Andy wasn’t that way, but I was. The idea of seeing the Pacific sounded good, but I was afraid that actually being there would scare me to death - the bigness of it Anyhow, the day of that conversation about Mexico, and about Mr Peter Stevens ... that was the day I began to believe that Andy had some idea of doing a disappearing act. I hoped to God he would be careful if he did, and still, I wouldn’t have bet money on his chances of succeeding. Warden Norton, you see, was watching Andy with a special close eye. Andy wasn’t just another deadhead with a number to Norton; they had a working relationship, you might say. Also, he had brains and he had heart Norton was determined to use the one and crush the other.
As there are honest politicians on the outside - ones who stay bought - there are honest prison guards, and if you are a good judge of character and if you have some loot to spread around, I suppose it’s possible that you could buy enough look-the-other-way to make a break. I’m not the man to tell you such a thing has never been done, but Andy Dufresne wasn’t the man who could do it Because, as I’ve said, Norton was watching.Andy knew it, and the screws knew it, too.
Nobody was going to nominate Andy for the Inside-Out programme, not as long as Warden Norton was evaluating the nominations. And Andy was not the kind of man to try a casual Sid Nedeau type of escape.
If I had been him, the thought of that key would have tormented me endlessly. I would have been lucky to get two hours’ worth of honest shuteye a night Buxton was less than thirty miles from Shawshank. So near and yet so far.
I still thought his best chance was to engage a lawyer and try for the retrial Anything to get out from under Norton’s thumb. Maybe Tommy Williams could be shut up by nothing more than a cushy furlough programme, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Maybe a good old Mississippi hardass lawyer could crack him ... and maybe that lawyer wouldn’t even have to work that hard. Williams had honestly liked Andy. Every now and then I’d bring these points up to Andy, who would only smile, his eyes far away, and say he was thinking about it.
Apparently he’d been thinking about a lot of other things, as well.
In 1975, Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank. He hasn’t been recaptured, and I don’t think he ever will be. In fact, I don’t think Andy Dufresne even exists anymore. But I think there’s a man down in Zihuatanejo, Mexico named Peter Stevens. Probably running a very new small hotel in this year of our Lord 1977.
I’ll tell you what I know and what I think; that’s about all I can do, isn’t it?
On 12 March 1975, the cell doors in Cellblock 5 opened at
All of this went according to routine until the count at the cellblock gate. There should have been twenty-nine. Instead, there were twenty-eight. After a call to the Captain of the Guards, Cellblock 5 was allowed to go to breakfast.
The Captain of the Guards, a not half-bad fellow named Richard Gonyar, and his assistant, a jolly prick named Dave Burkes, came down to Cellblock 5 right away. Gonyar reopened the cell doors and he and Burkes went down the corridor together,dragging their sticks over the bars, their guns out. In a case like that what you usually have is someone who has been taken sick in the night, so sick he can’t even step out of his cell in the morning. More rarely, someone has died... or committed suicide.
But this time, they found a mystery instead of a sick man or a dead man. They found no man at all. There were fourteen cells in Cellblock 5, seven to a side, all fairly neat -restriction of visiting privileges is the penalty for a sloppy cell at Shawshank - and all very empty.
Gonyar’s first assumption was that there had been a miscount or a practical joke. So instead of going off to work after breakfast, the inmates of Cellblock 5 were sent back to their cells, joking and happy. Any break in the routine was always welcome.
Cell doors opened; prisoners stepped in; cell doors closed. Some clown shouting, ‘I want my lawyer, I want my lawyer, you guys run this place just like a frigging prison.’
Burkes: ‘Shut up in there, or I’ll rank you.’
The clown: ‘I ranked your wife, Burkie,’
Gonyar: ‘Shut up, all of you, or you’ll spend the day in there.’
He and Burkes went up the line again, counting noses. They didn’t have to go far.
‘Who belongs in this cell?’ Gonyar asked the rightside night guard.
‘Andrew Dufresne,’ the rightside answered, and that was all it took. Everything stopped being routine right then. The balloon went up.
In all the prison movies I’ve seen, this wailing horn goes off when there’s been a break.That never happens at Shawshank. The first thing Gonyar did was to get in touch with the warden. The second thing was to get a search of the prison going. The third was to alert the State Police in Scarborough to the possibility of a breakout
That was the routine. It didn’t call for them to search the suspected escapee’s cell, and so no one did. Not then. Why would they? It was a case of what you see is what you get It was a small square room, bars on the window and bars on the sliding door. There was a toilet and an empty cot. Some pretty rocks on the windowsill.
