’18 A To Z Challenge – K

 

Challenge '18Letter K

 

 

 

 

 

KIDNAPPED
BY Robert Louis Scribbledorffer

They did everything absolutely wrong!  If criminals were smart enough to get a real job, they wouldn’t be criminals, would they?

My wife and I were kidnapped, for the big ransom that my ‘rich’ father would pay.  One of them lived to regret it.  I don’t.  Dad’s money is all tied up in investments.  With the economic downturn, he’s barely making the mortgage payments on his ‘mansion.’  Besides, even though I’m an only child, I’m still not Dad’s favorite son.  They didn’t research that very well.

They got into the house somehow.  The first we knew of it was when one of them flicked the bedroom lights on at 3AM.  We woke to two scruffy oafs in balaclavas, waving guns at us, telling us to get out of bed.  They secured our hands behind us with nylon zip-ties, and prodded us in bare feet and pyjamas, outside into the back of their van.

The ‘leader’ warned us not to yell, or he’d shoot us.  It wasn’t till I really woke up that I realized that a dead hostage gathers no ransom, but they might have shot my wife, and I don’t know whether the neighbors would have roused, that late at night.

They didn’t blindfold us.  I’d seen their van, though not the licence.  I watched through the windows as we drove, at every street and every turn.  I saw their house when we arrived.  I could find this place in my sleep.  That worried me.  Did they intend to kill us?

They herded us into a back bedroom, and made us sit on the bed while they added zip-ties around our ankles.  Then they turned to walk out.  I yelled, “Hey, you can’t just leave us like this.  I have to piss!”  The Boss said, “Tough, hold it.”  Speaking of pissed – if I wasn’t before, I was then.

It is said, that a dog can strain against a leather leash, until it rots – or snap it with the first lunge.  I had no room for lunges, but I could certainly strain hard.  As soon as they left, I looked around the room.  On the far wall was a mirrored aluminum dressing table with squared-edged legs.  I rolled/crawled over to it, and put my back against it, and started rubbing the nylon wrist tie against the corner.

By the time baddy #2 came back in, the next morning, the wife and I were both a sodden mess.  He tipped half a bottle of water into each of us, and turned to leave.  Without much hope of it, I asked, “What about some food?”  He replied, “You better hope your Father brings some pizza, when he drops off our money.”

He came back with some more water later that afternoon, and again the next morning.  We, and the bedroom, got wetter and smellier, how demeaning.  Between the visits, it was a constant rub, scrape, rub, scrape.  Finally, on the second afternoon, just before I thought he might come in for our water break, the zip-tie parted.

I found a nail-clipper, and managed to get the tie at my ankles off.  That was about the best thing in the bedroom for a weapon, unless I wanted to hit him with a pillow.  I quickly rubbed full circulation back into my hands and feet, and moved to check the door – unlocked – well, of course, this is just someone’s house.

I risked a cautious look.  The bedroom opened into the kitchen, and there was no-one in sight.  I quickly eased out.  All kitchen knives must be in drawers, and I couldn’t risk making a noise, rummaging around, so I grabbed a heavy frying pan off the stove.

I peeked around the corner, into the living room.  The apprentice dummy was standing, looking out the little window beside the door.  I quietly padded across the rug behind him, quickly, before he smelled me.  Just as I raised the fry pan to knock him unconscious, he opened the door.

There, just outside, was ‘The Brains’ of the pair, coming back with a bag of groceries.  In desperation, I quickly swung.  Later, the police pathologist said that, instead of catching him with the flat of the pan behind the ear, I caught him in the first cervical vertebra, with the edge.  It crushed the bone and severed his spinal cord.  He died instantly, and dropped like a rock.

Still not too firm on my recently-shackled feet, he took me down with him.  Boss-man gaped, then dropped the food, leapt forward, and began clawing at his kidney area, I assumed, to draw his gun.  As I fell, I did the only thing I could.  On the way down, I backhanded him in the knee with the frying pan….  And another bad guy dropped like a rock – this one screaming until his face smacked into the floor, and he lost his gun.

They were armed.  I acted in self-defence.  Two minor, known-to-police hoodlums with guns, out of circulation, a dozen minor crimes solved, no-one said a word about the fact that one of them was dead.  Instead, I got a Civic Medal of Bravery, a television interview, and a book deal.

I was told that the ringleader will walk – not out of jail – but out of the prison hospital ward, once he gets a new knee and kneecap to replace the one I smashed.  Dad claimed that he tried to get the $2 million, but, you know….the markets – the banks.  Gee, thanx Dad.

