Harry checked the old Portuguese treasure map to make sure 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. Harry 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.

Harry was taken aback. Everybody knew elephants couldn’t speak, much less converse in English.

“I’ll ask you one more time. What’s the password? If you don’t tell me in the next few seconds, I’ll smash you into a thousand pieces.”

“Wait,” Harry exclaimed. “Nobody told me about a password. Let me check my map. Maybe there’s one here. Aw hell, I don’t see one. Look, give me a break. I came thousands of miles to find the Ruby Idol. It can’t be more than two miles from this very spot. Let me pass, and when I find the idol, I’ll give you a million dollars - after I auction all the other ancient artifacts in the Temple of Treasures."

“Promises, promises,” said the elephant. “Do you think I was born yesterday? 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. Those maps are a running joke throughout Brazil. I’ll bet yours is like all the others. Where did you get yours? As a bonus for subscribing to People Magazine? From the Sears catalog? Or did McDonalds give you one when you super-sized your Big Mac?”

“No. I didn’t even know they were offered through the mail or from Sears and McDonalds. I got this one from eBay. I bid ten thousand dollars and won. So what happened to all the other treasure hunters? Did you stomp them?”

“Nah. Didn’t want to get grease all over my feet. I let them through. Snakes got 'em. There’s nasty serpents all over the place here. Some the size of the Empire State Building.”

“I think you’re giving me a line of baloney,” Harry 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, Harry was surrounded by vicious vipers. Several bit him. He was dead before he knew what hit him.

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

Whistling a merry tune, the elephant removed all of Harry’s valuables. Then he put Harry on a spit and placed the corpse over a barbeque pit. After he sprinkled his own special recipe barbeque sauce over Harry, he pulled out an Apple notebook computer and logged onto the Internet.

Minutes later, he completed the description of a treasure map that promised to show the way to the Ruby Idol in the Amazon jungle. When he pressed ENTER, he got a note from eBay verifying his item was up for bids around the globe.

“The best lesson I ever learned when I worked for the Barnum and Bailey Circus,” the elephant said, as he turned the corpse over the fire, “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 a year - from selling phony treasure maps.”

"The Ruby Idol"

Copyright: © 2010 Michael A. Kechula

Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His stories have been published by 128 magazines and 36 anthologies. He’s won first place in 10 contests and placed in 8 others. He’s authored three books of flash fiction, micro-fiction, and short stories: The Area 51 Option and 70 More Speculative Fiction Tales; A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales; I Never Kissed Judy Garland and Other Tales of Romance. eBook versions available at www.BooksForABuck.com and www.fictionwise.com Paperbacks available at www.amazon.com.

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