Opportunity Knocks

Circa 1936

  Janice blinked, coming back from her memory. She looked down at the table top before her, strewn with various books and papers. Atop them all was her notebook, half filled with the chronology of her family. It had been a hobby to occupy the down time in her life. Every week, she dedicated a few hours to tracing her lineage back to its beginning. So far, she had followed her family history back to the fourteenth century, when the name Covington had first been adopted. There were hints of her family going back even further, somewhere in the Mediterranean?

  She sighed, wondering why she had drifted back those ten years to that particular day. There were so many other more interesting memories to recall. She glanced up at the clock and sighed again.  The letter part of the mystery would wait till next week.

  She quickly replaced all the reference material she had borrowed and made a final notation in the book.

 “Must head to London – search Royal Historical Society Records. Keys – Family Crest, immigration, etc?”

  Then she scooped her notebook and a few other personal belongings under her arm and headed for the door.

  A note on the message board near the faculty lounge caught her eye and she paused.

  All it said was: Welcome Back Prof. Jones.

  Walking the halls of UC Berkley seemed more like walking through an enormous institution than a center of higher learning. The utilitarian construction of the interior had never made Janice feel comfortable. It seemed to close in around her, instead of invite.

  She spied the head of Archeology, Marcus Brody, as usual, dressed in a fine three piece suit, this time a pale blue one. He had his usual, slightly consternated expression on his face. He nodded a silent greeting to her and then opened the door to one of the rooms and stepped inside.

  The voice that came from the open door caused her feet to stop of their own volition. It had been ten years since she heard that voice, but she never forgot it. She stopped, standing just out of sight of the open door.

  “Now, don’t confuse that with robbing. In this case we mean the removal of the contents of the barrow. This site also demonstrates one of the great dangers of archeology – not the danger to life and limb, though that sometimes takes place, no I’m talking about folklore.”

  Janice smiled wryly at his ‘life and limb’ statement. She hugged her books to her chest and listened intently.

  “In this case,” That familiar voice continued. “Local tradition held that there was a golden coffin buried at the site. And this accounts for the holes dug all over the barrow and the generally poor condition of the find, however, chamber three was undisturbed,” Something had apparently distracted him, because his voice faltered and he stammered nervously for a moment, only adding to the confirmation of the speaker’s identity. “and the undisturbed chamber and the – uh – the – was – um -  grave goods that were found in another area gave us reason to date this find as we have.”

  The bell clanged overhead and the sound of moving feet and screeching furniture could be heard. That voice called over the din. “Any questions then? Okay that’s it for the day then.

  Um, don’t forget, Michelson chapters four and five for next time! And I will be in my office on Thursday but not Wednesday!”

  Students flooded out of the classroom like cattle at the market, dispersing in both directions down the hallway, mingling with the countless other bodies from the other classes. It never ceased to amaze Janice how quickly this mass of humanity dispersed and vanished, once again leaving the halls nearly deserted.

  Taking a deep breath, she stepped forward, ostensibly to give her friend a surprise greeting, but another conversation began, causing her to halt once more, her ears perking up.

“I had it Marcus,” he said. “I had it in my hand!”

Professor Brody’s voice was noncommittal as usual. “What happened?”


  She heard Brody chuckle slightly. “Belloq?”

  “Want to hear about it?” the voice offered.

 “Not at all.” Marcus replied easily. “I’m sure everything you do for the museum conforms to the international treaty for the protection of antiquities?”

  Janice stifled a knowing chuckle at that comment. Anyone in her line of work knew that sometimes, it was necessary to stretch the occasional rule to get the desired results. Even her own father had received the unflattering title of “grave robber” because of the occasional bending of certain rules.

  The familiar voice resumed. “It’s beautiful Marcus! I can get it! I’ve got it all figured out, there’s only one place he can sell it? Marrakech! I need two thousand dollars!”

