There was an urgency that I knew I should feel. They were after me. I knew it. I felt it, without feeling. It was a part of the circumstances with which I had allowed myself to be entangled. Those below, wanted me. I escaped. But I knew it could be short lived. I took the clothes and ran outside. I knew the path to the road that we drove to get here, but believed my needs were against following all reason and sense of propriety. So I ran the opposite direction, toward the trees behind the house and barn that I now believed were constructs to hide the facility below.
Entering the tree line, I moved like the freed captive I was. Limping, exhausted, a wounded turkey escaping the hunters. Moving through the brush, it was only a few dozen yards before coming upon a creek. I rapidly stripped off the clothes I had and jumped in. Using the sand from the bottom, I scrubbed myself clean. I peed freely into my surroundings, no longer concerned. Then, as quickly as possible, I dried myself and dressed. No shoes, so I put on the same old ones that I knew held some of my own piss.
After tossing the old clothes and towel into the creek to float downstream, I took off again. Away from the facility. Anywhere. I was in the dark, now in broad daylight. The forest now was added as another of my enemies. And saviors. Any that followed, were presented with the same hazards. I ran. Brambles, ferns, forests of mushrooms, avoiding the occasional path. Following an unknown direction. Using instinct. As I believe I should have weeks ago. That hindsight thing.
A clearing, a farmhouse. I was cautious. Several old trucks sat off to the side. A farm, I had hopes the keys would be in one. No one was in sight, I struggled over to the first. Keys were in the ignition. Getting in I realized that the key was on off, no starter position. What? The truck was old, I looked on the floorboard and there was a separate pedal by the gas. I depressed it, and the truck cranked and coughed, then gasped a horrific and noisy death on that first try. Wait, my memory took over and looked on the dash for a choke knob. It was there, pulled it out and tried again. Success. Jamming it into second, I dropped the clutch and roared off, down the bumpy road to freedom.
Well, a hundred feet to another gravel road. Thinking about the directions, I had run east, the gravel road to where that prison had been, lay west of me. To the north, that not so nice part of town we had driven through. The perfect place for me to blend in, to become invisible. To learn, to gather what I would need in order to return home. There was no real knowledge as to where I actually was. I knew we had exited the train station and driven south and west, past the Pentagon. I recognized that building. They had only driven fifteen, maybe twenty miles outside the capital into a rural area, with farms. Now, turning north, I blasted along the gravel road at close to twenty miles an hour. The motor coughing and sputtering. Criminy, the choke. I pushed it back in and the truck motor immediately smoothed out and sped up. To forty. It was an old truck. If I thought about it, that should be fine. Didn't want to draw attention to myself.
Before dressing, I had taken my wallet out of the soiled pants and now looked in it. Counting the bills, one hand on the steering wheel, the other thumbing through the money. Seventeen dollars. It smelled of piss. I no longer had a credit card to use. Lunch, two days and I had not eaten, I was hungry. I remember a diner, that's where I was headed, I could watch the road from there and monitor comings and goings.
At some point I knew that Mac, Sergey and Ivan, plus whoever else was in the facility at that time, would get the door open and search the garage. Turning off the garage lights indicated that they knew how far I had gotten, and that they had made it to those doors. In all probability Ivan could just rip the doors off their hinges and they would then initiate pursuit. Hopefully in the wrong direction. In all probability, by my reckoning, it had taken me less than twenty minutes to make it to the truck at the farmhouse. And another five to make it to the outskirts of the town, and to where the road I was traveling, was now paved.
As I got to what I believed was the main road that we had driven into the area, I turned left and drove until I could see the diner. Parking nearby, I crossed the street and walked over and into the chain restaurant. Warning signs all over and my skin prickled. The place was half filled, and most of those sitting at tables and booths were suited or in business attire. A few farmer types at the counter, the rest, not in any way casual. I stood for a moment, there were no warnings, no fears, no exclamations of sudden knowledge of my entering and having been found out. It was business as usual, no telltale feelings of anything out of the ordinary.
Thinking about it, I realized that this close to the capital there were probably a lot of people living out here that worked either for the government or with any number of hangers-on groups that occupied the capital at any given time. Staffers, assistants and lobbyists. Those wanting things, those trying to avoid them and some just collecting a paycheck. And they would dress nice. Relaxing, I walked over to the counter and sat where I could watch the road. The counter waitress approached with a menu and I just told her coffee and that big slam thing they had introduced a couple years back as a tribute to slugger Hank Aaron. Over easy, bacon, whole wheat and coffee. So far no one's feelings jumped out at me, no excitement of discovery, just an ordinary diner with working stiffs. I felt like I was home free.
As my coffee cup was being filled, I saw a string of those same black Lincoln towncars slow on the road behind me, then turn down the same road that I had been driven down just two forgotten days ago. Seven of them, all in a line. This time I looked, three had US Government plates on them. The others, Virginia. In reality, I had no idea what that meant. However the bigger question became one of desire. Did I want to know? Or did I just want more than anything to find my way back to Arizona and continue my life there the way that I had lived it for some time now. Well, all of my adult life I guess. I was twenty-eight, had spent over ten years as a drunk, conquered probably over a thousand women, and even before my escape, I owned very little. A backpack, maybe five sets of clothes and a book by Richard Brautigan. Poems. Given to me by my first love, a young girl, my best high school friend. She bit me on my shoulder, of which there are still scars to remind me of that encounter. The scars were all I had left of my past.
My life sucked. It took a stranger, Mr. MacGyver, to point that out to me. Now he was Mac, and for all I could tell, a traitor to his country. My country. God dammit, I might not be much, but I’m an American. Six weeks ago I was unhappy. Now, I knew more about my self, my gift and the world than I ever thought possible. Some of it I liked, some pissed me off.
