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The Perks of being Kidnapped
Rain rushes down, pouring into my vision, I know drunk driving is hard, but rain makes it nearly impossible. Who the hell let me do this? The only thing I can see is wave-like splashes off the sides of my windshields and a distant glow behind me. As I approach the mile long bridge, I realize the car behind me has not turned, but, in fact, has closed the distance and was now on my tail end. My foot puts more pressure on the gas pedal as I watch the speedometer increase my speed to 75mph. The end of the bridge curves and it’s approaching fast. He is still right behind me making it so I can’t slow down. I feel my tires jerk as I spin the wheel knowing it isn’t going to change the end result. I close my eyes and let go.
Everything goes blank. I can’t move, or speak, or see. My body feels cold and wet I feel scraps appear on my legs as my arms are jerked up. A small moan escapes me as I feel a sharp pain all through my body, the worst of it is in my head. I hear the slam of a car door then the loud rev of a engine. All at once, it seems like everything ends here.
Ugh, what happened? This is way worse than a hangover! I adjust my body and I realize I’m on a leather chair that I’ve never seen before. As my vision focuses I notice that I’m nowhere recognizable. A door creaks and I jerk my head around. A boy around my age walks in and examines me. Even though it’s hot, I pull my jacket around my shoulders and cover myself. “Where am I?” He doesn’t say anything and steps forward, “Seriously, who are you? Do you know who I am?”
“Listen,” his voice is low, quiet, and full of sorrow, “I know you’re scared, but I’m not going to hurt you. You’re just here until you parents agree to some...” he pauses with a struggled look, then continues, “terms of mine, I just need you to stay here and-”
I jump up to run for the door but crash down. My leg is in excruciating pain. “What did you do!?” Tears fall down my face. “My leg, what happened? Answer me you creepy freak!”
“Brook, please.” How does he know my name? “You crashed last night, and I, well, I needed you.” The way he said “needed” seems like he was unsure if it was the best word choice. I start crawling to the door but he doesn’t bother noticing. He just continues, “ You see, my brother only has me to rely on, but right now he is in an orphanage.” He goes on about some sob story about a drunk father and dead mother and how all he has left is his sick brother. I tune most of it out and focus on finding a way out. I’m not about to feel sorry for someone who, well, kidnapped me. I’m roughly five feet from the door, and I realize he hasn’t moved to stop me, and as I reach up for the knob from the cool floor, it doesn’t budge. I’m trapped.
He walks to me and extends a hand. “Brook, come on. You need to rest. There is a bed in the back. You can iey there. I don’t want you hurting yourself.” Really? He doesn’t want me hurting myself? He freaking kidnapped me!
Out of nowhere I burst out in tears, blurring my vision and dampening my pale cheeks. I flinch as he puts his arm under my knees and the other supporting my neck and lifts me into the air. He holds me close to him and walks to the back of what I assume is his trailer. I’m released from his arms onto a soft, clean, twin sized bed. He walks out and I hear a click. No doubt, he locked it. I scream as loud as I can, hoping someone will hear, but nothing happens. He comes back in after about an hour. As soon as he is fully in, I throw a lamp that was on the night stand at him. “Let me out!” I scream.
He tries to dodge it, but it hits his arm, “What the hell! I was just bringing you water!” I see the glass in his hand. It looks normal, but it could be drugged. What if he tries to kill me? I don’t have any enemies who would want me dead, I think. Sure people are jealous of me but, who wouldn’t be? “Brook, I promise I won’t hurt you. I just need you as leverage, and-”
“You can’t kidnap me and then promise not to hurt me! Do you have a mental problem? Are you a psychopath? Oh, and how do you know who I am?” He can’t just act like he knows me, like we are “buds”! He walks toward me, and I try to hit him but miss. He sets down the water and walks out. I cry to myself until I doze off and wake in the night. I hear faint crying sounds. Good, does him right to feel bad, I close my eyes and hug the blanket, Tomorrow, I will get away.
