Rolling Home to You
By Auburn Red
A Prisoner fanfic
This is the third part of my "Motherless Child" trilogy. As before, I don't own the characters. They belong to Patrick McGoohan, George Markstein, and Everyman Limited. The title is a line from the Neil Young song, "Old Man."
John Edward, the former number Six glanced outside the front window. His young friend, Lexi, hobbled around the house outside. Recovering from a car accident would make even the most normal person, restless but someone as hyperactive and nomadic as Lexi, it was almost impossible. So far he had only wandered around up and down through the front and back yard. This was the first time that he would take a lot longer walk. It couldn't have happened sooner for himself or John.
John spent the past few months helping his friend recover from an automobile accident and suicide attempt. The broken legs healed and the bruises faded over time. Two physical drawbacks remained: Lexi still limped slightly on his right leg and he continued to have severe migraines because of pain on the back of his neck. Despite those drawbacks, Lexi was on the road to a full physical recovery. However, just as the doctor and John had predicted, the young man needed help psychologically. He was often tortured by nightmares and paranoia that was far worse than John had observed even within himself. For a time, John put his young friend on suicide watch hiding sharp objects and keeping pills locked up. But John never wavered in his attention towards his friend. He soothed his worst fears, helped him to walk and to stand, and occasionally wasn't afraid to get tough with him.
He made sure that his friend recovered by helping him walk, allowing him to do tasks that tested his mobility, and making sure that the young man didn't lose himself to morbidity or self-pity. Most of the time, Lexi was his usual cheerful giddy self, singing talking non-stop, being the defiant strong-willed young man who fought the madness of conformity with his own madness. However sometimes he could be morose and taciturn. He would sit still and quiet, not moving or speaking sitting in a catatonic state. Once he remained in that state for over a week. After several half-hearted attempts to uphold a conversation with the young man or invite him to speak or give some sign that he was still aware, a very frustrated and tense John slapped his young friend hard to get a reaction. When that didn't work John slapped him again harder. Again no reaction. He tried again a third time, this time picking him and shaking him. "Do you feel that," he said. "You must feel something! Hate me if you must! Fight me, let me know that you are still in there!" When he reached up to hit him again, Lexi arose and returned the blows punching at his older friend until he sank down on the floor exhausted. John then knelt down and smoothed back the boy's hair and helped him to stand. After that incident, Lexi was no longer catatonic. Right now, Lexi was walking to test his body, but also to clear his mind. Though John would never admit it, he was proud that his friend was recovering.
John sat inside his sitting room reading quietly when the door burst open and an excited Lexi hobbled in. "Daddy John," he yelled referring to his older friend by the nickname that amused him more than he would admit.
"Lexi I told you not to-" John said, but saw the panicked look on his friend's face. "It's them." Lexi nodded and John motioned him to the window. The two tensed as they looked out the window as a black Rolls Royce pulled up to the driveway and stopped. John put a finger to his mouth and then held it up as if to wait. The front door opened and out stepped a rotund bearded man. John sighed with relief. "It's only Horace." He nodded at the former Number Two and fellow escapee.
"Can I trust him," Lexi asked. "Can I trust you? Can you trust me? Can we really trust anyone in this crazy scene?"
John ignored his friend's rambling. After listening to it enough, he understood him. "I trust him, as well as I trust you." He squeezed his friend by the shoulder. He nodded for Angel to open the door as the large man came in. "Loyal and dependable as always." He reached over to shake the small butler's hand, but Angel turned from him. Obviously there was still some animosity for his former employer. Horace nodded and shrugged nonchalantly, then shook John's hand warmly. "Ah Si- uh Dra-," Horace laughed, but then stopped forgetting momentarily about the identities that his friend had dropped."My friend and fellow soldier."
"John will do," John replied and returned the greeting.
He then saw Lexi standing behind him. He broke into a large grin. "Ah the fourth member of our chain gang is here as well! We are all united." He reached over to shake Lexi's hand, but instead the younger man disarmed the older man by giving him a warm embrace which Horace returned.
"United in trouble, united in strife," Lexi said. "United by death, united in life."
Horace nodded obviously confused. "Yes, I see. Well do you have a whiskey for a thirsty man?" Angel nodded and prepared the drinks for the three men.
