Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Armchair Fugitive

Am I the only person who's ever thought about what she'd do if she was a fugitive from justice? Planned her escape route and made a list of all the things she wouldn't do?

Recently we had jail break here in SW Missouri. The young man used Christmas lights to lower himself to the ground outside the cell (which I thought was unique) and made good on his head start. Unfortunately, he took off all his orange jumpsuit, and showed up on some stranger's doorstep in his underwear telling a sad tale (what does one say in situations like this? They caught fire? I waited too long and had an accident? My girlfriend stole them? I forgot where I left them?). Whether out of fear or because they were gullible, they gave him a set of clothes. He put them on and ran away.

He might have made it, except that his chosen method of escape was on foot. That by itself wasn't a bad idea (no license plate number, no make, model, or year). But his jogging route included the shoulder of a major highway.

Ummm. Duh.

Most of the time it seems when they do actually get more than a few blocks from the jail, fugitives nearly always return to the area they lived in--often to a girlfriend's house, (such is the role of women--to love, honor, hide from the law . . .), mother's home, or, occasionally, that of some friend.

So I've made up a list of the ten things one should/should not do if one is a fugitive. Feel free to use my suggestions should you ever become one. I don't need you to credit me. Really. In fact I'd prefer you not tell anyone where you heard this at.

1) Have A Plan. Know where you're going and how you're getting there before you tie your first bed sheet. I suspect this is probably the greatest mistake made by most fugitives. This would also be a good time to shower/shave (I'll get to why in a minute).

2) This is where you lean on those wives and girlfriends and/or bestfriends. Have them leave you a change of clothes and money (enough for a bus ticket or car if possible) somewhere near your point of escape. Ask them to include a hat and/or believable wig and/or beard (if appropriate--I wouldn't advise this for females. Bearded ladies are still pretty much a memorable oddity, though I suppose this could be a good time to take up cross dressing if you can carry it off. See? That close shave came in handy didn't it?). I don't know a lot about colored contacts, but teenage girls certainly have no trouble finding them when they want them. I'd highly recommend a set of these. For some reason people remember my eye color (I hear they're blue-gray). If it's memorable--hide it. Don't wear dark glasses; apparently this is a give away. Politely say no to the guy in the next jail cell who's been offering you that free tattoo. That snake eating the rabbit with your girlfriend's name in lacy script over it might look cool now, but . . .

3) Get the hell out of Dodge. Do not go to your wife or girlfriend's house. GO TO ANOTHER STATE! Do NOT stay in the region. If you're on the East Coast go to the West. I've never quite understood people who go to the trouble to escape then stay within a few miles of where they came from. Newsflash: It's not a game of tag or hide-n-seek. If you make it back to home base, they don't let you stay free. Oh yeah, if you opt for the "go to the east/west coast" thing--don't show up on relatives or friend's doorsteps. This is no time to renew old acquaintances.

4) Do not tell anyone you know where you're going. Do not call home. Do not call your girlfriend (or boyfriend). That way they can't possibly be pressured into telling the authorities, who will most certainly apply it ('Ve haf ways of making you talk). Though it's sad I know, you must assume that this is probably the end of life as you know it.

5) Once you've reached a stopping place (a motel a thousand miles or so from where you started)-this would be an excellent time to try that change of hair color you've been talking about. Try to go for the academic look. (Generally a good disguise for someone who's just escaped from jail is to look like you go to an office everyday. There are crooks there too, but they come for them last).

6) Do not call home (Have I said that before? Can I say it enough times?). Do not invite your girlfriend or boyfriend to join you at this point. Nor is this a good time to begin a relationship with someone. Consider yourself at a transitional stage in your life.

7) Now would be a good time to buy a car. Check the classifieds. Buy a clunker from some guy who only wants your money, who doesn't care whether you're insured or not or whether you have a warrant out for your arrest.

8) Abide by all laws. Now is not the time to speed, rob a bank or convenience store, mug someone, drive with expired tags, or make a career change to white collar crime. I know bad habits are hard to break, but this might be a good time to choose a new one. How about gum chewing?

9) Now the next part is pretty tricky. If your passport hasn't been revoked, this would be an excellent time to make for Canada or Mexico. I guess it depends on what weather you prefer. If you were in enough trouble to earn the attention of the FBI, then I'd suggest an identity change now if you haven't already.

10) Once you're where ever you've decided to settle-sell the car to some other fugitive (this explains a lot about that guy you bought it from, doesn't it?) and do one of two things: Blend in to the local population or move into the wilderness (my preferred method of staying free) and plan a life of solitude and reflection. This is a great time to go green, live off the grid, join one of those survivalist groups who doesn't ask too many questions as long as you behave yourself.

I'm sure my readers have lots of things to add to this list as you've probably got your escape route planned too. Feel free to add pointers to my list.


Debby said...

Okay, here's where a cloak of invisibility would help out a lot. Me, myself, I just think it's a heck of a lot easier to avoid trouble than to get out of it after the fact. That's just me.

Pencil Writer said...

I understand your being perplexed by the inane behavior of "broken out" jailbirds.

Interesting tips. Do they also work for those tired of the humdrum they might have experienced in their solitary lives, or over-indulged in the worldly pursuit of happiness? I don't claim membership in either group, but I've been listening to some who kind of fit those conditions.

I like Debby's comment. Best to just avoid the trouble in the first place! Life has enough trials to keep me busy w/o trying to hunt up "a complete life change" at this point.

Dennis Bryant said...

I can't say that I ever thought about being a fugitive, but I have spent a fair amount of time pondering creative ways to dispose of a body. Do you think that's unhealthy? ;-)

Mary Paddock said...

Deb--According to a recent post over at Scotty's that cloak of invisibility isn't such a reach these days.

PW--Not so much perplexed as amused. I think these tips might have multi-purposes.

Dennis--Unhealthy for you? No. Unhealthy for anyone who might make you mad? Maybe. (*Makes note to self to not annoy Dennis on blog or otherwise*).

In truth, I think it just goes to demonstrate how much time people like you and I spend working out plot lines and what ifs in sci-fi/mystery novels. I've often wondered what some of my internet searches much look like to total strangers.