Four Boys and the Golden Treasure


This is a story that I wrote when I was about ten years old. I’ll have you know I won finalist in the local contest for it. I reproduce it here exactly as it was originally printed, and then give the all-new author’s commentary version.


 

There were four of us, Jack, Tim, myself, and Bill. We were our fishing one day in a sailboat when Tim felt a tug on his line. He reeled in a large Chinook salmon. “Well I guess that’s our dinner,” said Bill.

“Don’t look now but it might not be,” I replied looking at our pail as the salmon flopped it over.

As the salmon flopped toward the edge of the boat, Jack, the oldest and strongest leaped to grab it. Unfortunately, when he landed he lost his balance and fell into the river. He sunk down into the deep and landed with a bump on the river bed. When he gathered up enough courage to open his eyes, he saw a dark opening that looked like a cave. “I wonder if an octopus lives in there,” Jack thought as he swam towards the cave. When he reached the cave entrance he looked in cautiously. In the dim light he could barely make out five burlap sacks. One of the sacks had fallen over and a few nuggets of gold were scattered on the ground. “Oh boy! I’m rich,” thought Jack. He quickly grabbed a bag of gold and swam towards the surface.

I was startled when Jack’s head popped out of the water and nearly fell in the river myself. Bill and Tim were relieved that a shark hadn’t eaten him. Jack brought the other bags up to the boat one at a time because the bags were heavy. We sailed to shore and headed home.

On our way home we talked about our gold. “I’m giving one nugget of gold to Mom and Dad, you three get one nugget among yourselves. I will keep the rest!” said Jack.

Just the Mrs. Sanders walked by. “Whatcha got in them bags, you guys?” Mrs. Sanders scowled.

“The fishes we just caught,” lied Tim, the youngest.

“In burlap sacks?” questioned Mrs. Sanders.

“You betcha,” replied Bill. “You boys are sure strange to do that,” she said with a small chuckle as she walked away.

“I think that we had better get home before someone stops us again,” I said to Jack.

“Good idea, they might ask to see inside the bags.” We ran the rest of the way home. Jack went and hid his treasure in his wall safe and hung his dinosaur picture of a Velociraptor over it.

That night I couldn’t get to sleep so I go out of my bed and turned on the late night eyewitness news. When I turned it on it said something about a car accident. Then it said “Mrs. Sanders saw four boys carrying burlap sacks today. The boys claimed that the sacks contained the fish they had caught. She told the police about it when she heard that five sacks of gold had been stolen from the St. Petersburg Museum. She identified the boys as Bill, Jack, Tim and Lemme Carter.”

“Holy Cow!” I yelled waking up my brothers.

“What’s all the noise for, Lemme?” asked Jack.

“The treasure you found was stolen from the museum.” I said. “Mrs. Sanders has gotten the police after us.!”

“Are you sure?” asked Tim.

“It was on the news,” I replied.

“Let’s go back to bed now,” said Billy sleepily.

“Good idea,” we agreed. Then we climbed into bed and went to sleep.

The next day a police officer came to our door. “Do you have any treasure?” asked the policeman.

“Yes,” I said nervously.

“How much?”

“Five bags full,” Jack said joining me with Bill and Tim.

“Then you’re under arrest for stealing five bags of gold,” said the policeman.

Hearing this, Tim dodged past the policeman and ran into the street.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into him, but now it’s gotten into me too,” said Bill as he raced past the policeman and into the street.

“Those two sure can be strange sometimes,” said Jack with a sigh.

“I can be strange sometimes too,” I said racing past the policeman.

“Come in and sit down,” said Jack. As the policeman stepped into the house Jack ran through the open door.

“Quick! Into the storm drain!” yelled Jack loudly. We climbed into the storm drain and started running as fast as we could. Aften ten minutes or so we stopped and looked around. Seven feet off the ground was a pipe we could climb into and hide. We climbed up into the pipe and started crawling as fast as we could. All of a sudden we heard shuffles behind us. The policeman was after us! We began to crawl faster. The policeman was faster than us and was coming closer…closer when we saw a light up ahead. We crawled for all we were worth towards the light. Finally we came to the end of the tunnel. We looked out and saw the river below. We leaped into the river and sunk down to the bottom.