And the poster, of course. It was Linda Ronstadt by then. The poster was right over his bunk. There had been a poster there, in that exact same place, for twenty-six years. And when someone - it was Warden Norton himself, as it turned out, poetic justice if there ever was any - looked behind it, they got one hell of a shock.
But that didn’t happen until 6.30 that night, almost twelve hours after Andy had been reported missing, probably twenty hours after he had actually made his escape.Norton hit the roof.
I have it on good authority - Chester, the trustee, who was waxing the hall floor in the Admin Wing that day. He didn’t have to polish any keyplates with his ear that day; he said you could hear the warden clear down to Records & Files as he chewed on Rich Gonyar’s ass.
‘What do you mean, you’re "satisfied he’s not on the prison grounds"? What does that mean? It means you didn’t find him! You better find him! You better! Because I want him! Do you hear me? I want him!’
Gonyar said something.
‘Didn’t happen on your shift? That’s what you say. So far as / can tell, no one knows when it happened. Or how. Or if it really did. Now, I want him in my office by three o’clock this afternoon, or some heads are going to roll. I can promise you that, and I always keep my promises.’
Something else from Gonyar, something that seemed to provoke Norton to even greater rage.
‘No? Then look at this! Look at this! You recognize it? Last night’s tally for Cellblock 5.Every prisoner accounted for! Dufresne was locked up last night at nine and it is mpossible for him to be gone now! It is impossible! Now you find him!"
But at six that evening Andy was still among the missing, Norton himself stormed down to Cellblock 5, where the rest of us had been locked up all of that day. Had we been questioned? We had spent most of that long day being questioned by harried screws who were feeling the breath of the dragon on the backs of their necks. We all said the same thing: we had seen nothing, heard nothing. And so far as I know, we were all telling the truth. I know that I was. All we could say was that Andy had indeed been in his cell at the time of the lock-in, and at lights-out an hour later.
One wit suggested that Andy had poured himself out through the keyhole. The suggestion earned the guy four days in solitary. They were uptight.
So Norton came down - stalked down - glaring at us with blue eyes nearly hot enough to strike sparks from the tempered steel bars of our cages. He looked at us as if he believed we were all in on it Probably he did believe it.
He went into Andy’s cell and looked around. It was just as Andy had left it, the sheets of his bunk turned back but without looking slept-in. Rocks on the windowsill... but not all of them. The ones he liked best he took with him.
‘Rocks,’ Norton hissed, and swept them off the window-ledge with a clatter. Gonyar,already four hours overtime, winced but said nothing.
Norton’s eyes fell on the Linda Ronstadt poster. Linda was looking back over her shoulder, her hands tucked into the back pockets of a very tight pair of fawn-coloured slacks. She was wearing a halter and she had a deep California tan. It must have offended the hell out of Norton’s Baptist sensibilities, that poster. Watching him glare at it, I remembered what Andy had once said about feeling he could almost step through the picture and be with the girl.
In a very real way, that was exactly what he did - as Norton was only seconds from discovering.
‘Wretched thing!’ he grunted, and ripped the poster from the wall with a single swipe of his hand.
And revealed the gaping, crumbled hole in the concrete behind it. Gonyar wouldn’t go in. Norton ordered him - God, they must have heard Norton ordering Rich Gonyar to go in there all over the prison - and Gonyar just refused him, point-blank.
‘I’ll have your job for this!’ Norton screamed. He was as hysterical as a woman having a hot-flush. He had utterly blown his cool. His neck had turned a rich, dark red, and two veins stood out, throbbing, on his forehead. ‘You can count on it, you ... you Frenchman! I’ll have your job and I’ll see to it that you never get another one in any prison system in New England!’
Gonyar silently held out his service pistol to Norton, butt first. He’d had enough. He was four hours overtime, going on five, and he’d just had enough. It was as if Andy’s defection from our happy little family had driven Norton right over the edge of some private irrationality that had been there for a long time ... certainly he was crazy that night.
