Indiana Jones and the Wrath of God
A very old man, in a mid-western college town, is rocking on the covered porch of one of those grand turn-of-the-century homes that used to be the only perk for academicians with families and large libraries. The once bright yellow chintz that covered the cushions of his glider seat has faded to white. The old man has almost reached his own century and this is the last time he’ll sit on his porch and rock.
Inside, the rooms are filled with boxes. The movers are coming tomorrow to disburse the accumulations of his active life. Everything is packed: notebooks, old photographs, potsherds, beads, and incised bits of clay he’d picked up god-know-where-in-the-
ancient-world because he’s been everywhere. There are crates in the basement and some in storage at the university, that have sat unopened since he packed them over sixty years ago. He always figured he’d find the time but he just never did. ‘Too active,’ his father used to gripe, ‘and too disorganized. Son, someone is going to find the plans to the Fiery Temple of Dagon in one of these heaps when you’re dead.’ All of the heaps have been gathered and they’ll be gone tomorrow. In a few days, they’ll be someone else’s problem and his father will have had the last word on that. But I’ll be seeing you soon, Dad, and you can tell me yourself.
He’s at peace thinking it’ll be fun to learn to roller-blade.
* * *
Half a continent away, in Seacouver, near the Art Museum, the wind is on a
recognizance mission. It whips around the building and chivies patrons to the shelter of their cars. It noses around the Modern wing, down into the sculpture gardens where it raises little waves in the reflecting pool before blowing across to the university campus. Between Reed Library and the history building, Elgin Hall, a dust devil starts gyrating like a tiny tornado picking up dried leaves and sticks for just moment, before it
collapses. A storm is coming and this outrider is looking for the place it will break.
In a downtown loft, an old man (although he doesn’t look his age) and a young man (relatively speaking) are at odds with each other, though the young man doesn’t know it yet. He’s on the phone talking enthusiastically with a colleague at the university where he occasionally teaches a ‘very’ popular class in European history.
‘More than qualified, Dr. Mumford,’ MacLeod is assuring Dr. Mumford. ‘You saw his Vita, he’s expert in prehistoric and classical antiquities…yes, available…this is very exciting.’ MacLeod doesn’t know, or maybe he doesn’t care that his companion is trying to take a nap, is trying to ignore the conversation —is wondering suspiciously: *What the hell is he on about?
But such irritating thoughts are tiny ripples in the long river of time that’s the old man’s life; he rolls over and snuggles deeper into the sofa cushions. He thinks it’s rude of MacLeod to be jabbering away while he’s trying to sleep. It’s even ruder when Mac hoists his legs and plop down under them as though he had a right to space on his own furniture. Methos would say something but you don’t get to be five thousand years old by being curious—well, not too curious. Anyway, as he’s jabbering, MacLeod’s hand
starts wandering up the inseam of his jeans. It’s worked its way to a point of real interest as the tedious conversation with the tiresome Dr. Mumford is concluding. Methos hears ‘goodbye’ and a soft ‘meep’ as the cell phone disconnects. Methos doesn’t tell MacLeod what a bore he’s been because Mac’s hand has found some soft lumps tucked into the denim and is in the process of making them swell.
Methos rolls over and spreads his thighs—makes things a little easier – and MacLeod leans over and kisses him. Methos likes the kiss so much that he rewards MacLeod by showing him where the tongue on his zipper is as well and MacLeod kisses him again. The Scotsman’s dark eyes are glowing with affection; he flicks a tongue over Methos’s lower lip and whispers softly. “I’ve found you a job.”
Methos sits up and yelps. “You’ve found me a what?”
It sure spoils the mood.
* * *
Somewhere else entirely, two brothers—bear with me now, this bit’s difficult, because…well…because ‘old’ is too small a word for what they are, and they aren’t precisely human. It’s true that one of them used to be, but that was a very long time ago – a bit before Methos was born in fact, and he has a different job description now.
