Deal #3LineTales

three line tales, week 163: a special deal

The mall was closing down after forty years, having finally given into crippling debt, so all the shops that were still open were selling everything off.

Not since the first years of opening his small fast food stand, had Pablo been so busy serving hot dogs, burgers and sugared donuts, his stall was the only place left to get food in the mall now.

What would happened to him afterwards? Pablo didn’t know, those were thoughts for the future and he had always been about living in the now, so the mall was closing but there would always be hungry people to feed, he just had to go out and find them.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/03/14/three-line-tales-week-163/with thanks).

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Salt

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Doctor Roy Parker stood on the end of the pier, huddled in a huge winter coat and looking around. Everyone thought him mad to take a seaside holiday in February but he embraced it. The quietness at the out of season resort, the emptiness of the beach and town, no worries or cares, created a perfect escape from an intense twenty-four hours- seven days a week hospital job.

Resting his arms on the rotting wooden rail, Roy watched and listened to the gale force winds creating mini sand storms along the beach below. Out at sea, the wave tops were whipped into meringue peaks which then crashed onto the shore and got left behind by the large rasping, rolling salty water.

Rain started falling, fat drops plopping onto the wooden boards, the damp sand and stormy sea. Roy didn’t mind, this was nature at one of it’s wildest moments and he could just become lost in the raging weather. He balanced himself against the elements, letting them sweep everything away for a good while.

The wind became more violent, throwing sand and waves upwards to Roy. A tingle of danger went through him and the Doctor decided he’d had enough for the moment. With rain and sand grains clinging to him and sea salt the only thing he could smell, Roy finally turned away and walked back to the large dome cafe that dominated the middle of the pier.

He opened the door and was greeted by a gentle warm hug of air. Choosing a seat near a  right hand side window, Roy noticed he was the fourth customer in the cafe. Two old ladies in their seventies or eighties, sat a few tables away in the center row, were enjoying a meal. To the far left, next to a rain coated window, a young man in his twenties or thirties, sat with his eyes closed and hands around a white mug. A yellow Labrador guide dog sit at his feet, tongue lolling, face attentive.

The rest of the tables, though set for customers were empty, giving an eerily abandoned impression to the place which the weather made all the more real.

Looking towards the counter and kitchen area, Roy saw a bored teenage girl at the till putting a brownie onto a plate. Listening, he heard a soft brush of musical notes coming from the kitchen along with the smell of mingled hot food and coffee.

Roy picked up the plastic covered menu wedged behind glass salt and pepper shakers and a bottle of vinegar. He scanned the deserts and drinks list then turned the menu over to see the meals. There wasn’t a lot of choice but that wasn’t a surprise.

Meanwhile, the waitress took the brownie to the blind man and spoke to him for a few minutes. She patted the guide dog’s head. Roy got the impression they knew each other which in this small town was easy to believe. Then the girl turned, coming towards him whilst digging out a paper pad and pen from her white apron bag.

‘Hi, what can I get you?’ she asked in a fake bright voice.

‘A pot of tea,’ Roy answered.

The girl noted it down.

‘And fish and chips.’

The girl made to nod then replied, ‘if you order the special it comes with tea, bread and butter.’

‘Is that a pot or just a cup?’ Roy asked, avoiding the temptation to look at the menu again.

The waitress thought for a moment as if she had forgotten or was deciding something, ‘I can make it a pot,’ she stated and wrote on her pad again.

‘Thank you,’ Roy said.

The girl walked off and disappeared into the kitchen. Roy listened for voices but the wind, rain and sea were in storm mode and all other sounds were now blocked out. Turning to the window, Roy watched the rain pounding against the glass and clouding the view which he imagined on a nice summer day was a picturesque beach.

He was lost in his thoughts for awhile, so when the waitress appeared with his tea, Roy was slightly startled.

‘There you go,’ the girl said as she set a tea pot, milk jug, sugar bowl and cup down.

Roy thanked her as she headed back to the kitchen then looked at the mismatched and dented tea set. The poor sliver colored tea pot had seen better days, the rim of the sugar bowl was chipped and the darker sliver milk jug looked like it could fall apart. He gingerly poured the steaming tea and fridge cool milk into his tea cup.

