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Cup of a Carpenter

Originally printed in Remote Control #3, published  May 1993


"But the Grail cannot pass beyond the Great Seal," the knight continued. 'That is the boundary -- and the price -- of immortality."

Indy nodded, then hurried back the way he had come. How long had it been since Marcus asked him to hurry back? How much longer did Henry have? He was barely able to restrain himself from trying to run the entire way. But no, speed would do no good if it cost him the precious fluid in the Grail -- his father's only chance at life.

As he headed toward the floor of tiles, he could make out an indistinct murmur, snatches of words. While his attention was mainly on navigating the pattern of letters, a corner of his mind tried to identify the sounds, which had a rhythmic, ceremonial cadence. "We humbly commend the soul of this, thy servant, into thy hands...."

"...he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live...." Indy scrambled to regain his balance between the last two letters, then raced down the passageway. Marcus was reciting the service for the dead. He took the stairs two at a time, coming to a skidding stop beside the three men.

"Farewell, father of Indy. May Allah grant you rest." Sallah gently removed Henry's spectacles to close the fixedly staring eyes.

No, this can't be happening! "I've got the Grail. Let me...." He placed the Grail carefully on the ground, then knelt next to his father's body.

"I'm so sorry, Indy." Marcus' voice shook as he looked up at Indy, his face lined with sorrow, his eyes overflowing with unshed tears. "He just couldn't hold on any longer."

"No, you must be wrong!" Indy tore open his father's shirt the rest of the way and tried to listen for a heartbeat. Silence. The chest didn't move. He fumbled for the carotid artery. Nothing. He shook the body again and again, trying everything he could think of. Nothing worked. If Donovan hadn't interrupted, if he hadn't hesitated in the leap from the lion's head, if he hadn't lost time with his error on the Latin alphabet. Any of those things would have bought his father the time he needed. "Damn you, you pigheaded Scotsman! Couldn't you have been stubborn just a little longer?"

"Indy, don't. He's gone." Sallah's voice broke as he placed a restraining hand on Indy's arm. Indy paused and looked up at his friend pleadingly, his expression wounded and helpless. Forty years spent on the quest, and now Henry was dead just minutes before seeing the result. The Grail shone brightly, mockingly, through Indy's blurred vision. Metal scraped on stone as the cup began moving away.

Indy turned and grabbed the cup, wrenching it free before Elsa could drink. "Indy, please! It's no good to him now." She tried to stretch past him to grab it back, and he backhanded her with the full strength of his arm, sending her flying to land in a dazed heap on the stone floor.

Indy smiled bitterly at Elsa, his face set, his eyes faded to an icy gray. He picked up his father's limp hand and placed it with his own around the base of the simple cup. The Grail wavered in his hand, then tipped, water falling onto Henry's wound, washing it. "The Grail stays with him. He earned it: you've never been more than a parasite, trying to make a name from someone else's work. "Cheer up, doll. You'll have plenty of time to steal it back later, after you Nazi stooges have killed us all." "Indy! Look!" Sallah indicated the wound, where the water was smoking and sizzling. Both blood and wound were washed away, the skin completely unmarked. Marcus crossed himself reverently.

Desperate hope dawned in Indy's eyes. He tilted back his father's jaw and poured some water into the open mouth. With no swallow reflex to aid it, water ran down the side of Henry's face. Indy tried again, pouring more water down his throat.

"Indy," Marcus started gently. "The Grail lore specifies eternal life. It doesn't say anything about bringing the dead back to life."

Indy didn't hear him. He was watching desperately for a sign, a second chance, some indication that he had not failed his father once again.

The sound was so faint that the three men thought at first they imagined it. They heard it again, more clearly. A cough. Henry's chest heaved convulsively, then assumed an uneven rhythm.

"Dad?" Indy's voice held the soft uncertain tones of a young boy. "...believe...leap of faith ...leap of faith. You can do it, boy."

Indy's tears were flowing freely now. "Shh, Dad. You need your strength."

Henry's eyelids fluttered open slightly. He stared up at the ceiling for a moment, confused, as if taking stock of his condition.

"Junior?" As he caught sight of his son his face lit up with a combination of relief and love which absolutely stunned the younger man. Indy ducked his head, trying to keep his father from seeing his tears. There was a sudden thud. He spun to check for a new threat only to find Marcus passed out on the ground. Indy and Sallah exchanged affectionate grins.

Pandemonium broke out amongst the bearers and soldiers. The sight of a dead man returning to life was enough to send the majority of them scattering into the countryside. The guard holding the gun on Sallah was one of the ones who fled. Thinking quickly, he grabbed the dropped rifle and held it on those who remained. "Drop your guns -- please?"