This morning his stepmother wanted him to dig up her garden but he was feeling moody and skived off to his brother’s house instead. His brother is working on a scale model of General Varus’s Defeat in the Teutoburg Forest—it’s to go with his models of the Somme, Thermopylae, and Dien Bien Phu. It’s a great model, each rock, and each tree—perfect. Each little barbarian is appropriately and accurately armed. And the Roman legions have the same attention to detail—red wool tunics, shields, short swords, horse hair crests on the centurion’s helmets. The trumpeters have tiny, shiny
brass horns. The doctors have little medical kits. Their faces are so exquisitely painted they look alive. You’d think they knew their fate. You almost expect them to go marching off on their own. Sometimes they do. Then the barbarians ambush them too early and the whole thing has to be done over.
That’s what happened last night when the model builder, the one who wasn’t human, forgot to put them away properly. Now he’s fussing as he cleans up the blood and studying (covertly) his younger brother’s face. It’s a face that he likes. The features are regular and generous, the blue eyes are usually placid and the wide mouth usually smiles at him —when it isn’t yelling at him. But the point would be, he usually has its undivided
attention and, right now, he doesn’t. Hercules is staring into space, frowning, and there’s a terrible sadness in his eyes. It’s irritating.
Ares, God of War and model builder, holds two fingers to his temple and intones, “I detect a disturbance in the force, young Luke.” (He’s been thinking of doing the Battle of the Death Star. But to do that right he’d have to put a gravity free environment in one room, and to do that he’d have to move the kitchen, and to do that…he’s settled for seeing Star Wars two thousand six hundred and forty-one times.)
Hercules smiles at his dark brother and shakes his head as though were trying to free himself from a waking dream. “Geese walking over my grave.”
“Do you want an auger?” Ares starts chasing elements of the XIX legion back to their fortified camp, but he asks the question seriously, as someone would ask ‘do you want to see a doctor?’ These are beings whose ‘feelings’ can have profound effects. As Ares glances at a couple of Gothic spies trying to sneak across the river, they’re swept down stream when the current suddenly gets stronger—and a pleasure boat captain somewhere on the Rhine struggles to control his vessel.
“No,” Hercules says. “I’ll get over it.” But he’s looking off in the distance again.
Leaving the small figures to struggle or drown, Ares goes and sits beside his brother. He’s a being of deep passions and, truthfully, he has immense control over them. But if you can’t eat it, suck it, fuck it or fight it, he wonders why anyone would bother to brood about it. He slips his arms around his brother’s waist and whispers a suggestion to the soft hair behind an ear. He gets a chuckle and hug back.
“No, not again,” Hercules says. “How ‘bout ‘Saving Private Ryan?’” Ares employs a classic tactic. “I’ll treat.” The lip begins to tremble. “And buy your popcorn.”
“Extra butter?” Ares purrs.
“As long as you don’t look for your light-saber in my lap.”
“But that’s where I found it the last time,” Ares points out and kisses him.
* * *
A month later, Methos is at Joe’s sucking up beer and bitching at Dawson and Dawson, hoping for a quiet evening, is making the sort of noise a generous spirit might interpret as sympathetic.
“An office, a stipend, and two wet-behind-the-ears grad students—is ‘that’ supposed to make me feel better? Joe, he did everything but quote Kahlil Gibran at me.” An honest spirit might say Dawson’s response to that is a derisive snort but it doesn’t slow Methos down. “That traitor, that louse, that…that...” Methos pauses, suddenly struck by a thought, and gives Dawson an evil slit-eyed look. “Joe, you wouldn’t happen to know how he got hold of Adam Pierson’s resume would you?”
“No.” Dawson plunks an icy Hamm’s in front of Methos’s suddenly suspicious face. “Have another beer, Dr. Pierson. You, Mac?” He sets another beside it for the Scotsman just hitching himself to the bar.
Methos swoops as MacLeod reaches and spins away with the dripping bottle in his hand. “I better not find out you two colluded against me,” he says as he comes around again on the stool.
“I just observe and record.” Dawson is the picture of innocence. At that piece of persiflage, both immortals unite in rolling their eyes at each other and Methos surrenders the bottle to MacLeod’s groping hand. “But, I admit I can’t see anything wrong with gainful employment. It’s low in cholesterol, good for the lights and liver….”
“And it will keep me off the streets and out of bars.” There is more than a hint of a threat in the silky quality of Methos’s voice.
