Two Bit Hack: Part 17

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Spinning The Web

You can learn a lot through observation. Take spiders for instance. Ever wonder why spiders don't get caught in their own webs? It's simple really. Not every part of the web is sticky and the spider knows where to walk. He also knows how to walk just in-case he makes a mistake with one of those eight feet so that no more than one foot at a time ends up stuck in the web. One foot he can easily pull free, eight feet, not so much. Pick up a spider and drop him on his web flat on his back and he'll be there until the chickens or some other bird comes 'round to munch. The chickens of Asylumland loved to raid spiders' webs and if by chance the spider was home they'd eat him too.

The doors at Asylumland were designed to keep people in, not out. In watching the guards, orderlies and other staff come and go, I noticed the sides of the doors facing away from where we inmates lived, were all equipped with no more than simple push bars and opened in towards us. No locks, no nobs, no keys, nothing to slow anyone down when going that one direction. This made things like pushing in carts filled with linen or meals 3 times a day as easy as bumping the cart against the door and rolling it on through. Or, in the case of an emergency, no one needed a key or a combination to respond.

On our side of the door was one of those old metal combination key pads and a handle that pushed down once the correct combination had been entered. My guess was that Frank had watched orderlies come and go long enough to learn the combination to where he was being kept, escaped one night and made his way through the asylum. But like the rest of us, Frank was unfamiliar with just how big the place really was and had no idea that not every wing shared the same combination as the others. So when he found his way into our wing he was trapped with no where else to go. At least, that was my best guess as to how Frank got there and why he wouldn't want to stay if given a better option.

Frank had everyone stirred up. He took anything he wanted and a handful of thugs were happy to back him up for the chance to share in Frank's discards.  The encomienda system was quickly breaking down as Frank and the others added to their groups of encomiendas at the expense of the others always taking what they considered to be the best assets. In the meantime I held my ground and hoped he thought I was planning my escape.

At the same time, something had rattled the institution management into fixing up the place. Cleaning and remodeling crews were brought in to work day and night. They moved our things, made us share rooms and pretty much kept us awake all the time with the noise from all the construction going on. Were it not for days spent in my lean-to I wouldn't have slept at all but with so many wanting to crash there, even that was limited.

Next up was new clothes for everyone. Most of the men had been wearing the same few tattered clothes for years so this was quite a shock. And previously, while everything the women had received had obviously come from thrift stores, these clothes were all brand new, never before worn. They even brought in a few people to help with alterations.

Of course everyone was excited but myself and a few others couldn't help but question their motives. "Do you really believe they're doing this for us?" I asked.

"What makes you think they aren't?" Sara asked, as Janice and Joe listened.

"Look at Irene and Sabrina over there," I said.

"What about them?" Janice asked.

"A few shiny new things and they've forgotten all the misery this institution has caused them all these years," I answered. "Notice how the food was all so much better than usual today?"

"Yeah," Joe replied, "best I've had in years. What's that all about?"

"I think we're about to get some visitors," I answered.

"Who?" Janice asked. "I mean it's not like family ever comes to see us."

"I don't know but my guess is they'll be State or Federal regulators," I answered, "and when they get here we need to talk with them."

We made a rope from vines and used it to pull back a tall sapling tree so that Frank could use it to catapult over the wall.  Then we rigged a latch from some sticks and waited for Frank to show up. Frank was to grab hold of the tree and when he tripped the latch he would be propelled over the wall never to be seen again. Well that was what we wanted it to look like to Frank. What actually happened was, he took one look at the catapult and started laughing his ass off. "Are you kidding?" he said almost rolling on the ground. "That thing could get somebody killed."

"I know," I smiled as I tripped the latch and sent the catapult springing into action with the previously unseen snare wrapped around Frank's legs, jerking him into the air and smashing his head against the concrete wall. I ran to the wall, picked up a stick and beat Frank repeatedly until I could beat him no more just in case the force of the snare smashing his head against the wall wasn't enough to kill him. Then I dropped to the ground out of breath.

 As I laid on the ground catching my breath, GI Joe climbed the tree and removed the homemade rope dropping Frank's dangling body to the ground. We buried Frank in a shallow grave in the woods and no one ever found his body, probably because no one ever came looking.

While many would suspect it was I who got rid of Frank, only Joe and I knew exactly how it had been done. Secrets like that would get me lots of breathing room when the thugs felt the need to push others around.

Continue To Part 18: The Visitors