Friday, November 23, 2012

Escape Down Memory Lane-Part 5: Getaway

The following story is true. Only names of people and places have been changed.

Part 5: Getaway

Karen expected the police to look for her. In fact, one of her boxes contained an item as a contingency plan for that very purpose. Because of her thinning hair, Karen had a small collection of wigs to compliment her wardrobe. One wig she came across and used only for special occasions was a redhead wig. If ever there was a special occasion, this was it. Deftly packing that scarlet scalp cover, Karen fully expected the scanner to instruct police to be on the lookout for an elderly, “dirty-dishwater blonde,” woman.

For all her precaution, Karen never got to use the wig.

Instead, the red wig sat in one of four boxes on the deck after Karen plopped out of the window and her co-conspirator closed it behind her. In desperation, Karen tugged and yanked at the hopelessly tangled wheelchair in the bushes, but it would not budge.

Anyone else might have abandoned the wig, Depends, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish altogether and retreated with empty hands. For Karen, however, that would have been the equivalent of an army platoon leaving a man behind. As a result, Karen doubled the time of her flight by transporting the boxes two at a time to the chain link fence separating Summit Grove from an unsuspecting neighbor’s backyard garden.

Karen heaved the boxes up and over the pointed fence and paid the price for it, scraping her forearm to the point of bleeding. If the drawing of blood discouraged her, she did not show it. If anything, it further committed her to the cause. Still, though, in spite of her resolve Karen knew that scaling the fence could not be an option—especially considering she could not even breach a window casement without assistance. Karen stalked parallel with the fence-line, eyes scraping it for weaknesses.

The weakness came at the end of the fence. There, the final post gave way before a section of Summit Grove’s main building extending to the property edge, and Karen recognized a miniscule gap between fence and building.  While her wiry body may have prevented her from releasing the wheelchair from the grip of the shrubs, it now played to her advantage, since “miniscule” was the perfect description for Karen’s size. Edging sideways, Karen shuffled shoulder-first out of the realm of the Summit Grove Nursing Center.
Tramping through some ripened tomatoes in the garden of one of Summit Grove’s backdoor neighbors, Karen transported her boxes in two trips through the vegetable patch, backyard, past a garage, and into the street beyond. Then she went to the back door of the house, pitting her whole escape on the resident inside.

Answering the door was a young college Freshman who had recently taken a break from studying for his mid-term exams to fill out papers for being a missionary of the LDS Church. If Karen hoped to find a guileless Good Samaritan, she could not have knocked on a better door.

The story that Karen conjured about getting into a fight with her boyfriend and needing a ride to her friend’s house came quite naturally for Karen—fibbing served as just one talent from her survivalist toolkit—but it was hardly needed. The young man eagerly offered his services without caring to ask follow up questions, helping Karen into his car and personally loading up her precious cargo from the street into his back seat. The two people at opposite ends of the great bridge of life had a pleasant conversation on their way out of Lawndale. With deep-seeded satisfaction, Karen witnessed several police cars pass them, completely oblivious to the dirty-dishwater blonde, elderly woman in the passenger seat.

After a fifteen minute promenade on the highway, the aiding and abetting Good Samaritan left the main road. Within a couple blocks of the highway, he pulled straight into Karen’s driveway. Without being bidden, the young man exuberantly unloaded her materials, offering to even carry them inside. Karen gratefully refused his offer and waved him off. The college freshman directed his car home, certain that he had rescued a woman from a boyfriend, whose repertoire of abuse must have included, if the woman’s feet were any indication, throwing red-ripe tomatoes at her.

After spending a month in the soft-accented comfort of Summit Grove, Karen suddenly found a strange sense of relief in seeing the harsh chaos of her own unpredictable, unbound-by-scientific-routine home.
©2012 Marty Reeder