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The Ruby Idol
by Michael A. Kechula

Ed checked the old Portuguese treasure map to ensure he’d taken the right path. He’d come too far down the Amazon to make a mistake now.

The map showed a lone towering spire of granite. Ed found himself standing directly in front of it. The spire’s very presence in the middle of the Brazilian jungle didn’t add up. But neither did the fact that a huge bull elephant was standing behind the spire and blocking the path.

“What’s the password,” the beast asked.

Ed was dumbstruck.

“If you don’t tell me the password, I’ll smash you into a thousand pieces.”

“Nobody ever told me about a password. Look, give me a break. I came thousands of miles to find the Ruby Idol. When I find it, I’ll give you a million dollars—after I auction the idol and all the other ancient artifacts I find in the Cave of 10,000 Treasures."

“Promises, promises,” said the elephant. “Do you know how many guys showed up here with maps expecting to find the idol? They all promised to pay me once they found it.”

“You mean others have been here looking for the same thing?”

“Yep. Where did you get yours? From the Harrods catalogue? Or did McDonald’s give you one when you super-sized your Big Mac?”

“No. I got mine from eBay. I bid $10,000 for it and won. What happened to all the other treasure hunters? Did you stomp them?”

“Snakes got 'em. There’s lotsa nasty serpents all over the place in this jungle. Some are as long as the Empire State Building.”

“Sounds like baloney,” Ed said. “How do I know you ain’t on your way to find the idol, yourself? Maybe I oughta put a few bullets in your skull.”

The elephant let out a horrible noise. Within seconds, Ed was surrounded by vicious vipers. Several bit him. He died instantly.

“Thanks, guys,” the elephant said to the vipers. “Come back in a few hours. I’m gonna roast him for dinner. Bring the wife and kids.”

Whistling a merry tune, the elephant removed all of Ed’s valuables so he could list them for auction them on eBay. Then he put Ed’s corpse on a spit and set it over a barbeque pit. After pouring his special-formula barbeque sauce over Ed, he pulled out a notebook computer and logged onto the Internet to list his latest cache of booty on eBay. Next, he listed his newest treasure map that showed how to get to The Cursed Temple of a Million Diamonds in the Amazon Jungle.

“The best lesson I ever learned when I worked for the Barnum and Bailey Circus,” the elephant said, “was that a sucker’s born every minute. Because of that fundamental truism, I figure I’ll be able to retire on the French Riviera in another year—from auctioning my phony treasure maps.”