I don’t know what that private irrationality might have been, of course. But I do know that there were twenty-eight cons listening to Norton’s little dust-up with Rich Gonyar that evening as the last of the light faded from a dull late winter sky, all of us hard-timers and long-line riders who had seen the administrators come and go, the hard-asses and the’ candy-asses alike, and we all knew that Warden Samuel Norton had just passed what the engineers like to call ‘the breaking strain’.
And by God, it almost seemed to me that somewhere I could heard Andy Dufresne laughing.
Norton finally got a skinny drink, of water on the night shift to go into that hole that had been behind Andy’s poster of Linda Ronstadt. The skinny guard’s name was Rory Tremont, and he was not exactly a ball of fire in the brains department. Maybe he thought he was going to win a Bronze Star or something. As it turned out, it was fortunate that Norton got someone of Andy’s approximate height and build to go in there; if they had sent a big-assed fellow - as most prison guards seem to be - the guy would have stuck in there is sure as God made green grass ... and he might be there still.
Tremont went in with a nylon filament rope, which someone had found in the trunk of his car, tied around his waist and a big six-battery flashlight in one hand. By then Gonyar,who had changed his mind about quitting and who seemed to be the only one there still able to think clearly, had dug out a set of blueprints. I knew well enough what they showed him - a wall which looked, in cross-section, like a sandwich. The entire wall was ten feet thick. The inner and outer sections were each about four feet thick. In the centre was two feet of pipe-space, and you want to believe that was the meat of the thing ... in more ways than one.
Tremont’s voice came out of the hole, sounding hollow and dead. ‘Something smells awful in here, Warden.’
‘Never mind that! Keep going.’
Tremont’s lower legs disappeared into the hole. A moment iater his feet were gone, too.
His light flashed dimly back and forth.
‘Warden, it smells pretty damn bad.’
‘Never mind, I said!’ Norton cried.
Dolorously, Tremont’s voice floated back: ‘Smells like shit. Oh God, that’s what it is, it’s shit, oh my God lemme outta here I’m gonna blow my groceries oh shit it’s shit oh my Gawwwwwd - And then came the unmistakable sound of Rory Tremont lsing his last couple of meals.
Well, that was it for me. I couldn’t help myself. The whole day - hell no, the last thirty years - all came up on me at once and I started laughing fit to split, a laugh such as I’d never had since I was a free man, the kind of laugh I never expected to have inside these grey walls. And oh dear God didn’t it feel good!
‘Get that man out of here!’ Warden Norton was screaming, and I was laughing so hard I didn’t know if he meant me or Tremont I just went on laughing and kicking my feet and holding onto my belly. I couldn’t have stopped if Norton had threatened to shoot me dead-bang on the spot. ‘Get him OUT!’
Well, friends and neighbours, I was the one who went Straight down to solitary, and there I stayed for fifteen days. A long shot. But every now and then I’d think about poor old not-too-bright Rory Tremont bellowing oh shit it’s shit, and then I’d think about Andy Dufresne heading south in his own car, dressed in a nice suit, and I’d just have to laugh. I did that fifteen days in solitary practically standing on my head Maybe because half of me was with Andy Dufresne, Andy Dufresne who had waded in shit and came out clean on the other side, Andy Dufresne, headed for the Pacific.
I heard the rest of what went on that night from half a dozen sources. There wasn’t all that much, anyway. I guess that Rory Tremont decided he didn’t have much left to lose after he’d lost his lunch and dinner, because he did go on. There was no danger of falling down the pipe-shaft between the inner and outer segments of the cllblock wall; it was so narrow that Tremont actually had to wedge himself down. He said later that he could only take half-breaths and that he knew what it would be like to be buried alive.
What he found at the bottom of the shaft was a master sewer-pipe which served the fourteen toilets in Cellblock 5, a porcelain pipe that had been laid thirty-three years before. It had been broken into. Beside the jagged hole in the pipe, Tremont found Andy’s rock-hammer.
Andy had gotten free, but it hadn’t been easy.
The pipe was even narrower than the shaft Tremont had just descended; it had a two-foot bore. Rory Tremont didn’t go in, and so far as I know, no one else did, either. It must have been damn near unspeakable. A rat jumped out of the pipe as Tremont was examining the hole and the rock-hammer, and he swore later that it was nearly as big as a cocker spaniel pup. He went back up the crawlspace to Andy’s cell like a monkey on a stick.
