The letter was from an old colleague of his father’s in Italy. It hinted that there were clues to where a jeweled box that might have held the gift of gold that the Magi gave to Christ. He claimed to have found a manuscript that told of a fancy wooden box encrusted with rubies and emeralds and where it was located.
Indy knew that it was probably a false clue. Most clues were. Almost all were.
But he’d chased that tiny percent all his life and he wasn’t about to change now.
He and Marion had been married three years. They’d talked Mutt into going back to college, for now anyway. He never seemed to stay long, before he got bored and moved on to something else. Indy had gone back to teaching at the university and Marion curated the collection of Grail artifacts at the university as well.
He was bored to tears and he expected Marion was as well.
He went to the kitchen, where Marion sat at the table, reading the paper and drinking her first coffee. At fifty-one, she was still quite beautiful. He couldn’t really say the same for himself. He was gray, wrinkled, and had arthritis here and there as a result of his many adventures. Crawling through ruins was not good for a man’s joints.
“I got a letter from Luca Marino in Rome,” he started.
“What on earth did that old fossil want? I thought he’d been dead for years. He must be eighty-five, at least.”
“He said he has clues about the box one of the Magi gifts came in.”
She laughed then saw that Indy wasn’t laughing. “You’re serious?”
“Well, Dad had some notes about those as well in his Grail diary. The box was reported sold by one Joseph of Galilee to a traveling merchant, who in turn sold it in Jerusalem.”
“So where is it?”
“It was supposedly sold to a German antique dealing in 1939 and -”
“Don’t tell me. The Nazi’s got it,” she said, interrupting.
He grinned and shrugged. “Then I won’t, but they did.”
“So where is it now?”
“Well, maybe somewhere in the German Alps.”
“Gee, that narrows it down.”
“It’s a place to start.” He grinned that grin that had charmed women for most of his sixty-one years.
She threw her spoon at him. “D’you think that ol’ Indy charm will work on me?”
“It always has before.”
She sighed. “So where do we start?”
“I’ll call Luca.”
Marion sort of hoped he would forget about the box. And she knew it would never happen.
Indy booked them a flight to Rome to meet with Luca. Marion hadn’t been to Rome in years. She knew better than to hope they could sightsee and enjoy the city. Indy would hunt down the old man and then hunt the box. And somewhere in all that, they’d find a world of trouble to get into. And someone would probably shoot at them.
Luca met them at the airport. He was old, but as spry as ever. He hugged Marion and shook Indy’s hand before hugging him as well.
“It’s been a long time, Indy,” Luca said in his accented yet perfect English. He turned back to Marion. “Marion, as always, you are ravishing!”
She grinned at the old man. “You’re still full of crap, Luca, but thank you.”
“Come with me. I have something for you,” he told them. They took a taxi to the older man’s apartment. There were papers and books everywhere. He moved some of them so they could sit.
He looked through several folders and a notebook or two then slapped his forehead. He opened a drawer and took out a folder and handed it to Indy.
Indy opened the tattered old folder and looked inside. His eyes widened a little and he nodded. “Is this authentic?”
“Of course it is. You know I wouldn’t have you come halfway across the world if it weren’t.”
Indy took a yellowed piece of paper out and put it in the inside pocket of his battered leather jacket. Marion thought it a bit odd that he didn’t show it to her, but she let it go.
“So where are we off to?” she asked.
“I thought we’d stay a day or two here in Rome. I know you like it here. Luca has arranged for us to have dinner at his favorite restaurant and we’ve been invited to Professor King’s for drinks. You remember him?”
Professor King was an old friend and an expert on the Romans in the time of Christ. He was older now and somewhat stuffy, but he’d been as wild and crazy as Indy had been in his youth. They hadn’t seen him in years. It would be good to see him again.
Luckily, Marion had packed a few nice dresses along with her dig clothes. She’d decided that she’d go out somewhere nice once or twice even if she had to go alone. She had a lovely little black cocktail dress that she would wear tonight.
