MILKSHAKES AND BRANDY
"I was just remembering the last time we had a quiet drink together. I had a milkshake."
-- Indiana Jones, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"
Utah, late summer, 1913
Henry Jones, Sr. guided his son out of the hospital with a hand on the shoulder. "You'll see. The transfusion will put the roses back in your mother's cheeks."
"You're not still upset that the doctor wouldn't let you donate your blood?"
"Because you are a bit on the young . . ."
"I said no."
Henry sighed in frustration. The Jones men were infamous for their taciturn natures but this was carrying things too far. Even making allowances for the current and unpleasant circumstances: a touchy adolescent and a dying wife. Perhaps it was time to break with tradition. Junior was old enough for a man-to-man talk about the Great Beyond. Spencer's was nearby. Not an ideal setting, but the soda shop was relatively empty and would offer a degree of privacy not found on the streets.
Henry led the way and chose a seat on the counter while Junior remained standing with his arms folded. "Son, let's talk."
"In the drugstore?" The lad infused the question with the contempt that only a fourteen-year-old could muster.
Henry shrugged, a gesture he had found to be most effective in combating said contempt. "What would you like? My treat."
He son shot him a look of disbelief and warily sat down. "Chocolate milkshake."
"And you, sir?" enquired the soda jerk.
"Hot tea, if you have it." The soda jerk nodded the answer.
Henry waited until their orders had arrived and added a surreptitious dollop of brandy from his hipflask to the tea. He took a fortifying gulp of his drink. "You know your mother has been ill for a while now."
Indy toyed with his straw and finally took a slurp. "Yes."
"The doctors say it is a . . . a growth. A tumor. And it is spreading."
Another slurp. "I know."
"I said I know. Mom told me."
"Months ago. Maybe years." Slurp.
"She knew? And she didn't tell me?"
Indy pushed the milkshake away. "No! She thought it would distract you from your work. Your God-almighty work!"
Indy stopped suddenly, momentarily stunned by the stinging slap across the face his father had just delivered. For blasphemy, no doubt. How typical. Henry Jones would do anything to keep from facing anything he found too unpleasant. Indy's eyes darkened with fury and he found his voice again.
"You've been so wrapped up in that stupid Grail that you haven't even noticed what's been going on in your own house! Pretty ironic – you always looking for the Cup of Life while Mom's been dying right under your nose."
"I will not tolerate such talk. You will show some respect for both God and your parents!"
"Respect is earned." Indy pushes his stool away from the bar and heads for the door.
"And don't call me Junior!" he shouted and ran out into the street.
He was so wrapped up in his churning thoughts and emotions that he didn't notice Mr. Brody until he walked full-tilt into him.
"I beg your pardon . . . Junior!"
"DON'T call me Junior!" Indy snapped before he could stop himself. Looking at Mr. Brody's bewildered and hurt expression, shame ran through him. He had been inexcusably rude not only to his father's colleague but to an adult he considered to be a friend also. "I'm sorry, Mr. Brody. My father's the only one who calls me that. And Miss Seymour, my tutor. I hate it."
A sort of understanding entered Mr. Brody's eyes, as though he weren't surprised. "What do you prefer to be called, then?"
"Indiana." Indy knew Mr. Brody knew about their dog and waited for the ridicule. It never came.
"Very well. Indiana it is. Now, Indiana, what has got you so flustered?"
"It's a long story."
"I have time. And the very place to hear a long story."
Marcus led Indiana to the old library, used his master key to enter the back room, and locked the door behind them. "Now."
The young man folded his arms, almost withdrawing into himself and stared at one of the walls. "It's not that I don't trust you, Mr. Brody, it's – "
Marcus held up a hand. "Wait, wait. I have a request. I honored your wish to be called Indiana. I'd like you to honor my wish that you call me Marcus."
Indiana raised an eyebrow. "All right. Marcus. It's not that I don't trust you but you're my father's friend. I mean, you might not, well . . ."
"This whole thing involves your father and you're afraid I won't be as empathetic as I otherwise would."
"Pretty much," Indiana admitted sheepishly.
Marcus shook his head. "Indiana, I've known your father for many, many years. He can be very difficult man to deal with at times. It's only natural that you and he should disagree."
"It was a little more than a disagreement."
"A fight, then?"
"We ended up yelling at each other."
Indy snuck a look at Marcus. This was his father's friend, after all. Maybe Marcus wouldn't understand. But there was a look of sympathy in his face. Indy found words bubbling to the surface. "My mom finally let my father take her to the hospital. She's been sick for a long time."
"Yes, I'm aware of that."
"The doctor said she has some kind of growth. They don't think it could be operated on. She's dying."
"Indiana, I'm so sorry."
