I was Kidnapped!
__________________I WAS KIDNAPPED TODAY ____________
A rainy day in Ft. Worth is bad news day for Terry.
My elective transportation is 100% bicycle and I can get through just about all weather except rain. However, I had run out of coffee! This is not good--in fact--it's worth dodging downpours to ride a few blocks to Panera's.
Once inside, I order a mug o’ coffee and the waitperson at the counter waves me away with these words,
“That’s okay. Just grab one of the cups at the end of the counter.”
Is this generosity or is it because I am sporting earbuds that are 9mm bullet cartridges?
I walk to the end of the counter and scan for cups.
The waitperson behind the counter gives me a peculiar look.
“Is the light bad in here?”
“No, it’s fine.”
I’m really not slow on my feet. This time I was. She was making a snarky remark about my hesitation!
She was saying, “Are you blind, you old fool?”
Or maybe not. I decided to smile with dumb gratitude and go about my day.
A steaming mug of hot hazelnut java in my hand, I sat down and wrote a few movie reviews and rebutted a witless remark on the BRIMSTONE movie thread.
After a bit, I decided not to push my luck. I packed everything in my backpack and stood up.
Outside the window, I saw a deluge, a gully-washer, a downpour of Old Testament proportions in progress. I groaned.
That’s when I heard a woman's voice behind me.
“I can offer you a lift in my truck.”
Now begins my tale of kidnapping!
I turned with eyebrows raised.
The lady was about 5’5’’, white hair, crinkled eyes, a mauve, antique blouse with lacework, blue jeans, sneakers and a very old-fashioned, gaudy diamond cluster wedding ring.
Her face was grinning. Her eyes? I couldn’t see them through the puffy slits. Her demeanor appeared innocent and cordial.
So I thought.
I can’t say what her age is--I have no way of knowing. I’m 70 and she looked to be about the age of God’s granddaughter. Who knows?
In the South, in Texas, older women have been reared with Southern charm and neighborly tendencies toward Good Samaritan behaviors. At least, I persuaded myself of this.
“Oh, thank you for the kind thought. I’ll just wait till it passes.”
Looking back on the events which followed, I’m convinced I had some kind of intuition buzzing in the back of my head--a foreknowledge of premonitory hesitancy.
“I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I can see you’re ready to go. Don’t be shy. I won’t bite.
Just lift your bicycle in the bed of my truck and you’ll get home without getting soaked to the bone.”
Have you ever been at a crossroads where you are whipsawed between practical and obvious good judgment and a squirmy feeling of discomfort?
I’ve been caught in the rain outside on my bike a couple of times. I hated it! It is horribly uncomfortable, dangerous and blinding. For one thing, the brakes won’t work! Also, once you get soaked you start shivering and can’t stop.
I tell you all this to justify my poor decision to accept this lady’s offer.
Was it a stupid decision?
An hour and a half later, I knew things about my benefactor which I can relate to you now. These are things she divulged while driving me in the wrong direction. These are things she needed to tell somebody.
She ignored my directions, appearing as though she wasn’t doing anything against my will.
At first, I just thought she was a bit dotty.
Hers was a manner of speaking and acting which reminded me of a cross between Blanche Dubois in Streetcar Named Desire and Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.
Was she senile? Alzheimer’s?
It was as though I had been taken captive and handed a script which MUST be played as written.
Her part was a soliloquy. My role was to protest impotently now and again.
We were on the freeway and I wasn’t going to jump out.
So--that’s the situation. I don’t know what you’d have done.
I decided to pay attention and remember as many details as I could. It would all make a great story for later.
“What’s your name? Mine is Mrs. Harry James Carter Raymond.”
“Terry...Uh, you’re going the wrong direction--it’s the other way.”
“It's best I go the way that’s familiar.”
“You’d have to know WHERE I lived--wouldn’t you?”
(Crinkled smile.) Ignoring me.
“My husband died in 1996. He was very wealthy. He never told me anything about his business affairs or anything. We lived in what you’d probably call a mansion. His lawyers told me I was broke. Harry had spent all his assets on quack cures for his condition. I was in a state of shock, I’ll tell you. I had nothing. I couldn’t pay the taxes. I didn’t know where he kept his money and I never once had a checking account. He would always put an envelope with cash in the drawer next to my bed.”
“We need to get off here and turn around. You are heading for Aledo. I live three blocks from Panera’s!”
(Crinkled smile.) Ignoring me...
“Unless somebody knocked it down and rebuilt it, that house--my house--our house still stands with everything in it, just as he left it.”
“You missed the turnoff. Exactly where are we headed? Could you just let me off on the side of the road, please?”