“Isn’t that ingratitude, Joe? I’ve saved him from a life of drunken sloth and dishonor, and he steals my beer.” Now that he actually has the beer, MacLeod has switched sides.
“Since when did I become a crusade?” Methos twirls around on his stool again and presents his back to both his friends. “Mac, you know how I feel about this sort of thing.”
“Methos, Dr. Henry Jones was the greatest archeologist of the first half of the century; he’s probably still the best-known archeologist in the world.” Methos responds to Mac by eloquently ignoring him. “People, who haven’t got a clue that Carter discovered Tut’s tomb, know that Indiana Jones discovered the erotic temple complex of Rajah Rajah.
“And desecrated it,” Methos informs the air.
“He found the Santiago Museum’s jade statue of Quetzalcoatl.”
“He stole it.” Methos tells the man two stools down, who’s been listening.
“He located the tholos tombs of the kings of ancient Corinth.”
“And ‘plundered’ them!” Methos finally turns to face the highlander. “MacLeod, you’re talking about the arch grave robber of the twentieth century! I don’t see why it has to be my problem if he leaves everything he stole to Seacouver University.”
“What exactly are we talking about?” Joe has been chewing on a knuckle and looking at both men. “I was under the impression that the gift to the university was just his personal papers needing a little sorting out.” “You wish,” Methos tells him. “It’s his papers, his father’s papers, his research notes, photos, diaries…and his personal collections.” Methos takes a sudden sharp breath at the thought of the personal collections. “One hundred and sixty boxes and crates — all needing to be opened, sorted, inventoried and identified. If you wanted your sofa back that badly, Mac,
you should have said so. I could’ve gone back to Paris any time.”
The other two men exchange glances, they’ve both noted he’s using the past tense; he’s taken the job but he’s still punishing MacLeod. MacLeod isn’t so stubborn that he won’t try oblique appeasement, so he tells Joe.
“Adam Pierson is the best possible person to have in the position. They opened the first of those crates last Tuesday and…”
“I’m not ready for this,” Methos growls. He gets up and stalks away.
Both Joe and MacLeod watch the slow saunter to the other side of the room and the deliberate feeding of quarters to one of the old-fashioned pinball machines. The machine’s designed around a theme of ‘King Kull’ and the bright splash panel is decorated with a portrait of a barbarian who looks a ‘little’ like Arnold Schwartzenegger if you really, really squint. Anyway, he’s big and he’s holding a sword so that it bisects the picture. In a few moments lights flash, bells clang, bumpers click and the high score numbers start to turn over.
MacLeod sighs. “What Charlie Mumford said was a pattern welded 9th century Finnish blade, Methos identified as 4th century Danish.” The Scott is winded but struggling to sustain his theme. “It’s an incredible opportunity for the university, no one could know more about weapons and artifa…” This all has the tone of an oft-repeated argument. Methos has had MacLeod on the ropes for the last two weeks and the highlander’s feeling defensive and horny; it makes him twice as stubborn.
“He’s pretty pissed,” Joe interrupts.
“At me.” MacLeod closes his eyes and sighs. “I know. But he’s logged more time asleep on my sofa in the last six months than my…. I thought this would give him a focus; he didn’t want to leave the Watchers.”
“He’s depressed? Mac, he has better resources to cope with disappointment than that.” As much body English as Methos is putting into the score, Joe is surprised the ‘tilt’ buzzer hasn’t gone berserk yet, but he’s more surprised at what Mac’s almost let slip. So far the three men have observed a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. If the truth come about his friends’ feelings for each other comes out, the watcher would be compelled to write it down and he doesn’t think Mac means to give that up yet. He starts to warn. “Mac….”
MacLeod erupts in frustration. “How come, I’m always the bad guy?”
Behind, the pinball machine blats loudly in derision and Joe grins. “’Cause you’re the hero. Now take him away before he breaks my toys.”
MacLeod goes to collect his lover, thinking that, normally, Joe would be right; you don’t live as an immortal for any length of time without huge reservoirs of curiosity. But MacLeod has become sensitive to Methos’ moods and if it were simply that Methos was irritated at being manipulated, payback should have been swift, sure and brutal. Something is going on with the other man that he doesn’t understand but MacLeod is braced when he holds Methos’ coat out. “Home?”