"Is there a particular reason why you are gracing us with your presence?" John dryly asked.
"I just want to check on old times with old friends," Horace said. "Is that a crime?"
"Well it is a crime if you are supposed to be in session," John reminded the MP.
"I decided to announce to the public that I was taking a leave of absence on a fact finding mission," Horace answered with a laugh.
"That's the story that you were telling?" John asked.
"My secretary is rather loyal and generous to a fault," the MP replied. "She won't tell the public any different, especially that I am visiting two well now three known fugitives."
"I know you, you know me," Lexi quoted. "One thing is I tell you that you got to be free."
"I suppose so, my young friend," Horace patronized him.
"What facts are you finding?," John asked.
"I'm not looking for facts," Horace replied furtively. "I have already found them and I wish to share them with someone." He said and nodded at Lexi in an unmistakable gesture that he meant this for only John's ears and not Lexi's. The young man shifted his legs and glanced out of the window. He paced restlessly.
"I wanna move," he said impatiently. "Move around man, have to see, have to look, have to move."
John glanced at him up and down. "You will be alright?" he asked concerned with more than his legs.
Lexi nodded understanding what his older friend was asking. "I'll be back," he said in a hoarse quiet voice that didn't sound like him but had the firm note of a promise. The young man then grinned one of his cocky grins. "Can't be rid of me that easily, Daddy John."
"Daddy John?" Horace questioned laughed as the same time that John turned to his friend. "I have told you not to call me that!"
Horace and John sat outside John's home watching the water beat back and forth along the cliffs below the bluffs. Lexi had been wandering around outside to see the field, as he described it: "What's the point of walking down the roads that you already know?" he asked. The young man walked further into the woods until he was nothing more than a speck on the horizon. Horace laughed.
"So you got it into your head to adopt the youngest member of our group," he MP said jovially with one of this laughs.
"I didn't adopt him," John said sourly. "Like you and I, he had a hard time adjusting to life after the Village. Therefore, I allowed him to stay for as long as he needed. He can leave anytime that he wants."
"Ah," Horace laughed. "And he has been here for how long?"
"A week or two, "John answered. "Or near three months."
"Ah," Horace nodded knowingly.
"But he has been in an automobile accident." John didn't want to state that it wasn't an accident but rather a suicide attempt. He didn't want Lexi to suffer any more of a breakdown than he already had. "This is the first time in awhile that he has been able to leave the house," John said. "He needed the stability of someone being near him during his recovery."
"It sounds like you needed that 'stability" as much as he did," Horace replied. It was the first time in a long time, that Horace didn't see that tension in his friend's face. His eyes were less limpid and cold. They seemed to brighten more than Horace had seen in awhile, since he had ever seen his friend. "It must have felt good to care for another human being more than yourself."
"Said the man who returned to his wife, whom he describes as a 'shrieking harpy'" John grimaced.
"One must explore new heights my friend," Horace replied pouring another drink. John accepted another. The two drank for awhile in silence.
"Did you know that he had a brother?," Horace asked.
John nodded. "Yes, he was one of my many many interrogators."
"Funny, I was unaware of that myself until much later." Horace said but then laughed. "Of course there were so many of us and we had our own 'favorites,' amongst the younger prisoners. Apparently, before he came to us, Dr. Kenneth Owen, the brother, was a brilliant young man, a psychologist with ideas about using hallucinogenic drugs for mind control," Horace said. He handed John a case file. John thumbed through it seeing a picture of a young man who resembled his friend as well as a dossier on his activities. "It came from upbringing, I suppose. Their mother was apparently a former agent." John turned the page on the dossier and saw a dark-haired woman in her late twenties. "Ana Wolincjek , also known as Mileva Marius, also known as Elsa Kent, as well as various other aliases. Quite a brilliant young woman, entered Zurich Polytechnic studying physics at the age of 15. She served as an agent for the Allies and the Soviets against the Axis powers. She eventually ended up in a concentration camp. However, she had some influence and was able to escape. She fled to England where she-"
"-passed information for the Soviets under the name of Katarina Auerman," John answered without reading the dossier. "She married and had two children both sons. She died with her husband in a collision leaving her sons orphaned. "
"That's right," Horace answered sounding disappointed at John beating him to the punch line. "You knew of her."