My breakfast came. Eggs and hash browns fried in that horrific buttery flavored fake margarine. The bacon, flaccid and undercooked. The toast came with margarine. It was a curse to be a super taster and know all that stuff. I was hungry, I ate it all. More coffee and time to reflect on a course of action. What did I want to do? There really was only one course of action open to me.
There is knowing what is right, and thinking that you knew what was right for you. I wanted to return to my old life. And yet, I knew I could not do that. My old life was a dream, of sadness, sex and unfulfilled dreams. It might be right for me, but it was not in any way right. I knew what I had to do. There were government vehicles at the facility. Real government people. I had no idea how far the corruption went in the little organization that I had been introduced into. My belief was not that far. I could be wrong, but I had a gut feeling. Deja vue? Which ever it was, I finally needed to pay attention and act on what I knew was right. I had to go back. I had to take a stand. I had to expose what I knew was corruption. It was right. I needed to do this, to be free.
Getting up I pulled out a five and two singles, placing them under the edge of the plate, I got up to leave. As I got to the door I could see the woman behind the bar pick up the bills and sniff them. Oh well, not a lot I could do about the smell. Leaving the diner, my mind was made up. I walked to the old truck and got in.
This time, starting the thing was a breeze. Checking for traffic, there was none. I took off and drove down that same road I had been driven down two days previous. I drove slower, less dust. A mile down the road and the flashing lights and siren behind me startled me. Not what I had expected.
I pulled over, hoping he was just in a hurry and needed to pass. No such luck. He pulled up behind me. I stopped, turned off the motor and opened the door and walked over to the end of the pickup. Waiting, I leaned against the side of the bed. It took a minute or two and the sheriff got out of his patrol car and walked up close to me. He had a hand on his gun. Never a good sign.
“Hey there young fella. Watcha doin with old Ben’s truck?” He asked. Not yet ready to declare me a thief. Uncertainty he gave off for me to understand his actions so far.
“You know Ben?” I asked as nonchalant as I could exude. “Helping out. Ben’s my second cousin, I’m just here doing some stuff for him.” And I left it there.
“Didn’t know Ben had any other family.”
“Ya didn’t. Hunh.” Play dumb. Let him attack before trying anything.
“Nope, known old Ben all my life. He never said nuthin bout family. I think Idda known bout you. Ben talks a lot. Never said nothin bout any one.” Now that doubt started to creep into him.
“Yeah, probly not. My Ma is like sister to his brother’s first wife Angie. That makes us kin sort of. Anyway he said I could stay a bit.” And that doubt sort of started to fade. “They ain’t talked for years. Ben sort a didn’t want much to do with Ma and me after the divorce.”
Nodding a bit, that doubt was fading fast. Shit, now curiosity pervaded his mind. “Yeah, Ben talked bout a brother, what was his name?”
SHIT! I had to guess. Ben, what name would a family give another child. “Bob.”
“Yeah, now I member. Bob, he talked bout him long time ago. Shit boy. That was a long time ago. So’s why you here?”
There was no reason on earth why I should lie about this, so I didn’t. “Ah, broke up with my wife. She kicked me out. I drunk a lot. Ma sent me here to dry out, think bout life.”
Again that nodding. I was in. He believed. “Yeah. I got a divorce. Drank a bit. Takes time. Ben’s a good guy. Say howdy from Mac.” And with that he took his hand off the pistol handle and turned to leave. Then he turned to face me, extending his hand as if to shake it, he said to me. “Well, nice to meet you.”
As I shook the proffered hand, I was oblivious to the man’s feelings. I believed I was free and clear. It was done. I was out of trouble. Then he snapped the cuffs on my hand. Grasping that arm he spun me around and pulled that arm up high causing unbearable pain. Reaching past me he grabbed my other arm and pulled it behind me to affix the matching side of the hand cuffs to that wrist. I was done. He was good. He had to have prior knowledge of my gift. And now with my hands locked behind me, I had no other options. Then he turned me around and looked me in the eye. “Ben called in the stolen truck just minutes after you took off with it. Mac told me to look out for you.”
And there it was, caught. And not by my stupidity with continuing to drive the stolen truck, but by the scourge of my patriotism, the former Mr. MacGyver. Mac, I needed more information, I stopped. “So does Mac know Ben well?”
The sheriff stopped, he thought about that a moment. It was my opportunity. I jumped up and pulled my cuffed hands under my legs and up toward the sheriff’s face. I grasped both hands on each cheek and the startled man’s face softened as I gave him my feelings of safety and calm. Smiling at me now, I gently told him, “Pull the keys out of your pocket and unlock the cuffs.”
Gently, slowly, he complied. With my hands free, I now took the revolver from his holster and slid it into my pants pocket. Still smiling at me, I gently told him. “Now is the time to remember Ben. He’s a good friend. You’re going to keep looking for his truck. You haven’t found it yet. You need to go to the diner and have some fried eggs and bacon.” With all my energy, I implanted in his mind the taste of eggs and bacon. He slowly turned and went to his patrol car and got in it. That’s only worked one time before. And I had to be touching the person for them to receive. I was exhausted. Doing that took every ounce of energy I had. I turned to go back to the truck to finish the drive and rest. And there, behind me, parked on the opposite side of the gravel road, was a black Lincoln towncar.
As the sheriff turned his patrol car around, I stood stock still staring at the car. The doors opened and two men got out. One was Mac. The other, I knew. I just wasn’t sure who it was. They both walked over to me. The man held out his hand to shake mine. “Hi, I’ve been waiting to meet you. I’m Walter Mondale.”