Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Mystic's Cave
Chapter Six Summary: Indy learns Marion has skills he never dreamed of; Mutt learns that confinement can sometimes have a silver lining; Marion learns just how much Indy wants to keep her safe.
Setting: July, 1958, Moab, Utah, post KoTCS
Characters: Indy/Marion/Mutt, probably Oxley and a couple of new OCs, applicable to this story; possibility of some recurring OCs as well; the return of some old friends; I'm not yet sure. Like Indy, "I'm making this up as I go along."
Rating: T (for language)
Disclaimer: I do not own Indiana Jones, Marion, Mutt, Oxley or any of the characters and characterizations notable to the Indiana Jones franchise, and have no desire to commit copyright infringement. However, any original characters and the storyline itself ARE mine. :-) Please consider the MacGuffin for this story copyrighted.
Acknowledgement: My greatest thanks, once more, to my Beta. Despite her incredibly busy schedule, she was able to get through this chapter and help me have it ready to be posted before I leave on vacation. Thank you so much; if you readers can breathe, you can thank her... she made me put breathing room into the fight scene! LOL
Marion enjoyed the feel of sun on her face as Indy pointed the car out of town toward Sand Flats Road.
"You know, I kinda figured I'd be baking this afternoon."
Indy had been concentrating on what he'd read in the case files from the Munson family disappearance. Confused, he figured somewhere he'd missed something in their conversation. "Sorry…. Baking?"
"You know, a little something for Mutt… like a metal file hidden in a cake…" she explained, deadpan.
Indy stared at her, then started laughing, and shook his head.
She smiled, glad to hear him laugh again. He reached and pulled her closer to him on the carseat, leaning over and kissing her hair. "We're in the old west, Marion," Indy teased back. "Out here, we'd tie a rope to the bars on the jail's window and get a horse to pull it out of the wall in order to break him out."
She snuggled in close and sighed. "We're awfully lucky your old friend is as smart as he is," she said softly, her head resting on his shoulder. "That whole plan was ingenious. Not just for Mutt, either."
Indy nodded, thinking of poor young Rob Martin. "You know," he said to her, his voice a little apologetic, and more than a little ashamed of himself, "on the ride over there last night with Herman, all I could think of – at first, anyway – was how hard I was going to come down on the kid for pulling such a stupid-ass stunt."
Marion grinned. "I'm glad the bullwhip stayed in the suitcase then!" she chuckled. When he flushed bright red, she realized she'd hit the nail closer to the head than he found comfortable. Fondly, she stroked his hand. "For crying out loud, Jones… I would have been more worried if you told me you hadn't wanted to wring his neck," she reassured him. "Believe me, it's normal. All parents go through this when their kids do stupid, dopey, terrifying things." She tipped her head to one side. "What changed your mind?" she asked quietly.
He shrugged. "By the time we got to the four corners… right about here, I guess," he observed, gesturing at the stop sign as they rolled to a brief stop then continued on, "I'd calmed down and was trying to figure out how to handle this and get at the real reasons for what had happened. I just… well, I couldn't believe he'd be that reckless, not with Bonnie in the car. There had to be more to the story." He grew serious. "Marion, when I looked at the Martin kid's black eye this morning and saw him trying to move without showing how much it hurt him…and then when Doug's son went off on the boy right there in the office…" he shook his head, his mouth in an angry, tight line. He couldn't finish, though the hand on the steering wheel gripped the leather wrapping more tightly.
God, how he hates cruelty and injustice, she thought. Those thoughts really scared him… seeing how close even good parents can come to that, sometimes…
Indy sighed. "I mean… they're just kids," he said softly. "They're supposed to make dumb mistakes while they're kids, aren't they? God knows we did. I thought that was what adolescence is supposed to be all about." His sideways glanced at her was so sad.
Marion kissed him. Startled, he turned to her. "What was that for?"
"Just because you're Henry Jones' boy, and not Doug Martin's," she said simply. "And because I love you. I was so proud of you last night. You handled your son exactly the right way, as if you'd been doing this all of his life. You did good, Jones."
He looked at her and managed a small smile, hugging her close to him gently. Marion watched as he shook off the mood and became aware of their surroundings. He pointed into the distance toward a group of houses grouped together and set quite far back from the road.
"That's it?" asked Marion.
Indy nodded. "When I was a kid, there was just the one big clapboard house, the one in the center. And a barn that isn't even on the property anymore," he observed.
"So, were you able to get through much of the case file?" Marion asked as they pulled onto the small road leading to the compound.
"Yes, some, before you two woke up," nodded Indy. "Some things didn't add up, as Herman said…"
Herman had dropped the box off around lunch time at the motel room. Indy was the only one awake at the time Herman came by; both Mutt and Marion had given in to exhaustion and were dozing. Marion was curled up on Indy's and her bed, while Mutt had conked out on the sitting area couch.
