The Exit Plan

George Frankel didn’t know he was due to die that day as he drove through the Blue Ridge mountains one fine autumn morning. He had been distracted by a call from his son, who was heartbroken that his girlfriend had left him. Although he didn’t say it to his son, he knew that in a few months he would be over her, and ready to resume life in college. George didn’t know how to comfort him, as he was personally having a problem dealing with the death of his wife last year from heart failure. The last year had been brutal. George had met his wife in college, they got married upon graduation, and had spent virtually every day for the past 25 years together. He didn’t know how to deal with life now. His wife was also his best friend and the two of them had created a good life together. Now he felt lost and didn’t know what to do with himself.

As he crested a hill he saw some cars parked on both sides of the road. He thought it was dangerous and fleetingly wondered why they were there. Then as the road veered right, he found an 18 wheeler blocking the road, with the trailer jammed up under an overpass. George slammed on his brakes and tried to stop the car by sheer willpower. The falling leaves were wet with dew, and George lost control of the car. The car slammed into the rear of the truck.

It happened very fast. The car was jammed under the trailer. Gasoline fumes permeated the air. Amazingly he didn’t feel any pain. He also felt peaceful. Then he realized that he was looking at the crash site from outside the vehicle. He was slowly rising in the air. He felt a tranquility he had never experienced before. Somehow he knew he was dying and he felt at peace with it. He saw the bystanders around the accident, getting smaller as he was going higher.

All of a sudden George saw a little girl, she mustn’t have been older than 6, running to his car. It startled him. It was dangerous! She could get hurt!

Almost instantly he found himself back in his car. He saw the little girl coming up to the car. Her mother was running towards her. She picked her up in one fell swoop, and turned to run back to the safety of her car, parked by the side of the road.

Soon the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles reflected on his broken dashboard. George tried moving. He thought he could feel movement in his limbs. He was very tired. He decided to let the EMTs get him out of the car. He would just wait for them to finish.

George woke up in a hospital bed. He was sore, but everything seemed to be working. A nurse monitoring some instruments saw him awake and called the doctor.

“Mr. Frankel, you are in the hospital. You had a bad accident, but seem to be ok. We are running further tests, but we would like to keep you overnight for observation. We have given you some sedatives to help you rest. Tomorrow you will be feeling better.” The doctor said.

The next morning his doctor came and sat down on the side of the bed.

“Mr. Frankel, What do you do for a living?” The doctor asked.

“I am a forensic accountant. Why do you ask?” George said.

“I was just curious. I found some disturbing results with your blood work.” The doctor said.

“But I feel fine.” George said.

“Not as the result of your accident. That was amazing, that you survived without as much as a serious scratch. No, it was your blood work. Mr. Frankel, you have leukemia. Specifically, T-cell-prolymphocytic leukemia. It’s very serious.” He said.

“Am I going to die from it?” George asked.

“Yes. It’s quite advanced. I don’t know why you didn’t feel the effects before.” He said.

“How much time do I have?” George asked.

“Maybe a year? Maybe less.” The doctor said.

After asking a few other questions, George told the doctor that he wanted to rest. The doctor left and told him he would be back in the evening.

George closed his eyes but couldn’t sleep. What had happened to him in the car? George knew it wasn’t a dream. He had actually left his body in the accident. It was real. It was the most real thing that had ever happened to him. He went over the incident in his mind over and over again. He realized that when he thought his body was crushed and going to be burned, his spirit left the body. Then when he saw the little girl approaching, he wanted to warn her to stay away, and popped right back into the body. He wondered if he could do this at will. He tried for a while but couldn’t seem to do it again. Finally he fell into a deep sleep.

The day he left the hospital, he rented a car and drove back to his house in Alexandria, close to Washington DC. All the way back he couldn’t stop thinking about the “exit” as he called his accident. He figured out that he thought he was dying, so he left his body. Then when he saw the little girl, he must have known that his body was going to survive, so he went back in to try to keep the girl from getting hurt.

