Chapter 12: "Out In The West Texas Town Of El Paso ."
Fred trudged back to the hangar, as if weights were attached to his ankles. As slow as his gait was, he was still ahead of Velma and Shaggy. The former moved stiffly while the latter's legs wobbled like jelly. Scooby slunk with his head low, quietly whimpering.
Thinking of turning back and scowling at the dog's whining Fred stopped as he reached the doors.
But the combination of coming to a halt, his friends' continued shocked silence, and Scooby's sudden stop made things temporarily quiet
.just enough to hear a low beeping sound. The sound came from a row of lockers near the entrance to the hangar. Curious, the tall archaeologist moved toward the doors, trying to determine the location.
"Fred," a woman's voice said, and he felt Velma's hand on his shoulder.
"I thought I heard something
She shook her head. "I didn't hear anything. Look, maybe you're just
He waved her off. "There it is again. I think it's coming from over here," he said in a curious tone.
"Even if you did hear something, it's probably just some sensor or alarm
Fred put a finger to his lips, his expression indicating that Velma ought to remain quiet. He pawed at the door of the closest locker. Finding it locked, he picked up a nearby rock and banged until the door gave way. Looking inside, he was greeted only by his reflection, causing his shoulders to slump.
"Mmmmph!" A muffled sound caught his attention. He looked down and his jaw dropped. There was Daphne sitting at the base of the locker. Her arms disappeared behind her back, but the ropes binding her legs and ankles around her boots were fairly obvious. Her eyes glared angrily at him above her new white scarf, which wrapped around her head and was jammed between her teeth. Clearly she was unhappy at being a captive yet again.
Fred simply gaped for what seemed like several minutes. Through her gag, Daphne made stifled sounds indicating a desire to be set loose. Trembling, Fred knelt and untied her ankles, then the ties binding her legs. She stopped making noises, but fixed him with an inquisitive stare. A moment later, he slipped the gag from her lips, replacing it with his lips. After a brief hesitation, she kissed him back, as if considering whether or not to respond in kind. Now Velma and Shaggy were speaking rapidly, but the couple seemed not to hear them.
Daphne's mouth worked its way free from her husband's. "Uh
"Mmm?" He had returned to nuzzling her cheek.
"Uh, my wrists
still tied, ya know."
A minute later, Daphne was rubbing her hands to renew the circulation. "What happened to you?" Shaggy stammered.
Daphne glanced over at the lanky graduate student. "When you guys took off to look for Wickles, you'll remember that I offered to stay with the Staggerwing, in case we needed to take off again. Well, about a minute or so after you guys left, Thorwald sneaks into the plane and hops out with a gun in his hand, pointing at me."
Velma blushed and ducked behind Fred.
The redhead's expression darkened. "I knew we shouldn't have trusted that creep. He bound me with some ropes, gagged me with my own silk scarf, and stuffed me in this locker." She glanced over at the empty space where the plane had been. "Now he's stolen my plane, joining Wickles, no doubt."
She glanced at Velma and Fred, noting an absence of concern. "For folks who just lost a powerful element like Mysterium, you three don't seem too broken up about it." Shaggy smiled, Velma shrugged her shoulders while Fred struggled to tell her some coherent explanation, only just realizing Thorwald's sacrifice.
"So he kidnapped me to get me out of the way, so he could go after Wickles. And the Mysterium's
wait, don't tell me
I've lost another plane?! Dad's gonna KILL me!"
Fred grasped her tender wrists. "I thought I'd lost you
." he cried, tears streaming down his face.
"Now you know how I felt when you pulled that little fake poison stunt in Russia," she said sharply, though softening his expression as he moved in for another embrace.
The party at the downtown Plaza hotel was reminiscent of recent V-E days. Eager to avoid the public relations fiasco, the military flew the despondent parents of the lost Japanese children down from North New Mexico for a grand reunion
on the government's dime, Donovan darkly noted, nearly collapsing at the bill. But given what could have happened, it was a small price to pay.
Bitterness and enmity could have made such an event turn ugly easily, but the parents were simply overjoyed to have their children back in their arms. Rather than be traumatized, many of the children were excitedly telling tales of caves, buried treasure, and the dramatic gunfight outside the cave that they secretly witnessed.
The hero of the night was Short Round. He received a medal for watching over the kids until General Nessmeyer's troops arrived an hour later, as well as for standing up to the villains.
Even the Army, eager to avoid the scandal of the traitor in their midst, played up Major Thorwald's role in bringing down Wickles and destroying the deadly Mysterium, claiming he was working undercover to bring the saboteurs to justice.
Of course, the quintet of sleuths, now known as Mystery Intelligence-13 or MI-13 for short, received little credit, but that was the nature of their work. Headlines would bring unwanted attention to the group, inhibiting their work on future projects.
But that did not mean the gang would go unrewarded, Fred mused as he spotted Shaggy and Scooby slumped in a corner, surrounded by husks of tasty Tamales. Velma was frantically outlining a scientific paper on the properties of Mysterium.
"The American troops in Italy got my seaplane back when they liberated Venice," Daphne beamed. "I can't wait to fly the ol' girl again."
Fred grinned. It would be like Donovan to find a plane on the cheap rather than spring for a brand new one.
As for his own reward, this came in the form of a promotion in rank and pay. It wouldn't seem like much, but it would supplement his teaching pay considerably. As for the Hollywood screenplay he planned to write about their adventure
"Well, Dr. Jones, I have to say I'm impressed."
