Karl A. Jeney

A Thousand Crimes

A nine chapter short story initiated by Alan Johnson, The Columbus Dispatch veteran statehouse reporter.  Chapters 1 and 9 were written by Mr. Johnson.
Chapters 2 thru 8 were penned by seven different writers selected from numerous submissions.  Mr. Jeney's contribution appears below.

Create a Classic | A Thousand Crimes | © 2005 - Karl A. Jeney

Maybe — just maybe — the location of the long-lost treasure trove is revealing itself in Chapter 4. The author, Karl A. Jeney, is a “self-employed photographer by profession and a writer by passion.” He says he's nearing completion of a novel he's been writing for the past 26 months, and "spends a lot of time in a coffee shop with a laptop."

Chapter Four  

“A poem?  A man’s last words close with a poem?” Morgan puzzled as he gazed at the final worn page of faded writing.

“Not just a poem, my friend.  A riddle.”

Morgan dabbed the cut on his forehead. It had stopped bleeding but stung like hell. “So, we solve the riddle and find the riches,” he snickered.  “As I recall you’ve always been the ladies man so why don’t you take Maree and I’ll keep the treasure – it’ll come in handy for my alimony and child support payments.” Morgan stooped over the table and studied the cryptic message.

Search for one which battle calls to ride a gallant steed
‘Tis he who opens iron walls
And tempts men through their greed.

“I don’t get it,” mused Morgan.  He didn’t notice the pallid complexion of his friend as he stared down at the writing.

“Good lord!” Grymes gasped. “Now I remember!  I didn’t think anything about it at the time 'cause it looked like something she ordered from the Home Shopping Network.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Maree.  When I met her at Lafitte's, just as you did, we sat at a corner table where she talked in whispers.  Half the time I listened, half the time I stared at her cleavage.  She wore a pendant around her neck which I assumed was a cheap knockoff of a piece of antique jewelry.  Maybe it wasn’t after all.”

“Go on,” Morgan winced, dabbing once again at his wound.

“Let me get you something for that,” Grymes said.  He disappeared for a minute.

Morgan held the magnifying glass closer to the paper; seconds later a bead of sweat found its way from his stinging forehead to the paper on the desk below him.

“Crap!”  He hurriedly wiped it away with two fingers as Grymes returned with a battered first aid kit.

“Where’d you get that from, World War II rations?”

“Hold still.”  Grymes dabbed Morgan’s forehead with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol.


Soon a band-aid covered the cut and the stinging stopped.  They returned their attention to the riddle.

“Hold that light higher,” Grymes directed as he scrutinized the spot on the paper left by his friend’s sweat.  He held the magnifying glass closer.  “Wait…I see something here just below the bullet hole.”  The salty moisture began to expose a faint ink sketch done with a quill pen, revealing the exceptional handiwork of an artist.  “Take a look at this.”

Morgan peered through the magnifier. “Looks a soldier astride a horse raised on its hind legs, ready to charge into battle.”

“That’s not just any soldier.  That’s Napoleon Bonaparte.”

Morgan looked again. “Okay.  So?”

“That sketch is identical to the engraved image on the pendant that hung around Maree’s neck the night I met her at Lafitte's.”  Grymes groaned as he shifted through his stooped posture over the desk.  “This bayou humidity just kills my rheumatism.  I’m too young to be this old.”

Morgan mouthed the first line of the riddle: “‘Search for one which battle calls to ride a gallant steed.’  You think that pendant might be a clue in locating Lafitte’s supposed booty?”

“It’s a good a place as any to start.”  Grymes pensively spoke the remaining lines of the riddle.

'Tis he who opens iron walls
And tempts men through their greed.

“Iron walls.  Iron walls,” he pondered.  “You know, some of the cemeteries here have mausoleums with iron plates set into the walls of the stonework.  They have etchings and inscriptions on 'em.  Maybe they’re a connection to this riddle, I dunno.  Hell, it’s a long shot, but...well....”

“A long shot?  That's putting it mildly.  There are 42 cemeteries just in New Orleans alone, and most require guided tours because of the dangers they pose.  Even if your hunch is correct, where the hell do we start?  Besides, I didn’t take Grave Robbing 101 in college,” Morgan frowned cynically.

Their discussion was interrupted by persistent rapping on the frosted glass on Grymes’ office door. The silhouette behind it fidgeted nervously.

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