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A Civilization Gone With the Wind

Originally published in Southern Lights #5 printed 1993

...look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered...

A civilization gone with the wind...


Don't you think you're overdoing it, Jones? You haven't let me out of bed in the last two weeks!

Doctor's orders, remember? One side of his mouth turned upwards in a faint grin at the accidental joke. If you'd been able to have the kid in a hospital, they'd just about be letting you hang your feet over the edge of the bed by now. At least I let you go to the bathroom by yourself. Just be glad you're going downstairs and quit bitching about me carrying you there, Okay?


Marion subsided temporarily and reluctantly allowed her husband to carry her down to the parlour. After all, it was so typically Indy. She should have expected it; she remembered the fear in his eyes the night their daughter had been born. A severe blizzard of the type she'd grown up with in the Midwest had forced him to deliver their child at home, his only help hastily given instructions given over a rapidly disintegrating phone connection. The possibility of being called into a situation on a field expedition was one thing; it involving his wife and his child was quite another. Being top priority in his attentions had been a welcome change at first, but as her strength returned, his over protectiveness was becoming annoying.


He scooped her up gently from the bed and got a good grip before heading down the staircase. Never thought I'd hear you complain about being carried down a staircase.


Getting carried upstairs is different, Jonesie. Nothing interesting happens after you get downstairs.

His eyebrows arched skeptically. Wait a few weeks and you say change your mind, he shot back, eyes twinkling devilishly.


Oh, yeah? That a threat or a promise? his wife retorted, stroking the side of his neck with her free hand. Guess it takes more than a flannel nightgown to discourage you, huh?


You're a smart girl. Figure it out yourself. He deposited her on the couch, then ducked out of the room and down the hall to the front door. Ignoring his coat, he dashed out the door to bring in the Sunday papers. The door slammed quickly behind him as he stamped the snow off his shoes, then carried in the papers and dumped them in a pile next to Marion. Show you what a good sport I am, I'll give you first choice of the papers.


Great. I'll take the Times. I want to check the financial section.


The Hartford Courant and the Marshalltown Express have financial pages, too.

Yeah, but nowhere as good as the one in the Times. And the one in the Express is a week old to boot. Don't be an Indian giver just because you want to check it for archaeology articles.


He put on his most boyishly innocent and injured expression. Who, me? I've still got to make breakfast. Want anything special?


     Whatever you're having is fine, thanks, she replied absently, concentrating on the stock listings.

      He nodded and headed into the kitchen, where the enthusiastic banging of pots and pans and the repeated slamming of the icebox door made it clear that he was hard at work. The pungent odor of coffee percolating started through the house. In the meantime, Indy brought the food out to the parlour. Marion took the plate from his and put it on a

pillow in her lap. He sat next to her and did the same with his plate. Your tea won't be ready for a while yet.


That's the trouble with real tea. I can't stand those horrible little tea bags, though. After being used to real tea for so long, that crap tastes like nothing but boiled water.


It is nothing but boiled water, remember?


That doesn't mean it has to taste like it, though! Give re a good strong cup of black tea any day. And please don't forget to put the butter in it.


How could I forget something like that? The custom of putting butter instead of milk in her tea was one she'd acquired living with the Sherpas in the Himalayas. Their tea was the strong black tea of India, liberally laced with yak butter.


A harsh, sustained wail care from upstairs. They turned to look at each other. Well, don't look at me! I sure can't do anything about it. She can't possibly be hungry yet.


Indy hoisted himself resignedly off the couch. I'll go get her. He shot a suspicious look at his wife. I get the distinct impression that you're enjoying this.


Damn right I am. You want to keep fussing over me like a prize broody hen, it serves you right. I intend to enjoy every minute of this while it lasts.


   There's certainly no doubt that you're that kid's mother. She's definitely got your mouth.

Your lungs is more like it,  she retorted as he headed back upstairs. I'd never have believed anything could out yell you if I weren't hearing it with my own ears. The baby's cries slowed, then trailed off completely. Marion relaxed and resumed eating. After all, the child was as such his as it was hers. It was only fair that he know how to take care of her too.


A short time later he care back down, joggling the drowsy baby in his arms. Nothing wrong with her that a fresh diaper couldn't cure, he announced triumphantly.  His wife sailed indulgently. You send those pictures of Marri off to your Dad yet?

