Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chapter 23 - Micah

            I stared at my new haircut in the mirror and smiled as I checked myself out.
            “Never short on confidence are you, Micah?” Gloria shook her head in disbelief.
            “This buzz cut makes me look tougher, doesn’t it?” I continued tilting my head, eyeing every angle of my new haircut.
            “I’m not going to feed the beast. You’re all done.” Gloria smiled and turned to finish putting her supplies away.
            I glanced at the mirror one more time before leaving the room. “Thanks Gloria, looks great.” The door closed behind me. I walked down the hall looking for Tanner. We needed to go over our escape plan one more time. I smoothed my hand over my head, feeling the scruff scratch against my skin. It still amazed me how much older I looked without my shaggy, dark hair. I appeared a few years older than my real age of 17. I estimated I looked closer to 21.  
            Tanner and Darion met me at the end of the hall and seated themselves on an old sofa pushed up against the wall at the end of the foyer. I found a torn up recliner on the opposite wall and sat down.
            “I like the buzz cut,” Tanner quipped first. “Makes you look like you’ve finally gone through puberty.”
            “So that makes what, two more years before you hit puberty?” I smiled.
            “Still jealous I’m a year older?”
            “Come on, kids, I’m sure all the girls at the preschool think you’re both very attractive,” Darion finally chimed in.
            “Oh no, the old man with the bleached blond hair and faux-hawk is making fun of us!” Tanner turned on Darion and waited for me to gang up on him.
            “Alright, let’s just agree that we are all extremely attractive lady killers. We need to figure out our escape plan.” I grinned. Darion and Tanner sat forward in their seats.
            Tanner had the most knowledge of how the gates worked. He began the discussion. “I think we’ll have to go out in pairs. We need to make it look like we’re filthy rich and headed to an illegal party at an estate on the north side of town. We’ll pay off the guards. If anything goes wrong we’ll charge the gate and shoot our way out of town. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.”
            Darion and I nodded. Tanner continued. “I know you’d like to go with Eve, Darion, but I’m afraid if we put you two together they might recognize one of you. I’ll go with Eve. Micah, you’ll take Gloria.” Tanner paused like he was preparing to say something difficult, “Darion you’ll be going with Able. You’re going to play the gay politicians’ sons.”
            I couldn’t hold it in. I burst out in uncontrolled fits of laughter. Darion glared at me then started in at Tanner. “No way man. You can’t seriously expect me to do that. Do I look--”, Darion struggled for a politically correct term, “homosexual?” he finished, his mouth open in obvious disgust.
            “No, of course not.” Tanner tried to hide his obvious contentment. “It’s just that I was trying to decide between you and Micah and well, your haircut is leaning towards metrosexual. You don’t have to hold hands or anything. Your faces will look like you’re trying to hide something. The guards will assume you’re trying to hide your sexuality. For the rest of us they’ll just think we’re looking guilty because we’re headed to an illegal party. Sorry, man, we just don’t have any other females to take out with us. I suppose we can draw straws for it if you want.”
            “It’s fine.” Darion shifted his weight and cocked his head back. “I’m comfortable with my sexuality.”
            I snickered loudly, and Darion shot me a last glare. “Sorry.” I covered my mouth to hide my grin.
            Tanner finally broke down laughing. “You don’t really have to be a gay politician’s son. You can just be buddies going to a party. But seriously you should have seen the look on your face!” Tanner continued laughing. “Also your haircut is a little on the girly side.”
            “Shut up,” Darion shot back.
            Tanner stifled his laughter momentarily and continued to explain the plan. “Gabe will stay here at the rebel base. He still needs more treatment.  The ATS has ‘loaned’ us a few SUV’s. They won’t report them missing ‘til tomorrow. I have a feeling they won’t want to let Isoli know they lost Micah and Eve.”
            “Where are we going to get the bribe money?” I asked.
            “Dr. Braga has been wiring us money through a secret bank account. We’re well funded,” Tanner assured me. “Eve and I will go through the gate first. Darion and Able will wait 5 minutes then go. Micah, your face is the most recognizable. You and Gloria will go last. I trust if they recognize you that you’ll figure out a way to get out. We’ll meet 20 miles north of the city. There’s a tree that was split by lightning on the right side of the road. You can’t miss it. Turn right and follow the dirt road for about 6 or 7 miles. Able has doctored some papers that we can show the guards. They should be good enough to get us through the gate.”
            “Let’s get going then.” Darion stood up to leave.
            “It’s 3 pm right now. We leave at 5, and we should reach the gates by 5:30. The party starts at 7. There are normally quite a few parties going on outside the gates. I don’t think the guards will give us any trouble.” Tanner smiled and followed Darion down the hall.
            I remained on the couch, silently contemplating what I would find at the rebel base. Apparently the rebels who turned on Eve and I were the only dirty ones, but I wasn’t so sure. I also longed to see Olivia again. I knew I’d told her to get out of the camp with her father, but I silently hoped she’d stayed behind. Phoenix would be far more dangerous than the rebel camp if her cover happened to be blown. As Tanner and Darion’s footsteps faded down the hall, I got up and walked towards the smell of food, preparing myself for a long night.

