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Are You Going To San Francisco?

by vigournet 

Posted: 27 July 2012
Word Count: 1069
Summary: A short story of one man's escape from prison.

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The cell was eight feet wide. A stained and cracked ceramic sink stood against the wall adjacent to the filthy toilet which had no seat. My cell door was solid steel with a sliding hatch for food and a small "peep-hole". Drawings, rude limericks, names and dates were etched into the crumbling wall above my mattress. The tiny window was too high to look out of without a climb.

"Lights out" crackled loudly through the speaker above the door. Pulling the string cord, I turned out the naked light bulb and was immersed in an inky blackness, left in the dark with my thoughts. Sounds of the guards enchoing voices faded as the night wore on. A blanket of eerie quiet descended.

Adjusting to the long lonely nights in Alcatraz's correctional facility took most inmates a few weeks or months. The cons were hard-timers, mainly lifers, most needing a maximum security detention due to the violence of their crimes. I was there, not because of any murder or rape, but to ensure I remained incarcerated. I had escaped seven times in five years. The Rock was regarded as essential for my continued rehabilitation, or so the warden had said.

"You know why you are here, Scott? A judge and jury found you guilty of fraud, and you must serve your sentence in full," so lectured the warden, a balding portly man called Blake.

Sweating profusely, despite the cold, he added, "There will be no escape from here, and any attempt will add more years to your sentence."

With my humblest nod and expressions of remorse, I said, "Yes, sir. I appreciate that. Thank you, Warden."

I hurriedly scanned his desk, filing cabinets, waste bins and shelves, for anything I could use. Distracting him subtly by switching my vision to his window, I pocketed a metal twelve inch ruler. Maybe I could sharpen it later. It would be a handy weapon.

"It's no use gazing out of the window. During two-hour yard exercise you'll be watched by the guards in the wall towers. I repeat. There will be NO escape. Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir. Of course, sir. Sorry sir."

Walking around the grey dirt yard for two hours a day was our exercise. The swirling wind whipped water from the ocean waves and hit our faces like cold hard rain. Giving an occasional nod to inmates and plunging my hands into my pockets, I walked the rectangular perimeter. Conversations were seldom long to avoid suspicious looks from the armed guards in the towers on the cold cement walls.

My opportunity was growing, however, during the weekly Sunday service in the prison chapel. I used any skills I had or learned to generate sympathy and conversation. The Methodist minister was eager to listen to my tale of woe. An appointment was made for a meeting in the library later that week.

Inmates felt the separation and isolation that prison life created. We were meant to regret being there ,on Alcatraz island life behind bars was punishment not rehabilitation. Boisterous sea waves crashed against the bleak rocks reminding any of the futility of escape. Attempting escape many had drowned, died of hypothermia, been eaten by sharks, or been driven crushingly onto the rocks.

"Good morning, number 17501, how are you feeling this afternoon? This is my last appointment this week," the minister prompted sympathetically.

"Call me, Scott, please," I suggested. I knew, of course, that mine was the last interview. It was part of my plan.

"Certainly, Scott it is then. Are you still feeling homesick and depressed?"
Feigning tears and brokenness I shook and sobbed, hoping that the minister was tactile and I had guessed correctly about his sexuality. My ruse worked, the clergyman came to place a tender hand upon my shoulder. Gazing upwards into his face I placed my hand upon his, watching for a response.

"You'll get used to it, Scott. It will get easier."

"But I miss my boyfriend so terribly. When I was transferred here I was devastated," I lied.

I started to sob again, hoping that it would encourage him. Sure enough he put both arms around me and gave me a hug. Seizing my moment, I turned my face towards his and kissed him on the lips. I met resistance at first, but soon found the kiss being returned, but he seemed to panic.

"No, we can't!" he pleaded.

"Please, I need you. Let's go into the small office. I want you."

In the security and privacy of the office, the minister lost all inhibition as we removed each other's clothes. After a short time of caressing and foreplay, I grabbed him and, using strips of cloth I had secreted days before, I placed a gag over his mouth and tied his hands and feet. The minister sobbed, shaking, as I tied him to a table leg and donned his clothes. A near perfect fit.

I walked quickly from the library to the hall and guard room, pulling the collar of the Methodist minister's overcoat to cover my face. Blowing into my hands, my body language expressed the cold, as I avoided eye-contact with the uniformed guard. Solid steel locks clunked together as the doors opened and I was on the outside of the prison, braced against the cold wind. Carefully, I descended the rocky steps down to the motor-boat docked and waiting for me.

Nervously, I stepped into the boat as it rose and fell with the current, waves splish sploshing against the jetty. Powering the diesel motor, the ferryman moved across the waves towards my freedom. Every second as the craft moved over the water I focused on the distant shore, rising in the grey mist, which was getting closer and closer.

Ear-piercing sirens sounded on The Rock. I shrugged my shoulders towards the boat's owner.

"Don't ask me, my son. I was on God's work and have seen no trouble," I explained to the man as we slowed up. Placated, he opened the throttle again, and we sped towards the jetty.

Disembarking the boat I wished the boatman "God speed", and quickly made my way towards the San Francisco bus station. My plan was to catch the first bus leaving the terminus and get to any place. I knew that as a fraudster and con-man I would try again, hopefully I would not be caught. The cells were getting smaller.

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