When he finally got home he cranked up his computer and sat down to do some research on the subject. What he discovered amazed him. Throughout history people had believed in reincarnation, until the Abraham based religions took over the west. First the Jews, then the Christians, and finally Islam, all believed that you only lived once, and then went to heaven or hell, or each religions’ version of it. The modern western religions were quite unforgiving. You needed the church to cleanse you of your sins. The eastern ones believed in Karma. You did it to yourself.

George found a subject they called OBE, or out-of-body-experience. They claimed to have people who could do this at will. They even had a Wiki to show you how to do OBE. How come he had never heard of this entire subject? He continued studying this subject for a few weeks. He was amazed at the amount of information available on line that he had no idea existed.

When he was finished he sat down with a yellow pad and a pencil. What had he learned?

1. That the spirit lives on without a body. Even if you are a strict catholic. They also believe that the spirit leaves the body when you die, except that they don’t think you can come back into another body.

2. That when you are born, the spirit comes into the body at some point. It wasn’t created during sex, it came from somewhere. The spirit enters the body at some point, before birth, and gives life to the body.

3. That for some people the spirit enters the body after another spirit leaves, therefore entirely changing the personality of the person. This was demonstrated during wars and so on. The families claimed that the man who returned from the war was not the same man as the one who left. Now we understand that the war can change people, but not like this.

George remembered a movie with Warren Beaty called “Heaven Can Wait”, where a football player gets injured and the spirit leaves the body, only to be occupied by another spirit.

What if he could leave his broken body and choose a new one? He was going to die in a year anyway.

George became infatuated with the concept. Then it led him to another thought. What if he could hide things in this life and then find them in the new life? What did he have to lose? Nothing. If it didn’t work, he was going to die anyway. If it worked he could…the possibilities were endless.

So, what could he hide? He didn’t have anything. He would have to steal something. Stealing was bad Karma. This could backfire on him. What could he take that would be good Karma? Steal from a bad guy? The narcos have a lot of money they have to hide. Maybe that would work. He decided to look and see what he could find out about them and what they did with their money.

He’d read that they had stashes of pallets with shrink wrapped $100 bundles in caves. This gave him another idea. He was going to make a plan to release the narcos of their funds, and hide it somehow for later retrieval. If he wasn’t able to get it after his rebirth, the narcos would be out of their money, so that would be good for the world. If he did recover it, he would see that the funds were put to good use. This was a win-win for everybody, …except the narcos.

A few weeks later George was on a flight to Houston to meet with a friend from college who was practicing criminal law in Texas. He told his friend that he was doing research on the narcos for a book he was going to write. His friend had defended a big narco a few years ago, so George thought this was a good place to start.

Before leaving, he made sure his will and all the loose ends were tied. He left sealed instructions for his son of what to do if he didn’t return and explaining what he had done. George felt more alive now, than at any time since his wife had died.

That evening he went to his friends house in Houston and after dinner they retired to his man-cave for a chat.

“So my friend, what is it that brings you to my fair city?” He asked.

“I’m doing research on the narco trade. I want to write a book about it. I remembered that you had defended one of the big traffickers a few years ago and I wanted to ask you a few questions.” George said.

“Oh, no. You don’t want to ask me anything about that. I am not allowed to speak about that. It all is confidential. You remember, the lawyer/client relationship? It’s like the confessional.” He said.

“I know. I wasn’t going to ask you about specifics. I wanted to know how do I get in touch with one of the big narcos.” George said.

“You crazy, George? You don’t want to do that. Listen, you are a conservative accountant. Shit, you don’t even smoke weed. Why would you put yourself in danger?” He asked.

“I want to write a book and I want to interview them. Can you put me in touch with one?” George asked.

His friend looked at him for a while before answering.

“Where are you going to be?”

“I’m flying down to Monterey in Mexico. I figured it’s as good a place to start as any. I’m staying in a small apartment I got through Airbnb. I can be reached by email or my cell phone.” George said.

“You are nuts. Does your wife know?… oh shit, I’m sorry, I forgot she passed away last year.” He said.

“Look you can help me, or not. I’m going to find these folks with you, or without you.” George said.

