This is what I imagine this kind of situation would play out…
So I walked briskly out of the grocery store last night, after noticing the same couple for the third time in less than an hour. Sure, Susie and her husband ‘looked’ nice and normal but were they really? I mean you make small talk about having the same car at a Redbox machine, then you’re standing at the same ATM and going into the same grocery store? Apparently she must be your biggest fan.
As I approached my car I noticed a rather large white van with no windows parked in the next space. It wasn’t sketchy at all, it was rather nice with racing companies and Santa Cruz stickers on the back. Bad people don’t promote the SC, they just don’t.
Anyways, it’s such a stale literary device for crime experiences so my mind wandered over to the VW bug thinking ‘Could that be a better vehicle? Where would you put the person and is the improved mpg a necessary benefit? It would at least be more unique and so not suspicious! I glanced up and saw Susie waving like a crazy lady and hurriedly dug through my my purse for my keys. Just then two men grabbed me and headed towards the van. Apparently they lacked creative vision.
“Can you grab my grocery bag?’ I mentioned non nonchalantly. They appeared confused so I repeated the request. “Grab my grocery bag dude, I paid good money for that.” Then I added, “Please,” thinking this might be the magic word they were waiting for. The bigger guy motioned to the smaller guy and he begrudgingly grabbed my bag and threw it beside me. “Good thing I didn’t buy eggs, right?” I said sarcastically. They didn’t laugh; tough crowd. They close the door and bigger guy jumps into the driver’s seat and starts the van. Smaller guy starts rifling through my purse.
“Can you hand me my pen and notebook please,” I reached out my hands and he quickly tied them with some rough rope. “Okay, it will be a little hard to write now but I’ll just have to try and remember what I can.” Smaller guy turns his back on me. I study the interior. “It was a basic model,” I begin to verbalize, “hey what model is this? Ford? Is it German?” He ignores me so I continue. “The floor was carpeted quite nicely, not like the hard and uncomfortable flooring I’d expect for a kidnapper’s vehicle.”
“Can you shut up…please?” Smaller guy asks over his shoulder.
“I wouldn’t need to narrate if I had my pen and paper,” I say with a shrug. “The two men looked rugged though not excessively so…”
“What do you mean by excessive?” Smaller guy stops and looks at me over his shoulder. “Is this a crack about my size?”
“Why no, I would never be insensitive like that, this is merely details…” I try to assure his hurt ego.
“What would you consider excessive? For details,” he says snidely. I’m detecting a little attitude.
“Well, you know those pictures that people post with the insanely huge body builders who look more like cartoon characters than people?”
“Yeah, those guys are hella roided out.”
“Exactly, so what I’m saying is you guys look pretty tough but believable and not cartoony in any way.”
“Why thank you?”
“You’re welcome. Now if I may continue my train of thought before I lose it completely.” He motions with his hand to continue.
“The interior boasts a dim but usable light, perfect for taking notes is one were inclined and had the right tools,” I hesitate for reaction; none. “The assailants appear…”
“Hey, I don’t like that word, can you use another?”
“You don’t like ‘assailants’? Why?”
“It sounds hateful like terrorists.”
“Well, I suppose I could use another word but I can’t imagine there’s a nicer word for kidnappers.”
“Well just use that then; kidnappers.”
“Okay, if it makes you happy. So, the kidnappers appear competent but not experienced, which is reassuring in some respects, not so much in others.” Smaller guy turns around and faces me. “What now?” I ask exasperated.
“Nothing, I’m just waiting for your reasoning.”
“Okay, so I’m not expert but I would rationalize that the benefits of first time assail…er kidnappers would be they haven’t become hardened enough for brutal acts to seem insignificant. I really do appreciate it, as the…”
“Oh, I don’t really like the word. It feels so helpless and sad and desperate.”
“How about target?”
“I do like that better and it does impart a certain amount of desirability.”
“Okay, so keep going, I’m really starting to get into this.”
“So I was about to discuss the probable motivation and environment for creating someone capable of committing this type of crime.”
“No you weren’t,” he interjects. I shake my head in argument.
“I know what I was going to say, it’s coming out of here,” I point to my head like a 5 yr. old. He shakes his head and laughs.
“You lost your train of thought. You were about to explain the benefits of being an experienced kidnapper.”
“Oh yes, you are so right, thanks for reminding me, it is so easy to get side tracked.”
“I know the feeling.”
“Okay so an experienced kidnapper the benefit might be that they don’t panic, and mistakenly shoot their target. I’ve never been shot but imagine it hurts pretty bad so I don’t think I’d like that either.”
“You wouldn’t, trust me. My cousin Joe accidentally shot me in my arm and it hurt like hell for months and it was only a flesh wound!”
“No offense to your cousin but that sounds like a dick move.”
“Oh for sure, he’s a major dick.”
“So, do you have a pseudonym, nom de plume, heist name you use?”
“Nah, I’m not fancy like that, just call me Bruce.”
“Okay, so Bruce, what would motivate someone like you to pick up targets?”
“Well, wait, what’s your name?” He asks. I start laughing.
“You’ve got my wallet in my hand, you tell me.” We both laugh. He glances down and grins.
“Karma! Seriously that’s your name? Oh I better watch out huh?” He leans back deep in thought. “I guess you could say my old man kind of set me on this path. He was a regular bum, was never there for me when I needed him and he made messed up stuff seem normal so I guess I didn’t develop a healthy moral compass at a crucial stage in my development.” I nod in understanding.
“That makes sense but it’s hardly an excuse. You know better and you are better than that.” The back door opens up. We hadn’t realized the van had stopped.
“Yo, we’re here.” Larger man stops and evaluates the situation; Bruce and I are sitting facing each other holding hands.
“Hey,” I nod to larger guy. I look past him into the night. “The lights of town glowed brightly in the distance, there were no houses or…”
“What the hell are you doing?” Larger man asks, his question addressed to us both.
“She was narrating the details since you told me to bind her.” Larger guy looks confused. “Well she can’t use her pen and paper. How else is she going to remember stuff?” He looked at me and I nodded in agreement. “Honestly, she’s been just delightful and very helpful regarding all my ‘dad stuff’. I didn’t realize how much of an impact he had on me until I was talking to Karma here.”
“I’m so glad you enjoyed your little chat session here.”
“Me too,” Bruce grinned at me. “She’s been a great target.”
“Yes, it’s been surprisingly nice.”
“Target? This isn’t shooting practice.” Said Larger guy.
“She doesn’t like the term ‘victim’. She feels it’s not very empowering.” Bruce told him.
“And he didn’t like ‘assailant’ because it sounds too hateful.” I said. Larger guy glared at me, then shook his head at Bruce then slammed the door shut. Five minutes later he opened the door and I was back at my car.
“Get outta here,” Larger guy motioned to me then headed back to the front of the van. I held my hands out in front of me and Bruce quickly sliced through the rope. Once I was outside of the van he handed me my bag of groceries.
“Grab you a banana and a granola bar,” I held the bag out for him.
“You sure?” He asked warily.
“Yes, you need your energy.” I smiled. “Oh and can I have my purse back? He blushed and reached back into the van and held it out for me, then pulled it back and shoved something inside quickly then held it out again. “What’s that?
“All your cash, cards and a little something from me. It’s just a little memento.”
“Aww a teddy bear key chain, how nice. I would never of thought to add this to the story. How unique.” Bruce smiled, jumped back into the van then it sped away.
Fantasy author and mother existing in the enchanted land of NorCal.