"Shhh." He kept toying with the ancient locking mechanism, oblivious to the rapidly developing problem I was noticing. Namely, that the dust sifting down from the stone ceiling was becoming thicker. Occasionally, I could hear a pebble falling somewhere off in the darkness around us.
"Dad, I really think-"
"Got it!" The carved obsidian that made up the door to the ancient 'safe' suddenly shifted. He pushed it aside and I shined my flashlight into the hole it had hidden. We both whistled at what we saw.
The small statue—presumably of an ancient king or god—glittered in the flashlight beam. Like the door, it was carved of obsidian, but this was also inlaid with precious metals and gems. It was beautiful, priceless, and we had found it. The biggest find we'd made since I'd started working with him.
Unfortunately, the ego inflation was going to have to wait. Somewhere off to out right, another pebble clattered to the floor. Then another. And another.
"Dad, as much as I hate to break up the party, I really think we'd better be getting out of here." Once he had the statue in his hands, I turned my light from it, shining it out into the cavern. I heard yet another pebble fall. This one was larger than the others. Dad stood up slowly, handing me the statue and finally turning his attention to the increasing noise.
"Yeah... yeah, I think you're right. Put the statue in your bag and let's go."
Thank you Captain Obvious. Did he think I was going to put it under my hat or what? Holding the torch between my teeth to free a hand, I tucked the statue in my backpack and made certain it was closed very tightly. Last thing we needed after all this trouble was to lose the darn thing. I slung my bag back onto my shoulders, tightening the straps as I followed Dad towards our exit. He glanced back to make sure I was keeping up. He needn't have. I wasn't exactly eager to be buried alive.
"Ouch!" I yelped as a nearly fist-sized stone bounced off my shoulder. I just managed to catch the torch before it clattered to the floor.
"You all right?"
"I'm fine, but the rocks are getting bigger!"
"That's not good."
"No kidding! I don't remember the shaft being this far away!"
Then it was Dad's turn to be hit. A rock slightly larger than the one that had hit me connected with his head. Thank heaven for hats. He grabbed my arm and broke into a full run. "We don't have much time."
I rolled my eyes and tried not to stumble as he hauled me along. He was being more of a hindrance than a help. "We don't have much time!? What was your first clue!?"
He pushed me ahead of him into the shaft and ran in after me just as a boulder the size of a tractor tire smashed into the corridor behind us. That sight had me halfway up the rope before dad had even begun to climb. I could only hope the rope would hold us both at once.
"That should do it. Just keep it up for a while to help bring down the swelling and you'll be alright."
"Dad, I know I'll be all right. It's only a scratch."
"Yeah, but it's a four-inch-long scratch. Besides, the faster the swelling goes down, the less likely Diane will be to find out about it."
He had a point. The last time I'd come back from a trip with an injury—a sprained wrist, that time—she's all but had a heart attack. You'd think I'd lost a limb the way she went on, accusing dad of being reckless and irresponsible. Funny, really, since I was pretty sure his 'recklessness' was a big part of why she'd started dating him in the first place.
"Alright, alright." I started to roll down my pant leg, realizing I'd have to change before Diane came back—the blood soaked through my khakis was not going to look good. It wasn't really all that much, but it was enough to attract unwanted attention. It was just as well; I wanted a bath.
"Good girl." He grinned as he put the first aid kit back together. "We don't want to upset the mother hen."
We both froze—me in mid-step, him still stuffing the first aid supplies back into the kit—at the sound of a key turning in the lock of the hotel door. Dad motioned for me to get out of sight in the adjoining room that I had been staying in. I wasn't fast enough, though, and the door swung open before I could get there. The sound of the woman's reaction filled the room, startling me so badly that I banged my injured leg on an end table and had to swallow a howl of pain. I swear, that woman's gasp alone could rouse the ancient Aztecs from their graves. I mean, really.
Dad's shoulders slumped and he opened his mouth to explain. Diane didn't give him a chance.