George desperately wanted to ask his friend what he knew, but knew that his friend took the confidentiality very seriously, especially with the narcos, and wouldn’t tell him a thing.

A few days later George was having coffee in Starbucks in Monterey, in Nuevo Leon, in nothern Mexico and checking his email. He smiled when he saw an email from his lawyer friend saying that he would be contacted soon. George wasn’t quite sure what he was going to say if and when the cartel bosses contacted him. He had an idea that he thought would work, but he needed to talk to them first. Maybe they already had an elegant solution? He would wait and see.

Three days later George was in a grocery store buying some toothpaste. When he paid and was leaving the store, a car drove up to him.

“Get in.” The man in the car said in broken English.

“Who are you? What do you mean?” George said startled.

“You want to get in or not.” The man said.

The ball had been thrown, and the game was on. This is what he wanted. He got in the car.

The driver didn’t say anything. George assumed that he was just a driver, and he would take him somewhere.

A few minutes later he pulled up to a gas station.

“Take this bag. Go into the bathroom and change clothes. Take everything off and put this on. Leave your phone and wallet also. Everything.” The driver said.

George took the bag and walked into the gas station. A few minutes later he emerged wearing light blue doctor scrubs and Crocks and carrying a bag with his clothes. He got into the car.  They drove to a nearby hospital and entered the parking lot.

“Take this magazine and sit in the lobby of the hospital. Somebody will approach you. Follow him.

“But my wallet and phone?” George said.

“Don’t worry about it.” He said.

George walked into the hospital and sat in the reception area. Doctors, nurses and orderlies were scrambling everywhere, dealing with a multiple car accident that left 5 people seriously hurt.

Five minutes later, a doctor came up to George.

“Follow me, please.” He said.

George followed him down the stairs and to an empty treatment room. The doctor closed the door behind George.

“Who the fuck are you?” He said.

“My name is…” George started.

“I know your name. But who the fuck are you? Why are you here? Why are you looking for narcos?” He said.

George knew that reaching the right people was going to difficult and was ready for the questions.

“I’m a forensic accountant. That means that I have helped people hide money and I also have discovered where people have hidden assets. I know the drug trade produces a lot of cash that has to be converted to something easier to transport and store. I can help so that nobody else knows what you are doing.” George said nervously.

“Why should they trust you?” The doctor said.

“Because I’m here to stay. I want to make a lot of money to leave to my son.” George said.

“How do you know the lawyer from Houston?”

“We went to college together. We were roommates.” George said.

After answering a few more innocuous questions, the doctor pulled a mobile phone from his pocket.

“Take this phone. Do not use it to call anybody. Somebody will be in touch with you if they need you. Do what they tell you. Do not attempt to contact the police, or I will be pulling bullets from your dead body. Did I make myself clear?” The doctor said.

“Yes. I understand. What about my clothes?” George said.

“Don’t worry about your clothes. That is the last thing you should be thinking about.” The doctor said.

“Sorry.” George said.

“Keep that magazine in your hand. Go to the hospital bus waiting at the front entrance. Get in and go to the first stop. Get off. Somebody will meet you there. Don’t loose the magazine.” He said getting up and walking out the door.

George got up and returned to the lobby. Through the glass doors he saw a hospital bus waiting. He got in and found a seat. Nobody questioned him. A few minutes later after a few other hospital personnel got in the driver closed the door and started away. George tried to follow the route, but he didn’t know the area, so in a few minutes had no idea of where he was.

Soon the bus entered a large parking lot and stopped. George got off and the bus continued on its rounds. George looked around and couldn’t see anybody who seemed the least interested in him. After waiting a coupe of minutes a van with blacked out windows drove into the parking lot and up to George. The side door opened and a man inside waved him in. Nervously George got in and sat on the bench. The man placed a bag over his head and tied his hands in front of him, with a plastic tie. George expected something like this, so he wasn’t concerned. He realized that he was getting closer to the source.

