Summary: Word Count 3983
Indiana Jones parody, where Indiana is Indigenous and trying to rescue the bones of Indigenous peoples from museums. Written from his internal dialogue based on old dime novel narrators over the top self-promotion.
Idaho Jack and the Rescue of Red Hawk
The lights of the city hid the stars under cold polluting orange. The cement beneath my feet crackled as my boots pushed me from shadow to shadow like a creeping wolf. The locals were much too savage and afraid of the dark to look deeply within the shadows around them. I ran my hands along the brim of my black Natani Nez hat and leaned back against the wall of stone across from a massive primitive artifice.
The smell of the place crawled in through my nose, and I wondered how any could choose to live in such squalor they called a city. I closed my eyes and tried to think of cleaner thoughts. The smell of cedar smoke in my nose, the pounding of drums in my ears, the feel of the earth against my moccasined feet. These were memories that got me through these visits to the savage lands.
I could hear those drums now, thrumming in my past, pulling me into my future. The steady rhythm of base hammering again and again through me as my legs moved my body and beat their own accompaniment to the drums. The weight of my regalia as it bounced and turned in sync with my body. The piercing scream of the drummers as they began their honor song.
For this is why I was here, in this forsaken land. Here to honor my family, my people, to make good on a promise so long ago made. The Society had come to me as a young man and made promises in exchange for my labor. Their goals were to save as much as they could of the people lost, and if I helped, they would make sure my own people were brought home. For that was the dream, that our grandmothers and grandfathers would one day be brought home to us. That the things that were stolen could be repatriated.
The sound of drums thrummed in my ears as I stood within the shadows. The ugly square edifice across the street was built to hulk over the populous. A monument to remind all those that had been conquered that what was theirs could and had been stolen. As is common in the less advanced civilizations they had created a vault filled with the spoils of their war criminals. A temple to supremacy. I tilted my hat brim down as locals walked past in the night. Once their footsteps ceased to echo I looked back up, the ugliness of stone and brick still stood, still held it’s stolen trophies, still prison camps for those spirited away in the night.
I slipped on the wet sidewalk and crashed down onto the cold cement before I climbed to my feet and ambled across the street. Even the most agile of deer, trip at times, and I thought nothing of it. My knees not once they once were ached from the fall, but I pushed through, as great warriors always do.
I began my circle of the building. There were no alleyways to hide my entrance to the building, but all buildings have walls less seen than others, and I had planned my approach carefully.
The blueprints for the building were safely stored in my steel trap of a mind. I had planned in detail on the plane ride over. The map had been old and wrinkled with parts missing, and to be fair I had only seen it for a few minutes, but it had been enough. I had given all the time between in-flight movies to this endeavor. One cannot have too much detail in planning.
Grandmother’s voice echoed in my head, like a nagging raven. She would not be happy if I failed in this most important of missions. I had promised her two things, and this would be the first I was able to accomplish.
The society had made good finally on half of our deal, and it was about time for it. I had spent a lifetime doing this work, work I loved, work that was needed, but still, I had agreed for a reason, a reason today would start me on the journey of accomplishing. We had made a trade, and they no right to complain.
The building was well lit around the front, but those lights quickly dimmed as I circled back to the employee entrances and past to the broken down parking lot behind. Trash was piled in the lot in clumps of cans and paper. I could taste the neglect in my mouth and felt amazed that even here at their sacred temple these people refused to show the proper respect due.
I had found it common that in some people’s yearning for a culture they never bothered to do a full job in creating one. Like they wanted to appear cultured, but just could not fully embrace the work it took to fully commit. They made a mask for the front of the building and cold ugly cement for the back, both were ugly, but at least the front tried.
This was a metaphor for what I had found through their society of social media activism and performative religion. They were all about representing their traditions without ever actually embracing them in their daily lives. Everything was for show, everything was for the consumption of others. When everything was about showing their faith, nothing became sacred to the bone.
I pushed in near the wall I wanted and looked above me towards the windows I knew would be my way in. The windows reflected the ever-present light pollution of the city back at me, giving just enough light to see where I would climb up. I coughed out the smell of pigeon and rat crap that emanated stronger here closer to the building.