Indy had quietly deposited the box with the case file on the small kitchenette table, then gestured to Herman to join him for coffee at the diner across the parking lot.
"How's Marion holding up?" Herman had asked, as they settled into a booth.
"A lot better since your solution to our 'little problem,' " smiled Indy. "I can't thank you enough, pal."
Herman shrugged. "I meant what I said. It'd be damned useless to lock 'em both up for two weeks, deal with the extra cost of a deputy and everything else that goes along with it, when they could really learn something as a result of their mistakes. They're kids, and kids just make dumb mistakes sometimes."
"So… with the case file, what do you think I should focus on first?"
Herman shrugged again, this time more helplessly. "Indy, you've got me there. This whole mess is filled with inconsistencies. I mean, on the surface it sure looks as though the whole lot of 'em up and disappeared without a trace, but… well, honestly, I think it'd be best for you to read it yourself and come to your own conclusions." He tossed a small envelope across the booth's table at his friend. As Indy looked in question, he nodded. "Keys to the houses. For all intents and purposes, the whole shebang belongs to Vi now," he said, very softly. "To the best of our knowledge, there is no other family."
"Is she still keeping her connection quiet?"
"For the moment," nodded Herman.
"Good." Herman studied his old friend. Indy hesitated, then shrugged. "I have a feeling that the fewer people who know there is a connection, the… well, the safer she'll be." Herman's face had grown stony; obviously, he, had crossed that intellectual bridge long before…
"… so we'll have to judge for ourselves," Indy finished, pulling into the driveway of the old homestead and parking the car. He came around Marion's side and helped her out.
"I'm guessing the police file didn't show any unusual numbers of footprints or fingerprints, or anything like that?" asked Marion, glancing around the grounds.
"That's one of the anomalies," Indy replied, studying the terrain. "There were no footprints… at all." He glanced at her. "Nothing new, anyway… old ones, days old."
Marion turned to him, surprised. "But that's…"
He nodded, an eyebrow raised. "Exactly," he agreed, pushing his fedora back a bit on his head. "Sloppy, if you ask me." He gestured toward the main house and offered a hand to her.
They walked up onto the porch, and Marian suddenly turned, looking into the distance.
"What?" Indy asked, looking around.
"I… I don't know… it just felt…" she shook herself. "Just the creepiness of this place, I guess. Don't mind me, Jones."
Remembering his own feeling of being watched earlier that morning out at the cemetery, Indy said nothing but kept his senses set to 'high' as he unlocked the front door. "You feel anything else like that, Marion, don't keep it to yourself. There're way too many questions and not enough answers around this situation to make me feel comfortable… especially with you here." Before she could retort, he took her hand and led her inside.
They looked around the living room together. Marion glanced at Indy. "Maybe it would be better for us to look separately then compare notes?" she suggested.
"Unh unh," he said firmly. "You're staying with me, lady."
Marion rolled her eyes but was touched at his concern. "I'm not seeing anything particularly out of the ordinary," she said as they looked around the living room.
Indy shook his head and walked over to where the couch was placed, then pointed down. Marion looked and shook her head in amazement. "Carpet marks are different… the couch isn't in the same place."
"Right. But the other furniture is exactly on its indentations. I've shifted our damn couch around enough times for you in the last year to know that when you move one piece, you tend to move coffee tables and end tables, too. Why didn't they?"
Marion nodded, her wits sharpened now that she had an idea of the things to look for. "Move it again, Indy… maybe the couch is hiding something now?"
Indy looked up, startled. "Good God, Marion… why didn't I think of that?" he wondered, and did as she suggested. They both looked closely at the carpet and saw no stains, but…
"Look!" Marion crowed, pointing toward a snag in the nap from the edge of a couch leg. "It's like something hit the couch hard, dragging it along the carpet… right out of alignment!"
Indy nodded, studying the path. "Right into where it's sitting now, almost. As though just a quick shove would line it up again. Good catch, Mrs. Jones."
"Thanks, Dr. Jones."
Nothing else presented itself in the living room and they headed toward the kitchen. Marion studied it. "Everything's been cleaned up."
"Only since the police did their investigation," replied Indy, looking around. "Everything was left on the table."
"What do you mean… like they were in the middle of a meal?"
Marion nodded and walked around, then stopped as she studied the sink. "What about in the sink?"
"You said dinner or whatever was left on the table," she said slowly, then turned to look at him. "What about the sink?"
Indy thought back. "Empty."
Marion raised an eyebrow. "I'm no master chef, that's for sure. But why would there be dinner dishes still on the table, but nothing around from preparing dinner? Do you ever see me totally cleaning the kitchen between the moment I take a pan off the stove and serve a meal before I actually sit down to eat it?"
Indy stared at her and grinned again. "Damn, I knew there was a reason I married you, and it wasn't just 'cos you're good in bed."
"Good…because I'll have you know I'm great in bed," she replied loftily.
