The Great Escape

"You want me to what?"

Lee lowered his voice as his fingers clenched around the receiver. "A-man-da! I need you to break me out of Briarwood. You know, the mental hospital off Highway 9." Why did she always have to question him? If only she'd just do what he asked when he
asked. He sighed heavily, readying himself for the onslaught of questions.

"Are you crazy? I didn't . . . I mean . . . are you—is this some sort of joke?" She sputtered. He listened for the leaden thumps of mighty nurse Velma, hoping he wouldn't be caught on the phone in the middle of the night. The large woman would surely punish him again for breaking her rules. He shuddered at the thought.

"I assure you, Amanda, this is no joke. The needles they use are very real." He rubbed his hip at the memory.

"Not that I'm not happy to help, but are you allowed to just leave? I mean, whatever is wrong, I'm sure they can help you."

This was a mistake! He should have known she'd try to mother him. "A-man-da! I'm on a case. There is nothing wrong with me. It's all part of my cover."

"Oh, of course. It's all part of your cover. But, Lee how am I supposed to get you out of there?" Her voice cracked, which was never a good sign.

"Yeah, I guess I hadn't really thought that part through." He raked his fingers through his hair. "Don't worry, I'll get out. You just be parked on the southwest corner of the building in an hour—" He startled at the sound of footsteps heading towards his position in the dark office. "Keep the motor running."

"Got it. Lee?"

"Yeah?" He rushed.

"Be careful."

"Yeah. You too. Now get going!"

SMKSMKSMKSMKSMKSMK

She pulled her station wagon into the shadows as the ominous gated building hovered over her. From her position in the car she could see the bars covering all the windows and shivered. It certainly didn't look like any place she'd ever want to visit.

Just as she was settling into her seat to wait for Lee, a streak of white flashed in front of her car. Before she could look around she heard the front passenger door open and slam shut. "Drive, Amanda! Drive!"

She threw the car into drive and slammed on the gas. Looking back she saw a small army of white coats boiling out of the front door and into the parking lot, and her heart beat erratically at the excitement. She couldn't believe the things this man involved her
in. Here she was, well after midnight, aiding and abetting a known . . . nut? No, this was Lee. It was all in the line of duty. Right? Well, he is barefoot and dressed in a flimsy
hospital gown in the middle of winter.'

Once it appeared they weren't being followed, Amanda shot a glance at her fugitive partner. "Do you mind telling me what this is all about?" She threw up her hand in protest as his mouth opened. "And before you say it's need to know', I think I earned that right after being dragged out of my warm bed to play Bonnie and Clyde at
nearly one o'clock in the morning."

His jaw clenched and then finally relaxed like it always did when he was about to give in to her. "It's simple, really. I needed some information and the only one that could provide it was recently admitted as a patient at Briarwood. So I checked myself in this
morning."

"Lee, why didn't you just pretend to be a relative and visit . . ." It seemed logical enough, but he shook his head before she could finish.

"We already tried that. No go. It seems that whoever got to our guy tried to make it look like a suicide. Fortunately, they were interrupted before they could finish him off. However, state law requires that anyone attempting suicide be hospitalized for 72
hours. And that place keeps them in seclusion for the first 48 of those 72 hours. No visitors."

"So, did you get the information?" She noticed him rubbing his arms trying to warm up, and switched on the heater.

"Yes, but then when I tried to check myself out Nurse Velma happily informed me I wouldn't be able to leave without a doctor's authorization." He shook his head, clearly frustrated. "Whoa! Turn down the vents!" He grabbed for the end of his nightgown as it
billowed up his legs.

"Oh my gosh, Lee." She turned the knobs to the low position. "I'm sorry. I was trying to warm you up." She felt the heat rise to her cheeks. Peering over to her right, she could tell he was trying to regain his composure. Sensing his need for a subject change, Amanda tried to help. "Well, they must not have thought of you as too big
of a threat, they didn't send the cavalry after you."

"You wouldn't say that if you saw 'Nurse Ratched' trying to sink her meat hooks into me when I tried to sneak out the back. She acted like I was public enemy number one!"

"It did seem rather--"

"Yeah, well that place should be condemned!"

"It was bad?"

"You've seen 'One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest?' At her nod, he continued. "That would have been a picnic."

"Poor, Lee." Images of a large woman dressed in white forcing Lee to swallow down tiny pills came to mind. She had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. Noticing the bracelet adorning his wrist, she picked up his arm and studied the writing. "Who is Donald Miller?"

"I made him up. You didn't think I'd use my name did you?" She shrugged and continued toward his apartment. Listen, can you drop me at the Agency instead?"

She eyed his flimsy attire. "You don't want to go home first and um . . . change?"

"Believe me, I'd love to but the information I obtained requires we move now, besides, I have a spare change of clothes there."

She stared at him in disbelief. Here was a grown man scantily clad in a thin piece of fabric and all he was worried about was getting the bad guys. She couldn't contain herlaughter.

"What?"

"I'm just impressed that you're so committed to your job."

"Please, don't say committed,"he groaned.

She smiled and nodded in understanding. "Right." She replied in false seriousness. As she pulled up in front of the building, Lee clutched his gown around his hips nervously. "I might have a blanket in the back. I could look if you like,"she added.

"I'm fine, really."

As he backed out of the front seat, careful not to expose himself, a strong gust of wind propelled his thin gown up over his head. After several attempts at pulling it in place and several whistles and honks by passersby, he walked toward the Georgetown entrance with his head held high.

Amanda stifled another grin. "Okay, so maybe his legs are better than just 'not bad'."

The End