That Freedom Highway
By Auburn Red
A Prisoner fanfic
Author's Note: Once again, I do not own these characters. They are owned by Patrick McGoohan, George Markestein, and Everyman is a sequel to "Motherless Child." Originally, "Motherless Child" was going to be a one-shot, but you know how it is. When an idea grabs you, sometimes it doesn't want to let you go! :D Not only that, but there will be another one following. The title is a line from the song, "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie. He also quotes a little bit from the song "Me and Bobby MacGee" by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster.
The young man, who went under many names but for now reverted to a familiar nickname of Lexi, tip toed in the dark being uncharacteristically quiet as he slinked in the shadows making his movements as silent and unnoticeable as possible. He felt his hands in the dark feeling his way around the stairwell and through the walls. Lexi felt the nooks of the walls until he could feel the smooth surface of the kitchen door. He pulled open the door knob and moved inside the kitchen. He squinted as his eyes fell on a key ring which contained a familiar spare key. He smiled. It was just what he came for, "Far out," he whispered as he grabbed the keys and stumbled through the dark. Once again, Lexi felt his way through the dark until he moved to the front hallway and was just about to open the door. A sound made him jump with fright and the click of a torch made him turn around.
The small butler, called Angel by his employer, glanced at him, his face illuminated by the torch that he held up to his face. The young man winced with the sudden light. He stepped forward as if to stop him, but Lexi slowly opened the front door challenging him. Lexi smirked. "Who's going to tell him," he asked sardonically to the mute butler. "You gonna tell him?" Not receiving an answer, or any physical means to stop him, Lexi ran out into the night shutting the door behind him.
Lexi revved the Lotus feeling the inertia as it roared along the Irish countryside. It felt liberating. He could see why John liked to drive this thing. Maybe it kept him as free as possible and left no worries behind him. He felt like he could fly. It had been awhile since Lexi drove, usually he hitched or rode in other peoples' cars but he could feel the power as the wheels screeched upon the road "Maybe I should drive more often," Lexi said to himself. "Should get my license renewed!" If he put enough distance between himself and the house, then maybe just maybe the nightmares would go away. He stopped for now, but the only thing that he could do is continue to run.
The Lotus drove up and down a few narrow hills, when Lexi glanced through the rearview mirror. A pair of headlights followed close behind him. Slowly, Lexi sped. The car followed close behind him. Lexi blanched as even through the dim light, he recognized the color: black. They won't take him again, not now not ever! "The fuck you will!" he declared. "I won't be taken again, not again!" His eyes averted briefly to his hands on the wheel. He could feel the scars on his wrists like they still burned from the long ago hurt. He was prevented from ending this nightmare once before. He wouldn't let it happen again.
The car came closer. Lexi moved the car closer to the edge of a narrow stretch of road. "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," Lexi sang as he sent the car spinning to a ditch and to the ground below.
The car drove along the road with its four occupants. The woman Katarina Auerman-Owen kept her eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Rory Owen, her husband whistled a familiar tune that one of his sons sang along with. His fair hair gave off glints of red and gold illuminated by the sun peering through the car. His blue eyes shone merrily as he sang."As I was walkin' I saw a sign there/And that sign said no trespassin'," the man sang. "But on that other side there it said nothing/That side was made for you and me."
Lexi giggled as he always did when his father sang. He sang the next verse, memorizing the song as perfectly as he did the first night his da sang to him."In the squares of the city, In the shadows of a steeple/By the relief office I'd seen my people/As they stood there hungry I stood there asking/How can this land be made for you and me?"
The two then continued the final verse as she laughed and Kenneth rolled his eyes and returned to his book, but held it up to his face so no one would see his smile. "Nobody living can ever stop me As I go walking that freedom highway/Nobody living can ever make me turn back/This land was made for you and me."
"Bravo," Katarina said in her terse French mixed with Polish accent. "If I were not driving, I would applaud." Her dark hair was cut in a severe page boy style and her narrow face seemed to portray someone without a sense of humor. However, her large brown eyes told a different story as they shone merrily at her husband and son's sing-along.
"Thank you oh dearest love," Rory said kissing his wife affectionately. He turned to the boys. "You don't know how many people listen to the first verses and think that is praising America when really it is criticizing the "land of opportunity." His accent was an odd mixture of Welsh, Canadian, and American coming from many places at once from his years of travel through North America and Europe. "But the important thing to learn from that song is that no one can take that freedom highway from you boys. No government, no country can do that." Lexi laughed. He loved when his Dad talked about the songs that he learned and his travels when he was younger living in traveler caravans and hobo camps.
