Disclaimer: I can be extraordinarily patient, provided I know I'll get my way in the end. - Margaret Thatcher

The Great Escape - Chapter 9
(c)1999-2001 KSH

Jonathan, Neal, and Stacy spent the rest of the morning working out the plan to get into Guido's apartment. By the time the cell phone rang at exactly noon, they knew exactly what they were going to do.

"Mr. Schon, I trust that you have made arrangements to return my disk."

"Yeah, I had to go get it, and now I've got to get back to the park," Neal replied, winking at Jon and Stacy. "If you could meet me at the parking lot where Jay's truck was, I should be there by about 2:30. Traffic could tie me up for a few minutes, so if I'm not there at exactly 2:30, wait on me. I'll be there as soon as I can."

"That would be excellent, Mr. Schon. I'll meet you then."

"Wait! Don't hang up yet. What about Jon?" Neal crossed his fingers that he sounded sincerely worried.

"Mr. Cain will be returned to his family as soon as I have verified that what you have given me is the correct disk." Guido answered smoothly.

Jon shoved a piece of paper in front of Neal on which was scribbled "I WANT MY SUBURBAN BACK!!!" Neal made a face and waved him away. "What guarantee do I have that we'll both come out of this safely? I haven't been to the police, I don't intend to, and no one knows what's on the disk except you."

"I suppose you will just have to trust me. I shall see you this afternoon." With that, Guido hung up.

"Okay, we're set," Neal told the other two.

"The car's ready and waiting," Stacy said, holding up the keys.

The three trekked down to the parking lot to the car Stacy had borrowed from a couple at another cabin. It was the perfect car for going incognito: a beige Honda Accord.

"Who's gonna drive?" Neal asked.

"I will. I want to live through this." Jon answered.

"Cool, I'll be in the backseat with Stacy," Neal raised his eyebrows and grinned.

Stacy snorted and rolled her eyes. "Dream on."

The three of them got into the car and headed back toward civilization. They spent the next half hour arguing over whether they should stop and let Jon and Neal try to call their families. They finally agreed to let Jon call home, figuring that if Dina got worried about Neal, she'd probably call Jon's house anyway. They found a Waffle House a few blocks from Tim's apartment, on the most likely route he would take to go meet Neal. They parked near the pay phone, so Jon could call without being overly conspicuous, while Stacy watched for Tim to drive by and Neal tried to think of something useful to do.

Jon knew something was up immediately when Liz answered the phone somewhat shakily. "Hello?"

"Hi, it's me," he answered. "What's wrong? Is everything okay there?"

"What do you mean what's wrong? You're missing! Where are you? Are you okay? Is Neal with you?" Liz sounded like she couldn't decide whether to be thrilled he was alive or kill him herself.

"I'm okay. I went to take some supplies to Neal, and we had a little run in with the bad guy. We got away, and we're both okay. But I didn't want him following me back there. Is everything okay there? Are you by yourself?"

"No, my parents, your brothers, and a handful of cops are here. Dina had called because Neal never made it there, and you didn't come home yesterday, so I called the police. What's going on? Are you on the way home?"

Not yet. We want to make sure the guy isn't following us."

"Jon, come home. The police are here. They'll make sure he doesn't bother us. Besides, if he does come around, they can arrest him." Liz pleaded.

"I don't want to do that just yet. We have information that the killer might actually be a cop., and..."

Just then, Neal tapped Jon's shoulder and hissed "We gotta go!"

"Bye, honey, I love you, don't worry about me, I'll be home as soon as I can." Jon hung up on Liz's protests and got back in the car.

"Tim just went by in his car," Stacy said.

"What did he do with my suburban?" Jon raised his voice for the first time since they left the cabin.

"Well, if the word is out you're missing, he probably had to ditch it," Stacy answered.

"It better be someplace safe. I'll kill him if he wrecked it, or set fire to it, or stripped it, or..." Jon's blood pressure was visibly rising with each possibility.

"Calm down. He probably did stash it someplace safe, because he probably can't afford for it to be found yet." Stacy reasoned.

She gave them directions to Tim's apartment. They parked around the corner. Jon and Neal cut through a neighbor's backyard to the back of the complex, while Stacy just marched right up to the front door with the key.

"It's pretty bad when musicians start getting a usual routine for breaking and entering," Neal joked.

Stacy opened the back door and let them in. "Okay, let's split up so we can get as much of the place covered as possible. I'll take upstairs, one of you check the living room, the other one can get the den he uses for an office. If we don't find anything, then I guess we'll decide what to do about the rest of the downstairs."

Neal volunteered for the living room, so Jon headed for the den. Neal made what he assumed were the obvious searches first, such as the drawer of the coffee table, the compartments of the entertainment center, under the furniture, and under the cushions of the furniture. He sat back and thought for a moment about where they hide things in the movies. *I wonder if he's got a hidden safe somewhere?* He started to pull the sofa away from the wall.

The front door opened silently. Neal did not realize someone was standing beside him until a shadow fell across the sofa.

"Sonofabitch!" he shouted.

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Jon jumped up from the desk at Neal's shout and raced into the living room. He froze at the sight of Guido/Tim holding a gun to Neal's head.

"Mr. Cain, Mr. Schon, didn't your mothers ever teach you that it was rude to snoop in someone's home, especially when you weren't invited?"

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