“Don’t be silly, it’s raining. You’ll catch your death.”
Note: I didn’t like that phrase at all!
“Harry never wanted children. There was nobody to help me. I just signed everything Harry’s lawyers put in front of me. I was told I needed to vacate and was given an envelope--just as Harry always did. I knew how to drive because my Daddy taught me when I was 14. I jumped into Harry’s car with just the clothes on my back even though the lawyer was shouting at me to stop. I drove away and never looked back.”
“Let’s take the next exit, why don’t we, hmmm? It looks like a wonderful exit--maybe the best exit on the entire freeway…”
(She flashed a petulant look and ignored me.)
“I drove and drove. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I ran out of gas. I sat in the car and watched the sun setting. A highway patrolman came by and was extremely courteous. He drove me to get gas. He poured it in my tank and got the car started for me. I thanked him and kept driving.”
“Here is the exit--right here--RIGHT HERE--YOU NEED TO … you missed the exit!”
(She acted as though I hadn’t said anything.)
"I arrived in Fort Worth and checked into the Y.W.C.A. I was still a member! I stayed and stayed until they made me leave. I counted the money in the envelope the lawyer gave me.”
“Excuse me, Ma’am, but I would like for you to drop me off or take me back, PLEASE.”
“Oh, don’t call me Ma’am! That’s for old ladies! Call me Dorothy. Like the actress, you know, Dorothy Dandridge.”
“I’m sure if Dorothy Dandridge were driving, she’d have taken me straight home by now.”
My mind was racing. Wouldn’t yours be? Was this a comical situation I’d fallen into or a dangerous one? I’m a go-with-the-flow sort of person. I knew I ought to be more worried and pissed off. For some reason, I was enjoying my situation. I can’t explain it. I think because it was cinematic and extremely interesting. If she got violent, I think in a fistfight, I might be able to beat her. Maybe. Maybe not. I really didn’t want to find out.
“My sister died when she was 24. She drowned. Henriette was traveling 2nd class. She probably would have survived had she gone, 1st class. The Titanic was a class conscious vessel, let me tell you. She was the one who had introduced me to Harry. For some strange reason, he liked my name.
He kept saying it over and over. ‘Dorothy Yvois...Dorothy Yvois…’ and he made me laugh. He told me, ‘Yface is beautiful and so is Yvois.’
Henriette would have been my bridesmaid and it would have been a double wedding with Harry’s brother. Oh dear--I can’t remember what we called him…”
And so it went. On and on she drove and talked and talked. In and out of any discernible context. She was making no point. I gave up trying to persuade her to turn around. I decided to get tricky.
“I’m getting hungry, aren’t you? Why don’t we stop and have lunch?”
“Open the glove box. There should be some chips in there. I don’t know how old they are.”
“Ha ha ha. You think I’m stupid, don’t you?”
“What does that mean?”
“I’m nobody’s fool.”
“I’m sure you aren’t. Are you hungry? I am.”
She ignored me again and drove along with knitted eyebrows. I couldn’t tell if she were angry or just confused.
Then, without any change of conversation, she turned off the freeway and crossed a bridge to the other side. We were heading back to Ft. Worth. My anxiety was lessening. I grew a bit more friendly, to encourage her to accommodate my longing for freedom.
“The rain has stopped. I’m glad there wasn’t any hail.”
She was pursing her lips, deep in ancient thoughts.
“Henriette was jealous of my engagement. What’s-his-name, Harry’s brother wasn’t good looking at all. Harry was always pleasant and dressed well. When she drowned, I cried for weeks and Harry was wonderful. He bought me a sable coat. His brother...oh what was his name? Anyway...OH! Tighe--that’s it! Tighe was his name. It took me forever to say it right. It rhymed with 'oblige'. That’s how I got it right. Tighe was sullen and indifferent when Henriette died. He didn’t come to her funeral! I had nothing to do with him after that.”
I was sitting on the passenger side calming down now that we were going east instead of west. Then, it hit me. The math was all wrong! Her story couldn’t be true!
“Your sister was 24 when she drowned? Was she younger than you or older?”
“A gentleman would never ask a lady her age.”
“I’m the kidnap victim, I don’t have to be a gentleman. I don’t think your sister could have died on the Titanic. That was 1912. If she were 24 in 1912 and you were her younger sister…”
“Oh, did I say the Titanic? I meant the Lafayette. I was thinking of the Normandie and forgot it was changed to the Lafayette. I got confused with the Titanic.”
“I’m pretty confused myself.”
“Harry and I married a year later. We had a good marriage. I never wanted for anything. I stayed home and he went off on business trips. I collected silver and China and played Mah Jongg at the Ladies Auxiliary on Wednesdays. Harry liked Whist. I didn’t, but it pleased him if I joined in on Sundays.”