When we opened our eyes we saw two dark shadowy figures swimming towards a cave. “Hey, that’s the cave I found the treasure in,” thought Jack. “And those people must be the thieves who stole the treasure.” Jack motioned to us to go up to the surface.

“I’ll tell the policeman,” thought Bill as we swam upwards. “Hey, mister, get down here!” yelled Bill, “We found the real thieves!” The policeman jumped into the river and followed us to the shadowy figures. He handcuffed and took the thieves up to the surface and out of the river.

“These guys are the Buddy Brothers, the police have been after them for years,” he told us.

Later we returned the gold and were given a reward for catching the Buddy Brothers and recovering the gold to grateful proprietors of the St. Petersburg Museum.





And now, here is the version with author’s commentary!


 

There were four of us, Jack, Tim, myself, and Bill. Yes, that was stolen from the beginning of Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. We were our fishing one day in a sailboat when Tim felt a tug on his line. He reeled in a large Chinook salmon. “Well I guess that’s our dinner,” said Bill.

“Don’t look now but it might not be,” I replied looking at our pail as the salmon flopped it over.

As the salmon flopped toward the edge of the boat, Jack, the oldest and strongest leaped to grab it. Unfortunately, when he landed he lost his balance and fell into the river. He sunk down into the deep and landed with a bump on the river bed. I hadn’t learned about the whole buoyancy thing yet. When he gathered up enough courage to open his eyes (What was he scared of? Not running out of oxygen apparently. I suspect this was a reflection of my childhood fear of getting water in my eyes), he saw a dark opening that looked like a cave. “I wonder if an octopus lives in there,” Jack thought (the first of many logical thoughts in this narrative. Oh, and holy POV fail, Batman! This POV is called “first-person psychic”) as he swam towards the cave. When he reached the cave entrance he looked in cautiously (still more concerned about an octopus than oxygen deficiency). In the dim light he could barely make out five burlap sacks. One of the sacks had fallen over and a few nuggets of gold were scattered on the ground. “Oh boy! I’m rich,” thought Jack. He quickly grabbed a bag of gold and swam towards the surface (buoyancy making up for lost time).

I was startled when Jack’s head popped out of the water and nearly fell in the river myself. Bill and Tim were relieved that a shark hadn’t eaten him. Wikipedia says there are indeed freshwater sharks. These are sharp kids to know that. Jack brought the other bags up to the boat one at a time because the bags were heavy. We sailed to shore and headed home.

On our way home we talked about our gold. “I’m giving one nugget of gold to Mom and Dad, you three get one nugget among yourselves. I will keep the rest!” said Jack. And that was OK with the rest of them.

Just the Mrs. Sanders walked by. “Whatcha got in them bags, you guys?” Mrs. Sanders scowled. Old people talk funny, obviously.

“The fishes we just caught,” lied Tim, the youngest.

“In burlap sacks?” questioned Mrs. Sanders. Burlap?! For fish?! Apparently I knew about some unwritten rule of fishing back then that I have since forgotten.

“You betcha,” replied Bill. Oh no, now the old person slang has got Bill. “You boys are sure strange to do that,” she said with a small chuckle as she walked away. Another realistic line of dialogue.

“I think that we had better get home before someone stops us again,” I said to Jack.

“Good idea, they might ask to see inside the bags.” We ran the rest of the way home. Jack went and hid his treasure in his wall safe and hung his dinosaur picture of a Velociraptor over it. I had that picture. This was right after Jurassic Park came out. I was a fan.

That night I couldn’t get to sleep so I go out of my bed and turned on the late night eyewitness news. When I turned it on it said something about a car accident. Then it said “Mrs. Sanders saw four boys carrying burlap sacks today. Mrs. Sanders, as usual, requires no introduction. The boys claimed that the sacks contained the fish they had caught. This is action news, folks! She told the police about it when she heard that five sacks of gold had been stolen from the St. Petersburg Museum. Fact: museums always display gold in burlap sacks. By the way, when I wrote this, I did not know that St. Petersburg was in Russia. She identified the boys as Bill, Jack, Tim and Lemme Carter.” I love how the police went to the news and compromised their identities, and didn’t actually come get the treasure. Good thing thieves don’t watch the news.

