INDIANA JONES AND THE FALL FROM GRACE AVENUE
Disclaimer: The usual!
Description: Sometimes the most dangerous adventures are the ones in your own backyard.
Breathing sure was an effort. He was aching and dizzy, and it seemed like no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't pull in enough air. Panicking at first, he forced himself to calm down and lay back, closing his eyes as the bright hot sunshine blasting his face. Slowly, a little bit at a time, his lungs expanded to allow a bit more air in.
Mutt moaned and put a hand to his chest, grateful to feel that a little bit of room was being made in his lungs for breath. Dazed, the youngster lay still, trying to figure out what happened. Slowly, breath and awareness returned and he realized he could feel grass under his back and head. What the hell…?
And then he remembered...
"C'mon, kid, let's go get the gutters cleaned out before it gets too hot out there to work."
"Yeah, in a minute."
"Unh unh." The book he'd been reading was plucked out of his hands. "You've got a skewed sense of time, kid. Your 'minutes' end up being days," his father had drawled out, carefully closing the book and setting it on the end table next to the couch. "Now."
"C'mon, man!" his son had complained, "it's been a rough week! An' besides, it's Saturday!" he added, as though the pronouncement of the day of the week indicated a sabbath… and for most high school-age teenagers, it probably was.
"My heart bleeds," came the dry response. "Move it. Go get the ladder and meet me out front."
Mutt continued to grouch and complain until finally Indy, turned, poking his son in the chest and pinning his ears back with a very stern look in his eye. "Henry, if you put one tenth of the energy you're wasting on complaining into getting this done with me, we'll be finished a helluva lot faster. Regardless, it's my Saturday, too. I want to finish this job so I can get cleaned up and meet your mother for lunch. So quit your bellyaching and go get the ladder!"
Mutt knew that tone, and knew that continuing to dawdle would not end well. They might not have known each other long, but Mutt had learned fast which of his father's moods and tones of voice were okay to push and which were not. This was one of the latter. "Fine," he grunted, stalking off toward the garage. Indy rolled his eyes, sending up a few apologies to his own late father for the times he'd behaved much the way his own boy was doing right now.
Together, they'd actually got a lot of the work done quickly, with Indy was on the ladder, using Marion's cultivator to claw out decomposing leaves from the clogged gutters and dropping the mess to the ground for Mutt to rake up and dispose of. They took a short break, then tackled the back of the house where the big oak tree was, and where Indy knew the worst accumulation would be.
"Jeez, man, how often you do this? Once a decade?" Mutt had complained as he dodged the falling debris – Watch the hair, man! – and filled the trash can with it. "God, this is grody…"
"There're a lot of trees on this property. One year's all it takes, junior. Quit complaining and go get another can," Indy had grunted out as he struggled with a particularly stubborn chunk of dead leaves. His efforts made the ladder shake a bit beneath him.
"Hey, whoa, there Silver," Mutt had warned, alarmed. At one point his father and the ladder were only connected via the toe of his dad's left boot. "The ladder's gonna go over if you're not careful."
"Take it easy, kid; I've been doing this since before I even met your mother, much less since before you were born," Indy replied scornfully, determined to free up the stubborn chunk of debris. "Get the other can." Once again, the ladder swayed beneath him and Indy threw his body weight around to steady it.
"I'll just wait until you – " Mutt started, uneasily, not wanting to leave until his father was through arguing with the gutter.
"Just go get the damn trash can, will you?" Indy had finally barked in frustration. Damn the kid, why can't he just do as he's told!?
Mutt had thrown up his hands. "Fine! Whatever you say, Pops," he growled, stalking off to the other side of the garage. Pigheaded old sonofabitch…
Shaking his head, still irritated, Indy put renewed effort into freeing the leaves that had clamped themselves to the gutter's walls. He heard the kid come back around, quicker than he'd expected. He made the mistake of turning his head to look to make sure the boy had done as he was told and brought another trash can, while, at the same time, yanking at the stubborn clump of leaves. It was a mistake, because at that very moment, the leaves had suddenly surrendered, throwing Indy badly off-balance.
Startled, Indiana's eyes widened in surprise as he felt the ladder shoot out from under his boot soles, and he desperately clawed for a handhold. He was relieved to feel the gutter's edge cut into the inside of his fingers. The relief was short-lived. ...They just don't make gutters like they used to…
The last thing Indy thought as he felt the gutter give way to his weight was "I'll never hear the end of this…"
Still grumbling at his father's stubbornness, Mutt stomped around the side of the garage dragging an aluminum trash can, just in time to see the ladder slip from under the toes of his dad's work boots and his father hanging from the eaves.