We got showers and clean clothes at the police station where we made our statements and ate Whoppers and fries, a little book royalty to augment income, a new respect from neighbors and coworkers, and best of all, NO PTSD.  Guns and all, it was hard to take ‘Boris and Natasha’ seriously.  What an adventure!  Let’s not do it again.   😯

 

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Flash Fiction #93

Barbed Wire

PHOTO PROMPT © Madison Woods

IMPRISONED INFINITY

Barbed wire tamed the Wild West. It had been Terra Incognita – the land beyond the law.  Its business was Beef.  Myriad cattle grazed millions of open acres, giving birth a century later to McDonalds and Burger King.

Then came the farmers – Sodbusters.  The cost of enough lumber, on the treeless plain, to keep cattle from crops, was exorbitant.  But then came the wire salesman, offering a cheap solution that was horse-high, bull-strong, and pig-tight.

Even men with no property deeds objected to being fenced out of once-open land. Wire wars were fought, but eventually, civilization moved west, and peace prevailed.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

The Americans Are Coming!

The Americans are coming!

We Canadians are not only letting them, we’re often welcoming them with open arms.  There’s always talk of making Canada the 51st State.  Come on!  We have more land area than the entire US, including Alaska.  Of course, a lot of it is covered eleven months a year, with do-it-yourself Igloo kits.  There’s 10 provinces and a bunch of territories, several of which are larger than Alaska.  Let’s really give Texas an inferiority complex.  We could be States numbers 51 through 65.  Even better, we could take over the US and see how they like being provinces.

It started innocently enough; Canadians like fast and easy food.  First McDonalds sneaked in under the import duty fence, and then Burger King, followed surreptitiously by Arby’s.  Locally, Krispy Kreme tried to go up against our juggernaut Tim Hortons.  It wasn’t just their doughnuts that were glazed, when they got their ass crullers handed back to them.

Our cheap Scottish souls wanted cheap prices, so we let cheap old Joe Walton, and his cheap Wal-Mart cronies, sell us cheap consumer goods, made by cheap Chinese child labor.  Soon, Wally-World was joined by Lowes, Best Buy and Home Depot.

The impressive, old, Hudson’s Bay Company became the easier to remember and say, HBC, and finally just, The Bay.  Years ago, America’s Kresge’s, and Woolworth’s had done the same and become K-Mart and Woolco.  The upscale Bay spawned a downscale chain called Zellers, and out-cheaped and out-crapped even Woolco.  The K-Mart bluelight special was replaced by a whitelight clearance, based on our proud ice and snow heritage.

Too many people must have thought they’d actually died, and stopped shopping at Zeller’s, and The Bay sold off their 300 stores to Target.  Not only have more Americans invaded through the Target hole in the fence, but The Bay has now partnered with Saks, (Is it just Saks?  Not Saks Fifth Avenue anymore?) bringing expensive, pretentious American shit north, to people living on the tundra.

Some years ago, the New England company, L.L.Bean attempted to migrate north with the moose.  Trying to project a woodsy, rustic, rural feel, to Canucks who feel a plaid flannel shirt is Sunday-go-to-meeting acceptable, they advertised that their Canadian headquarters was in, “The Village of Islington.”

The Village (?) of Islington had 35,000 residents, and was totally surrounded by the 2.5 million City of Toronto, as part of the 5.5 million Greater Toronto Area, when they agreed to be annexed.  This had happened 17 years before the Tilley-hat-wearing snake-oil salesmen arrived at the little Indian camp.

I sent them a letter, calling them on their deceptive advertising, but never heard back.  I guess I’m not the only Canadian who didn’t want to buy their bison shit.  The only Beans that Canucks want, are served with boiled wieners, and so, they slunk, defeated, back south of the border.

The company of Hammacher-Schlemmer, a New York City-based distributor of STUFF which nobody really wants, but some people just must have, is trying to bring its own can of beans across the border.  To project their homey, Canadian presence, they list a Canadian manager, and a “warehouse” in LaSalle, Ontario.  This is some guy with a two-car garage, in a suburb of Windsor, across the bridge from Detroit.

The telling information is at the back of the catalog, where it says that all merchandise is “shipped duty-free,” actually coming up from The States.  The only real reason for Joe the Manager, is to handle the paperwork necessary, to ship unacceptable junk back to the Big Apple.