"Indeed you are," he agreed, kissing her as he walked toward the bedrooms.
There was more, in all of the houses… anomalies that didn't make sense. After an hour and a half of walking through all of the homes and comparing their notes, Indy and Marion once again moved outside toward the car. The heat had risen, and it was a scorcher out there.
"I think the thing that bothers me most is how the rooms that were searched the most methodically were obviously the kids' rooms," observed Indy as he opened Marion's door to allow her to be seated first.
"I know," she agreed, thinking hard as she leaned against the car. "And the most carefully tidied up again. How many kids did Vi say were here?"
"I don't remember for sure… twelve or thirteen, something like that."
"Whew…I'm going to need another shower before dressing for the dinner dance tonight," sighed Marion, fanning herself with her hat.
"Yeah, me, too. I – "
And startled, they suddenly looked at each other. "What was that?" asked Marion very softly.
"Don't know," he mouthed back. The sound had come from behind Marion somewhere around the back of one of the buildings. If he'd been alone, Indy would have sprinted in that direction and angled for a view, but Marion's safety was keeping him from doing it this time. "Get in the car, quick." He did move quickly to try to get himself between her and the general location of the sound.
"No! I'm not leaving you here without protection!" he hissed back fiercely, sort of shoving her into the car then sprinting around the side and starting the engine.
"Damn it, Jones, punch it!" she scolded him. "They'll get away!"
Indy glared at her but obeyed, hitting the gas and spinning out the tires to set up a spray of sand, trying to turn the car to point it toward the back of the farthest building. But to both of their shock, before Indy had even had a chance to turn the Impala completely around, a motorcycle shot out from the back of the house, unseen by them previously, The driver sped out over the desert terrain, eschewing the long access road and aiming straight for the highway over the sand. Even if Indy put the pedal to the metal, there'd be no way to catch up with the rider.
Indy and Marion sat back, breathing hard and staring into the distance.
"Well, Jones… looks like my woman's intuition wasn't a flash in the pan after all," she said dryly, pushing back her dark bangs. "We're sure starting to rattle somebody's cage."
Mutt listlessly paced the small sitting area of the motel room, glancing out the window every few minutes. After the 200th circuit of the small space, he grunted in frustration and headed toward the kitchen area. He was hungry and thought of walking over to the diner to get a sandwich or something, but hesitated. He'd been warned that if he so much as put his big toe outside the motel room he'd be strung up. And that was from Mom. He could only imagine what Dad'd do. He glanced around, finding finally a piece of fruit, an apple, and gladly grabbed that to munch on.
His eye fell on the box of paperwork from Sheriff Mueller and picked up a folder, the one Dad had most recently set on top. Frowning in concentration, Mutt took it over to the couch and settled in with his apple to read.
Fifteen minutes later, Indy came out of his and Marion's bedroom, looking dapper in a shirt and tie, shaved and combed. He set his suit coat on the back of a kitchen chair and slipped his cufflinks on, watching Mutt's concentration. His eyebrow went up at the reading material. "Sure, the Sheriff has no problem with you reading a case file," he said sarcastically.
"Hey, it was on the table in plain sight," Mutt answered absently, studying the report. He looked up at his father, his brow wrinkled. "I heard some o' the locals beatin' their gums about this at the soda shop yesterday. So they really did just disappear, then?"
Indy hesitated; Herman and Violet had told him and Marion the tale; not Mutt. "Mnh hmm," he nodded. "Herman just asked me to read it to see if anything jumped out at me. Apparently he knows I've seen some weird stuff in my time…"
Mutt nodded. "So, did you guys see anything out there?"
Indy studied his son. "Nothing of major consequence," he replied. He reached for his jacket. "What do you want for dinner?"
"I'll just go over and get a burger."
Indy raised an eyebrow. "Really."
Mutt made a face, and his body sagged. "Oh, man… c'mon, Dad, you didn't really mean I was confined to this place for 48 hours, didja?" he whined.
"Hmm, let's see. I believe my exact words were, 'You're not to leave this room until you have to report to work at Charlie's on Monday morning,' " Indy recited thoughtfully. He raised an eyebrow and gave his son a stern look. "What did you think I meant, Junior?"
"But… but that's brutal!" Mutt protested. "That's 'cruel and unusual punishment!' "
"It ain't supposed to be a picnic, kid. That's why they call it punishment," replied his father blandly. "Now, do you want a pizza?"
Mutt was tempted to pout and refuse, but if he did, he'd be damned hungry by Monday morning. "Yeah." It was a grunt.
Indy smiled slightly and reached for the phone, tossing Mutt a phonebook. "Look up the number."
As Indy ordered Mutt's sausage and pepperoni, extra cheese, Marion came out, smoothing her skirt and sighing. "There is no way to look elegant when you're as big as a damned elephant," she grumbled, checking her make-up in her compact.
