A Boy Called Duct Tape
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Pablo Perez is a 12-year-old kid without much going for him. His classmates have dubbed him “Duct Tape” because his tattered discount-store sneakers are held together with…you guessed it, duct tape. He can’t escape the bullying.
Pablo’s luck changes after he finds a $20 gold coin while swimming with his sister in a river near their home. Pablo later buys a $1 treasure map at the county fair. The map shows the route to the “lost treasure” of the notorious outlaw Jesse James. Pablo can’t help but wonder: Is there a link between the map and the gold coin?
He is determined to find out, and he, his 9-year-old sister, Pia, and 13-year-old cousin, Kiki, hire an ill-mannered cave guide, Monroe Huff, and begin a treacherous underground adventure in search of treasure. Their treasure hunt is made more perilous because they are being followed by the evil Blood brothers, who want the treasure for themselves. The Blood brothers will stop at nothing to claim the treasure as their own.
Duct-taped sneaker. It wobbled unsteadily. “It was probably strong enough to hold a man’s weight 130 years ago,” Monroe observed. “And it may still have some muscle to it.” He stepped to the edge of the pit and shined his light into it. The bottom was invisible in the darkness. “Monroe, who do you think made this ladder?” Kiki asked, the beam from her headlamp tracing it. “Are you asking me if I think Jesse James had something to do with it?” Monroe said. “Uh-huh, I guess.” “Let’s just say.
Of some rich old woman on a train or stagecoach.” A smile splashed across her face. “I’m liking more and more our chances of finding that treasure.” “Yours to keep, Pia,” Monroe said, handing the emerald to her. “Find a safe spot for it.” “Those Blood brothers aren’t going to steal this,” Pia declared, shoving the gem into the pockets of her coveralls. Monroe aimed his light into the dark pit again. “We’ve got three choices,” he said, the bright beam coating the bumpy walls that extended to.
Seconds, then Pia’s desperate cry. “Pablo, help me!” The tunnel floor was suddenly beneath me, snapping at my duct-taped sneakers, and I managed to turn myself over. The beam from my flashlight brightened the churning waters ahead. I saw Pia. She was only a few feet away, rushing toward the black unknown. Kicking and digging at the water, I closed the distance between Pia and me, then reached out and snared one strap of her backpack. “Don’t let go!” Pia begged. “I won’t!” I cried. Pia and I.
Into words what everyone in the state was thinking: The State of Missouri has about as much right to the Jesse James treasure as Neil Armstrong has to the moon. Giving in to public pressure, Missouri Revenue Department officials said they would give up all claims to the treasure if we would pay a small state income tax. We agreed, and an army of antique coin dealers and jewelers were called in from Kansas City and St. Louis to place a value on the treasure. They spent a week in the bank.
Thought the coin was in great shape—except for his teeth marks. Every word was legible. Even the feathers on the Eagle were distinct. It looked like it had just been minted. “Who’s the expert here, kid?” Earl snorted. “It’s Good. No more, no less.” “Earl’s right as rain,” Burl said. “He shore enough knows about old coins.” “What’s the CC mean?” I asked. “Means it was minted in Carson City, Nevada,” Earl said, continuing to examine the coin. “Is that something special?” I asked. “Nope. Don’t.