The siren on Alcatraz Island went off as guards leapt to their feet. One guard, Derek Moore, ran up to the watch tower and aimed the huge spotlight at the water. The San Francisco Bay gleamed in the spotlight. He shifted the light around to find the three inmates who were supposedly escaping on a small raft.
As he moved it around more, he spotted three people clinging on to a poorly made raft, paddling in the bay. He yelled, “I’ve spotted them!” He and multiple other guards ran down to the inflatable boats. By the time they got in the water, it was too late. The three men had successfully escaped Alcatraz.
Derek Moore, now a retired 88 year-old man, stepped out of his apartment and onto the streets of Brazil. After Alcatraz had shut down, he served another forty years as a guard at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York, and ten as warden at the Hodgson Detention Center in Phoenix.
After that he retired and went to live in Brazil. It was very nice and peaceful there. Just the kind of place where he could forget some of his most traumatic experiences as guard and warden. He strolled along the street and passed an old house. The locals had told him about that house, it was where old Clarence lived. The name sent a shiver down his spine. He would never forget that name.
He tried not to think about it as he walked away from the house. He was just a few feet away when he heard the door to the house creak open. He saw a wobbly old man, leaning on his cane for dear life, As he looked over at Derek, a faint glimmer of recognition lit up in Derek’s mind. It took him a second or two, but after a while he realized something.
Old Clarence was Clarence Anglin.
The same one who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962.
Clarence didn’t recognize Derek, and wobbled past him, only muttering a faint, coarse “hello.” Derek walked up to a public telephone and punched in 415-436-7677, the US Marshal hotline.
“Hello, this is the US Marshal. How can I help you?”
“ I just saw Clarence Anglin in Brazil.”
“The former Alcatraz inmate? Nice try. We have a letter from John Anglin saying that Clarence died in 2011. Don’t prank us, kid. We’ll always find out.”
“This isn’t a prank. I know what Clarence looks like.”
“Sure you do. Do you have any past connection with him?”
“I was a guard at Alcatraz when the escape happened. I have seen Clarence’s face a hundred times. I know it’s him. He’s living in Brazil.”
“Do you have an address?”
“Yes, 4172 West Aleatório Street.”
“Alright. We’ll send some people over there to check.”
But just a few feet away, Clarence stopped in his tracks, frozen with fear. He had been in Brazil living in fear since 1962, hiding from the authorities for decades. And now, he had been caught. But he wasn’t worried. This had happened before. He would just dye his hair a lighter shade, paint on some moles and birthmarks, and he could pass himself off as someone else. He was well prepared by the time the FBI showed up.
“This is the FBI! OPEN UP!!!”
Clarence creaked the door open and found himself staring into the faces of five FBI agents.
“Sir, we received a lead from a local resident here. He believes that you may be Alcatraz escapee Clarence Anglin.”
Clarence remained calm as he responded to the officer. “Nonsense. Me? An Alcatraz Escapee? Why did he say that?”
“He was apparently an Alcatraz guard during the escape…”
Clarence began to sweat. “This man must be lying. I am not a criminal. My name is Clarence William.”
The FBI agent was doubtful. “Sir, I’m afraid we have to search your home.”
Clarence stepped aside as the agents charged into his home. He didn’t think that anyone would find out about him, but it didn’t hurt to be careful. He quietly slipped outside. All of his mementos from Alcatraz and contact with his brother were safely stowed away in a hidden loose floorboard.
FBI agent Alfred Campbell stormed through the run-down house, looking for evidence. He stomped into Clarence’s bedroom and started looking through drawers. As he was about to leave the room, he stepped on a creaky floorboard. It seemed to be loose. He took out a screwdriver and pried the floorboard open. Inside there were countless letters addressed to John Anglin and mugshots of Clarence Anglin. He gathered everything into plastic bags for evidence and ran downstairs.
“SIR!” he yelled. “You’re under arrest for escaping prison and evading police!” All of the FBI agents gathered into the living room. To their horror, they realized that Clarence was gone. He had escaped…again.
In a taxi miles away, Clarence was sitting in the backseat, holding a suitcase full of a few hastily packed possessions, begging his driver to go faster.
“Dirija mais rápido! Estou com pressa!” (“Drive faster! I’m in a hurry!”)
“Estou indo o mais rápido que posso!” (“I’m going as fast as I can!”) yelled the driver in response. The fuming driver dropped Clarence off at the airport, where he purchased a ticket to China, departing in three hours.
The FBI agents got Derek and told him what happened. “We need to go and track him down,” Derek said.
“We? I’m sorry, Moore. You can’t go. You’re too old,” said Alfred.
“I don’t care. It’s for the good of my country. I’ve spent countless nights awake i9n bed, wishing that we could have caught the men who escaped that night. This is my only chance for peace.”
After hearing that statement, they agreed to let him go on the mission, but only spy work, no chasing or fights.
They retraced Clarence’s steps all the way to the airport, where they were able to get on the flight for free last-minute for being FBI agents. They spread out among the airplane classes. Derek was in coach sitting in the row just across the aisle from Clarence. Whenever Clarence looked over, Derek would pretend to be reading a magazine or watching the in-flight movie. But he kept a close eye on Clarence, watching his every move.
It was an extremely long flight, over 20 hours long. Derek was feeling extremely jet-lagged, and he wished he had taken up the offer for first-class seats while he could have.
Derek and the other FBI agents raced into the restroom in the airport to change clothes. They then spread out and followed Clarence Anglin across Beijing through the crowds, all the way to a large, beautiful hotel.
Clarence walked up to the desk and booked a room. Derek waited a few moments until walking in and booking a room of his own.
He walked past Clarence in the hallway, desperately trying to conceal his face.
“Hey, watch it pal,” Clarence said as Derek accidentally bumped into him.
“Sorry,” Derek said. And then he made the biggest mistake he ever made. He turned around and revealed his face to Clarence.
“Hey,wait a minute…aren’t you one of my neighbors??”
Derek pretended to cough. He made his voice sound deeper as he responded. “No. I’ve never seen you in my life.”
“Something fishy is going on…,” Clarence said. “You’re the one who snitched on me!”
“Sir, I swear…”
Clarence was taking off in the elevator before Derek finished. Derek broke off sprinting to get to the elevator, but it closed just as he got there. He ran to Alfred’s room and knocked on the door loudly. Alfred opened the door and Derek began screaming.
“He’s escaping! We have to go!”
Alfred ran down the stairs of the hotel and out into the streets of China. He knew that he had to catch Clarence. It would be the only thing that would bring peace to Derek’s tortured, traumatized mind. He ran out into the streets and began searching amongst the many people in the crowd.
To be continued…
By: Brig Larson
Photo Credits: bigbustours.com