Cafe La Veranda
"Do you know what the best thing about The Kidnappers Private Limited were?" Philip asked. It was their eighth meeting now, and the Cafe looked more familiar than his living room.
"I'm guessing its not their name?" Kevin remarked mischeviously, smiling at the waitress. She looked cute in her white and black uniform and pony tailed hairstyle. A plate of blueberry muffins were placed on the table, followed by two cups of cappuccinno.
"No," Philip replied quickly. "How was your day?" He asked.
Kevin understood. Philip had been very particular about secrecy. They had agreed not to talk about the KPL in front of others - which, in this case included the cute waitress. He decided to continue the mundane conversation.
"Not bad. Of course, my editor is still waiting for my ground breaking article. Not sure whether I should break the bad news to him now itself."
"The bad news?" Philip asked.
"Yes. I was hoping to write about the fantastic story you'd told me. Now ofcourse, I cant, can I?"
Philip shook his head. That was another thing he had been very particular about. No publicity. Kevin had hoped to write about the KPL; he knew it would be the best piece of news published the whole year. But Philip, himself a retired reporter, knew his plans and put a premature end to it all. What ever they talked at their corner table in the Cafe, would stay between them.
"Alright, now tell me, what is the best thing about the KPL?" Kevin asked as soon as the waitress left. She had blushed when he winked at her.
"The best thing?" Philip sipped his cappuccinno. "Definitely the way they plan their kidnappings."
February 13th, KPL Apartment
Everything was ready. Tim had prepared over three jugs of his best coffee. Half a dozen packs of Marlboro cigarettes lay on the table. Four large pepperoni and two cheese pizzas were placed in the middle, next to a pile of books. Ben's Mac laptop was powered on. A mix of Coldplay, Oasis and Linkin Park played loudly from the speakers. The overhead lamps were switched on and the rest of the apartment was darkened. The main door was bolted properly.
For the next 12 hours, the Kidnappers Private Limited would have their Board meeting.
"Alright guys," Mark said, standing at the head of the table, "You know what we've got to do. And you know we hardly have enough time to do it. So let's get to work, alright?"
"I cant believe that prick! Who the hell does he think he is?" James said, sulking as he lit his cigarrete. He still hadnt got over what had happened the previous day.
"Come on James, give it a rest alright," Tim said. He always tried talking to James. He ended up hearing the same thing.
February 12th, Unknown Mansion
"Ah, Good evening gentlemen. Please, have a seat, all of you," the well dressed man said, gesturing towards the chairs in front of him. "I wasnt sure of how I could invite you to meet me here."
"So threatening was your best option?" James asked angrily.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Milner. I know Lester can get carried away some times. On his behalf, I do apologize." He glanced towards Lester, who stood near the door, still having his amused look.
"Excuse me, but why were we called here?" Mark asked, trying to sound as polite as possible.
"Well, let me start by introducing myself. I'm Hector Cotridge. You must've heard of my father, Samuel Cotridge?"
"The CEO of Cotridge Industries?" Richard asked warily. "So you're his playboy son?"
Hector smiled slightly as he folded his legs. "Yes, I'm aware of what they call me in the press these days. But by the end of this meeting, I'm sure your opinion of me will be a little different. I've called the six of you here, because of a slight complication that has arisen."
"You see, right about the time you kidnapped Herb Seigler, I was supposed to meet him to finalise - lets say, a private matter. Unfortunately, you disrupted my plans, and whats worse, you ended up killing the poor old chap."
Richard tried to protest but Hector interrupted him. "Dont worry, he wasnt a friend of mine. Merely a business partner. His death, however, does complicate many things for me. Which is why I will be needing your help."
"We're not interested," James snared, before Mark could open his mouth. He closed his eyes, feeling annoyed by James's ill advised temper.
"I'm sorry, let me rephrase that for you. I'm demanding your assistance," Hector said, his eyes narrowing with anger. The six men sitting before him knew he meant business.
Mr. Cotridge tossed a red thickly bound file onto the table in front of them.
"There are five names in that file, along with every bit of information I could find about each one of them. It's not complete, but I guess it'll help you get the job done."
"And your job, gentlemen," Hector said, buttoning his coat and preparing to leave, "will be simple enough. You have 25 days to kidnap the five men whose names you'll find in the file. Exactly 25 days. Or else." He stopped, leaving his sentence unfinished.
"You want us to kidnap these five men?" Mark asked, looking slightly confused.
"And why do you want us to do it?" Alex asked. "You could ask Charlie Chaplin here-" he pointed towards Lester, "-and he'd round them up for you."
"And what happens if we dont do the job?" James asked, anger still present in his tone.
Hector Cotridge sighed, and began straightening his sleeves, slightly annoyed at the delay.
"Firstly," he said a moment later, "Yes, I want you to kidnap these five men. And I specifically want you, because I want it to be done...in your style."