I wake to the smell of cinnamon rolls, and for a minute I forget where I am. I throw the blanket to the side and leap off the bed. My leg has been wrapped, but it still brings me great pain to move it. This time the doorknob to the bedroom turns, and I have hope that I can finally get out of here. I make for the front door, and as I reach for the knob, it turns and opens. I almost fall back. “Oh! Sorry, I had to go to town for a while. Your car was found. They think you were eaten by wolves or something. Your parents are going to be extremely happy to know you’re not.”
“My parents are going to call the cops and get you arrested. I would say we would take you for everything you have, but,” I examine the poorly lit trailer, “that isn’t much.” He grins a little like I’m entertaining him.
“I left them a letter. I told them if they give me $750,000, then you would return safely to them, but if they told the cops, I’d kill you.” He must have realized I had a terrified look on my face, so he added “ Don’t worry, I’m not! I just have to get Joseph back so he can get treatment. This seemed less risky than robbing a bank, I mean at least we know each other.”
We do? I have no idea who this is and how he knows me so clearly, We don’t know each other. “You may think you know me, but you don’t. I’ve never seen you in my life.” I observe that he has groceries in his hands but no sacks, “Did you steal that? That isn’t right, how aren’t you in jail already?” His face shows something like he’s ashamed, which, he should be.
“If I want to eat, I have to, and you need to eat too,” his voice is small, almost like he’s guilted by his own actions. I can’t feel bad for him. I can’t! He stole food, he stole me! So why do I feel the need to help him?
I reach for the knob, and it’s locked. “Really? I can’t leave? What if I just want fresh air?” He laughs, that’s the worst lie I’ve told. I sigh and sit in his crummy old lazy boy. “Fine, if I’m stuck here, then I need something to do. Where’s my cell phone?”
“Really?” He asks, like I’m stupid. I know it was a pathetic attempt, but still. He is smiling now, like my repetitive failure is so amusing. “You’re going to need something else to entertain you. Sorry, no technology.”
“Not even a TV?” I realize if he can’t afford food, then he probably couldn’t afford cable. “Well, what do you suggest I do?” He looks around and runs to the back. Now is my chance. I go toward the door, my leg definitely slows me down. It’s locked, so I try the window, and it is jammed shut. He comes out with a box and gives me a look as if he’s saying, “Again? It isn’t going to work.”
“I come bearing board games, but if you’d rather try every possible exit I’m ok with watching the struggle.” He grins and I throw him a sarcastic smirk back. As I walk back over to him he offers me the chair. “Let’s see we have Monopoly, Candy Land, a deck of cards, BattleShip, and Clue. Any sound fun?”
I’m stuck here and all I can do is relive my childhood. Joy. “Do you play 21?” I grab the cards and shuffle a few times. His hand brushes mine as he grabs them from me and does the thing where the cards bend into each other like a bridge. One card to me then one to him and again.
“Lets make this more fun. Winner of each round gets one truthful question.” I nod, not like I have anything better to do. I glance at my cards. 13. Shoot. I tap the arm of the chair and he gives me another, jack. I’m out great, he must see it on my face because he says, “I think I’ll stay.” We reveal our cards. He has five and won. I’m pathetic at this game. “I won, well let’s see, what shall I ask? Hmm.” He teases me like this for a few minutes and finally asks, “Are you afraid?”
I laugh, like I’d ever be afraid of him! “No. If you were going to hurt me, you’d do it already. Plus, you’re not that tough.” I examine him, I lied, his arms are big, not body builder big, but he looks like he could hold his own. He’s very well defined.
A half smile creeps on to his face, and I notice dimples. I can’t believe I’m actually looking at him like he’s just a guy and not a kidnapper, but now that I am, I notice he is kind of cute; only in a sloppy way. I’m staring when he says, “So, you think you could beat me up? Or at least your boyfriend, Mr. Football.” He says this in a sensitive way.
“What?” I know who he means. Grant and I went out for about a year, and he was the star. “Oh, you mean the cheating scum? Yeah, he probably could, but we aren’t together anymore.” He said he was sorry but he tried to hide a smile, like it was good news. “Well, what about you? Are you afraid?”
“It’s not your turn to ask,” he says lightly.
“Well I did. I’m kind of a rule breaker I guess. Then again, so are you, just to more extreme levels right?”