"Depends on the country," Katarina said bitterly in her quiet voice.
"Said the woman who fled Occupied France and a concentration camp," Rory said.
"That's what I meant," she said not wanting to talk more about her past being as always quiet when her husband was talkative.
Lexi mischievously turned to his brother and blocked his vision from his book. "Stop it," Kenneth said. "Maman, Da, Lexi won't stop bothering me!"
"Alexis, stop bothering Kenneth," their mother said. "He's trying to study."
"It's a holiday," Lexi stuck his tongue out. "It's meant to be fun."
"I have an exam, " Kenneth reminded his little brother. "That doesn't stop because of Holiday." The 9 year old turned back to his book on Neurological Impulses of the Human Brain, which he was studying in a special university prepatory class for advanced students.
"Then why do you have a copy of the Virginian inside your text book," Lexi teased.
Kenneth pushed the book out of his brother's vision. "That's none of your business!"
"It's a good idea to rest your brain after so much time studying, Lexi," their mother replied. "Sometimes fantasies can trigger your psychological impulses and result in more sound thinking."
"Thank you, Maman," Kenneth said.
"Huh?" Lexi and his father were both confused. The mother and son just laughed.
"You wouldn't understand," Therese said at the same time the older son said. "Over your heads." Lexi could find no other answer except to stick out his tongue again. His mother and Ken had a special language that they shared through books and discussions the way Lexi and his father had through music. The car drove in silence with occasional dialogue from the family when the car moved up a hill. Lexi looked behind him. "Da, that car is following us," he said pointing at a black car right behind them.
"It probably wants to pass us, Lexi," their father said. "Let him pass, Kat. "
"That's not the reason," Katarina said almost hypnotically."Did you see? He passed a red light just now. He's following us!"
Before her husband or her sons could ask any questions, Katarina accelerated the car. "Oh you are going too fast love, not that I mind," Rory said.
The car continued to speed as the other car followed them. Kenneth dropped his books and began to hyperventilate. "Maman," he said. Lexi looked behind him and towards the front terrified. He shifted in his seat wanting to get out of the car from this strange scene. The car roared towards their car making barely any room between them and a nearby ditch. Katarina turned the wheel towards the ditch sending the car below.
Lexi woke up to feel himself wedged between the front and back seats. He caught his breath as the front seat pushed at his windpipe."Maman, Da," he gasped. But there was no answer from either of his parents. Lexi glanced where his brother sat, his books lay on the floor. Kenneth however was breathing heavily, but couldn't speak. Lexi struggled to get out from under the seat but his legs were pinned, caught in place between the front and back. The young boy did the only thing that he could think of to do. He screamed. "HEEELLPPP!," he yelled. "SOMEBODY HELP MEEE!" He felt tired but he struggled to stay awake long enough for someone to hear him. I have to think of something, he thought. Then he remembered that song his father sang to him, that always made him laugh. He would pick up the little boy and spin him around and then they would dance to it, a father and son dance team."Ezekiel connected them dry bones, Ezekiel connected them dry bones," he said frightened his voice quivering and terrified. "Ezekiel connected them dry bones. Now hear the word of the Lord. The foot bone connected to the ankle bone/ The ank-ankle bone connected to the um leg bone," frightened tears streamed down his face. "leg bone connected to the knee bone/The knee bone connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone connected to the hip-"
"-Is someone in there," a voice interrupted. Lexi looked up to see a hand reach down into the car.
"Yes," the little boy gasped.
"Don't worry son," said the man in a calm, but desperate voice. "'I'll get you out!"
Lexi returned to the present lying outside the wreckage of the car. "I can't even do this right," he sighed as he saw some figures dressed in white approach him and red head lights. In a daze he began to sing as he always did.
John Edward woke up the next morning. It hadn't been an easy night. He kept waking up with a feeling of dread. In fact, he hadn't any nightmares of being trapped in the Village, because he hadn't slept. Every time he tried to focus and let his mind fall into unconsciousness, the feeling would return and his body would clench in some panic. He remembered that last night that he invited his friend and fellow ex-Prisoner, Lexi, to stay at his home for as long as he needed. So far it seemed to work. The two talked the next morning. Lexi wandered around near the village and returned later that evening invigorated and refreshed, while John read losing himself in the printed thoughts of philosophers and listened to his favorite operas. For the past 24 hours, the two did not talk about or even mention The Village. It was a glorious reprieve from the worries that had consumed them for the past year, a feeling of togetherness that John could not name.