"Glasses? Can't see a thing without...." Sallah nodded to Indy who retrieved Henry's

spectacles and replaced them on his face. Henry's gaze went from the relieved grins of Indy and Sallah, to the unconscious Marcus Brody, to the cup held in his and his son's overlapping hands. Henry looked up at his son, then back to the Grail. Indy gave him a gentle, slightly embarrassed smile in return, placing his father's hands more firmly around the Grail, while sliding his own away. "What's wrong with Marcus?"

"He'll be okay. It's just not every day he sees someone come back from the dead." "Nonsense. Badly hurt, yes, but I couldn't have been...." His voice trailed off. He looked up at his son, then once again at the cup in his hands, stroking and caressing it as gently as if it were a lover.

Indy laughed to himself in quiet recognition of the gesture. Like father, like son. "How much do you remember?"

"Pain, very thirsty, very tired, sleepy. Then it was as if I was floating above everything. I think I was delirious. I remember bright light." His voice became nearly inaudible as he continued. "The color of your mother's hair in the sun." A wistful expression crossed Henry's normally stern features, then was gone. "That's it;" he concluded in a matter-of-fact tone. "Just fragments, like a very strange dream."

"It would appear that the age of miracles is not yet over." Marcus dusted himself off and stood up, trying to regain some of his lost dignity."

"Miracle, Marcus? I don't know if I'd go that far." Henry's eyes twinkled as he addressed his childhood friend.

"Henry, your heart had stopped. You had no pulse and you weren't breathing. I assure you that even the Archbishop of Canterbury would have no problem in judging this a miracle."

For the first time Indy noticed the remaining soldiers, and the fact that only Sallah had a gun. "Dad -- get to your feet." He spotted a pile of abandoned rifles lying nearby. "Marcus -- catch!"

Marcus reached out automatically and caught the weapon. He shot a look of supreme astonishment at Indy, then quickly looked over the weapon to see how it might work.

Henry put the Grail down as Indy put an arm around him and helped him to stand. "Are you daft?" Henry whispered in his son's ear. "He doesn't even know how to aim that thing. If he tries to use it he'll more than likely shoot his foot off."

"You know that and I know that, but if he can manage to keep the from knowing that we may actually get out of here in one piece." "Hmm. Point taken." Henry paused, facing the small stairway, Indy's arm still around him for support. His gaze was rapt, taking in the sight of the knight standing there watching them.

"You met him -- the knight. An actual witness to the First Crusade." The scholar and the knight's eyes met. Henry disentangled himself from his son and started over towards the Grail's guardian.

"We have got it! Come on!" Indy wheeled to see that Elsa had taken advantage of the momentary distraction to seize the Grail once more.

"Elsa! Elsa -- don't move!!" The woman ignored the warning and the cold glare from the senior Jones, continuing to back toward the entrance.

"It's ours, Indy. Yours and mine." "Elsa, don't cross the seal. The knight warned us not to take the Grail from here."

A warning rumble punctuated Indy's warning. This penetrated the woman's treasurelust, and she looked around her uncertainly. The entire structure began to quiver and shake, the ground heaving underneath their feet. The remaining bearers and soldiers bolted for the exit, desperate to escape before the collapsing mountain buried them all alive. A particularly strong shock threw Elsa from her feet and the Grail flew from her hand, bouncing end over end along the earthen floor. A crack suddenly opened in the earth. Elsa seemed to be aware of nothing but the Grail. She chased after it again, only to have her momentum knock the cup into the crevice. Groping for the prize, she slid as the gap became an ever widening and seemingly bottomless chasm. She regained her balance for a moment on the lip of the chasm, only to be tossed to the other side by the tremors. She screamed as she was unable to gain another handhold and began to slip, only to be caught at the last possible moment. She looked up to see Indy, stretched on his stomach, clinging to her outstretched hands. As much as she had to answer for in his eyes, the desperate terror on her face just then would have moved even someone far more hardhearted than Indiana Jones.

"Junior! Junior!" Henry's cries echoed in the distance as Sallah pushed him to the ground to protect him from the worst of the tremors. Indy started to get his purchase to haul her up when she wrenched her hand free. The Grail was caught on a ledge, tantalizingly close, yet just out of reach. Groping frantically with her just-too-short arms, she was aware of nothing but the prize she sought. Indy's sweat­slick palms slipped on her leather glove.

