Sparrows chirped in the old oak tree bidding good morning to the neighbourhood. Soon life would be intruding on the quiet with dogs barking, children giggling at their bus stop and cars leaving for work. For now, at such an early hour, only Toby Tyler was riding his bike delivering the morning paper.
Further, down the street a strange car had been parked all night facing the baseball field. No one had noticed except for Mr. Baker. He always woke up at dawn and walked Bella before reading his paper along with his morning coffee. Bella stopped to sniff the back tires and started barking.
Suddenly two teens awakened from their late night rendezvous as they peered out the back window.
The man had a thick brown beard that hid his face and neck. His small brown eyes were hidden under his bushy eyebrows. He was not tall and for North American standards, he was leaning towards short. The man walked with a purpose like a bear searching for his prey. Not a sound, not an expression, just bland apathy painted on his face.
I hid behind the couch with my friend looking out at this strange man who had already kidnapped four of my friends and a baby. The police had been contacted by the man but I never heard anything from them.
My friend refused to run with me saying it was no use and she feared the man would only get more agitated and shoot us.
I refused to give in without a fight, so I ran out the back door, jumped into my car and drove off to my old apartment where I had lived ten years ago. The superintendent recognized me as I ran to him telling him I had to hide somewhere safe. We went up to the sixth floor and looked out the window of his brother’s condo. The bearded man had followed me. I had to run again. I was running out of options. My heart beat so quickly, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Then, I remembered the secret hallway on this floor. The superintendent knew my plan the moment I ran towards that hallway and told me to take his car, handing me his keys. He said his car was where he always parked and he would try to slow the bearded man to give me a head start.
The hallway brought me to a fire escape which landed behind two brown dumpsters. The super’s car was there and I drove out the private exit that only the firemen were allowed entry. I had no idea where I could hide. I didn’t want to go to my workplace downtown to put my colleagues at risk. My car was going west out of an old habit, towards the airport and then I thought of Rick. No one knew of my past employment there. It was too long ago and the warehouse would be a great place to hide so I could get in contact with the police.
I drove to the side entrance of the warehouse and the huge doors were open, so I parked my car inside and screamed, “We have to lock down now!” The shipper recognized me and buzzed Rick as he closed all doors. I hid between the racks of nuts and bolts, too afraid to be seen in the front office.
Suddenly I was in the office and so many people crowding around me with concern on their faces. I briefly told Rick and asked if he could let me stay there. I went into his office and called the detective who was in charge of the case. Detective No Name said to sit tight, that his men were still negotiating and told me not to worry.
“Not worry!! It has been 36 hours and five people have been kidnapped and still nothing! What are you doing to about this?”
Detective No Name explained he had other more urgent cases he was working on…his voice trailed and I yelled, “What is the amount of the ransom?” I was contemplating that I might be able to borrow from my mother’s house not yet sold and there is a little bit left in her estate. I was wondering how many hundreds of thousands of dollars the ransom could be and discouragement started to weigh on me.
“The kidnapper is asking for $3,000.00”.
WHAT?!!! All this trouble for so little money?!!” I could not believe my ears. What kind of desperate person kidnaps so many people for $3,000?
“Let me just pay it! Why can’t I just speak to the kidnapper when he calls you? Do you know how many lives are at stake right now…how f*&^g stupid are you guys?!”
My eyes adjusted to the darkness and I rolled over trying to get back to sleep to visit with Rick.
(c) Cheryl-Lynn ’18/08/19
Author’s note: The bearded man looked exactly like , Huck, a character in the series Scandal. Rick was my employer and friend when I first moved to Toronto. He and his family made such a difference in my adjusting to my move away from home in the late 90’s. A year after I left his employment, I got a call at work from an employee at his warehouse that he was tragically killed in a biking accident…such a tragedy for a young man in his early 30’s. I still think about him. I feel blessed that I still am in contact with his family and twin sister from time to time.
I often get odd dreams with my mom or grandmother but this is the first time Rick has ever visited me in a dream. I could never get him back when I went back to sleep, only Mister Beard kept turning up.
The Ferry blared its horn. Jillian sighed as the children were getting restless already!
“Give me that!” squealed Leslie.
“Try and get it, whiner!” Sidney raised the stuffed teddy out the car window with a smirk on his adolescent face.
Jillian turned her head and gave Sidney, “The LOOK”. He shrugged and threw the teddy back on Leslie’s lap.
“Sidney, you promised to help me today.”
He looked down at his hands, hating to disappoint his mom, especially today.
Once they boarded the ferry, Sidney asked if he could bring his sister up on deck promising to hold her hand. Jillian felt a pang of remorse for being so demanding on her eldest child. She promised herself to bring them to the Reservoir for lunch later when they returned inland. The children loved feeding the swans and ducks there.
Twenty minutes later, the ferry was already approaching Isle Lasonde. There were only three federal buildings and a military camp on the island. They were going to a parole hearing at le Pénitencier Lasonde. (174 words)
Emily eats her cookie on the swing in back of the cottage surrounded by rose bushes, plum trees, a cherry tree and several milkweeds. She loves how the grass is tall and she can crawl on her tummy and pretend she’s in the jungle. The grasshoppers often play dead on a blade of grass and she can outstare any bug and make it jump away.
The blossoms sure looked pretty, she thought as she passed a fallen petal gently on her cheek; it felt like Mommy’s silk scarf.
child seeks a challenge
caterpillar stares her way
on the milkweed
Twenty-five men left five days ago. The jeep left a trail dust riding over the hill where they were stationed. Today only twelve men returned but only five in one piece. It was their last mission before returning back home. They were anxious to see their family back in Canada but dreaded delivering the tragic news to more grieving families. Sergeant Harvey drove the jeep behind the compound and their mascot ran to greet them. Amir was a black Labrador mix and his loyalty was genuine.
dropping to his knees savouring a gesture of pure love man’s best friend
She entered the coffee shop across from Concordia University. They met here the first time five years ago. Some lectures pushed her buttons. Many fled to Psychology hoping “book smart” would make better therapists, muttering, “Enough of this learning by doing crap!”
“Work out your own shit”, most of her professors said, “Be aware of your red flags! You could do more harm than good.” The same group of mature students met here after each class. Together they formed a community of resources, compassion and knowledge.
she dreaded endings, late arrival was more her style …just couldn’t say goodbye.