Best Laid Plans
Sometimes, the best you can hope to do is to keep someone else from making a mistake they're bound to make no matter what, even worse than it has to be. As one who spent his entire life warning people they were about to screw up only to watch them screw up anyway I've come to the conclusion that sometimes it's best if you just stand to the side and try and catch them if they fall your direction. And if they fall in another direction? Well, I don't know about you but I've never been adept at being in two places at the same time. Besides, I wanted to go too, I just didn't want it to be my idea. I didn't want anyone to blame me if it didn't work out.
"Getting out of here has never been the real problem," I said. "The real problem is what do we do once we get out?"
"We run," Joe said.
"We go home," Irene exclaimed.
"Yeah, we go home," Sabrina added.
"It's not that simple," I said.
"It's not?" Sara asked.
"How so?" Janice asked.
"Ever notice," I answered, "that every single person living in this prison is white?"
"Yeah, so?" Janice asked.
I answered, "In the 1930s, when my parents were growing up in Ashe County, North Carolina, every single resident of the entire county was white except for the men incarcerated in the all black, African American state prison there. And if the locals saw a black man anywhere outside the prison walls it was assumed he was an escaped prisoner. They shot first and asked questions later. Getting out of here is as simple as creating a diversion and walking out the front gate. I could have done it already. Surviving the escape is a whole 'nother story."
"But how do you know it's like that?" Sabrina asked.
"For sure," Joe answered, "we don't. But none of those visitors were white and none of them spoke English. I say you let me gather some more intel before you decide to do anything."
"We've already been here for years," Janice said. "We can wait a little longer."
"So what would we need to create a diversion?" Irene asked. "You know, just in case."
"If I were going to do it," Joe answered, "I'd start stocking up on bottles of window cleaner and bleach from off the carts used by the housekeeping staff."
"A weak solution of ammonia-chloride gas," I added, "That would create quite a stir."
"It would without a doubt bring everyone running if for no other reason than to get the staff out alive," Joe agreed.
What was I going to do? Make them stay? I'd already presented my worst case scenario and they were still willing to risk all just for a taste of freedom. Where we were, where we would go, how we might get there-- none of those things mattered, not to them, not yet anyway. All that was to be worked out, at least for now there was something they could aspire to and something they could be doing-- even if it was wrong.