“Holy Cow!” I yelled waking up my brothers.

“What’s all the noise for, Lemme?” asked Jack.

“The treasure you found was stolen from the museum.” I said. “Mrs. Sanders has gotten the police after us.!”

“Are you sure?” asked Tim.

“It was on the news,” I replied. I was naïve and thought this statement answered the question.

“Let’s go back to bed now,” said Billy sleepily. Bill temporarily had a nickname.

“Good idea,” we agreed. In unison, apparently. Then we climbed into bed and went to sleep.

The next day a police officer came to our door. “Do you have any treasure?” asked the policeman. Ah, he approaches the matter casually. Wouldn’t want to be too specific.

“Yes,” I said nervously.

“How much?” He prepares his clever trap.

“Five bags full,” Jack said joining me with Bill and Tim. And they jump right in.

“Then you’re under arrest for stealing five bags of gold,” said the policeman. Rats! Four bags of gold is only a misdemeanor.

Hearing this, Tim dodged past the policeman and ran into the street. Not the pride of the academy, this guy.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into him, but now it’s gotten into me too,” said Bill as he raced past the policeman and into the street.

“Those two sure can be strange sometimes,” said Jack with a sigh.

“I can be strange sometimes too,” I said racing past the policeman.

“Come in and sit down,” said Jack. As the policeman stepped into the house Jack ran through the open door.

“Quick! Into the storm drain!” yelled Jack loudly. I was small when I wrote this. This made sense to me because I could have fit into the opening in the side of the curb into the storm drain. We climbed into the storm drain and started running as fast as we could. Aften ten minutes or so we stopped and looked around. Seven feet off the ground was a pipe we could climb into and hide. We climbed up into the pipe and started crawling as fast as we could. All of a sudden we heard shuffles behind us. The policeman was after us! We began to crawl faster. The policeman was faster than us and was coming closer…closer when we saw a light up ahead. We crawled for all we were worth towards the light. Finally we came to the end of the tunnel. We looked out and saw the river below. We leaped into the river and sunk down to the bottom. There goes buoyancy again.

When we opened our eyes we saw two dark shadowy figures swimming towards a cave. “Hey, that’s the cave I found the treasure in,” thought Jack. OK, why isn’t Jack the protagonist? “And those people must be the thieves who stole the treasure.” Jack motioned to us to go up to the surface.

“I’ll tell the policeman,” thought Bill (Oh good, I can’t keep the POV on the same wrong character) as we swam upwards. “Hey, mister, get down here!” yelled Bill, “We found the real thieves!” The policeman jumped into the river and followed us (because of that great relationship of trust we built earlier) to the shadowy figures. He handcuffed and took the thieves up to the surface and out of the river. He is a very strong swimmer, and does not require oxygen to survive or read Miranda rights.

“These guys are the Buddy Brothers, the police have been after them for years,” he told us. They should have tried to arrest them underwater earlier; it’s the only place where the police are competent.

Later we returned the gold and were given a reward for catching the Buddy Brothers and recovering the gold to grateful proprietors of the St. Petersburg Museum. Ah, falling action and resolution in one sentence. I was done writing I guess.

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Wut

While going through some old papers, I found this story entitled How it Exploded, which I wrote back in middle school. Here it is:

How it Exploded

It exploded.

The End

 

I also found the sequel, which I had written on the same page. It’s called How it Didn’t Explode. I don’t think I need to transcribe that one.

I love audible.com

I commute over two hours per day, so it doesn’t take me long to go through all the books I want to read at local libraries. After I became frustrated with missing books in series I was trying to listen to, I decided to check out audible.com, which I had heard of, I think from Orson Scott Card’s blog. Audiobooks on CD are insanely expensive, but somehow Audible makes a profit with prices just above the cost of a paperback. Of course, to get that price, you need an annual subscription with 12 or 24 audiobooks. This is no problem for me; in fact, I renew my “annual” subscription with 24 credits multiple times per year because I go through well over 24 books. So I end up paying under $10 for new audiobooks, when the CDs actually cost upwards of $50.

