“We don’t have enough words,” she sighed, flipping through the stack of mangled magazines in front of her.
She had spent hours poring over that wrinkled piece of paper, scissors in one hand, an Elmer’s glue stick in the other.
“Good god, woman! It’s a ransom note not a novel,” I griped, fanning myself against the stifling Louisiana heat. The AC had conked out hours ago, and our only relief was a small metal fan creaking in the motel room window.
“That’s no reason not to be polite.” She flapped the note wildly to dry the glue. “Now listen.”
To Whom It May Concern, Sir, Madam, or Otherwise,
This note is to inform you of the capture and current detention of the honorable Alfred P. Dunlop, Jr. It has come to our attention that your family has been met with considerable good fortune and wealth over the past few years, and we wish to impose upon you a trade of a portion of said affluence in exchange for the life of your son, brother, or otherwise.
“I wanted to make sure I covered all possible readers,” she interjected.
If our demands are not met in full within a reasonable amount of time, we cannot guarantee the following will not be inflicted upon the detained personage, intentionally or otherwise: grievous bodily injury, psychological damage, emotional trauma, and/or death.
“Good lord, woman–” I began, but she held up her finger to cut me off.
On the following page, please find a complete list of all demands along with instructions for delivery and retrieval of the aforementioned detainee. We kindly ask that you refrain from involving any and all forms of law enforcement, or we will be forced to consider the previously listed repercussions. Thank you for your consideration of our demands, and we look forward to a speedy and smooth transaction.
“Tell me you didn’t!”
“I’m not dumb!” she retorted.
I sighed, pinching the bridge of my nose to ward off the impending headache.
Sincerely, the Kidnappers
I soon found myself trudging to the motel lobby to secure the last of their limited supply of magazines after she demanded, “An I, three E’s, and a Best Wishes.”
The next morning, the lengthy ransom note was delivered, and at the specified time and place, instead of a payoff, a crisp white envelope appeared.
“They left a note,” I sighed, slamming the motel door and tossing the letter onto the bed next to her. She tore it open with a dainty forefinger and unfolded the enclosed letterhead, crowned with an ornate capital D.
Dear Sir and/or Madam,
Thank you for your previous correspondence regarding the abduction of Alfred P. Dunlop, Jr. Unfortunately, the terms outlined in the enclosed proposal were not favorable to both parties involved. We can assure you, there is nothing honorable about him, and our good fortune has only been furthered by your removal of him. To that end, we must humbly decline your generous offer of returning the missing party.
Sincerely, Grateful Persons
“Well, shoot.” She carefully refolded the letter, returning it to its envelope. “Now what are we supposed to do with him?”
We gazed over at the figure sitting in the corner, a black bag over his head.
“How should I know? Guess nobody wants him. Ourselves included.” I collapsed on the creaking bed, throwing an arm over my sweaty forehead.
“Wait! I have an idea.” She turned back to the magazines, and the room filled with the rustle of paper and the crunch of scissors on magazine stock. Several hours later, she loudly cleared her throat, waking me from a heat-inflicted nap, and read the following.
Dear Grateful Persons,
Upon receiving your courteous response, we have decided we will return Alfred P. Dunlop, Jr. to you, whole and unharmed, unless our previous demands are indeed met. We must apologize for the fickleness of this whole affair, but these are desperate times as I am sure you’re aware. In return for your generosity, we will ensure his permanent placement in a suitable location approved by both involved parties. The bottom of a river, perhaps. As always, we look forward to your prompt reply.
Sincerely, the Kidnappers
P.S. Due to a lack of magazines, we are unable to enclose an updated copy of the previously sent terms. The time and place shall remain the same, the date of delivery moving to the Thursday of this week. Thank you for your understanding, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.
The note was promptly delivered, and on Thursday, another crisp white envelope appeared along with a large black duffel. She eagerly tore open the letter.
Dear Sir and/or Madam,
After careful consideration of your offer, we happily accept your terms. Please find enclosed the money as requested along with sufficient overages to cover any and all expenses associated with disposing of Alfred P. Dunlop, Jr. as agreed upon. We hope you find the 15% gratuity sufficient. The bottom of a river is suitable for us, and we must thank you again for initiating this transaction.
With deepest affections, Grateful Persons
“That was kind of them,” she commented, refolding the letter.
I yanked open the duffel and sorted through the neatly stacked bills, finally announcing, “It’s all here, along with the extra like they said.”
“Well, hot damn!” she exclaimed. “Let’s find us a river!”
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