"But she's known for a long time!" he burst out. "I've known for a long time. She went to see a doctor without Dad almost a year ago. I found out because I caught her crying at her prayers and she told me but she made me promise not to tell Dad, that she'd tell him herself. But she never did. And now there's nothing anyone can do to make her well again."
"It sounds like you have a solid reason to be upset."
"But the worst part of it is that Dad never knew! He's so absorbed with his work that he can't pay any attention to anything outside his damn books! He's always busy; he's always distant; he's always ignoring us. He was shocked, actually shocked, that I knew about Mom before he did. I don't see how Mom stands it!"
"It sounds like you're angry at her too."
Indy looked guilty for a split second before a defiant mask fell over his face. "Why would I be angry at her? It's not her fault she got sick."
"Because from what you've told me, she has never demanded attention for herself. She's allowed your father to take her for granted and you can't understand why. You're angry at her for getting sick and not doing anything but play the martyr."
There was a long silence while the teenager scrutinized the worn leather cover of a random tome. "Yes."
"It's hard, Indiana, to see loved ones make decisions that we see as wrong. But I'm sure they honestly did what they thought was right. My own sister died from consumption. She didn't tell me until she became bedridden."
Indy looked up. "Why?"
"She found out before I left for Europe on a year sabbatical but she didn't want to ruin the experience for me. She thought that by doing so I could enjoy the trip without worrying about her. She didn't understand that those memories are forever tainted by the knowledge that I could have been with her during that time instead of gallivanting across the Continent. But she did what she thought was best."
"And didn't realize that she was hurting you in the end."
There was silence while Indy mulled this over. "Mom doesn't like Dad's obsession with the Grail. She's religious. She thinks he's meddling in things best left alone."
"He probably is. But I'm sure he has good intentions."
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
"I'm not your father's apologizer, Indiana. I'm merely trying to let you see things from his point of view."
Indy drew a slow breath, only to be stopped by the unannounced click of a key in the lock and the even more unannounced entrance of his father. Immediately he drew back and dropped his eyes. Indy's behavior did not go unnoticed by Marcus, who was quick to step between father and son.
"Henry, wait. Please." It took Indy a moment to realize Marcus was speaking Greek, ancient Greek at that. He was a little rusty in it but Marcus had been giving him sporadic lessons in the language. Lessons his father didn't know about. Indy was hard-pressed to hide a smile when he realized what Marcus was doing, and it was even harder when Marcus gave him a surreptitious wink.
Henry, Sr. missed the exchange but apparently decided to go along with the Greek. "Wait? Marcus, do you have any idea what this boy's done?"
"I think I have an idea," Marcus said quietly. "He's seen his mother collapse from an incurable illness and been told of her inevitable death. He's interpreted your actions as being indifferent in nature and he is angry and hurt and unsure of how to express his grief. That is my idea of what he's done."
Henry blinked, somewhat taken aback. "How did you know all that?"
Marcus shrugged. "We had a bit of a talk. I think all he needed to speak to an adult who wasn't a parent figure. A neutral mediator, if you will." He stopped talking for a moment to take a step closer to the elder Jones, leaning in confidentially. "He's been hurt by this as well, Henry."
It took a while for Henry to respond. "That does not give him the right to be blasphemous and disrespectful," he said at last.
"No, it doesn't. But surely you can see why allowances must be made," Marcus persisted. "He's still young, Henry, young and inexperienced in the ways of grief. He knows of no other way of coping other than lashing out. A wounded dog will bite even the hand helping it because it is in pain."
" Even so . . ."
" Henry, hasn't this day been difficult enough for both of you? Ask for an apology by all means but don't punish him for his sorrow." There was a long pause "Henry?"
Henry nodded. "All right, Marcus. You win."
Marcus nodded his thanks, and gave another wink to Indy before holding the door open wide for the Joneses to pass.
The two walked side by side silently out of the library and down the street.
Indy winced at the name but knew now was not the time to complain. "Yes, sir?"
Henry seemed to be searching for the right words, speaking slower than usual. "I can understand that you're upset at this time. I can make allowances for that provided you find a more suitable outlet for your grief in the future. What I cannot and will not allow is for you to be disrespectful to both your God and your father. For that, I ask for an apology."
Indy nodded. "I do apologize for that."
"All right then." Henry took a deep breath. "Let's go collect your mother."
All things considered, Indy reflected, the conversation hadn't gone too badly. But it was too bad that they couldn't have worked things out on their own, without a third person. Why couldn't his father understand things like that unless he was hit over the head with an explanation? Why couldn't he be more understanding, like Mr. . . . like Marcus?
After I first posted this someone pointed out that blood transfusions did not become standard medical procedure until after WWII. To that I say . . . . crap, you're right. But in Bram Stoker's "Dracula" there were blood transfusions to save a young woman's life and that was published in 1896 so it's not totally inconceivable that some modernistic doctor in Utah in 1913 would try it. (sigh) Let's just go with that scenario, 'kay?