They drove around for what seemed like an eternity but was probably no more than an hour. When the van stopped he was unceremoniously pulled from the van and led away. The air smelled different. He detected a familiar smell he couldn’t identify. Then he heard an aircraft engine in the distance and realized he was smelling avgas and jet fuel. He was going into an airplane. This made George very nervous, as he had heard that the narcos sometimes threw people they were displeased with, from a moving airplane.

A few minutes later George was strapped into a small aircraft. George was sweating under the hood. He hoped he wouldn’t get airsick. Soon the engine started and they started taxiing. George couldn’t make out what the pilot was saying, he was talking too fast. Finally George decided to sit back and relax. There was nothing he could do anyway.

The flight took an hour or so. He felt the air pressure change in his ears before he heard the flaps going down. They were arriving. Wherever this was.

After the landing they taxied on some rough ground before coming to a stop. George was again manhandled out of the aircraft and into a waiting vehicle. He wished they would let him see, but that would never happen. These guys were meticulous about security.  They drove for a while, George trying to identify sounds and smells to no avail. The air under the hood was stale and he was dripping in sweat. There was nothing left to do, but wait till they arrived regardless of where they were going.

The road they travelled soon became rutted, and George figured they were off the main roads and close to their destination. He was right. A few minutes later the vehicle stopped and the doors opened. Again he was led out of the van and into a building. Soon he was placed in front of a chair.

“Sientate. Sit down.” The voice said.

George complied, grateful that the trip seemed to be over. Somebody walked up to George and pulled the bag off his head. Bright lights were shining on his face, so he couldn’t see much except shadows. They cut the wrist restraints. George tried to move his fingers which had fallen asleep after so much time.

“I’m sorry if you have been uncomfortable. Now perhaps you can tell us why you wanted to see us?” A voice, in English, said behind the lights.

George had rehearsed his speech many times in his mind, but now he felt at a loss for words. His mouth was dry and he could barely speak.

“Can I have some water, please?” George asked.

“Of course. How rude of us. Agua! Traigan agua!” He said loudly.

In a few seconds a man came from behind the lights with a bottle of water. George took it and started drinking. He finished the bottle and put it down beside him.

“Thank you. I guess I was parched. Thank you for seeing me. I know this is unusual, but I know I can help you with your money issues.” George said.

“We don’t have money issues. We have all the money we need.” The voice said.

“Let me explain. I am a forensic accountant. Companies hire me to find out where the money is, and how to hide it from the IRS, among other things. I’ve read that people in your business have a problem with hiding their cash. I can help you.” George said.

“Why should we believe you and why should we trust you.” The voice said.

“I have nothing to loose. I am here. I can’t hurt you. I don’t have a phone, other than the one your people gave me.” George said.

“What is this plan of yours? I agreed to meet you due to the respect I have for our lawyer in Houston. We have been doing this for a long time, and I am seriously wondering if you are wasting my time.” The voice said ominously.

“I understand that you get paid in dollars. Dollars are made of paper and are fragile. They can get wet or damaged in a fire. I suggest that you convert your dollars into diamonds. Dollars weigh 1 gram per bill. One hundred million in $100 dollar bills weighs 1,000 kg. In $20 dollar bills it weighs five tons. In diamonds, one carat weighs 1/5 of a gram and is worth $15,000, if it is good quality. So $100 million in 1 carat stones weigh less than 2 kg. Diamonds don’t burn and cannot be damaged by water. The trick is to purchase them well. Diamonds are graded by size, clarity, color and cut. Instead of having a warehouse full of pallets of shrink wrapped $100 dollar bills you could have it all in a briefcase.” George said.

“How do we exchange our dollars for diamonds? There are also industrial diamonds that are not worth a lot. Or maybe you sell us cubic zirconias?”

“Yes, you are right. That is the issue. That is where I can help you. I have clients that are in the diamond business around the world. I can guarantee that you get what you think you are buying.” George said.

“You think we are stupid? That you come here and try to sell us paste, instead of stones?” He said.

George’s heart was thumping away in his chest. His idea now sounded stupid.

