Join Date: Nov 2008
There was a loud screech of car tires outside. Indiana was up in a split-second, jumping like a tarantula on its prey. He tore open the door just as a car screeched to halt outside.
But when Indiana peered through the door it wasn’t Laurel and Hardy as he had halfway expected. He saw the brake lights light up on a dirty Oldsmobile, and he recognized it immediately as the car that had pursued him from his house to the university campus earlier – and sitting behind the wheel was the same thug he had seen driving it and his partner. Obviously something had gone wrong with Reuben’s arrest. Indiana held out a momentary hope that the two goons might continue driving, and not notice his old beat up Ford outside. But it was short-lived. The Oldsmobile’s tires screamed as the driver slammed on the brakes about a meter passed his car, and Indy could hear the screeching of gears as the driver slammed it into reverse.
“What is going on, Dr. Jones?” asked Benson, who had stepped up behind him. “Who are those people? Do you know them?”
“No,” Indiana answered quickly, and then added: “Not exactly. But they are definitely not friends of mine.” He thought aloud. The car came backing into the driveway at high speeds. Indy could see the man in the passenger seat was already going for his door handle. In a few seconds, they’d be at the front door. With a little luck, he could possibly get away from them a second time – but it didn’t take much imagination to know what they would do to Benson.
“What’s going on here, Dr. Jones?” Benson demanded a second time in a very serious tone. “I demand an explanation! Immediately!”
“There’s no time!” Indiana answered hastily. He tore open the door completely so the thugs outside could see, then turned and grabbed Benson up by the folds of his house coat and started shaking him so violently back and forth that the old man gasped in surprise.
“Protect yourself!” Indiana hissed. “For the sake of God, Benson, you have to fight me. Hit me!”
But Benson did not understand at all. Confusion flooded his ashen gray eyes and a look of terror fell across his face. He stared incredulously at Indiana, until he was pushed so roughly against the door frame that Indy could felt he was going to break the old man’s ribs. From the corner of his eyes Indy saw the Oldsmobile lurch from side to side as it rolled backwards up the drive. It came jerking to a sudden stop half way up the ramp, and the passenger door ripped open.
“For God’s sake, you have to defend yourself!” Indiana yelled desperately and forcefully took Benson by his house jacket again, shaking him back and forth. The physician made no effort to resist and tried to sit down, so Indy roughly pushed him up against the doorframe a second time – this time trying inconspicuously to shove the paper with Stanley’s name and the postcard into the empty file binder in the doctor’s hand. Benson groaned with pain and sank to his knees. He hoped the two goons behind him wouldn’t see through the deception. He grabbed Benson’s hand and shoved the postcard and binder of Stanley’s file into Benson’s jacket, hoping the goons hadn’t seen the movement. It nearly broke Indy’s heart to treat the old man in such a way; however he knew it was the only way he might be able to save the man’s life.
He leaned over Benson and yanked him up above his shoulders, then flung him to the ground again, but at the very last moment he tried to inconspicuously counter the move to avoid hurting him. “Now listen! Act like you’re unconscious! Don’t move no matter what happens. And if anyone comes asking for Corda’s file, tell them I took everything from you! Don’t give it up to anyone. Your life might depend upon it!”
Benson rolled his eyes and moaned quietly. Indiana had no idea whether the old man had heard his words or not, let alone understood them. Indiana prayed he had, not only for Benson but for Marian and Marcus as well.
Indiana heard the steps behind him and quickly stood to his feet as one of the two thugs appeared on the steps with them.
“What’s going on here?” the larger thug asked. “Who is this old man?”
“No one,” answered Indiana gruffly. He hoped his response would deter the rogues from further inquiries about Benson. He took a large step over the old man, who lay there moaning and half-unconscious. He bent over and snatched Stanley’s almost-empty file out of Benson’s hand, raising it triumphantly into the air.
“Take me to Ramos,” he said. “I have what he is looking for.”
“A postcard!” Ramos’s fingertips glided over the glossy surface of the colored photo on the card and his empty eyes were turned toward the opened file on the table before them. It was almost as if he could see it, and was a very weird sight.