Oh crap! Did Indy have anything decent to wear? She hadn’t even noticed what he’d packed. Maybe Luca could lend him a tie.
They took a car back to their hotel. They needed to rest a bit and freshen up after their long flight. The days of never stopping were over.
“So is this thing buried in an old Nazi hidey hole?” she asked as they dressed for dinner a few hours later.
“No. It’s actually in a collection of artifacts in a small lodge in the Alps.”
“We just walk in and ask for it?” she asked him.
“We’re going to steal it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Of course we are. Tell me again why I married you.”
Indy just grinned and put his dusty fedora on with his nice suit and tie.
Luca sent a car for them and they all went to dinner. The wine flowed freely and they all ate way too much food. Luca told stories of Indy’s father and of Indy as a youth, some that Marion had never heard before. There were times that she wished she’d known that wide eyed boy, but she remembered that no matter how jaded he was, he was still that boy when they were hunting for something lost to time.
They were all a little silly by the time they got to Professor King’s house for cocktails. Since they all were so silly, they had coffee and cake instead and everyone sobered up a considerable amount.
King talked about Christian artifacts and even talked about the Dead Sea Scrolls, which he had had the privilege of being involved with the deciphering of. He did not talk about the gifts of the Magi or anything near that topic. Marion thought that decidedly odd, but she didn’t ask any questions.
Later that night in their hotel room, she did ask Indy.
“Why didn’t you ask Professor King about the Magi box? Surely something like that would be within his purview.”
“Luca had already talked with him and he confessed that he knew nothing about it.”
There was something weird about all of this trip, but she couldn’t figure out what. She decided to just enjoy being in Rome with her husband. Usually, their travel involved tents and dirt and snakes. And being shot at.
They stayed in Rome three days, visiting old friends, eating wonderful food and playing tourist. Marion loved it. Indy even seemed to enjoy it, though he was a little antsy by the last day.
On the fourth day, they flew to Bavaria in Germany and rented a car. They drove through the Alps. The scenery was completely breathtaking with the high mountains and the green valleys. The last time Marion had been in the mountains had been a lifetime ago. She’d wanted to come to the Alps for their honeymoon but Indy had other ideas. They went to South America to tie up some lose ends from their Crystal Skull adventure instead. That had been fun.
They drove to a small Alpine lodge. It was down a winding road that seemingly went nowhere, just kept winding past the lodge. They pulled up outside and went into the lobby.
“Ah, Dr. Jones, your rooms are ready,” the girl behind the desk told them as they climbed the steps to the second floor. Their room was at the end of the hall, a lovely little room with wooden paneling and a beautiful view of sloping green fields as far as the eye could see, like a travel ad for the Alps. There was a complimentary bottle of wine and two glasses waiting in their room.
“Where do we go from here, Indy?” Marion asked.
“The box is here. There is a big glass cabinet in the dining room and it’s there.”
“We just take it?”
“Maybe. It doesn’t look like there are many guests here. Maybe when we are at dinner, one of us simply walks over, opens the case and takes the box.”
“You’re crazy,” she told him. “Not crazier than you’ve ever been, but crazy nonetheless.”
He just grinned at her. Indiana Jones was an infuriating man, but she loved him.
They unpacked their stuff and Marion picked up several brochures lying on the counter. She saw photos of gorgeous lakes and mountains.
“Maybe we should visit this lake?” she held up the brochure. “It says the waters are a perfect color of blue. We can take a ride on it and there’s a restaurant, even an old church to poke around in.”
Indy smiled. “We can do that tomorrow. I suppose we should dress for dinner now. I saw that dinner begins at seven.”
Indy put on his coat and tie and looked at himself in the mirror. Marion was asking a lot of questions and he was running out of answers for her. He should have remembered that she was a lot smarter than he’d ever been.
Dinner was delicious. It was German food: Schnitzel, potato dumplings in a brown sauce, vegetables and soup. The food was plain and simple, not the fancy restaurant fair they’d had in Italy. Indy loved it and Marion loved watching him eat with such gusto.