“I propose that if you like my idea, that I stay here with you for a year. Then after a year, if you like what I have done, you pay me 10% of what I’ve transferred.” George said.

“10%? You are crazy gringo. If we agree, I will pay you 1%.” He said.

“5%.” George countered.

“Ha ha. The gringo wants to negotiate?” The voice said.

George kept his mouth shut. He was nervous that the shaking in his voice would give him away. He could hear other voices laughing behind the lights.

“Ok. I will give you 2%. And that’s it.” He said.

George heard a hurried conversation in Spanish that he couldn’t follow. Then two guys came over and put the hood back on his head. Then they took him to another room with nothing but a desk and a chair. When his eyes got used to the light George noticed stains on the walls and floor. The stains looked like blood. George’s own ran cold.

An hour later the man with the voice behind the lights came into the room. He was followed by a young man and two goons.

“I’ve decided to keep you around and see what you do. This is my son. He will be with you all the time. He speaks perfect English. He studied at MIT. You won’t do anything without his knowing about it. If he, or I, think you are trying to mess with us, he will kill you. If you try to run away, it is futile, but we will kill you anyway. Do you understand this?” He said.

George’s mouth was so dry he couldn’t open his lips.

“Yes. I understand.” George said.

“OK. Good. Now let’s get you cleaned up. Because we live in the jungle, doesn’t mean we have to live like animals.” He said.

“Thank you. Oh, by the way, what do I call you?” George asked.

“You can call me “el Jefe”, and my son is Junior.” He said.

Over the following hour, Junior showed George around the camp. The camp was surrounded by heavy jungle. This camp processed coca. Apparently there was another camp processing opium. Opium was the new favorite for the party crowd in all the large cities in the US. There was the main building, where he had been interviewed. Then there were a dozen huts for sleeping and a communal eating large tent. He learned that the Jefe spent most of his time on the road visiting other locations. Nobody knew when he was coming or when he was leaving. Junior didn’t even know.

At the end of the tour, Junior took George to his tent.

“You will sleep here with me.” Junior said.

George looked around. Two bunks on one side and a desk on the other side. A sat phone was on the desk. A laptop lay open on the desk.

“You have internet here?” George asked.

“We have everything we need, including telephone and internet by satellite.” Junior said.

“Where are my clothes?” George asked.

“You won’t get them back. You don’t need them here. When you leave you will get your wallet and other stuff, including your toothpaste.” Junior said with a smile.

“I will need to know a lot more about your operation, if I’m to make suggestions and help you move US dollars into diamonds.” George said.

Over the following six months George learned everything about the cocaine business. He also learned that there was a village nearby that survived thanks to El Jefe, and therefore they protected him closely. He also heard that there was a cave, with a deep cenote inside, that an earlier civilization thought was where the gods rested at night. It was a sacred place. The natives stayed away from it. If he could find it, this was the place to hide his treasure. He had seen pictures of Chitchen Itza in Yucatan, and Mexico was full of cenotes, due to the subterranean limestone below.

George was able to set up a few meetings with old former clients of his in the diamond business in Brussels and Telaviv. They wouldn’t let George leave, so George sent one of Junior’s cousins to Europe and organize things. They set up a number of trading companies that would mask the ownership of the buyers. They created a couple of joint ventures to purchase the output from some mines in Africa that were off the radar of the big players. Junior’s cousin came one day and told George and Junior about a recent trip into Africa, where the tribal elder didn’t want money, but wanted a refrigerator instead. They bought one and had it delivered by a C-130, an aircraft that could land in unimproved fields. When the tribal chief realized that it didn’t work without power, he got very upset and threatened to cancel the entire operation. Only sending the C-130 back to Accra to buy a generator and a fuel tank, and connecting them, saved the day.

They hired some people to sort the stones and created an underground market that bought all the production. After six months they invested a few hundred million in precious stones. Since they didn’t want to disturb the market, or bring attention to themselves, they also started selectively investing in colored stones, like emeralds from Venezuela and other places.

