by Donald Schneider
The man sat on one of the twin beds watching his young captive squirming in a futile attempt to free himself from his bonds. It didn’t seem to occur to the boy that even if he managed to get loose, he was still trapped inside the motel room with his armed abductor. The man had expected this. He remembered the kid as having been extremely hyperactive and being bound like this must be terribly frustrating for him.
The boy’s white tee shirt and blue dungarees were already damp with perspiration, partially the result of his jerky and incessant movements, and partially from the anxiety he would naturally feel finding himself suddenly helpless and at the mercy of a complete stranger. It couldn’t be helped, and it wouldn’t be for much longer anyway.
He didn’t mean to cause the youngster any more trauma than what had been absolutely necessary. He had known all too well that the boy had severe claustrophobia, and he had thus discarded his original plan of renting a car and placing the bound child in the trunk for the ride to the motel. He had opted for a van with a windowless cargo compartment instead. He had been afraid that the kid would become hysterical locked inside a car trunk, and his abductor couldn’t cope with that. Besides, the van had proven more practical for his purposes.
His plan had gone off without a hitch. He was now past the most dangerous part, the actual snatch of the twelve-year old. He had remembered well the boy’s habits and knew that the kid had always been a finicky sleeper. During the summer, Bobby would habitually be the first kid up in his neighborhood. On fair days, after his parents and older brother had left for work, he would walk the block to the public schoolyard and shoot baskets by himself, impatiently waiting for his playmates to join him for stickball, their summertime recreational staple.
At nine-thirty that morning, the child’s soon-to-be abductor had driven the van to the schoolyard and parked it next to the sidewalk adjacent to the yard. Just as he had hoped, he saw a solitary boy in the yard shooting baskets, a boy who looked just about the right age.
The man looked at the youngster through the passenger side window for some moments, studying him intently. He simply couldn’t tell by the face, not for certain. The boy was skinny as he had remembered and perhaps slightly small for his age. His hair was the dirty blond that he had expected, having darkened somewhat from the golden blond it had once been. He thought the chances were very good that he had the right kid.
Nonchalantly, the man got out of the van and walked to its rear and opened the two doors, which swung opposite each other. He unfolded a street map of Philadelphia and spread it out on the floor of the van. He made a pretense of looking at the map for a minute or so and noted that both vehicular and pedestrian activity was light. School was closed for the summer, of course, and it was now well past rush hour.
Still, there was always a danger of someone noticing the anticipated abduction. In this old-fashioned neighborhood, people not only kept their inner doors open all day during the summer, but also left their screen doors unlocked so that kids could come and go from play without the need for keys or constant knocking. Few of them had air conditioners. He had to work smoothly and rapidly. There was no room for bungling errors. Much of his plan concerning the actual abduction depended upon what he knew, or thought he knew, about the boy and how he would react.
Accordingly, he finally walked slowly over to the five-foot high chain link fence that separated the yard from the sidewalk. The youth was still shooting baskets and didn’t seem even to notice his presence. Despite all his preparation for this very moment, it was with some anxiety that he said to the boy in a raised voice, “Hey, kid! I’m lost. Can you give me directions to the airport?”
The man knew that such a ploy would be met with immediate suspicion in his own neighborhood, with parents having warned kids about just such a clumsy device. But here he knew kids received no such cautions. Indeed, such matters were never discussed or even thought of. He smiled to himself when he thought of such innocence, now so foreign to his own experiences.
As expected, the kid immediately scooped up his basketball and actually ran over to him. Not only would the youngster not be suspicious, he would be eager to help if he could. Such would make him feel important. The boy’s voice took him aback some. It still seemed strange to hear the girlish tenor of it, though he had thought that the kid’s voice wouldn’t change for well over a year yet.
The youngster answered in a characteristically nasal Philadelphia accent, “You’re on the opposite side of the city, mister.”
The man noted the “mister” with pleasure. The kids here would be respectful to adults from long years of example and training by their parents and teachers. He responded, “I know that. Could you please help me find the way on a map?” He added, pointing to the blue Chevy van, “I have one in my van right there.” He hadn’t offered the kid money. He knew that would be not only unnecessary here but might even seem odd.
“Sure,” said the boy eagerly, as he put his hand on the top of the fence, which was almost as high as he was. The man was amazed, and somewhat envious, as he watched the youth hop the fence with a boyish grace and agility so long alien to his body, now pushing fifty. The boy had even done so with one hand, holding his basketball with the other.
“Thanks. I’m Mr. Schultz,” the man said in a friendly tone. He knew this would get a reaction from the kid, unless he had been horribly mistaken. He saw the boy’s pale blue eyes widen.
