As it happened, I ended up being snatched off of the street, after all.
I never saw them coming. Three weeks of advance notice, three long conversations with Heinrich in which we addressed major logistical concerns (did I intend to resist? Was my living room large enough to accommodate 3-5 men and their gear? What would I say to the landlord or a neighbor in the event that we were interrupted?), and I still never saw them coming.
Heinrich & Co. were supposed to let themselves in to my apartment with a spare key I’d provided. That was the plan. They knew when I was going to be home, and I knew that they were supposed to drop in on me sometime that weekend…but I didn’t know when, and the anticipation was killing me. I was walking on pins and needles around my apartment, freezing whenever I heard heavy footsteps on the stairs or unfamiliar male voices in the hallway. Sleep was thin and uneasy. I kept thinking that I heard the sound of the key in the lock…the deadbolt pulling back.
In the end, they took me by surprise by pretending to be UPS. Yes, you read that correctly. I am embarrassed to report that they needed no sophisticated or complex trickery in order to catch me. They simply called to say that they were trying to deliver a package to me downstairs in my apartment building.
My dumb ass fell for it. For what it’s worth, I was, in fact, expecting a package that day from Amazon (PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Vacuum! Works GREAT! Miss Margo heartily recommends this product!).
I was not expecting an ambush downstairs from the UPS man. So when I got a call for my apartment number, I said that I’d be right down, donned flip flops…
…and delivered myself. They would have gotten more hassle if they tried to order Chinese food. The van was perhaps seven feet away from my apartment building’s door, parked at the curb. Incredibly, I didn’t even notice it. I was focused on the UPS guy standing in front of it, just outside my door.
He was young and I noticed a bit of tattoo on his arm that wasn’t covered by his sleeve. He was wearing a brown UPS shirt and a brown UPS hat and carrying a big cardboard box with labels on it. Nothing struck me as amiss.
“(Apartment #)?” asked UPS guy. “You have ID to sign for this?”
“Sure thing,” I said, walking right up to him. I opened my purse and started rummaging around in it for my wallet. Rummage rummage rummage.
“Hey, Miss Margo,” someone said.
I looked up to see who was calling me, and looked up into the open back doors of a minivan.
There was a man in there. A man I did not recognize–a white guy with sunglasses on. He had salt-and-pepper hair and a goatee. He was smiling.
“Long time no see, Miss Margo! How’ve you been?” asked the dude.
Who was this guy? How’d he know my name? I am notoriously bad at recognizing faces, so I stood there for a second, racking my brain, trying to place him. Was this someone from school I was supposed to know?
Then I was grabbed at the waist, lifted, and literally tossed into the back of the van–specifically, into the arms of the stranger who’d called my name. He embraced me as if we were friends.
I didn’t scream. The loudest sound was the noisy metal klang my shinbone made when it knocked against the back bumper. That left a huge bruise which endured for ten days.
I remember thinking two things: Ow, my shin! and Who the fuck IS this person?
The van doors slammed shut behind me. It was dark. I looked at the windows and saw roll-down sunscreens. With that, finally, came the dawn of comprehension.
“Oh fuck!” I swore, mostly to myself. Aghast at my gullibility. “I can’t believe I fell for that!”
The Stranger was already passing me down onto the floor of the van. Onto my stomach. It was already too late to resist in any meaningful fashion, even if I’d wanted to. He’d climbed on top of my back and pinned my shoulders with his knees. His weight pressed the wind out of me. It hurt.
Then I felt someone holding my legs…and then, a sharp, violent bind just above my knees.
I tried to say It’s okay, I give up, but I couldn’t get enough air.
Someone put a soft black bag over my head.
“Okay, lift her up,” said a voice. Was that UPS guy? “Get her purse.”
Then: sudden restraint around my torso, just below my breasts, tying my arms tightly against my body.
I didn’t realize it until they took the bag off of my head, but I’d been restrained with common adjustable nylon winch straps with buckles–the types of straps used to secure kyaks and luggage to the roofs of cars, for example. Cheap all-purpose restraints. Heck, I have four of them in my Bag o’ Swag underneath my bed.
In my mind, I’d pictured the van speeding off into the night, like in a movie. But it was the middle of the afternoon, and the guys were in no hurry.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I choked out. The restraints were very tight. They were hurting me.
They didn’t say anything to me. Maybe they didn’t even hear me. I was back on my stomach with my check pressed into the floor and the strange van guy’s weight on my back again–not quite as heavy this time, but still very forceful. I couldn’t see anything.
“Here’s the blanket,” said UPS guy, and I felt my lower half being draped in fabric. “I’ll be right back with her stuff. Does anyone else need to come up with me to use the bathroom? No? Okay, I’ll be back in a sec.”
I heard the van door open again.
UPS guy apparently let himself into my building and ran up to my apartment, where he fetched the weekend-overnight bag that I’d left at the agreed-upon place right outside my bedroom door. He locked the door behind him when he left and came back to the van.
“Ready,” he said, and burst into laughter. Then: “We totally over-prepared for that. Did you see her face when you called her name?”
The engine started. It made the metal floor underneath me humm. I felt it through the bag on my head.
Wait, I thought to myself. Who’s the driver?
I perked up, trying to catch voices, but the men were not talking. How many of them were there? Three, at least. But where was Heinrich? I hadn’t heard his voice!
What if he’s not here? What if you’ve been caught by the WRONG GROUP OF PEOPLE?
No, that couldn’t be right–they had my housekeys and knew my name. It had to be the right bunch.
They adjusted the straps tied around me–made them a little looser–and put on two more. Then someone attached a fingertip heart-rate and blood-oxygen saturation monitor to the pointer finger of my left hand. Very prudent, a very prudent thing to do. That was the hand of Heinrich for sure, I told myself. Because you wouldn’t want to take your captive out of town, get the bag off of her head, and then realize you’d, say, suffocated her to death inadvertently on the drive over.
We went for a long drive. I’m not sure how long it took–about two hours, I’d reckon, but I could be wrong about that. I know that the last part was definitely over an hour because someone put headphones over the bag on my head and turned up the radio. At first it was Spanish-Latino pop music, which was a torture which almost prompted me to complain, but then one of them must have interceded on my behalf and changed it to NPR.
What a fascinating life I lead. I couldn’t make some of this shit up if I tried.
They took me out to a nice house…a house in the country. You know the one: the one with a million dogs and cats on it (jesus, just KIDDING! lol).
Things got very tough for me very quickly.
NEXT: locked in a closet with creepy-crawlies, meeting the Boss, interviewed in icewater, and…a poetry recital!
It’s ruining a bit of the fun for next time, but I’ll post this here anyway…
I was given a piece of poetry to memorize, which I then had to recite upon request, often under extremely, ahh, distracting circumstances. When I recited it incorrectly, I was
punished “reminded.” LOL still can’t believe he did that to me. But what a great idea!