In high school, my friends and I would do this thing: kidnap each other. Now, I am not talking about real kidnappings. I am talking about picking up a friend and just driving somewhere. It was hilarious and exhilarating. Here is the story of my very first kidnapping:
Her first mistake was getting in the car. I looked over at my partner in crime and grimaced. We locked the doors and turned the music up. I had never kidnapped anyone before.
EVANSTON - 7:00 P.M.
We were quick to get out of Evanston, a town she was all too familiar with. The 7-11 where slurpees were slurped before reaching the register, the graveyard that we totally never snuck into ever, the Steak ‘n Shake that embarrassingly meant more to us than, well, a lot of things; all of these comforts were gone. This made me smile.
I don’t know how it made her feel.
WRIGLEYVILLE - 7:35P.M.
Wrigleyville came sooner than expected. “Rude,” by MAGIC! fit the mood perfectly. She kept asking questions like, “where are we going?” and “do you even know where we are?” She lucked out. Wrigley Field suddenly came into view. It was weird to see the stadium so empty. There was no sea of blue, no scammy scalpers, no already-drunk middle aged men. We kept driving.
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WRIGLEYVILLE & IRVING PARK - 7:50P.M.
My partner in crime changed the radio station to an LGBTQ+ talk show. We listened to a man discuss his package with alarmingly intrigued callers. All three of us laughed so hard we cried. I did not stop her when she changed the radio. I rolled down the windows and drove on, Christian rock blaring as we made our way to who-knows-where Illinois.
Clark St. was the name of the street we were on. She says we were on it for an hour but it was really only 45 minutes. I guess you lose track of time when you’re being kidnapped.
A right turn brought us onto W Belmont Avenue.
W BELMONT AVENUE - 8:35P.M.
Nothing really happened while driving on Belmont, which is funny because most things happen on Belmont. It was too late to go shopping and there was no way I was letting her out of the car--she might escape. We did not risk it.
IRVING PARK CEMETERY - 8:50P.M.
Somehow we ended up on Irving Park Road. A sigh of relief sounded from the back seat as she read the familiar street sign. Looking into the cemetery, we gasped. A woman was standing motionless, clutching a lit candle. She was dressed in all black, her hair neatly in a bun. The car suddenly felt cooler. I reached to turn off the air conditioning to find that it hadn’t been turned on. She was scared.
SCHILLER PARK - 8:57P.M.
One long street ran through the center of town. It was one of those places that always had fairs and markets and parades going on. One banner read, “Village Car Show & Family Fun Day.” We passed a sign for Chicago O’Hare International Airport. I heard a gulp from the back seat. My partner in crime quieted her.
O’HARE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - 9:03P.M.
“Rude,” by MAGIC! was playing again. We drove around the airport, torturing her with the prospect of flying out. How easy it would be to just go somewhere. The thought lingered. We left after one circle.
TACO BELL - 9:30P.M.
We couldn’t tell if she was really upset with us, or if she was just being dramatic. It’s not like we were actually kidnapping her. Her refusal to stop at Taco Bell answered my question. She usually loves going to fast food joints at night--maybe if it was Steak ‘n Shake...
ANOTHER TACO BELL - 10:00P.M.
“No,” she said.
ANOTHER TACO BELL - 10:15P.M.
“No,” she said, more sternly.
ANOTHER TACO BELL - 10:35P.M.
I didn’t say anything.
IHOP - 11:15P.M.
She wanted to go to IHOP. I only agreed because I myself was starving. Google said it was open 24 hours but when we got there it was closed. She turned to us and said, “Screw it. We’re going to Taco Bell.”
HER HOUSE - 12:00A.M.
Midnight, just as we had planned. She tried the handle and was surprised to find it unlocked. We waited until she was safely inside before leaving. I looked over at my partner in crime and grimaced. I locked the car and turned the music up.
My next victim was almost too easy.