Indy grinned at her, covering the phone's mouthpiece. "You're gorgeous. A bombshell… a knockout… yeah, a medium pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese. Right…. A queen. A priestess… The Apache Motel, room 128… how much? Okay, thanks." He hung up the phone, dug some money out of his pocket and tossed it to Mutt. "There's enough for the pie and the tip. We'll stop by the diner and grab you a few bottles of Coke before we leave."
"Thanks," Mutt grunted, ungraciously, as he slouched in the armchair in front of the television set. Thank God this place ain't totally Dullsville… at least there's a TV…
Marion sighed and walked over to the sofa, fluffing the pillows, straightening the picture behind the couch, and then walking behind her son and smacking the back of his skull, making sure her wedding ring was angled exactly right.
"Ow!" her son yelped, clapping a hand to his throbbing head, looking up at her with eyes filled with hurt indignation. "Wha'd I do?!"
"Oh, so sorry… I didn't see that fat head sitting there," she said dryly. She leaned down, nose to nose with her boy. "So help me, Mutt, if you so much as breathe funny tonight and cause us any more trouble on this trip, your workload at home will make jail time look attractive. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, ma'am," he nodded, continuing to rub the back of his head, and trying hard not to smile. He just couldn't take her seriously as threatening, not with that belly.
Indy fought a grin and shook his head. "C'mon, honey, we're gonna be late as it is."
"Be good," she warned Mutt, one last time, as she gathered her bag and gloves.
Mutt finally looked up at her and relaxed. Let her enjoy tonight, the little Mutt with the wings and halo encouraged him. "I will," he promised both of them. She smiled then and walked out, with Indy following.
Mutt sighed, got to his feet and changed channels on the TV, then settled in to watch The Dick Clark Show… just 36 more hours…
"What?" asked Indy, a puzzled look on his face. They were just about to enter the hotel's main ballroom, with sounds of dance music filtering through the big wooden double doors, when Marion made her cryptic statement. " 'Me, too' what?"
"Oh." Indy flushed and chuckled. "Yes, ma'am."
He pushed open the door and blinked at the beautiful room. Whoever had been in charge of decorating had done a fabulous job. There were photographs of the school back in 1914, blown up… photos of the students, the teachers. "This is great!" he grinned in delight, escorting Marion inside.
Marion and Indy walked around the room saying hello, laughing as they saw that seating had been arranged by circa 1914 photographs. Marion smiled warmly to see a tall, beanpole-thin fourteen-year-old Henry Jones, Jr. smiling out at her shyly from under an unruly mop of hair from the photograph indicating where their seats were… luckily at a table with Herman ("Good God… that's Herman?!") and Violet Mueller, Lilian Franks and Charlie and Estelle Greene.
Lil had taken him aside at one point to gently scold him for coming to blows the night before with "that idiot Doug Martin!" over names she'd been called for years, but also to give him a tender kiss of thanks on his cheek. The tenderness made him blush far more than the scolding and he grinned at her, returning the thanks her by taking her out for a spin on the dance floor.
"Oh, Indy, no!" she'd protested, her face flushed. "You fool, I haven't danced in thirty years!"
"'Bout time then, isn't it?" he'd insisted, gently guiding her through a simple two-step.
The food was great, the drinks were light, and the company superb. Even Doug and Louise kept pretty much to themselves, watching their alcohol intake and restricting their hostility to sending glares over to Indy's table. Herman, actually, had stepped in and spoken to all three of them, warning them that he'd remove both couples at the first sign of trouble. Indy was enjoying himself too much to risk expulsion, and instead refused to be baited or even look at the Martins. And apparently the Martins, too, had got the hint, keeping much to themselves.
"Charlie, I'm so grateful to you," Marion was saying as Indy returned to the table with a cold ginger ale for her and a scotch for himself.
"For giving my errant son an option besides the big house," she said with a sad smile.
Charlie chuckled. "Nonsense, Marion. That was Herman's idea. I'm just glad I could help."
"Well, he's incredibly grateful," offered Indy. "He actually surprised me at your office," he added to Herman.
Herman smiled and shook his head. "Nah. He's basically a good kid… bit of a blowhard, maybe, and a little unfocused, but a really good kid. You guys did a good job with him."
Indy winked Marion. "It was all his mother," he said firmly.
As the lovely evening started to draw to a close, Lil begged off early, mentioning an animal that was on surgical watch that she wanted to check on. Then Charlie and Estelle got up to do a last spin on the dance floor, leaving the Joneses and Muellers together at their table, tired but happy.
"This was a great party, Vi," said Indy honestly. "I haven't had this much fun in a long time. I'm really glad we came."
Violet leaned tiredly up against her husband. "I'm glad everyone seemed to enjoy themselves," she admitted. "But I'll be damned if I'll arrange a 50th!"
Herman tipped his head to one side. "One of my deputies said he saw you two headed out to the Munson farm earlier today," he said as quietly as he could given the music and noise in the room.
