This historical mystery contains two stories which gradually merge into one. One occurs during 2011, while the other takes place in 1863 during the height of the Civil War.
In 2011, after moving to South Carolina, Paul Waring, a retired Connecticut state trooper, and his wife start their new life. Soon after moving, Paul makes a startling discovery.
He discovers the remains of a long-forgotten Confederate soldier, along with several Civil War artifacts. Those artifacts include two glass bottles containing several clues he must decipher.
Paul determines that one clue concerns the whereabouts of the lost Confederate treasury; a treasury largely comprised of gold and silver coins. He later discovers much of this gold was stolen from the United States government at the outbreak of the Civil War.
A Tree Reveals Her Secret.
“When the sun’s at his back and the winds in his face, it’s just him and the wheel; He wouldn’t take a million for the way it makes him feel …” Kenny Chesney - Lyrics to his song ‘Boats’
The day after he agreed to purchase his new boat, a boat which was everything but new, Paul also purchased a used truck so he could tow the boat to and from a storage facility close to his home. He appreciated the offer Steve had given him, one which allowed the pontoon boat to be moored at the marina for the rest of summer, but he had declined the offer. He planned on mooring the boat in one of the marinas situated along the Waccamaw River as the water in the river was generally not as rough as the constantly changing tides were inside Murrells Inlet. For now though, he decided he would keep the boat at the storage facility until he found a marina he liked along the river.
The truck he purchased was a used 2002 Chevy V-8 Silverado four door. It had four wheel drive capability and was one with a tow package already installed on it. The truck was pewter in color and had just over 72,000 miles on it. While it had a couple dents on the front hood, the rest of the truck was in very good condition despite it being close to ten years old. He purchased it for only $2,500.00 from a widow who had recently lost her husband. She had priced it on the low end so it would sell quickly as she wanted one less sad memory of her late husband being around the house. As he drove the truck out of her driveway on the morning he purchased it, Paul could not help but to think his good luck was still continuing.
After buying the truck, Paul stopped for a late breakfast at the Waccamaw Diner on Frontage Road, just off Highway 17 in Murrells Inlet. With Donna having started her new job earlier in the week, he had already made the diner his new place to grab a quick breakfast and to read the paper on a couple of recent occasions.
After ordering his breakfast, and after opening up the sports section of The Sun News, a local newspaper in the Myrtle Beach area, Paul glanced out the diner window at his newly purchased truck. He caught himself smiling at the excitement he sensed would soon be occurring when he went to pick up the pontoon boat he had dreamed about owning for years. Drinking his coffee as he looked out the window, he had one other pleasant thought. “Retirement life is working out pretty well so far!”
“Here you go sweetheart,” Betty Repko said as she placed Paul’s breakfast of scrambled eggs, home fries, and sausage down on the table. “You’re becoming a regular here, ain’t you? I’ve seen ya here three times this week.” Paul introduced himself to Betty, telling her he had just recently moved to the area from Connecticut after retiring.
“Well imagine that, another Yankee moving to South Carolina!” Betty quickly laughed at her own good-natured joke. He could tell from her demeanor she had just been joking with him when she had called him a Yankee. “Let me tell ya something, if y’all are going to become a Southern gentleman we are going to have to teach ya to eat grits with your breakfast, not home fries,” Betty again joked. Paul made a face to show his lack of interest in the creamy cornmeal Southern delicacy. The expression he made caused Betty to laugh at her suggestion regarding the grits. “If ya are going to become a regular here, ya also need to be sitting on the other side of the diner, that’s where those old fools who have lived here for years sit. All they do is complain about you Yankees moving here, complain about not catching enough fish, and generally lie to each another about how much sex they are having. The way they describe it, their women are always pissed off about something, so I know for a fact they aren’t getting any. Besides being a bunch of complainers, they’re all lousy tippers too!” Betty had just told him far more than he cared to know. She soon left the booth where he was sitting and walked back behind the diner’s lunch counter, carrying a tray of dirty dishes she had cleared from the booth next to his.
Outside of her rough language, Betty reminded him of many of the waitresses he had known in diners back home. They were often cheerful hard working single moms who were trying to earn a living by being nice to their customers. From the friendly banter they had with their customers they hoped they would be rewarded with enough tip money to help them pay their bills and to care for their kids. For some of them, they also held out hope they might even find someone decent enough to care for them. Betty was only different than the other waitresses he had known back home because she was a bit older and because she talked with the Southern drawl he loved to hear these days.
As he started to eat his breakfast he glanced over towards the section of the diner where Betty had told him the diner’s regular morning customers tended to sit. As he did, he saw Chubby sitting in one of the booths with a couple of other guys. Next to their booth sat four other guys who he could tell were part of Chubby’s group of friends. Seeing them sitting there, Paul thought the guys with Chubby fit his description of Southern rednecks. They all wore baseball hats, all had work pants on, and some of them were wearing shirts that were either ripped or torn. Most of them had not shaved for a few days. As he continued to look at them between bites of his breakfast, he could not figure out why, but those were the people in life he always had an appreciation for. Southern rednecks, or Northern rednecks, it did not matter, they were the hard working guys in life who spent their down time just enjoying the simple pleasures that life offered, pleasures like hunting and fishing. Chubby’s friends all appeared to be going fishing later as they seemed dressed for it. From where he sat in the diner, he could also see several different types of fishing boats on trailers in the parking lot. The trailers were hitched up behind several types of Ford and Chevy pickup trucks. The rear windows of two of the trucks had a variety of NASCAR, Ducks Unlimited, and America – Love it or Leave it! stickers displayed on them; a third truck had red and white window tinting in the form of a Confederate flag filling up most of its rear window.
As he sat finishing his breakfast, Paul heard Chubby’s voice yell out to him as he was walking to the door. “Hey partner, y’all coming by for the boat this morning?” Nodding his head, he gave Chubby a thumbs up to indicate he would be there. His mouth was too full of the last bites of his scrambled eggs to answer him. “Alright then, we will be ready for y’all when ya get there,” Chubby replied as he gave a wave at the same time. Looking up from his plate, he could not help but notice that one of the guys Chubby had been sitting with now stood in the diner’s doorway for several moments staring at him, really almost glaring at him, before walking out to the parking lot to get into Chubby’s truck. Paul wondered what the glare had been about, but soon returned to finishing his breakfast. As he cleaned his plate with his last piece of buttered rye toast, he watched Chubby and his friends as they drove off in the direction of the marina. As he watched them, Betty stopped to refresh his coffee. She saw him staring out the window.
“Who was the guy sitting next to Chubby, do you know? He kind of stared at me for a few moments, almost like he was mad at me, and I don’t even know the guy.”
“Oh, that fat son of a bitch is known as Swamp. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know his real name. He’s a local and a real pain...
*Chapter 5 continues inside Confederate Gold and Silver
Peter Warren, a former resident of Connecticut, retired from the Connecticut State Police Department after serving for many years in several command assignments. He is a graduate of the University of New Haven and the FBI National Academy; he is an honor graduate of the Connecticut State Police Academy. Currently he resides in South Carolina with his wife, Debbie. A Civil War enthusiast and an avid golfer, he has combined those interests and his law enforcement experience into his first book, Confederate Gold and Silver.