"Dakota! Oh, you poor baby! What happened!?"
Well, shoot. I hadn't even finished rolling down my pant leg. Not that it would have made much difference. I've often wondered if this woman is somehow distantly related to sharks. She can practically smell blood a mile away. Dropping her purse, she rushed over to me.
"D-Diane, I'm fine, it's just a scratch, really! I'm fine!"
I don't know why I bothered. For all the good my insistence did, I might as well have been talking to a brick wall. At least a brick wall wouldn't yell. She looked me over from fedora (which she promptly removed, citing something about wearing such hats indoors) to my boots. She made a clicking sound with her tongue and, apparently satisfied that I wasn't going to drop dead on the spot, turned on Dad.
"INDIANA JONES, HOW COULD YOU?" I actually put my hands up to my ears, not so much to shield them from her voice, but to make sure that they weren't already bleeding. The woman is incredibly loud. "She could have been killed!"
Dad wore that expression he reserved for the particularly overbearing. It's something between sheepishness and amusement. And cockiness. I love that expression, as long as it's not aimed at me.
"Diane, sweetie, now listen-"
"I don't want to hear it. You've got to stop dragging your daughter on these—these treasure hunts! She should be in school, studying, and dating, and preparing for a family, or at least a career suited to a young lady!"
Oh, boy, here we go again. It was the third time this month. I had to bite my tongue to keep from snapping my protest. I really, really hate it when people try to tell me that I shouldn't, or can't, do something, just because I happened to be born female. As if I haven't already proven that I can do pretty much anything I want. You know, its women like her that make me wonder how we ever managed to win the right to vote. It's the 1930s, Diane; you're about twenty years behind the times. Catch up to the rest of the world, already.
Dad shook his head, "I don't drag Dakota anywhere, Diane, and you know it. She wants to come. She's a Jones; it's what we do. And as for her education, I'd say she's doing just fine. How many sixteen-year-olds do you know who can fly a plane or read Egyptian hieroglyphics?"
Diane, poor, misguided Diane, stood her ground. "Indiana Jones—" Note her use of dad's full name. Again. "—you are really something. How can you justify raising your daughter like this?" Hey, wait just one darn minute. Why are they talking about me as if I'm not there? I may be young, but I'm not stupid.
As I watched, dad's jaw set rigid—that last question had insulted him. He stood up. "Like what, Diane? I mean, what do you expect me to do? Send her back to the States to live with strangers? Dump her at some boarding school? Dakota is my daughter, Diane. She belongs with me."
For one beautiful moment, I really thought the woman's head was going to explode. I had this terrific vision of confetti spewing from her neck in every direction. Then she had to go and spoil it by talking again.
"Indy, I can't take this anymore. I just—I just can't. I can't keep watching you and Dakota going on these ridiculous hunts and risking your lives. I just know that one day you won't come back."
"No, Indiana. I'm leaving. I hope the two of you have a wonderful life, for whatever may be left of it." She turned around, retrieved her purse from the floor, and marched out the door. I'd be lying if I said I was heartbroken.
Dad started to go after her, but paused in the doorway. He turned to look at me. "Is she really worth it, 'Kota?" he asked, using one of his many nicknames for me. I shook my head.
"I don't really think so. She won't ever let us be ourselves, and she's too old-fashioned. Of course, that's only my opinion..." I trailed off, slightly blushing at the way I had just spoken about my father's girlfriend. Er, former girlfriend. Then again, he had asked.
He half-smiled. "You know, I think you're right. I never did like being nagged, anyway." He paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. Then he grinned. "What do you say we get cleaned up and go get some dinner? I don't know about you, but I'm starved."
I put on a look of pseudo-shock. "Oh, but, father, what about the dreadful cut on my leg?"
He shrugged, smirking. "What about it?"
We both laughed. Things were back to normal.
...Or at least as close to normal as things ever get for us.