Indy and Marion hitched their chairs a little closer. "Yeah. You ever notice anybody watching the place?"
Violet and Herman exchange glances. "No."
Indy mused on that one. So… were they watching the houses? Or watching the Joneses? Considering how he'd felt at the cemetery that morning, he was leaning toward the latter.
"Marion and I both had the sense someone was watching us while we were there, and when we were heading out to the car, sure enough, somebody took off on a motorcycle like a bat outta hell, anxious to avoid us getting a chance to meet."
Herman leaned forward at that one. "Get a look at 'im?"
Indy shrugged. "Kind of hard given the circumstances. Medium height and build I'd say, based on his ranginess on the bike… longish dark hair, like my son's in length…white… that's about it."
Herman looked at Marion for corroboration. She nodded. "The only thing that seemed odd about him was the way he was dressed. He was wearing more traditional type clothes, not usual biker gear. No leather, no boots."
Indy looked at her admiration. "You're really pretty good at this, you know?"
She smiled smugly and settled against him, as he chuckled.
"Did you turn up anything?"
Indy was thoughtful. "Honestly… all kinds of things to indicate that the whole thing is contrived by somebody. There's just too much that doesn't add up." He and Marion went on to quickly and quietly outline their observations. Herman nodded and Violet, pale and strained, studied her fingers.
"How many children were there, Violet?" Indy asked gently.
"Twelve," she said softly. "Indiana… why would someone do this?"
Indy inhaled deeply. "I don't know, Vi. There're too many parts of the puzzle I don't know yet." He looked at her curiously. "Was there anything valuable on the property?"
Vi hesitated a moment, then shook her head. She's lying, Indy thought, disturbed. "Anything you can think of?" he asked gently. "If I don't know all of it, I'm pretty hamstrung when it comes to trying to solve this."
Violet brought up her dark eyes to meet his. "Nothing I can think of," she declared, flatly. Herman looked off across the room, his jaw tight. What the hell's going on here? thought Indy.
Marion squeezed his hand, to indicate it was time to let it go, that they'd talk later, and she stepped in to bring the conversation back to the party and the reason for the get-together. She could see that Vi was strained nearly to breaking point. Not the time or the place, she thought to herself.
The party finally broke up near one a.m. As they walked to the car, Indy frowned, studying the pavement. As he handed Marion gently into her seat, he glanced at her. "She was lying," he said softly.
"Right through her teeth," agreed Marion, swinging her legs into the car.
Sunday morning dawned with the Jones family feeling two-thirds happy and content. Well, dawned probably wasn't the right word; none of them woke much before ten in the morning.
Indy and Marion had had a very good time the night before, slept late Sunday morning and woke feeling fairly rested and ready start thinking and working on the mystery laid before them. The other third of the family was beginning to find confinement to the hotel room downright uncomfortable.
He'd brightened when his father started getting dressed and ready to go out, figuring they'd all head to breakfast. Until his dad asked what he wanted him to pick up for him.
"You mean… only you two are going out for breakfast?"
"No, I mean your mother's been invited to brunch with Mrs. Mueller, and you and I are having eggs to go. Now whaddya want?"
Crestfallen, Mutt realized that Dad meant exactly what he'd said: he was stuck here until Monday morning. He came so close to snarling, "Nothin'!" until he got a look at his mother's face, and grunted out a request for a bacon and egg sandwich. Marion nodded, knowing how he liked it prepared, and he turned on his heel stomping to his own room to seethe in peace.
Indy sighed, and Marion put a hand on his arm. "Patience… you've dealt out the sentence. Part of being a parent is suffering it along with him," she teased him.
"Ain't that the truth," grunted Indy, marching to the suite door to fetch his meal.
An hour later, comfortably full, Indy was thinking and making notes with the case files around him. Mutt was flopped once more on the couch, watching television, bored and trying not to show it to give his father the satisfaction.
One thing about bein' confined here, you get to noticed patterns… the boy thought idly as he kept only one eye on the tv and the other watching out their window. Like that lady who's obviously a nurse. If she goes to work every day, I wonder why she's livin' in a motel? Was it Splitsville between her and her old man, maybe? I mean, she drives some decent wheels, and goes to work. It doesn't make sense that she hasn't got a crib of her own. Oh! Maybe she just moved here and hasn't found anything yet, yeah, that's a possibility… And like that guy… wonder what he's been hanging around for? He's been here since the day after we got here… but I never seen him leavin'. Never seen him talkin' to anybody. Just sitting, watching… Suddenly Mutt's eyes snapped open wide. Sitting? Watching? Watching who? Them? The guy didn't seem to be watching any other room but theirs. He swallowed hard and glanced over at his father, poring over the case files and writing stuff on a legal pad. Should I say somethin'? Or will Dad think I'm wacked?
