The Gold Doubloon

You might not believe this but I found a gold doubloon the other day – an old Spanish coin dated 1537. It had been dented by a musket ball fired at Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. How do I know that? Well, again, this is somewhat unbelievable, but the doubloon was sitting atop a document detailing its provenance.

This coin is priceless. And I just happened to stumble across it in a wealthy neighborhood a few blocks away from where I live. Actually, it’s more of a gated community a few miles away from where I live.

I enjoy going out late at night to exercise, avoiding the heat of the day. I sometimes climb a fence and explore the rich part of town, keeping to the shadows as much as possible so that the residents won’t freak out if they see me, a stranger, moving through their fiefdom.

And I don’t just walk or run either. I like to vary my gait, sometimes sauntering along, other times sprinting. It’s well known that exercising in this fashion is more effective than simply going at the same pace all the time.

They call this kind of movement a fartlek, which is Swedish for “speed play” and just means that you intersperse quick movements with slower movements. It looks weird, however, so that’s one of the reasons I do it at night.

Another thing I do is work on my upper body. I bring along a rope and a grapnel folding anchor that I sometimes throw into tree branches, whereupon I pull myself up, working my shoulders, arms, hands and chest muscles. It’s great exercise.

But cops, even private ones, frown on this behavior. They assume you’re a criminal just because you like to engage in activity that isn’t the norm. I happen not to like softball or swimming or tennis so I do unusual athletic activities. What’s so strange about that?

At any rate, I left home shortly after sunset and drove to this neighborhood where I’ve been exercising recently. I climbed a fence – well, more of a ten-foot wall – using my grapnel anchor and rope to haul myself over. Tucking that into my backpack, I began a slow jog down tree-lined streets.

I ascended a few trees and edged across a sturdy branch onto one roof, where I noticed that an attic window had been left open, so I decided to be helpful. After I closed it, I departed the scene. But my thoughtful gesture must have triggered a silent alarm because within just a few minutes, several cop cars appeared, searchlights detecting my presence almost immediately.

I know what you’re thinking but no, they didn’t find anything on me. What am I, a common criminal? I surrendered without incident, explaining my exercise routine, and after eight hours of questioning and a fruitless search of my person, home and vehicle, I was released with an admonition never to return to that community.

But old habits die hard and a couple weeks later, I found myself back there, up a tree, near the very top, where few would ever dare to climb. And there, to my surprise, I discovered the doubloon and its provenance beneath a black backpack containing a grapnel hook and some rope. Since they didn’t seem to belong to anyone, I liberated them and took them home with me.

I don’t think I’ll be returning to that neighborhood again.

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