Louigi Verona's Workshop


Barren Coast

Louigi Verona
August 2013

The sun turned the island into a frying pan. Poone, an old pirate, ignored the heat, but not I, a city flower. My skin, once white, was aching. I could hardly think. I didn't want anything.

If I could be compared to a gentle helpless daisy, Poone is a cactus. Bristly, spiny. Keeps all moisture to himself. Seldom pees.

My shovel hit something and I mopped my brow.

Poone instantly reacted, "What's this?"

"I don't know. I am tired."

Poone shoved me away from the hole and began digging himself. "It's a rock. Get back to work."

We arrived on this island a year ago. At first it was fun and even a bit romantic. A city flower like myself - in the middle of an ocean, on a desert island, in search of treasure. Didn't even take a laptop with me.

"You idiot," my buddy was telling me, "there are no power sockets, capeesh?"

But I still envisioned the coming adventure as a feature film starring myself - handsome and gorgeous. What I didn't expect were dirt, hunger, torn clothes, scratches and bruises all over my body.

And, of course - my film didn't have Poone in it.

Avaricious, seasoned and eager to make his final attempt to get rich, he had nothing to lose and passionately pleaded with the captain to drop us off. Waving a tattered map in front of his face, Poone promised to pay him a fortune for the considerable detour that could jeopardize the captain's career.

In two weeks, on the way back, the captain would have had to make yet another detour and pick us up with the chest. But two weeks had gone by, we've dug through the whole island, and there was no treasure.

And that's when the Event happened.

The majestic vessel was sailing away, now but a small dot on the horizon, and all I could do was stare. Never had my life been changed so fast and so completely...

They didn't pick us up. The captain approached the island in a small boat. He then asked about the treasure. Poone said that it turned out there's no treasure here. That this land is empty, there's not a single cent in it. The map is wrong, or else it's a map of another island.

The captain did not take the news well. He realized that he had made a mistake, and for a moment his face became dark with rage. I could see it even from the shore. But then he made his decision, and his voice was calm:

"Do you at all realize what it cost me, you son of a bitch? Do you at all realize I just made another detour?"

As soon as we set foot on the island, I found it strange that there could be treasure here.

Serenity. Pristine land. I realized how precise this description really is. It was as if the island was molded by Nature just a few moments ago. It seemed incredible that anyone could have ever been here.

"You whippersnapper! How long do you think there'd be traces?" snapped Poone. "Are you expecting footprints in the sand and a note from your momma?"

But eventually I realized he was bluffing.

The old man immediately saw that the island was barren. He tried hiding his disappointment by buoyant digging, by stories about how it's customary for treasure maps to contain intricate puzzles, by a mysterious and deliberate trip into the thicket of the island, where we almost perished, having barely escaped a fall into a deep ravine. At some point it seemed that Poone himself began to believe his own fabrications, as if the treasure could actually be somewhere here, if only we could figure it all out!

But eventually he must have admitted the truth to himself, and we used the rest of the days to methodically dig holes. Let the captain see - we've worked diligently, we believed till the last moment that it's all for real...

And on the morning after the Event the old pirate went mad. He threatened me with a knife and demanded we keep on searching. We've churned through the whole beach, although it was clear that no one would ever bury a treasure chest so close to water.

"I have a good reputation, you whippersnapper! He saw that we are still searching. He will return. We have to be ready!"

I once tried bringing him to his senses. I looked at the map and suggested we verify it. Walk along the coastline and make sure this is indeed the island pictured on the map. Poone seemed to connect with the idea, his eyes stopped darting all over and regained some focus. We went along the beach and spent several hours setting up landmarks and drawing lines on the sand. But either our cartography skills had not been up to the task, or maybe the map wasn't that reliable after all, but in the end we just couldn't figure it out.

When Poone fell asleep, I went back to the beach. Water stretched to the horizon. Light cool breeze rattled my hair. Somewhere far away people lived their lives. They went to work, boarded trains, checked their emails. And I stood on the sand, at the heart of the ocean...