The rest of the fading day was spent tying up the last of his affairs. He oversaw the shipping of his effects—personally oversaw them loaded on the cargo ship—and made his apologies to the locals he'd hired. They had already been paid, so their mood was bordering on the ebullient, and the goodbyes were easier than he'd expected.
He mulled the Collinsworth's offer. The whole thing was ridiculous, of course, and he didn't give a nickel for their chances of finding anything in the dark reaches of the Amazon tributaries except disappointment and maybe a tropical disease. Still, the thought of simply throwing in the towel over the aborted expedition and returning to another semester of classes stung him like a scorpion. The world was inching toward another war, and this one had the potential to engulf the entire globe far beyond just Europe. If this boondoggle was anything to go by, the expeditions would begin to dry up. Besides, maybe he could keep the Collinsworths and their merry crew from getting themselves killed on this fool quest.
It was dark by the time Indy returned to his room. He was on the third floor of a modest but tidy hotel that overlooked a narrow, winding street. The small lobby was empty, but the front desk was staffed by a gentle-eyed old man who worked the evenings. He nodded at Indy, and Indy waved hello and trudged to his room. If he'd had his wits about him, he would have sensed something wrong when the door opened without his key or noticed the draft from the open balcony door, which Indy had certainly closed and locked when he left. The day's events, however, had left his mind sluggish and recalcitrant.
"You leave without saying goodbye, I think?" a voice said from the darkness. Indy muttered an obscenity and turned on the light. The room was spare with most of his things packed. The only things currently not owned by the hotel were his open suitcase, his shaving kit, the leather jacket draped over a chair, and Gustavo Abreu sitting on the bed, pointing Indy's .455 revolver.
"I guess I asked for this," Indy groused as he made his way to the sink and ran the water.
"My men were supposed to bring you to me. Join me for dinner. But they returned to my home in very bad condition."
Indy splashed water on his face, cleaning away the sweat and dust of the day. "Then you should have asked me in person."
"And that is what I am here to do. But here I am, and I find this," Indy looked over and saw Abreu holding up the gun. "I thought you were an American archeologist, but I think maybe you are more an American cowboy. Like the ones from the pictures."
Indy toweled his face. "I'm learning that Santarem is a dangerous town."
Abreu clicked his tongue and got off the bed. At his full height he was still only about five foot four, but he had a squat, solid body like a fireplug. The kind of body that could absorb a lot of punishment, as proven by the livid scar that snaked down his left cheek. The well-tailored suit couldn't hide that. "Santarem is a city like any other it has rules and laws. The police, well they enforce the laws. And the rules, Doctor Jones, the rules are enforced by men like me."
"Spare me the sociology lesson, Abreu. Our deal was based on the expedition. The government scuttled it. There's nothing else to say. You have a problem with that, take it up with the local government. Do your civic duty. Vote early, vote often."
"Oh yes, our arrangement. The workers to dig in the dirt. Protecting your valuable equipment from thieves at the port and corrupt customs officials. I did a great deal to smooth those things over. I paid many men. Now, I expect a return on my investments."
"You can have what I got. That's it."
Abreu's affability fell like a burial shroud. "If I wanted your wallet, Doctor Jones, there are a hundred street urchins I could hire to steal it."
"The people have been paid, Abreu. And let's not pretend those thieves and customs officials aren't on your payroll. My wallet would be a net gain."
Abreu leveled the gun. "Perhaps you give me something more valuable."
"Oh, what's that?" Indy asked sauntering over to the man with the gun.
"An example, Doctor Jones. A message to my town that the rules must always be obeyed."
"You think you can kill an American? Here on official business for an American university? A scientific study? You'll never get away with it."
Abreu sneered and leveled the gun. "When the police discover you it will be in very embarrassing circumstances. Perhaps a dispute with a local whore went badly for you and—"
Indy snapped the towel—the same as snapping his whip—and while it didn't connect it made Abreu flinch and gave Indy time to rush him like a linebacker. He hit Abreu low and slammed him backward out the open door and into the thin balcony railing. It gave way and Abreu fell into the dark night. Indy grabbed the doorframe, fought his momentum and listened to Abreu's startled cry become a dull thump.
He locked up his suitcase and pulled on his jacket. When he passed the night clerk, he left a wad of bills. "Checking out," he said.
"But," the clerk stammered as he counted the bills, "but it is too much."
"You'll need it."
On the street, he collected his gun from Abreu's body and checked the timing of the cylinder. Still functioning. It was a tough gun.
Indy made his way to the port.