Wake Up, Hero
You awake to the sound of the phone ringing.
You hear a man’s voice. It is muffled. “We’ve got Julia.”
Your head is cloudy with a dream. “Who?”
“Julia, the girl you went out with last night.”
Julia, yes, the girl you met at the restaurant the other day. Pretty Julia, with whom just last night you had a delightful first date, followed by a promising first kiss.
“Julia. Yeah. She’s great.”
“We have her.”
“Okay.” The dream recedes. “Wait, what do you mean?”
The voice says, “We have kidnapped your girlfriend. If you ever want to see her again—”
“Whoa, she’s not my girlfriend,” you say. “I just met her. I mean, I had a good time with her and all, but I wanna take it slow with this one, I think.”
“We understand,” the voice says. “But she’s new to the city, and presently, you’re all she has. If you ever want to see her again, I suggest you do as we say.”
She’d mentioned over drinks that she had just moved from Chicago, but it didn’t hit home to you then that she probably has nothing going on for herself yet. Which means she’ll be counting on you to be her tour guide and the whole thing will probably get way too serious way too fast. And now you’re expected to save her from kidnappers? You might as well just move her into your place and be done with it.
“Look,” you say. “Have you told her that you called me?”
The voice asks, “What difference does it make?”
“Well,” you say. “If I were to pass on saving her and someone else took care of it, or if your plot was foiled by the cops, then I might still be able to see her again without us having this whole you saved me from kidnappers thing forcing us into something really serious.”
The voice sighs. “She gave us your number.”
“Do you want to talk to her to prove that she’s all right?”
“No!” you shout.
The voice speaks more softly. “Look, she heard me ask that. Don’t be a dick. I’m gonna put her on.”
Your spirit plummets as you listen to the phone change hands.
She’s crying. “I’m so sorry about this. I know it’s weird. But honestly, they called everyone else and I had to get them in touch with somebody.”
“It’s okay,” you say. “I understand.”
“I just don’t want you to think I’m rushing things,” she says, panting. “I like you and all. But I’ve let things get too serious too early on in my past relationships, and I really wanted to take it slow with you. It’s just that they’ve got guns.”
There’s a rustling as the phone changes hands again.
“Do you want to see Julia again, or not?”
It was a good kiss. “What do you want me to do?”
“Give us fifty thousand dollars by tomorrow or we’ll blow her head off,” the voice says. “We’ll call again at midnight with further instructions.”
If you want to go and ask your parents if you can borrow fifty thousand dollars from them, go to page 173.
If you want to have sex with your ex-girlfriend, consider getting back together with her, then think better of it, go to page 183.
YOU ARE A MISERABLE EXCUSE FOR A HERO! Copyright © 2008 by Bob Powers. Illustrations copyright © 2008 by Stephen Gardner. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.