there.”
“Can we dig there? Isn’t it someone’s house?”
Bart turned to me and said, “Not yet, it’s not.”
The traffic cleared and Bart pushed off. I was a little skeptical about the dig, but pedaled fast so to keep up with Bart.
We arrived at the dig site and parked our bikes.
“Isn’t that a great pile of dirt?” asked Bart.
I had to admit it was a pretty big pile. “Think there are any rubies with the gold?”
“I dunno. They’re red and shiny, right?”
“Yup, my mom likes them. She likes the one your mom wears.”
“That’s right. She wears it when Dad’s traveling. She got it from someone.”
“Well, my mom thinks it’s pretty. Maybe I’ll find one for her.”
Bart walked toward the pile. “Grab your shovel and let’s dig.”
“I dunno. I’m gonna start about half way up.”
“Bart, how big are the gold nuggets? The size of a marble?”
“Yeah, that’d be a good one.”
Bart knew what he was doing so I started digging near him on the pile.
We dug for a while. Good thing it was a cool morning because digging for gold was hard work.
“Hey!” I yelled throwing up my hand. “Watch it. You nailed me with that shovelful.”
Bart put his shovel down. “Sorry. It’s just that I thought we’d have found lots of gold already.”
“Oh, it’s okay. I haven’t found any either.” I put my shovel across my knees and sat on the dirt pile. “No rubies either.”
Bart jabbed his shovel into the dirt pile and sat next to me. “Dirt and rocks, is all.”
“Yeah, I found a mess of little broken rocks. Really tiny pieces. See?”
Bart bent over to look. “Where?”
“Here, by my foot. Can’t you see them?
“Oh, the little chips? I’ve seen a mess of them, too.”
I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard, “Morning, boys.”
Bart hopped up and brushed off the seat of his pants and said, “Hi.”
A tall man smiled and asked, “What are you boys doing?”
I tried to make myself smaller and hoped we weren’t in trouble.
Bart climbed down the hill to meet the man. “We’re digging for gold.”
“Gold, huh? Find any?”
Bart shook his head. “Nope. No rubies either.”
The man smiled, revealing very white teeth. “No rubies either?”
“Nah, mostly rocks and dirt and piles of chips.”
The man cocked his head. “Chips?”
Bart motioned to me and I picked up a handful of the chips and brought them down. I held them out in my hand.
The man studied them and asked, “Lots of these?”
Bart shrugged his shoulders.
The man walked over to the pile and pawed in the dirt. Me and Bart looked at each other, shook our heads, then watched as the man picked something up from the pile.
He carried it over and handed it to Bart.
“This is a Native American arrowhead. It’s made of flint. Native Americans chipped off those pieces while making an arrowhead. That’s a good find, boys.”
“It’s not gold,” Bart said.
“Or rubies,” I chimed in.
“Maybe not, but valuable nonetheless. I’m Mr. Wiley. I own this pile of dirt and the soon-to-be-finished house.”
I looked at Bart. I didn’t like where this was heading.
Bart looked Mr. Wiley square in the eye. “There wasn’t a sign saying we couldn’t dig in the dirt pile.”
I took a half step back. “Are we in trouble?” I asked. “We didn’t mean to hurt anything, we were just digging for gold and rubies. You can have the arrowhead.”
Mr. Wiley laughed. “You boys are just fine. I remember loving to dig in dirt piles when I was about your age.” He gestured for us to come closer. “I have deal for you. You two, but no one else, can dig in the dirt here. You can keep the arrowheads you find. But…”
Bart straightened up and I took another step back.
Mr. Wiley threw his head back and laughed. “What a pair of pistols you two are! As I was saying, you can keep the arrowheads you find, but I’d like to see them. That’s all.”
“Really?” Bart asked.
“Yup, that’s all. When I move into the finished house, you two come over and we’ll set a time for you, your parents, and your arrowheads to visit. Deal?”
“Deal,” Bart said.
Mr. Wiley stepped away and said, “I just stopped by to check on the progress of the house. You two carry on.” He waved to us as he walked back to his car.
I stood there wondering what happened.
Bart turned toward the pile. “Arrowheads. Cool. Let’s get digging.”
We found one more arrowhead that day. The next day we found another. We dug for the next five days and when we were about to give up, we found our fourth arrowhead. The day after that, a bulldozer arrived and spread the dirt around in preparation for a lawn.
I kept all the arrowheads in my coin collection box under my bed for safekeeping. My mom was pretty impressed with the arrowhead collection and she agreed to meet Mr. Wiley.
All in all, it was a good day, four arrowheads were safe, and who knows, there is always tomorrow.
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