Indiana shrugged his shoulders, even though he knew Ramos could not see this gesture either. “This is all I could find,” he answered. “Nothing else was in the file except for this.”
“And of course, the doctor knew nothing else?” Ramos added with a smile, not really directed at anyone. Then he raised his head to ‘look’ in Indiana’s direction. “Or, perhaps he kept his pledge of medical secrecy and you, being his scientific colleague, respected this oath and didn’t probe any further, Dr. Jones?” Indiana could detect the mockery in his voice, as well as the threat behind his words.
“He really didn’t know anything,” Indiana said. Since Ramos would not see his facial expressions or gestures, he tried to sound convincing with his voice instead. He hoped that he had not achieved the opposite effect. “I got everything he knew out of him.”
Ramos sat silently for a while. He continued to run his fingertips over the postcard and the piece of paper with Stanley’s name on it. “Why can’t I shake this feeling that you are not being completely honest with me, Dr. Jones?”
“I’ve told you the truth about Benson,” insisted Indiana, hoping that Ramos wouldn’t notice his skillful attempt at diverting the question. “Of course he refused to talk at first, but I finally convinced him.”
“Yes, Peter has told me,” Ramos said, indicating the man with his left hand; the same gangster who had approached him at Benson’s house. Indiana had quickly realized it was also the same man who had taken him by surprise in Corda’s office at the university. As of yet, Ramos’s bodyguard hadn’t come back. Indiana presumed Reuben, Henley and the other agent had been able to overwhelm him, but in the commotion he guessed the other two had managed to get away in the ensuing struggle. So much for honor among thieves, Indiana thought to himself.
“However, that is what bothers me, Dr. Jones,” Ramos said as Indiana’s continuous silence told him that he would not get an answer to his question. “This is exactly what troubles my thoughts.”
“What? I did everything you asked. What more do you want?”
“I have heard a lot about you, Dr. Jones,” Ramos said steadfastly, still smiling and in a tone that seemed almost friendly, although Indiana knew it to be quite contrary. “Your reputation precedes you, and you are not the type to be particularly squeamish. But that Dr. Jones wouldn’t hit a defenseless old man for information. It doesn’t suit you. So now you understand why I am finding it hard to believe.”
“I did not hit him,” Indiana defended, attempting to feign indignation. “I took his file away, that is all. He didn’t want to give it up, so I gave him a little shove which caused him to fall.”
“You shoved him for an empty file which contained nothing but a postcard?” Ramos’s brows furrowed in doubt. “And you are sure he brought the entire file to you?”
“It has Corda’s name stenciled in large letters on it,” Indiana answered, annoyed. “Ask one of your whipping boys, they will confirm it – if they can read, that is.”
“I do not doubt that, Dr. Jones,” answered Ramos. “I only ask myself whether there was more in this file than the postcard. Perhaps something you forgot to bring or tell me about.”
“Perhaps there is another file,” answered Indiana. “Or maybe he filed the papers incorrectly. I didn’t have much time to look around, you know. Those two idiots you sent behind me were about to alert half the city the way they were driving. It’s a miracle that I was able to get as much as I did!”
Ramos stared onward. It was an uncanny sight; the effect of which did not diminish but actually became stronger with each passing moment; Indiana looked for something else in the man’s eyes, eyes which had seen endless darkness. Nevertheless, Indiana felt like those eyes were analyzing him. It was a frightening thought, facing a man whose blind eyes seemed to peer into his soul and understand his secrets, just as easily as peering through a window. In order to break the awkward silence, Indiana stubbornly continued: “I have done what you asked, Ramos. Now keep your word and release Marcus and Marian.”
A cold, volatile smile fell over Ramos’s face. “Oh, I will keep my word, Dr. Jones. No fear,” he said. “I will, in fact, release your friends as soon as I determine if the information you brought to me is worth anything.”
“That’s what you mean by keeping your word?” Indiana asked sharply.
The man to Ramos’s left started to make a threatening move, but Ramos made a rapid hand gesture that settled the goon back down, for the moment.
“A postcard and a scratched greeting aren’t exactly worth two lives,” Ramos said harshly.
“That is everything, I swear!” Indiana protested. “You already know more than anyone else about the situation.”
“Do I?” Ramos asked with a bitter smile.