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Saturday, December 6, 2014
Cherese Vines Charming Words blog
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CORDS OF THE ASCENDANT
Present Day, May
Maxwell sat at the traffic light thinking about his time at the clinic in Port-au-Prince all those years ago. Although he had studied anatomy and biology, his interests led him to technology and chemistry.
He wondered if his parents would have been disappointed that he had not become a medical doctor like them. Now he would never know. They had been dead fourteen years and government agents were pursuing him.
The traffic light changed and he pressed the accelerator. He was not going fast, but he was not going straight to the rental car office either. He needed time to think. The doctor in the EMU had not examined him or asked for anything other than a blood sample and a breath test.
Why would she want a breath test? Maxwell searched his mind, trying to call up any information he had learned all those years ago in biology. Sweet breath could mean diabetes. Ammonia smell could mean kidney problems…
He slammed on his brakes to keep from going through a red light. Could he have given himself away? As soon as the light turned green, he headed for the waterfront. Increasing his speed, he checked the mirror periodically. They had fallen back, but they were still following. He would have to ditch the car.
A car wash ahead on his left gave him an idea. He pulled the car into the parking lot and steered toward the automatic doors. The pursuing car passed without pulling into the lot. Maxwell grabbed his bag from the backseat, did a quick mental check of anything else that he had brought into the car, and threw the gear into NEUTRAL.
Looking quickly down the street, he jumped out the car and headed around the side of the car wash, walking quickly through the parking lot behind it and down the side of the gas station next to that. He headed in the direction of the waterfront.
He slipped his backpack over his shoulders and started at a run. In the distance, he heard sirens. Not knowing whether they were for him or not, he kept going and did not look back. Shortly, he heard helicopter sounds coming from the west. He ran behind a building and waited. The propellers sounded closer as did the sound of spinning tires. Maxwell took off toward a park just behind the commercial street and ran at full tilt.
His backpack slapped heavily against his back. Although it weighed probably thirty pounds including his laptop, he did not seem to notice the weight. His ROTC training kicked in. He had maneuvers and exercises that required him to carry twice that weight including boots and weapon.
Now he only wore casual shoes, slacks, and a now sweaty blue dress shirt. Maxwell spent time in the state militia after his parents’ deaths. During that time, he’d trained and obsessed about the man whose indecision changed his life. He wasn’t about to get caught and have all his training and planning be for nothing.
Scanning ahead, he found the street sign and visualized the map he had memorized. Pursuing cars were obvious now. He increased his speed and veered right through a shaded stretch of the park. He saw the fence that overlooked the water. He could see the docks farther up the bank. He headed toward them.Maxwell jumped the fence just as the helicopter zoomed over the trees behind him. He was breathing hard as he pounded toward the gate that surrounded and separated the docks from the rest of the waterfront area. He made it to the cover of several tractor-trailer containers before the helicopter cleared the trees.
The sun slanted across the containers as Maxwell zigzagged in between them. He glanced down at his watch. It was 6:04 p.m. He was pretty sure that the pursuing helicopter and cars did not know he was inside the docks. However that would not be for long. So he headed for the end of the docks where there was a ferry. It would take him to the far shore.
Retrieving a map from his backpack, he checked the ferry timetable. He could just make it if he hurried. The ferry left at 6:15 p.m. Sirens blasted on the other side of the shipping containers to his right.
Maxwell sprinted down an aisle and hurried closer toward the water. He frowned, and hoped he would not have to swim for it.
The water opened ahead before he knew it and he nearly collided with a dockworker.
“Hey, watcha doin’ over har?” the older man asked. He had a slight accent. It relaxed Maxwell who had almost attacked the man. This man was a hometown guy who wouldn’t be concerned with government agendas.
“I’m sorry,” Maxwell apologized, only slightly out of breath. “I was trying to make the ferry and took a short cut.”
“You’d get in a lotta trouble doin’ dat. You betta hurry up, nah.”
“You never saw me,” said Maxwell, thankfully. The older man smiled and waved him on.
He nodded gratefully to the man and ran the length of the shore toward the ferry. There were a dozen or so cars waiting to board and a few pedestrians coming in from the surface streets. Skirting around the fence at the end, Maxwell boarded the ferry from the dock side and avoided anyone who would have been waiting at the admission gate. He quickly climbed up a rope ladder attached to the side of the boat and hauled himself over the railing.
The cabin was nearly empty when he entered and took a seat close to a man engrossed in something on his mobile phone. Taking a deep breath, Maxwell did a quick scan of his exits and let his breathing come back to normal. He was barely winded.
At 6:15 on the dot, the ferry blew its horn and pulled away from the shore. There was no law enforcement in sight.