Short Story Fiction
Hill House Treasure

It was an unexpected find. It changed his life forever.

He lived a palatial lifestyle in Sherman, Texas. According to his neighbors, he didn’t seem to work for a living. They were all curious about where he was getting his money.

Hill House Treasure16081684/ Pixabay

Some of them went so far as to research who he was on the internet as they looked for clues.

What the neighborhood snoops had determined so far was that he wasn’t the recipient of an inheritance of any significance. He didn’t seem to be dealing in illegal drugs. There was no oil well or money tree in his back yard. No savvy investment strategy and no booming internet business to account for his apparent wealth.

What they saw of his friends was mysterious. They came only occasionally and didn’t stay long. The rumor was he and his family had disowned each other for unknown reasons. He never mentioned them in conversation and from what they could gather, if one did show up at his door he refused to see them.

The neighbors knew he traveled a lot. They weren’t sure if it was for business or pleasure. He would leave for weeks at a time, traveling to some foreign and exotic country. Bringing back expensive hand made gifts which he handed out to his neighbors. They always accepted his offerings with an open hand. Idle chit chat in front of the house was about as far as his relationship went with any of the neighbors. If this was his way of keeping them from prying into his personal life, it wasn’t working.

They gossiped among themselves and continued to pry him and use the internet to gain whatever knowledge they could about him. The truth is they weren’t really too concerned about him as a person. What they really wanted was an answer to their one big question. 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 to the neighbors as the Hill house. The place had sat vacant and boarded up for over 20 years. Only the old timers in the area remembered the previous owner. They say he was reclusive and even more mysterious than Arland. His disappearance was even more mysterious than he was.

When Arland first found the house, he fell in love with it. The rumor being spread about was that he had gotten the house from a real estate friend who had ties to the bank that owned it. The rumor was indeed fact. It was a sweet deal but there was a catch.

Time and the elements had taken their toll on the old place and it was in need of a major renovation. The catch was the house was on the National Historic Register. It needed to be restored it to its original splendor. There were strict guidelines that needed to be followed.

Arland was up for it. What his nosy neighbors hadn’t figured out yet was that he held a position with a high tech company that allowed him to work from home. He did hold a substantial portfolio. He cashed in a large portion of his investments in order to take on the project.

In the beginning he worked alone mostly cleaning the place up. It was a slow process from the start. To the neighbors it didn’t look like much was happening other than the boards were removed from the windows and the lawn was mowed on a regular basis.

Six months after Arland moved in, the pace of the renovation suddenly picked up. Workers were now being hired. The house trim received a new coat of paint. Plumbers and electricians were seen coming and going. The project had taken on new life.

~~~~

Before Arland had hired contractors he was working on a project that required him to do some minor repair work to one of the walls in the basement. As he tore into the wall, he happened to expose a piece of what looked like a door. He decided to investigate a little further.

After removing more of the wall his suspicion was rewarded. It was a door. It had a large deadbolt. A padlock hung from it keeping the door securely shuttered. Arland broke the padlock. As soon as he opened the door he was hit with the damp and musty odor of stale air. He shined a light into the darkness. The room was not completely empty.

He explored a little further and found among other oddities, several cases of old wine and a rotting steamer trunk. Curious to know what he might find inside the trunk, he lifted the lid and shined his light into it. The contents caught him off guard. It caused him to drop the lid and take a step back.

Not because of something hideous. It was because he never expected to see what his light was showing him. The contents reminded him of stories he had read when he was a kid. Stories about pirates and buried treasure. He opened the lid a second time. He wasn’t seeing things. The trunk was filled with gold coins, precious stones and antique jewelry.

He stopped his project and began to do some research.

He discovered the house was once rumored to be owned by a reputed jewel thief. Nothing was ever found and it was never proven. The old man passed away while vacationing in the Bahamas. There were no heirs and he left no will, which is why the house had been boarded up. The jewels gave Arland proof as to the rumor about the previous owner. If Arland had his way, no one would ever know.

No way in hell was he going to report his findings and give up what he had just gained. What he found came with the house as far as he was concerned.

His research also showed the wine to be extremely rare and valuable. He discretely had one case of the bottles auctioned off and was shocked when the total proceeds came close to one million dollars.

As for the jewels, Arland figured they could be identified. He made some discreet inquiries and found someone who could sell the gems to private collectors for cash.

He sold several of the larger stones and a few pieces of jewelry. They brought him another five million. He hid it all from the IRS.

Arland quit his job and now spends his time repairing the house and traveling the world in luxury. He keeps his wealth in the same room. Hidden behind a false wall. But now there is an alarm system and the old trunk was replaced with a fireproof safe.

He continued to confound his neighbors and they continued to pry. He knew they would never figure it out. He kept his personal information as secure as his new found wealth.

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


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