Panicking, Mutt moved with the speed only wiry 17-year-olds can produce, abandoning the aluminum trash can and running to catch his father. Unfortunately, through whatever twists of fate follow archaeologists-cum-household handymen, the gutter had caught the edge of ladder's metal slide, and brought it back into Indy's trajectory. The man's legs slipped through the gaps between rungs, rather than letting him finding footholds, and the resultant twist caused Indy's upper body – in particular, his hard head – to slam into the side of the house.
The best Mutt could do was break his father's fall, and since Indy had three inches and forty pounds on him, even that was a stretch. Mutt braced himself as he heard the squealing rip of gutter coming loose and ladder and Indy plummeted down two and a half storeys. Mutt found himself batted out of the way by the falling ladder and landing hard on his back, the air whooshing out of him and losing consciousness…
Now awake and aware, groaning, and gasping for breath, Mutt gagged a bit, then rolled painfully to his side. "Hey, Pops…you're startin' … to lose your …touch, man," he wheezed.
Frowning, Mutt hauled in another deep breath and opened his eyes, immediately shutting them against the brilliant sunshine. He quickly put a hand up to shield his eyes and, disoriented, looked around to see where Indy was. "Hey… Pops. Pops?" Crap, the house is the other way. "Dad?" Mutt Jones groaned as he forced himself to push up to his knees, grimacing as his skinned hands touched the lawn beneath him, and turned around. Mutt stopped short, his own pain forgotten. With his heart in his throat, Mutt hurriedly crawled to his father and gasped. "Dad!"
Henry was unconscious, lying on his left side, seemingly trapped up against the house, his legs tangled in the ladder, and his head bent at an awkward angle. "Oh, Jesus…oh, please, God…" Mutt choked out as he crawled toward him. His father's seemingly lifeless body was so still. Is his neck… is his neck broken? "Dad… Indy… c'mon, Dad, wake up, please…" Tears stung the boy's eyes as he looked in panic at the blood pouring out of the gash on his father's forehead, his face as white as a sheet.
Blood pouring…so much of it…Blood. Pouring…
Wait a minute…Dead men don't bleed!
Galvanized into action, Mutt hurried to his father's side and quickly grasped his wrist… yes! There was a pulse… kind of thready, but it was there. "Dad! Dad, wake up!"
Mutt nearly grabbed the ladder to try to get it free from his father's legs, but suddenly everything he'd been taught in first aid flooded his mind, and he stayed his hands. Nearly howling in his frustration, Mutt tried one more time to rouse his father, but perhaps, based on what those legs looked like, and that gash on his head, maybe bein' out cold was a blessing.
Mutt got to his feet and pelted through the yard to the back door and ran for the phone. Hands shaking, he dialed the operator, stammered out the need for an ambulance, forgot his address, cussed at the operator for not knowing it for him, remembered the address, and choked out "2520 Grace Avenue!," apologized for cussing out the operator, and hung up the phone. Running for the back door again, he stopped short just long enough to grab an afghan from his mother's chair.
Outside, he could've cried in relief to see his father stirring and groaning a little. "Hey, hold still!" he barked at his father, grateful that the older man stopped, wincing in pain at the movement. "You fell and we don't know how bad you knocked yourself around yet." Carefully and gently, he placed the blanket over his father. Pale… disoriented… but alive. His mother'd never forgive him if he let his old man croak while she wasn't home…
Slowly, Indy opened his eyes… and promptly wished he hadn't. "…Where…"
"You were cleanin' the gutters and the ladder went out from under you, remember?" Mutt's hands shot out to keep his father still. "I mean, it, Daddio, stay still. The ambulance is on its way."
Ambulance?! "No ambulance!" his father protested. Indy lurched to try to sit up and gasped in shock as waves of hot, agonizing pain gripped his chest, leg and head.
Just as consciousness thankfully faded, he heard his son grumble, "Oh, for Chrissake...!"
The smell of antiseptic. Cool, crisp sheets. The dull, quiet sound of a lot of activity at a short distance…
And a bastard of a headache.
His whole body hurt, but mostly his left knee and his head. Indiana tried to take stock of his surroundings, but aside from realizing his left knee was propped up on something and seemed to be encased in ice, he couldn't really make sense yet of what he was feeling. Indy muttered a little, trying to reach up to his throbbing forehead – it was closer than the knee, after all - until soft yet firm fingers first stopped his hand, then gently clasped it. "Take it easy, Jones. They've gone to get a clean dressing for that cut."