Ever since the day he interviewed at the University, Methos has become sullen as well as torpid; like a newly awakened snake in the spring, he’s been more likely to strike than give way. He does glare at MacLeod; there are still quarters to be played, but then he gives in and lets Mac settle the coat over his shoulders. MacLeod hopes it’s a sign that tensions are beginning to ease. In fact, it’s quiet in the car and just as the building
is in sight, he feels a hand brush his knee. “I’m sorry,” MacLeod says, “I thought…”
“I know.” It not an apology, but it’s as close to one as he’s likely to get and the hand settles feather-light and warm on his knee for the rest of the drive. In the elevator, he’s aware of Methos standing marginally closer to him than he has in recent weeks. He doesn’t presume it’s a promise of sex, but the ice is breaking and when Methos strips and crawls into the other side of the bed MacLeod has reason to believe that sometime in the night he’ll wake to an inquiring touch on his thigh.
* * *
It isn’t warm touches that bring MacLeod out of sleep; it’s a kick on the ankle, it’s the incessant peeping of the pager, it’s Methos’ cursing as he fumbles for it in the dark. He turns on the light as the little black box skitters across Methos’ nightstand and falls on the floor where it shrills even louder until Methos swoops and pokes at it.
In the silence he reads the message and turns to MacLeod. “There’s been a break-in at the storage facility.”
MacLeod hands him the phone and gets up to pour whisky. When he gets back to bed Methos has hung up. “You have to go tonight?” he asks, handing over a glass.
“In the morning.” Methos has fallen back against the pillows. “They didn’t have much time apparently. Some of the crates may have been broken open but the crime lab is still there and there’s no way to tell what could be missing tonight.” Methos sips with his eyes closed and, just when Mac thinks there’s nothing more to be got from him, he sets the glass down, rolls over and intrudes himself into the highlander’s arms. “Come with me?” Remembering his earlier hopes, MacLeod’s mouth quirks at the double entendre but he nods against Methos’ skull. “I want you to see it,” Methos says.
* * *
Somewhere else, the candles have long been blown out and the two brothers are lying in the war god’s bed. Ares is pressed against the length of his brother’s back and he’s brushing wisps of fine hair from Hercules’ face. He’s tracing Hercules’ features, trying to recall what he looked like in the days when he was mortal, although, he isn’t sure why. ‘Geese on my grave’ Hercules said a while ago and Ares agrees. Whatever has been bothering his brother, has started to sneak up on him too.
Over the course of time, the younger god has become something you might imagine seeing crowned with horns if you got lost in the woods on a day in late summer, and Ares’ memory blurs with present reality. In the dark, he lets the musky, autumnal scent of Hercules’ body take him back to when the blue eyes didn’t slant up quite as much as they do now – the brown hair wasn’t quite so silver. Hercules jerks in his sleep and Ares remembers the restlessness; his brother was always moving. His fingers know the tightly scrunched creases between his brother’s brow. He runs his hand down one of
Herc’s arms to a clenched fist and enfolds it. He remembers that long ago Herc’s arms and legs weren’t ‘quite’ so attenuated, although, he knows the shoulders are just as broad and the haunches as powerful. (Over the years, one way or another, he’s taken the full force of them.) Lost in the nightmare, Hercules groans.
The swell of a pectoral fills Ares’ hand. He caresses it, feeling the soft nub harden beneath his palm. He sits up, eases his brother down, leans over and breathes on it. Licking, tasting the salt, he noses through the fleecy ridges of chest and belly. The navel is a shallow cup and he laps the rim finally hearing the waking sigh. A hand laces through his hair and shoves him lower.
He responds to the push by rolling on his hip and the hand lets go. His legs are seized and spread as Hercules rises and tugs him into position. He can hear his brother’s desperately loud breathing. Silk brushes his knees, whiskers prickle the skin of his inner thigh and he’s engulfed in wet heat. He cries out but he’s still moving and he wraps his arms around Hercules’ hips and his nose is filled with a headier, heavier musk. Mouth open, sucking, he finds the suede-soft sac, finds the cock standing by his cheek
dripping hot tears on his eyelids. He swallows it, and the circle of comfort they offer each other is complete.