Since the blindfold outside of Maude’s Crab Castle, everything had been darkness and pain. In the parking lot, a brusque hand forced him into a trunk followed shortly by the sound of a car door closing.
The pain came from the zip tie around his wrists, along with the driver’s lack of concern with preserving the suspension of the car. Was suspension right? In terms of driving over uneven terrain? Was the word chassis involved? And then there were shocks, the little plastic accordion things. What did the workings of a car matter to him, though? Every mental tangent ended just as suddenly as it started, and there he was back in the trunk, being banged against the lid.
Every bump sent something else to remind him of his plight. Sometimes he got lucky when the car sent him airborne and he landed on top of something hard or dull instead of being smacked with it. Mostly it was the shovels (to him, two shovels clearly denoted two men involved in his kidnapping), playing a game of which one made contact with his head or his knee. The owner of the car had shoes in the trunk too, running shoes he determined after rolling over to push the shovels away. Those felt clean, smelled clean too, like the shovels. The laces were stiff in his mouth, the plastic tips free from fray. But he wasn’t concerned with running shoes.
He wasn’t concerned with the pungent mixture of solids and liquids expelled from his body he was rolling around in either. What concerned him was his fate once the car came to a stop. He went back and forth on whether death by the hands of these men or finding a way to do it himself in the confines of this trunk was the preferable option. Say he decided to let the car reach its destination: should he hope for an execution-style bullet to the brain, or was digging his own grave a situation in which he could plead for his life? No, he couldn’t shake the notion that dying there in the trunk would be less traumatic than whatever waited at the end of that car ride.
Now, if he managed to suffocate before reaching their destination, the plan once the car was parked mattered little. There was the issue of actually suffocating himself though. His assumption was the holding of breath led to a loss consciousness, then death, but the body probably started breathing again, right? Hell, the body probably knocked itself out before much damage was done just to start breathing again, instinct rebelling against the clearly irrational idea of cutting off one’s own oxygen supply. Hadn’t he tried that with his friends when he was younger? Wasn’t the result simply waking up a little while later with a headache?
A roll of toilet paper found its way to his face. Until it disappeared again, he considered how to wrap it around his mouth and nose using only his forehead and his lips, maneuvering his neck in circles. Probably for the best it disappeared back into the trunk, the plan proved convoluted. Then a drill rolled his way again. Wouldn’t forcing a drill into one’s temple result in being killed instantly? Most drill bits were only a few inches long. Were they even that long? The drill was battery-powered, he knew that from the first time it bounced his way. Assuming he had the wherewithal to go through with suicide, driving his head directly into the drill bit was presumably less complicated than trying to turn the drill on and do it that way.
So how to get the drill in place. Then, how to find the mental fortitude and kinesis required to drive it into his skull. It needed to work on the first try or not at all. But he wasn’t convinced his first attempt would produce favorable results. In fact, the bit would probably go in a little then there’d be no way to drive it in any further. A direct hit to the temple sounded painful, whether it broke the skin or not. How would his abductors react if they found him rolling around in a trunk full of vomit and urine and probably a lot of blood? All of that mixing with their personal belongings? Wait, fuck them.
He either had to kill himself or do nothing at all. There was no middle ground when zip-tied and blindfolded in a trunk. It was the drill or nothing, and he needed to find a way to get it fixed in one place. Then he would be able to – and, there it went, back into the ether with the tennis shoes and the toilet paper. Waiting it out and discovering his fate on the other end of the ride suddenly didn’t sound so bad. They must be getting close. And whatever reason for the abduction, the men in the front of the car might be reasoned with to some degree. Assuming they spoke English. Would they be more or less intimidating if he understood what they were saying to him after reaching their destination?
Maybe he had something they wanted. Doubtful, but not impossible. Maybe he was the wrong guy and they’d let him go with sincere apologies. Or he was the right guy, but they let him go upon discovering a pathetic shell of a man covered in a variety of his own fluids. He assumed they were driving into the woods, the town was surrounded by forest. If they buried him, or he dug his own grave, it wouldn’t be near the road. So they needed to walk. Maybe that was what the tennis shoes were for, because they would be walking for a long while. That would be when he would plead with his fellow man to choose another night to take a life. Or if it absolutely had to be that night, why his life? Not to condemn someone else to his fate, or anything. But honestly, there were other people, not just members of his own family, who considered him valuable. Couldn’t he be valuable to the man or men in the front seat?
What if some world existed where people kidnapped each other as a game, and he had somehow entered that world? The car would park and they’d let him out and there would be one of those portable, pressurized showers waiting. He could clean himself up, there would be a change of clothes, something nice, and then he would follow a path of paper lanterns deep into the woods. There, inside a large canvas tent would be all his friends, everyone he’d ever known, his parents and his sisters, little league teammates, even anonymous women he had passed on the subway and found especially beautiful. And they would all be there just for him, saying things like, “Good job, we’ve been watching the whole time. You did exactly what any of us would have done in your situation.” And, “All of these beautiful women from the train find you exceptionally brave and attractive.” Even the men who abducted him would approach the head table sometime later that evening and say he was by far their favorite kidnapping. No contest.
Michael Putnam is a fiction writer currently pursuing an MFA from Georgia State University. He has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing and Comparative Religion from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Before his acceptance to GSU, Michael had spent his entire life in the Midwest, and still feels the pull of Interstate 70. His stories can be found in The Bookends Review, Flyover Country Review, and Fiction 365.