 Marcus spoke quickly, trying to stop the nervous tirade before it started. “Listen to me old boy; I’ve brought some people to see you.”

  It didn’t work. Janice heard some quick rummaging around and then a drawer closed.

“Look, I got these pieces, they’re good pieces Marcus!”

  Marcus sighed in resignation. “Indiana. Yes, the museum will buy them as usual, no questions asked.”

  Janice caught her breath. It was him! She knew it!

  “Yes, they are nice.” Marcus continued.

  “They’re worth at least the price of a ticket to Marrakech,” Indy replied with irritation.

 “The people I’ve brought are important and they’re waiting?” Marcus pressed.

  “What people?”

  Footsteps moved toward the door and Janice backed against the wall on instinct, suddenly feeling like she was intruding.

 “Army intelligence.” Marcus said as he emerged into the hall. “They knew you were coming before I did. They seemed to know everything? Wouldn’t tell me what they want?”

  Immediately following him, his arms filled with books, large maps and an attaché case dangling from his fingers, followed Indiana Jones, looking more like a geeky professor than the roguish archeologist that she remembered. Neither one of them saw her.
 “Well, what do I want to see them for?” Indy protested, following after his friend. “What? Am I in trouble?”

  Janice watched the two men vanish down the hallway, heading towards the lecture theater. She waited for a few moments, debating whether or not to follow them. Indy’s statement, “I had it in my hand.” had piqued her curiosity. The only time she had heard him so passionate was when it had to do with a rare artifact of important historical value. His subsequent offer to sell some smaller, less important pieces ostensibly meant for his own private collection, only added fuel to that theory.

  Glancing up and down the deserted hall, she stole into the empty classroom and stood in front of the desk. Her eyes scanned the various artifacts, looking for something, anything that would give a clue as to what Indiana and Marcus had been discussing. After a few futile minutes of searching, she leaned back against the chalk board and thought furiously. Slowly, an idea began to percolate in her mind and a smile crept across her face. Grabbing a piece of stationary from the desk and a pencil, she quickly wrote three lines. Then she folded it and went in search of his office.

  Indiana strode towards his office, his mind engulfed in a torrent of realization and expectation. He reached his office door. As usual, it was covered with notes from numerous students. Sighing, he knew that most of them would be questions from female students simply looking for any excuse to see him privately. He managed to pull them all down without dropping the bundles he was carrying and then pushed into the room beyond.

  The term office didn’t do the space justice. Miniature museum would have suited it better.  Two rows of shelves, covered with every manner of artifact and literature were crammed into the space. Somehow, he had also managed to wedge a desk and three chairs into the place, though he had to suck in his breath to squeeze past the shelves and reach his chair. He deposited his burdens on the nearest empty (sort of) space and then slipped behind the desk, flipping through the notes. Anything scented or on pink stationary was immediately discarded out of hand. That first step reduced the number of actual notes dramatically. Even as he sifted through the few remaining ones, his mind still wandered back to the revelations he had just experienced in the lecture hall.

  “The Nazi’s have discovered Tanis!”

  The two men who had come from Army Intelligence had been somewhat skeptical at the beginning. They had quickly been won over. Now, Marcus and those two were in a private meeting.

  Secretly, he begged that these two men would see reason and give him permission to take the job. Even if they didn’t he was already planning on going after it anyway. His thoughts focused back as he opened another of the notes. He frowned as he read it.

  I know about “it”.

Cavanaugh’s – 5:30 PM

Come Alone!

  Indiana flipped the paper over. There was nothing on it to indicate the sender. He didn’t recognize the handwriting. He read it again and sighed.

  “Damn, that didn’t take long,” he sighed. “I usually have a couple of days before trouble starts dogging me on jobs like this?”

  He slipped the enigmatic invitation into his vest pocket, loosened his tie and sat back, lost in thought.

  “Cavanaugh’s, huh?” he thought. “Well, I rarely get the chance to dine in that place? If anything, it’ll be a free meal?”