He turned around, half expecting another officer or local reporter, but the voice sounded vaguely familiar. Though he was out of place wearing a tux, without his signature fedora or bullwhip, Indiana Jones was certainly a familiar sight.
it's an honor!" Fred responded.
"Maybe first names will be easier," the world-renowned archaeologist admitted.
"What are you doing in El Paso
Doc-I mean Indiana?"
The well-dressed character with the white dinner jacket gestured toward the Chinese kid on the stage in the ballroom. "Shorty and I go way back
.to Shanghai in fact, before we were involved in the war. I have to say, after hearing about your exploits from Colonel Milton, you've certainly proved to be a member of the 'Jones family.'"
Fred blushed. "We're
not relatives or anything
The elder Jones chuckled. "Not that I'm aware of, at least. Besides
do you think you have anything in common with my Dad?" His thumb gesture indicated the older man with a beard and spectacles, locked in conversation with Velma.
"No more than you
.Junior." Now it was Fred's turn to chuckle as Indiana blinked in surprise.
At that moment, a gorgeous redhead in a slinky purple dress approached the pair. Now it hit him. "Daphne?" Indiana gaped. She was no longer the cub reporter he had charmed back in Europe several years ago. Fred looked mildly worried.
"Would you mind, Doctor Jones," she said off-handedly, giving him no more notice than one of the well-dressed waiters. My husband and I have business to attend to."
After she led him by the arm, Fred finally spoke. "I
"Worried that I still feel something for him," Daphne laughed in a melodic tone that resembled wind chimes. "I'm completely over him. But I have fallen for another Doctor Jones." She clasped his left hand with her right, and maneuvered his right hand around her waist while she draped hers over his neck. "I've got a surprise for you, Fred. I'm gonna teach you the latest dance steps from New York City
so you won't look like you have two left feet out on the floor with me."
"I've got something for you too," Fred beamed. He freed his left hand and made a signal to the Hispanic band leader, who struck up a fast-paced number that seemed to involve a guitar and violin dueling for the dancing couples' affection.
Her jaw dropped in shock as Fred began spinning about with her to the beat. "You
you know how to dance! And that song
"That's right Mrs. Jones," Fred grinned a mile wide as his wife's surprise. "It's Django Reinhardt's song titled 'Daphne.'"
Meanwhile, Velma and Henry Jones Sr. were locked in conversation. "Working on a Mysterium paper," he said, clearly bemused. "But I thought you hated
Velma put her pen down. "Since it no longer exists, I thought the world should know about what it was, how destructive it was, so people would think twice about it as they raced to make weapons that are increasingly more destructive."
"Do you think we'll ever learn?" he asked. "You and I know, at least, that this government's already preparing something just as lethal not far from here." The latter part Henry whispered, furtively glancing around as he said as much.
Velma's look was non-committal. "I have the feeling that once someone sees just how deadly these things are, they may choose to never use them after the first few times, as a result."
She took a break from her scribbling on hotel stationery to watch Fred dip Daphne at the center of the dance floor. Her sigh was unfortunately audible.
"The mystery I want to solve is why a smart and attractive woman such as yourself is acting like a wall flower at the biggest party this town has probably ever seen." His hand waved across the tables and chairs and dance floor.
She spotted Indiana Jones, who grinned and gave her a nod. At his side, the teenage Short Round waved encouragingly. A short distance away, the Greek archaeologist Lysander Demos, dressed in a black tux was striding in her direction with a pair of glasses and a bottle of wine. To his right, the bespectacled Adam Stern stepped away from his friend Buster. After a quick glance toward Velma, he waved to the pretty Latina selling roses, and made his purchase. The bespectacled girl's survey of the room even took her eyes to the man seated with her at the table. Though much older, he had the qualities that made younger women like her swoon.
"You're right Henry," she smiled shyly. "Thanks."
She walked toward the dance floor, where Shaggy and Scooby were goofing about, mimicking the other couples in their dance steps so that they could make their way more closely to the desert table.
"May I cut in?" she inquired. After a moment's hesitation and a shrug of his shoulders, Shaggy unhooked himself from the clearly disappointed Scooby, and held Velma much the way Fred had first tentatively held Daphne.
"Know any dance steps?" she asked as the band played Count Basie's "Jumpin' at the Woodside."
Shaggy tried to guide Velma somewhat toward the Sopapias the waiters had just brought from the kitchen. "Just the cake walk
and that song about sitting under the apple tree or something
." he managed.
with anyone else but me
" she finished, gazing up into her eyes. The look seemed to throw Shaggy off whatever rhythm he was maintaining, and he stepped on her toes.
"Ow" she yelped, then swung the gangly graduate student away from the Mexican honey delight on the table inches from them. Now I know what they mean by 'love hurts.'"
Head slinking down at being separated from his buddy, Scooby sauntered back to the tables. As he turned to watch his missed opportunity at the new treats on the dinner table across the room, a hand stroked his ears.
"Don't worry ol' pooch
I know just how you feel," the bearded man with glasses spoke in a heavy voice. Scooby's smile returned. The only thing that beat a pile of deserts was a nice skritching behind the ears. "Ranks a rot." The elder Dr. Henry Jones couldn't help but laugh.
At that moment, one of the small Japanese boys held up the piece of paper to evaluate his subject. It was an excellent replica of the large dog to his left side.
"That's a good drawing Iwao!" his mother complimented.
Mr. Takamoto, who had just taken notice of the sketches, pored over drawings of the agents who had rescued his son from the caves of New Mexico. His son sure had talent, he mused. Perhaps his works would fetch interest at school
a local gallery
or even some Hollywood studio!