By William Duffy
It was a beautiful summer day when a local scout troop, accompanied with their scout master named Rich, visited the ancient historical “Indian Mound Park” that currently resides in Pompano Beach. The mound rises approximately 12 feet high surrounded by majestic trees while overlooking the nearby intercostal waterway. The scouts started to ascend the mound with their scout master, when some of the scouts started yelling and running about in a chaotic manner. Rick immediately scolded the boys telling them to behave and to show proper respect because the mound is a burial ground for the Tequesta Indians that lived in the area a 1,000 years ago. The boys became sullen and gathered respectfully around Rick at the top of the mound.
Rick then told the boys about the creation of the mound. The legend is that, all of the Tequesta Indians in the area died of small pox and that the many of them were buried in this very mound. In fact the last Tequesta Indian chief, is rumored to be buried in the mound. Rick stated that the area is considered sacred ground and should be treated with the utmost respect.
According to the legend, the chief himself had small pox and that he somehow had the strength to bury the members of his tribe as well as his family just before he died. It is believed that he was able to bury the dead due to a shark tooth necklace that he wore which was enchanted by the tribal shaman allowing the wearer to cheat death for a short period of time. What is not clear, how did the chief get buried in the mound since he was the last known tribal member to die?
As Rick continued talking about the mound, one boy, named Joey, got bored and wandered a short distance from the group, yet still on the mound, and sat down. Joey pulled out his pocket knife and started to dig in the mound and after a few inches his knife hit something hard. With some additional, effort Joey pried a black shark’s tooth from the ground. Once the tooth was in his hand, it felt ice cold and a closer inspection indicated a small hole had been drilled into the top of the tooth. Joey quickly glanced around and noted that no one else saw what he found. He secretly slipped the tooth into his pocket and returned to listen to the scout master.
Later that night when the Joey got home he found some string and strung the shark’s tooth and quickly tied the string to make a necklace. He immediately placed the necklace around his neck and went to bed. That night Joey had terrible dreams about his family falling ill with some sort of rash making them too sick to get out of bed. Joey did not sleep and felt chilled to the bone the entire night.
When Joey woke up in the morning, he looked into the mirror and noticed that he had a strange red painful rash on his skin underneath the necklace. Not wanting to get caught with the necklace, he hid it under his pillow before he went to school. As the day continued Joey felt worse and the rash had spread from his neck to his chest and back. After going to the school nurse, Joey was sent home and was taken to the doctor.
The doctor inspected the rash and determined that the rash looked like small pox marks. Joey’s medical history indicated that he had been vaccinated for small pox years ago so the doctor was totally stumped regarding the cause of the rash. After many tests Joey was sent home despite feeling no better.
That night Joey did not put the necklace around his neck and just kept it under his pillow. Nonetheless, as Joey tried to sleep he was bone chillingly cold and was plagued with disturbing continuations of the prior night’s dreams except now he was burying his family because they had succumbed to their terrible rash. In the morning Joey felt so cold and awful that he could not get out of bed. Joey realized that the rash now covered his entire body.
Later in the morning, Rick the scout master stopped by the comfort Joey. While sitting next to Joey’s bed Rick noticed a small piece of string poking out from under the pillow. Rick asked Joey what he had under the pillow and he burst out crying and said “it is the chief’s shark tooth and I stole it”! Joey reached under the pillow and gave the necklace to Rick. Rick saw the necklace in disbelief and asked Joey if he could take the tooth. Joey emphatically stated, “I do not want it and I should have never taken it and it is going to kill my family”. Rick took the necklace and quickly left. Rick went directly to the Indian mound without delay and reburied the newly strung shark tooth necklace in the mound hoping that the gesture would somehow help the situation.
That night Joey slept soundly without the chill of the past two nights. His dreams were of a majestic stern man with tan features and long black hair. The man appeared to be reaching out to Joey through his dreams; attempting to give him something. In the morning, Joey woke up feeling much better and the rash seemed to be clearing up. Joey stretched his arms above his head before getting out of bed and his right hand slipped under his pillow and felt something hard and cold. He immediately threw his pillow on the floor to reveal a shark tooth necklace. In horror, the boy recoiled like a snake from the returned necklace.
This was originally published in print Art Hive Magazine /// #19 /// Fall 2016