1933: The Gangster

Noah Allen, guest writer

“Hands up now!” yelled the FBI agent with the trembling hands and the shaking gun.
As ten armed men and four government-issued vans collapsed on the target, I watched from the safety of my car, my one and only friend, who was about to get shot.
“Hands up now, John! It’s over!” screamed the agent again. At this moment Johns voice popped in my head, “ I ain’t ever going back. This is the last day I’m in here. They catch me again. I’m fighting like a mad man to escape.” That’s when I realized this was going to be the last day I saw John Dillinger.
* * *
“Hey Carl, guess who is going to be your new roommate?” Tim said tauntingly. Tim on a regular basis would try to scary me saying these big league criminals were going to be my cellmate.
“Who Tim? A serial killer? I said laughingly.
“Kind of.” At this moment a short stocky well groomed man came around the corner. Our eyes met and I instantly turned away. Tim opened my cell door and shoved the short man through the door way. Once again our eyes met and I slowly but subtly looked up at his name tag. I was right, the man that was standing in my cell was John “ The Jackrabbit” Dillinger. John, “was an American gangster in the United States” (John).
A couple seconds that felt like hours passed and Tim glanced at both of us and said very happily, “Well you too don’t kill each other.”
“For sure Tim,” I softly said with the hope he would stay. The fear for my life still intoxicated my body. As Tim rounded the corner John sat on his bed, laid back and closed his eyes. We did not talk until the next morning.
The next day I rolled out of bed to lock eyes with the gangster himself. We still hadn’t talked since last night. “He kid what’s your name?
“Um Carl Lee Fremont sir,” I replied with a pale face.
“Kid don’t call me sir.”
“Sorry Mr. John.”
“Don’t sweat it kid. Well today is your lucky day.”
“Why is that?”
“Today starts our journey to freedom. We are breaking out of this joint!” So many thoughts rushed to my head. I had six months left on a seven-year sentence. Why should I break out now when I get out so soon.
“I can’t. I’m out of here in six months. If we got caught that’s ten more years added on. I’m not going to.” I explained hoping for an “ok” or “sounds good”.
“You thought so kid. You better come with me. I’m trying to help you out here. When I break out of here and if you are still here, they are going to throw five more years on just for being with me. You don’t have a choice.”
I thought my opinions over in a quick second and replied with a speedy, “Ok.” John then enlightened me on his story. He robbed multiple banks and police departments before he was stopped. The police throw him and jail, but the “Jackrabbit” escaped in two days.
This time was different. Johns two day timeline wouldn’t work for busting out. The Prison we were in, The Crown Point Jail, was known to be one of the few prisons that were impossible to escape. The only exit point was made for trucks to go to the loading area and back. They had no stops and were searched at every turn.
After, John informed me of all this information we started on a plan. How could two obviously untrimmed, bearded and black and white jumpsuit wearing men walk straight to the loading docks.
“We gotta get a guard,” John said, “ those fools uniforms are the only thing going to get us through this place.”
“I agree” I said with thought of my one true friend, Tim. “But we can not hurt the guards, if I’m coming no one is going to die.”
“That’s not how I roll kid.”
“That’s how you’re going to role this time, ki…”
“Yea you probably shouldn’t finish that.”
Now we had our plan. We were going to lure Tim close to the cell and grab him and knock him out. John will put on Tims uniform and use the wooden pistol, I craved during my kitchen duties, to scare the next guard in the next grid. He would tie him up and drag him to our cell where I then changed into the uniform. We would both walk right to the loading docks and steal a truck and be on our way.
The day had arrived and I started to call Tim, “Hey Tim come here! I think John is sick!” I could hear Tims faint steps coming from around the corner. But the foot steps had an odd sound coming with them. As Tim rounded the corner a legend followed, Babe “ the great bambino” Ruth. “So boys you have the only open bed in the west side of the prison. This man right here is going to spend the night until we can move him or until he gets bailed out. Carl watch this man for me. He is a little drunk,” Time explained to us. With this unfortunate obstacle we could not break out tonight.
“Wow where am I?” Babe said well leaning up off his bed and grabbing his head. “Who are you?” I poured and handed him some water.
“I’m Carl Freemonte and this is John Dillin… um John. Our guard brought you here and said we had to watch your drunk butt.”
“No way! Did they really throw me in a federal prison for a speeding ticket. Can’t believe this,” Babe still rubbing his head. “How long will I be in here?”