            Gloria and I sat in our black SUV outside the rebel compound. Eve and Tanner had left 10 minutes earlier. Darion and Able followed a few minutes after. I pulled the vehicle into drive, and  it crept down a dark alley. My black tuxedo seemed to suffocate me. Sweat formed on my head. The A/C worked to cool me off, but the 105 degree weather made it very inefficient. Gloria sat up in her seat and glanced at me. I smiled, and she put her hand on my forearm, positioned on the armrest. She wore a black gown and her hair was pinned in an elaborate updo. Gloria was very good at doing hair, even her own. She was two years older than me and reminded me of Eve, unsure if she even wanted to be a rebel, but forced into the situation. She was brave and worked hard to adjust. She gave me advice and comfort the many times I thought I’d never see Eve again.
            “Can I ask you something?” I glanced nervously at Gloria.
            “Sure what’s up?”
            “What do you know about Olivia Braga?”
            Gloria smirked knowingly. “Yeah, I know Olivia. She’s been very useful to the rebels. She’s passed us a lot of info. You probably already know Darion couldn’t have busted you out of prison without her help. She is amazingly adept at keeping her cover.”
            “That’s not really what I was talking about.” I stumbled trying to ask her the right questions without embarrassing myself.
            Gloria feigned innocence. “What are you talking about then?”
            “You know like how old is she? What kind of guy does she like?”
            “You wanna know her sign too?” Gloria teased. “I don’t know her that well.”
            “Oh.” I tried to hide my disappointment, “No big deal; I was just wondering.”
            “She’s 17. She interned as a doctor at 15. Her father tried to tell Isoli she was too young and to wait a few years, but you know Isoli doesn’t really take no for an answer. They say Olivia convinced her dad to let her go undercover for the rebels. He didn’t want to let her, but Olivia doesn’t really take no for an answer either. And your other question, what kind of guy does she like? She likes you.”
            “Really? How do you know?”
            “Seriously Micah? You’re not that dense are you?”
            “No, I thought maybe she’s just being nice.”
            “Being nice is saying hi when you see someone you know. She risked her life to get you out of prison. She asks about you any time she’s around. She likes you.”
            “Cool?” Gloria sighed. “Boys are weird.”
            Really I was thinking how glad I was that Olivia probably felt the same about me as I did about her. But I wasn’t going to say it.
            Thirty minutes passed, and we finally approached the gate. I eased on the brakes. No one but the 4 security guards waited. The other cars must’ve passed without incident. Their success brought me new hope. Maybe they wouldn’t recognize me? Maybe my new haircut did make me look older? Gloria put on her best flirtatious smile and pulled out her purse. The main security guard approached my window and signaled for me to roll it down. I obeyed and pulled off my sunglasses. The sun approached the western horizon.
The guard spoke in a harsh commanding voice. “What are you two doing? You know the fence is closed for the rest of the week.”
            “Umm, yes sir.” I tried to sound inferior. “We’re headed to a... um... meeting at an estate outside of town.” I smiled to convey an ulterior meaning to my statement. Gloria leaned over and smiled at the guard. She slid the fancy bottle of wine into view, hoping the guard would catch on to our real destination.
            “We had a few other cars going there. No harm in a little party, I guess. Although I’m not sure we can let anyone else through.” The guard grinned and looked back at his comrades.
Gloria took the $400 bribe out of her purse and set it on the dashboard. “I’m sure you can let one more car through?” She put on her best face and bit her lower lip. The guard caved and took the $400 from the dashboard.
The guard disappeared behind the brick building that housed the gate controls. The large iron fence shuttered and squeaked as it started to open. Gloria let out a sigh of relief. The gate screeched and then halted suddenly. I cast a nervous glance at Gloria. She instinctively reached for her gun and turned her head towards the brick building. All 4 of the guards had disappeared inside. The gate still didn’t move and the car couldn’t fit through. I couldn’t wait any longer.
“I’m going in. Cover me to the building.”
Gloria rolled down her window and held her gun ready. “You got it. All clear.”
“If I don’t come back, return to the rebel base, ditch the car, and make sure no one follows.”
Gloria nodded, and I opened my door and slid along the side of the car, using the SUV to hide from the guards. I crouched and sprinted to the door on the front side of the control building. I approached the door and heard hushed whispers.
“Are you sure it’s him?”
“The news just reported he was inside Phoenix. His face matches.”
I made my move and appeared in the doorway, surprising the guards. “Don’t move. Open the gate and nobody gets hurt.”
The guard near the phone moved his hand and reached for his weapon. I instinctively shot his arm and he fell to the ground. One other guard grabbed his gun and fired, hitting the metal door frame to my right. I aimed at his shoulder and fired. The shot knocked him down. The remaining two guards raised their hands in the air.
“Open the door!” I demanded.
The guard closest to the control reached over and pulled the lever to open the gate. The gate shuttered again outside and began to move.
“It’s moving!” Gloria shouted from the SUV.
“Drive it though the gate. I’ll follow you out,” I shouted back. I didn’t want to take my gun off the guards until the gate was all the way open.
The tires spun on the loose pavement. I heard the car head towards the gate. I swung the door shut to the control building and sprinted towards the opening. As I suspected the gate halted and began closing just as the SUV cleared the exit. I continued toward the opening and slid though just as a gate closed. Gloria stopped the car. I jumped into the passenger seat. Flashing lights and loud horns blared in the background as Gloria sped towards our meeting spot. 

1 comment:

  1. So they got out? All of them? Or did I miss somebody? Yay! Now they better get the flip out of there, and fast. Run, Micah, run!