As casually as he could, Mutt got up, stretched and while stretching, he squinted out the window and saw the guy in his car studying them with binoculars. Mutt hoped the curtains were fuzzy enough to keep the guy from noticing he'd seen him. He ambled lazily over to the kitchen table and flopped into the chair opposite. Indy glanced up over the top of his glasses at his son. "Hey, Dad."
"Don't look up, and don't make any moves that look like you're surprised," Mutt yawned, stretching.
The hair on the back of Indy's neck raised. "Yeah?" he asked softly, looking back down at the notes. "Why?"
Mutt shrugged. "Because there's a guy watchin' us with hunting glasses from his car across the parkin' lot."
Indy was grateful his back was to the window. He grunted. "You sure?"
"He's been there for … lessee… two days, I think. Only watching our place." Mutt stretched again and put his head down on crossed arms, so that his father's body blocked his face being seen.
In admiration, Indy smiled slightly at his son. "Junior, if this is a set up to get out of being grounded – " One look at Mutt's indignant expression gave Indy his answer. "Okay, then. Good. That confirms some things…"
Indy hesitated a moment, then decided that come what may, the kid had to be made aware of what was going on. For his own safety if nothing else. "Yesterday morning, before we went to the sheriff's office I went out to… I went out," he finished, lamely, "and while out I got the feeling I was being watched. Couldn't put my finger on anything, but felt it none the less. Yesterday, while out at the Munson family houses, your mother and felt the same thing, and this time we were being watched. We saw a guy ride off on a motorcycle, too fast for us to catch. Don't react! Your mother was fine." Indy said sternly, as he saw Mutt start to come up at the news his mother might have been threatened.
Head still down, Mutt seethed. "What the hell is goin' on?" he demanded angrily. "What are we stuck in the middle of?"
Indy casually laid down his pencil and leaned back, as though to stretch out his back muscles and extended his arms. "Dunno yet. But how about you and I see what we can find out?"
Mutt's eyes brightened a little. "I'm with you, Daddio."
"Here's what we'll do…"
The young man in the car tensed suddenly as he saw the door to room 128 open. Finally… he thought to himself, immediately setting down the binoculars. Jones himself! he thought, nodding grimly. He watched as the man ambled over to the diner, then, startled, he turned back to the room's door and saw the kid look out surreptitiously, then slipped out the door, closing it and hurrying around the back of the building. What the hell? Stymied, the guy didn't know which to follow. Dammit… which do I follow? No time! The kid looked like he was hiding something… Quickly, he slipped out of the car and hurried around the back of the building, following the younger Jones.
What in the hell is that kid doingl? The man watched as it looked like the kid was climbing in one of the motel room's windows; he calculated quickly and it looked like it could be their own room… what the hell was going on? He inched up closer, back flat against the back wall of the motel, gun drawn, and sliding very slowly toward the window, still left open. He arrived at the edge of the window, and was momentarily startled by a flash of light in his eyes, making him blink. Before his eyes could clear, he gasped and cried out as two pairs of hands shot out at him from the window, one set going for his gun hand and the other grabbing the front of his shirt and suit and dragging him in the window.
"Shut the window, quick!'
The watcher was slammed to the tile floor -- the bathroom? -- and he cried out as the back of his head painfully cracked against the tile, and yelped against when a motorcycle booted foot stamped on the forearm of his gun hand. He shook his head to try to clear it. Without effort, the watcher's training surfaced. He quickly whipped his legs up in the relatively small space, wrapping them tightly around the slighter, younger man roughly at his hips. The older, larger man twisted himself hard to the side, swiftly wrenching the kid to the ground. His face registered a feral grin as he felt the kid trapped between his strong legs slam against the bathroom vanity, hard enough to make the kid's teeth rattle. His grim satisfaction was short-lived; he was paid back for it when the older Jones landed a hard kick in his ribs, making him finally release his gun. Jones booted it toward the kid immediately and got behind his quarry.
"Let 'im go!" growled the old man, his big hand clamped firmly in his hair and pulling him off the youngster, taking a couple of tufts of his dark hair with them. The guy's eyes watered, but he hung on, until the kid recovered enough to slam his own head back into the man's face, breaking his nose. Both yelped in pain, but only the watcher was bleeding; the kid merely had an aching head.
"All right! Enough! Stop! I'm a Federal agent!' he cried out, finally giving in as blood poured from his face and he tried to stop the stars from flying around in front of his eyes.
"Yeah, right, Clyde," the younger man grunted, deftly palming the gun and handing off to Jones.
Jones! Oh, hell, he doubled back… The young agent was furious at himself as he realized he'd been duped; the young man struggled to keep his temper and made himself relax. He'd miscalculated; they'd warned him Jones wouldn't be easy… "I am an agent. Go ahead and check; my ID's in my right breast pocket," he declared, keeping one hand in the air and the other sleeve to his nose to keep the blood from flowing all over everything. "Jesus… you broke my damn nose…"
Jones, looking as cold as ice trained the gun on the agent's forehead. "Go ahead, junior. Fish it out."
