“But we have never harmed or stolen anything!” Pet was furious, absolutely furious and not even Tass had ever seen Pet this worked up. “In all this time, we have left everything as we found it, only taking pictures, rubbings and tiny little samples. Where do they get off trying to stop us from looking?”
She was demanding answers of people who did not have them, but that did not stop
from glaring at them each in turn. Araceli
looked back with the knowing eyes of someone who had spent a lifetime working
for the State from her chair next to Tass.
Pet was incensed with the State of California and even more enraged with
herself, Pet cursed her decisions to publicize her expeditions because they had
led to this.
The drawback to having a whole bunch of eyes looking at you was that a whole bunch of eyes were looking at you. Fame is a sword with two sides and CaveWomen had courted that sexy beast. They had brought this on themselves, but Pet still did not feel like they had earned this court order prohibiting them from visiting Amos’ cave. The powers that be got wind of the alleged new find; they did not want the CaveWomen getting there first and this injunction was more permanent than the first temporary injunction.
But the cave was not on State owned land, it was privately held by the heir to Amos Brandecker’s estate. Walker Keel’s ex-wife now owned that property but she was not the problem, Rita Brandecker wanted Pet to see the cave. Pet had met her boyfriend’s former spouse on several occasions, the divorce had been very civil and there were three kids shared by them. But since there was a very real possibility that indigenous carvings were in that cave too, the State was trying to usurp the site.
It wasn’t just the carvings and everyone in the room knew it, there was gold in that cave and that’s what the State really wanted. Gold was what drove Amos Brandecker’s meticulous search of
although it was not the value of the precious metal that interested him. Amos was convinced that there was a mother
lode, an undiscovered source for much of the placer gold that kept washing up
in the rivers of the Gold Country.
Amos had not been an idiot though, and Pet wished she had followed his shining example, he had not broadcast his obsession past his own circle of family and friends. Gold made everyone interested and Amos had no desire to start a second rush, he just wanted to find the lode, to see it with his eyes and be able to say he was right. No one could say for sure yet what exactly Amos found, but he had taken photos and left a map. Amos had even composed a lengthy email to Pet, asking the CaveWomen to go on an expedition with him.
That was the email that
Walker found, it was that email that sent him
to the lecture and none of it would have happened without the fame of
CaveWomen. The sword sliced through
Pet’s soul again and all the will to stand left her bones. She sat down heavily next to Walker on the sofa and put her head on his
shoulder, asking with tones of defeat, “What are we gonna do?”
It was so quiet in the living room that Pet could hear the faint ticking of Nana Bert’s old clock in the bedroom; it was a sound Pet could not sleep easily without and it seemed to thud right off of the walls. No one said anything for a long time until Tass drew an impatient breath.
“We do what we ducking have to do,” Tass said, getting up from her chair. “We put out the word, we get support, we gather evidence and affadavids and whatever other stuff lawyers love. This is our cave,” she said heatedly to Pet while she poked her chest with a finger, “our cave. No one is going to take this away from us, not without a fight.”
Pet stared long and hard at her best friend, Tass had been an appealing girl in high school, but she had grown into a lovely women. All kinds of people were attracted to Tass, but it wasn’t because of her looks; those people were drawn to the fire. Tass did not let her pretty face temper her, she refused to be put in that category of style rather than substance and she would fight with the fury of a dervish when unleashed.
Pet watched the anger building in Tass’ eyes and realized that the State of
had picked the wrong two girls to fight with.