PRISON BREAK

Emma Devon

 

The sirens blare into the night, police vehicles dashing about, lights and sirens jarring the peace of the soft Honolulu nights. It is the third jailbreak in the past six months and the police are no nearer to recapturing the escapees or apprehending those behind the breaks. The escaping prisoners, men who have been convicted of crimes involving the theft of large sums of money, gems or precious metals, have eluded police surveillance, roadblocks and recapture. It is as if they have collected their ill-gotten gains and vanished from the islands.

During the following days, HPD try to track down the missing prisoners, but have very little to go on. The press and news media ask searching questions and the Governor is under pressure from the State Senate House to stop the prison breaks and show some results. Local politicians are complaining that their constituents are unhappy at the number of convicted criminals escaping into their communities.

With the third breakout, Steve McGarrett, head of Hawaii Five-O the state police unit, knows it won’t be long before he’s called in to deal with the case and so the summons from the Governors office was not unexpected. Having been fully briefed by HPD and his own men, Steve felt fully confident that he would be able to provide some answers and set up an investigation that would capture the perpetrators. Steve walked across the grounds of the Iolani Palace to the State Capitol building, greeted the secretary and was promptly ushered into the Governor’s office. Inside was the Governor and another man, Senator Robert Prendergast, the Governor stood up and said,

‘McGarrett! you’re going to prison’.

Steve stopped dead in his tracks, looked at the two men. Noting their grim faces and desperately trying to think what he had done to warrant such a statement, Steve walked towards the two men. With an impassive face he turns to the Governor and replies,

‘I see, ‘er what exactly have I done?’

A grin stretches itself on the Governor’s face and he says, ‘murdered Bob Prendergast here’.

Steve looks from one to the other and asks if they will explain this to him.

‘I’m under pressure to stop these jailbreaks; the local community and the tourist industry fear the repercussions from these escapes. They are both vital to the economy of these islands and escaped and dangerous convicts on the loose are not going to win us any prizes. Its about time Five-O earned its salary,’ remarks the Governor.

Bob Prendergast an old friend and former navy colleague, is totally trusted by Steve and the Governor. The Governor then explains to Steve his plan and with the help of Prendergast, to trap the jailbreak operators.

Steve reports, ‘We do have some leads but they end at the prison gates, I suspect that some of the prison guards are involved, maybe even the Warden and some of the prisoners but we have nothing definite to go on. I’ve had the personnel files on all the prison staff sent over to my office, bank records, health check, family and lifestyle etc. It’ll be a long trawl but something may emerge’.

‘Well that’s a start’, says Prendergast.

‘And I’m not to happy about being inside,’ continues Steve, ‘I’ve put too many away in there, my life won’t be worth a plugged nickel if I’m sent down and a dead cop won’t give you any answers’.

Prendergast and the Governor tell Steve, ‘It is a big risk but unless you can come up with another idea’.

‘No’ says Steve ’we need an inside man, its just I’m none to keen on it being me’.

Eventually Steve agrees to the plan but says, ‘I want Danny and Chin in on it because when the break comes I’m going to need all the help I can get, to survive’.

The Governors’ plan is put into action. Steve and Prendergast build up a feud and involve several government departments. Both men utter harsh words; veiled threats and serious allegations and the news media latch onto the worsening state of affairs between the two protagonists. Prendergast uses the political arena to attack the offices of Five-O, denouncing the team as incompetent and a waste of public money. Although Danny and Chin know of the plan they act out their parts in furthering the rift and causing considerable friction with various government departments. Allegations; made by both men are eagerly reported in the daily papers and crusading journalists are keen to keep the feud alive. Steve is just as active in calling Prendergast an armchair politician with no concept of the demands made on modern police work.

One morning Prendergast’s secretary arrives at the politician’s office to find the main office door wide open and a scene of utter chaos throughout the suite. Blood is all over the floor; furniture has been upset and broken, papers strewn about. She calls the police who on arrival make enquiries of Prendergast’s’ whereabouts. They find out that he was not in his apartment all night and had not been seen since late afternoon the previous day.

Danny arrives at the scene, ‘Do we know if this blood belongs to Prendergast?’ he asks.