H-S brags that they’ve been in business since 12 years before the American Civil War.  Big F**cking deal!  Our Canadian retail mainstay, The Hudson’s Company, was incorporated in 1620, a hundred and fifty six years before America even formed the first Tea Party in Boston harbour, and it sells a much better class of junk.

The big American communications company Verizon, wants to swallow up the little Canadian, Mobilicity, and Wind telecoms, to get a toehold in the Great White Northern market.  Like a virus, they’ll also carry north, the NSA, the No Such Agency, allowing it to sieve our phone calls and emails, looking for mukluk-shod terrorists, building bombs out of Maple-sap-collector pails.  When they hear two Frogs discussing poutine, they’ll think we’ve sold out to that fish-kissing Russian president, Putin.  You got some ‘splainin’ to do, Auguste Robichaud!

I would hope that my fellow Canadians aren’t dumb enough, and greedy enough, to let this American cultural and commercial invasion continue, unchecked, unquestioned!  I had that thought today, on my way home from the Wal-Mart store, where I had some French fries at the in-store McDonalds.

Gratitude

To show their gratitude for our providing them with decorated Christmas cookies and fruitcake for their family Christmas breakfast, our Chiropractor and his family send us home with an over-abundance of lovely gifts.  One we’ve appreciated for several years is a gift certificate for a local Chinese buffet restaurant, simply named “Kings.”  There is another chain restaurant named “Mandarin”, but the range of choices and quality of food is about the same, only the price is 50% higher.

Husband, son, daughter, grandson – the birthdays all crash down like that Russian meteor, Sept. 21, Oct. 1, Oct. 3, Oct. 6.  We barely catch our breath from blowing out one set of candles, when it starts all over again.  The wife’s birthday is on Feb. 19.  It gives us time to save up our pennies, the ones that are now officially out of circulation.  The four adults do the work on the cookies, so we use the gift certificate to pay ourselves back.  The grandson and his fiancée are old enough to develop their own plans, so the rest of us have an evening out.

Ontario has established a new statutory holiday.  The third Monday in February is now, Family Day.  This year it fell on the 18th.  If we were to go out on a Saturday or Sunday, the prices for the same food are 25% higher, and the crowds are thick.  Had we gone out on the Monday, the prices are better, but the place would still be packed.  We waited till the wife’s birthday on Tuesday.

We don’t tell anyone at the restaurant that it is.  If you’re foolish enough to do that, you get – Clap, Clap – It’s your – Clap, Clap – Birthday – Clap, Clap – You’re real – Clap, Clap – Centered out – Clap, Clap.  You get a chocolate muffin with a candle, they stick a cardboard tiara on your head that makes the one from Burger King look real, and they take a Polaroid for future blackmail.  We did it last year when the son turned 40.  The wife says she’ll admit to it next year, when she turns 65.

Waiting to use the gift certificate till the middle of February serves several purposes.  The hustle-bustle and over-eating of the Christmas/New Year’s season is over.  The son is the only one with a job, but we all need a middle-of-the-winter holiday.  The weight-watch dieting has been back in force long enough to justify a “just-one-time” exemption.  It is the wife’s birthday, and she deserves one night where she doesn’t have to plan/cook a meal, and the daughter doesn’t get left, eating leftovers all alone, while the kids invade their favorite Starbucks for the evening.  It’s another evening like the ones we spent making cookies.  We enjoy a communal meal, laugh, talk, tell lies and jokes and catch up on each other’s lives.

While only able to afford to do this once or twice a year, we’ve developed a bit of a relationship with one white male server.  Even if we’re not seated in his section, he stops over to see us when we pop in.  The son was startled when he showed up at his shop one night, working through the temp agency.  Son was worried that he’d lost his job, but, while stressful, the reason was more prosaic.

Several of his friends had decided to go on a trip to Europe, or Nicaragua, or Newfoundland.  He wished to accompany them but didn’t have the funds for the fare, or the time off, so he signed up for a second job.  He got off work at ten at the restaurant, and went to the son’s shop for an 11 to 7 shift.  He did this for six weeks, to earn enough money….and the other guys couldn’t agree on where or when, and the trip fell apart.  Wisely, he invested it in a restaurant management course.

Our chiropractor has found out about my blogging, and has become a regular follower.  He goes down to his den in the basement, and gets on his computer before clients begin to arrive.  This post will be up early Tuesday morning, when wife, daughter and I have an 11 AM appointment.  I’m using it as another way of expressing the family’s gratitude for facilitating a most enjoyable evening out.  Good morning, Peter.  Let’s talk about comments.

How ‘bout the rest of you?  I’d show gratitude for some comments.

