Join Date: Nov 2008
“El Dorado?” Henley shot Indiana a questioning glance, but Indiana was reluctant to reply.
From his experience, he was not certain Ramos’s assumption was true. And even if it were true, El Dorado would more likely be something other than what the legends say about it.
“Well?” Asked Reuben, waiting for Indiana’s answer.
“I’m…not sure,” Indiana muttered evasively. “There is some evidence that he could be right.”
“But El Dorado is just a legend,” Henley said, confused. “I mean – a myth…” He groped for words.
“People thought Troy was a myth before someone dug it up in a field,” Indiana said with a smile.
“Enough!” Interrupted Reuben impatiently. “As far as I am concerned, he could have found Santa Claus. I am not interested. What does interest me is the whereabouts of Professor Corda and his companions and what they are doing.” He took a step closer to Ramos. “And I am pretty sure you know the answer to both!”
“If that were so, do you think I would have come back to this place?” Ramos replied snidely.
“That brings us back to the issue,” Indiana intervened, “why did you come back?”
“I forgot something,” Ramos said evasively.
“None of your business.”
Indiana wanted to move in and grab the man, but Reuben shot him an admonishing look, shaking his head and moving so close to Ramos that the blind man could feel him. “For a man in your position, Ramos,” he said, “you are pretty brave. I can still give you to the natives.”
“Nonsense,” replied Ramos. “You need me Reuben. You need me more than I need you, because at this moment I am the only man who can lead you to Corda.”
“Oh, I have Dr. Jones for that,” replied Reuben. “Granted – it may take him a little longer, but I am willing to chance it.”
“You think?” Ramos laughed hideously. “Then I am curious: why put up with a criminal like me? You’re bluffing, Reuben. Dr. Jones is at his wit’s end, just like you. Corda has a three day head start. Do you know what three days means in a country like this? It might as well be three months. Or three years.” He laughed again. The look in his blind eyes wandered from Reuben to Henley to Indiana then back. It gave Indiana chills to look into his eyes, and he had the eerie feeling the man could see them in some sinister way. “I’ll tell you something Reuben. We are not that far from him. Less than fifty miles to be exact. But fifty miles might as well be 500 if you don’t know where you are going. You have no chance of finding him unless I tell you where he is.”
“Which you will not do, however,” Indiana suspected.
Ramos made a vague gesture. “Who knows? Maybe we can come to an agreement. I do not want much. Just a fair share.”
“Now you are asking for a ‘fair share’?” Reuben groaned.
“And why not? We are gentlemen, after all. You want something from me – and I want something from you – what could be better than that –“
“That’s enough!” Interrupted Reuben sharply. “I am not going to make deals with a murderer!”
“Haven’t you done so already?” Said Ramos, almost friendly.
Reuben’s frustration was beginning to show, but Indiana calmed him with a soothing gesture. “Wait,” he said. “Maybe we already have what we need…”
He looked contemptuously at Ramos. “And you are no gentleman!”
Both Reuben and Henley gave their attention to Indiana, and Ramos suddenly looked a little nervous. Indiana smiled, though Ramos could not see.
“Fifty miles, you say?”
Ramos did not respond, but Indiana turned with a gesture requesting Henley, who was leaning causally against the rudder and studying Indiana and his colleagues with interest. “I think I know everything we need to,” he said. “Do you have a map of the area?”
Henley nodded and turned without a word to fish out the required map from the mess on the desk at the wheelhouse, while Reuben began to impatiently pace the small area.
“Remember the Aymara dance we witnessed? I think I know what it means,” Indiana answered the unspoken question of the FBI agents. “Although I can’t be certain, but…”
He turned back to Henley and waited until he handed him a crumpled piece of paper, the boat captain’s graphical map of the area. Indiana hastily spread the map across the table at the back of the control room and smoothed it out as best he could. It was dimly lit in the control room, and details were difficult to see. But he quickly found what he was looking for.
“Here,” Indiana pointed with his index finger outstretched in three roughly circular marks at the top of the map, which formed an irregular triangle.
Reuben leaned over his shoulder, studying the map curiously. After a moment he frowned at the map, and looked completely confused. “And?”
