"Scrabble"


--from BULL Magazine


The teenage girl I kidnapped is living in my basement. Each morning I bring her pancakes and freshly-squeezed orange juice. At first, it’s wasn’t easy feeding her, with her hands chained to the wall. I had to hold the plate, stab the fork into each piece of food, and then aim the fork into her mouth. The first few times, in between bites, I held the glass to her mouth and let her take a sip, but the juice always dribbled down her chin, and since it seemed a little barbaric, now I always remember to put a straw in the glass.

According to HowtoKindapTeenageGirls.com, kidnappers should feed the girl they steal something cheap, like frozen dinners. But have you ever tasted frozen dinners? And even if you do find that sort of thing appetizing, the salt content in those meals has been connected to high blood pressure and even heart disease. The website recommends buying dozens of frozen roast dinners, and having the girl suck on them like roast popsicles. But eating roast popsicles while being chained to a cement wall is a bit demeaning if you ask me, and certainly no way for a teenage girl to live.

Before I kidnapped the girl, I made a Judas Chair by hammering rusty nails through the seat, the arm rests, and the back of the chair. I even fashioned leather straps to the legs of the chair and the armrests. But after I kidnapped her, I realized that I’m not really the torturer type, so I removed the nails from the chair, covered it with soft, fluffy cushions from Pier One and converted it into a lounge chair.

Since being shackled directly to the wall didn’t allow her to move much, I purchased thirty feet of extra chain so she could wander around, unencumbered, the way real teenagers do. I felt horrible for making her relieve herself in a bucket, so I installed a toilet and a sink I bought from Home Depot. This way, I figured, she could at least live in a sanitary environment. I even went to Walmart and bought her a DVD player and a TV. When I hung the flat-screen television on the wall, she smiled and told me how happy she was, and that having to live anywhere without a television and DVD player was torture enough.

Recently, I’ve begun to wonder if feeding her orange juice and pancakes day after day is the best idea, so for the last few days I’ve been developing a menu that I feel provides culinary variety without sacrificing nutritional value. I went to Food Network’s website, and I’ve been compiling recipes all week. I haven’t finished the menu yet, but I’m planning Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Tomato Salsa on Mondays and Blueberry Almond Breakfast Tarts on Sundays.

Today, I bring her waffles and eggs, sunny-side up (the way she likes them) and a Mocha Frappuccino. The clothes she’s been wearing are filthy and need to be washed, so after breakfast I go up to the attic and grab the boxes of clothes I kept after my daughter died. She’s almost the same size so the clothes fit perfectly. After she’s done trying on the clothes, she asks for a picture of my daughter. When she hands the photograph back to me, she tells me I can call her by my daughter’s name. I tell her I appreciate it, but that it’s too soon for that, and that I’m not ready. After lunch we play Scrabble, and I spell out the words MELANCHOLY, DESOLATION, and EMPTY. While I arrange my letters, she scribbles little pencil drawings on the back of the score pad, the way by daughter always did. Later, she spells out the word HOSTAGE, and we both laugh.

When I’m leaving, she waves to me as I head up the stairs, and the shackles around her wrists jingle like gaudy bracelets. I smile at her, and for a moment my daughter’s name crawls around in my head. I steal one last glance at her before I flip off the light bulb near the top of the stairs, before I open the padlocked wooden door that leads back to my lonely, deserted life.

--from BULL Magazine