The HPD detective in charge says, ‘We haven’t had it analysed yet but it looks like your boss finally took matters into his own hands’.

‘What do you mean by that remark’, growls Danny. The detective looks at Danny and says ‘I suspect McGarrett of murdering Prendergast and I’m going to bring him in’.

Danny tells the detective, ‘Its Steve’s day off, I’ll go and find him and if it’ll please you, I’ll take an HPD officer with me, but I’m telling you that Steve had nothing to do with this’.

Danny, driven by the HPD officer in a black and white, arrives and goes up to Steve’s apartment, followed by the patrolman. Steve’s domestic service opens the door and lets Danny and the HPD officer in. Danny asks ‘Where’s Steve?’

‘On the lanai having coffee.’

Danny goes over to Steve who having heard the voices walks into the room and looks questioningly at Danno.

‘Whats the problem Danno?’

‘Steve, bloodstains and a sign of a struggle were found in Prendergast’s office this morning when the secretary arrived to start work. HPD believe that you killed him and somehow disposed of the body’. Taking a deep breath he carries on, ‘I’m here to take you in for questioning’.

Steve looks at Danny, ‘I didn’t kill Prendergast, I may have disliked the man but that isn’t reason enough to kill him’.

Nonetheless Steve accompanies Danny and the HPD officer back to Prendergast’s office. When Steve, Danny and the HPD officer walk into the office, the detective looks at Steve and asks ‘What did you do with the body?’

Steve denies any knowledge of what could have happened in the office. ‘I wasn’t here when all this happened,’ he remarks.

The secretary identifies Steve as the man she saw go into Prendergast’s office at 5pm the previous evening. Steve says, ‘Yes I was here, the Governor had ordered me to stop the feud and see Prendergast and come to a mutual agreement.’ The detective suddenly asks Steve, ‘Do you know the combination to Prendergast safe?’

Steve, looking perplexed says ‘I did do two weeks ago but it could have been changed’.

‘Try it’, orders the detective.

Steve looks at the man says ‘Whether I can open the safe or not will prove nothing since I know the combinations of at least a dozen other safes in the city’. Steve walks over and quietly dials out the combination and releases the safe. The secretary goes over to it, opens the door and gasps. She turns round and states, ‘The money it’s gone’.

‘Money!’ chorus three voices.

‘Yes’, she says, ‘Five million dollars in cash and bankers drafts’.

They look at Steve, who shrugs his shoulders and says, ‘I haven’t got it’.

The detective takes out a pair of handcuffs and says to Steve, ‘McGarrett I’m arresting you on suspicion of murder and grand larceny’.

‘All because of a public argument’, says Steve,’ I didn’t kill him, I’d no need to’.

Danny goes with Steve to Headquarters where after several interviews and access to a lawyer Steve is indicted and then formally charged with the murder of Prendergast and theft of $5 million.

Steve manages to get bail; a mysterious figure posts the required sum within hours of the figure of $1 million being set. Denied his own car Steve uses a taxi to leave the police building and goes to a friend’s house where another car is at his disposal. When things have quietened down, he disappears into the hills, where after making sure he’s not been followed by changing cars and clothes at pre-arranged sites, he meets the Governor, Danny and Prendergast at a remote hunting lodge on a private estate. ‘You weren’t followed Steve’?

‘No, I made sure of that Governor. Hello Bob, you sure made a mess of your office, they think I did a bit of butchery on you’.

‘Yeah’ says Prendergast, ’it’s surprising how far a pint of blood goes. Anyway you seem to have made the headlines, now to get you to trial, though the papers seem to already have you tried, convicted and sentenced’.

‘Yeah, so much for being presumed innocent, maybe I’ll get my lawyer to declare the trial would be unfair on the ground of press attention’.

‘And spoil your day in court not to mention wrapping up these jailbreaks’. Replies Prendergast.

‘It may not be that easy’, says Danny, ‘HPD want a body and the DA’s not sure he’ll get a conviction without one. There’s not a lot of evidence to go on, its all circumstantial and we can’t introduce any more for fear of tipping our hand’.

‘How about rigging the jury?’ says Prendergast.

‘That’s already in hand’ says Danny.

