There have been a few finer points in my life, graduating high school, getting baptized, potty trained, track and field awards, leaving Pennsylvania for New York City, starting an airline, but being kidnapped was not one of them. This episode was during one of my crazier phases in life. For a good majority of my life I had off the wall adventures, and shenanigans, but I still had my on and off seasons. Being kidnapped would fall into the off season category.
I was at that ripe age of twenty three where anything could happen and did in Manhattan. I was at the age where I’d get hit on from anything from the fifteen year olds skipping to school, to the perverted fifty five year old men who wanted to be my “close friend” and father figure. I had been working a lot and spending time between two places, my hotel lounge and a lethal black watering hole across the street Saga. The name described it perfectly. It was Hades hole for the creatures of the night. I was in between dating one of the owners I called Hercules. He had the body of a Roman God and the brain of an ox. Stubborn and bull headed we had a bad habit of getting wasted together. The more he drank the more flamboyant he got. We would drink, get into a heated argument over something stupid such as coffee beans, then fight for three hours, and nine margaritas. Hercules swore he knew everything. He tried telling me coffee beans and coco beans were the same bean.
“No they are not,” I said exasperated. “Coffee is coffee and coco is coco.”
“I know what I’m talking about,” he said in his thick Polish accent. “I’ve been in the restaurant business for twelve years, they are the same bean!”
He then would prove it by pulling me by the ear out of his bar and then pulling my hair in bed. Hercules was Polish, not matter how wrong he was, he never got it through his thick head. We were on and off for almost two years. Sad thing was the only time we were both on was the first time we met, and the time we called it quits for good. I would usually check out of work for the night and run across the street for a night cap, that would escalate into me watching the sun come up as I staggered for a cab or ended the night puking on the bar. Hercules had a business partner Donnie who picked up my sloppy pieces when Hercules wasn’t around. He was nice about it when he tossed me in a cab. I would wrap my flimsy arms around his neck and mumble, “I’m sorry I puked on the bar again. Do you want me to clean it?”
“Get home sweetie,” he’d say as he would pawn me off on the yellow cab driver.
I saw Donnie’s face the night I got snatched away from Saga. He was enjoying a dinner and a glass of red wine at the bar. As I walked into the door as bubbly as I could be, his mood dropped. The walking time bomb had arrived.
He hesitantly greeted me as he looked up from his bowl of steaming chicken. “Hey Em…good work at night?”
“Ah it was alright. We had a lot of tourists. I could really use a drink.”
He led me to the back room they rented out for private events and parties. He told me one of their biggest spenders just bought five bottle of Dom Perigon.
“I’m really not in the mood to party,” I said. “I got to get up early.”
“Oh come on,” he said as he pushed me through the door. “When have you ever turned down champagne?”
The truth was I hadn’t. Champagne was my favorite adult beverage. I loved the way it tickled all the way from my tongue to my belly. It made me giddy and happy. Now what was wrong with that? There were only eight people in the room, a few trashy girls, and a few businessmen, nothing special. Donnie introduced me to the tough guy running the show, Franco. Franco looked like a character out of the Sopranos who sold used cars as a cover. He looked like a mix of Italian, Mid-Eastern, and scum bag. He was probably in his late forties. He had black slicked back hair with enough gel to shine a semi truck. He had a long skinny pony tail hanging from the back of his neck. He wasn’t fat, but he was a heavy set man at 6'4. He wore a black suit. His partner in crime was Jack, a man in his mid thirties still wearing a tie at 11 pm. My guess was he was going straight to work the next morning after doing ten more lines of cocaine. As I looked around the dark candle lit room everyone was snorting coke. I wasn’t sure if it was a contest or a suicide pact, but the creatures of the night just couldn’t seem to get enough of the white stuff. Franco poured me a glass of champagne. I thanked him and smiled. When he gazed through the candle light across the room back at me he looked like Lucifer, as he smiled and lifting his pointy long pinky finger up to his nose. I shook my head no thank you and took a seat. The thing with coke is almost half of New York does it, the other half has tried it at least once. I had my two bad experiences with it, and that was enough to last me a life time. The first one was in college. I wrecked into a Mac truck. The second occasion I woke up with half my front teeth chipped. After that I never touched the stuff again, you couldn’t pay me to even do a tiny bump. Franco admired the fact that I was such a good girl, and could still hang even though my face wasn’t buried in a plate of blow. Once I told him to respect that I don’t do it, nor judge those who do, he never asked me again. I drank a few glasses of bubbly and watched his circus. I wasn’t drunk nor did I want to be. I looked at my watch it was 11:43 pm, almost time for me to go home.
Franco poured me more champagne and ordered five more bottles from Donnie.