Then during the night, as soon as John went to bed, the thoughts returned. Like a lion hiding in the bushes waiting to stalk its prey, the fears of the Village were held at bay only to strike. He lay in bed with his gun underneath his pillow, ready to shoot any assailants that would catch him by surprise. The slightest sound stirred John and he prepared for any strike. He rose from his bed thinking that he heard a sound in the kitchen. He touched the door knob when he heard a car start pull out of the driveway. "Damn," John cursed as he ran down the stairs pulling his trousers and shirt over his body.
Angel faced the door with no expression. Anxious, John glanced outside the window and his fears were justified. His beloved Lotus 7, the car that he built with his own two hands was gone. It didn't take the former Number Six longer than a few seconds to realize what happened to it. Momentarily forgetting that the butler was mute, John grabbed him by the lapels and shook him hard. "Why didn't you stop him?" John shouted. "Where did he go?" The only thing that Angel could do was point outside and to the right. Frustrated and worried, John ran outside into the early morning.
The former secret agent was fortunate that none of his physical training had been lost. In fact, John had continued to exercise and run regularly to stay fit. He ran down the road hoping to see signs of the young man or his stolen car. He wanted to thrash Lexi for stealing the Lotus. He felt like a fool, he trusted him and now this! Was he stealing it for his own enjoyment? Did he plan on delivering it to the Village as proof of where John was? John ran. He thought that he saw a black car turn around a corner and head towards where John momentarily stopped. He caught his breath and lunged. The car came closer, but John arched his back and leaned forward. As the car came closer, John leapt and rolled to the other side trying to stay out of view. The car slowed down. "Hey watch it you," a rural Irish voice yelled. John looked up to see an elderly man in a gray farmer's cap shout at him. "Bloody toff!"
John rose from his hiding place feeling like a fool. "I'm sorry I thought that you were someone else."
The man grunted. "Drunkards the same the world over, can't hold your dram! If you can't keep it in the pub where it should be, then you shouldn't drink at all and you ain't the first that I've seen today!"
John walked closer to the car eying the man quizzically. "Who was the first?"
The man grunted again. "I dunno some young wanker raced some fancy car down a road to the ground."
. "Can you take me to the scene of the accident?" John asked. The man waved him in his car.
John was dropped off just as a tow truck arrived to pull his car from the ditch. The blaring red lights shone in his face. He pushed through the confusion to see his beloved car being pulled from the wreckage. The front was a sight completely smashed in. He approached the tow truck driver. "This is my car," John said. "How much damage was there?"
The driver shrugged. "Front is completely shot and right door is completely dented and the tires are flattened among other problems. It will take a miracle to fix this thing."
John wrote down a phone number on a piece of paper. "This is the number of a mate of mine. He will pick up the car. Plus, both he and I know how to fix it."
The driver looked offended. "I think I know how to fix a car, sir!"
"Yes but this car has some peculiar oddities that only I and my friend know about, so he will pick it up," John said. The driver shrugged and drove away. John nodded. If anyone could be trusted, it would be Potter.
The former agent turned to see the ambulance. He saw them carry in a body that looked very familiar, a young man with red-gold hair that was uncharacteristically silent and immobile. His mind moved to a familiar incident from his past, his early days working with British Intelligence.
He remembered long ago a case that involved him trailing a woman who passed information to some counterparts in the East. He sped his car past a red light to trail her. She seized the opportunity and sped herself. Unfortunately, she swerved into a ditch to get away.
He stopped and jumped out of the vehicle running to see if she was dead. He suddenly heard a small voice screaming, "HELLPP! SOMEBODY HELLPPP MEEE!" For a minute there, the secret agent started. It sounded like a child! This was supposed to be a routine mission, just a simple chase and grab. There were to be no complications. Had she kidnapped a child or was she with her family? What kind of woman hid behind her family to avoid capture? Was she making it look like she was going on Holiday and just wanted to sell out to the enemy? It's no concern of mine, he thought. I'm just supposed to get the job done. I'm just supposed to get results. Despite his thoughts, his heart sank and he ran towards the remains of the car. The woman, who had been living under the name of Katarina Auermann, was dead and so was a man that he presumed to be her husband. Not much information on him. He heard a soft voice mumbling something that John could not recognize. "Is someone in there?" he asked.
The small voice softly answered. "Yes." He saw two young boys in the back seat. One was unconscious but breathing heavily and the other was still alive but he didn't know how much longer. John stuck his hand inside the automobile knowing that he would have to call it in and face whatever consequences arose. For now, his first priority was the young boy and what he could do to free him and his brother. "Don't worry son," John assured him touching the boy's hand before he went to his car to retrieve any tools that could be useful. "I'll get you out."