Yeah. Late Friday afternoon. At her look of surprise, he explained. 'They weren't finished 'till then. It takes a lot longer to get that new color film done. But the prints turned out just great. He cuddled the child a little longer, then gave her to his wife and headed into the kitchen to get their drinks. He placed the cups on the coffee table in front of him, then resumed his meal.


Good. After waiting so long to see a kid of yours, the least he deserves is some good pictures.


Finished the paper yet? he asked around a mouthful of toast.


No, but I know a hint when I hear one. Here, I'll read the rest of it after you finish.


Thanks. Anything interesting in the business section?


Yeah. I'm glad I invested in those aircraft stocks when I did. With all the stuff we're sending out on lend­lease, they don't do anything but make money.


Just so long as you know when to get out. Don't get greedy like my know-it-all cousin, when he lost most of the family trust funds in the Crash. Good old 'Babbitt.' Even I knew Insull was too good to be true! Every time I think what I go through, rattling the begging bowl and kissing ass to get the funding for expeditions, I get mad all over again. That money would be a big help if I still had it.


She nestled against his shoulder, holding the baby while Indy played with its fingers. Who're you trying to kid? Even if that junior league Babbitt hadn't lost the money, you probably wouldn't have it now anyway. You'd have spent it years ago on one expedition or another. At least when you get grants for your expeditions, it's not your money down the toilet if nothing turns up.


    Yeah, I know. But it was nice to have that extra money around if I ran short and needed it.

She turned and glared at him in rock seriousness. I think I've been insulted! You ought to know better by now than to think I'd be careless with money. He agreed ruefully, shaking his head at the rental image of his sharp, penny-pinching wife wasting money.


Say, Indy--what's that over there? She changed the subject by pointing at an object in the corner. She hadn't seen it before, as it was partially obscured by the open leaf of the secretary. It was a rather large, rather cross­eyed and violently pink stuffed bear.


   He took a swallow of black coffee before replying.     A teddy bear.

     Cute, Jones. I figured that out. Where'd it come from? It's a little early to have come down the chimney.              

He studied his daughter's fingernails intently before replying. I guess I forgot to tell you about that. My 201 class put it in the front row before Friday's class. They got together and gave it to us as a present for Marri. Quite frankly, I think someone's boyfriend won it at the Danbury fair and couldn't find any other way of getting rid of it.


It is awfully big--and awfully pink. She nearly choked on her tea as she laughed. I'd have loved to have seen the look on your face when you walked in to find that thing staring at you.


It was pretty funny," he admitted, grinning. "Besides, it beats getting apples. I don't think Teddy has any worms in him.


She agreed solemnly, stifling a wide yawn. Excuse me! Nice of them to think of getting you something for the kid, even if it is a little odd looking. She'll probably love it; once she gets a little bigger than its head, that is.


Indy chuckled appreciatively, then looked closely at his wife as she yawned yet again. She shifted position and put the sleeping baby on a nearby chair.    


Didn't get much sleep again last night, did you?

Uh-uh. Not with Dracula, Jr. there gnawing on me every couple of hours. I'm gonna try and get a nap before she wakes up and wants to be fed again. Unlike you, I can't sleep through her bawling. I'm starting to forget what uninterrupted sleep feels like.' She pulled Indy's old 'horseblanket' bathrobe tightly around her, then settled in against the arm of the couch, a pillow behind her head.

I'll bet, he answered sympathetically, sliding over to make more room for her to stretch out.


Want me to wake you when the Giants game starts? An unintelligible mutter, muffled by the pillow, was his only answer.


Indy turned the pages of the paper slowly and quietly, so he wouldn't disturb Marion. He skipped quickly through the war news, for the unnecessary waste of it always made him angry. At least England and Russia seemed to be holding their own rather well. There was still some chance that America would be able to stay out of it. But this was no time to think about things like that. No use spoiling a pleasant afternoon at home by worrying.