‘Excuse me, Sadie,’ a man’s voice called loudly.

Roy looked about and saw the blind man trying to attracted the waitress attention.

‘I’ll get her for you, dear,’ one of the old ladies spoke.

‘We are leaving now, Mark,’ the second replied.

‘Thank you, Iris and Lilly. I want to leave too,’ the blind man answered, ‘the storm sounds bad, so I’m going to get a taxi.’

They both got up. The first lady, who was wearing a powder pink felt coat and had a hint of pink in her white permed hair, walked slowly to the counter. The other lady dressed in a pale blue felt coat and with blue wisps in her white hair, went over to the blind man.

Roy watched, wondering if they were twins or sisters or friends.

The waitress appeared at the counter, talked to Iris or Lilly then picked up a phone.

The old lady went back to her sister or friend and after saying goodbye to Mark and his dog, headed for the door.

Roy braced himself to feel the bite of the wind as the door opened but he was sat far enough away that he felt just a whisper of the chilly wet air. He picked up his tea and took a few sips, feeling warmth sinking into him.

The girl appeared at his side and placed two plates down, one had two slices of bread and small pot of butter, the other held his fish and chips.

‘There you are. Is there anything else you need?’ she asked.

‘No, thank you,’ Roy answered.

With a single nod, the girl swept away and over to the blind man. She talked to him, no doubt saying she had ordered a taxi.

Roy arranged the plates of food how he wanted them then put salt and vinegar on his fish and chips. He picked up his knife and folk from the white napkin and started eating. It wasn’t the best meal he’d ever had but it tasted great today. The chips had just a crunch to their outside and were soft in the middle. The fish was lightly and crispy battered, soft and tender inside. With the added salt and vinegar the whole thing came together in one celebration in Roy’s mouth.

So distracted was he, Roy didn’t noticed the blind man leaving till he felt a touch of cold. Looking up and towards the door, he saw the man going out and the waitress helping him. She closed the door and hurried through the cafe into the warmth of the kitchen.

Alone, Roy took a moment to glance around then carried on eating. The fish was tasty, though the salt was drying out his lips and he had to keep licking them. He drink some more tea to help. Unable to stop, he ate quickly, forgotten how he’d built his hungry by a morning walk in the town, then along the edge of the beach and around the pier.

He was finished before he knew it. Pouring the last of the tea, Roy hugged the cup and listened to a rumble of thunder in the distance. He looked out of the window and though it was hard to think the weather had gotten worse, it seemed just that.

Roy finished his tea and sat relaxing for a few minutes. Coldness crept over him and he felt stiff in his legs and back from the plastic chair. Perhaps, it was just his imagination but he felt a slight rocking motion.

Getting up, he went to the counter and looked for the girl. A door labeled kitchen was open in the back wall and Roy could hear radio music more clearly now.

‘Hello? he called, his voice sounding loud in the empty cafe.

‘Coming,’ the girl called back.

She appeared, trying to turn a scowl into smile.

‘The bill, please. And if it’s not too much trouble could you phone me a taxi?’

‘Here you go, the girl said and handed him a slip of paper, ‘and yes, I can. Where are you going too?’

‘To the Mermaid Hotel,’ Roy replied as he dug out his wallet.

The girl took his money and made the call. He listened as she said the address of the cafe and the hotel. She hung up the phone and turned back to him, ‘The taxi will be a few minutes and pick you up from the pier enterence.’

‘Thanks,’ Roy answered, he added a ‘goodbye,’ and went to the door.

Preparing to step out into the storm, Roy took a deep breath and opened the door. Rain that felt solid hit him and the strong wind tried to force him back. Roy wrestled with the elements, hurried out and back along the pier.

‘It is swaying!’ he cried.

Daringly, he looked over the safety rail and saw the sea waves arching upwards around the wooden supports. Imagines of the pier collapsing, the buildings crashing down and himself thrown into those violent waves flashed through his mind.

Panicked, Roy ran off the pier, slipping on the wet boards and dodging the small buildings and stalls that were dotted around. He made it safely to the enterence which was an indoor hallway connecting the street to the pier.

