What would this old bankbarn reveal?
Our old farmhouse had come with an equally old bank barn. This structure had long hidden all of its treasure behind years of brush, trees and vines.
Once we had finally dug our way through this jungle, we came not as archeologists seeking knowledge of lost civilizations, but as common grave robbers. Thus we began digging through piles of junk looking for our treasure. With drool running from my mouth I tore through mounds of old boards and piles of empty bottles. As I dug through one particularly dusty pile of junk, I was suddenly surprised to hear a weird, half-crazed laughing. I stopped and looked around. The laughing sounded creepy in these dark surroundings and I was beginning to wonder if the place was haunted when I suddenly realized the sound had come from me. Greed can make people do strange things.
Our first quick check of the interior revealed nothing of value, but we were not discouraged – certainly a more thorough inspection would locate the lost wonders. So we once again went back to our search; this time more methodically sifting through the junk piles, leaving no stone unturned. But the result was the same: no treasure, no money, no antiques, and no nothing! Just junk!
I couldn’t believe it. Had we risked life and limb to gain entrance to this structure only to find nothing? Roxanne and I looked at each other dejectedly and slowly faced the awful truth. We had managed to buy the only century barn in America which did not contain at least one old artifact. Sadly, we were ready to call it a day, when out of the corner of my eye I saw it! Sitting in a far corner, almost hidden by hay was an old trunk. And not just any old trunk, but a genuine old-fashioned, I-just-came-back-from-a-Queen-Mary-world-cruise, steamer trunk! Looking at it setting there in that dark corner of the barn, we knew this trunk had to contain either a fortune in gold Spanish doubloons or at the very least the bones from a victim of a long unsolved murder.
To add to its mysteriousness, this trunk was very heavy –all the more reason for believing it was stuffed with unfathomable treasure. In fact it was so heavy that there was no way Roxanne and I were going to drag it across our makeshift bridge to the light
of day. So enlisting the services of my son-in-law the next time he made the mistake of visiting the farm, we were able to push and drag this trunk out of the barn. Huffing and puffing we dragged it into our chicken coop (sorry, make that alpaca barn) to take a closer look at it. Here we discovered the trunk was securely locked with a big, brass clasp which would have done the Brinks Armored Car Company proud.
We left the trunk sitting unmolested in a corner of the chicken coop/barn and went to celebrate our soon-to-be-discovered fortune. Then later that week I found myself alone and unsupervised at the farm, so I decided to take a break from the chores Roxanne had assigned me and more closely inspect this mysterious trunk. I first noticed a brand name proudly stamped on its side: “Indestruco.” This name implied this trunk would not give up its secrets easily. This was born out as I ran my engineer’s eye over the trunk and could find no obvious weak spot. Had it been aboard the ill-fated Titanic, this trunk would surely have washed up on the shores of Newfoundland still intact and tightly locked.
My next move was drag out an old coffee can which we had recently found. This can contained at least a hundred rusty keys of every size and description. Surely, I thought, one of them must fit the Indestructo lock on this trunk. But as I proceeded to unsuccessfully try one key after the other, it soon became apparent that my quest was not destined to end so easily.
A lesser mortal would have given up at this point, but as I stood back and scratched my head something caught my eye. Leaning in for a closer examination I detected its Achilles’ heel: the hinge pins! I quickly found a hammer and punch and began to beat on one of these pins. At first the rust of countless years resisted me, but then I felt the pin move ever so slightly. Like a Devil’s Island prisoner digging to freedom I began excitedly beating at the hinge. Finally the pin popped out onto the floor. Success!
I eagerly went to work on the other two hinges, which soon yielded to my efforts. (Perhaps I had missed my calling as a safecracker?) However, my work appeared to be for naught; for even though I had theoretically dismantled the hinges, I still could not get the lid to move even a smidgeon. It appeared this trunk had indeed been aptly named.
Now I was getting just the tiniest bit frustrated. Maybe it was time to substitute brute strength for finesse. I turned my attention back to the front of the trunk and the famous Indestructo lock. Not knowing what to try next, I absentmindedly stuck a screwdriver behind this lock and gently pried. There was a small POP and I saw the lock hanging open! It happened so quickly and easily at first I refused to believe my eyes. I had opened the lock with a simple screwdriver and a quick twist of the wrist! So much for being Indestructo; this name was obviously nothing more than the product of some marketing man’s overactive imagination.
I took a step back to catch my breath. Having waited so long to examine the incredible secrets hidden inside, I now found myself strangely hesitant to take the final step. As an excuse to delay opening the trunk I decided to first replace the hinge pins. After completing this activity I next questioned whether I should wait for Roxanne and make this a formal unveiling. Perhaps I should
even set up a camera and preserve the opening for posterity – or at least You Tube?
As I lingered in my indecisiveness, I happened to glance outside. When I had started this activity the afternoon had been bright and sunny. Now was it just my imagination or had the day turned gray and sinister? What if instead of treasure this trunk was a Pandora’s Box containing some evil entity? I laughed aloud at this thought, but my voice sounded strange in the empty building. I
looked around carefully. In the movies this was when the hero would be knocked on the head by the bad guy, who would then steal the priceless treasure inside the trunk.
But then I remembered that fortune favors the bold. Taking a firm grasp on the top of the trunk I gathered both my strength and my courage and gave a mighty heave. It came open surprisingly easy, with the hinges squealing. I stepped back to get a better view of the contents and was shocked at what I saw!
It was absolutely empty! I leaned forward and looked into the trunk. There was not as much as a bent coat hanger inside. How could something so heavy be so empty? I felt around the sides of the trunk looking for a secret compartment, but found nothing. Slowly I sat back on my heels in dismay and disappointment. I was not prepared for this. Maybe gold doubloons were expecting too much, but how about at least some old love letters or a moth-eaten army uniform. Instead there was nothing. Nothing! Now I know how poor Geraldo felt when he opened Al Capone’s safe and became the laughing stock of America. At least my ignominy was hidden in the shadows of an old chicken coop.