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Indiana Jones and the Federal Way crusade | Andy Hobbs
Once upon a time in the middle of another adventure, the whip-cracking archaeologist Indiana Jones drove to Federal Way.
The action hero wasn’t searching for the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant. Rather, on his way to Seattle, Indy exited the freeway in Federal Way to find a sacred restroom.
He parked at The Commons Mall and entered an unmarked door.
As soon as the door shut behind him, the floor rumbled and shook. A bus-sized boulder picked up speed as it rolled in Indy’s direction. He took off like a cheetah on steroids, dashing in the direction of a faint light up ahead. He leaped over logs and ducked under branches as the boulder got hot on his heels.
As he neared an entrance to a room with the light, a garage-like door was creeping to a close, erasing the room’s light from top to bottom, inch by inch. Indy dived over several human skeletons and under the door with seconds to spare. The boulder stopped a few feet back, lodged in a cave-like arch. Seconds before the door finally shut, Indy reached underneath to snatch his dusty leather fedora.
The auditorium-sized room was hospital-style clean, with smooth white floors and walls. One light bulb dangled by a long cord from the center of the ceiling. Up against the far wall sat a sparkling porcelain toilet.
By this time, his bladder felt like a water balloon about to burst. He skipped over to the john, opened the lid and prepared for bliss.
“Hello,” came a voice from across the room.
“Ahhh! You scared the bejesus out of me,” Indy said. “Who are you?”
The elderly man rose from a wicker chair and leaned forward on a wooden cane, his long wispy whiskers about an inch from the floor.
“I should be asking you that question, my dear visitor,” the old man told Indy. “What is it that you seek?”
“I guzzled an entire pot of turbo-strength coffee this morning. Nature is calling,” Indy said, sweat dripping from his forehead. “By the way, how on Earth did this bathroom get here?”
The old man wheezed as he took a deep and pensive breath.
“Many years ago, our forefathers founded the great land of Federal Way. I settled here with my family and was often criticized for my unorthodox ideas. They called me a dreamer. Every idea I put forth to make life better was rejected by the status quo. Of course, I was also hearing strange voices in my head and was borderline schizophrenic,” he said. “Anyway, one day I decided, to hell with the status quo. I don’t care what they like. I am going to build my dream.”
“Your dream was to build a bathroom?” asked Indy, squeezing his legs together and trembling.
The old man laughed himself into a hearty coughing fit.
“Heavens no, although I do want to open a Starbucks in here,” he said. “Years ago, I was a fan of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ I wanted to create a tourist attraction to bring like-minded fans to Federal Way.”
“That explains the boulder that almost killed me on the way here,” Indy said, biting his lip because he really had to go. “Popular culture is also a popular cash cow. I bet something like this would get tourists flocking to Federal Way to spend their money at hotels and restaurants.”
“I thought so too,” the old man said. “Then one day, while taking a break from construction, I fell asleep, apparently for a long time. When I awoke, this mall was built on top of my site. The thought of not using a clean bathroom was too frightening to ignore, so I built my own. Today, I make the most of it. Remember, the best ideas are born in bathrooms.”
“That’s a great story, old man. Finally, an avant garde bathroom,” Indy said. “Look, I’m about to wet my pants!”
The old man smiled. “Yes, yes. Please do your business. To repay my hospitality, please direct your attention to the philosophical musings written on the wall above the toilet. If you wish to leave, you must read the sacred message and follow its direction. Then and only then will you pass the test.”
Nodding furiously, Indy finally opened the flood gates. Relief washed him from head to toe as Indy basked in a euphoria associated with reaching the porcelain promised land. With squinty eyes, he recited aloud a message scratched above the toilet: “Don’t look here. The joke is in your hand.”
“Gotcha!” said the old man, laughing. “Try the message below that one.”
Indy was a little disturbed by the old man watching him tinkle. Once again, he leaned closer to the wall, and recited these words of wit: “Don’t wait until tomorrow to make your mark today.”
Indy wrapped things up and flushed, then turned around. The old man was gone. In his place was one black magic marker. Puzzled, he tip-toed across the room and raised the metal door that led back to the cave. Outside the door were a dozen human skeletons, each one holding a black magic marker.
Indy grabbed the black magic marker from the old man’s empty chair. Next to the other two messages, on an otherwise blank wall, he wrote: “The struggle only makes you stronger.”
A breeze blew in the bathroom. The voice of the old man filled the air: “You pass. Previous visitors were not quite as brave.”
A door appeared in place of the toilet, light seeping through the outer frame. Indy re-entered Federal Way and the outside world, magic marker in hand.