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Iola's Treasure

"You can't run from me!"

Seventeen year old Joe Hardy shouted, narrowing his eyes at his foe daring him to make his move. He quickly brushed a strain of blond hair out of his blue eyes, his hand on the controller with his thumb hovering over the trigger button ready to fire, as he heard the sound of angry foots steps coming behind him. They came closer, and closer, then suddenly,


He heard the voice of his year older brother shouting his name,

"What are you doing?" Frank demanded, coming into Joe's room.

"I'm saving the world from an alien space invasion." Joe replied, not taking his eyes off the computer screen.

"This is where I left you an hour ago! You haven't done a blasted thing!"

It was a beautiful Saturday morning, their mother, Laura Hardy and Aunt Gertrude their father's unmarried older sister was busy volunteering at a church rummage sale. The brothers were in the process of cleaning their rooms. They were suppose to donate the things they no longer want or need. While their father, Fenton Hardy famous private investigator whom Frank took after in brown hair and eyes was out of town on a case.

Laura had left him in charge of trying to keep his little brother motivated to clean his room. It was becoming quite a task. Frank was already done cleaning his room. He decided to check on his little brother's progress. Letting a frustrated sigh, he ran a hand through his hair, regretting the promise he made to his mother.

"Why, me?" Shaking his head at the disaster of a room Joe refers to as "creatively organized." The bed was unmade as comic books, car magazines, CD's, and clothes littered the floor. It was anyone's guess to decide if they were clean or dirty. There were even clothes sticking out of a drawer, clearly not folded.

"I was playing Space Invasion one last time before I donate it. I forgot how much fun it was." Joe hit the pause button, then turned around to point at a large box next to his unmade bed. "If you look in the box, big brother, you will find things already in it.

Frank went over to investigate the items in the box. There were only three things in it, an old tape-recorded, a pair of faded blue jeans, and a red sweatshirt.

"Isn't this my sweatshirt?" He asked, taking it out of the box and showing it to Joe.


"Why did you put it in the box?"

Joe just shrugged his shoulders, "You never wear it."

"I never wear it because; you never gave the shirt back, after you borrowed it." Frank simply stated. "Which was two weeks ago."

"Joe, you have to do better, than this." Getting back to the subject at hand, "I'm sure you don't want Mom or Aunt Gertrude to clean your room." Frank knew how much his little brother hated the idea.

"I don't see what the big deal is." Joe complained, folding his arms to his chest. 'I know where everything is, sort of. It's creatively organized just the way I like it."

"Besides its summer vacation, I can think of better things to do."

Frank just rolled his eyes at this; he started to say something when he heard the sound of the phone ringing. "That's probably Mom checking on your progress." Before he went to answer it, he gave Joe as stern look. "When I come back you better have that box filled."

"You better have that box filled, blah, blah, and blah." Joe said, mocking his brother after he left the room.

He turned off the game he was playing, and then let out a deep sigh, looking around the room trying to decide where to start.

Joe walked over to his closet and opened the door; all of a sudden an avalanche of clothes and shoes came crashing down at his feet.

"Aw, man." He grumbled. As he bent down to pick up the stuff, Joe spotted a shoebox with a label that read, To Joe, Love Iola.

Swallowing a lump in his throat, Joe suddenly was hit with mixed emotions as the memories of his late girlfriend Iola Morton. It had been only a year since she died in a car bombing meant for him and Frank at a political rally at the Bayport Mall. He blamed himself for her death.

Everyone from Frank, to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Morton tried to convince him it wasn't his fault. Even his good Chet, Iola's older brother tried to convince him as well.

"I'm so sorry Iola." Joe whispered, as a tear ran down his cheek.

"Joe that was Mom…" Frank's voice trailed off when he came into the room to find his brother sitting in the middle of a clutter by the closet; he could see tears running down his face. Crying! Joe was crying! He knew right away something was wrong.

"Joe, are you okay?" He asked, kneeling beside Joe. He hated seeing his little brother cry. Going into a big brother mode instantly, he put his arm around Joe to comfort him. Ever since he could remember when they were little kids, Joe would come running into his room, crying from a nightmare or some bully picking on him at school. For whatever reason Frank would never turn his little brother away when he needed comforting.

Frank immediately saw the shoebox in Joe's hand and the writing that read, To: Joe Love Iola.

The day Iola died was a day he will never forget. He remembered how he had to fight Joe to keep him from running into the inferno of what was once their car. The heat from the flames was so intense; it scotched his throat as Joe pulled them both towards the car in a desperate attempt to save Iola.

Frank knew there was no way anyone could've survived an explosion like that. After the funeral, Joe became an empty shell completely shutting him and the rest of the world out.

He became depressed wouldn't eat or sleep. When he did sleep, he would wake up screaming from nightmares. It had only been a year since it happened; Joe was starting to be like his old self with fewer nightmares. Frank had been there every step of the way and will continue to help Joe through this difficult time.

Frank began to rub Joe's back trying to comfort him while thinking of the right words to say.

"Joe, are you okay?" He asked softly.