Andy had gone into that pipe. Maybe he knew that it emptied into a stream five hundred yards beyond the prison on the marshy western side. I think he did. The prison blueprints were around, and Andy would have found a way to look at them. He was a methodical cuss. He would have known or found out that the sewerpipe running out of Cellblock 5 was the last one in Shawshank not hooked into the new waste-treatment plant, and he would have known it was do it by mid-1975 or do it never, because in August they were going to switch us over to the new waste-treatment plant, too.
Five hundred yards. The length of five football fields. Just shy of a mile. He crawled that distance, maybe with one of those small Penlites in his hand, maybe with nothing but a couple of books of matches. He crawled through foulness that I either can’t imagine or don’t want to imagine. Maybe the rats scattered in front of him, or maybe they went for him the way such animals sometimes will when they’ve had a chance to grow bold in the dark. He must have had just enough clearance at the shoulders to keep moving, and he probably had to shove himself through the places where the lengths of pipe were joined.If it had been me, the claustrophobia would have driven me mad a dozen times over. But he did it
At the far end of the pipe they found a set of muddy footprints leading out of the sluggish, polluted creek the pipe fed into. Two miles from there a search party found his prison uniform - that was a day later.
The story broke big in the papers, as you might guess, but no one within a fifteen-mile radius of the prison stepped forward to report a stolen car, stolen clothes, or a naked man in the moonlight There was not so much as a barking dog in a farmyard. He came out of the sewerpipe and he disappeared like smoke.
But I am betting he disappeared in the direction of Buxton.
Three months after that memorable day, Warden Norton resigned. He was a broken man,it gives me great pleasure to report The spring was gone from his step. On his last day he shuffled out with his head down like an old con shuffling down to the infirmary for his codeine pills. It was Gonyar who took over, and to Norton that must have seemed like the unkindest cut of all. For all I know, Sam Norton is down there in Eliot now, attending services at the Baptist church every Sunday, and wondering how the hell Andy Dufresne ever could have gotten the better of him.
I could have told him; the answer to the question is simplicity itself. Some have got it,Sam. And some don’t, and never will.
That’s what I know; now I’m going to tell you what I think. 1 may have it wrong on some of the specifics, but I’d be willing to bet my watch and chain that I’ve got the general outline down pretty well. Because, with Andy being the sort of man that he was, there’s only one or two ways that it could have been. And every now and then, when I think it out, I think of Normaden, that half-crazy Indian. ‘Nice fella,’ Normaden had said after celling with Andy for six or eight months. ‘I was glad to go, me. All the time cold. He don’t let nobody touch his things. That’s okay. Nice man, never make fun. But big draught.’ Poor crazy Normaden. He knew more than ail the rest of us, and he knew it sooner. And it was eight long months before Andy could get him out of there and have
the cell to himself again. If it hadn’t been for the eight months Normaden had spent with him after Warden Norton first came in, I do believe that Andy would have been free before Nixon resigned.
I believe now that it began in 1949, way back then - not with the rock-hammer, but with the Rita Hayworth poster. I told you how nervous he seemed when he asked for that, nervous and filled with suppressed excitement. At the time I thought it was just embarrassment, that Andy was the sort of guy who’d never want someone else to know that he had feet of clay and wanted a woman ... even if it was only a fantasy-woman. But I think now that I was wrong. I think now that Andy’s excitement came from something else altogether.
What was responsible for the hole that Warden Norton eventually found behind the poster of a girl that hadn’t even been born when that photo of Rita Hayworth was taken?Andy Dufresne’s perseverance and hard work, yeah - I don’t take any of that away from him. But there were two other elements in the equation: a lot of luck, and WPA concrete. You don’t need me to explain the luck, I guess. The WPA concrete I checked out for myself. I invested some time and a couple of stamps and wrote first to the University of Maine History Department and then to a fellow whose address they were able to give me.This fellow had been foreman of the WPA project that built the Shawshank Max Security Wing.
The wing, which contains Cellblocks 3,4, and 5, was built in the years 1934-37. Now,most people don’t think of cement and concrete as ‘technological developments’, the way we think of cars and oil furnaces and rocket-ships, but they really are. There was no modern cement until 1870 or so, and no modern concrete until after the turn of the century. Mixing concrete is as delicate a business as making bread. You can get it too watery or not watery enough. You can get the sand-mix too thick or too thin, and the same is true of the gravel-mix. And back in 1934, the science of mixing the stuff was a lot less sophisticated than it is today.
