Being Inspired, maybe - 110

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:


And, then, the words:

I was not sure who was more shocked.  Madeleine, or myself.

As her older brother, the heir to the family fortune, and supposedly her protector, Perry was anything but.  He was in the same age group as myself, went to the same school though I took pains to avoid him, and was the sort who expected everything to fall into his lap, and that everyone should abide by his wishes.

She turned around quite angrily to face him.  "What are you doing here?"

"Perhaps the question should be, what are you doing here?  You know you're not supposed to go anywhere before you tell me."

"I don't have to tell you anything."

I could see him look past Madeleine straight at Suzanne.  She was equally an enemy of his as I was.

"I thought this might have something to do with you and your little games you like to play.  Do you ever realize the consequences of what could have happened here?  She could have been kidnapped, or worse."

"Everything was planned, and she is in safe hands," Suzanne said, trying hard to conceal her distaste.
He brought out his cell phone and brought up a screen, one that appeared to have a copy of the text Madeleine had sent me.

"Apparently you didn't."

When she saw it, Madeleine started turning a shade of red, a prelude to her losing her temper.  "You dare to intercept my calls and messages."

"Someone has to know what you're doing."

He turned to me.  "You let her get in a car without checking who the driver was, or where she was going."

He was right of course.  I had blindly trusted that she was OK.  But this notion that she could be kidnapped, it was one I was not aware of, and hadn't been mentioned to Suzanne either, or she would not have asked her to come to Hong Kong.

"So, you're saying you knew there were credible threats against her, and you let her come here?"  Another thought crossed my mind, but it seemed ridiculous to consider it.  After all, they were only rumors.

I could see him trying to come up with a reasonable retort, but he didn't have one.  So, I added to the 
fire.  "So, what were you going to do about it?  Blackmail her?"  It seemed a silly notion, but I had heard that he had run up gambling debts with some nasty people recently and had been caught short on his allowance.

Madeleine seemed surprised.  "Why would you want to blackmail me, Perry?  Are you in trouble again?"

It was Madeleine who had told me about his gambling debts because the uncouth people had come to see her and threatened bodily harm if the payment wasn't made.  She had paid them and then told him not to let it happen again.

He shook his head.  "No.  I'm just here to make sure you're safe."

It was not inspiring confidence in any of us, least of all his sister.  "Then why don't I believe you?  Give me your phone."

He didn't move, nor offer her his phone.

"Give me your phone or face the consequences.  Mr. Denziel paid me a visit a few weeks back, and I'm sure father would love to know what we were talking about?"

It was clear he knew who Mr. Denziel was.  He took the phone out of his pocket and handed it to her.  

In a few seconds, she had set it back to factory defaults, then handed it back.  "You intercept my calls and messages again, and you will answer to father.  Am I understood?"

He nodded.

"Good.  Now don't let me see you here again while I'm here, but you can be certain there will be more to be said when I get back home."

She left him standing there, as we headed back to our car.  

When we got back to the hotel, I was going to need a stiff drink.  Or three.


Perry was one of those children who had been given every advantage in life and still managed to make a mess of things.  Like many who had too much money and too much time on his hands, he fell into the 'devil finds work for idle hands' group.  He had no intention of working, especially in the family business, and was content to wait until he inherited the family fortune.

And, as heir to the family fortune, he was for all intents and purposes a wastrel, an apple, Madeleine said, that hadn't fallen far from the tree.  It was the common link between the father and the son, both responsible for the family fortune disappearing very quickly, and the main reason why her mother had divorced her husband so that she could get something out for a marriage that she had put more effort into than her partner.

She had also managed to wrest control of her daughter's inheritance before that was spent too, a situation I knew Madelaine really didn't care about, but from my mother's perspective, she considered it wise because it enhanced Madeleine's marriageability.  It also helped that her mother was friends with mine and Suzanne's, and, not for the first time, had I wondered if Suzanne's interest had something to do with Madeleine's somewhat precarious situation.

In stark contrast, and more like their mother, Perry's sister, Madeline, and younger brother Richard, both decided that they wanted to be independent, and both had left home to forge their own path, Madeleine as an interior decorator, and Richard as what he called himself, a junior executive.  Neither had brought along the trappings of their family and, if you didn't know either of them, you would think them just ordinary people.

Suzanne, unfortunately, was a lot like Perry, but not as ostentatious, and I had decided to work in the family business for a salary, like any other employee, and without favor.  At times it was difficult, especially with an unofficial engagement to Suzanne, but I was happy to have something constructive to do with my days.

What I knew about Perry was given to me by Madeleine in confidence.  Before that, it had been just rumours circulated by people who didn't like him, or people he had ruffled with his brusque manner.   In some quarters people felt sorry for him, and others not.  I avoided him because he was trouble, especially when he'd drunk too much.  

It also gave sense to an exchange she had with him, or at least now, after what I'd just witnessed, I knew to be him, when we had met for an informal lunch a few days ago.  She had called sounding upset and wanted to talk, and, if he had not called, she might have told me more.

I suspect that was the reason he had turned up in Hong Kong, to continue pleading his case.
But hijacking his sister's car and dragging her all the way out to Disneyland, and not far from the airport?  That spelled desperation and I was not sure what would have happened to her if she had not sent that message.  And the fact she had installed a tracker app on my phone told me she had been worried that he might try something.

Then, suddenly I noticed we were still in the car park.  We had traveled about 100 yards only to stop, the way ahead blocked by two cars and a van.

"What the hell..."  Suzanne was not very pleasant when she was angry, and cars blocking our way constituted an annoyance.  She was out the door, striding towards the car where a man was almost out of the passenger side.

When he turned to face us, I saw immediately he had a gun.  Suzanne had too and stopped.

Another man from the other car had got out and was coming towards us, and I saw the side door of the van open.

"What's happening," I heard Madeleine whisper.

"Nothing good.  Whatever happens, I won't leave you.  Whoever they are, they're after one, or all of us."

"Why?"

"Ransom."

The men went to either side of the rear of our car, and the one by the open door said, "Out, the pair of you."

I could see another man from the van had grabbed Suzanne, who was wrestling with him.  She had learned self-defense for just such a situation and he was in for a battle.

Madeleine slid across the seat, and I followed closely, holding onto her hand as tightly as I could.  If they were taking her, they were taking me with her.

Another man had got out of the van to help subdue Suzanne, and just as one tried to separate Madeleine from me I said, "You take her, you take me."

No time to argue, this 'clean' snatch becoming a time-consuming spectacle that had drawn a number of spectators returning to their tour bus, the both of us and Suzanne were pushed into the van, and the door closed.

I was sure this was not part of what Suzanne had arranged for us.


© Charles Heath 2020

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