There wasn't much important news on this quiet Sunday afternoon. King Leopold III of Belgium had taken a bride; a new Russian ambassador arrived in the U5; Pan Am had just started clipper service from Miami to Leopoldville, in South Africa; an announcement was made of a Diamond Jubilee Ball, to be held on January 30th, in honor of FDR's 60th birthday. There were the inevitable reports of society teas, weddings and 'gay supper parties.' In the sports section, the Giant: were favored to win today's football game at the Polo Grounds. Indy held hopes that his Dodgers, the perennial underdogs, would be able to prove the forecasters wrong.


Eighteen days before Christmas, the newspaper had far more advertisements than it had news. Time was growing short, and he still didn't know what to get for Marion. The Chippendale pieces from the Hearst collection, being sold by Gimbels, were nice, but a bit beyond his price range. In the rotogravure gift section he found some possibilities: perhaps a new superheterodyne radio, or better yet, a string of cultured pearls. At $18.75 they were quite reasonable. He noticed that quite a few stores were advertising the fact that they had nylons in stock, 'buy all you want,' while they lasted.


  Since they were always so hard to find, maybe she'd like a dozen or so of those instead.     Those would be s Christmas present for himself, too. Cotton lisle stockings made a woman's legs look so shapeless. Or maybe he'd get her both. He'd have to make a trip to the city this week, then decide.


Indy checked the mantle clock periodically as he read his way through all the sections of the Sunday Times, then the local papers. He was really looking forward to today's Dodgers/Giants game. He rubbed his nose thoughtfully where it'd been broken in a scrimmage playing football for Chicago. Marion was still sound asleep. Fortunately for her, so was the baby. He got up and tiptoed around to the console by the couch. A piercing whine came out of the combination radio/victrola as he started tuning it to the right station. He immediately turned the volume down low, before it would disturb them and settled in to listen to the game.


Marion stirred drowsily, then sat up and glared at him. Hey! I thought you were going to wake me up when the game started!


You were so worn out I didn't have the heart. You need sleep more than you need to listen to the game. Nothing's happening, so I decided to wait until someone scored. You haven't missed a thing.


Oh. Game hasn't been on long, has it? She stretched and sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.


Don't worry. It's only the middle of the first quarter.


She settled back and listened to the commentator describe the action. Things continued to move slowly for a while, then the Dodgers scored a touchdown, making the score 7-1. The game continued on into the second quarter. Neither team had scored again. .Say, Indy, can you get me some more tea?

  Sure, he agreed, taking the cup and saucer she handed him. Nothing much is going on right now.

He headed back to the kitchen to get her a refill. While he was there, he decided to put on another pot of coffee for himself.

Meanwhile, Marion was listening very closely to the game. She hoped Indy would make it back before anyone scored again. Suddenly the voice of the sportscaster was replaced by that of a very excited Gabriel Heatter. We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin.  The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by air....


 Marion stared dumbly at the radio for a moment. OH MY GOD! she whispered, then took a deep breath. IN--DY! she yelled, turning up the radio full blast so he could hear.


The full extent of damages to the fleet, as well as to the Air Corp bases at Hickham and Wheeler Fields are unknown at this time. All Armed Forces personnel are ordered to report to their bases at once. Please stay tuned to this station for further details, when they become avaliable. We now return you to our regularly scheduled program.


All thoughts of the game now gone, Marion turned down the volume and started twirling the dial. The baby stirred, disturbed by the noise, but didn't wake up. This was no Halloween prank, like the one Orson Wells had pulled three years before. No, shocking as this news was, it was for real. She was sure of that. CBS, the Red Network, the Blue Network, H.V. Kaltenborn, all were making the same astounding reports.


They've finally done it, she mumbled, nearly ­tongue-tied with anger and frustration. After all the years of aggression and negotiation, sanctions and embargoes, the Japanese Empire had made its decision clear. But who would have thought they'd dare attack Hawaii?


     Yeah. We've got no way out of the war, now.  Indy's voice was strange, and his expression was an odd mixture of resignation and sorrow. He had come in from the kitchen with her tea while she was fiddling with the radio.


As she took her tea, she noticed her hands were shaking. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That was headquarters for the Pacific Fleet. She and Indy had stopped over there a few years back, on their way to China. Indy was something of a minor league celebrity, so they'd been roped into a dinner party at the naval base. Dancing through the quiet beauty of a frangipani scented tropical night. Handsome, gallant young officers in their stiffly starched white uniforms trying to flirt with her. They had all seemed so young and naive. Like something out of Gilbert and Sullivan. It was hard to relate those dreamlike memories with the harsh brutality of war.


