Exercising the craft—October 17, 2016

By Ekta R. Garg

Prompt: A hole had been blown in the side of the jail, and a couple of dozen men were missing.



Clyde lay on his side on his bunk ignoring the shouts and commotion from other inmates. There hadn’t been this much noise on the inside since he tried his own escape four years earlier. His attempt, of course, had remained just that: an attempt. Here he lay, wetting the edge of his thumb as he flipped another page of the year-old People magazine.

Damn guard, Clyde thought for the millionth time since that day he’d been caught. Benedict Arnold woulda been proud of him, turning on me at the last minute.

None of his promises and bribes, it seemed, had paid off when he needed them to. After they caught him he spent two weeks in the hole thinking and re-thinking his entire plan. Clearly he’d missed something when he worked out the whole thing.

Not this group; not this time. They’d managed to blow a hole in the side of the jail before they made off, two dozen of them. That fact, in and of itself, was drawing interest from the guards. Cons usually didn’t work together, and they certainly didn’t work together in this large of a group. What was different here, they kept asking one another.

Clyde knew, but he wouldn’t tell. He’d finally figured out what went wrong with his plan. He couldn’t get out himself, not now anyway, but everything he taught those men hinged on them coming back for him.

Four years was a long time to work out details. It was a long time to troubleshoot any holes in a plan. It was a long time to wait for freedom.

Twinkies, Clyde thought. They better remember my Twinkies.

The escaped group’s first agenda was to find regular clothes, non-con clothes. Their second? To eat a meal that was as different from jail food as possible. They wouldn’t have to go too far for the food. McDonald’s would do.

Their third agenda: get Clyde out.

Someone began yelling for everyone to “shut the hell up!” The cons still inside kept hooting and hollering, calling for the guards to let them out too. After all, they’d managed to lose track of a few of the others. Why not just open all the cells and call it a day?

A discordant clanking in the distance told Clyde the guards had begun running their batons across the bars of each cell. The entire prison had gone on lockdown since the breakout, and everyone not a con was now on edge. They wouldn’t admit it to him, but Clyde knew the guards still talked about his attempted break. A few of them had given him a sideways look when the whole thing this morning came down around them, but he didn’t look back.

Clyde just wet his thumb with the tip of his tongue and turned another page.