Huddling inside there, water dripping everywhere, Roy looked out for his taxi. A rumble of thunder made him jump then laughing loudly, Roy let all his fear go. Of course, the pier was moving! It was built to do so! How else would a wood and iron structure survive the sea? And the storm was only that and nothing to be scared over.

A red car pulled up outside, horn blaring.

Roy opened the door, walked out and got into the taxi.

‘The Mermaid Hotel,’ he said to the reflection of the driver’s face in the rear view mirror.

‘Right O,’ the driver spoke and peeled the car away.

Dear Diary, 2019

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Dear Diary,

I looked around the small kitchen, surprised at the mess a small New Year’s Eve party of people could make. There were abandoned plastic cups and glasses lying about almost the reminds of plastic plates of food.

The lingering of smell of burnt sausage rolls clung in the air. I went across and opened the window. It was almost lunchtime and the dapple of sunlight had cleared the touch of frost that had appeared around 2 or 3 AM. I touched my head, still pounding with a migraine and breathed the chilly air in.

The will to start tidying up was strong but I didn’t think my body would let me. I opened the cupboard, dug around until I found the last clean cup at the back and I got some cold water from the tap. I had all ready taken some pain killers and it was too soon to take anymore. A little food might help but I couldn’t even think about that now. I finished the water, got some more and went back up to bed.

There I snuggled back down, sipping the water and waiting to feel better. My thoughts were fuzzy at first but then I started to recall bits of the party.

Someone, probably, Annie’s boyfriend, which was just a normal thing for him, had brought a blow up sex doll and the men had all had a great time messing around with that and being rather crude. I at last had, had enough.

I took the safety pin out of the hem of my nineties themed mini dress and popped the doll and whilst Emily distracted them all by showing off her huge boobs, which was just typical of her to do something like that, especially after a few drinks and a little nudge from me.

‘Lookie here boys! Check out these real puppies!’ she had shouted then pulled the neon pink tube top she was wearing up.

Heads had turned, voices shouted in joy. I had dumped the doll back on the sofa and sneaked off.

I smiled and reflected how good that had been.

The idea of a nineties themed party hadn’t been mine but Linda’s who was still celebrating her thirtieth birthday which had been two days previously. Right now, she would be waiting for plane to take her to New York. I wish I was going on holiday! I could barely afford my rent right now though and was out of my head with trying to find a new housemate or two.

I so don’t want to think about that right now, so back to the party and what else had happened?

More people had arrived then planned, friends bring friends and people who said they weren’t coming but then did anyway! I had made sure to ask everyone to bring drinks and food with them, so we had more then enough of that.

My few drinks before everyone arrived kicked in and I shared a few cocktails with my girls. Then I served up the food and was happy to watch everyone tuck in. It was all shop brought stuff, I’d had no time to make anything but no one seemed to care.

Then there was dancing and talking and meeting people and just fun moments. Some had knocked over the Christmas tree, someone else had almost flood the bathroom by blocking the sink and letting the tap run. I think at one point someone had come in carrying a cat they had run over which actually turned out to be someone’s fluffy hat!

Getting drunk and dancing to nineties classic songs like we were teenagers again. We had been singing so loud that a few dogs had started barking their heads off! Then some sensible, probably, geeky Nicky, had turned the music off and told us the party was over.

I had felt super hungry and decided to see what food was left. I found some sausage rolls and put them in the oven. Then people had been leaving, taxis had been coming and going, everyone was hugging and kissing me, then Sally had tripped and hurt her ankle. Ice was needed then her husband said he would take her to hospital as we didn’t know if she had broken it or not. She was making enough noise for it to seem so!

Then Nicky came rushing in, ‘I think something is burning in the kitchen!’

I had spring up and rushed in to find Linda opening the oven and pulling out a tray with black stuff on it.

‘I forgot those!’ I cried.

We had laughed and Linda had thrown them outside.

I don’t remember coming to bed, but I must have done around 3 or 4 AM.

It had been a good party and a great way to start the New Year. Now, my migraine has cleared I should go and tidied up.

