Ever on the lookout for ways and means of providing inside information for my loyal readers, I listened with interest and attention the other evening to a radio newscaster who described the incredible escape of Chilton Mac Veigh from what had previously been an escape-proof prison. He maintained that Chilton Mac Veigh had virtually disappeared into thin air. Because of this last comment I am bound to tell you that this is exactly what has happened to Mac Veigh. According to the account of the escape, Mac Veigh was taking his daily solitary exercise in the prison yard on a sweltering day, when a powerful smoke bomb went off. When the smoke cleared out, Mac Veigh had also cleared out.
I know how he did it. However, before I reveal his method there are certain facts with which you should be familiar concerning Mac Veigh. As most of you know, Mac Veigh was a professor of chemistry at Legumbre University, a top-drawer scientist who probably would have won the Nobel Prize for his theories on expansion and contraction had he not simultaneously expounded a viewpoint that the world was a rectangular cube. This was met with derision in scientific circles.
However, I was fascinated by his theory, and I wrote to him asking him to explain. His reply left much to be desired. People would fall off if the earth was round, or even oval, was the way he put it. Furthermore, only those who resided on top of the cube could survive, and all others would fall off. I called him and said, "What about Columbus?" And he replied, "Columbus never got to the edge," and hung up.
In the face of this ridiculous reasoning, I dismissed Mac Veigh and his theories and concluded that he had gone off the deep end, a belief that was soon borne out by his subsequent actions.
It seemed that Mac Veigh had an aversion to paying tolls on roads and bridges, a guilt feeling no doubt brought on by the fact that one of his forebears, a burly mountaineer named Heathcliff Mac Veigh, had constructed a log bridge over a stream leading to the Cumberland Gap in 1830. The toll was whatever the traffic would bear, usually a hog or a gallon of whiskey, or even money. Fortunately, this shameful practice ended when a ferocious Kentuckian who wanted to cross the river, and possessing neither a hog nor whiskey, nor anything else of value, smote Heathcliff with an uprooted tree. Heathcliff fell into the stream and made for a log that turned out to be a dead bear. Both Heathcliff and the bear were swept over a waterfall and were never heard from again.
Unfortunately, it was Heathcliff's greed that set the future behavior pattern for Chilton Mac Veigh. Chilton, to avoid tolls, built an auto-marine helicopter contraption. He would drive up to a toll gate, fly over the gate, and resume car travel on the other side. Mystified and enraged toll keepers jumped from their booths shouting, "Come back here, that's not fair," as though they themselves had been deprived of the revenue. In other instances, approaching bridges, Mac Veigh would drive down the bank to the river, boat across, drive up the opposite bank, and continue on his way.
August state legislative bodies were thrown into an uproar by Chilton Mac Veigh's vehicle and, since no precedent could be found, new laws were soon enacted banning Chilton's mode of travel from the highways.
From then on things began to go badly for Mac Veigh. He was dismissed from his post at the University for unbecoming conduct, and his wife divorced him. However, Mac Veigh quickly became enraptured with a beautiful belly dancer, who became sullen when she learned that he was not a man of means. As we all know, a sullen belly dancer is not the most pleasant woman to have around and, bearing this in mind, it's easy to understand how Mac Veigh was detoured toward a life of crime. He wanted a happy belly dancer, for which no man could honestly fault him.
He robbed a bank, but, alas—his helicopter rotor blade broke during the getaway. He was apprehended and sentenced to ten years.
Now that you know his background, it's time to reveal how Chilton Mac Veigh has made his escape from prison. After six months in jail, he wrote me requesting a dozen balloons, which, he said, would make him a much happier person and would give him peace of mind.
The prison censors found no ulterior motives in his request and passed the letter on to me. Frankly, I was not fooled by the apparently innocent request, realizing that a man as imaginative as Mac Veigh had to have a good reason for wanting balloons. As the saying goes, he might have been a bit addled, but he wasn't stupid.
Soon after his escape, Mac Veigh wrote to thank me for the balloons, which had turned out to be instrumental in his escape. He explained that he'd been assigned to the prison infirmary, where he had had access to various chemicals. First he'd constructed a tiny but powerful smoke bomb, and then he'd filled the balloons with powdered chemicals and taped the balloons to his body under his clothing.
Hot air in the prison yard created a chemical reaction within the balloons, and the powdered chemicals became a highly buoyant gas. Concealed in a cloud of smoke, Mac Veigh floated up and away over the prison walls.
Always ready to be of service to my fellow man, may I say that, if any of you run afoul of the law and are thrown into jail, kindly write to me requesting details for the hot-air escape. You have my assurance that I will immediately send the balloons necessary
to spring you.
Others who are not imprisoned can find escape from the humdrum in the fine fiction that follows.