Whispers of Morg City
Chapter 2: "Fall of Icarus"
Home of Stanley Ferguson, San Franciso, California, USA
“Good evening, Mr. Ferguson. I just wanted to ask some questions about your time working at Alcatraz. Folks love hearing stories about peace-keepers like yourself.”
Stanley seemed quite apprehensive at the mention of Alcatraz, like long-suppressed memories were coming back into light again.
“Well...I'm not an officer anymore. My wife said it was too dangerous. I guess I told her too many stories about my time on The Rock. Said I needed to stay closer to home to raise my boy Tommy.”
“And how's your boy doing?”
“Boy's seventeen now, always getting into trouble. He'll be lucky if he isn't incarcerated in the next few years. Not sure where we went wrong with him. I think I should have been home more.”
“That's unfortunate to hear, Mr. Ferguson. So, what was it like on the island?”
“Besides the cold feeling of being isolated from the rest of the world surrounded by America's hardest criminals who would slit your throat if they got the chance, it was pretty dull, I'd say. The day starts, escort your cell block to the cafeteria for breakfast, fixing any personal issues they were havin' on their way with your baton. After that, I went home, then came back for the night shift. Met some interesting fellas on watch. Was mostly standing around while the prisoners slept. But every so often, something crazy might happen.”
“Do you have any stories from the night shift?”
“Well...there's one that's been replaying in my mind for the last ten years.”
The reporter removed a small tape recorder from his jacket pocket, holding it outward towards the former officer.
“Just state your name, and how long you worked on the island. Then go into the details of your story, sir. Oh, and try to add a little flair. We may use this recording in the future.”
Ferguson diverted his eyes to the ceiling, as if searching for the details of the story. Then, as if he had rehearsed it many a time before, Stanley told the tale of the Weasel.
"My name is Stanley Ferguson, I was a guard in Alcatraz Island from 1933 to 1942. Today, I'm going to give you some insight into the more interesting tales of the prison's history. Over the decades, Alcatraz has seen more than its fair share of daring escape attempts. However, few were as audacious as the one undertaken by four inmates on New Years Eve, 1933. Thought to be the brainchild of an inmate by the name of Albert Arlington, the outrageous scheme was as unlikely as its mastermind. It is believed that Arlington, a.k.a The Weasel, somehow convinced three other inmates that he had devised a foolproof plan to escape the Rock. It was a plan that would see them literally taking to the skies in a makeshift aircraft of Arlington's own design."
Ferguson shifted in his chair, excited to re-tell his tale for a wider audience.
"Just how The Weasel managed to convince these hardened criminals that such a plan was even possible remains a mystery to this day. What is known, is that no such plane was ever built. Instead, the group's plans for freedom soon descended into bitter argument and infighting."
“What happened then, Mr. Ferguson?”
"With the plan falling apart, anger and frustration would ultimately lead to a brutal altercation between the misguided Arlington and his former co-conspirators. Armed only with makeshift weapons, Finn O'Leary, Sal DeLuca, and Billy Handsome lured the unsuspecting Arlington to the roof, where they intended to exact a bloody, and final, revenge. And so it was here, beneath the dark and stormy winter skies, that the hapless Arlington met his grizzly end, bleeding to death on the cold concrete roof. For their participation in the murder, the three collaborators were sent to death by electric chair. Justice came swiftly. On the morning of January 19th, 1934, the execution order was carried out."
“Wow, that is a one-of-a-kind tale, sir. Did anyone ever try something similar to The Weasel's plan?”
“Nothing quite so bold, no. Typically inmates tried smuggling in weapons or burrowing through the walls. These attempts never panned out in their favor. Alcatraz was locked down tight.”
“You mentioned Salvatore DeLuca. Being a mob boss, I imagine he was quite the hardass.”
“Sal wasn't quite what you'd expect from the toughest mob boss we've ever kept on The Rock. Had many conversations on those late nights. He was actually quite talkative, very eloquent. Without prohibition I think he woulda done great things.”
“So tell me more about this Weasel. What kind of man was he? How'd he come up with such a ludicrous plan in the first place?”
“Al was a con-artist, and a creative one at that. Used to try to convince me to give him extra paper or colored pencils every night I was around. He knew I was a pushover.”
“What'd he need those for?”
“Al wrote stories. Not like novels, but books with pictures. They often told grandeur stories of triumph and redemption, with art to go along with it. He had quite the talent for story-telling, but often he'd go on endless tirades about the editors he sent his work to. His greatest project, Icarus, never got the attention he thought it deserved. And for that he was spiteful. I think he was never quite cut out for being a criminal. He was only one by circumstance. When he died, he left behind some of the designs for the makeshift plane, also named Icarus. Woulda never worked, I say. I've actually got some of those drawings still.”
Stanley stood up and strode over to a wooden dresser with a lock-box. Inside, several sketches of a plane made of prison shirts and rusty metal rods. He handed them over to the reporter.
“Here, you can keep these. I've no use for 'em. I try to forget about that fateful night. Maybe your story could use 'em.”
“Well this has been a quite eye-opening interview, Mr. Ferguson. Thank you for the drawings. I'm sure my employer will be pleased with them as well as your testimony. Thanks for your time. I gotta be going now, I've got a tram to catch.”
The reporter arrived at the tram station, slightly earlier than expected. He sat down, assembling his notes and packing away his tape recorder safely. Since he had the time, he decided to go ahead and give Mr. Rapt a call.
He placed a quarter from his pocket into the booth and dialed the number that had originally called him back at his apartment. Through the hustle and bustle of the San Franciso tram station, he could hear the light ringing of the phone, calling out once, twice, three times, four times, no answer. Odd. He thought about Ferguson's tale of The Weasel. His buddy down at city hall had to hear about this one. The reporter had already told him of the mysterious phone calls from Mr. Rapt the previous night. He dialed the number, and again there was no answer. Still, he left a message detailing the story for his close friend.
"So I just sat down with Stanley Ferguson, night guard at Alcatraz. He told me a heck of a tale. A few years back, four inmates: three mobsters and some weasel had this brilliant plan to escape the Rock. I know they sound like real geniuses, these guys. Anyway this "Weasel" was quite the talker, he had these guys convinced they could escape. He told them he could build a plane and that together they'd all fly right off the Rock. Now the Weasel had plans and drawings and everything, I saw 'em, but even if they built it no way that baby would ever fly. These mobsters, it's lost on me, they were smart guys. I mean Sal DeLuca? No way you could convince a man of his caliber something so absurd. So I guess at some point the whole sorry truth came out and the Weasel found himself cornered. They did him good, left him bleeding to death on the cold stone roof. They all got the chair for it and that was that. Sad to think that three guys like that could find themselves swinging, all because they bought into the lies of a delusional con man. Anyway, no clue why Mr. Rapt wanted me to meet this Stanley first but I'm heading to the city now. Something about tracking down three doozies and a floozy. Oh yeah, not to mention those artifacts in the South Pacific and Russia. I don't know what that's about. I never even met this guy, likes to stay in the shadows, real weirdo. But the money's good."
Out of earshot, the reporter could hear the tram coming to a halt, blaring its horn, followed by a voice over the loudspeaker.
“Red line departing for Waterfront District.”
The reporter gathered his bags together and searched his pockets for the ticket.
“Maybe it'll all make sense when I get there.”
He hung up the phone and carried his bags towards the terminal, handing the attendant his ticket.
“Please remain seated for the duration of the trip. Make sure all baggage is close at hand. Now departing to Morg City.”