This story is by Michael Hotchkiss and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Amanda, Pete and Rob were new to the jail-breaking business. If Rob had not been wrongly convicted of assault, none of them would have ever thought of orchestrating one. College degrees and well-paying jobs did not a conspiracy to commit a felony make.
They were three months in the planning and a few hours from executing a plan to break Rob out of the Cheshire Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in the middle of Connecticut.
Amanda and Pete were sitting in a breakfast nook at their condo in Branford overlooking the Long Island Sound. Amanda had just poured them coffee and Pete was plucking grapes from a bowl while looking intently at a hand drawn map.
Amanda said, “Hey Pete. I’m worried that we didn’t get the blackout timing right It makes me nervous that we give Rob 15 seconds to get from the middle of the yard to the fence.”
“I get it.” replied Pete, “That’s one of the many guesses we had to make. We had to guess the location of the guards on watch, etc. We are at the stage where we should focus on executing the plan, not second guessing our assumptions. There were a lot of assumptions in the ‘Brinks Job’ too.
Amanda replied, “I know. It’s just this is finally sinking in. We’re breaking a felon from prison! It’s not a damn movie, we’re actually going to do this!”
Pete reached across the table and stroked his wife’s hand. “Thanks for the coffee,” he said, “We have to remind ourselves why this is necessary. Not the right thing to do, not a crusade, but something that must be done to get Rob his life back. We know he was set-up by the corrupt DA to fall for the brawl at Toad’s Place started by the Governor’s silver-spoon son. Rob was just minding his business when the brat slapped that poor girl.”
“Wrong place, wrong time, wrong Governor.” Amanda agreed.
They looked at the map. Pete was pointing to the northwest corner of the prison yard. This was where they had been able to dig a tunnel a mere six hours ago. She recalled, “I remember when you first thought of this and I said you were batshit crazy. A few public records from the town hall and befriending one of the prison guards was all we needed to figure it out.”
“Smuggling in the two-way radio certainly helped.” said Pete.
They continued rehashing their efforts in a way to build confidence in their sketchy plan.
“Yes,” said Pete, “When this is over, The Gov’s office will certainly question the design. A gap cut through the outer fence and a ‘Great Escape’ tunnel dug under the inner; almost seems too easy.”
“Love Steve McQueen in that flick,” crowed Amanda.
“That’s why I’m calling you ‘Bullitt’!” Pete laughed.
They went back to discussing the steps for the evening. Amanda was slow to dispel doubts. The guessing part was still bothering her.
Rob sat in his 10 x 10 cell and continued a running dialogue with himself. Skeptic Rob battled with Upbeat Rob:
God, I can’t believe I’m going through with this. So many things can go wrong with the plan.
Just think about all the details. Pete and Amanda are the best.
It’s just all the guessing. Yeah, I was able to give them paced off distance to the fence and yeah, I weaseled the yard schedule from a bored guard, but blacking out the prison and getting under one fence and through another in 15 seconds?
It’s a stretch. If I were to call it a guess, I would use ‘educated’. Jeeze, it’s only 60 feet of ground to cover. Remember breaking 12 seconds in the 100-yard sprint in school? This is only 20 easy yards.
Real Rob laughed at himself as he took a pace and spun around to represent each side of the discussion. Prison may be getting to you, thought Real Rob. He realized now was the time to rehearse the plan in his mind yet again.
Tonight, at do exactly as what was done for the last month. Don’t scratch your nuts or the walkie-talkie could fall out of your jock. After five minutes, go to a spot in the northwest corner, ten paces from the fence facing inward. Hit the transmit button on the radio and hold it for five seconds. Pete and Amanda will know I’m ready.
After the power goes out, pivot 180 degrees and run like hell to the spot. Find the dirt covered plank of wood, slide it aside and slither under the de-electrified fence. Turn 45 degrees to the north and run to the exterior fence where Pete will be with the fence spread open.
Forget it! Leave out the final steps of darting to the large oak tree where two Vespas are hiding under sticks and leaves. Traversing an open field to Rte 10 where you make a turn into the alley near the clock tower and ride the Vespas up the ramp to an idling moving truck with Amanda in the driver’s seat. Nothing could go wrong with this?
Dammit, I’m Andy Fucking Dufresne! I didn’t even get to the part when the lights come on.
You don’t have to. This should happen when Pete and I are almost to the Vespas. The search lights will come on automatically; protocol after an outage. The prison guards will assume the worst but will not know what, who or where. We’ll almost be to Rte 10 when they spot us. This is the part where Pete and I get shot from a sniper rifle.
It’s a medium security prison. Amanda told us they will not fire for any reason unless someone’s life is in danger. She was confident of this as her new guard friend had told her.
A lot of things I’ve been told about this is based on guessing and sketchy info from this guard Amanda made buddies with. I just hope he wasn’t bullshitting her. I’m tired of thinking about it. Eight hours until show time. Ready?
Pete had unearthed the junction box housing a simple switch he had installed less than a week ago. Pete was an electrician and knew things. Things like how easy it is to disconnect a 13kV High Voltage supply from a substation to a prison with a remotely activated fuse. Pete had rigged the feed a few nights previous. Cheshire is a sleepy town, so a man with a hard hat poking around a substation at 3 am didn’t attract attention. Plus, the station was off the main road, in a field, 60 yards from the northwest corner of the Cheshire Correctional Facility.
Pete adjusted the frequency and pressed the transmit button, “Bullitt, this is Basher” he said with a bad British accent, “Are you in position?”
He half whispered like a cop in a surveillance scene.
They had given each other “handles” ostensibly to avoid interception. They liked movies and used characters that fit the roles in their real-life production. ‘Banker’ was Rob’s character.
Bullitt replied, “I’m in the parking lot, ready to move to the alley.”
Basher checked the time, 6:55 pm. “Proceed, Operation Monte Cristo starts in ten minutes. See you in the alley. Love my Bullitt!”
“Love you too Bash. See you in eleven minutes and 30 seconds. Oh, I dig the character, but lose the bloody accent!”
Rob stood in the yard, ten-feet from the northwest corner, facing in. Don’t scratch your nuts! He depressed the transmit button through the front of his prison-issued jumpsuit and held it for five seconds.
The lights in the yard went out. Rob’s heart rate went up. The Banker turned around and ran. He didn’t notice the ensuing commotion. He got to the fence and found the board on the first try – holy shit! It slid across the ground as he slinked under the de-electrified fence. Andy Fuckin’ Dufresne!
He veered 45 degrees to the north and continued. His eyes had adjusted and he saw Pete’s dark figure straight ahead with an open gap in the chain link fence.
Sirens came to life and the floodlights came on. The Banker was at the fence within touching distance of Basher when the voice bellowed “HALT!”
“CUT.” The Director shouted. He moved forward with the stage crew applauding. “Great job guys.
“Do it just like that at the opening tomorrow night and we’ve got ourselves a Broadway hit!”
Real Rob was really Elliot. Starving artist and currently living on the street. He left by the stage door of the Palace Theater still feeling the satisfaction of plying his chosen profession on stage. His elation from the rehearsal quickly turned back to the despair of his situation. No home, no food, no money, no hope. Why wasn’t it as easy as it is on the stage? He thought.
Elliot rounded a corner into an alley between two brick buildings. He found the spot where he stashed his blanket and plastic bag with stale doughnuts that was tonight’s dinner, thankful someone or something hadn’t found his rations. He slumped down and waited to be broken out.