I released my whip from its belt holster and snapped it at the overhang. The smooth warm handle cupped in my hand a reassurance that I was ready, a reminder of why I was here. The leather whip cracked in the air and fell back towards my face. My eyes narrowed as I gauged another attempt.
I snaked the whip around behind me for another attempt and noticed the stone and cement cracks in the wall before me. I wrapped the whip back into its holster and tested the crack. Just wide enough for my fingers and cowboy boot tips, and just strong enough to hold me. I began to climb with my bear-like strength.
I clambered heavily onto the darkened windowsill looking into the room beyond. I took a few moments to catch my breath after the half story climb. The cold stone pressed into my back as I leaned against the smooth glass breathing hard, and looked within.
The room beyond the window was white marble and shiny, filled with pedestals. On each pedestal lay artifacts for a display to the savage peoples of this land. Each piece was stolen in the dead of night from the rightful owners. The room was sterile and unlived. A place devoid of the daily joys a well-lived room would hold, not even a single blanket in sight, not even on the walls. I leaned against the side of the window and pointed my championship belt buckle at the glass.
The buckle was a large circle of silver covered in chevron designs and highlighted with turquoise and beadwork. The buckle, a gift from the Society, was specially made using the most modern technology and could handle most tasks I set it. The buckle worked by converting the kinetic energy of my hand waving before it into both power and commands.
I waved my hand in a complex pattern of wind and symbolism until a short laser of blue beamed from one of the stones. The glass etched and flared with a blue light. The laser struck the glass and cut a smooth circle just above the inner catch.
The laser flipped off as I waved my hand again. The window’s catch gave easily as I reached through the newly cut hole. I inched the window up slowly, ensuring no noise arose until it was just wide enough for me to slip through. My cowboy boots slipped upon the floor as I crouched down in the interior. My arms waved and I flounder for just a moment trying to silently stay upright.
It took only a few moments to find my cougar like balance. I had made it in rather easily. I smiled at how simple these temples were to enter. Such a primitive culture, and yet capable of so much damage to the world. They had spread across the globe and brought pain and suffering everywhere they went, and rather than be ashamed like any right-thinking people, they had built these monuments to their history as slavers and killers.
I pulled the window closed behind me. No reason to leave one of the temple guards a clue that they had been infiltrated. The marble floor made barely a squeak as I moved through the room with the stealth of a hunting eagle. I slipped easily through the pedestals, and towards the exit.
I moved in a low crouch toward the nearest door and peered out into the darkened hallway. I listened for the sounds of temple guards but heard nothing. Lazy and resting was my guess, that was just the ways of some people. Likely so assured at the rightness of their own cause they did not consider anyone would dare come to rescue their prisoners. A foolish thought in a culture of thieves.
I waved my hand before my belt buckle and a small screen of light popped up giving me info on the building’s security. I waved my hand a few more times signaling the device to connect to the many traps and surveillance systems. Making myself invisible to the cameras and lasers. Their security systems easily bested by my technology. I smiled and set off, watching the screen for alerts indicating pressure plates and other potential alarms.
The building was massive, and my time limited. I knew what I had come for. I knew the room it was in. But I had a distance to travel past guards and through doors before I could rescue them. I was here though, and I was not leaving without what I had come for. I followed my internal mapping into the darkness. It was time to hunt the treasures I had come for.
It took longer than expected to reach the room the treasure I sought would be found in. With my academic like studies, I was unsure why it took so long, but perhaps the building was more complex than I had anticipated. The endless hallways, nooks, rooms, and display cases were a maze of freshly gleaming marble and whitewashed stone. After several backtracks and false starts, all while hiding from guards, I finally found the door marked “stockage d’artefacts nord-américains.” My buckle made short work of the lock, and the door creaked open.
The room beyond was lit by dim bulbs along the walls, that barely illuminated the area around them. I gave silent thanks for my raccoon-like night sight. Shelves of wood and metal crawled along each wall, and the smell of dust floated in the air around me. The middle of the room was likewise filled with row after row of shelves that climbed up into the darkness above.
Each shelf was covered in brown cloth bags piled high. Each one like a silent testament to forgotten hordes stolen in war. Row after row of dusty brown cloth bulging from within as they sat unopened in decades upon shelves covered in small grimy labels of faded writing.