Yeah, Myrt? Indy had crossed over to the other side of the room, where he was using the phone. Yes, I heard about the attack. Yes, it is terrible. We just heard the news, too. No, I don't know anything else. He brutally interrupted the operator's monologue about her reactions to the news. Look, Myrt, I'm trying to make an important call. To Oakland, California. Right. The Chinese Mission school where my son goes. I want to find out how things are out there. Can you get me a line as soon as possible? Thank you. Don't worry, he finished through clenched teeth. As soon as I hear anything new I'll be sure and let you know. He slammed the earpiece roughly back into its cradle and sat down to wait for his call to be completed. Gossipy old biddy!


     Might have been worse, Marion observed sarcastically. It might have been her lumbago. That's usually good for at least a half an hour.


The phone rang and Indy shushed her as he leapt to answer it. What! That's impossible. Well, keep trying and let me know when you can get through. He banged the tubular earpiece back onto the phone once again. All long distance service is suspended for the duration of the emergency, Indy quoted. Could mean something, could mean nothing. His worried eyes met hers as he paced around the room. If they could reach Hawaii, it's not impossible for thee to have headed on for California. Depending on how such of the fleet they caught in Hawaii, the next stop eight be San Diego. And even if they don't attack, Shorty's still in danger. Remember the Great War? Sauerkraut suddenly became Liberty Cabbage. Everything of German origin had its name changed. People were even going around killing dachshunds. They were enemy dogs, you see. I'll guarantee you right now that some thickheaded bigots are already declaring their own personal war on whatever Japanese they can find. As if the ones living here had anything to do with it! Hysterical people don't know or care whether someone's Chinese or Japanese; hell, most people don't even realize there's a difference. I hope the hell that kid's got the sense to stay undercover until things settle down.


I doubt it. The kid's not yours genetically, but you'd never guess. He's got your genius for attracting trouble.


Thanks for the reassurance, he snapped back. He went over to the liquor cabinet and took out a bottle of bourbon. Sitting down heavily on the couch, he poured a generous amount of the liquor into his coffee.


Marion continued to search through channels for the latest reports. Wonderful. On top of everything else, we've got to worry about Shorty maybe getting shot up by some trigger happy idiot. It was bad enough when it was just the crazy Austrian, but now his friends are getting into the act, too. While we defend ourselves against the Japanese, the Nazis'll wait until we're worn out, then jump in for the kill.   I damn well hope those half-wits in Washington have the sense to declare war against Hitler, too, while they're at it. If the Japanese can drop bombs on Hawaii, the Germans might do it to the East Coast. Gimme that bottle. I need a drink, too.

Indy's thoughts were far away, and he answered her abstractedly. You can't drink. You're still nursing the baby, remember?

Right now I don't give a shit! Kid might be better off drunk, anyway. Hell of a world she got herself born into. Backstabbing bastards! They didn't even bother to declare war before they attacked! Her fists were clenched tightly as she started into an angry tirade against the Japanese Warlords, the Nazis, and the fools who let thee all get away with so ouch before taking a stand against them, using every obscene term in her considerable repertoire. Even that wasn't enough to relieve the helplessness and frustration she felt right now. She picked up her empty teacup and hurled it against the wall, where it shattered noisily. She followed that with an ashtray and a few assorted knickknacks. This finally woke the baby, who whispered fretfully, unnoticed by either parent. A powerful arm restrained Marion as her hand closed on an ancient clay statue.


    Break all the crockery you damn please. But keep your hands off my relics! You can't replace those on Dish Night at Loews.


They glared furiously at each other, both strong willed and stubborn. Fine. I won't touch your precious relics. Now leggo my are. You're hurting me.


He dropped her are instantly, then refilled his cup with whiskey, draining it in a single gulp. When he put the cup back down, she grabbed it and filled it to the brim with his bourbon. As she drank, she stared challengingly at her husband, daring him to try and stop her.  


    Instead, Indy rose and started out of the room. Where the hell are you going?

Out, he replied tersely. She heard his footsteps echo down the hallway. A door opened, then a moment later was slammed shut. After a while, he headed back down the hallway, then slammed the back door shut behind him.