“Don’t you remember?’ Asked Indiana. “Think back. The Aymara dance. Three fireplaces, between which the chief had his vision.”
“And?” repeated Reuben.
“This-“ Indiana triumphantly tapped with his index and middle finger on the map, “are extinct volcanoes. I wasn’t sure at first, but now I remember.”
“And you believe what we are looking for –“
“Is in between the three volcanoes,” Indiana led the sentence, “positioned exactly as the chief stood between the fire pits.”
He made sure Ramos had heard the discussion and saw the gangster was becoming frightened.
“But that’s impossible,” protested Henley. “If so, it would have been found long ago. This area-“
“- Is virtually unexplored,” Indiana cut him off.
“But I’m not sure this map is reliable,” Indiana continued. “It was pieced together from a couple of aerial photographs and uses information that isn’t exactly reliable. We have to assume this map is as reliable as Ramos’ last tax return. It would not surprise me at all if no white man has ever set foot in the area.”
Reuben leaned forward again and looked through narrowed eyes at the spot at the top of the map where Indiana had pointed. Between the three groups indicated only green was seen where the cartographer guessed was jungle.
“Fifty miles…” he muttered.
“If the chart is right, more likely eighty or a hundred miles,” Henley said. “And the river bends away from it. We will not get very close by boat.”
“And not by foot either,” said Ramos, intervening. He had overcome his fear and regained his old arrogance. A smile slowly crossed his disfigured face. “You know, Mr. Henley – on one point Dr. Jones is right. The chart is not particularly accurate. Between this river and the volcanoes, there are a few things the map does not depict. Which returns us to our agreement.”
Reuben pierced Ramos with his eyes but said nothing.
“And there is still the issue of Mr. Brody,” Ramos added with a smile. “I must assume you are still interested in retrieving him alive and unharmed.”
“Just as you are interested in getting out of this country alive and unharmed,” Indiana said. The threat in his words was apparent, but Ramos just smiled wider.
“I see that we are capable of finding common ground,” Ramos said. “I suggest you release me and my people and I will tell you where Mr. Brody is.”
“Ha!” Reuben interjected.
It was left at that for the next few hours until the sun came up.
Indiana tried to find a little sleep, but it eluded him. The boat was oppressively claustrophobic, and there was an irritated tension among the passengers, an atmosphere reminiscent of a volcano about to erupt. The boat was moving lazily down the river with its undersized engine, and the jungle was so dense around them it seemed to form an impenetrable wall on both sides of the river. Henley stood at helm, keeping the boat roughly midstream to avoid any further attacks from the shore. On their map the river was little more than a blue line snaking through the country with numerous bends and turns. And despite their relative safety with the armed FBI agents in control, Indiana remained a bit nervous.
He heard footsteps behind him and turned around. Reuben stood behind him, and he could tell by his expression that similar thoughts ran through the FBI agent’s mind. He, too, looked nervous and tired, and something more than the physical fed the core of his exhaustion.
“It feels like we are walking into a trap,” Reuben said after a few moments of contemplation.
Indiana smiled wearily. “I don’t think so,” he tried to assure him.
Reuben sighed. “I wish I had your optimism.”
“It’s not optimism,” Indiana replied. “I have a pretty good sense of when I am walking into a trap.”
Reuben’s response consisted only of a frown and a deep, exhausted sigh as he leaned heavily on the railing and peered into the dark, swirling waters of the river. For a while they were both silent, then Reuben suddenly asked: “How did you know?”
Indiana looked at him questioningly.
“About the volcanoes,” Reuben said, suddenly realizing the ambiguity of his original question. “Is South America your specialty?”
Indiana shook his head. “On the contrary. It was…” He hesitated imperceptibly, just smiled and confessed. “Actually it was pure coincidence. I came across them while going through some of the books in Stan’s house. I came across a map that depicted them. And as I watched the chief and the ceremony last night, it came back to me. That is all.”
Reuben smiled wearily. “You’d be amazed, Jones, if you knew how many great things have been decided by such trivialities,” he said. He laughed softly, but not very humorously. “Being honest, random coincidences makes up at least half our work.”