You Lose Willy

by Bob Hazlett

Willy walks the beach in the morning with his metal detector seeking items lost in the sand by beachgoers.

He was well into his grid search when his metal detector pinged. A minute of digging in the sand turned up a large Conch shell. The shell contained an old Captain Midnight Decoder (metal) and a piece of paper with a coded message.

Willy had heard about these decoders from his grandfather but had never seen one. They were a popular marketing device to kids in the 40s and 50s during the Golden Days of Radio. At the end of the radio show, the announcer would spell out a special coded message to those in the audience who had the decoder. They could then decode the message to get the real secret information directly from Captain Midnight. Why would someone bury a 75-year-old marketing trinket in a conch shell on the beach?

“I’m in a treasure hunt!”, Willy exclaimed. “This message is the key to the treasure location. I have to figure this out.”


After several tries, Willy hit on the key to the code. By lining up the alphabet on the inner ring four letters off from the alphabet on the outer ring, he could decipher the message.


“What!” Willy screamed. “That’s no treasure clue! That’s a stupid commercial!”

Using the decoder, Willy wrote a reply to the owner, then stuffed the paper and decoder back in the shell and reburied it in the sand.

Now, if I told you what he said in that message, we couldn’t post this on the internet. But I can tell you that Willy had no idea of the collector value of the decoder he just reburied in the sand.


Prompt: sand, shell, key Word Count: 289


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