The boy winced, and tried to stretch his torso a little, then reached in, roughly, and removed the ID. He opened it, frowned, then set his lips and looked at his father, nodding, handing him the ID.
The elder Jones' gun hand didn't waver an inch as he accepted the ID fold. "You okay?" At first the agent thought Dr Jones was talking to him, but realized the older man was checking on his son.
"Yeah. Fine," grunted the kid, stretching himself a little more.
Jones continued to study him for a moment, the gun still trained firmly on the agent's head, then he glanced at the ID and then the agent. "Agent… Bennett." Indy glanced at his son. "Mutt, hand him a towel, before he bleeds all over everything."
"Thanks," muttered the Agent wincing in pain as he gently pressed the towel to his nose. "You'd better give me back my gun, Doctor Jones. You're going to be in a lot of trouble with the authorities if you continue to - "
Mutt chuckled and perched on the edge of the bathtub. "Yeah, right. In your dreams, asshole."
"Mind your manners, Mutt," Jones said easily, gesturing the man to a seat on the "throne" and leaning against the bathroom wall. "So, you gonna start talking? Or do my son and I try to find out what else is as easily breakable as your nose?"
"You wouldn't dare," sneered the man. "Ooof!"
To his utter shock, in a split second, the aging Doctor Jones had landed a lightning-quick side-swiped kick to Bennett's solar plexus, slamming him back into the toilet tank and effectively pushing all the wind out of him. As the younger man gasped for breath, and for recovery from the shock of once again underestimating the old bastard, Mutt's eyes widened in shocked surprise.
"I wouldn't dare?" spat Indiana. "You attack my son with no provocation, stalk my wife and scare her, and perform illegal surveillance on me and my family, and you think I wouldn't dare?!" Indy's voice had become a snarl by the end of the monologue. "You didn't do a terrific job of reading your dossier on me, then, sonny!"
"Must've flunked surveillance school, too," offered Mutt, leaning his forearms on his knees, "if you and I could make him that fast."
"Yeah, it was sad, Junior. Damned sad."
Bennett wheezed and struggled to get his breath again. "Dr. Jones… you saw … my ID… I'm a Special Intel Agent … with the Central Intelligence Agency – " Bennett started, winced as his nose ached.
"Ain't that an oxymoron?" Mutt asked Indy. Indy's returning smile held no humor.
With a pained look on his face, Bennett sighed and continued to try to gasp in air. "Look… believe it or not… we're on … the same side, Jones."
An eyebrow lifted at that one. "Keep talking," Indy rumbled, uncommitted.
Bennett panted, groaned a moment, then started talking. His speech was still halting with having to haul in air. "Like you, we're interested in the … disappearances that seem to have happened out here. The military aren't claiming anything was going on here. The local sheriff seems to be a very competent law officer, and left no stones unturned, either. When I first saw his methods, I thought we were dealing with a small town dunce, but he really surprised me. A little out of the ordinary, showing you the case file, but – "
"Meanwhile, back at the ranch," Mutt snapped dryly, waving a hand to propel the agent's story forward.
"Anyway, I was assigned to come check it out and report back to the Company what I find so they know what the next step should be." The young man winced again. "Damn… this is still bleeding… I- I think I'd better get to a hospital…"
Indy looked unimpressed. "And?" he prompted inexorably.
Bennett hesitated. "Sir, I realize you have OSS clearance, and that you've run many missions for the government during wartime, but – "
"You did?" Mutt was surprised. "You never told me."
"You never asked," grunted Indy. "What you've said may be all pure as the driven snow, Bennett, but it doesn't begin to explain why you've had us under surveillance, nor why you came after my son, armed and ready to engage!'
Bennett looked at the older man, still rather surprised by the amount of power the old guy harnessed… all the stories were true. Indiana Jones was unlike any other 'old man' he'd ever seen…
"I was told to keep an eye on you and your family, sir, because if you got started working on this case…" Bennett closed his eyes, aching. "… Well, the chances were good you'd come up with something."
Mutt grinned and shook his head. "Look at that, Pops… now the Feds even wanna put you on the payroll!"
Indy sent a sour glance across the bathroom to his son, and stood up straight. "Okay, Bennett. I'm going to place a call to an old friend of mine and we'll see just how much of your story checks out. Make any sudden moves, and I'll blow off your kneecap. Do you read me, Agent?"
Bennett nodded, and slowly rose to his feet, keeping the towel pressed to his nose. He began to move, obeying as Indy gestured him to walk toward the living area with the muzzle of the gun. Without taking his eyes off Bennett, Indy fished his wallet out of his pocket and pulled a well-worn, folded note from one of the sections. He handed it to Mutt. "Get the phone over here." Mutt obeyed. "Now, dial this number."
"Who is it?"
"Just dial it." Mutt rolled his eyes, but did as he was told.