He nods and opens his mouth then closes it. He can’t object, “Well, I suppose. Yes, I am afraid. I didn’t want to do this, but it was the only quick way to get Joseph safe. I was terrified when you crashed because I didn’t want you hurt or,” a pained expression is in his eyes. They are so dark brown you can barely see the pupil. He takes a deep breath, “dead.”
“Why do you care? It’s not like we know each other, it’s not like we are friends, I’m just someone you’re using for quick money.” It looks like he just got punched in the gut. “I mean, I appreciate that you don’t want me dead and all, but I’m no one to you.”
“English.” English? I don’t get it. “I sat behind you in English. You were always in trouble for writing in your journal. You always questioned the teacher, always had an input, I thought it was cute. I,” Oh no, I know what’s coming. “I liked you, I still do, and thats why all this is terrible to me, because I never had a chance and even if I did, I ruined it. I just need my brother safe, and you were my way out.” He goes on as a tear rolls down his cheek, then two, then three. Without thinking, I hug him, but he pulls back. “Don’t, I don’t deserve your sympathy. Look at the situation you’re in!”
That night I lie in his bed and just think of him. I picture tear after tear rolling down his tan cheeks. My eyes blur, and a single tear is released. What is wrong with me? The door creaks open and a thin strip of light creeps into the room. I quickly close my eyes and pretend I’m sleeping. I feel the bed by my feet sink as a sigh fills the empty room.
After a few minutes of just sitting there he finally speaks. “It’s easier to talk to you when you’re sleeping, you don’t snap. I can be completely honest with you, and you won’t remember. The thing is, I never meant for it to go this far. I was supposed to get a job, save up and get Joseph treated. The day I left my foster family, I realized how hard the real world was. I figured you’d be an easy way out. You are from the richest family in Greenwood, you would understand. Everything I’ve ever done has been a failure.” He ends his speech at that. His voice fades and then the only sound was his quiet sobs. Without warning, I sat up and hugged him from behind, my cheek resting on his back.
“I think I love you.” All at once my mind fills with worry. I didn’t just say that, no. That is not possible! Is it? He isn’t like anyone I’ve ever dated before, but maybe that’s what’s so intriguing. I feel his body shift around. Oh no, he heard me! He pulls me into him, his arms wrap tightly around me. I feel his heartbeat against my body and my arms fold around his neck awkwardly, but at the same time, it feels right.
He pulls away and stares at me, “I know I love you.” A relieved smile sneaks onto my lips as his approached me. One light kiss and he’s gone. My head is spinning, my pulse racing, my stomach is filled with butterflies! I crash my head down onto my pillow and smile until my dreams take over my body.
In the morning, I rush out of the room. He is still asleep in the red chair. “Wake up!” I realize I almost screamed it a little too late. With a jolt, he is standing with a concerned look on his face. I feel bad at firs,t but then remember the reason I woke him. “I don’t know your name! I need to know!” Relieved, he smiles.
“Eric. Eric Ross. Are you ok now? Nothing’s actually wrong?” As he walks to the kitchen to get breakfast I study him. Am I really going to do this? It isn’t like he kidnapped me to torture me. He needs to help his brother. We can be together, no one has to know, right? My confusion must be shown on my face, nothing gets past him, “Brook, what’s wrong?” He walks slowly toward me like I’m an animal in the wilderness and a sudden movement would send me running.
I try to fake a smile, but it doesn’t want to work, “How can we be together if someone finds out? Are we even-” I know if I say what I’m thinking I could ruin everything before there ever is anything, “- together?”
He’s hurt, he covers it well, but it’s still there, “It depends, do you want us to be together?” He grabs my hands and balances them lightly in his, “I want us to be together, but if it isn’t what you want, then I will forget about last night.” What do I want? All of this is so overwhelming. I turn from him and walk to the door. We stand in silence as I put my hand on the knob. It turns. I’m free. If I want, I can run to the cops and tell them everything, and in that instant, it’s all clear. I open the door fully, one foot steps out onto the wooden porch. I look back at him and smile, “Thank you.” I take my other foot out and shut the door.
I wait on the porch, five minutes have passed and he finally comes out. “You’re still here.” I walk up to him and put his hand in mine.