"Elsa. Don't, Elsa. Your other hand, honey. Give me your other hand!" Her frantic squirmings to reach the Grail were making his grip more and more tenuous. "Give my your other hand, Honey! I can't hold you!"

"I can reach it," she grunted, stretching and contorting in an effort to grasp the Grail. "Elsa! Give me your hand! Give me your other hand!" Her hand suddenly slipped from the leather glove, and the horrified scream echoed long after she must have reached the bottom of the abyss. Indy cried out in surprise and shock, staring after her, when the edge suddenly gave way under his weight. Now it was he whose fall was abruptly halted by a viselike grip.

"Junior, give me your other hand." Henry's face contorted with the effort as gravity caused his son's weight to swing around. "I can't hold on."

Indy was now facing the Grail. "I can reach it," he whispered. "I can almost reach it, Dad." His fingers were just touching the Grail, trying to nudge it into a position where he could get a grip on it.

"Indiana." The voice was too soft to penetrate Indy's desire to get the Grail back for his father. "Indiana." This time he looked up, noticing the soft, gentle tone and the strain and worry on his father's face. Most of all, though, he noticed his father's first use of his chosen name. "Let it go."

Father and son's eyes locked for a long moment. Indy's expression was pleading as he still tried to roll the Grail within reach. He gave the Grail one backwards glance, then stretched out both hands to his father. With a grunt and a heave, Henry managed to drag his son back onto solid ground. Indy thought with relief that the time his father had spent with both the Oxford and Princeton rowing teams had probably just saved his life.

There was, however, no time to dwell on such things now. The building was shaking itself apart around them. Escape was the first priority. The two men scrambled uncertainly to their feet. Marcus and Sallah raced past, making their escape now that they knew Indy was safe. He started to join them, only to see his father standing stock-still behind him, eyes fastened on the figure of the knight. The expert eye of the medieval scholar drank in every detail of clothing and accoutrement. So much he could have told them, answers to the many questions surrounding the period of the Crusades.

"Please, Dad." Indy grabbed his father's arm to try to guide him to safety.

The knight stood on the landing, watching them, his expression sad and resigned. Henry gave his son a questioning glance, then turned back to the knight. "Come with us."

"No, it is not meant to be. My place is here." He and Henry regarded each other another moment, then Henry gave him a courtly bow, a gesture of great respect, tilting his head downward with his hand over his heart. The knight responded in kind, then waved farewell before heading back to resume his lonely vigil.

Indy used his grip on his father's arm to hurry him along, past the destruction which was now surrounding them. Just seconds behind them, statuary fell and pillars toppled as the building was totally destroyed. A puff of smoke from the shattered stonework dogged their heels as they emerged into the sunshine.

Indy stood apart from the others, quietly staring at the ruin. Sand crunched softly under Henry's feet as he approached. "Elsa never really believed in the Grail. She thought she'd found a prize."

Indy turned to face his father, his voice soft with emotion. "What did you find, Dad?"

"Me?" He looked slightly upward, the~ smiled slightly, his eyes gentle. "Illumination. They headed toward the horses and mounted. Henry looked across at Indy. "And what did you find, Junior?"

"Junior!" Indy echoed indignantly, the moment gone. "Dad...." Indy lifted a finger to remonstrate with his father.

"Please," Sallah interrupted. "What does ­this always mean, this, this junior?"

"That's his name: Henry Jones, Junior.

 "I like Indiana," Indy forced out through gritted teeth, addressing the pommel of his saddle.

Henry bent over towards his son. "We named the dog Indiana!"

"May we go home now, please?" Marcus chimed in. He was familiar with the arguments between the Junior and Senior Joneses. If one started now, they'd never make the oasis before nightfall.

The dog?" Sallah echoed. You were named after the dog!?" He laughed uproariously.

Indy ducked his head in embarrassment, then shot his father a dirty look. "I've got a lot of fond memories of that dog."

Henry finished fastening a cloth on his head to protect it from the noonday sun. "Ready?" Indy asked. Henry glanced at the sun, then answered "Ready!"

"Indy! Henry! Follow me! Out of the way! Yeah!" He urged his horse into a gallop and headed out of the valley, slipping and sliding precariously on the horse's back as he went.

Indy and Henry looked at each other. "Got lost in his own museum, huh?" Henry asked conversationally.


Henry gestured politely with the palm u: his hand. "After you, junior."

"Yes, sir! Ye-aagh!" He urged his horse into a gallop and raced after his overly ambitious friend, followed by Sallah and Henry. They twisted through the canyons ar~ out into the flatlands, where with a sudden burst of speed Indy was able to catch up to steady Marcus. Now together, the group headed out into the sunset.