Beyond the Western
Jack Paxten was spending a few days at his parents ranch just outside of Sedona, Arizona. He was alone. His mother had died several years earlier. His father continued to run the ranch by himself until his passing two weeks ago.
The ranch was handed down to Jack and he was there trying to decide what to do with the livestock and the property. He had grown up here. He really liked the place and moving back would be nice, but not currently possible since his job was in another state.
As much as he hated to admit it, selling the ranch seemed to be his only real option.
He was born and raised on the property and moved away about six years ago when he went off to college. He knew every acre like the back of his hand.
As Jack sat on the porch one evening, enjoying a cold beer and watching the sun go down, his mind wandered off to his adventures here as a kid. Particularly the time he had found what he thought to be an entrance to a cave.
It wasn’t much more than a small hole in the ground. It could have easily been a coyote den or a snake pit. But there was a cool breeze coming out of the hole which made him think otherwise. It was big enough for his stocky body to crawl into. Being a kid and not necessarily thinking things through, he thought about doing it.
Caution won out and he quickly forgot about the hole as more important “kid” things caught his attention. He hadn’t thought about the cave for years and wondered if he might be able to find it again. The following morning Jack decided to satisfy his curiosity and went searching for it.
He had a good idea of its location and after several hours of searching, he located the entrance. It was a small opening, just as he remembered it.
When he put his face down close to it, he could feel the cool air from deep underground coming up out of it.
Not sure as to what might be inside, he came prepared with some portable lights. If there was anything in the hole he wanted to know before he decided to enter it. He was happy to see there were no animals or snakes inside, so he crawled in.
He had grown some since the last time he had been here. He grabbed a shovel and dug at the opening until it was big enough to squeeze through.
To his surprise and disappointment, it wasn’t the grand cavern he had envisioned. In fact, from what he could tell at first glance, it wasn’t much larger than a couple of school buses. There was clear evidence of animals having used it in the past. As he looked closer he could clearly see where a fire had once been built.
Jack searched for Native American artifacts. He knew if he found anything worthwhile he would have to turn it over to the proper authorities. There was nothing Native American, but what he did find surprised him.
Sitting on a rock toward the back of the cave was an old kerosene lantern. Someone had been in the cave at some point in the past. The lantern was extremely old. Maybe a couple hundred years.
Jack continued to explore the cave as he thought about why someone else might have been there. His search uncovered another small opening. He shined a light through the hole. It was another small room. There was no evidence of anyone having been in it.
He noticed the rock where the old lantern sat seemed out of place. His intuition told him to see if he could move it. With some effort he was able to slide it over. Behind the boulder he found a small crevice. Neatly tucked into the crevice was a burlap sack.
He pulled out the sack and looked inside where he found a wooden box. It was about the size of a shoe box and looked to be somewhat ornate. It was held shut with leather straps. He couldn’t see much detail in the dim light.
Once Jack was satisfied there was nothing else to find, he took the box and the old lantern outside into the light of day to get a better look.
When he opened the box, he was surprised to find a very beautiful looking Aladdin type oil lamp and a few foreign looking gold coins. The lamp itself looked to be solid gold with an abundance of small jewels adorning it. There was also some foreign markings on the bottom, but he was unable to read it.
Just for the hell of it he decided to rub the lamp and see if a genie would appear. Nothing happened, which was pretty much what he expected. He took the items back to the house.
The following day Jack packed up his gear and headed for home, taking the lamp with him. After some extensive research he discovered it might be from Morocco.
It was very old and the type of lamp that it was could be worth a small fortune…unless, as his research showed, it was a particular lamp called the Sultan’s Lamp. This was a lamp once belonging to a rich Moroccan Sultan in the 1600’s. It had been stolen from the sultan’s temple along with other treasures. Over the years everything had been found and returned except for the lamp.
If this was it, it would be be worth millions. He would also be obligated to return it.
Jack texted an image of the lamp and the writing to a friend of his. A university professor who he thought would be able to translate it.
The professor called him immediately. “Do you know what you have?” he asked.
“No, that’s why I contacted you,” Jack replied.
“I’ll be at your house in one hour.” was all he said before he hung up the phone.
The professor showed up at Jack’s place with a couple of books under his arm. He was eager to take a closer look at the lamp. When he did, He flipped through his books looking for something that might confirm his suspicions.
When he found what he was looking for, he was ecstatic. There was no doubt about it. This was indeed the missing Sultan’s Lamp. How it had ended up in a cave in Arizona was anybodies guess. The fact was, Jack had found it.
Now the question was what to do with it.
After some debate and careful consideration, Jack and the professor made a joint decision. They decided it would not be in Jack’s best interest to return it.
The professor happened to have a contact who dealt in black market antiquities. They decided to contact him and see what he could do for them.
They sent him a couple of photo’s of the lamp. The following day, the dealer contacted the professor with a keen interest in looking at the lamp in person.
Jack was concerned about showing the lamp to someone he didn’t know, but the professor assured him he knew the dealer on a personal level and that he wouldn’t try anything underhanded.
That was enough to set Jack’s mind at ease. They met at a neutral location and once the dealer had a chance to examine the piece in person, he confirmed what Jack and the professor already knew. It was an authentic piece. It was the missing Sultan’s Lamp.
The dealer had shown the pictures to several potential buyers. If the lamp turned out to be genuine, they would be very interested in purchasing it. Once it was confirmed to these buyers, the dealer smartly started a bidding war between them. The winning bid was in the millions. A deal was made and the lamp once again disappeared.
The dealer took a healthy cut. Jack and the Professor split the remainder. They both retired wealthy men. Jack moved back to his parents ranch and took up his fathers business of raising cattle. He never wanted for money again and lived out the remainder of his life a very wealthy and happy man.
© Copyright 2020 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.