True Story©… Get In The Van!


     I know I say this a lot here lately, but…  Humble brag: I am in what is among the best shape of my adult life.  This will matter to this story in just a moment.

     As it got colder, I retreated my workouts into the garage on the cycle, then eventually to spreading it out over the course of the days, usually in 15-minute increments between tasks at work right here in the office.  Last week it was unseasonably warm, so I decided to gear up and hit the road a bit for my walk/run intervals as I did over the summer at 5:15 in the morning.
Having lost over 60 pounds, I am still not a “small” person at 5’8” and a recently-more-muscled 210ish pounds these days, people tend to not bother me.  Perhaps it is the big headphones I wear while I am out, but people nod at me or throw a peace sign and keep moving.

  I’m rambling…

     So it is last Tuesday…  I am out and on the road, two and a half miles in, elbows deep into the podcast I am listening to when a car – a van actually – approaches from my left and slows down.  I figure they’re asking for directions or some shit.  It is weird that they’re doing this still an hour and a half from sunup.

     Y’all know I LOVE dogs, right?  It might be abnormal to the point of unhealthy, but there is something about them that is more loveable to me than most humans are.
  especially the baby ones.

     So this van approaches me on my left and comes to a stop.  I remove one side of my headphones and address them…

Me: “Can I help you?”

Driver: “I’m kinda hoping you can.”

Me: “Whatcha need?”

Driver: “Well see…  I went out to warm up the van this morning an didn’t realize that my wife had left the puppy out of her crate and she--…”

Me: “A PUPPY!!!”

Driver: “…  she zoomed right out of the door right behind me and now I can’t seem to find her.”

Me: “A puppy is in peril!?”

Driver: “I see you’re out here walking and wanted to know if you might have seen her?”

Me: “If I had seen a puppy, I would be scratching tummies, not walking right now.”

Driver: “So you’ll help me find her?”

Me: “Sure!”

     I hopped in the front seat, he puts the van in gear and drives off…  Instead of turning into the neighborhood(s), which would suggest that we were looking for the dog.  I say this knowing from the one time one of my dogs got out, he didn’t scurry for the main roads but just kinda wandered the neighborhood and came home an hour later.
Instead, he drives straight up the road I was on full-ass speed and slows down as if he will be turning onto the highway.

Me: “Where the fuck are we going?”

Driver: “We’re going.”

Me: “Yes, but where!?”

Driver: “You’ll see soon enough.”

Me: “There isn’t a puppy is there?”

Driver: “HA!!! What puppy?”

Me: “The puppy you--…  Motherfucker, not again!”

     The van doors had locked automatically as soon as we went over 20mph, and the window and lock switches had been modified at every position other than the driver’s seat…  This was not his first rodeo.  I tried to reach for my phone and contact my wife or authorities or SOMETHING, but I am still dealing with the fact that I switched from another brand to Google Pixel last year and my effortless and undetectable ninja phone skills are foiled by the need to have eyes on my phone to unlock it and navigate to--…

Driver: “Yeah, I’ll take that.”


     So here I am, tricked into a van going God-knows-where to do god-knows-what with god-knows-who.  My phone has been confiscated, I MIGHT have been worried about being late to work if I hadn’t taken the day off for mental health/PTO burnup reasons.
My next point of worry is what happens when/if this motherfucker calls my wife for ransom.  In the stress and worry of the moment, I lost track of where we were when he turned into a neighborhood I am ABSOLUTELY unfamiliar with.

     Oh…  Wife Person™ 
She knows when I am off work and I head out for a workout, that I may not be back by the time she leaves for work so she is none the wiser that anything is amiss.  She knows the coffee will be ready when she gets up and that I will take care of the boys when I get back.

     So we’ve arrived to a house and I am being held.  My phone has been taken and I don’t have a fuckin’ CLUE where I am.  He sits me in a chair and gives me a bottle of water.

[Phlip note: well at least he isn’t some kind of a savage]

     He was in the other room trying to get into my phone, I gather to call whomever I last contacted or to post on The BookFace that he had me and to negotiate the terms of my return.  He comes into the room with me.

Me: “Why are you doing this?  You just wasting your time!”

Kidnapper: “Unlock it.”

Me: “If you call my wife at work, she gon’ fuck me up--…”

Kidnapper: “Unlock it, or I’m gonna fuck you up.”

Me: “I’m telling you, you’re wasting your time!”

Kidnapper: “We’ll see…  unlock it!”

Me: “Fine.”

     I unlock my phone, he looks at the screen, says “beautiful family” and proceeds to go to my call log, calling the last numbers I had conversed with.  As luck would have it, Christmas plans have had me on the phone with Wife Person™ more than normal, so luckily/unluckily she was the last one on the log.  He called her and put it on speaker, I gather because he knew she might need proof that he had me.

Kidnapper: “Why ain’t she answering!?”

Me: “Because!  She loves me, but she doesn’t particularly like me!”