Dear Diary #50

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Dear Diary,

It’s officially winter today, though it feels like it’s been here for awhile, expect for the snow which I hope keeps away for longer! The weather has settled into a pattern of being wild, wet, windy, cold and getting dark so early that all but the morning daytime feels lost.

Today, I’ve been busy getting the Christmas decorations out and some of them up. The kids, now claiming they are ‘too old’ for such things took awhile to get into the mood of things but those decorations that reminded them of silly times – a school play, craft pieces, a photo on Santa’s knee, helped to get them into it.

Of course, only two sets of lights worked! So I left Danny testing them in the shed and I took Emma out to buy some more and a few other things. The shops were busy as was to be expected but we got through okay. Christmas music was playing in all the shops and it felt like everyone had suddenly got this idea that now was the time to start celebrating officially. Though TV and shops have been creeping it in since the start of last month!

Back home and more decorations to put up and it turns out I was right to replace the lights as poor Danny couldn’t fix them. I cheered him up with hot chocolate and crumpets which were so lovely in front of our still new fireplace! A fire really does add that cosy, cheery feel to Christmas. I don’t know how we coped without it before!

I made a nice stew and dumplings for tea and we watched a Christmas movie, though the kids were still tutting and spent more time on their phones/games then watching it but at least we were all together and that’s good enough for me.

Then before we came to bed, I walked around and just smiled, Christmas is truly here and it feels so good and welcome, the perfect beacon of hope in the long winter nights.

Stuck #TwitteringTales

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Santa sighed and deeply regretted eating that second mince pie. He wiggled but felt  wedged against the sooty chimney wall.

‘Misty-Bell? Sparkle?’ he called, ‘I’m stuck!’

The elves giggled and white-gold glitter drifted downwards. The chimney expanded with a swoosh noise and Santa fell into the fireplace with a bang.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/11/20/twittering-tales-111-19-november-2018 with thanks).

Dear Diary #50

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Dear diary,

I’ve been so ill today, think I’ve got food poisoning from the Halloween party. I can’t remember what I had because I also got drunk. I know that could be the other reason why but drinking has never effected me like this before.

Of course, it’s my fault because I made all the food, well, cooked the shop brought food. No one else seems to be ill or they haven’t told me yet. I just can’t think of anything I could have under cooked, I was so careful with the timings of things…I did reheat some of the food later on, I think, it was cold and everyone was still hungry. It could have been something from that.

Dean tried to make a joke of it and said I’d eaten too many sweets and cakes but then when I didn’t stop throwing up, he decided it was more serious then over eating or drinking. He and the kids seem perfectly fine, most frustrating!

Anyway, at least it got me out of tidying up and putting the Halloween decorations away! Still though, I hope this is over soon, really not the way I wanted to end a good night.

Keeping Going #WeeklyWritingPrompt

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Rory rolled over in bed and looked through the half opened curtains. The sky was trying to turn into twilight outside the windows but it was hard to noticed because the grey clouds blocked everything out. He sighed and wondered what was become of summer.

Listening, Rory could hear a few birds twittering in the distance but that faded as the rain started to drip down. He carried on watching as at first it drizzled then poured. The urge not to get up took him. His phone was only a roll to the other side of the bed away and he had his manager on speed dial.

He needed the money so badly though and he could’t offered to get fired from another job. Getting up, he went to turn on the bedroom light but as his fingers touched the switched, he remember the fuse had blown last night. He turned on the lamp instead and got ready.

Rory dressed in old jeans, his work uniform’s dark blue polar top, the matching fleece jacket and black trainers. He went into the bathroom, ran the cold water tap, which squealed in protested at being turned and scrubbed his face. He brushed his teeth then tried to flatten down his dark brown longish hair. He caught his reflection in the mirror and wished he hadn’t. He looked weeks starved with a growing brown beard and dead grey eyes.

He turned away, the tap dripping behind him and the plumbing rattling. He grabbed his bag from the bedroom and went he went down the creaking old stairs, wondering if any of his six housemates were around. The living room, dinning room and kitchen were empty. He reasoned they were still out at work or sleeping or just not being in this dumpy ex-student house.

He scrapped together some kind of meal to eat later;  three crackers, a bag of plain crisps, four digestive biscuits and an energy drink. He peered into the rusty bread bin, knowing nothing was going to be there but still hoping. There was a fresh loaf of bread, open and with two slices missing!