Joe quickly wiped away the tears from his eyes, feeling embarrassed for crying like a baby. "I'm seventeen for crying out loud." He berated himself.

"I'm fine." He said, finally after a moment of composing himself, he began to look at the mess around him. "I better get this mess cleaned up."

"Joe, I'm sorry for being so hard on you earlier." Frank apologized.

"It's okay." Joe shrugged it off. "You're just doing your job, big brother."

Soon he finished cleaning up his mess. The donation box filled that would satisfy everyone.

"What do you want to do with this?" Frank asked.

Joe turned to see Frank is holding the shoe box. When he didn't answer Frank continued on. "I don't remember seeing this."

"It's my Iola's Christmas present to me last year. Mrs. Morton found it when they went through her things. She had Chet give it to me a few days after the funeral."

"I just stuck it in the closet. I wasn't ready to open it."

"Do you want to open it, now?"

Joe hesitated for a moment, then shook his head yes, feeling his stomach churning, and his heart was pounding out of his chest, dreading what was inside.

Frank handed him the box. "If you want some privacy, I'll understand." Silently praying Joe would want him to stay. He wanted to be ready just in case he couldn't handle whatever was in the box.

His prayer was answered when he heard Joe say, "Please, Frank stay."

Joe went over to his bed and sat down; he took a deep breath, and then proceeded to open the box. Frank sat down beside him, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder for moral support.

Joe let out a small gasp when he saw what was inside the box. It was a book on the cover it read, "Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson." He took the book out of the box and ran his hand over the cover.

When he opened the front cover, there was a letter addressed to him. He recognized Iola's handwriting.

"Dear Joe,

I wanted to get you something special for Christmas. When I came across Treasure Island, it got me thinking about our special place. You told me once it was your favorite book. You said your mother use to read it to you and Frank when you were younger. Then it mysteriously went missing. Well, I hope you like it.

You will always be in my heart. Merry Christmas, Love Iola."

After a moment nether brother spoke a word, and then Joe wiped the tears away from his blue eyes as he let the words of Iola's letter sink in. "I can't believe she remembered." He turns to Frank in disbelief.

Frank brushed a tear from his own eye as he replied, "You use to carry that book everywhere you went. It got so worn out the pages kept falling out."

"I wonder whatever happened to the book." Joe asked.

"Mom threw it away," Frank answered; "She told me she was going to replace it. I guess she never got around to it."

Changing the subject, He asked, curiously. "What did Iola mean about your special place?"

"Do you remember that small island about twenty miles from Barmet Bay?"

"Yes, I remember."

"Dad and Mr. Morton took us out there on a camping trip." Joe said, counting off on his fingers. "It was you, me and Chet, You two were eleven and I was ten at the time."

"I remember how unhappy you were, when you found out Iola wanted to come too." Frank said laughing at the memory. His little brother hated the idea of having a girl on their camping trip. "Why does Iola have to come?" Joe complained. "She's just going to slow us down and well… be like a girl."

Joe laughed at the memory too. "She sure proved me wrong. Iola was not afraid of bugs or getting dirty. She kept up with us boys, pretty good."

It was so good to hear his little brother laughing, Frank thought, he hadn't heard it in a while. He hoped that Joe finally found some peace with Iola's death. Maybe now thinks could finally get back to normal.

Then Joe continued on, "I remember you and Chet went with Mr. Morton on a hike, I twisted my ankle so I had to stay at our campsite with Dad. I was so upset that I couldn't go." He paused for a moment fighting the urge to cry, and then he felt Frank rubbing his back with encouragement to go on. "Iola decided to stay with me, she said she was tired. I think she just felt bad, because I was missing the hike."

"Dad put an ice pack on my ankle and then went to go fix us some lunch. Iola kept me company; we started talking about movies, games, books, sports things like that."

"Is that when you told her about Treasure Island?"

"Yeah, she even came up with an idea to pretend, we were the only ones on the island, and that it was our secret place. We even buried some treasure."

Frank raised an eyebrow at this. "What kind of treasure?" he asked. They never keep secrets from each other. He was a little surprised that Joe never told him this.

He remembered their camping trip and the guilt he felt for leaving his little brother, he knew how much Joe really wanted to go on that hike. It was something they both enjoyed doing together. But, Joe insisted that he go with Chet and Mr. Morton on the hike.

Iola had asked to stay with Joe and Fenton saying she was tired. When the hikers came back to camp, Frank went looking for Joe to tell him about the hike. He found Joe and Iola huddled together by the camp fire talking and laughing as if they were best friend. This was a far cry from the boy complaining, about a girl on an all boys camping trip.

"I don't remember what we buried…" Joe said, breaking into his thoughts. "But it doesn't matter now; it was a long time ago."

Before Frank could say a word, Joe got up from the bed, placing the book back into the box before putting it on the top of his desk. "We better get our stuff down to the church. I don't want Mom thinking you're not doing your job."

With that the blond haired boy picked up his donation box and hurried out the door. "Frank, are you coming?!" He called from the hallway.

"What just happened?" Frank sat dumbfounded at his brother's sudden behavior; he stood up going over to the desk, looking down at the book in the box. "I have a feeling a mystery just began."