Jared Lipof
| Fiction

After school the next day Benny dragged me to Hanover Public Library. He’d seen something on the news the night before that demanded immediate follow-up. “I’ve had something of an intuition,” he said.

“You sure it was on the news? Sounds like you’ve been watching Dr. Who.”

“There’s nothing wrong with Dr. Who.”

“What’s at the library?” I said.

“Shh.” He put his finger to his lips. “Not until we get there.”

Benny’s sense of showmanship required a visual aid, and he said nothing further until we strode up the library’s front steps and requested several rolls of microfilm from the librarian and commandeered a viewing machine. Even then I had to wait for him to shuttle back and forth across two of them before he finally pointed at the screen and said, “There.”

The headline, dated July 22, 1982, read MICKEY THURSTON ESCAPES FROM WALPOLE, above a pair of mug shots of the notorious bank robber himself.

“That was like three months ago,” I said.

“Precisely,” said Benny.

“Precisely what?”

“Oh, Oliver. Don’t you see?”

I hated when he did this. We were in the same grade. We’d been friends since we were toddlers. But Benny was four months older than me and whenever he found himself in the know he tended to treat me more like a nephew with a learning disability than a friend.

“See WHAT?” I said, way too loud for the library’s hushed confines. An oil painting of one of Hanover’s founding fathers scowled at me from a gilt-edged frame. Any second the librarian’s head would peek around the corner to reprimand me.

“Plastic surgery,” whispered Benny.

I looked at the mug shot on the screen. Mickey Thurston was a handsome guy, there was no denying it. As in those old black-and-white photos of Paul Newman, Thurston’s eyes looked chiseled from diamonds, the kind of eyes that made a woman’s knees buckle. I’d heard stories about Mickey from both my father and my uncle Stan, who was a Hanover cop. Ladies’ man. Folk hero. Blue-collar guys loved him in a Robin Hood kind of way. He only stole from banks, and everybody, even the cops, knew that the banks were the real criminals. According to the article, Mickey Thurston robbed over forty of them, never used a gun, and was arrested, convicted, and locked up in the early seventies. Then, back in July, he and five other Walpole inmates crawled out of a hole in the ground at the end of a two-hundred-foot tunnel and made a break for it. Three of them had been recaptured by lunchtime the next day. A fourth by sundown. And that left Mickey, out there somewhere. Presumably out of the country. There were more rumors about Mickey Thurston’s whereabouts than theories about the broken man’s face.

“Why would he hide here? We’re only like fifty miles from Walpole,” I said.

“Fifty-two, to be precise.”

“Fine. I see you’ve done your research. Wouldn’t you want to get farther away from the prison you’d escaped from?”

“Unless that’s where everyone was looking for me. All I’m saying is that nobody would be looking for him this close to home.”

Could this be the man in the window across the street from the school, wrapped in gauze? The eyes might have told me, but we hadn’t gotten close enough.

“I don’t know, Benny. Maybe.”

“There’s something else,” he said. “They’re offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to his capture.”

Jared Lipof is a sound engineer for documentary television programs. His work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review. He lives in Tallahassee, where he is at work on a novel.

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