“I’m not staying for that,” I said to Franco as I shook my head and waved the champagne flute no. “No dear, those are for my limo. I’m not going to pressure you into staying. Just finish this bottle with me.”
Franco and I had some small talk. There was something sleazy about him, but that’s what I expected at Saga. He was Jack’s limo driver, and Jack was a wealthy man from up in Connecticut. He didn’t participate with the group, he chose to sit bugged out in a corner. It was such a shame to see such a waste of wealthy flesh. Franco begged me for one last favor before I left. I was to convince Jack to get a hotel room in the city instead of driving back to Connecticut.
“Please he won’t listen to me,” Franco said. “Just convince him to stay in the city.”
I didn’t understand the importance of it, but I agreed to it. I had away of convincing most people almost anything. I talked to Jack for a little bit as Franco watched from a far. Jack agreed that staying in the city would be a keen idea. Problem solved I thought as I gathered my belongings. It wasn’t like I moved stars, but Franco was happy with my work.
“Thank you so much, I can’t repay you enough,” he said.
“No big deal, glad I could help,” I said. I woke up on my stomach in a dark room with high ceilings.
It felt very airy and spacious. I felt a hand slowly sneaking its way into the top the back of my jeans. I jumped up to see it was the hard hand of Franco.
“What the fuck?” I snarled. “Get your fucking hand off me!”
I quickly looked around the dark giant room. It looked like a great room that led into a 1,000 square foot stainless steel kitchen. I looked at the thick red and blue plaid curtains that hung down over the twenty foot cathedral windows. At first I thought I was at the Fresh Prince of Bel Aires house. Jack was huddled over on the black leather couch with his forehead in his hands as he rocked back and forth tripping out.
“Why are we here?” he asked. “Why are we here?” He kept asking except no one answered.
I was livid. I had an 11 o’clock appointment, and I wasn’t messing around. I stuck my chest out like a raging bull as my eyes glazed over with a wrath of anger.
“Where the hell are we?” I screamed as I held my fingers into a tight fist prohibiting me from breaking any of the Japanese art collection around me.
Franco continued to stare at Jack speechless. He walked out on the back deck over looking ten acres of property. I looked at Jack he looked as if he was ready to cry.
“Is this your house?” I asked.
“Yes, and I had an 8:30 meeting. I thought I was staying in a hotel. Why are we here?”
“I thought I was going home. I don’t even remember how we got here!”
“Why are we here? Why are we here?” Jack continued to repeat in tears.
“Who is this Franco guy?”
“He drives me around, and takes me out to party sometimes, but I don’t know why we are here.”
Jack didn’t remember the night either. Had that grease ball drugged us both? I didn’t understand why he wanted me to convince Jack to stay in a hotel if he was going to drug us and kidnap us back to Jack’s estate. Nothing made sense, but I knew I had to escape and get back to Manhattan. I heard the ocean. For all I knew I was hours away. I slammed open the slide and glass door.
“Take me home right now. I need to be back in the city,” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
I was far too angry to be scared at this point. France just nodded his head and looked away. Jack told him to call a cab. Franco pretended to call the cab, but forty minutes later there was still no cab.
“Listen you piece of shit, you do not want to make me mad. You low life worthless piece of shit.” Franco didn’t like what I said. He became pissed off as he glared into my eyes and said, “You don’t know who you are talking to. You better watch your mouth lady. You have no idea who I am or what I am capable of doing.”
That was it, I had enough I exploded. “Look into my eyes. I am not someone to fuck around with. I live on a farm in PA. I will cut you up in pieces and bury you on my God damn farm! I will kill you ... don’t think I won’t.”
Jack did a line of coke and came out from the great room. “We are taking her home right now,” Jack said as he tossed on a jacket. Franco didn’t seem to want to leave, but ten minutes later Jack got into the passenger seat of the limo and I got into the very back. Franco drove out of the seashell cull de sac driveway. I looked back at the mansion as two golden retrievers chased the limo. I wondered how a man who seemed so put together managed to get kidnapped to his own mansion. After that I traded nights at Saga with reruns of Will and Grace. Months later Donnie told me Franco was in jail for a number of charges. He and Jack no longer spoke because Franco charged over $50,000 on Jack’s credit card. Being kidnapped was a wake up call to get my head on straight and be more careful. I wondered how Donnie could have let Franco toss me in the back of the limo. Maybe he was tired of cleaning up my messes.
Even though I was somewhat kidnapped I am lucky I had my guardian angels watching as it could have been far worse. After all, I got kidnapped drinking champagne, tossed into a limo and woke up in a mansion. If only I had woken up next to Johnny Depp on an island, I would want to get kidnapped every day.