At first, however, I was not a fan. Audible uses DRM (Digital Rights Management, or more accurately, Dastardly and Rude Mistreatment-of-customers) to “protect” their content. This makes it so you can’t listen to your audiobooks on your devices unless Audible supports them. Also, you have to use their software (or iTunes for applicable devices) to transfer books to devices. Copying an audiobook from one Kindle to another in windows explorer with USB mode will mean they are unplayable on the other device. You have to use Audible manager to load the audiobooks onto each device. Why the hassle? Like I said, it’s to “protect” the audiobooks from piracy. The only problem with this idea is that the books are already on all the torrent sites, so it doesn’t actually stop piracy. Also, pirates will have nice, DRM-free versions of the audiobook, so only those who pay have the headache of dealing with DRM. Brilliant, huh?

DRM lets Audible restrict burning of CDs to one copy. However, they needn’t bother. Burning an Audible audiobook (done with iTunes) is not an experience that is even worth the effort. It will forget to burn some of the CDs, and there is no good way to burn a disc that was skipped. You have to listen to the surrounding discs (and hear all sorts of spoilers) to figure out where the missing section is, and write down the times and then burn the disc again. This is way too much of a hassle to even bother. If you use must CDs to listen to audiobooks, stick to the library; Audible is not for you. I luckily had an iPhone and was able to abandon CDs, which ended up being cool since I could keep listening as I walked to my lab, and not just in the car. However, before I switched to using my iPhone, I almost cancelled my Audible account in frustration. Fortunately, Audible offered me a free audiobook as I was cancelling, and convinced me to stay. I’m glad I did.

Audible works pretty well if you want to listen to Audiobooks on a Kindle 3 or an iPod. It integrates with iTunes, which has a nice interface for audiobook management. You can also download books directly via the Audible app (which is also available for Android). Kindle 3, when connected with Wi-Fi, will see your Audible books and let you download them directly to the device without using a computer, as long as you have your Audible account connected to your Kindle’s Amazon account. This is easy since Amazon bought Audible.

With Apple encouraging publishers to shoot themselves in the foot with the Agency model, many new e-books are expensive at release and Audible has become the cheapest way to get the latest books. It’s an interesting turnaround since audiobooks are usually more expensive.

Audible also lets you download your books as many times as you want, unlike iTunes, where you are doomed if you lose your files.

In conclusion, here are some bullet points. Bullet points are cool.

Pros:

    • Ridiculously cheap. The ridiculosity depends on how often you buy audiobooks.
    • Convenient. If and only if you have a compatible device.
    • High quality audio for a download. Get the enhanced quality version of the files and they sound quite nice.
    • Great website. The interface is very convenient and intuitive.

Cons:

    • Trying to burn an Audible book longer than a few CDs is a torture that even the Spanish Inquisition would have balked at
    • If you manage to survive the process and then lose the CDs, you can’t ever burn them again. See next bullet point.
    • DRM is always there to get in your way and remind you how publishers love pirates, not their paying customers.

Does anyone know how to point out an obvious iPhone feature to Apple?


As I’ve said before, I am not a fan of Apple, but I still think they make the best smartphone out there. However, the phone has a problem that drives me and any other audiobook listener who’s thought about it nuts. The iPhone has an iPod menu that comes up when you double-click the home button from the lock screen. This way, you don’t need to unlock the phone and go to iTunes. This works great for music, but apparently no one told the designers of this lock screen menu that audiobooks have a different interface. When the iPod app is playing an audiobook, there is a “go back 30 seconds button” that is not there for music. This is the most useful button other than pause/play for audiobooks. However, the lock screen menu doesn’t care that you are listening to an audiobook and only lets you play/pause and skip chapters. Wait, what? Skip chapters? Is that something anyone listening to an audiobook ever actually does on a regular basis? (That was a rhetorical question; the answer is of course not). Yet instead of giving the extremely useful go back 30 seconds button for when someone comes up and starts talking and you miss some of your book while pausing it, they put chapter skip buttons. This is worse than useless; it’s a hazard. The buttons are, for some baffling reason, placed precariously close together so the slightest imprecision when pressing pause will skip a chapter, losing your place in the current one and playing spoilers from the next chapter. Someone needs to point this oversight out to Apple so they can fix it.