  Cavanaugh’s was, without question, the finest restaurant in California. A tuxedo only establishment.  Indiana stepped through the ornate glass doors, resplendent in his white coat and black pants. He adjusted his bow tie as he scanned the room. No one stood out immediately. He stepped to the mater de.

  “Name, sir?” he asked politely.

  “Professor Jones,” Indy replied, still scanning the crowd.  The man searched his list, frowning slightly.

  “If this was someone’s idea of a practical joke?” Indiana thought to himself.

  “Ah, yes,” The man said a moment later. “Follow me, please?”

  Indy followed the man to a small table in the center of one of the main rooms. HE pulled the chair out for the Professor and stepped back courteously.

  “Rafael will be with you shortly, sir,” he said. He handed Indy the menu and withdrew.

  Indiana sat back and perused the menu, trying to ignore the astronomical prices. His eyes surreptitiously still watching the crowd. The restaurant was only about half full, and still, there was no one that stood out as a threat. He sighed and resumed his scanning of the menu.

  A uniformed waited stooped before him and set a small glass of amber liquid in front of him. “Your drink, sir,” he said politely.

  “I didn’t order this,” Indy protested quietly.

  “It was sent to you, sir,” he replied easily. He stood and withdrew. Cautiously, Indiana sniffed the drink, and dawning began to blossom. Then he caught another scent. A powerful tobacco scent that seemed to float over him. He smiled as the realization washed over him, along with considerable relief.

  “There’s only one person I know, that drinks this stuff and smokes those,” he said, turning in his chair to face the back of a woman, seated behind him at the adjoining table.

  Slowly, the head of the woman turned to face him and Janice grinned as she fingered the cigar in between her teeth.

  Indiana laughed and rose as she stood and embraced him fondly.

  “Janice!” he said, laughing. “What in the world are you doing here?”

  “Hello Indy,” Janice said sweetly, seating herself at his table.

  Indiana smiled as he looked at her. “Look at you,” he said appreciatively. “You’ve changed a bit?”

  Janice looked down at the expensive formal gown she had been forced to purchase in conjunction with her little ploy. She grimaced. “It was the only way I was going to get in here,” she confessed. “Otherwise, it would have been burgers on the corner?”

  “You look great!” Indy commented. “The whole ‘fashionable lady’ routine does you good.”

  Janice reached over and took the glass from in front of him, grimacing. “I didn’t arrange all this just so you could insult me,” she quipped.

  “You?” Indy replied in surprise, and then his expression sobered. “You sent me that note?”

  Janice smiled and nodded, taking a drink from the glass. The waiter came over.

  “Wait,” Janice said to Indy quickly. She looked up at the waiter. “Seven Year scotch on the rocks, right?”

  Indy nodded, though his humor seemed to be suddenly sapped. The man vanished and Janice looked at Indiana knowingly.

  Indy was suddenly at a loss for words. His hazel eyes scanned the surrounding people and he leaned forward.

  “Not that I don’t appreciate all of this, Janice, but,” he asked in a hushed voice. “How did you find out?”

  Janice shrugged. “I overheard you and Marcus talking,” she admitted. When she saw his expression she held up her hand, forestalling his protests.

  “Yes, I know, it was rude of me to eavesdrop, but I was curious?”

  “Curious?” Indy exclaimed urgently. “Curious! Do you have any idea what might have happened if you had been caught?”

  “What?” Janice laughed, amused by his discomfiture. “What could have happened? You’d have gotten this surprise a little sooner is all?”

  “Is all?” Indy repeated. “Janice you can’t just peep in whenever you want to, especially in those circumstances! It can be downright dangerous!”

  Now it was Janice’s turn to look confused. “What are you talking about? They don’t hang people for overhearing conversations?”

  “In this case, they might!” Indy shot back. “Jesus, do you have any idea how big this is?”

