Johnny America


The Drop


De­sert­ed park­ing garages give me the hee­bie-jee­bies. “It’s so cliché,” I said over the phone. To which he re­spond­ed, “Do you want your kid back or not?”

The thought has crossed my mind — What if I don’t pay? My wife would kill me. Bot­tom line. But I think I read this sto­ry once about a kid­nap­per that raised the ab­duct­ed as their own and the child got a schol­ar­ship or some­thing. I might have made it up, I can’t remember.

The slam of the car door sounds like canon fire and my first in­stinct is to duck for cov­er. I must have been an in­fantry­man dur­ing the Napoleon­ic Wars (or some­thing akin) in a past life. His shoes beat like the hooves of a horse too con­fi­dent for its own good. My boy walks be­side him, waist high, with a pa­per bag over his head. My son’s ab­duc­tor is wear­ing a cream-col­ored trench­coat, col­lar up, and fe­do­ra tipped so the shad­ow of the rim masks his eyes.

“Look­ing sharp. Trench­coat. Fe­do­ra. Very orig­i­nal. I think the look is re­al­ly go­ing to catch on.”

“Oh shut up.” It’s the voice I’ve been deal­ing with all month; deep bari­tone, way too smoky to be real.

“Was it re­al­ly nec­es­sary to put the pa­per bag over his head?”

“I didn’t. He must have found it in the back­seat.” That sounds like my boy, try­ing to play it up for the kids at school.

“Come on, Son, let’s go.” He fol­lows the sound of my voice.

I hear a throat clearing.

“There’s still the mat­ter of my ransom.”

“Calm down, calm down. I haven’t for­got­ten about you.” I draw a thick en­ve­lope from in­side my jack­et pocket.

“Five thou­sand.” I smack the en­ve­lope on my hand and deal it to him. “To be hon­est, I thought you’d aim high­er. I mean I’m sure you know how much I’m worth.”

“Is it too late to ask for more?”

“Yeah, it’s prob­a­bly too late.”

“You’re right.” He turns back, a lit­tle de­ject­ed, and then spins back around.

“Well maybe I’ll kid­nap him again.”

“I have a daugh­ter too you know.”

“Maybe I’ll snatch both of them and dou­ble my ransom.”

“Good luck, I can’t even get the two of them to sit next to each oth­er in church.”

My boy keeps the pa­per bag on his head as we dri­ve home.

“I hope you’re hap­py now, you just cost me five thou­sand dollars.”

He doesn’t say anything.

“Will you take that stu­pid thing off?”

He takes it off his head. And of course, he’s blind­fold­ed him­self with a gym sock underneath.

“For God’s sake.”

I see that spray of black hair and those swollen cheeks and I can’t help but be re­mind­ed of a young ver­sion of my­self. I feel al­most bad for him. He’s prob­a­bly just suf­fer­ing from that Stock­holm syn­drome every­one warned us about.

“How about we get some chur­ros on the way home.” I think I see his lips em­boss un­der the duct tape.

Filed under Fiction on April 8th, 2008

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Nightingale wrote:

Hi­lar­i­ous­ly sarcastic.

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