“Forever.” John said laughingly
“No no Tim, our guard that brought you in, said they are going to move you tomorrow. Unless someone bails you out first.” I explained which brought a joyful smile to his drunk self.
“That’s so good. I got a game in two days! Wait, you know who I am right?”
“Of course we do. You are legend my man,” I said with the hope he liked me.
For the rest of the night Babe and I stayed up talking and about life. Babe asked for some food and I gave him the rest of my fantastic meal the kitchen had made. We all fell asleep to the soothing sounds of our neighboring cell mates coughs and snoring.
I woke up to click of our door closing. I had not thought anything of it and fell back asleep. When I had fully awoken I realized Babe was gone, but left on his bed was a letter. It read, “Thanks Carl and John for your hospitality. Hope to see you at one of my games! My next homer is for you guys.” With the last word I read it had hit me I had met one of the nicest and most famous persons of all time.
One day behind, John so anxious to get out. The day went by a lot slower than usually but the sunset quickly. Once we heard the bell for quiet time, we knew it was time.
“You ready kid,” John said with the first smile I had seen all week.
“Lets do this.”
“I ain’t ever going back. This is the last day I’m in here. They catch me again. I’m fighting like a mad man to escape. Call him over.”
“Tim quick! John just passed out!” Immediately I heard Tims steps echoing down the long hallway.
“Carl what happened? Move let me in.” Tim grabbed his key and yanked them off his belt. He threw the door open almost hitting me. Then the moment I knew I would dread the most. I then whispered under my breath,” sorry Tim,” and raised the iron bar from my bed frame and swung.
“Fantastic work. Let me change and I’ll be back to get you with another uniform.” John said.
“Alright hurry. He is going to wake up soon.” As John exited our lonely cell he gave me this look of as he wasn’t coming back for me. I hoped he would. Two minutes on the dot he returned with a uniform. I put it on and started to follow John. We went around the dreaded corner passing Tims office. We stopped inside to look at the camera monitors and made a mental map to the loading docks.
“So go down, then take a left and straight to the docks. Don’t make eye contacts with guards, look straight ahead.”
“Yes si… John.” At this point I would do anything he wanted me to do.
We exited the office went down the hall and immediately a guard passed. No eye contact made, no questions asked. We took the next left and the loading dock door was open. We entered and looked for the keys. Our ticket out was right in front of us, an old green prick up truck. We could not find the keys but then the drooling guard in the chair caught our eye. I slowly reached over to grab the key from his chest pocket.
“What do think your doing,” the guard woke up yelling.
“The warrant told us to take the tru…” I tried to explain until the impulsive John Dillinger interrupted. John whipped out his pistol like he was in an old western movie.
“Put your hands up and hand him the keys and you can live another day.” John said with the body language saying he had done this many times. Without a blink the guard handed the keys over. The old truck flew throw the gate not even talking to the gate guard.
We were out. John and I stayed together hiding from the police for a couple weeks. With all the prior events we became very close. He was like my brother. We stayed in Indiana for a while but the cops got on our trail. We decided to head up towards New York to see our good old friend Babe Ruth play a game.
“Carl, we might have a problem. These vans have been behind us for five miles.” We were two miles away from the Yankees stadium and fifteen minutes away from seeing Babe play.
“What are we going to do?”
“If they are the Feds we both don’t need to go down. I’m going to take the next left on Main Street, then I’m going to park the car and walk across the street. If it’s the Feds they will chase me, if not they will keep going. If the get me, don’t try to be a hero, run!” John strictly told me. John turned left. Parked the car on the side of road, got out and walked to the other sidewalk. The four vans turned the corner and eight men jumped out.
“Hand up now! Yelled the FBI agent, “ Hand up now John! It’s over! I watched as my only friend was about to get shot. I knew he wasn’t going to go down easy. John stared the FBI agent in the eyes. His quick small body hopped over the wooden bench and ran into the ally. The agents opened fire and there I saw Jackrabbit take three bullets to the back. His motionless body hit the ground. I tear left my eye as I turned my head in horror. I looked to the left to see a store with a TV in the window with the Yankees game on. Babe had just hit his 700th home run. He rounded the bases and went up to the camera and I read his lips, “that was for you boys.” I looked away with more tears in my eyes and whispered to myself, “that one was for you John.”