As he sank back into the sofa in defeat , Bennett sighed. "Sir, very few are aware of my mission…"
"If there's any truth to this bedtime story you've just spun, this man will either know, or he'll be able to find out."
"Here, it's ringing," said Mutt, handing his father the telephone. Indy quickly palmed the phone and cradled it against his shoulder. "… Good afternoon. This is Colonel Henry Jones, Junior, retired. I need to speak to General Ross. Yes, General Robert Ross."
Bennett's mouth slacked open. General Ross?!
"…hello? Bob?... Hi, Bob, Indy… well, I'd be a helluva lot better if I didn't have an Agent bleeding on my motel room carpet…Well, funny you should ask, Bob. His name is Agent James Bennett and he's with the CIA. Yes, I said the CIA… " Indy listened for a moment, set the phone down on the table and got to his feet, manhandled the agent to his feet and hauled him to the kitchen table, slamming him into a chair rather unceremoniously. "Here," Indy said darkly, offering the phone. "He'd like to speak to you."
Swallowing hard, Agent Bennett picked up the phone. "General Ross? This is – " he winced as the General bellowed "Who in the hell authorized this mission?!" into his ear. This wasn't going to be an easy conversation…
…the large, wide candle burned with a bright flame inside the cave…without breeze to cause the flame to sputter, the yellow-orange light burned as regularly as tungsten in a bulb… She shuffled her large deck, well-worn on the edges through years of use. She wore a look of intense concentration as she shuffled, and then she stopped, closing her eyes and pressing a hand on either side of the deck. Her hands were steady as she laid out the cards. Her innate discipline nearly faltered as she laid out the array in the traditional Celtic Cross…
…"The seat of the issue," she whispered, and gazed at the pasteboard depicting Major Arcana 15, The Devil. Bondage… materialism… the baser instincts… As if she hadn't known that already! But how odd that nearly every time she cast a spread for this, this card nearly always occupied this position. The source of their pain was not of the One, that was plain…
…"That which crosses me," she whispered again, looking at pasteboard 11. Her fingers stroked the image of the woman seated holding the sword in one hand and scales in the other. This was new. Justice! Thank the Goddess, Justice was now on their side!
… "This is the foundation of the question," she intoned, not surprised to see Key 16, The Tower, in this position. That card often found its way there. One of the two cards in the tarot deck that indicated irrevocable change, this one swift, and explosive, coming from without. Yes, that would certainly describe what happened… an explosive, world-wrenching event that came from totally outside their frame of reference. But the Tower also warns that this event would not be without warning… humbly, she realized that hiding from the world was not dealing with the issues at hand…
…"This is behind you," she whispered, studying the card that represented a very new occurrence, something very new in the mix. Key Number 1, the Magician…. Interesting! Was this the arrival of Dr. Indiana Jones? The stories she'd heard of him indicated that he truly could manifest anything he dreamed of, and seemed to have the power to manipulate the elements. But what of Spirit? Could he ground those energies effectively to the Mother to manifest this most needed help?
…"This crowns you," she whispered. She swallowed sadly… Judgment, Major Arcana Key 20. She sighed. Were the innocents to pay for the mistakes and poor choices of those who had gone before them? Or should she hope for the best and believe that those who had perpetrated this crime against them would be found and punished?
…"This lies before you," she murmured. Key 13, The Hanged Man. Her mouth set in a firm, angry line. This was the card that reminded one of the need to allow the chips to fall where they may, that passiveness, submission, surrender were often needed in order for matters to progress. Some things cannot be rushed. Be patient. These were phrases she'd heard all of her life…and had yet to master in her personality.
… "Your role in the matter," she said quietly, frowning as she saw the first reversal of the reading. Major Arcana Key 8, Strength, but reversed. Traditionally, the card in this position represented how one felt about oneself and one's role in the issue. She sighed as she realized she did feel weak and powerless. But this card reminded her that she had the strength she needed to survive and make change happen.
… She quickly looked to the next card, the card of "Others' view of you in this issue." Her lips were tight as she saw Key 0, The Fool, resting in that position, but also reversed. Unwilling to be spontaneous, take a chance, take risks needed to progress further, or, worse yet, someone who did these things when the situation didn't warrant it. She would need to think about that, because this was how others perceived her. Reckless, perhaps? Is that how she was perceived?
… "Your hopes and dreams for this issue," she whispered, her lips trembling. Resting there was Major Arcana Key 17, The Star. Hope, inspiration, serenity… yes, of course she hoped for these things! For everything to work out as her good dreams depicted! No surprises rested in that card.
…In the final position rested Key 18, the Moon… she frowned. This card warns of hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. Of going through a time of emotional and mental trial. But it can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight, she pondered. This card had always been presented to her at a time she needed to trust her intuition…
… She sat back from the spread and gazed blankly in front of her. Trust her intuition… Goddess, help her… but where would that intuition take her?
TO BE CONTINUED