Hostage Negotiator

Oh, damn. Where am I?

What is this?

I can’t see anything. Why can’t I see anything? How is that possible? How could there be nothing to see? Am I dead?

Must of been a rough night. Is it still night? Night isn’t this dark, well, not usually.

Okay, get it together. You are thinking, so you are existing, but what else? Is there anything else? Is there anything? Let’s see. But I can’t, I need a light.

I must be on something. I think I can move. I can move against it. If I push hard enough, it will push back.

“Ow!” a shrill voice reacts.

What was that? I’m on my feet now, but there’s something on the bottom. It’s fluffy, but springs under my feet. I can push myself up, away from the bottom, and see if there is anything above.

Wow, something is up. I can feel it with my middle finger. Something is up, and I think I’ve found the bottom, so there must be limits to all this. That might mean I’m stuck here, with whatever it is by my feet that made that noise.

Maybe I can push through the top. I could only feel a bit of it. I’ll try to reach higher. I’ll jump and push. The bottom seems to sink, as I try to push the top. Maybe there is more below than above.

“Link, what are you doing?” The bottom shifted.

“What? What is that?” My right foot rises.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m trying find out where this is?”

“Are you messing with me right now?”

“Nothing, at least that’s what I was afraid of. Where are you? Why can’t I see?”

My right foot springs upward, and I fall to my left knee. “Gruuh,” comes from underneath it.

A wave of light crashes into me, and I am powerless to move anything but my hands over my eyes. “Get off of me,” cries the voice under my knee.

“Oh, my, this is your lucky day, Link.” I remember that the voice belongs to Fannie as the light relents its attack. I open them to see my knee in the middle of a pale chest thatched black. “Is that your type?”

“That’s no one’s type.” I glance left to see the man’s face. There seems to be no interruption between chest and beard, which hurts my eyes in a less profound way as the light. “Where are we?”

“We crashed here last night, ya know, after we had enough of the party.” Fannie is standing next to a door, but it is the only contour of the entire room.

“Oh.”

“So, are you going to get off that guy, and get off this girl?”

I stand back up, a little too close to the light, but not far enough from the guy below me. “I think I need to get out of here.” I say this as I realize I have no clothes on.

“I thought that was kinda funny. You would have laughed at that last night.” Franny’s mouth is always turned up.

“Why are we both naked with this guy?” It needs to be asked.

“Him? He was on some heavy stuff. I don’t think he noticed us much.” It didn’t need to be answered. She walks over the edge of the bed I escaped to.

“Why don’t you get back in bed, Link?  It’s too early to get up.” Franny’s smile seems a little too big.

“Getting up didn’t work out at all. Why are there no windows in here?”

“We’re in the middle of the basement I think. We got to this room early, we’d be on the couches or floor otherwise.” She seems proud of our shared territory.

I haven’t seen her in almost a year. I wonder if I still have her ID from last summer.

“You know, you don’t have to act like a baby. We can use our words, too.”

I probably should stop staring at her. I still need to know where I am. How I got here can wait. How I can leave can’t. “You wanna go somewhere else?” My eyes plead more than my words do. “Is there somewhere else?”

“Come on.”

I glance back to the guy on the bed. His eyes are open, and I slowly back away hoping not to have to answer any of his questions.

Franny grabs my hand as I back into the door jamb. “It’s a weird room, isn’t it? Why you would have a white room with no windows in your house in beyond me.” She teeters as she leads me through a room of couches paralleling the walls.

“Who are these people?” Maybe I should drink something. My smile is getting harder to fake, and I think I am not going to be happy to hear any of her answers. I grab an unopened bottle off the arm of the couch topped with blond headed rasta hats. “Where are our clothes?”

“Oh, just people, the usual crowd.” Her smile faded after taking a drink. “Should we get them?”

“I am suddenly aware of their absence.”

“Well, come on, we’ll get them.” She grabs my thumb with the same hand she holds the bottle with.

We walk out a door between another two couches. “Oh, yeah, the pool. Where we’ll drown our sorrow.”

“You remember that!” Franny’s smile turns up again.

“I think we’ll drown our embarrassment there now.”

“You shouldn’t be embarrassed.”

“I shouldn’t be a lot of things, but I’m a lot of things.”

“Me, too.” Franny pulls my thumb to her mouth and takes another drink.

The door slides open to wet concrete. The pool sits beside it. Before the line of trees that doesn’t seem to end, a few swings form a set, teetering almost as much as she does. I think I might fall with a waist that skinny.

“You look good in jeans.” She is still holding hers, while standing next to my broken phone.

The guy from bed stumbles out the door, as Franny stumbles into a denim leg. Luckily his lower half is covered, though his thatch and beard break the wind for him. “Can I get a ride?”

At least he has a shirt in his hand. “Can you give me one, too?” I hope she has her car here.

“You drove me here, Link. Man, you were out of it.” I shrug, and all three of us put on our shirts.

Franny leads us around the pool to the front of the house. A gravel driveway lined with dumpsters holds mine and only two other cars.

I get my keys out of my jeans without appearing to be blown away by this minor miracle. I hit the ignition switch and say “Directions home.”

“Destination is in thirty-three miles. You have four missed calls from Girlfriend Laura. Would you like to return the calls?”

“No.”

“Thanks.” I say with a smile. The guy in the back laughs too, and I accidentally make eye contact with him through the rearview mirror. I nod back down to turn up the sound.

The radio talks about the 95th anniversary of The Great Gatsby. “That book sucks.” The guy offers. I meet his eyes in the rearview. “I read it three or four times.” He lays down in the backseat.

Franny raises her eyes instead of her mouth. “All right. Let’s go. We can drop him off where we met up at last night.”

“Where was that?”

“Your neighbors’.”

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