Motor City Madness – Part 4

Coming Home

Thank you to those who have had the patience to virtually accompany me on my Detroit trip.  I have a few, hopefully interesting information nuggets to distribute before we load up and head happily, but resignedly home.

In the display of one of the vendors at the knife show, I saw a four-foot *yardstick*.  I have a three-footer at home which is forty years old, from a long extinct local lumber yard.  This one must have been far older than that.  It had an inscription on it that read, “Four feet are better than three” because it was from a small company in Holland, Michigan, which made wooden shoes.  I find no modern reference to the shoe company, although the small city still has a Wooden Shoe Restaurant, a Wooden Shoe Mall, and a Wooden Shoe Greenhouse.  It’s known, of course, as the Tulip City.

It was incorporated in 1867 by a group of Calvinist Dutch, fleeing religious persecution.  What!  Again?!  Do these loving Christians never give it a rest?  This bunch was like our local Mennonites.  These Luddites wanted to keep “The Good Old Days”, and resisted things like vaccinations and fertiliser.  Also known as The Town of Churches, these highly religious folks have 170 of them for a population of 33,500.  Only The Church City, of Charleston, SC has more churches per capita.

As I returned to our room Sunday morning, after checking out, I walked past a cleaner’s cart with a Tim Horton’s cup on it.  Such a common sight in Canada, I almost missed the significance.  I went back to speak to the cleaner, but she was taking a smoke break.  The ladies in the laundry room were only too happy to take a couple of minutes off and talk.  Since we were there, over two years ago, Tim’s has opened at least six new outlets that they knew of.

One is about three miles west on the road in front of the motel, but Tim’s is opening another, just a mile to the east.  It’s supposed to be near the Outback Restaurant we ate at on Friday night, but I wasn’t looking for it then.  It will make it quicker and easier for motel staff to get their daily caffeine ration.  The laundry ladies say that a lot of people are abandoning Drunken Dunkin Donuts.  The buzz is, that both the coffee and the pastries are better.

We used to get our American satellite stations from Buffalo for years.  We got to know the on-air people and had a bit of interest in the closest U.S. city.  Then Shaw Entertainment swallowed my Star Choice, and now our American channels come from Detroit.  We often see ads for Tim’s.

Dunkin Donuts is making a push to get into Canada.  They have 79 outlets in Quebec, but only 2 in Ontario between Montreal and Ottawa, teamed with Burger King and Pizza Hut.  I don’t think Le Clown, in Montreal laps up their slop, but some of the frogs do.

To accommodate the grandson, we took a room with two double beds.  That’s a real crowded comedown for the wife and me, used to a queen-size bed for years.  For the skinny little grandson, he had all the room he needed, and more.  There’s talk of the son and I going back down in the spring.  A bed apiece won’t be bad.  If the GS can come with us, maybe he can bring an air mattress and sleeping bag.  If his gal comes along, they can rent their own room.

Finally, after gassing up, at prices less than Canada, we headed for the border.  The dump off I-75 to the bridge is now smoother also.  We paid our crossing fee, collectible on the American side, no matter which direction you go, and headed over to face Canada Customs.  I pulled into Murphy’s line.  It was the shortest, but, I think a trucker from Georgia drove through in another lane, while we still sat there.  Maybe the guy at the front had had plastic surgery.  Papers got passed out, and back, and more papers out, and back.  Finally it was our turn.  I reported for the wife and me, and let the grandson deal with the woman in the booth on his own.

I told her what we had, including two, one-liter bottles of vodka.  She then asked me what size the bottles were.  If you ask the question, shouldn’t you listen to the answer?  The grandson explained what, and how much he was bringing back, then our queen of security bent down, looked into the back seat, and asked the wife how much she was declaring.  The wife pointed at me, and said, “I’m with him!”

The drive back home along the 401 was quick and smooth.  The grandson got some nice photos, and even a video of the big wind-turbines.  I don’t know if she knows how to embed videos, but perhaps I can persuade the wife to post a story about the trip from her perspective, and include the pictures.

We stopped at the east-bound mate to the west-bound rest area, for a quick pit stop.  There were some heavy clouds overhead, but they were blowing west, faster than the sun was setting.  Suddenly it appeared in a big notch in the clouds, just like a sunrise in a mountain valley.  That shot would rival anything that Edward Hotspur has published.  If she posts, that one will have to be included.

Okay, verbosity has been expended.  Thanks for coming along on the drive with us.  I’ll get on with nattering about something totally different.