Kidnapper: “What?”

Me: “Not enough to answer the phone when I call in the middle of the day, unless it is some kind of emergency.”

Kidnapper: “Well what if it is an emergency?”

     As if cued by that question, my phone started ringing…

Me: “You get 20 seconds to answer that before she hangs up and sends a mean text.”

He answers and puts it on speaker

Kidnapper: “Hello?”

Wife Person™: “Why are you calling me, you know we got testing today--…”

Kidnapper: “I have him, how much is he worth to you?”

Wife Person™: “What?  Who is this?”

Kidnapper: “It is the man who has your husband…  How are we gonna handle this?”

Wife Person™: “You did the puppy thing again, didn’t you?”

Kidnapper: “Huh!?”

Me: “Mimi, I didn’t--…”

Wife Person™: “Shut up, Phillip!”

Kidnapper: “Wow”

Me: “I told you, asshole, you’re wasting your time!”

Kidnapper: “Shut up, you!  What are we willing to do to get him back in one piece?”

Wife Person™: “I’m not doing this again…  Keep him, you’ll get sick of him soon enough.”

Kidnapper: “AGAIN?!!? What do you--…”

     She hung up the phone.

I told this dumb ass it wasn’t worth it and he was wasting his time.

Me: “Now you done went and made my home life difficult.”

Kidnapper: “Did she really just hang up on us?”

Me: “I told you she doesn’t like me.”

Kidnapper: “You okay, bro?”

Me: “I’m in therapy every other Tuesday…  I’ll deal.”

Kidnapper: “So what do we--…”

Me: “Can I go?”

Kidnapper: “No, we’re gonna--…”

Me: “DON’T RAPE ME!!!”

Kidnapper: “WHAT?  EWW…”

Me: “I’ll discuss that comment with Phil next Tuesday.”

[Phlip note: Phil is my therapist…  Because he might be reading this, HI PHIL!]

Kidnapper: “Dude”

     Uncomfortable with the silence, he turns on a television dead in the middle of the daytime talk show block.  Steve Wilkos, Maury Povich and Judge Jerry reruns…
Not to let y’all know any more than you don’t already know about me, but I spent the first year and a half of Covid watching these VERY shows every day, in my home by myself.  Furthermore, while I am ALSO fully comfortable with silence that might unnerve others, I am also annoyingly vocal when I get nervous and THAT is when the “fun facts” start coming out.  As I had already seen the episodes showing, I was non-fucking-stop and my nervousness was just fuel to the fire

Kidnapper: “Damn dude, you really LIVE like this?”

Me: “Whaddyamean?”

Kidnapper: “Your wife ain’t gon call back?”

Me: “Fuck no, dude…  and my dogs still need to be let out, can I go?”

Kidnapper: “You ain’t got no other family you can call?”

Me: “That would answer the phone?  Only my brother but--…”

Kidnapper: “… cool, we can call him.”

Me: “I see you had ONE gun…  Do you want to die in here today?”

Kidnapper: “Huh?”

Me: “If you call my brother, your house will be a war zone.”

Kidnapper: “So, what do I--…”

Me: “Give me my phone and let me walk out that door.”

     It fell on deaf ears…  Heeding my warning that my brother would come strapped and ready to expel some ammo – probably with friends – he didn’t even entertain that thought again.  Instead, he gave me a dry-ass turkey sandwich and another bottle of water and turned to Catfish on MTV.

     To quote the late poet Laureate Tupac Shakur, “punk trick, what a dumb move!”
Why?  I LITERALLY watch Catfish every day, I have seen every episode (except the one on my TV right now) at least twice.  It was like he was trapped in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 with my commentary on the goings-on at every single little occurrence.  My opinion on the antics of the people on the show.

Me: “Dude…  with titties like that, this girl got NO business getting catfished.”

Apparently THAT was the one that broke him.  Now he had gotten up and opened the front door.  He was standing there with my phone.

Kidnapper: “Dude…  get the fuck out.”

     Sheeeeeeeid….  You ain’t gotta tell me twice.  I went outside and walked down the block a touch to see if I could find a main road, and with it a gas station as a landmark.
No dice…  I opened maps and pinpointed my location and called my mom…

Me: “Mommy, I need you.”

Mom: “Did you run out of gas again?”

Me: “No…  I got kidnapped.”

Mom: “HAH!!!  They’d just bring you back when you got to talking!”

Me: “Well…  they kinda did.”

Mom: “Huh?”

Me: “He kicked me out and now I need a ride home.”

Mom: “Wow…  Where are you?”

Me: “I’mma send you the location.”


     I texted her the address and sat on the curb.  She arrives about 30 minutes later and shook her head, judgingly, as I told her the story on the way home.

Wife Person™ took three whole business days to speak to me for letting this shit happen to me again.  The worst part is that I can offer no promises that a puppy might not cause me this kind of stress again.


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