  “It couldn’t have been that big?’ Janice retorted, feeling slightly offended at his demeanor. “You said you had it in your hand?”

  “It’s a lot bigger than you or me – what?” Indiana caught himself.

  “You said you had it in your hand?” Janice replied, seeing his confusion reassert itself. “What do you think I’m talking about?”

  “Well, I-“ Indiana stammered, then it all fell into place and he heaved a huge sigh of relief. His grin reasserted itself.

  Janice also smiled, though that wonderfully confused expression remained.

  “So,” she asked. “What was ‘it’?”

  Again, Indiana paused and a soft laugh escaped his lips. “I thought you knew?” he asked.

  Janice shrugged. “It was the only way I could think of to get you here? Besides, you didn’t think I’d get dressed up like this and have you not show up, did you?”

  She tapped the ash off the end of the cigar, and then noticed several of the other patrons looking at her, some with polite deference and others with a hint of disapproval. Somehow she decided that this attention wasn’t worth it. She mashed the cigar out and sat back.

  “Well?” she asked impatiently.

  Indiana shook his head and smiled. “I was down in South America up until last week, following up on some notes that Forestall had left behind.”

  “Glen Forestall?” Janice asked. “Man, I haven’t seen him in ages. How is he?”

  Indy swallowed, suddenly a little uneasy. “He’s dead.”

  Janice’s smile faded. “When?”

  Indiana shrugged. “Some time ago, I would imagine. He was looking for the Idol of Mubata, down in Peru when he disappeared. I picked up his trail and found him?” Indy shrugged, not wanting to relay the less attractive details.

  Janice nodded, looking down at the table for a moment.

  “Are you ready to order?” a polite voice asked.  Both of them looked up and saw the attractive, dark skinned waiter standing patiently before them.

  They quickly ordered their meals and then resumed their conversation.

  “So, you found Forestall and the idol?” Janice asked eagerly.

  Indy shrugged and sighed. “Found it and immediately lost it again.”

  Janice nodded. “I heard Marcus mention the name Belloq. I can assume he meant Rennes Belloq? French Archeologist with a nice accent and the personality of a pit viper?”

  “You know him?” Indiana asked.

  Janice shrugged. “Dad had a few run ins with him over the years. Every now and then he would show up, after we’d done all the work, and somehow manage to wind up with the finds. Usually through local connections or plain old highway robbery.” She smiled. “Which one was it with you?”

  Indy smiled. “Local connections. The Hovitos were quite put out.”

  Janice laughed aloud. “You were in Hovitos Lands? God Indy, only a madman would do that without their permission?”

  “So, you had the fabled Idol of Mubata in your hand, and you lost it?” Janice smiled. “Why does this sound hauntingly familiar, like the infamous Cross of Cortez incident?”

  Indy smiled and sipped his drink. “Yeah, it sort of played out the same way, only this time the local authorities were less than civilized.”

  Indiana paused when he saw the look in Janice’s green eyes. “Now, hold on a just a minute,” he said. “I know that look. If you’re planning on going after Rennes, I wouldn’t recommend it. As much of a weasel as he is, he still has connections. You cross him and you could be in it up to your neck before you know what hit you?” He shrugged. “Besides, he’s probably already sold it by now anyway.” He seethed for a moment. “It’s probably sitting on someone’s mantle right now, just collecting dust. No more than a conversation piece.”

  “Well, that’s the way it goes sometimes?” Janice offered. “Sometimes you get the bear. Sometimes the bear gets you?”

  Indy grunted, his eyes still full of the recent memory. Then he blinked and let a sigh drift out of him. “Well, I can’t do anything about it now. I might have another job lined up?”

  “The one for Army Intelligence?” Janice offered, her smile reasserting itself.

  Indiana sighed again and fixed her with a reproachful look.

  “You heard that too?”

  “You and Marcus walked right past me?” Janice said without apology. “Not my fault?”

  She leaned closer and smiled eagerly. “So what is it?”