"I was familiar with her work," John replied cagily.
Horace opened his mouth to say more but didn't want to press the issue. He had a feeling that his friend had suffered enough at the painful memory. "Her husband also has a bit of a checkered past. Rory Owen was a vagabond and musician. He worked in various occupations, but in his youth, he became involved in political activism mostly for labor unions and nuclear disarmament. He mellowed during his marriage, but he was known to have an arrest record. While he had Socialistic leanings, there is no actual proof that he was involved with his wife's career aside from providing a cover. But still they died leaving both sons orphaned. Well that was in the past. The main concern is with the future, their sons. Did you ever wonder why certain people were prisoners and others were jailers?"
John shrugged. He was mostly concerned with his own survival in the Village to wonder about the others. Though after his escape, he did. "I suppose that some were sent there as I was, as we were," he said remembering that Horace was a prisoner too. "Others volunteered."
Horace nodded. "It's quite interesting when you find both a prisoner and jailer within the same family. Dr. Owen apparently inherited his mother's genius." John flipped through the dossier as his friend continued. "Dr. Owen attended Oxford University at age 14 with the stipulation that he be declared an emancipated adult and obtain custody of his younger brother, Alexis, someone we know rather well." John looked at a small photograph that featured the two young men, children at the time. Though they looked almost like mirror images, even through the photos John could see the mad dancing eyes in his friend, then a small skinny child of about 10. In the older brother, John could see a hard look in the teenager's eyes as though life had forced responsibility on him at a young age. "Apparently, after their parents' deaths, the boys had lived with various adoptive parents who were for various reasons less than ideal authority figures. Dr. Owen was quite a brilliant young man in the field of psychology, he studied the works of Dr. Leary. Some of my fellow numbers were interested in his methods on mind control. Well it doesn't take much too intrigue a young man with a high IQ and an even larger ego."
"He was all too willing to use his experiments on human guinea pigs in the Village," John reasoned. "And Lexi was a prisoner. Did his brother have anything to do with it?"
"It was more of one of those odd coincidences that get thrown at us from time to time. Like father like son, Alexis Owen was a member of the Underground, for all we know he may be," the MP said. "Apparently there was more than an understanding with one of the Underground's leaders, Maximilien Robeson, a young man who also served the Village's purpose as a Social Group Leader."
"Sometimes the prisoners and the jailers can be one in the same," John realized looking at a page of four mug shots. Every photo was someone that he recognized from the Village. There was Lexi of course and there were two other young men one a dark-haired Caucasian man and the other an Asian. They both had the same condescending fiery look that the former agent saw in the Village. There was also a young brunette woman with large emotional eyes. Privately, John wondered if she served this group as a poet as well or did she consider herself unmutual even then?
"It doesn't take much to break some people to betray their ideals," Horace replied bitterly. "Masters Robeson's group was an example of such. Their group was rounded up and presented to the Village. If Dr. Owen did anything at all, then perhaps he informed us of this branch of the Underground's whereabouts. Some members resisted but most willingly joined, such as Robeson and his partners, seen here Xia Chan and Elizabeth Leigh. To prepare for the future after all, you must make sure that the young will carry on your agendas, either through willingness or by force. Who would have thought the strongest resistor was the one whose head was filled with mad thoughts and song lyrics?"
"You have to be madder than they are to fight against them and to remember who you are," John realized.
"Is that why-", Horace began. John didn't answer. Instead he drank his whiskey with a sly smile across his face. Horace laughed out loud. "Forgive me, my friend old habits die hard." Horace now knew that there may never have been one reason that his friend resigned. There were many assignments, deaths of innocents in the name of "Queen and Country," too many secrets that could destroy the world. That life was enough to make one doubt themselves, even hate themselves. Could a person live that double life and still recognize themselves when they looked in the mirror? That was why his friend resigned, but Horace Grade was damn sure that he would never give his former colleagues the "satisfaction" of knowing that. Without saying it, Horace knew that he could repay the favor that his friend gave him of releasing him by keeping such knowledge to the grave.
"There are many more like him," Horace said. "After they left, there were so many young people who live in fear. The Village marked them and may continue to do so."
