Jeffrey Hollar’s Picture Choice: Both
Gemma stood in the shade of the RV and lit a cigarette. The sun was barely up and it was another scorching humid day. She made a mental note to check the behemoth’s gas gauge. They’d surely need to run the AC today and she had no idea if they had enough fuel to make that viable.
She tossed the spent Camel away and lit another. She knew she ought to conserve the pack, but really needed another few minutes of repose. She frowned, reflecting on how fickle Fate could be.
Gemma’d been best friends with Niomi since second grade. Even then, Niomi had been a reckless daredevil while Gemma’d been quiet and hopelessly shy. Twenty years later, they were really much the same.
It was shaping up to be yet another lackluster Wednesday night for Gemma when Niomi called. A new club had opened out by the Interstate and they simply MUST go there. Wednesday was Ladies’ Night with dollar well drinks and a live band…and…and…well? Ninety minutes and two stiff cocktails later, Gemma was forced to concede this might not have been such a bad idea. The bouncers seemed quite capable of keeping the middle-aged lounge lizards at bay and the band wasn’t half bad. She was about to take Niomi up on her idea to dance when SHE appeared at their table.
She looked impossibly young and frightfully out of place in the crowd. Gemma doubted she was old enough to be in here. Yet, from the bottoms of her Manolo Blahnik strappy sandals to her skintight Donna Karan dress, it was obvious she had the wherewithal to have purchased admittance.
“Can I buy you ladies some drinks and maybe you can help me out with a problem I got?” Her voice was whimsically music and her face held a wry grin. The two shrugged and offered her a seat.
“Hi. My name is Constance, Constance Widmark. Are you two interested in a whole lot of money for a very little work? See, I need someone to kidnap me.”
Gemma nearly spit her free drink into Constance eye. “Look honey, I don’t know what the hell your game is, but no, we would not like to kidnap you. The FBI sends you to prison for life for that kinda shit. So, thanks for the drinks, but go away.”
“No, wait. You don’t understand. My dad’s like the 7th richest man on the planet and the number one dickhead ever. He’s poisoning the planet and killing off entire species. I don’t even want the money. You can keep every dime. I wanna make him regret neglecting the things that really matter. So, please, please will you help me? I have all the details worked out already.”
“Well, strictly for the sake of argument, tell us what you have planned and maybe…MAYBE…we can work something out.”
It turned out Constance had, indeed, put a lot of thought into the plan. She’d acquired a huge, fully-stocked motor home they could use to hold her hostage. She took a map from her purse and showed them a location about 17 miles outside the city. It was more than desolate enough to guarantee privacy.
They would wait two days before making the ransom demand. The motor home had a state of the art electronics package including a satellite uplink. They could communicate directly to her father via an untraceable signal to make the demands. She’d set up an offshore account for the funds to be transferred to and the money would be completely untraceable. She closed her pitch by saying she’d arrived at the sum of ten million dollars for her ransom. There was zero chance he’d involve the authorities since he was involved in any number of ventures best kept away from prying government eyes.
That’d been two interminably-long days ago and Gemma was at the end of her proverbial rope. Every thing had gone to plan until it came time for the ransom demand. Constance had been absolutely giddy from the moment they’d driven out of the parking lot. She insisted they tie her up very securely even though such would never be visible on the video. It was a necessary part of the ambience, she maintained. She insisted on wearing some ridiculous cartoony sleep mask instead of a proper blindfold. Every time they attempted to record her sobbing plea for her father to “just do what they say”, she started giggling.
Niomi shooed Gemma out for a smoke and insisted she would have a word with Constance and get her to play right. Gemma was trying to decide whether to have another smoke when Niomi came bursting out of the RV.
“Run! Don’t ask, don’t argue...RUN!” She took off down the dusty road at the fastest speed her feet would take her. Left with no reason to do otherwise, Gemma pelted down the way Niomi was headed. They’d gone scarcely a few hundred yards away when the RV exploded in a tremendous fireball, flinging both of them to the hard road surface.
“Niomi! What…the…fuck?!? What the hell did you do? Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod! What did you do?!?”
“She was lying to us, bestie! Her dad thinks she’s in Aspen skiing with her friends for the month and couldn’t care less if he hears from her. She was crazier than a crack house rat! She got in with some bad dudes over drugs. The kidnapping was her way of getting dough to even things up.”
Gemma blinked once, twice. “Soo, how does that explain the damned explosion?”
“Oh yeah, the explosion. She said her dad was never gonna let us get away with kidnapping her and she was gonna sell us out to the Feds. So, I got a smart idea. I cut the gas lines to the stove and I lit a candle right inside the door. I saw it in a movie. I didn’t expect it would work but boy did it!” Niomi seemed inordinately pleased with herself.
The two picked themselves up, dusted off and began the long, long walk back to civilization. Gemma reached into her purse and confirmed they did not, in fact, have even a hint of a cell phone signal. Stowing the phone, she stopped long enough to light up a smoke. Turning to Niomi she grinned and asked, “Hey, bestie! Did it occur to you we could’ve dumped the brat out on her ass all tied up and just drove away in the RV? No…I didn’t think so. Well, c’mon girl, we got a lot of walking to do.”
With far more laughter and joviality than their situation would be expected to generate, the two walked hand-in-hand back towards home.
Jeffrey Hollar is half Klingon, half Ferengi, visiting Earth in an attempt to negotiate a merger. He is currently working on a novella and a collection of zombie stories with his wife, Lisa McCourt Hollar. Jeff writes almost daily for his blog, The Latinum Vault, found at http://www.jeffreyhollar.com.