Surely this could not be the room dedicated to the priceless treasure I sought. I moved slowly and quietly through the room reading the many labels fading upon the shelf faces. Neglect had not been kind as age had steadily crept ahead since they had been labeled. I stopped cold as I spotted the name I had come to look for.
It was written upon a faded label in dark nearly illegible black, by some hand long since dead. I took a breath and lifted the bag above the label and a deeply unsettled feeling filled my heart. Surely this room could not be what I thought it was. I opened the bag slowly and looked within.
My heart stopped as the shame of this moment settled upon me. This room. This place. These people. They represented great evil. I stood and looked around again, taking in the entirety of the room. The size of it. The multitude of shelves. All these bags, most not even legibly labeled. Never to be identified again, never to have their homes found.
Never to be returned to their families.
I looked again within the bag, and the skull of Red Hawk, my great-grandmother, stared back at me. I closed the bag tightly and slipped it as carefully as I could into my carrier bag slung along my back. I took great care in sitting her comfortably and asked her forgiveness for the bumpy ride ahead. I could only hope she agreed a bit of a jostle would be outweighed by liberation. I adjusted the bag to ensure the safety of my ancestor before I turned to go. I made it to the door, before I turned again and looked at the room, took in the sight of all these ancestors stolen from their families.
The power of that sight drove me to the wall and I slipped down it curling upon myself as tears threatened to overtake me. I needed to do something. I needed to rescue them all.
My brain tried to work through the fog of sorrow, but it failed. Overtaken by the pain of the atrocity before me I wept. Only for a moment. I had to think if I was to find a way to empty such a large room. Weeping could come later. I needed to rescue these ancestors.
My body shook as much in rage as in sorrow. This was evil, pure and simple.
My weeping was broken by a yell from the doorway. I looked up into the face of a temple guard standing tall in his white shirt and black tie. He yelled in the city’s native language, and I lunged to the left as he drew his gun. My whip ‘cracked like a serpent’s tail’ without thought encircling his gun hand and yanking the gun into the air. He yelled out in pain.
I yelled out an apology as I jumped forward, back onto my feet and barreled past him like a charging buffalo. The sound of his gun going off as it struck the ground rang behind me and the yells of other guards followed me through the hallways and rooms as I sprinted forward.
The guards screamed threats in their native language, but I ignored them as I mourned those I left behind. I promised them quietly that I would return for them, I would not leave them here to rot. I would find a way, and I would return.
The window came faster then I had remembered, and I had only a second to wish I had left it open before I crashed headlong through it, holding my felt hat down to protect my face as glass rained around me in little-broken mirrors of my regret. I tumbled through the night like a soaring owl.
The hard cement of the industrialized world hammered into my boots as I landed on the walk outside and I took only a second to register my knees were not as young as they once were. The stench of the city’s rot filled my nose, and I coughed it up and shook my head in disgust at the people who lived so, the people who would hold ransom the dead of others. No not ransom, but as trophies to be shown to the world before closeted away to be covered in dust and darkness.
I was up and running through the night as the screams of the guards rang out through the night and sirens began to scream into the air. The city’s warriors would not be happy that I had freed one of their trophies.
I ran alongside the temple to war crimes and back into the street. The noise of my pursuers filled the air as I slipped into shadow. I would find my way home, I would escape this city of hell and rot.
It was not long before I slipped in beside the deep waters of a river looking for my ride home. I had moved through the shadows of the city to give the screaming sirens the slip but had been slowly pushed here, trapped between my pursuers and the water’s edge. Luckily it was the path I had mapped out.
The sound of footfalls filled the night, and I tiptoed silently down an unlightened wooden dock like a fox through the forests, hoping the darkness would hide me as my pursuers passed by. I made it to the end of the dock and began to crouch as the sound of boots on wood echoed behind me. The night should have hidden my escape, but it seemed my pursuers had tracked me successfully. Running water lapped against the dock around me.
I looked in frustration for my ride out, but there was nothing but dark waters around the dock. A throat cleared behind me, as a gun chambered a round. Realizing that I had been found, and a clean escape was no longer possible I stood tall and turned to put the river at my back. I was unsurprised by what I found before me.