One of the unforeseen issues that came up, was that they didn’t store the bulk of the stones in the jungle. They kept them in various places, including bank vaults. George tried to convince them that banks were notoriously bad for keeping secrets. The governments infiltrated all the banks and usually knew who the depositors were in all the vaults, regardless of secrecy. One day the Guardian, a UK newspaper, reported that the safety deposit boxes of one of their banks in England had been broken into over the weekend, and all the safety deposit boxes emptied. The owners of the safety deposit boxes didn’t report anything of value missing. This was obviously a lie, since they didn’t want to have to disclose the the authorities what, or where they got whatever was in the vaults. This caused a lot of consternation in the family. One day the Jefe came by, and he and Junior approached George.

“We have been spreading our profits and keeping them in secure places as you suggested. However a recent burglary in England has made us very nervous.” El Jefe said.

“Yes, I read about that. Bank vaults are a bad place to keep things. Everybody knows people store valuable things in them, especially the police and the governments. You are much better off hiding them here in the jungle. If anybody comes looking, you would know about it instantly, and could move them in quietly.” George said.

Over the following weeks, couriers started coming in at night and delivering briefcases with precious stones. They also increased security and added sentries. One day Junior decided to show George what they accumulated. George was stunned. Junior emptied a dozen briefcases onto a black tarp on the ground. The mound of stones must have been worth a few hundred million dollars. The light reflecting on the stones was dazzling.  Here was his treasure of Monte Cristo, just like in the Alexander Dumas’ novel.

George realized that he now had to act, before they changed their minds and hid their loot somewhere else. He realized that the leukemia was taking toll on his system. He was constantly tired and some sores he developed on his legs and feet were not getting cured. He also developed a lingering cough that wouldn’t go away. He knew he didn’t have much time, and if he waited any longer he would be too weak to do anything.

A year of planning was coming to an end. Now was the time to execute his plan. Every night before going to sleep, George had practiced OBE. He had learned to  step out of his body momentarily. The issue was that he couldn’t get very far. Anything that happened to his body, or near his body caused him to instantly return. One time he felt like he was going to be able to leave the tent, but a buzzing mosquito brought him right back. He guessed that the connection to his body was very strong, and he wouldn’t be able to do this unless he was about to really die. The other thing that worried him was where was he going to find a body to take over? He didn’t want to become a child again. The idea of not being able to fend for yourself, and having to have your ass wiped and bottle fed, was horrific. He wanted to find a good looking, young strong man, without family issues. Since he had not been able to leave this camp for 9 months, he hadn’t been able to look for a suitable replacement body in the States. The idea of having to get a local mestizo body was frightening. His original plan was to try to take over a body in a coma at a hospital, one that hadn’t been damaged. Maybe that would still work. Only time would tell.

The plan he developed while here, was that he would grab a backpack and fill it up with precious stones. Sneak out and find the cave and drop the backpack into the cenote. Then his choices weren’t many. He could try to escape on foot through the jungle, or he could return and pretend nothing happened, till they discovered the theft. What he knew with certainty was that if they realized what he had done, they would torture him endlessly and try to keep him alive as punishment. Maybe he should jump in the cenote and let the diamonds in the pack drag him down and drown him. He had heard conflicting stories about dying by drowning. In some accounts it was peaceful, but he remembered the panic, when he was a child and almost drowned in a neighbors pool. He was going to do this without a plan, and play it by ear. He decided to do it the next night while he still had strength. The cenote was supposed to be about a 4 hour march through the jungle, so he wanted to leave just after midnight so he could find the entrance in the morning light. He had spoken about this place to many of the villagers and they had described the location, so he felt he could find it without much problem.

That night after everybody retired, George put on two pairs of socks and long pants. He needed to protect his feet and legs for the long walk through the jungle. The briefcases were locked in a large safe in their tent. He had the combination, as they also had all the paperwork regarding setting up new companies and bank accounts etc. He had slipped Junior a couple of sleeping pills in his tea after dinner. Now he hoped they were working, as any rustling of the safe would normally wake him up.