  Indiana sighed and shook his head. “Nothing I can discuss.”

  “But I could help?” Janice replied. If it’s as big as you’re making it seem?”

  “I’m not making it seem like anything,” Indiana countered.

  “Oh, come on, Indiana Jones,” Janice replied knowingly. “Army Intelligence? Secret meetings? Never mind your little outburst a few minutes ago? If the Army’s involved, it has to be big? Everything they’ve got is focused on the war effort, so what is it?”

  “I can’t tell you, Janice,” Indiana replied sincerely. “I wish I could, but I can’t.” He shrugged. “Sorry?”

  Janice’s eyes frosted over slightly. “Well, fine. You won’t let me go after Rennes, and you won’t let me hop on this little mystery that AI has you all wound up over? What can I do, besides sitting here looking like a party favor? And I’m actually wearing heels! I hate wearing heels!”

  Indy thought for a moment and then nodded. “I have to find Abner, and quick! Do you know anything about where he last shacked up?”

  “Janice smiled. “What’s it worth to you?”

  “I don’t have time for games, Covington,” Indiana replied darkly. “Not now. Do you know or not?”

  “Maybe?” Janice smiled. “Let’s eat.”

  The rest of the dinner conversation was simple and social. Indy talked about his exploits, trading stories with his colleague like members of a special fraternity were wont to do at such times. It was casual and pleasurable.  They finished their meal and Indiana felt honor bound to pay it, in spite of the pain it would cause for his financial near future. They emerged into the cool night street outside the restaurant.

  “Well, Jones,” Janice said with that wry smile. She lit one of her cigars and smoked with relish. “It’s been nice.” She turned to go.

  Indiana caught her by the arm and spun her back to face him.

  “You’re forgetting something, Jan?” He smiled knowingly. “Abner?”

  Janice extricated her arm and fixed him with a glacial stare. Then she smiled wryly and backed a few steps away. “Nepal.” She said simply. “Once you get there, finding them should be no trouble?” She backed away from him, that smile still on her lips. She stepped into a waiting cab.

  “See you later, Indiana Jones!” She said with just a hint of scorn. Then the door slammed shut and the car eased away from the curb.

  Indy watched it vanish around the corner and then sighed loudly. He smiled to himself and turned to go. “Nepal.” He thought. “It’s a start?”

  The man that entered the small telegraph office was wearing a simple long coat and tan fedora hat. He looked through his glasses at the middle aged man seated behind the desk. Off to the man’s right were the countless small pigeon holes stuffed with papers containing messages that were still to be sent.

  “Can I help you sir?” The operator asked politely.

  “The young lady that was in here a moment ago?” the man said in a slightly accented voice. “May I see the message she sent?”

  The operator smiled politely. “I’m sorry, sir. Telegraph messages are personal and private. Without a warrant or official request, I cannot – “ His polite refusal was silenced by the thump of the pistol that the man produced. He fell to the floor behind the desk.

  The man stepped quickly into the small office and went straight to the pigeon hole that he had seen the operator place the message. Quickly, he sorted through them until he found the right one. He read it and smiled.


  TO: Professor Abner Ravenwood / Marion Ravenwood

FROM: Janice Covington


Wanted to warn you – STOP

Jones is on his way! Should reach you in a few days - STOP

Best regards to you and Marion – STOP

The man folded the message neatly and slipped it into his interior pocket. Then he quickly holstered his pistol and left the small office, locking the door behind him and hanging a sign on it that read “back in five minutes”.

  He slipped into the large black sedan. The car pulled away from the curb and rumbled down the dusty road.

  From the back seat, the man removed his hat and smiled.

  “Find out when the next flight to Nepal will leave, and get me on it. I have a suspicion that our friend, Doctor Jones will also be on it?” He smiled as he reread the message. Then he passed it to the driver. “Notify Berlin. We’ve found Professor Ravenwood. The headpiece will be ours!”


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