After dinner, they walked over to the large glass cabinet. Toward the back on the left side was a smallish box. It was golden and had rubies and emeralds embedded on its lid.
She pointed to it. “Is that it?”
He nodded solemnly.
“Get it now?”
He shook his head. “We wait a day or two. There may be some more guests by the weekend. It’ll make it harder to know who did it.”
She shook her head. Maybe he was losing his faculties. This did not sound like her Indy.
The next day, they went to the lake, Lake Königssee. They rode little boats across it, marveling at the green color of the waters. They had lunch at a little outdoor place on the lake then explored the church and several other historic buildings. Marion thought it was one of the most beautiful places she’d ever been to.
“I’m glad you brought me here, Indy. I have to admit that I don’t understand why, but this is a lovely place.”
“All I saw last time I was in Germany was Hitler. I thought maybe we could see some better scenery this time,” he told her as he put an arm around her as the boat took them back to the dock.
She kissed his cheek.
They rode in the mountains for several hours before going back to their little lodge. They meant to nap, but got distracted by one another and were a little late for dinner.
There were a few other couples in the dining room when they went down and took their seats.
“You were right. There are more people here for the weekend,” she said as they studied the menu.
He made that face that said he was always right, even though they both knew he was wrong.
While they were eating dessert, Marion asked him. “Why are we really here?”
“You know. I don’t want to say it out loud. Someone could be listening,” Indy said, shushing her.
“Henry Jones! What the hell is going on?” He never should have tried to make her be quiet. She didn’t take kindly to it at all.
“Come on. Let’s go to our room,” he said, rising from his seat.
“No. You tell me right here and right now.”
He sat back down and sighed. “I told you the truth. I have no idea what else to say.”
She pushed back from her seat, stood up, and left the dining room with a flounce. She slammed the door when she went into their room, expecting Indy to be right behind her. He wasn’t. He didn’t show up for half an hour and she was even more livid by that time.
“You ass!” she yelled at him as he came in the door. He seemed to be carrying something in his coat. She was shocked to see that it was the jeweled box from the glass case. “What the -”
“Open it.” He shoved the box across the table at her.
She ignored it for a moment and her curiosity got the best of her. She opened it. Inside the box was a necklace, a golden locket.
It looked like the one her mother had, one she lost when she was being held by the Nazis in Egypt back in 1936. She picked it up and opened it. There was a tiny black and white photo of her and her mother inside the locket.
She looked at Indy, realization dawning on her. “This – you did this for me? All of this, the trip, the letter, all of it was for this?”
“I was in Argentina for your birthday and Mutt said you were really pissed,” he said with that grin again.
“I was! If you’d have been home, I might have killed you for not being there.”
He started to speak and she knew he was going to tell her that she made no sense. “I know, I know, it doesn’t make sense. All I ever wanted was you, Indy. Surely you know that by now.”
“This is… was it here or did you plant it here?”
“No. It really was here. The box is a replica of the box that the Magi supposedly brought gold to Christ’s family in. Luca found it for me. He’s been searching for your locket for over a year.”
“You mean he was searching even while you skipped my birthday last year?” She was much less angry, almost completely over it.
“Yeah. Your son helped cook up this adventure. I told him it was too much.”
She smiled and put her hand over his. “No, it isn’t too much. It’s perfect. And we get the honeymoon we never had as well.”
He looked a little guilty.
“Unless you have somewhere you’d rather be.”
“About that, Luca said there is a lead on the crown,” he told her, looking sheepish.
“The crown of thorns. We have a meeting Tuesday in Vatican City with a priest who swears he saw it in 1944 in Jerusalem.”
“Indy!” Her voice began to rise.
“You can come, too. I wouldn’t think of leaving you behind.”
Her shoe got him on the back of the head as he ducked out of their room. She couldn’t wait to get started, but she wasn’t going to tell him that.
Maybe they’d even get shot at.