The ambulance doors closed as John approached. He flagged down the driver before he could leave. "May I come with you?" he asked.
"You a relative," the driver asked.
John shrugged. What the hell it would make a long story short. "Yes, I am," he replied.
John ran into the hospital after the paramedics took Lexi slamming the door behind him. The former prisoner lost sight of his friend as they took him to the hospital. He had to know where Lexi was! He approached the receptionist who looked up from her tabloid magazine at the approaching man. "Yeah," she asked, her Irish brogue very pronounced.
"A young man was brought in here," he said breathlessly.
The receptionist looked up rather irritated that he interrupted her reading of the kinky sex lives of Parliament members and turned to her records. "Name?" she asked.
"Uh, he didn't have any identification on him," he said. "He will be listed under a pseudonym," John replied.
The receptionist rolled her eyes annoyed at his lack of information. "Ah yes, collision. He's in the emergency room."
"What room is he in?" John inquired.
"You his father?" the woman asked.
"Will it get me in there to see him?" John asked testily.
"Uh yeah," the woman asked as if that were a stupid question.
"Then yes I'm his father," John replied. "His name is Lexi umm, Edward. "
"Good, then you can fill this out," the receptionist replied handing him some paperwork.
John glanced down at the paperwork. Oh boy, how was he going to do this? Well if one thing working at MI-6 had taught him it was how to cover up and lie gracefully. What information that he could make up, he did and what he couldn't, he left blank. Name: Lexi, short for Alexander I suppose, Edward. Let's see date of birth, May 9 that sounds about right. 1944, that makes you 23 years old. What do you know? You would have born when I was in Germany. Better change it to 1945, then. Ah yes, right after I was released from that prisoner of war camp. That would have certainly made your mother and me very active. Next of kin: Better put myself, as your father. Is there anyone else, a mother? We'll just declare her deceased, if asked. Blood type, no clue. Allergies? Well, I hope not. History of illness? I dub you a very healthy child! Address, better put my one in London, just in case. Never know who may read this." He continued filling out the information that he could and handed it back to the woman.
"You got any identification for him?" the receptionist asked.
"No, now will you tell me where my son is?" John asked rather fed up with this woman.
"Ah you're one of those fathers," the receptionist in a sarcastic querulous tone that made John briefly wonder what her definition of "those fathers" were. Illegitimate? Divorced? Overly busy and inattentive? He had no idea. "Upstairs 536," she replied.
"Thank you, I know how difficult that it must have been," John challenged as he left. He waited outside the operating room patiently.
He watched from the outside as doctors operated on his young friend lying in bed. There were scars and bruises on his face. He was still and quiet unlike the noisy young man that he knew for only a short time but because they had shared such a dark time together, John felt that he knew the young man his whole life. Besides who else would have been here for him? According to Lexi, he had no family left. For no reason, he recalled many children like that boy on the road in the overturned car with his family. Who else would be waiting here by his bedside? He waited as they rolled him out of the operating room. "How is he?" he asked. He was getting frustrated and annoyed with being ignored. "Where are you taking him?"
"Mr. Edward," a soft female voice called. He saw a woman about his age maybe a little younger with short auburn hair. She placed her hand on his shoulder to stop him and then shook his hand. "My name is Dr. Doyle. I treated your son."
"Yes," John said. "How is he?"
"He had a severe concussion," she said. "At first we thought that he suffered some brain damage. When the paramedics pulled him out of the wreckage, they said that he kept singing before he fell unconscious."
John grinned. "No, he's always like that."
Dr. Doyle laughed. Well, that's a relief. Right now he needs some medical attention and the wounds will heal. Hopefully, there won't be any permanent damage. He'll recover physically."
"And psychologically?" John prompted knowing that there was more than what she told him.
"Mr. Edward is there a history of mental illness in your family?" she asked. "Or in your wife's family perhaps?"
"Not that I'm aware," John replied cagily.
Dr. Doyle hesitated. "Can I confide in you? It's my opinion, actually more than that, this wasn't an accident. I say this because there wasn't another vehicle involved, and by the point of impact. Nor were there any drugs in his system. Well apart from a tiny amount of marijuana, but it wouldn't do that much damage to him to cause a collision like this."
"You believe that this was a suicide attempt," John guessed.
Dr. Doyle nodded. "He's an adult so we should have his consent unless he's mentally incompetent or a danger to himself or others. As his father, I would suggest that you should agree to have him institutionalized. It's often likely that people who have attempted suicide before will try again as you well know."
