Escape From San Juan
As the light turned green, I drove through the intersection and turned into the airport entrance at Isla Verde, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was 2:30 in the morning and I had nowhere to hide until my flight left at 7:00. I parked conveniently close to the terminal and got my luggage out of the car. I didn’t have much because, in my haste, I only got the most important things and had to be able to carry them with me. Because packing in the dark is not one of my strong suits, I hadn’t been too terribly efficient. But I was at the airport now, and I wasn’t about to risk going back. If I was caught now, the chances of a future escape attempt would be slim to none. Farnsworth would never let me near a car again. I would end up in the armpit of the island, if I was lucky. My fate would be worse than the Hell from which I was fleeing.
I locked up the car and went inside. I found the American Airlines ticket counter and put my luggage down in the front of the line, which at this hour was empty. The entire ticketing area seemed void of human existence except for a few stragglers who were also waiting for early morning departures. I began to look around, trying to make the best of the next three hours, which were difficult, to say the least. My mind was awash with anticipation, doubt, anxiety, fear, and a faint glimmer of hope. I even considered, every half minute or so, going back before I was missed, but I was so close to freedom that I could taste it. There seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and I had to try.
I know I must have looked nervous. Constantly looking over my shoulder, my inner voice kept telling me that Farnsworth was near, beware! Like a bad late-night movie, The Confrontation was on every channel, every minute it seemed. I couldn’t shake it. I was a valiant soldier. They couldn’t take me! I fought them bravely! I would not go! Farnsworth and his men were no match for my courage. Try as they would to overpower me, I was free now and they couldn’t make me go back. I could never go back! I couldn’t handle it again. I was so close! Dear God, NOT NOW! Please, NOT NOW!
The minutes ticked by, one after one. Slowly and methodically time progressed as it always does. After what seemed an eternity, the airline counter opened. I bought my ticket but wasn’t on my way just yet. I had to have my luggage inspected for fruit flies. Was this some kind of sick joke? Didn’t they realize what they were doing to me? I was forced to wait another incredibly long half hour outside the airport where the inspection station was, still fully expecting Farnsworth’s entourage to come sailing up and whisk me away to my doom.
The bags were inspected, and on their way to New York City. If only I could hop onto the conveyor and follow them into the safety of the awaiting craft. I immediately started down the hallway which led to the security checkpoint; once past there, those who would be pursuing me would not be allowed to pass. I was certain of that. Well, almost certain. I approached the glass door which led to security, and found it locked. My heart sank into my stomach. A sign nearby indicated that the security area would not be open until 6:30 a.m., another fifteen minutes. It might as well have been another day, for all I cared. The later it got, the more likely my capture. I had made arrangements to delay the discovery of my disappearance, but there were loose ends. And loose ends make me nervous. I just had to make it; I was so close! My flight to freedom would leave in just 45 minutes.
To take up some time, and to look less conspicuous, I went into the gift shop. How grateful I was that at least something was open. I browsed the souvenirs, but bought nothing. I had no cash. My ticket to freedom had been purchased with a credit card smuggled to me by a family member. I looked at magazines until the security checkpoint was open. Beyond that were the gates.
My spirit felt new life as I passed through those doors. Each step brought to mind the freedom which lay ahead. Sitting near the gate, I anxiously awaited the boarding call. I held a first class ticket, and was one of the first on board. I found my seat and the attendant wasted no time in bringing me a glass of champagne. Celebration was truly in order, but not enjoyed yet. In the back of my mind I kept watching The Confrontation. I had memorized every line. I knew it well. The movie on this flight, however, was not The Confrontation but something with Cher in it. Somewhere between San Juan and New York I realized that I was free.