I am sitting in Julia’s car, a champagne Volvo of little value. I put Madonna on the radio. I am waiting for Julia to come back from the errand she’s running. I think she’s getting a prescription, something to make her more high-functioning. I don’t notice him when he creeps up until he’s just outside the corner of my eye. He’s black because this isn’t The Chase starring Charlie Sheen. The door is stupidly unlocked and he comes in with his gun out, ready to use it if I put up a fight. I don’t. In fact, it all seems so natural somehow. Like this is what I should’ve expected as a result of going out with Julia at all. He doesn’t say much to me, just changes the station and mutters something about Madonna being an old bitch, then leadens his foot on the gas pedal as we merge onto the Prospect Expressway. He side glances over at me every now and again, as though he wants to understand if I’m attractive or not–I don’t think he can quite figure it out. It makes me think of how, recently, when I was on the subway, a black man was ranting about the ugliness of white women, how he preferred black females with every fiber of his dick (of course, he didn’t exactly say it in those terms). Maybe my kidnapper feels the same way and wishes that it had been someone black sitting in the front seat of the car he had stolen. Or maybe he was utterly sexless in motives and just needed a vehicle to get somewhere. He still doesn’t tell me. But when we pull into the Red Hook Container Terminal, I know that things are going to take a dodgy turn. It would be the same equivalent of someone driving you to the Port of Naples to “pick something up”–you just know it’s going to be shady.
He gets out of the car, walks around to my side and motions with his 9 caliber for me to remove myself. I obey. He’s actually rather alluring, like some perfect mix of Tupac and Tyrese. This thought is literally slapped out of my mind when he hits me on the side of my head with the butt of the gun. I awake in a container with all my clothes off. I flash momentarily to the “Bitch Better Have My Money” video. I wonder if he would respect me more or less for liking Rihanna. I suppose all white girls do. I adjust my jaw a bit as I taste dried blood inside my mouth. I should never have let Julia talk me into going out. It’s simple statistics: if you leave your house, something bad will happen to you. But no, she had to insist, “Come on, Emilia, I’ll take you to Shake Shack afterward.” That fucking temptress. Now here I am, maybe about to be gang raped for an Internet porno or sold to some Russians. And I hadn’t even done anything good with my life, like love and be loved in return.
Sitting in the corner with my knees against my chest, I wait for him to come back. He is the sole source of my salvation now. My captor and my freer. I begin to wonder what his childhood was like. Did he grow up in Bed-Stuy when it was uninhabitable by people like me? Did he start off with minor crimes like drug dealing? Or was he well-educated and had simply turned to this life out of boredom–out of a need to fulfill the perception people already had of him?
Before I can contemplate his past further, he slowly opens the door to the container. He carries a plastic bag and I imagine something horrible will be in it, like hormone injections or a human head, perhaps a combination of thoughts that stem from watching The Skin I Live In and Seven back to back last week. But, to my surprise, it is two lobster rolls from The Lobster Joint. I had judged him horribly. Quietly, he sits down next to me and begins to unwrap the packaging. He also takes out a six-pack of Modelo. If this wasn’t a kidnapping, it would be the perfect first date.
“You’re wondering what I’m going to do to you.”
“I don’t know yet. I just needed the car.”
A part of me wants to tell him that stealing cars hasn’t been lucrative since the mid-90s, but I figure that isn’t my place. Maybe he knows something about the market that I don’t.
“My friend–it’s her car–she’s going to be worried about me.”
“I don’t think she is. I think she’s going to be worried you took her car.”
I stare blankly ahead as I take a bite of the lobster roll.
“Call her,” he adds unexpectedly.
Surprised, I say, “And tell her what?”
“That you needed to borrow her car and you’ll bring it back later.”
“Is that going to be the case?”
“No. It’s just to buy time.”
I submit to his suggestion, listening to Julia rant for five minutes about what a psychotic friend I am and who does that and this is the last time she’s ever taking me with her anywhere. I grit my teeth through it, unable to tell her the truth with that 9 caliber being pressed against my thigh.
When I hang up, he smiles at me. “You’re not a bad looking girl.”
“Thanks. I guess. Are you going to, um…?”
He laughs. “Ah, am I going to rape you? Would that cater to a certain latent white girl fantasy you have about black men?” He shakes his head and gets up.
“You’re just collateral damage from needing that car, Emilia.”
I don’t ask how he knows my name. Stranger things have happened. But I still yearn to know his.
“Can you tell me your name?”
“Black Guy #3.”
With that, he leaves me in the dark again. I am beginning to understand Patty Hearst in a way I never thought I would beyond her fashion sense. Maybe it’s the idea that someone would want to lock me up to keep me from leaving him. It sounds romantic to me in this light, in spite of it being pitch black.
The next morning, I rise to find him standing over me with a cup of coffee and a bagel. “Here,” he says as he thrusts it at me.
As I take the goods, I ask, “Can I brush my teeth?”
He looks from me to the pile of piss in the corner. “I guess I didn’t really think about you needing a bathroom. This is my first hostage situation.”
“I’ll get you out of here soon. I’m waiting on someone.”
“Can’t you tell me anything?”
“Solomon.” He walks away. I interpret this to mean his name is Solomon.
When he returns again, it isn’t for another two hours. That’s a lot of time to be by yourself with no distractions. And it gives me the ability to wonder what repels and attracts in terms of having amorous feelings toward someone. It’s more than Solomon’s color that has affected me. It’s that he brings me food and he’s unknowable. And being allured by someone so mysterious tells me something about myself: that I prefer a challenge. Or that I want a person who will constantly keep me on my toes. I feel like Solomon could do that.
When we’re back in Julia’s car, I’m relegated to the back seat. There is a caramel black woman in the front. She’s got long straight black hair parted down the middle and wears white jeans with a cropped top that has a screenprint of Lauryn Hill on it. I’m obviously no competition for her in my shapeless dress and Supergas. I don’t want to believe this is his girlfriend, but know that it is, which is confirmed when he reaches over and holds her hand.
We head toward the Gowanus Canal where I have no idea what they will have planned. It makes me uneasy. Being in Gowanus always makes me uneasy. Solomon pulls over near the water. He waves the gun at me, “Get out.”
I adhere to his order as his girlfriend exits at the same time. She takes out a brass knuckle that says “Bitch” on it and clocks me in the face. I float to the bottom of the bay wondering what I did wrong as a kidnappee, why Solomon betrayed me, kidnapped me at all. Then I think, “Maybe it’s because I’m white.”