“I wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t leave even if I wanted to." He smiles, I smile, so cliché. Once inside again we sit and eat breakfast, cinnamon rolls, and play monopoly. “So what now, like, do we go public once I’m home or do we stay quiet? I’m thinking if I say that I wasn’t kidnapped I just ran away, they can’t do anything.”
Instead of listening I continue to rant as he tries to stop me. He slams his hand down on the table. My lips stop moving, “I sent out a note for ransom. They won’t believe it.” He’s right. I can’t think of anything other than he can’t get caught.
A sudden knock makes me jump. A thin, sickly boy walks in, “Oh, hey you didn’t tell me we were gonna have company this weekend. Hi, I’m Joseph.” He holds out his hand, and I shake it. What am I supposed to do? Does he know? My thoughts are interrupted when he jumps on Eric’s back. They both laugh and roll to the ground. It worries me because Joseph looks so fragile. He plops lazily into the chair. “So, anything exciting happen? I heard there was a bad crash recently. It sounded awesome!” Eric fakes a grin. I’m sure he wants me to play along, and I do, pretending I’m just Eric’s girlfriend, not his hostage.
After dinner I realize why Eric did this. His brother is the sweetest kid I’ve ever met. He knits with the old ladies in the nursing home across from his foster home, he always brings a cookie to his treatment doctor. “So Joseph, excited to come back?” He gave a confused look, like he doesn’t know Eric’s trying to get him to come home.
“Oh, sorry, Joseph, looks like it’s time.” He points at the clock. It is 8:30, and like clock work headlights shine in. “Next weekend we’ll go to the river or something, I can teach you my fishing tricks.” Joseph laughs as Eric throws him a wink. They hug one long, tight, hug and Joseph left.
“Where is he-” I cut myself off, he just walks away to the back room. It must be hard to watch someone you care for just walk away. I follow him, he is curled up in a ball hugging the edge of the bed. Without saying anything, I join him, I wrap one arm over him. If my friends were here they would call me the “big spoon.” I feel him inhale, I feel him exhale, and I feel every silent sob. “I know now. I know I love you.” His ear twitches a little from my whispers. He turns around and buried his face in my neck. It quickly moistens. When he pulls back he offers a small whimper. He rests his head on my chest and I stroke his hair until we slowly fall into a deep sleep.
I wake alone, and when I walk out of the room, still, he is no where to be seen. I sit in the chair waiting. Eventually, he comes in with an expression of disappointment. “The ransom money came in.”
“So, what now? I don’t want to leave you.” I feel tears already because I know what’s coming. I know he will say we can’t see each other, at least not for a while. Why do things have to be difficult. Why can’t it be as simple as a chick flick. I don’t like the tragedy I don’t want to be like Juliet!
“You have to go. You have to stay away from me. One day it will be safe. I just can’t risk getting in trouble. Joseph needs me.” He watches me cry, I can tell he is trying to look cold. I can’t believe him. He holds me hostage, he makes me fall in love, and just like that he’s done with me.
“You are a jerk! I can’t believe this! Do you play all girls? Is it amusing to you? This is not something a person who says he loves you does! If you ever try to get ahold of me again I will go to the police.”
“Brook, please. I need you. I just have to keep safe, I-”
“I don’t care! Don’t worry. You’re safe. I won’t tell. Just leave me alone!” I storm out, I don’t know where I’m going or which way it is to town. I’m so stupid! I start to sprint as the city skyline comes into view. I reach the gates of the community I live in on the edge of town. I type in the security code and go home. I want to forget this, all of it. I want to pretend nothing happened.
As soon as I walk in to my house, my parents look at me like I’m a ghost. “Hi Mom, Dad, I’m home.” I let out an ironic giggle. They sigh with relief as they squeeze me till my back pops.
“Honey, oh, are you ok? Were you hurt? We were worried sick! Do you know who did this?” After about 20 more questions, she let’s me talk. After explaining I didn’t know who it was and didn’t want to find out, I just wanted to move past it, they told me to go rest. After a shower, I finally returned to my bed. The tears fall, and I don’t care.