‘I’m sure glad were on the same team’, says Steve with a wry look on his face.

The day’s pass as the prosecution steadily builds up its case against McGarrett. There is little Forensic evidence. Steve, having openly admitted that he visited the crime scene prior to the murder, would have left traces behind as well as transferring some of Prendergast’s to his clothes and car. Most of Steve’s clothes are examined for traces of blood but none is found. The money makes no appearance although several bank accounts and savings utilities belonging to Steve are searched under court order. Even Steve’s boat is impounded and thoroughly searched.

The morning arrives for Steve’s day in court. The court proceedings go as predicted, Steve unable to prove he didn’t kill Prendergast and the DA hampered by the lack of a body make the trial a drawn out affair of circumstance and opportunity. After three weeks of evidence, the jury find McGarrett guilty of murder and grand theft. After silencing the court, the judge passes a sentence of life on Steve with a recommendation for a minimum of forty years to be served. Steve with a grim face and handcuffed, faces the cameras and press as he is taken from the court and put into a prison van to be taken to the state prison.

Inside he is quickly inducted into the prison system. Almost immediately there are rival factions of inmates, one group surround he for mutual protection whilst other inmates make threats or treat the whole thing with indifference. The prison is kept on full alert as several fights and incidents occur wherever Steve is. Everyone wants to get in on the act of seeing the head of the State police unit reduced to a lowly common criminal. The prison warden meets out varying degrees of punishment to McGarrett and the other offenders. From confining them to their cells; restriction of privileges; labour and eventually to spending a period of detention in the solitary confinement cells know as the hole. This proves to be one of the most difficult periods for Steve as unbeknown to his friends and enemies, he spent a few months of hell as a prisoner of war in Korea, cooped up in the confines of a bamboo cell. Ever since he has had a fear of small confined places but with steely determination prepares himself for the ordeal. Officials and prisoners alike watch Steve’s progress through the prison hierarchy with interest. Defeating several of the prison overlords, raises his standing in the eyes of exploited and abused prisoners. He also gets first hand knowledge and experience of life behind the walls of a modern jail.

It becomes a worrying time for the deputy warden of the prison, having McGarrett in jail even as a convicted murderer has put a serious strain on the enforcement of discipline and control. Only one jailbreak had been achieved during the period of Steve’s incarceration and pressure was on to continue the breakouts. As always money is a the root of the groups activities, only so much has been recovered from the escaped prisoners and most of this has been placed in overseas bank accounts, far from the prying eyes of Federal and State investigators. A group of Senators, led by Robert Marshall, an opponent of both the Governor and the ‘late’ Prendergast, demands from the Governor that, ‘McGarrett should be transferred to a mainland prison so that the Warden can establish control and diffuse a potentially serious situation from occurring’.

The Governor asks Marshall, ‘Do you have some prior knowledge of such a thing happening’.

To which Marshall replies, ‘ No I don’t but like most on this island, I expect the prison to blast wide open if something isn’t done soon. It’ll be on your head Governor, don’t say I didn’t warn you’. With those last words ringing in his ears the Governor watches Marshall storm out of his office. Quietly he sits at his desks and dials the Five-O number.

‘Williams’, comes the curt reply.

‘I believe that I have just had a serious nibble at the bait’, replies the Governor, ’I think things are beginning to worry our perpetrators’.

‘Its about time something started to happen, we’ve exhausted all our lines of investigation and Steve is due to have his appeal application heard soon’.

‘Yes I know and it wouldn’t do us any good if his lawyer gets a retrial or the conviction quashed because of insufficient evidence and the overbearing pressure from the media into the case’.

‘I’ll get a message in to be aware that something is happening’.

Much later that evening, Marshall calls a clandestine meeting of his escape ring to discuss the ‘McGarrett affair’ and realises that he will either have to arrange for McGarrett to be killed in the prison or arrange for his ‘escape’. The deputy warden reports that McGarrett has done the impossible by being accepted by the majority of the prisoners even though he was a cop.

‘He has,’ says the man’ ‘created his own protection ring by being better than the mini overlords, facing them down and giving the little guys a better deal’.

