Content warning: Some swearing
Dear Ms. Huxley,
Listen carefully. Well, I guess you can't very well listen to a missive, can you?
This is a ransom note.
I have your son.
Don't believe me? Then how would I know he's
five years old, skinny as a Twizzler, his name is Timmy, and he never shuts the hell up?
Oh, sorry. Five and a half.
As for how I got ahold of him, let me say this: Maybe you should consider choosing a better preschool.
I mean, I didn't have to show my ID or anything. Just pointed to the kid I wanted and popped open my passenger door and the old lady practically launched him into the van. She didn't even try to guilt me into buckling him up. Which made us even, because I didn't turn around and try to guilt her when we pulled out of the parking lot and I saw her in the rearview mirror slipping a flask inside her pea coat.
Seriously, some people just have no consideration for today's youth.
If you ever want to see Timmy alive again, you will pay me $2,500 by this time next week.
Be thankful. I was gonna make it $5,000, but the kid told me you live alone now. Said your husband died during a hot dog eating contest, and I can empathize. I'm a single parent too, ever since I lost my girlfriend, Shelly.
Boston was his name. Or Quincy. Or maybe Las Vegas.
I mean to say, she dumped me and took our daughter and moved away, but you gotta admit, that's pretty close to what happened with you and your husband, right? So, I get it.
She said I'm too impulsive, too quick to anger, Shelly did. Said I should go to anger management counseling to seek help controlling my rage. Imagine that: a blank white room with unflattering lighting and no smoking allowed and a group of people sitting around in a circle talking about their shared flaws like Scientologists, like a cult. Makes me angry just thinking about it.
What a joke. God, you throw one bone china dish at someone's head and suddenly you're seen as Thanos with the Infinity Stones. Can you believe that? I really don't think I'm quick to ang—
Jesus Christ, lady! Do you even have $2,500? Your kid hasn't stopped eating since he's been here. Do I look like Subway to you? I don't have much food to begin with, and spam ain't cheap, y'know.
Shit, like father, like son, I guess.
Listen, Look, what I'm saying is, $2,500 isn't that selfish.
That's another problem Shelly had with me, by the by. Said I was too selfish, which is total bullshit. If that were really the case, I wouldn't have just given you a (pretty generous) price break on this ransom, right? I mean, I'm about as broke as the ten commandments myself.
No, when she said that, she was just mad because I chose to go to the football game with the boys instead of spending our daughter's fifth birthday with them. Thing is: birthdays come every year on the dot, but a Super Bowl in your hometown is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
And really, if you had the choice between eating nachos and drinking beer in end zone seats or consuming burnt Chuck E. Cheese pizza in the ball pit, tell me you wouldn't have done the same, Ms. Huxley. Tell me I was wrong. Go on, I'll wait.
But Shelly didn't think so, didn't that was a good enough reason. And guess what her constructive criticism was? You guessed it: counseling. White room. No smoking. Cult.
You bet your ass I didn't go.
Listen, Look, I know how this makes me sound, but I'm not a bad guy. I was there for my daughter's other four birthdays, there for all the unicorns and glitter and the time she rammed the half-broken birthday candles up her nose. I skipped a bar crawl just to stay with her in the ER. I even bought her a box of Twinkies on the way home. Low-fat Twinkies. That's gotta count for something, right?
I thought so anyway, until they left me three weeks ago.
I was home when they did it, too. Asleep, sure—the great thing about getting fired is that you have all the time in the world to catch up on your rest—but home. When I woke up, the house looked like Speedy Gonzalez ran through it. ¿Entiende? I'm talking no macaroni art on the refrigerator, no Dr. Seuss books on the coffee table, and no Twinkies in the pantry. Everything gone.
Do you know what that's like, Ms. Huxley? Not having a job? Not having a family? Not having Twinkies?
Well, maybe you do know about that last one, with how much your family loves to eat. Maybe you know about the second one too.
I still haven't gotten used to it myself.
But ever since my family left I've been thinking, and I was wondering if Shelly had a point. Maybe I am selfish. Maybe I am too impulsive.
Only sometimes, though. Kidnapping a child takes a lot more planning than you'd think.
But I went, you know. Last Saturday. I was driving to the post office, my old workplace, listening to the gleeful clink of the Molotov cocktails in the glove compartment, when I saw the sign on the other side of the road: "Graham Counseling Center." And you know what? I kept my ass driving all the way to the post office.
Boy, didn't I feel silly when I realized the Molotovs were just old, empty beer bottles and not the weapons of mass pandemonium that were sitting in my fridge.
On the way back I pulled into the counseling center. Not because I finally understood that Shelly was right or anything, but because I had the Twinkies on my mind. The ones my family took with them, I mean, not the replacement Twinkies your rude-ass son is devouring right now.
Pathetic? Perhaps, Ms. Huxley. But those Twinkies helped me open my eyes.
Don't get me wrong: the place was just as cultish as I'd expected, and the lighting revealed every acne scar and chipped tooth and crow's foot that made those people so furious in the first place.
But the room wasn't white. It was blue, like a blueberry. That kind of blue. (I know you'll know what I mean since I used food as a comparison.)
And I realized then, in that blue room, that maybe I didn't have all the answers.
When the class was finished, the instructor came over to me and asked me to remember that some people have it bad but they don't have to, that change always begins with me. He also asked who I was, how I got in there, and why I hadn't paid the class tuition.
But I digress.
Listen, Look, I guess what I'm trying to say, Ms. Huxley, is that maybe I got carried away in all this. Maybe Shelly was right. Maybe I knew that all along. Maybe I am capable of change, and sometimes I just have to stop and take a second and remember that.
So, you know what? I'm dropping the ransom down to $2,450. Just for you. You're welcome.
And hey, you're single too, right?
After this whole crazy mess blows over, maybe you and I could go out somewhere. I didn't ask your kid what you look like—he told me anyway—and it sounds like we'd be pretty good for each other. Think about it, will you?
I swear you wouldn't be disappointed. I promise it.
I'll even help you pick out a new preschool for Timmy.