Monday, February 4, 2019

Hill House Treasure


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

He lived a palatial life in Sherman, Texas, but according to his neighbors, he didn't seem to work for a living.

He wasn't the recipient of an inheritance of any significance. He didn't deal in illegal drugs. There was no oil well in his back yard. No savvy investment strategy and no booming internet business to account for his apparent wealth.

His friends were mysterious. They came only occasionally and didn't stay long. Seems his relatives had disowned him, at least he never talked about them and none were ever seen.

He traveled a lot. Always off to some foreign country, bringing back expensive hand made gifts for his neighbors. They always accepted his offerings with a thankful heart and open hand. If this was his way of keeping them from prying into his personal life, it was working.

So where did his money come from?

~~~~

His name was Arland Morgan. Five years ago he had moved into the 150 year old Victorian manor known as the Hill house. It had sat vacant for over 20 years and was in need of a major renovation. Arland took on the project. He worked alone. It was a slow going venture from the start. Then, suddenly, the pace picked up. Workers were hired and the project was finished at a much faster pace.

~~~~

When Arland first found the house, he fell in love with it. He had just left a job in San Francisco working for a dot com company as their top graphic designer. When his stock options came due, he cashed them in and left for Texas. His plan was to renovate the house and start his own freelancing business.

Part of the renovation required him to do some repair work in the basement. As he tore into one of the walls, he opened up an old root cellar. The entry had been sealed off for decades. He shined a light into the damp room. It wasn't completely empty.

He explored it a little further and found a case of old wine and a trunk filled with precious stones and antique jewelry. It reminded him of a pirates treasure he had read about in a book when he was a kid. Not knowing the value of the items, he did some research.

He knew the house was once owned by a reputed jewel thief. It was never proven and eventually the old man passed away. Now Arland had the proof, but no way was he going to give it up.

His research showed the wine to be valuable. He discretely had the bottles auctioned off and was shocked when the total proceeds came to over one million dollars.

The jewels could be identified, so Arland found someone who could sell them for cash to private collectors. They brought him another ten million which he hid from the IRS.

Arland now keeps his wealth in the same old root cellar. Hidden behind a false wall in moisture-proof plastic buckets.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

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