The nearby church bells of St. Dominick's tolled mournfully, while in the background, the radio commentator was giving a short history of the US-Japan negotiations leading up to today's attack. The attack of Manchuria in 1931. The incidents in Shanghai leading to the aerial bombardment of the city in '32, in which Shorty's family had died. The years of small, isolated incidents and the gradual encroachment on Chinese territory. Then the incident at the Marco Polo bridge, which triggered the war in earnest. The slow retreat of the Nationalists; the Capture of Shanghai. What was known as the 'rape' of Nanking in '38. As the Nazis sought 'Lebenstraum' in Europe, so the Japanese were seeking it in the Far East. As the war in Europe intensified, America became the only hindrance to Japanese ambitions. But the warlords were determined not to be thwarted. Today's attack proved that.


Marion stared at the empty hallway, trying to rake some sense of Indy's actions. She looked down at her arm. He was always so careful how he used his strength, but this time he had grabbed her hard enough to leave bruises. Easing herself up, her legs a bit wobbily, she picked up her softly crying daughter. She tried to calm her while slowly and carefully heading for the back window. What was he up to, anyway?

A strange noise outside attracted her attention before she reached the window seat. She sat down, pulled back the curtain and blinds and peered through. Indy had thrown on an overcoat and was practicing with his bullwhip. He didn't have the usual whiskey bottles with him for use as targets, so he was slashing the bark off a nearby elm tree. Attacking would be more like it, she amended, noticing the force of this swings, the wildly flying bark, and his angrily blazing eyes.

Marion watched in amazement. She expected this threat to bring out the fighter in his, the survivor who never gave up. Not this stranger assaulting a tree in the back yard.


The baby squirmed restlessly in Marion's arms. She cuddled Marri closer, trying to lull her back to sleep. It's okay, kid. Everything will be okay. She ran her hand through her daughter's nearly invisible blonde hair, as much to comfort herself as to soothe the child. She wished she could believe it herself. Everything was far from all right, but nothing could be done about that. In a way it was a relief that the procrastination was finally over. Now they could do something, instead of being helpless victims, waiting for someone else to make the first move.


What was wrong with Indy anyway? True, the news had been a shock, but they'd both known it was only a matter of time before America was involved in the war. Why, then, was he behaving like it was the end of the world? After all the tight spots they'd been in over the years, she would have thought he'd realize the situation wasn't as hopeless as it looked at first. As she continued to watch him, the answer care to her. She remembered the conversation she and Indy had had before leaving for their ill-fated Casablanca dig of 1940.


I remember more than you do about what things were like before the Great War. Things were so different afterward that it was almost like another world. The same thing's probably going to happen this time around, too.' His voice go: lower and lower, almost pleading, as  he continued.                    


'Archaeology's been changing, too. Methods are changing and the rules are getting stricter. I don't know... Say the war lasts about five years. By that time maybe archaeology won't have any room for a riddle-aged soldier of fortune .... *


 No, it wasn't the end of the world, but to Indy it would seem so, she realized. It was the end of the adventurous life they'd shared the past few years, far from the confines of civilization. No longer would quick wits, good reflexes and a bullwhip be enough to keep the world at bay. No more could they escape on a dig when small town academia began to stifle them. There would be no more digs, at least until the war was over. And even then, if Indy were right, they would have changed, too. The world was growing smaller, and with it the age of the archaeologist/adventurer was drawing to a close.


In less than an hour, their lives had changed forever. Already the carefree silliness of this morning seemed like a dream, like something which had happened in another world, in a civilization as dead as any Indy had ever excavated. But they were both survivors. Tomorrow, they would move onward, finding a way to rebuild their lives in this new world they'd been thrust into. For now, though, each in their own way mourned the loss of the way of life they'd both loved.


It was the end of a era.



*As Time Goes By (1939) Well of the Souls #4

Authors Note:
This like many of my stories, expecially those in this series, are based on a particular oft quoted remark by George Lucas that, to paraphrase, adventures such as he wanted to show with Indy were only possible before the onset of WWII.
If you look at him as a person, not a fictional character, his life would not (barring mischance) stop when the war started.  What then happens to Indy when WWII breaks out, how does his life change?  And, as the OSS series attempted to show, how does he use his background and skills during the war years.