John started. "What do you mean?"
"Well surely you must have noticed the scars on his wrists," Dr. Doyle began.
John started. Point of fact he didn't notice them because Lexi's long ruffled sleeves had covered his wrists. He felt guilty but he knew more than likely why he did it. "We haven't seen each other in over a year," John said telling a half-truth. "We only reunited last night but I could tell that he must have had some troubles since we last saw each other."
"Young people running away from home," the doctor sighed. "It's all too common these days isn't it?" John nodded."Is there anyone else that you would like to discuss this with, his mother perhaps?"
"She's deceased," John replied remembering the fabrication. Well not a complete one Lexi mentioned that his mother was dead. He also mentioned that his father was dead as well. The doctor didn't need to know that.
"I'm truly sorry," the doctor replied. "And I can imagine how difficult this must be on your own. But if it will help your son recover, I recommend that he be put in psychiatric care."
John shook his head. "No psychiatrists." They reminded him too much of the treatments from the Village.
"Sir," the doctor said. "We have a facility where he will be cared for, at least on a temporary basis."
"I think that I can imagine what that facility will be like," John said dryly. "I want to see my son now."
He left the doctor in her confusion and closed the door behind him in the hospital room so he could tend to his friend. John looked down at his young friend. He remembered the many hospital beds that he sat by friends during the War or in his years in the service. They weren't much older than Lexi was now. Many of those young people from the Village weren't much older either. He remembered the woman that he knew as 73, who committed suicide after several previous attempts. How many were still ruined as he and Lexi were? He cursed the Village and all of its wardens for having the power to ruin people even beyond their escape.
He touched the young man's hand and held it tightly. He hoped that Lexi could hear him. "I suppose it's a good thing that I'm not your father," he said. "Because you wouldn't have to hear that I am very disappointed in you. Suicide? Get yourself banged up and sent here, do you know have any idea how stupid that is? Worst off you stole my car! Right now, I'm more concerned about the car." He said dryly. " I know why you did this. You are afraid of every face that you see, every road that you walk. The Village haunts your every thought, every dream. They control you whether you are there or not. You are afraid that you will end up back and this fear has eaten away at your life. I understand it." In all of his years in working in dangerous conditions staying one step ahead of the enemy and keeping his emotions in firm check, this was the first time John Edward had ever felt like confessing, opening up to someone. It made him feel like he was behind a wall that he set up himself. Only just now he was letting a little bit of light in. He felt relieved, but wondered what would happen once the wall went completely down. He would be standing naked, open, could he live with that? Would that make him more vulnerable if the Village found him. He could just imagine the young man surprised that someone who appeared so cold and so unemotional could be so afraid.
"Yes, someone like me is afraid," John said feeling like he was confessing to a shameful secret. "At least you are out there, away from anyone you know. Ready to live among strangers and face the world. Sometimes, I can't even make it out the front door. In my definition that makes you one of the bravest people I know." He squeezed the boy's hand tighter. "That's why you can't die. Every moment that you enjoy your freedom, every second that you are away from them is your victory. When I told you last night to free yourself, I realize that sometimes we can't free ourselves at least not alone. You can't always do it alone, because I know that I can't. I said that you have someone to run to. It wasn't just your benefit it was for mine as well. I don't know how to free myself. I try but I can't. "
He felt a twitch on his hand. He wasn't yet sure if Lexi had understood him. "If you can understand, squeeze my hand tighter." The hand clenched into his was the exact answer that he needed.
John almost fell asleep when he heard drugged voice sing softly. "The neck bone connected to the head bone/Now, hear the word of the Lord." He looked at him confused and disoriented.
John looked down at the young man and saw the nurse walking by. "Your mother would be very disappointed in you young man! Do you know how worried I was about you?" He nodded over at the nurse and gave Lexi a play-along stare. He hoped that he understood despite his drugged state.
The wide cocky grin provided enough of an answer. "Sorry, dad, guess I'm in for it again aren't I?"
"We'll discuss this when we get you home," John replied. "How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Way out," Lexi answered in a daze. The nurse walked away and when they made sure that they were out of ear shot. Lexi leaned over. "Thank you, John, ain't no one would ever have done as much for me. Thank you for saving me."
"You're welcome, Lexi," John replied. "Thank you as well."
"Are we free yet?" Lexi asked."I want to go home."
"No," John replied simply. "But we will be someday, we will be." He paused. "But first I am going to tell you how not to drive my car."