After a week, I decide it’s time for someone to know. “Mom, I do know who it was I know it because he told me, and I,” I gulp back the lump in my throat, “I loved him, Mom! I still do, he needed that money, I swear! His brother is sick and in foster care, and he is the sweetest guy I’ve ever met, and he loves me too!” I bawl onto her sweater as she tries to calm me.
Once I have explained everything, she looks sad, not disappointed or judgmental but hurt, like seeing me cry was taking a knife to her chest. “I’m sorry, Sweetie. I understand your pain. This makes things hard, but if you want to see him, I’ll try to understand. Once I do I’ll make your father understand. Meanwhile, do you want me to take you to see this Joseph boy? My friend Robin works at the hospitaL. Maybe she knows when his next appointment is.” We make plans to find Joseph first, then, if I’m ready, find Eric.
I’m too late, Eric found me. I see him through my window headed for my door directly below me. Mom has told Dad, so I decide one of them can answer the door. I prop my window open without him noticing so I can eavesdrop. I hear the knock and listen to the sound of my father’s footsteps approach the door. “Hello?”
“Hi sir, I hate to admit this, I’m terribly sorry. I can’t handle the guilt anymore and honestly I know this is the biggest mistake of my life.” His voice sounds familiar but so distant. A pain throbs against my chest and my stomach turns. “My brother has cancer. He needs treatment but his foster care plan only allows money for check ups and the minimal treatment, necessary. I-” His voice breaks off, I can tell he is struggling not to cry, “kidnapped your daughter. I brought you this, it is the ransom. I kept $20,000 for him, but if you put me in jail, I understand. I just want a promise he will be safe.”
I shut my window and jump over my bed. I don’t want to hear the rest from the second story so I run down the stairs and round a corner. I stop dead in my tracks when I see him. All I hear is my dad. “Keep it. You need it more than us, but, you’re going to work for me, for free. You ever heard of Swanson Construction? Well you’re lookin’ at the owner, but one screw up and you’re gone. Oh and if you hurt my daughter, I will make sure you disappear where no one can find you.”
I lunge forward and into his arms. “I’m sorry!” I start crying into him and we both start laughing. What is this? We are living in a twisted reality. He pulls me closer, if that’s even possible, and my dad continues on about how he will start work immediately in the morning. I bring him inside, and we wait on the couch. My mom answers the phone in the other room and drops the phone. I watch her slowly walk in the room. “That was Robin. You two should go.”
We rush into hospital, almost pushing people out of the way. “Joseph Ross!” I nearly scream the name at the nurse, “We need to find Joseph Ross!”
“Brook, over here.” We follow Robin to a back room. Eric steps ahead as we wait behind him. Joseph lies still on a small white bed with tubes and wires hooked up to him covering his visible body. I lightly kiss his forehead which is so pale now. I reach for Eric’s hand, but he pulls away. I look at the screen just in time to see it. The line goes flat. Joseph is no more. We know there is nothing anyone can do for him.
Eric falls to his knees and grabs his hand. “Wake up! Please, this isn’t funny, come back! Joey please!” I pull him back and hugged him tight to me. He fights to get back. Heartbreak fills the air, Eric tried so hard and was still too late.
I find it odd that one bad thing can lead to something great, but then something worse happens and the process repeats. What if he would have gotten the money earlier? Would Joseph be safe? Would he be alive? I wish I had answers. I wish Eric had closure, more than anything though, I wish Joseph had a second chance.
It’s been two weeks, we powered through the funeral, and Eric was given all of his belongings. My family has welcomed him into my house with open arms. I’m lucky that my family is understanding. Who else would let their daughter’s kidnapper live with them? It sounds like I’m living a joke with a really bad punch line.
I know eventually everything will blow over. It’s weird to think I’ve come this far. I know there will be critics if this gets out. We all live in a secret. To me, it proves that you can meet the one in any situation, whether it be buying coffee or being kidnapped. As I grow deeper in my own thoughts MTV plays in front of us. His fingers weave into mine. “I love you.” His voices brings me back to reality. I smile at the sight of his dimples smiling down at me. The worst is over, and now we can finally move forward.
Orchard Park, New York
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"You aren't going to impose the patriarchal paradigm on ME." Alaska Young