“Okay Dorothy, this has been...um..well I kind of enjoyed our little chat. Now, in a few minutes, we’ll be back to where we started and I’d like you to let me off back at Panera’s. The sun is shining and I’d like some more coffee. Would that be okay with you?”
“Harry caught pneumonia. The only exercise he ever got was riding his bicycle. He was caught in a spring rain.”
She turned off on Hulen and dropped me in front of Panera’s. I pulled my soaking wet bike out of the bed of her truck and waved to Dorothy. She rolled down the window and spoke cheerily.
“Don’t get soaked. You’ll catch your death.”
Then, she straightens in her seat and drives away. Just like that--gone.
I hadn’t wanted her to see where I lived. That’s why I had her drop me off at Panera’s.
I sighed a huge sigh of great relief.
What the hell was that all about?
Robert Louis Stevenson would be so proud.
I can see you and her in my mind.
Were you two on I-20?
Dorothy must be 90-ish; still driving? A pickup?
I like the oblique reference to RLS.
TERRY ! Good god man- didn't your mama teach you as a boy not to take rides with crinkly nosed, white haired bat shit crazy 70 something year old ladies - possible axe murderers ? Man- I'm glad to hear that you lost nothing but perhaps an hour out of your life ! At least she was a " docile " crazy. Dude- you are lucky, very fortunate. Naughty, naughty ! Don't take rides with strangers again . It's like a box of chocolates- you never know what the hell you're going to get . Take care my friend. Glad you are still with us ! Peace out, Mr. Flipper
Relax, Brother Flip.
Terry is a writer - a good one.
Doggone it, Terry! You done did it again! I was all set to start on my taxes, but figured I'd catch on a little JWN while having my customary bowl of cereal for breakfast. Then I read your story and now I'm all distracted from visualizing your little adventure.
You tell a great story, my friend. It felt like I was right there, riding along with you. I wouldn't want to place any bets on how much is fact and how much was liberated from your wonderful imagination, but it matters not. A good story doesn't have to be entirely factual to be enjoyed.
And now... back to the tax games!
Thanks all for the kind words.
If you've ever been in a situation where you are stuck with a drunk who wants to talk but has no comprehensible message you'll know how it felt.
Only later, when you tell about the predicament can you jigger the sense of it and turn it into a comic tale.
When I lived in Fort Worth, Hulen Mall was the place to go to meet "friendly" ladies. And I don't mean that in a bad way. There was another mall up north of Fort Worth that was similar in many ways. I think the single (and some not so single) ladies would go there to troll for "one nighters."
During a period when I was split with my wife (we lived over by McCart and Alta Mesa), I'd go over to Hulen Mall to get some dinner, just wander around, and maybe go to a movie. The ladies were always very friendly - smiling and saying "hi" to me as I just wandered around with a cup of coffee in my hand window shopping. If I sat down on one of the benches and just "people watched" for a bit, I was sure to be approached for a friendly conversation that often included, "so are you married?" If I answered "separated" or "almost divorced" - that was like being "better than single." I was sure to get invited to go dancing or out for an "adult beverage." Of course, those situations usually happened when I was just hiding out from the extreme heat or cold outside - depending on the season.
I worked at Tandy Center in downtown Fort Worth (hey, Terry! what do they call that now?) and would often go down to one of the bars that looked out at the ice skating rink. I was usually only there for a few minutes by myself or with a male co-worker before being invited to join a group of ladies at their table.
Yes, Fort Worth was unlike anything I had experienced in the years I lived in California where women would blow a whistle and call security if you approached them. Texas women could be very aggressive and loved it when you'd just go up and say hello. And they cut right to the chase; I had a librarian ask me out and I was still wearing my wedding ring. The nice thing about them was that they were very comfortable dealing with rejection. All I had to say was, "sorry I'm waiting for my wife (or someone)" and they'd back off or say, "maybe next time?"
I guess there are worst things that could happen to you than being kidnapped by a lady Texan. Oh - those were the days...
Juan Viejo 2 Viejo 3 Viejo...(rinse and repeat)
I worked at Tandy Center in downtown Fort Worth (hey, Terry! what do they call that now?)
They call it gone forever!
Charles Tandy, a local billionaire, created and built Tandy Center, Dillards, Mitchell's Department stores, Radio Shack, Tandy Leather, Pier One Imports, House of a Thousand Frames, and a Christian Bookstore chain which is now gone, etc.
The man died of cancer and his empire split into fragments and disappeared through bad management. Pier One went from over 50 locations to only one I know of.