"Oh crap!" Ben muttered under his breath.
"And in case you dont get the job done," Hector continued, turning towards James, "Lester has a dozen or so photographs and video recordings of Mark and Herb Seigler floating in that pretty little pool. He might be having a few audio recordings too, I guess. Now that's something the police would like to get their hands on, wouldnt you agree?"
February 13th, KPL Apartment
Mark opened the red file, and read through the first dossier. "Alright, guys, you know the drill. Let's do this as quickly as possible."
They would plan this excatly like they'd planned the previous 18 kidnappings. It all followed a procedure. First came the basic facts.
"Name?" Ben asked, his fingers resting on the laptop keyboard.
"Alex D. Passon," Mark read out from the file.
"Damn, he's young!" Alex remarked.
Mark read out the address, followed by the details of the Kid's parents. Every kidnap victim they targeted was nicknamed the 'Kid'. It started with the first kidnapping they ever did together. Way back when they were still in college...
Once he'd finished reading the dossier, Mark looked up at the screen in front of them. The projector attached to Ben's laptop now showed a black screen with white coloured tag clouds spread around. Name, Age, Address, Parents, Money.
It was a technique Mark had picked up from his Creative Writing Professor in college. Anytime they had a problem to solve, he'd ask them to form key points relating to the problem, in the form of tag clouds.
"Hold on," Tim suddenly said, remembering something. He leaned back on his chair and grabbed a blue colored book from on of the shelves. "We'll need this!" He said excitedly as he began flipping through it.
"Oh, cmon!" James snapped, still sounding annoyed. "Tim, put that dumb book away!"
"Hey, James," Mark interrupted him curtly, "why dont you stop complaining and start thinking about a plan?"
There was a momentary pause around the table as all eyes fell on James. Only Mark could speak to him that way. Tim had an expression of slight admiration towards Mark.
"Alright, so what are we looking for," Tim asked, reading phrases out loud as he flipped the pages. "We could try The Drunken Sailor...or maybe The One - Two?"
Cafe La Veranda
"The Kidnappers devised specific plans for different types of kidnappings. And for each one of them, they gave a title, mostly inspired from Movies or famous novels. Every plan they thought of, was recorded in a book. Which made planning a new kidnapping easier. Of course, only Tim was really interested in naming these plans. The rest just humored him."
February 13th, KPL Apartment
After about half an hour, Mark realized that they weren't getting anywhere with the plan. Tim kept calling out the names of different plans, but none of them fit in. Just when he was about to call for a break, James spoke.
"Hold it. We're not doing this right," he said. He didn't sound annoyed. he sounded serious. The other five sat up straight, paying full attention to him now.
"Let's think about our Kid here for a minute. How old is he?"
"Right. So obviously he's still in college right?"
"Must be," Mark said. "Ben, find out which college he's in, what he's studying. Everything."
"Now, what are the things a 19 year old will normally be into?" James asked. "Drinking?" He continued.
"Not necessarily. It's not legal till 21, remember?" Richard said.
James ignored his remark and continued. "Drugs maybe as well."
"For God sakes, you really think a rich, clean kid will-" Richard started, but James cut him off again.
"And most importantly, women."
"Damn, are we talking about a 19 year old or a pirate?" Richard asked, looking annoyed.
Mark chuckled. "Richard's right. But we'll need to search for a possible girlfriend."
"I got something," Ben called out. "Hold on," Mark said, "now we'll need to think of other ways to get to this Kid-"
"Hey Mark!" Ben yelled.
"What?" Mark turned around, feeling annoyed. The five of them stared at the screen, staying silent for a moment.
"Sweet!" Tim exclaimed.
They were looking at Alex Passon's Facebook page. More specifically, they were looking at post that said:
Alex Passon is in a relationship with Jennifer Wilkinson. 23 Likes and 56 comments. Jackpot.
"Alright, Jennifer Wilkinson is the girlfriend," Mark dictated, as Alex made a note of it. "Now, we'll need specifics. Ben, can you get-"
He left his sentence unfinished as he saw Ben pull up the Messages page. Almost half of them were between Alex and Jennifer.
"He can hack into Facebook now?" Tim whispered softly.
"He's knows someone in the company. They help him out. Why do you think I stick with MySpace?" Richard said dryly.
"Guys, I think this is what we're looking for," Ben announced, as he opened a message. There was momentary silence as the six of them read the entire conversation between the two young lovers.
"This is good." James said quickly. No more scowling or flared tempers. Mark could see he was back to business again.
"We'll do the same thing we did four years ago, with that Mexican girl," James said, grabbing a sheet of paper. He began writing down details.
"You mean The Runaway Bride?" Tim asked.
"Exactly. The Runaway Bride!" James said, for once relieved that Tim had made names for each plan.
"Well, now technically, it'll be The Runaway Groom..." Tim said, more to himself than the others....
[To Be Continued...]