“Hey, that’s my name!”
“Well, what a coincidence!” the adult concurred. “And what’s your first name?”
“Bobby. Well, Robert, actually.”
There was no mistake. This was the right kid. Still, looking into the boy’s face, he felt some degree of doubt. For one thing, the child seemed much better looking than he had expected. His features were regular and quite comely, his skin clear and smooth. Indeed, if the boy would put on a few pounds, he thought he would be outright handsome. Somehow, he hadn’t expected that. He had pictures of the boy, of course, but he had never thought of him as good looking. He decided to remove any doubt he might have.
“Well, Bobby,” the man paused for a moment reflecting how odd it sounded to his ears having added the boyish “by” to “Bob,” before continuing, “maybe we’re related. What are your parents’ names?”
He answered, “George and Mary. And my brother’s name is John.” He added helpfully, “John’s three years older than me.”
As if still not satisfied, the man asked, “And where do you go to school? What grade are you in?”
“St. Matt’s, er, Matthew’s. I’m going into seventh,” the boy responded.
There could be no doubt now. “Well, I guess it is just a coincidence. I don’t know of any relatives with those names, and I’m not from around here anyway. ‘Schultz’ is a common German name, after all,” the adult noted.
“Well, I’m half Irish. My mom’s name used to be Gallagher.”
The man had to quickly bite off his almost delivered reflexive response of, “I know.” Ironically, the boy’s Nordic appearance, which the Nazis would have delighted in, didn’t stem from his paternal side. His father’s people had been Southern German and had been dark. Instead, Bobby’s blue eyes, fair hair and complexion came from his mother’s side. Now that he looked at him, the man began to realize what a very picture the boy was of his mother. He had never really noticed that before.
On a whim, the adult responded, “But your name is Schultz. Sprichst du Deutsch?”
The boy responded slowly and haltingly, but with a surprisingly good Bavarian accent; perhaps better than his own, the man thought. “Nur ein bisschen, mein Herr. Nur das, was ich von meinen Großeltern gelernt habe.”
“Du solltest es auf der Schule lernen. Du hast schon einen Anfang gemacht und wirst flüssig, ehe du es weißt. Es ist von Wert, eine zweite Sprache sprechen zu können, und es ist die Sprache deiner Vorfahren, Bobbi.”
“Vorfahren?” the boy repeated, not comprehending.
“Ancestors,” the adult translated before the boy nodded.
“I sure appreciate your help, Bobby,” the man said, saying the boy’s name somewhat more naturally now. “Come over here and see if you can figure out on the map what’s the best way to go, okay?” he asked gently.
Bobby walked to the back of the van and bent over to study the map that lay spread out on the floor. The man positioned himself behind the unsuspecting youth, glancing hurriedly up and down the street, across it, and back at the yard. After a few seconds, when he noticed no one and no car within sight, he thought to himself, “Now or never.” He slowly positioned his hands behind the boy’s stooped over shoulders and suddenly and firmly grabbed hold of him just below his armpits. The man took a deep breath and, with as fluid a motion as he could manage, propelled the boy forward with sufficient force to lift and toss him into the van. He then jumped into the van behind his doubtlessly astonished victim and rapidly closed the doors. Now came the critical few moments.
The force of his assault had rolled the boy almost over on his behind. The basketball had bounced around within the interior for a few moments before settling by the boy’s feet. At first, the youngster looked to be in shock, not completely comprehending what was happening to him, let alone why.
The abductor glared into the child’s widening eyes with as menacing a look as he could muster. In fact, he had even practiced beforehand. He had to have the boy sufficiently terrified of him to garner some degree of enforced composure from the kid. In what he hoped was an equally menacing tone of voice, the man ordered, “Just keep quiet and do what I tell you and you won’t get hurt. Understand?!”
Recovering sufficiently from his initial bewilderment to begin to comprehend the situation, Bobby started to plead in a rising voice, “Please!”
“I said to shut up!” the kidnapper growled, or tried to. He had remembered how high-strung the kid was, and he was worried about a wave of panic so overcoming the boy that the man wouldn’t be able to cope with the situation. He then pulled out the quite menacing looking .38 revolver and ordered, “Lie on your stomach and cross your hands behind your back. Now!”
The youngster’s reaction to the gun was exactly what he had hoped it would be. A wave of sheer terror came across the child’s face, as he speechlessly complied with the demand. The gun hadn’t been loaded, of course. He couldn’t take the slightest chance of an accidental shooting. The weapon was just insurance. Although much taller and heavier than the boy, he wasn’t certain that he could manage to tie the kid’s hands if he resisted. He had been a heavy smoker for all too many years. His stamina wasn’t what it once had been, he had known all too well.
