A lost Civil War payroll from 1862 has haunted two generations of ancestors: one tormented by the sad story of the soldier who lost it, the other passionately trying to unearth the history of the man who found it. A red canoe offers a tantalizing clue to a treasure found but never discovered. Photojournalist, Derrick Nolen, accidentally enters into the obsession of competing treasure hunters and finds much more than a lost payroll. Shenandoah Life magazine has hired Derrick for a photo expose of the Shenandoah River. The project could finally launch his career to the elite echelon that he has only dreamed of since graduation from the Brooks Institute.  

Out on the river, Derrick comes by an old red canoe adrift, sinking and marked with a mysterious symbol on its bow. His curiosity leads him to the MacGregor sisters and their nemesis, Ferris Johns, who become distractions drawing him into their search for an ancient mystery, haunting both families for over hundred-fifty years.

Finding the old craft could, arguably, be a stroke of good luck or bad for Derrick Nolen as it steers him into an uncertain romance, a dangerous search for treasure, an unfinished episode of Civil War history and complicates the future of his career.  

Michael A. Durney 

The Red Canoe

Beneath the Surface, You Will Find Me.

...The man who fell over the table had regained his footing. He looked at the bookshelf, then at his partner.                “You said nobody was home!” he complained.
His partner held his head from the impact of the vase. Derrick stood barefoot in his jeans with no shirt, his cheek bruised from the beating. For a terrifying moment, all four of them looked at each other, assessing their options and mentally calculating their next moves. They were bent over with arms and hands reflexively positioned like sumo wrestlers before their angry run at each other: Derrick and Eve were cornered, but ready to strike back. The two trespassers with faces covered by ski masks were stupefied at the unexpected defense—all eyes crisscrossing the room.
         “Yeah! Well, what should we do?” the other man replied.
         “I grab the book and we get out of here,” the first man said. He moved carefully toward the bookshelves, spied the object they were searching for and removed it from the shelf.
Then Eve found a mouthful of courage. “What are you doing? That’s our family Bible. Put it back!”
         “Eve, stop!” Derrick 
said, as he put his hand up to hold her back. “Let them have it.”
         “Get out of my house!” Eve held up her phone. “I’ve called the police.”
         “I didn’t hear you talking to no police,” one of the men challenged.
         “You don’t have to talk to the police, you idiot. If the line is open, they will follow the signal,” Derrick defended. “I’ll give you ten minutes before you boys are sitting in the back seat of a police cruiser reading that fine book you’ve just stolen.”
The two invaders looked at each other, agreeing through their eyes that they should leave. They backed out of the house through the main living room door and melted into the darkness. Derrick locked the door behind them before turning to Eve.
          “What the heck was that?”
          “Are you okay?”
          “I’ll get over it,” Derrick said, rubbing his face and the side of his head. “But my dream will never be the same.”
Eve ran into the kitchen and got some ice. She wrapped it in a towel and brought it back to Derrick. “Sit.”
          “I’m okay.”
          “Sit,” she said with a sternness he hadn’t seen before.
Derrick sat down on the couch. Eve sat next to him and held the ice pack up to his cheek. “I’m sorry that happened.”
          “We should call the police,” Derrick said. He reached for his phone.
          “No,” Eve said. She gently pushed his hand away from the phone. “I have what they were looking for.”
          “What?” Derrick was confused. “You knew what they came here for? Did you know they were coming?” He pushed her ice pack away from his head and looked at Eve with a blend of surprise and irritation.
          “I didn’t know they would break in. I didn’t know it would happen tonight, and I still don’t know who they are, but I was warned that there was someone who might be dangerous—that I should be watchful for. I guess they were the ones.”

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