Follow these instructions with fidelity and zeal. Be appreciative of these instructions and thankful of our efforts to extort you. We have gone through great pains to kidnap your son, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you recognize our efforts.
We really went all out on this one—investing in ice cream trucks, gas masks, and insurance and, you know…guns aren’t cheap. All to get your son who, I must say, has turned out to be utterly obnoxious. You have done a horrible job of raising him. As I write this, he is kicking the back of my chair while singing the alphabet song. It’s quite unbearable. He, by the way, says “hi.” He wants to know if he can watch Spongebob. I have told him “no.”
I hope you will be happy to hear that at this moment he is safe and sound and will be returned to you safely if, and only if, you follow these instructions with fidelity and zeal.
First, and this is the most important note, don’t call the cops. We don’t like cops for their history of interference with kidnappers and, incidentally, their war against brown and black communities across America. We are a very progressive group. Proceeds from every ransom go toward T-shirts for starving African kids.
We want you to empty your bank account and place $200,000 in unmarked, non-sequential bills into a brown suitcase and find your way onto the 6 train and get off at the 53rd street station.
Once you leave the station, head south on Second Avenue toward the express bus stop. You will meet a middle-aged Bronx woman there who will be staring at you with contempt and disdain.
Walk up to her and tell her: “Boy, these buses sure take a long time!”
She’ll respond: “That Goddamn DeBlasio!”
Hand her the briefcase and wink at her to get the point across that the drop has happened; this woman is a temp worker and we don’t have a lot of confidence in her ability.
As you walk away, don’t miss the money; you were never one for that materialism shit.
Cross the street, heading toward the East River. Fifty years ago, this area used to be a gay cruising spot where young teen boys would hang out in pool halls looking to give blow jobs to older men in exchange for cash. Quite a system they had going there; I have nothing but respect for young entrepreneurs of all stripes. It’s not that type of neighborhood anymore, with all of the pool halls and drag queens and old fags being replaced by midtown yuppies wearing Brooks Brothers suits.
Walk further east until you run out of road, where you will find a set of stairs that lead you down into a park that sits at the edge of the East River. Walk past the dog park and the couple making out (the man has undone her blouse, so you can see her tits kinda hanging out, which is nice) and past the man who looks like he lost his hair from a curse.
Find a park bench right at the edge, where you will be all alone. Sit there and look out to the East River. Please do this, as looking at rivers interferes with police GPS signals…it blocks them or something. I don’t know how…that’s just what our tech experts tell us. Something about satellites.
Sit there and think about your son and how much you miss him. Trace the current with your eyes. Think about how one day these waters will rise and possibly wash the whole city away. Worry about what type of future is in store for your son. Let that dystopian bleakness remind you of your anarchist friend Matt, which will then remind you of your seamstress friend Andrea, which will remind you of Louise, which will remind you of Danis, which will then remind you of your mother, and your brother who moved to New Orleans, and that ex who moved to Chicago.
Think about these people. Think about all of the people you’ve encountered in the past five years alone. Visualize their faces. Think about the sheer poundage of people who’ve been there for you. Who have supported you, who have cared for you, and who have loved you, no matter how fleeting. Attempt to count that number. Attempt to see where you would be without them. Feel lucky. Feel blessed. Feel upset that you can never give back as much as you have taken.
Start to cry—crying interferes with police listening devices…same thing as before. I don’t get the science and shit, but…
Be thankful. Be thankful that you even had a son, even if you’ll never see him again. Be thankful that you’ve had a chance to see him smile. Be thankful that you have the strength to cry and that you have something real to cry about.
Think about thankfulness. What it takes to be thankful.
Like, can a king be thankful? A plantation owner? All those Brooklyn kids across the river? I guess what I’m getting at is…can anyone be thankful for something that they’ve taken? For example, can I be thankful for your son even though I took him from you? I guess we can meet up after this whole ordeal for drinks to discuss this sort of thing, the philosophical elements, have a couple of laughs. I’ll pay the first round.
But for now, you must follow these instructions with fidelity and zeal.
While you are crying, a man in a plaid suit will sit next to you. Have a conversation with him:
“Boy, the Jets this year sure are a disappointment.”
“Boy howdy,” he will say.
He will deposit a key into your pocket.
Walk to Koreatown. Walk past 32nd and Lex and remember how five years ago you saw an old woman die there of a heart attack. Afterwards, you walked into a dollar pizza joint and saw Dr. Oz on the television holding jars of poop while discussing stools, a situation which put you in existential crisis.
As you stare at the intersection of 32nd and Lex, note that in the city you are always walking past the ghost of old memories like the old lady and the poop. Remember, and hold onto that concept, because you can impress women in bars with it and they will probably sleep with you if you say it right.
Keep walking and go into the oldest karaoke bar in the city, the one off of Fifth, and walk inside. Order a booth for yourself and a beautiful Korean woman will lead you down a dark hallway into a small room full of neon lights. Select song 1027, Britney Spears’s “Toxic”—quite possibly the crowning achievement of the diva’s career. Sing the song until its bridge, and a secret door will open up behind you. There, you will find your boy. He will be dead. Our intern James forgot to feed him. Sorry about that.
But for now, at this moment, you don’t know that. For now you think he is still alive so we advise you to follow our instructions with fidelity and zeal.
Before we close this letter, please keep in mind that we are professionals in this whole kidnapping racket, and we know what we are doing. Do not put a tracking bug or an ink pack in the bag, as we have seen the movie Speed and will totally have seen that one coming. Do not drive an ocean liner into an island, as we have seen Speed 2. Do not offer the ransom money as a bounty for our capture—we have seen Ransom.
Do not sacrifice your son on behalf of the lives of others—we have read the gospels.
All we ask for you is that you follow our instructions with fidelity and zeal.
John Field is a professional stand-up comedian from New York. He is currently living in The Bronx.
Lead image: “Louis” (via Flickr user Warren Fournier)