The group know that they can’t allow one man to reign supreme in the prison, as it would destroy their escape system, so plans are made to allow McGarrett to escape, collect the $5m and disappear.

About three months after his incarceration in the State prison Steve along with five others break out of the pen and disappear into the night. The sirens blare and police and prison officials scour the surrounding areas. The TV broadcasts news of the escape and the escapees warning people not to attempt to apprehend any of them, as they are dangerous men serving long prison sentences. Steve and his escape partner head north. Paul Jones has been given a detailed plan of persuading Steve to collect the five million dollars he stole and follow a specific route of escape. Steve has realised that Jones is a plant for the organisation and has no intention of following their plan, which would probably end in his death. Steve steers Jones towards a quiet bay on the west coast where a small ocean going yacht is moored. Although Jones is apprehensive of following Steve’s plans he has little opportunity to resist, as his orders are to stay with McGarrett until the money is collected and Steve has ‘disappeared’. Quietly they go aboard and sail out to sea before anyone realises that the boat is gone. Once clear of land Steve starts up the motors and sails northwest. By mid-morning Steve and Jones are a long way from Oahu and looking for shelter among some of the tiny atolls.

Unbeknown to the two men the other four prisoners have been recaptured and taken to HPD, the first real success in the jailbreak saga. The TV news reports this fact saying that only McGarrett and Jones are still at large, which was to be expected since McGarrett would know the best way to avoid police surveillance and detection. Several politicians make pointed remarks about how HPD and Five-O may not be seriously looking for McGarrett, and how escapee hunting procedures were not renewed after McGarrett’s conviction. As the day wears on, police searches have failed to recover the missing prisoners. Steve on the other hand has made rapid progress to escape both police recapture and the dubious welcome he would get at the hands of Marshall and his organisation. Jones, becoming increasingly uneasy that the plan is not going according to the script tries to persuade Steve to return to Oahu. Steve, casually at first said ‘I’m going to collect the money’, then when they were well out at sea commented ‘that it’s best we wait until the heat has died down then I’ll go in and collect the money’.

The small yacht sailed on through the night but in the early dawn a navy ship comes over the horizon, just as they are about to hide among the atolls of the Hawaiian chain, and stops them. Steve heaves to, although Jones had demanded he try to race back to land.

Steve tells Jones, ‘One shell from that ship and we wouldn’t need to go back to shore, in any case none of these islands are big enough for us to get lost on. We would run out of food and water and there’s very little shelter to be had’.

With rifles pointing at them and a demand to put their hands into the air, the two men are taken onto the navy ship. A small crew is detailed to sail the yacht back to Oahu. On the ship the two prisoners are forced onto the deck, handcuffed and searched and taken under guard to two separate cabins for interrogation. Danny comes into Steve’s cabin and tells the Navy SP to wait outside.

‘What have you got so far Danno?’

Danny tells Steve, ‘We’ve captured the other four men and they have talked but did not know much’.

‘Jones knows more but is refusing to talk’, says Steve. ‘I could have done with some more time with him, maybe he would have opened up but I think his main task was dogging me for the money then slitting my throat’.

‘Now one knows we’ve recaptured you yet, I’ll get the Captain to slow down, the yacht can be said to have been found afloat but empty’.

‘No that won’t do, Jones will know something is wrong if you do that then we will get nothing from him. Lets stick with the original plan, it’s still the best and most plausible, even most of this crew think I’m a convicted killer. It might be just enough to make Jones talk’.

Danny interrogates Jones and feeds him the story of being spotted late the previous evening by a plane and diverting a warship to investigate. He then leaves Jones to stew saying, ‘McGarrett will talk, and he has got nothing to lose and everything to gain’.

‘What do you mean’,

‘Think about it, McGarrett is down for life, anything he can give us will buy him some remission, maybe’.

Steve and Danny spend some time in discussion of the evidence and working out a list of possible suspects and members of Marshall’s operation. Steve gives Danny all the details of his escape plan, which as far as he knows was involved and how it was put to him.

‘I guess I didn’t really have much option, if I didn’t take them up on their offer, you’d have had one dead cop’.

Suddenly there is a commotion on deck, shouts of escape and sounds of running feet. Danny and Steve rush out of the cabin and onto the deck. Steve is still handcuffed and as they make the side of the ship, and see Jones dive into the sea.