"They need people to remind them why they are free," John said. "To provide a home from that struggle." He cupped his hand to his chin deep in thought. "How have you learned all this?"
"There are some former Villagers that are willing to talk and a few that can be made so with a bribe," Horace answered. "There are many more like our friend, Lexi here." He handed John various files. "Alison Barrington, George Micklewhite, Sonia Vargas, and so on and so forth." John saw the photos in each one he recognized a Villager and in each one he could see the same hunger and desperation that John finally could see disappearing in his friend.
"Is the Village really looking for anyone to bring them back?" John asked.
Horace shrugged. "How would I know? I live in fear of that every day myself. But they are crafty, clever. They've never left you know. They are still out there waiting to strike. However, unlike you I find it easier to hide in a crowd as a public figure than holed up in a privacy that eats away at your soul and makes you fear the shadows."
John glared at his friend. "If I wanted to be in public, I would never have left London."
"Precisely," Horace said. "You have a refuge, a place to recover and heal."
"You expect me to open my home for escapees and do what with them?" John asked. "I will not turn my home into another Village!"
"You don't have to," Horace said. "Just a temporary stop for those who wish to go on to somewhere else, much like the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War."
"I suppose that makes me Moses then," John remarked.
"I'm leaving it up to you," Horace replied accepting the files from John. "Just know that there are many more like him, who want to remember who they are and want to find out where they belong."
John looked at the paperwork and considered. "To remind them to keep fighting."
"You have a talent that I discovered in the Village," Horace said. "You have a rapport with young people. That's pretty evident with Lexi. You also had access to information. Maybe you can use those skills for good use that could help you as well find your own purpose, just as I have found mine."
Horace stayed well into the evening, but then decided to leave. "I have to meet some frightful bores soon in Dublin. If I don't head over there soon, tongues will start wagging." He put on his hat and picked up his umbrella. He shook John's hand. "Think about what I have said my friend," he told him. He then grasped Lexi's hand who once again gave him an embrace.
"Good-bye, oh Wise Man among Fools, Prince among men," the young man chanted. "Prince among fools!"
"Prince?" Horace guffawed. "I am offended! I am the King among Fools and don't you ever forget it!" Lexi gave a mock-salute as Horace turned to Angel. He stuck out his hand expecting the butler not to return it. Angel hesitated, but then finally gave the MP a hearty hand shake. "Likewise my little friend, likewise." Horace then opened the door and waved at his friends.
A few nights later, Lexi had his rucksack packed and his legs completely healed. "You are ready," John said smoothly to his friend. He kept his emotions firmly in check.
"I heard the road calling and I have to answer," Lexi said. "I stay long enough, it gets old and my feet get itchy to move again."
"At least your feet will move," John observed.
Lexi put the rucksack around his shoulders and his top hat on his head. "Fact is, John, I just want to see for myself whether they are gone," he said. "I can't hide from them forever. That ain't who I am." He said determined.
John looked into the eyes of the young man that despite himself, he saw as a surrogate son. They shone with the dancing mad look that he was familiar with, but also with an inner wisdom. "Not it isn't," John replied. "You take care." He stuck out his hand and Lexi shook it warmly. Then he wrapped his arms around the older man in a deep hug.
John was startled, but touched. He returned it with an awkward embrace then pulled the boy away from him. "Now go on and remember if you can't go any further, you can always come here."
" 'Course I will Daddy John," Lexi grinned. "It's my home ain't it?" John returned the grin as the young man headed down the road singing, "The foot bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the knee bone. Now hear the word of the Lord-Yeah, yeah!"
John waved the young man off until he was out of his sight.
Several nights later, it was a severe rain storm. John listened to classical music that filled through the room. The music became silent for the next track, when he heard a knock at the door. He nodded as Angel opened the door. Standing at the doorway was a woman with long brown hair. Rain poured down her long bohemian style sky-blue gown. She wore large feathered earrings as well as a necklace with a pyramid symbol on it. "Excuse me," she said breathlessly. "I know this sounds silly but I have been wandering for a long time and I have nowhere to go. A strange young man told me that you would let me stop here."
John stood up and smiled. "Of course you are welcome to stop here. Come on in, Allison."