The walls of Cellblock 5 were solid enough, but they weren’t exactly dry and toasty. As a matter of fact, they were and are pretty damned dank. After a long wet spell they would sweat and sometimes even drip. Cracks had a way of appearing, some an inch deep, and were routinely mortared over.
Now here comes Andy Dufresne into Cellblock 5. He’s a man who graduated from the University of Maine’s school of business, but he’s also a man who took two or three geology courses along the way. Geology had, in fact, become his chief hobby. I imagine it appealed to his patient, meticulous nature. A ten-thousand-year ice age here. A million years of mountain-building there. Tectonic plates grinding against each other deep under the earth’s skin over the millennia. Pressure. Andy told me once that all of geology is the study of pressure.And time, of course.
He had time to study those walls. Plenty of time. When the cell door slams and the lights go out, there’s nothing else to look at.
First-timers usually had a hard time adjusting to the confinement of prison life. They get screw-fever, they have to be hauled down to the infirmary and sedated couple of times before they get on the beam. It’s not unusual to hear some new member of our happy little family bang on the bars of his cell and screaming to be let out ... before the cries have gone on for long, the chant starts up along the cellblock: ‘Fresh fish, hey little fishie, fresh fish, fresh fish, got fresh fish today!’
Andy didn’t flip out like that when he came to the Shank 1948, but that’s not to say that he didn’t feel many of same things. He may have come close to madness; some and some go sailing right over the edge. Old life blown away in the wink of an eye, indeterminate nightmare stretching out ahead, a long season in hell.
So what did he do, I ask you? He searched almost desperately for something to divert his restless mind. Oh. there are all sorts of ways to divert yourself, even in prison; it seems like the human mind is full of an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to diversion. I told you about the sculptor and his Three Ages of Jesus. There were coin collectors who were always losing their collections to thieves, stamp collectors, one fellow who had postcards from thirty-five different countries - and let me tell you, he would have turned out your lights if he’d caught you diddling with his postcards.Andy got interested in rocks. And the walls of his cell.
I think that his initial intention might have been to do no more than to carve his initials into the wall where the poster of Rita Hayworth would soon be hanging. His initials, or maybe a few lines from some poem. Instead, what he found was that interestingly weak concrete. Maybe he started to carve his initials and a big chunk of the wall fell out I can see him, lying there on his bunk, looking at that broken chunk of concrete, turning it over in his hands. Never mind the wreck of your whole life, never mind that you got railroaded into this place by a whole trainload of bad luck. Let’s forget all that and look at this piece of concrete.
Some months further along he might have decided it would be fun to see how much of that wall he could take out. But you can’t just start digging into your wall and then, when the weekly inspection (or one of the surprise inspections that are always turning up interesting caches of booze, drugs, dirty pictures, and weapons) comes around, say to the guard: This? Just excavating a little hole in my cell wall. Not to worry, my good man.’
No, he couldn’t have that So he came to me and asked if I could get him a Rita Hayworth poster. Not a little one but a big one.
And, of course, he had the rock-hammer. I remember thinking when I got him that gadget back in ‘48 that it would take a man six hundred years to burrow through the wall with it True enough. But Andy went right through the wall -even with the soft concrete, it took him two rock-hammers and twenty-seven years to hack a hole big enough to get his slim body through four feet of it
Of course he lost most of one of those years to Normaden, and he could only work at night, preferably late at night, when almost everybody is asleep - including the guards who work the night shift. But I suspect the thing which slowed him down the most was getting rid of the wall as he took it out He could muffle the sound of his work by wrapping the head of his hammer in rock-polishing cloths, but what to do with the pulverized concrete and the occasional chunks that came out whole?
I think he must have broken up the chunks into pebbles and...I remembered the Sunday after I had gotten him the rock-hammer. I remember watching him walk across the exercise yard, his face puffy from his latest go-round with the sisters.I saw him stoop, pick up a pebble ... and it disappeared up his sleeve. That inside sleevepocket is an old prison trick. Up your sleeve or just inside the cuff of your pants. And I have another memory, very strong but unfocused, maybe something I saw more than once. This memory is of Andy Dufresne walking across the exercise yard on a hothttp://www.tingclass.net/show-5471-5602-1.html