James Winthrop awoke alone in his house on a bright and mildly warm Saturday morning. Both of his sons were due at their friends' birthday breakfast at 8:30, and since it was 9:07 he wasn't surprised to be alone. He got out of bed and went into the bathroom to take a shower. He walked to the window to look outside for a second and he saw cops with search dogs and a SWAT team swarming around the park down the street from his house. There was a maroon SUV that had crashed into a large tree's sturdy trunk.
"I wonder what's going on down there?" he asked. He shifted his gaze to his driveway and as he thought, the silver Honda Accord was there and the red Yukon was gone. He took off his pajama bottoms and boxers in one simple motion, then stepped in the shower. He turned on the hot water and stood as it streamed pleasantly over his tight and sore back muscles.
Once he finished his shower he got dressed, went downstairs to the kitchen, made himself some pancakes, and watched some Saturday morning cartoon while he ate them. He found the first cartoon quite amusing, but the one that followed bored him so he changed the channel. It happened to be the news, and it just happened to be about the car in the park and the policeman by his house. James turned up the volume on the TV and leaned forward in his chair. He had missed the first run through of the report, and he just barely caught the beginning of the second run through.
The man on the TV who was delivering the story said, "Once again the top story of the hour took place in a park in the residential town of Watauga in Tarrant County. A woman was driving her two young boys, 5 and 7, in her red Yukon when two men jumped out of the shaded woods in the park and caused her to crash the car into a tree. As said by witnesses the two men then took the woman and her children captive and took off into the forest. A team of policemen with tracking dogs and a SWAT team were sent to the forest to find the woman and two young boys, but so far there has been no luck. We will bring you further updates as things develop."
James sat for a moment and then he said, "That is really sad. I hope the woman and her kids are okay." The news that was on after that quickly bored him, so he changed the channel and found some more cartoons to watch. At about 10:00 James began to worry because his wife wasn't home and she had not called him to inform him where she was going to be like she always did.
He picked up the phone and called her cell phone, which she always kept charged and took with her where ever she went. Her cell phone rang six times before it went to her voice mail. Since James was too impatient to wait he hung up before he said anything. Their sons were supposed to be at Matthew's birthday party. Matthew's mom is named Cheryl and her number was on the refrigerator. James ran wildly into the kitchen and called the number.
The phone rang twice and then Cheryl answered, "Hello?"
"Hi Cheryl." James said quickly. "I was just wondering how Patrick and Dylan were doing?"
"What are you talking about James? Patrick and Dylan aren't here, they never even showed up."
"What?" James said as he almost dropped the phone. "I'm sorry about the inconvenience, but I have to go now. Bye." James hung up the phone and walked towards the front door. He had left the kitchen and was halfway through the living room when the phone suddenly rang. James went back into the kitchen and picked up the phone. "Hello?"
A dark and rumbling voice said, "We know who you are and we have something you might want."
"Who is this?" James demanded.
"All you need to know is that we have what you want and we want $50,000 before we will give it back to you. Meet us in the coffee shop by the library at noon. We know that you have the money and we expect it or we will rip your world apart." The person hung up before James could reply, let alone react.
It is true that James is a pretty wealthy man who earned roughly $350,000 a year, so $50,000 wouldn't be too much of an inconvenience, but James had no idea what that call was about or how urgent the news was. James grabbed he keys and drove to the bank. He withdrew $70,000 from his stockpiled savings account and went to a coffeehouse across town at 11:00 so he could have some pie and coffee to settle his nerves. He hid the $50,000 in his inner jacket pocket and left the other $20,000 in his car. He left the coffeehouse at 11:45 and made it to the right coffee shop at 11:58. When he walked in he saw two shady looking men at the back and they waved him over. James moved through the crowded coffee shop until he reached the table where the two men where and sat down.
"So you decided to show up," said the man with who had the voice from the phone.
"Yes I did." James said. "I have the money that you asked for, but what is it for? You never exactly mentioned what you had of mine."
"You still haven't figured it out?" said the other man.
"No, I don't think I have." James said.
"Well then you need to follow us." said the man from the phone.
"Okay, let's go." James said. He stood up after the two men and they walked to the kitchen of the coffee shop. They went through the kitchen and out of the back exit.
They stopped at the dumpster out back and the man from the phone said, "If you give us the money now you can have the contents of the dumpster and we will leave you alone. If you chose to cause problems for us we will bring hell to you. Got the money?"
"Yeah, I do." James said as he pulled the money out of his jacket pocket.
"Good. We will leave you alone now." The two men walked out of the alley and out of sight.
James opened the dumpster and found his wife and two boys sitting in there with their limbs tied up and their mouths taped. He lifted his boys out first and then he lifted his wife out. "Thank God, I have found you and you are unhurt."
His family was too traumatized to speak, so they went to his car and tried to tolerate the rest of their Saturday.
Note to all: James makes so much money because he is a boxer. Even though he is dumb he can still take and throw punches just fine.