Marion. Indy relaxed a little, feeling better just having her close by. "Who's…. they…."
"The doctors, honey."
With a supreme effort, Indy opened his eyes again, and winced. Owww… He was still disoriented and looked at Marion questioningly. "What happened..."
Tenderly, Marion stroked back a lock of his gray hair. Suddenly she giggled a bit and shook her head, a wry smile on her beautiful face. "Only you, Jones, only you," she said fondly. "You're the guy who's climbed mountains, crash-landed planes, been thrown over cliffs, been hunted down in the desert and the Amazon... the guy who defies all odds and survives being buried alive... you've fought Nazis and Russians and God knows what else. So what finally puts you on your ass in a hospital bed? Cleaning out the gutters with your kid."
Confused, Indy looked at her and then memory flooded him. "Oh," he said, his voice small, and embarrassed.
She chuckled and kissed his cheek. "I do love you, Indy," she said softly.
He started to turn his head, and immediately regretted it. Eyes squeezed shut in discomfort, he managed to breathe out, "Mutt… he okay?"
She smiled at him. "He's fine. He got the wind knocked out of him when you and the ladder landed on him, but otherwise he's fine. He'll be back in a minute."
"… how bad….?" he asked, frowning. God, I hurt all over!
She stroked his forehead again, sighing. "No broken bones, but what will soon be a colorful collection of bruises, a cracked rib, a nasty sprained knee and a concussion. They're keeping you for a couple of days of observation. I could've told 'em that your head was the hardest part of your body…"
Indiana started to protest feebly, and she placed a finger on his lips. "No arguments, Indy. You scared us," she said seriously. "You're staying put until the docs say you can leave. Besides, you'll get better pain killers here than at home."
When she saw his protest wasn't finished, she sighed, and reaching over, gently tapped his head near the site of his injury. It felt as though she'd taken a sledge to his temple. Indy gasped and then hissed in breath, grimacing as wave upon wave of nauseating pain washed over him, and he held himself dead still until the wave passed, leaving him sweating and pale. "Thought that would shut you up," she said sternly, watching his face turn green. "You're. Staying. Put. End of story."
The doctor and nurse returned soon after and placed the clean bandage on his stitched up forehead, and checked his pulse. The doctor gave him some pills to swallow down, and told him to just relax as he wasn't going anywhere for a day or two. This time Indiana felt uncomfortable enough to see the doctor's wisdom and didn't argue, much to Marion's relief.
The door opened again a moment later, and he heard the familiar scuff of motorcycle boots.
"How's he doing?" the boy asked softly, his voice worried. "The doc said I could come in."
"He's awake," replied his mother, "come see for yourself."
Blearily, Indiana slowly opened an eye, tried to smile at his son, and beckoned him to come closer.
Worried, Mutt came to his bedside and leaned in. Indy could see the fresh bruise on his son's cheek, but otherwise the boy seemed none the worse for their experience. "Hey, junior," he said, weakly.
"Yeah, Dad? What is it? Can I do something for you? Get you something?" his son asked, gentle and worried.
Indy winced. "Did you… did you…" The voice was barely more than a breath.
Mutt leaned closer. "Yeah, Dad? Did I what?"
Pause. "Did you finish the gutters?"
Startled, Mutt's faced flushed and he jerked back and straightened abruptly, just to see a weakly evil grin on his father's pale face. Marion had to turn away and cover her mouth with her hand, but she couldn't hold back the laughter completely.
With one hand on his hip and the other wagging a finger under his father's nose, Mutt furiously declared, "Don't you ever do that again!" Marian laughed out loud to hear those words again, uttered by the other Jones in her life…
"Yes, sir," his father responded wryly, with a grin on his face, though he still looked pretty weak and pale. He winked at his son, then winced as the gesture hurt like a mother, and grunted in discomfort, very real this time.
The burst of frightened anger was over as fast as it flared, and Mutt shook his head, a grudging grin of admiration on his face. "You are one crazy old man," he sighed, perching gingerly on the other side of his father's bed, across from his mother.
Indy chuckled, and raised his hand to his son. "Thanks for breaking my fall, kid," he said seriously.
"No problem," Mutt smiled, gripping his father's hand.
Indy closed his eyes, then, and began to relax as the pain medication started to kick in. Dr. Indiana Jones dozed off to sleep, content as he felt his son's strong hand still gripping his, while his wife's softer fingers stroked his hair.
- End -