The abductor worked as fast as he could, but not without the deliberation he had prepared himself for. He was a novice in such affairs and had never tied anyone up before. He had been so naïve about such matters that he had dismissed his initial idea of trying to buy handcuffs, fearing that the slender youth’s wrists would be so thin that he would be able to slip through the cuffs. It hadn’t been until afterwards that, as a result of a chance encounter with a childhood friend who was now a cop, he had discovered that handcuffs were adjustable and could accommodate virtually any size wrist. So rope it had to be, but he hadn’t been certain of the correct way to use it. Having come so far, and with so much at stake, he wanted to leave as little to chance as possible.
With this contingency in mind, he had recently, for the first time in his life, entered a porn shop, hoping to find some sort of “how-to” book explaining how to securely tie someone up. To his amazement, he had actually found just such a book in the shop’s “bondage and discipline” section. As he looked through the book, which gave instructions on the proper way to tie someone’s hands (among a great many more helpful tips for sexual deviants), a shudder of disgust ran through him. But the book included directions on exactly what he needed to do, so he bought it and hurried out of the shop fearing that someone he knew would see him there. “What a sick world we live in,” he had thought as he made his exit as inconspicuously as possible.
He used a piece of nylon rope to tie the boy’s hands in accordance with the book’s diagram, tying the ends together with a square knot, which was about all he remembered from his Boy Scouts days. He had tied the boy’s hands tighter than he would have liked, but he simply couldn’t take a chance on the kid getting loose before he was ready.
The kidnapper quickly bound the boy’s ankles with another piece of nylon rope and used an excess length to secure the youth’s feet to a stand holding a spare tire, thus preventing his captive from crawling around within the van in an effort to escape. The man then reached for the homemade gag he had fashioned, also from instructions in the book.
The boy was now lying relatively still, more out of terror, the man thought, than any sense of calmness born of acceptance. He had remembered the kid all too well to have expected anything else. Terror would have to do for now. As he gagged the boy, an odd thought ran through his mind. He didn’t have the slightest fear that the child would try to bite him. He knew from experience that around here boys were taught and expected to be boys and, likewise, girls to be girls. He knew that the boy wouldn’t be able to overcome his social conditioning, not even in this extreme situation. Bobby knew that boys didn’t bite or scratch. Likewise, neither did “big” boys like him cry. No matter how terrified the youngster certainly was, the man would have been astonished to have seen actual tears streaking down the boy’s cheeks. He hadn’t been surprised, or disappointed, despite his recollection of the child being so high-strung.
He finished tying the gag tightly around Bobby’s mouth, knotting it behind the lower part of the back of the youth’s head. The kid immediately began to make a gasping sound, but seemed to be breathing sufficiently through his nose. Finally, the kidnapper threw the outsized blanket he had purchased over the boy and climbed back to the driver’s seat.
He didn’t start the van, though. Instead, he stepped out of it, locking it behind him. He gave a quick look around and noticed nothing amiss. He crossed the street and, as planned, stood on the corner as if waiting for a bus; keeping his eyes on the van and one hand in his suit jacket pocket, firmly gripping the device he had developed that would ensure his rapid escape if anyone had noticed his abduction of the boy.
He waited five minutes and saw no one approaching the van or looking at it with any degree of suspicion. Satisfied that he had accomplished the kidnapping cleanly, he walked back and got into the van, glancing behind him where his captive lay. He saw the blanket moving in rapid, jerky motions. He growled again, “Lie still!” Then softening some, he added, “We’re going for a short ride. I am really not going to hurt you, Bobby, and I promise I will take you home in time for dinner. Just be calm and you’ll be fine. I just want to talk with you about something. Okay?”
The movements beneath the blanket seemed to subside somewhat by way of response, as well as the kid’s gasping noises. The gag seemed to greatly irritate the child, which his abductor regretted.
The last real hurdle was at the motel. He still had to get his captive inside his room unobserved. He had purposely picked out a dive, somewhat off the beaten track in a suburb, though only a thirty-minute drive from the city. The motel had only a dozen rooms, six each to a side across a parking lot. After driving up, he crawled back to check on his captive. He lifted the blanket up and inspected the boy’s hands. The kid was no closer to freedom than when he had first tied him. The whacko who had written the B & D book was apparently quite adept within his peculiar field of interest, though he wouldn’t be getting a fan letter from his latest student.
Author’s note: German translations courtesy of
Copyright © 2006 by Donald Schneider