Shouting, ‘ Give me your gun Danno!’ Steve takes the gun, aims and begins to shoot at the long grey shape swimming towards the floundering man. Jones screams as he sees the shark.

Danny grabs a rifle from one of the sailors and yells,

‘Get a boat into the water, quick, I want him alive’,

and then also shoots at the shark.

Quickly a boat is lowered into the water and the crew race towards Jones, hauling him aboard the little cutter. Steve has stopped firing, the gun is empty but no one has realised this, he waits for the man to be brought on board. They had seen the shark attack as soon as they reached the deck but hoped they had managed to prevent it killing Jones.

The badly bitten body of Jones is bought on deck and Steve goes over to him and asks, ‘Why did you try to jump ship?’

Jones just grimaces, blood tricking from the corner of his mouth and says ‘I couldn’t face going back to prison’.

Steve, having hidden the handgun in his waistband, makes his play and says, ‘We were set up. I figured that Marshall was behind the escapes and wanted all the money for himself. That’s why I tried to find a safe refuge and return only when it was safe to do so. He wanted me out of the way; it didn’t matter about the money. You were a patsy, expendable, as long as I got caught it didn’t matter, it would give him leverage to have me moved to a mainland prison. If the money turned up he would be the first to access it. You would be back in Oahu State pen without a penny and probably a very short life span’.

Jones dying from shock and loss of blood tries to fight the idea but Steve is persuasive and he eventually tells Steve everything he knows. Jones lapses into unconsciousness and the ships doctor demands he is taken to the sick bay. Danny walks up to Steve and removes the handcuffs and asks, ‘Have we got all the pieces yet’.

‘Most of them’ replies Steve, as he passes Danny’s handgun back to him.

The doctor returns and reports to Danny that Jones is dead. ‘Damn’ says Steve, as the Doctor looks on bewildered by the turn of events. ‘I needed him to testify, come on Danno lets see the Captain and get a secure radio link to the Governor’.

Steve talks with the Governor who arranges for HPD officers to obtain search and arrest warrants and begin to pick up the gang members. Steve and Danny fly in to land near Marshall’s house, Chin greets the retuning duo but some of the HPD men look a little confused at seeing Steve apparently not under arrest. Chin tells Steve what they have found and shows him the shallow graves of the escaped missing prisoners.

Danny says, ‘It looks as though he planned a short jailbreak for you Steve’.

‘Yeah’, says Steve, ‘a double rip off’.

Taking all the documents found in the house and knowledge of the remains found in the garden, Steve and Danny head back to HPD and arrange for warrants to be issued for Marshall’s arrest. Steve speaks with the Governor and arranges for them to meet at the state legislature. Police sirens wail as cars screech to a halt outside the legislature building. Politicians and bystanders stop and stare when they recognise McGarrett, in prison overalls, getting out of one of the vehicles. Followed by Danny he heads into the building. A pair or reporters see them arrive and realise that there is a story waiting for them, and follow the two men into the building. Marshall is holding forth in the lobby. Steve walks towards him when Marshall says

‘McGarrett why aren’t you in jail?’ and looks at Danny questioningly.

Steve tells Marshall ‘We have all the evidence we need, including the graves of the missing escaped prisoners. I have a warrant for your arrest on charges of murder and conspiracy’.

Marshall tries to bluff his way out, ‘You’re a convicted murderer McGarrett who is going to believe you?’

Chin comes over with documents taken from Marshall’s office saying,’ These were found in your safe, it was open; there is enough evidence in these to implicate you in the jailbreaks. Shows complete transactions with an east coast syndicate for large transfers of money. I guess you owed them badly?’

Hurling abuse and threats at McGarrett, Marshall is handcuffed and put into a police vehicle. The Governor comes over to Steve with Prendergast at his side, shakes his hand and says ‘ I guess its time to clear my chief of state police’, and gives Steve a copy of the press release.

Steve grins and says ‘Just what did happen to that $5m’.

‘It was non-existent’, replies Prendergast, ‘my secretary was also in on the plot but I couldn’t let you know’.

********************************

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