Modern Dilemmas

Modern Dilemmas (January 2019, Round 3, Day 5)

“What do kidnappers do these days?”

I looked up from my laptop, startled away from my train of thought. “I’m sorry, what now?”

“Kidnappers – how do they ask for ransom?”

She sat there, earnest as she could be with her overalls and braded pigtails, honestly waiting for an answer from me.  Hetti’s mind often worked differently from mine, but I could usually follow her well enough to get by. This, though, was too much. 

“What kidnappers, Hetti? I have no idea-”

“Any kidnappers. Well, I guess I mostly mean kidnappers here, in the United States.”

“Are you planning a career change? I know work has been boring lately but I didn’t take you for somoene who would want to explore a life of crime.”

She tilted her head and put her hands on her hips in her signature, “how do you not undersand this completly cryptic thing I’m saying,” way. I, in my turn, closed my laptop and folded my arms across my chest in my signiture, “I don’t really have time for this and will wait it out anyway because we’ve been friends for twenty years,” way. We stayed in our respective poses until the stand-off was broken by Mac walking into the room.

“Awe, hell. Who started this one?” 

He looked back and forth between us before nodding his head – his own signature move – and pulling up a chair so he could form a triangle with us. “Hatti, what did you do?”

I let my laughter break my pose as I got up to go refill my coffee. “Leave it to Mac to read a room. Hatti, explain yourself so I can get back to work.”

It wasn’t going to be that easy, of course. Hatti had to do her waves and her pacing and her huffing and puffing. Mac and I watched and waited – interrupting her would only draw out the process and I really did have work to get done. When she settled back down she took a deep breath and opened her arms wide before saying, “Mel didn’t answer her phone.”

I scanned back through the morning. Hatti had come in about an hour ago when I was already deep into writing my report. I get really focused when I’m working to convey the insights gleaned in interviews so I didn’t do more than give her a grunt of acknowledgement when she arrived. Racking my brain I could just remember that my phone had indeed gone off. I was mid paragraph so I just glanced at the screen, saw that it was a random number and not someone I knew, and silenced the phone so I could finish my thought. 

“You think my missed call was a kidnapper calling me to demand ransom? Who on God’s green earth do you think this kidnapper took? You two are sitting right in front of me and I’m damn sure there isn’t anyone else I’d pay to get back.” Mac and I shared a slap and snap while he let a siren-like “ooooo” out into the room.

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