Being Inspired, maybe – 130
A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And, then, the words:
The few moments I had to formulate a reply gave me some time to think, albeit quickly. Of course, that first thought was what it would be like back in the room overlooking the hotel driveway, not exactly the best view, but it was better than the dungeon below.
Then it was gone and I was back to the reality of my predicament.
There was no doubt a problem in either using the phone to talk to Madeleine’s father, or they had tried using Madelaine to communicate with her parents. Perhaps ransom demands rarely hit the mark the first time around, and I was playing second base for them.
I'm sure, if it came down to it, Madeleine would be anything but hysterical, but she might be slightly reluctant to talk to him given the circumstances. And getting me to talk to him might cause trouble in the future if he thought I was involved in it.
So, naturally, the question to ask was, "What's in it for me?"
That response elicited a smile which for a moment completely changed her demeanor.
"You might just get to keep breathing for a while longer and enjoy your girlfriends’ company."
The way she said it, it sounded like it had sinister connotations. But it was a game, so I would play.
"She's not my girlfriend, the one your men beat up in the car park was. Madeleine is only a friend."
"Only a friend you say. Only friends do not put themselves in harm's way, no."
"This only friend does."
"More fool you then. But, as I said, the negotiation does go well. Her father is, how you say, uncooperative. Says he wants proof of life, you know, everybody watches too much television these days."
"In his shoes, I'd be the same."
"Youth today, too many drugs, too much television, too much of everything. Should be made to work on the farm, learn proper values."
Oddly enough, it wasn't such a bad idea.
She slid Madeleine's cell phone across the table.
"Put on the loudspeaker, call him, tell him she is alive and well."
"How do I know those two thugs of yours haven't just killed her or worse."
A vexed look, or one of contempt. "They are guards, not thugs, and would not hurt anyone unless I tell them to. She is safe, much safer here with me than wandering the streets of Hong Kong."
"Where are we exactly?"
"Not in Hong Kong. You don't need to know. Just call." Then a moment later she added, "Please."
I could see I couldn't put it off any longer. Not without annoying her, and that might bring consequences I wouldn't like.
I picked up the phone, sitting on the dial screen with her father's phone number. I pressed the green button, switched on the loudspeaker, and we both listened as the phone on the other end rang.
Then answered by her father. I recognized his voice.
"I assume I am not speaking to my daughter."
Had she tried calling him, and had he simply hung up on her?
"You are not. It's Michael James, sir. I was in Hong Kong with her and it seems we have been kidnapped."
"How did this happen?"
"Her brother Perry is in Hong Kong and he had her taken to him at Disneyland. I'm not sure why, but she sent me a message to say she was worried, and Suzanne and I got a car to take us there. We left Perry, and several minutes later we were stopped, put in a van, and taken to an unknown location. She is alive and well. You might want to ask Perry if he saw what happened."
The woman had stood and leaned over the table and snatched the phone.
"There, she is well. For how long is up to you. You will receive further instructions soon."
She disconnected the call the same time as the man who brought me in returned presumably to take me back.
"Have you made a ransom demand for me?"
"No. You don't owe me, so no ransom."
She waved her hand, the signal to take me back to the room.
By the time I'd returned, and the door locked behind me, I think I knew what this was about.
Madeleine was lying down again staring at the ceiling. When the door closed, she sat up.
"The boss of this crew is a woman, and I think they're Russians."
"What would they want with us?"
"I could be wrong, but it seems they might be just a gang looking for foolish rich children wandering the streets of Hong Kong, or more likely, you are being used as a hostage to repay Perry's gambling debts, this time probably far more than the last."
"Perry? He wouldn't be involved in something like this."
"I thought that too, until I asked her, had she asked my parents for a ransom too. She said no that I didn't owe her anything. That could mean nothing, but Perry did get you to go out to Disneyland, and coincidentally the kidnappers show up. I don't want to believe it either."
She shook her head and lay down again. "No. That can't be true. He would not do anything like that."
Then she rolled over to face the other way.
© Charles Heath 2020