The dreaded Belgian stood halfway down the dock, his gun pointed at my heart, his smile pointed at my failure. The man wore a tan shirt and dark brown jeans. His leather jacket looked worn yet professional and matched his dark brown sable fedora if not his pale skin. The Belgian had repeatedly failed to stop me from rescuing many ancestors, though he had tried.
Each time the Society sent me out he was there protecting the colonizers that had stolen the world’s dead. He believed the ancestors of others belonged in the temples he called museums that they had been hidden within. A protector of the colonizers’ loot. He had hunted me across the world, using the local warriors of each city to try and stop me.
Always to no avail.
True to form the warriors of this city stood around him. They each wore identical costumes of blue and brass, all with guns, likewise pointed at my heart. It is the sign of the primitive that they put so much faith in weapons of steel and powder because the spirit would always triumph over them. I turned sideways and ran my fingers along the brim of my black hat and smiled, like the coyote I was.
The Belgian began to speak in his sarcastic drawl, “Idaho Jack, I told you I would have you one day, and today is that day. You have nowhere to go, nothing but water around you.”
His accent rasped upon the wind. The sound of all villains, the twisted sounds of colonization, the beat of letters breathed out imperiously.
I slipped my whip from its belt loop and let it snake along the ground in my right hand. I kept my left free encase I needed my long knife or to work my buckle. My carrier bag slung low, and I shifted my body so the bag stayed along my back, only protecting my ancestor mattered. I firmed my stance and puffed out my chest before I responded.
“Come now Belgian, do you think I will go so easy.”
I slapped my chest in anger and challenge. Sometimes one must speak the language of the savage colonizers in order to keep their attention and make a point. One must not make a habit of it, for the ways of settlers are not the ways a decent person should live, but always we must be ready to speak their language of bravado and violence in order to survive within their lands.
The Belgian yelled out as if greed had taken hold of him at the thought of finally grasping his prey in his hand, “it is time for justice for all your thefts Idaho.”
I laughed, how could I not. He said his villain’s monologue with such a straight face. I heard the whispered words of his warriors behind him. They were not happy a civilized person had dared laughed at their savage prince.
“How can returning ancestors to their families be theft?” I asked sadly, hoping that this time, this place, he would finally understand, but I held no true hope that it would be so, and he did not disappoint.
“It belongs in a museum Idaho.”
I seethed, and hissed back, “she belongs with her people asshole.”
My words were cut short as he tightened his grip upon his gun. As I said it is common for the primitive man to rely on such violent tools. He squinted through the darkness, and the sound of wood dipping into water slipped from the air behind me. It was almost time. I would be glad to be done with this rotten city one way or another.
“Drop the bag, things will go easier if you return the item.”
The word “item” irritated me, I carried my ancestor at my back, not some bauble to be exchanged for better treatment. Not that I believed he would go easy on me. His kind had one punishment, the savage chains that would keep me from the freedom all humans had a right to. His people had perfected the human rights violation known as the prison industrial complex, and there was no way I would escape it if he got his hands upon me.
No, he had no plan to go easy on me.
I tilted my head and pointed both my lips and my whip handle at him.
“You should have shot me in the back.”
While he was distracted with bravado I moved my left hand to wave it before my buckle. The light that cascaded out was blinding in the darkness. I closed my eyes just as it flared before me. I leaped like a springing deer backward towards the waiting water. Gunfire filled the night, the wind of bullets fired high and wide slipped past me, and the dock cracked and shattered under the impact of those fired low.
I thanked my ancestors for their protection as my boots found air and my arms waved uncontrollably like the wings of a falcon. One might think as an outside observer that I looked unsteady or even clumsy in the air flapping my arms, but I could only worry about my perfectly held balance as I slipped through the air towards the cold water below.
The steady thrum of wood pulling through water suddenly grew stronger as the sturgeon nose canoe I landed in picked up speed. The sound of good solid wood reverberated as my feet struck the canoe’s rails. I found my balance with a few wavering attempts at standing. My compadre rowed for his life as I stood upon the canoe and watched the Belgian and his warriors become swallowed by the night.
“Get down before you tip us over you idiot,” Came the growl of my trusted sidekick and ally Sunday. I cursed at his need to ruin my amazing standing exit before finding my seat and grabbing an oar to help pull through the water. The trek home would be long and arduous, but I would not be coming home alone.
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