The skating rink and the subway were closed down and then businesses started to dry up and blow away.
The important billionaire in Fort Worth now is Richard Rainwater and I don't think he hangs around much. He has renovated downtown along with the other billionaires, the Bass brothers, who built Bass Hall and created a downtown pavilion with a dancing fountain and a light show.
Tarrant County had a population of 356,268 when I left in 1974. Ten years later when I returned, it numbered one million.
My excursion with Dorothy the looney took place on Loop 820.
I've always been a kind of Asperger's personality.
I'm quirky and shy unless I really decide not to be by a determined act of willpower.
Around women, unless I really want to be with them or talk to them, I'd rather hide under a porch.
I have a tendency to be challenging on purpose. It sorts them quickly :)
I do better with Crows than old crows.
Great reply, Terry!
I lived in Fort Worth from 1987-1994 and worked for Tandy during the John Roach era. I've been through there twice since then and the whole Hulen Mall area has completely changed. During my "single" years there in the early 1990s, I met several women who were "certifiable" in more ways than one. I guess what saved me is that I can't dance and being able to do the" two-step" was more important for a guy than having teeth or hair.
Perhaps the most significant thing that ever happened there while I lived there was my invitation to the Petroleum Club in downtown Fort Worth. I think I had $50 on me and was surrounded by at least two dozen of the richest men in the world and their ladies - you know, the big bosomed, big hair types. At least my suit was pressed and my shoes shined. I had to give a brief speech on Tandy's ability to set up computer networks in schools and small businesses. I doubt if anyone heard a word that I said, as most were chatting amongst themselves and drinking the whole time. At least it was memorable for me.
Oh, and I almost forgot: A young woman that worked as a clerical employee in my department at Tandy was an "entertainer" of sorts. She and her sister and her mother were Persian "belly dancers" on the weekends. I only found out later that they were also Jehovah's Witnesses (or claimed to be).
Sometime around 1992-93 I was working at Tandy Center. The young lady's workstation cubicle was about 50 feet from my office. One day she came over to my office and gave me a flyer about a "Medieval Times" type of faire that was being held a few miles outside of Fort Worth. She told me that she would be entertaining there with her mother and sister and would appreciate my coming to watch them. So, having nothing better to do, I drove over to check things out that weekend. I eventually found their little stage at the end of the main path that went past all the small booths that had souvenirs and trinkets. Sure enough, there she was in her belly-dancer outfit - along with her mother and younger sister doing the hoochy-cootchy.
Before they started their dance routine, the three of them came down and moved amongst the growing audience and passed a basket for tips and gifts of money. Since I knew the young lady personally, she came over to me and held out her basket. I was feeling generous, so I dropped in two $20 bills. She grabbed me and took me over to the stage to meet her sister and mother briefly before they started their dance. She told me to be sure to stay for the whole performance.
The three of them put on a performance for the ages. Every step they took, every motion of their bodies was in step with the background music. All very sensual and yet in time with the music. She and her mother were quite buxom, while sis was still "growing." Before long there was a very large crowd gathered around to watch their performance. Then, in one amazing move, they all spun around, whipped off their tops and covered their chests with their left forearms while waving their tops over their heads in their right hands. Then in one more spin managed to put their tops back on and snap them in place. I had never seen anything like that. I was a bit shocked, but at the same time realized that I had really not seen anything more than I would have at the beach when ladies laid on their stomachs with their tops off. It definitely was erotic, but not profane in any way.
The next work day she came over to my office and asked me if I enjoyed the "faire" and their dance routine. I told her that I had never seen anything quite like that. Then I asked her to step into my office and close the door behind her (office had windows, so nothing was hidden). I asked her if she and her family were really Jehovah's Witnesses - and if so, had anyone ever said anything to them about their weekend jobs?
She told me that they got a lot of flak at first at their Kingdom Hall when they started appearing at the Medieval Times Faires, but nothing more was ever said and they had never been stopped from doing it. The mother had explained to the elders that the dances were all true to form and traditional, that what they were doing was legitimate work and recognized by international entertainment groups as being in good taste and acceptable. The mother also performed at some local bars as an entertainer on "belly-dance" nights (the girls were over 18, but not yet 21). All three and the father were JWs in good standing and after the initial inquiry the other JWs never said anything more about what they did for a living. She told me that if someone asked her what she did for a living, she'd just say, "I work at Tandy Corp in support services."
I've often wondered if any other JWs had similar jobs like theirs and managed to survive the JW gossip hounds. I've previously shared a story about a JW husband and wife that sold custom bras and girdles at "house parties." They went through hell over that as it was the husband who was the "fitter" and took measurements.
Oh well, I digress...