ILLUMINATION

It was all happening too fast for Doctor Henry Jones, Sr. They had found the Canyon of the Crescent Moon all right but he had been shot . . . fatally shot. In fact, he ought to have died right then and there in one of the holiest sites on earth. He would have, too, if his son had not risked his own life to save that of his father. Galahad succeeds where Lancelot fails, Henry reflected wryly. History repeats itself. His only regret was that the Holy Grail could not be shown to the world. Junior said the Grail could not travel beyond some seal, that the knight (One of Sir Richard's brothers, perhaps? Don't be ridiculous, Henry, that would make him over 700 years old!) had warned them against such action. Yet here was that Nazis temptress ignoring Junior's words, walking backward across what Henry could only assume was the seal mentioned by both his son and the knight.

"Elsa, don't cross the seal. The knight warned us not to take the Grail from here!"

But it was too late. The entire temple shivered, raining grit and stones on their heads. Elsa stumbled, letting the Grail roll from her hands. The floor split beneath it, as though the very earth strove to reclaim that holy vessel. Elsa slipped into the crevice, clinging to the edge for dear life. And when that proved futile, she twisted and flung her body at the sloping stone ledge, trying desperately to climb up. It didn't work.

Henry watched, numb with shock, as his son dove for Elsa's hand. He was going to miss and fall to his death. "Junior!"

But he didn't slip to his doom. Instead, he caught her. Tried to pull her up. Never mind that she was a Nazis, never mind that she had seduced not only Henry but Junior as well, never mind that she had stolen the Grail diary and betrayed the very essence of all that the Grail stood for. Junior was rescuing her anyway. To err is human; to forgive, divine, I suppose, Henry thought fleetingly as Marcus pulled him along to aid his son.

And it was aid that Junior needed. Elsa still stretched her arm away from safety, towards the Grail. "I can reach it. I can reach it."

"Elsa, give me your hand," Junior pleaded. "Give me your other hand! Elsa!" Henry heard a shriek and saw the blonde woman slip into the misty crevice. Then the earth heaved again and the younger Jones was tossed towards oblivion. Henry lunged and caught the sweat-slicked hand flung at him. He leaned back, feeling his muscles respond sluggishly. Not now! I can't be too old for this now!

His son's terrified eyes met his for a second, momentum swinging him away from the cliff and towards the tiny shelf upon which lay the Grail. Immediately Junior's eyes latched onto it. No. No, son, not you too! Their hands were beginning to slip but, thank God, Junior was not wearing black leather gloves a la Dr. Elsa Schneider. Even so, Henry knew he couldn't keep holding on to only one of Junior's hands. "Junior, give me your other hand! I can't hold on."

Henry's voice had always been commanding, and his son had always obeyed it. But not this time. "I can get it," Junior panted, his voice tinged with awe and near triumph. "I can almost reach it, Dad." But almost wasn't good enough. At any moment Junior's hand was going to slip through his and drop him into the bowels of the earth.

It was just like that split-second moment earlier in the day, in the desert by the cliff. The moment when Henry thought his son had plunged to his death. The moment he thought he had lost his son forever. The moment he realized that no matter how deeply he loved his son, it meant nothing if it were not expressed, which he had never done. And it was happening all over again. Junior was going to fall just like Elsa . . . for the sake of the Grail. For that which he, Henry Jones Sr., had spent his entire life searching. And suddenly not even the Cup of Christ could rival the preciousness of his son.

But how to make Junior see that? What could he say that would command his son's attention instantly?

Of course.

"Indiana."

He felt the hand in his tense up with shock. "Indiana," Henry repeated gently.

Indiana swung around, incredulousness etched in his eyes. Henry smiled an affirmation. "Let it go," he murmured.

There was a moment when he thought his words would fail. Then recognition dawned on his son's face, agreement radiating from it, and he finally stretched up his other hand. Thank God, Henry sighed. Thank God. As he and his son scrambled away from the crevice and up the incline, he paused. Standing there among the dust and rock stood an ancient knight, nearly as gray as the surrounding walls. Who on earth . . . ? Of course. Who else could it be but the third knight? It wasn't until the warmth of his son's body at his side that Henry remembered their precarious position. The knight raised a hand in farewell, or perhaps a blessing. It would be a fitting end for me to stay here, buried in this canyon with the last survivor of the Crusades. What a wealth of knowledge would await me! What discussions we would have!

"Please, Dad." Henry turned to his son's pleading face and relented. Once again the value of the Grail itself diminished. He had already done what so few mortals had even dreamed of: tasted from the Cup of Life. Been healed by it. Achieved illumination. And that is what made him realize that it was not the Grail itself that he had been chasing all his life, but the spirit of goodness it epitomized. It was not for him to stay.

They left the ruins together, billowing clouds of dust at their heels.