It’s very easy to kidnap somebody. I know. I did it, and got away with it.
It wasn’t done for ransom, political reasons, or rape. Hell, I’m extremely wealthy, apolitical, and get serviced regularly by a bevy of acrobatic call girls.
I did it to get satisfaction for receiving eight, preprinted, nondescript, 3 x 4 inch, generic, reject slips from those bastards at Hollybird Publishing.
I’d sent them magnificent novella manuscripts. Eight in four years. And they didn’t have the damn decency to type or write a single word on their rejections. The preprinted rejection slips they stuffed into my self-addressed stamped envelopes were barely legible. And they all said the same thing about my novellas not meeting their current needs. Damn jerks!
Before I even dreamed of kidnapping, I was pretty happy-go-lucky. Money does that. At thirty-six, I’d seen it all, been everywhere, and done it all, with one exception: I’d never written a best seller. It shouldn’t have mattered. But one day, walking into a huge library, I noticed the mountain of books. Not a single one bore my name. The thought bugged me.
As new books were added to library shelves, my frustration increased. To relieve my distress, I wrote eight, sci-fi western novellas. Masterpieces. Followed every rule of fiction. My opening sentences had gripping hooks, the kind that knock your drawers off. My descriptions were divinely inspired. The dialog was crisp, dynamic, incredibly moving.
Self-publish or use the vanity press? Nope. Anybody can do that. I wanted my creations to bubble to the top by their sheer magnificence. I wanted to inspire and change readers’ lives.
But all I got were crummy reject slips.
Enough! I’d make them pay. Principle was involved. I made a plan.
First, I added a 40 x 50 foot, luxury bedroom and bath to my estate. Installed every convenience.
Then, a few calls to Hollybird identified Ms Victoria Chubbs the Editor-in-Chief. I paid triple the going rate for a private investigator who’d keep secrets. I learned where Chubbs lived, dined, and shopped. White Plains, New York. Tavern on the Green. Macy’s. But, she’d bought groceries at Wal-Mart, ten Sundays in a row.
That’s where I snatched her.
I locked her in the new bedroom.
When the chloroform wore off, she panicked. “Where am I? What’s going on? I wanna go home.”
“There’s nothing to worry about,” I said gently over the intercom. “The bar’s full. Snacks are behind the bar. You’ll get gourmet meals. All your needs will be met scrupulously and respectfully. I’m not a rapist, or insane.”
“Please let me go.”
“After you complete certain tasks, I promise to release you unharmed, with twenty thousand dollars in your handbag. Make yourself at home. Look around. You’ll never rest your head in a more sumptuous room, and enjoy better food. Wait until you see the bathroom. Think of this as a vacation. A working vacation.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“In the desk are eight manuscripts. Each bears a rejection slip from Hollybird. Read all the manuscripts and write in longhand why they were rejected. Make suggestions for improvement. That’s all. Just that.”
“You gotta be kidding.”
“Nope. Dinner is at 7:00. Coq Au Vin. I’ll serve it through the dumbwaiter by the bar. Meanwhile, have a drink to settle your nerves.”
She looked around warily. Hopefully the fabulous surroundings and the vodka she poured would help calm her.
The surveillance camera showed her heading for the bathroom.
“I guess you’re gonna watch,” she said.
“The bathroom’s surveillance-free. I’m not a voyeur.”
Later, she ran her hand down the beautiful marble columns and exquisite tapestries. She examined paintings, and toyed with the satellite radio. She watched CNN on wide-screen, high-definition TV.
After dinner, she opened the first manuscript.
“Are you there?” she called.
“I guess I have to say everything is just peachy, or else you’ll-”
“I won’t harm you. I’ll accept your honest opinion. Let the chips fall.”
“This opening line is…well…unsatisfactory, ‘It was a dark and stormy night when Brace Brute, the ambidextrous, bi-sexual, Martian sheriff half-galloped toward the groveling town of Destiny, heading for the Bucket of Blood saloon, knowing that buried beneath was the Ark of the Covenant.’”
“Write down why you think it’s bad.”
“This description doesn’t work. ‘His nose dribbled like the anus of a horse with diarrhea.’ It’ll turn your readers off. Makes me wanna puke.”
“Don’t’ tell me everything. Write it all down.”
Four days later, all eight manuscripts had been critiqued.
After feasting on Boef de l’Orange de Mandarin, she complained of dizziness.
“A sedative was in your espresso. When you awake, you’ll be near a pay phone. Hang on to your purse; I’ve put twenty thousand dollars inside. When you return to Hollybird, burn those miserable preprinted reject slips. Henceforth, make your readers and editors handwrite comments on all rejections. Show some respect for writers.”
“But, we get hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts every day.”
“Find a way to do it. And sign them yourself. Oh, and I wanna see faster turnaround, too. Unless you’d like to return here for an extended vacation.”
She shook her head and passed out.
At midnight, I took her to a park, then called 911.
I read her critiques. What a bitch! She wouldn’t know talent if it bit her in the ass.
Four months later, I sent a fabulous 500-page pirate story to Hollybird Publishing.
After three weeks, a two-page rejection letter arrived signed by Victoria Chubbs. Her highfalutin words said my story stank.
Originally against the idea, I decided to self-published the pirate story. It was too good to leave unpublished. I donated copies to all the libraries in town. It looks good on the shelves.
I’m bored with writing.
I think I’ll compose a symphony.
"The Bastards of Hollybird"
Copyright: © 2010 Michael A. Kechula
Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His stories have been published by 128 magazines and 36 anthologies. He’s won first place in 10 contests and placed in 8 others. He’s authored three books of flash fiction, micro-fiction, and short stories: The Area 51 Option and 70 More Speculative Fiction Tales; A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales; I Never Kissed Judy Garland and Other Tales of Romance. eBook versions available at http://www.booksforabuck.com/ and http://www.fictionwise.com/ Paperbacks available at http://www.amazon.com/.