Harrol was a city guy. He’d gone to university and played his part in the corporate drama. He had a house and a bland family, and his mother who’d come to stay with him. According to her, he did nothing correctly, and even his wife would join in heaping ridicule on his work, his hair, his muscles. According to them, he was only good when he was signing household cheques.
Harrol’s business was prisons. He was responsible for building new wings in the main prison, and for developing guard schedules which saved money and still monitored the whole facility. He sourced food from local farmers, and encouraged the prisoners to make their own garden plots. It was both an efficient machine and a way of improving the mental health of the prisoners.
But Harrol had a rival in the industry. Nedoy was connected to the president, and had the ear of wealthy corporates. Although his previous investments had been in schools and hospitals, Nedoy figured there was more money and less complaints when dealing with criminals. The municipal jail he’d built was well received by the local government. Harrol didn’t like what he heard about how things were on the inside for the prisoners, however. He came up with a plan to prove Nedoy’s nefarious practices as well as produce publicity for his own prison.
He began to correspond with a local criminal. More of a thief than a mastermind, Dunre was known for his recidivism. Dunre agreed to Harrol’s plan and before long Harrol was creeping around outside the municipal jail and Dunre was hanging from a low window ledge on the second floor. Harrol climbed and they passed each other as Dunre, promising to return in a few days, jumped past him to the ground and ran into the night.
Dunre was honest about wanting to return, but he wasn’t dependable. As he was walking past an open shop door, instead of closing it and going on his way, he reached inside and took a jacket from a hook. The shop owner was just about to close, and when he came back he noticed his jacket was Dunre’s shoulders a few paces down the street.
He called the night guard, obviously, and soon Dunre, because he had been convicted so many times and now was charged with escaping, was sentenced to four years. The sentencing began immediately, and even while Harrol was arguing with obstinate guards about his meals, Dunre was settling into a cell in Harrol’s prison.
Unlike Harrol’s prisons, those from Nedoy were not efficient or well planned. The guards didn’t have regular schedules. Many of them were untrained country boys who’d lost their way in the city after a drunken night at a party. They merely checked forms and looked for uniform numbers. They had no idea Dunre had escaped, and when Harrol began to argue about that, other prisoners tore off their nametags and joined in. The guards merely arbitrarily assigned numbers in the chaos and Harrol disappeared into the system.
When Nedoy was proven to have engaged in corruption, and another president took office, Nedoy’s jail was turned over to Harrol’s estate to manage. The widow kept up with the paperwork and business demands by help from her daughter, and although they wondered where Harrol had gone in the night, they presumed he’d been waylaid and killed.
Once Harrol’s widow took over the jail, the prisoners were marched into the exercise yard and tagged. Harrol was foremost among those who declared his innocence, but only when he recognized the new guard and called upon him, did the man look closer and see his old boss. He called several others, and although some claimed a trick or said they would get in trouble if they showed the system could be corrupted so easily, most expected a reward as they released Harrol.
Harrol returned to his family, settled the accounts which had accumulated in the meantime and divested himself of the industry. Much to the dismay of his family, he sold the large house and expensive car, released the animals in his private zoo back into the wild of their respective countries, and moved a caravan to a spot beside a lake.
When a former prisoner who’d had Harrol’s help getting hired in broadcasting asked about his choices, Harrol only said that while inside he dreamt of a place near the water where he could fish. The interview deteriorated from that point forward as they began to drink and throw their lines, and when they were found, still drunk, laying on the shore his wife wasn’t surprised.