He opened the safe without mishap and quietly emptied out the stones into his backpack. He mixed the diamonds and emeralds and rubies all together and closed the backpack.  Then he replaced the empty briefcases into the safe and closed the safe. He gave Junior one last look and walked out the tent door.

The camp was quiet. George knew all the stations of the sentries, and he knew he could sneak out without being caught. George already tried it a few times to make sure he could do it.

In a few minutes he was out of the camp and in the jungle. He waited a few minutes for his eyes to adjust and then set out for the nearby hills where the cenote lay. The path he took was not impenetrable. The Indians had been using the paths for centuries. He set out at a measured pace. He didn’t want to run out of energy in case he needed it later. The night was dark. The nocturnal animals were afoot. The smells and sounds magnified by the darkness and fear.

A few hours later he reached the foothills. He knew where the cave was now. He set out quietly, in case anybody was guarding the entrance.  30 minutes later he found the cave. It was quiet, he was alone at the cave entrance. He then took out the flashlight he had stolen and entered the cave. The cave grew larger as he went further in. About 50 yards inside the cave he arrived at the water’s edge. He shone his light into the clear deep water and couldn’t see the bottom. Around the edges of the pool, were signs of people having spent a lot of time here a long time ago. Probably human sacrifices, George thought. The forced march had exhausted George and he needed to sit down. He picked a rock with a cut-out like a bench, and sat down. He wondered if anybody in the camp had discovered his escape. He felt sorry for Junior, the Jefe was going to skin him alive. George knew that he could never leave here. If the narcos found him anywhere near here, they would scour the cave, and lagoon, to find the stones, and then it would all have been for naught. The only solution was to keep the backpack on and sink into the water. George’s body weigh had gone down considerably, and he knew that with the backpack on, there was no chance for his body to float.

George needed to get into his virtual trance that let him get out of his body. Then he was going to let himself slide into the pool. George wondered if there was anything he had forgotten. He wondered if his son would understand what he did, and why.

Then finally relaxed, George let himself slowly slide into the cool mountain water that was to be his final resting place.

The cold water shocked George. He looked up and saw the surface receding. He knew that in about 30 seconds he would try to inhale water and then he would die.

He thought about the hospital he knew, back home in Alexandria. It was there he wanted to return to. It had no maternity ward, so he wouldn’t accidentally become a baby again. It was primarily a trauma center.

Then George saw himself sinking slowly in the water, as he rose higher and higher.

—-

George could hear voices. He didn’t know where he was.

“He’s coming to. Get the doctor.” He heard a woman say.

What was the last thing he remembered? Running through the jungle? Water, cold water. George was confused. His arms seemed immobile. Maybe he should wait till the doctor came.

“Mr. Jones. You are awake? I am Dr. Knight. I have been treating you.” Dr. Knight said.

“What happened?” George said slowly through clenched teeth.

“You don’t remember? I’m not surprised. A person tends to block out unpleasant memories. Soon they are forgotten. That’s the way we cope with adversity in life. Anyway, you fell from the prison wall as you were attempting to escape. Do you remember that? No? Anyway you sustained some very grave injuries, especially to your spine. Mr. Jones, you are paralyzed from your neck down.” Dr. Knight said.

“No! What are you talking about? That must be somebody else.” He cried.

“It’s normal not to remember. Relax. Your lawyer is going to be here any minute.”

“My lawyer? Why a lawyer?” George said.

“The District Attorney has been trying to see you, and had to wait for you to come out of your coma, and for your lawyer to be here.” Dr. Knight said.

“I don’t have a lawyer…” Then he stopped for a minute. He felt terribly confused. Who was he? What escape from jail was the doctor talking about? Why was he in jail? It didn’t make sense. He had been having a strange dream about jungles and treasure. It had to have been a dream.  He was terribly confused.

“I need to sleep a little.” He said with his eyes squeezed shut.

“I’ll wake you when your lawyer arrives.” Dr. Knight said.

“What did you say my name was?” He said.

“Your name is Paul Jones.”

“Of course. Paul Jones. Now I seem to remember. It all must have been a dream.” Paul said closing his eyes.

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