Thursday, 6 October 2011

35) Rob and Helen escape

    Robert continued to fiddle at the combination lock behind his back. Helen had a little of the palsy so she was useless for the fine work. She was, however a great flirt and excellent at distracting the guards.
    The combination lock guarded the janitor’s storage room, the only room with a door to the outside that didn’t have an electronic gate alarm that would go off if they passed through it with their wrist bands on. And the guards were well meaning orderlies, but goddamn it Rob and Helen were getting the hell out of Sunny Homes.
    Robert thanked the dozen odd successful jobs that had afforded him a rebuilt nervous system and enhanced quick twitch muscles in his fingers and forearms. The operation had taken several days and the recovery was murder, but damn if it wasn’t a great investment.
    “Hee hee hee.” Helen’s loud warning giggle came from around the corner. Sweat broke out on Robert’s forehead. He felt for that last click and… Snap! The pin pulled out and Rob jiggled the lock so that it would still look closed, but he’d be able to open it later with a quick flick of the wrist. He tapped his metal cane on the wall twice, the signal for mission accomplished. He had had five minutes to jigger the lock before the next set of orderlies came by this wing for the four o’clock surprise inspection.
    Quickly Rob assumed the position of a lazy old man, hunched over and walked around the corner and back up the hallway to where Helen was flirting with the orderly, Jim or Steve, over a trolley full of romance novels and pulpy science fiction books.
    The orderly said, “Hey Mr. Franklin, howya doing?”
    Rob ignored them both and hobbled on by. He still had work to do.

    Helen kept the orderly busy for a few more minutes, showing plenty of cleavage and startling innuendo just for the shock value. Then she turned around without a word and walked after Robert. She passed the indoor swimming pool where a group of fellow blue hairs were executing synchronized water ballet. She passed the kitchen where she knew that if she were tall enough she could look into the door’s window and see the cooks emptying pre-made meals from large chrome bags into steaming pots to be warmed up. Eventually she walked by Rob’s door. She gave it a quick double tap in their prearranged pattern.
    Rob opened the door with his arms outstretched. She shuffled in and closed the door behind herself.
    They hugged for a good long while.
    Hellen said, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this.”
    Rob laughed.
    She didn’t care about his past, alienated family or not, jail time or not, this was the man for her. Sure he was the only one with enough marbles left to pull off this escape, but he gave such great hugs. Everytime, somehow, she melted into his embrace and the decades melted away.
    “Are you still sure you want to do this?” He asked.
    “Are you nuts? This place is killing me faster than the plague would.” She said, breathing into his chest.
    “That’s not the only thing that’s out there you know.”
    “Look, we’ll get an net-plant and we’ll be fine. My grandson has a trusted site and we’ll know what’s up.”
    “And we’re just going to walk into a Lucky Dragon and get a couple of packs? They take ID at the register. We’ll be screwed.”
    “I can just ask a couple nice young kids to help us out.”
    She grumbled.
    “Leave it to me, we’ll be fine.” She hummed a little tune in time with the strong beating of his heart.
    “I’m not even sure I can still get work.”
    “Are you trying to back out… Mr. Franklin?”
    “Pssft, not even. I just want you to know it’s going to be hard. No more three squares and a bunk. We’ll have to fight for our lives.”
    “We can farm gold if it comes down to it.”
    “Yea, I guess. But it’ll fry out my arms, and… god I’m so nervous.”
    “Wait a second, didn’t you help out with an assassination.”
    “Yeah, maybe.” She pulled back and looked up at his wrinkly face. He looked like an Italian Santa Claus, big white beard and tan skin, bright green eyes with the weight of the world behind them.
    He smiled and said, “We’ll be fine baby. Everything’s going to be okay.” He leaned forward and gave her a kiss on her forehead.
    She said, “Ok, let’s play the dumb old fogies and wait this out.”
    He nodded. She left his room. And they each kept themselves busy for the next hour. Rob put on his street clothes. Helen finished the fractal jigsaw puzzle her great grandson had had printed for her in the commissary.
    Come five thirty Robert Franklin and Helen Egan both arrived at the janitor’s closet and gave each other a soft high five.
    “Point of no return.” He said.
    She pulled open the lock and opened the door for him.
    He nodded and went through, she followed and closed the door behind him. The room was pitch black until Rob turned on his cane’s glow. They meandered through piles of boxes and ladders and complicated looking cleaning equipment. Eventually they made their way to the back door. It was locked. Without a word Rob pulled out two small pieces of metal from his coat, slipped them into the lock. Twist, click, and the door was open.
    Helen stifled a gasp. The early evening sun shone sideways down the small alley. Rob shooed her through, exited himself, and closed the door behind them.
    They held hands and walked down the alley to their stolen freedom.

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