Rory grabbed it out, grateful someone had brought it then made a cheese sandwich and two slices of toast. Before anyone could appear to tell him off, Rory left the house via the back door.

He hurried to the bus stop, wolfing down the toast. When he got there, he tried to find a dry spot which was hard because the teenagers had broken the shelter again and there was glass everywhere. The bus was early and half empty which meant Rory could huddle in the back seat away from everyone else.

He watched the rain washing down the emergency door window and tried not to think about the next numbing twelve hours. This job he had gotten through a friend of a friend’s girlfriend was only part-time; Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in a warehouse.

Rory’s role was a picker which meant he went around with huge lists of orders and he had to take the items off the shelves to return them to the packers, who put everything in boxes with labels and shipped them off to the waiting vans for delivery the next morning.

He rang the bus’s bell to get off a few stops out of town then walked into the industrial estate. Warehouse, business buildings and car parks of all size grew around him. Large security fences around each one give the impress of a cluster of different islands each with their own secrets. Rory walked to one on the far edge, down a single road and pavement that didn’t want to end.

Entering the employees door, he clocked in then went to the bathrooms. The place was always clean and smelling of lemon. The hot water stayed hot, the hand dryer and fresh paper towels a blessing. Rory dried off and fixed himself up as best he could. He didn’t like to look scruffy even though it couldn’t be helped in his current circumstances and this job sort of give the impression that it was okay to look a little rough.

Rory got to work. He took some order forms from the stack, grabbed a huge cart and headed off down the aisle of shelving units. He liked at first to imagine that he was buying stuff for himself; a new pair of football shoes, a game console controller, a funny picture book. Some items he would wondered what he’d actually do with; a make up bag, a unicorn stuff toy, fake designer perfume. Other items, he dreamed about owning but then he started to be become numb to it.

He’d look at the list, see what item was next and collect it with no thought. When the cart was full, Rory would deliver it and the completed order forms to the packers. He would leave them to sort the items into the correct boxes and send them down the conveyor belts where more packers would place them into vans.

There was little else to his job but there was nothing he could do. Rory felt trapped, like a mouse in a cage who wanted out real bad. He was nothing more then a zombie here even though he had the brains for a better job, perhaps in an office? Nobody wanted a school drop out with a criminal record for stealing and vandalism though. Like his parents hadn’t wanted him when he had been born.

He got on with his working night then caught the first bus home in the early hours of the morning. It had stopped raining and the sky was a watery blue with a touch of yellow. Rory went up the front steps, down the side of the four floored house which once had been a pleasant family home but was now a demolition waiting to happen and to the back door.

He let himself in and rummaged around the kitchen. Someone had been to the food bank because there was a blue plastic crate on the floor filled with carry bags stuffed full. Rory had a look and found some tinned stuff; soup, beans, fish, veg and meat. There was packets of noodles, biscuits, crackers, sweets, rice and fruit. Also, washing up liquid, toilet rolls, soap bars and a surface cleaner.

Rory grabbed a tin of soup, a banana and a packet of sweets. He found a bowl and heated the soup up. Whilst he waited, he looked at the bags and though he knew he shouldn’t, for the food was meant for everyone to share, he took out a packet of noddles, a packet of rice and another tin of soup. He hide them in his bag to take upstairs with him later.

He felt better once he had eaten something warm and had some sweets. Almost, like normal again. He talked with the housemates that were in for awhile, watched some TV with them then Rory went to bed.

He undressed to his boxers, put t-shirt on then quietly took the food he had taken out of his bag. He slide a small plastic box out from underneath his bed and put the things in there. Hopefully, the mice wouldn’t get them.

Rory got into bed, feeling waves of tiredness pulling him into sleep. He felt torn about what to do tomorrow. Could he really stand another shift at the warehouse? He argued in his head about choices and ideas but he was too sleepy to really care.

Finally, Rory told himself that if he wanted to have a roof over his head and food in his belly then he would go to work tomorrow. And even though the little hope he had left was dimming everyday, he still clung to it in the hope that one day his life would change for the better.

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/06/18/weekly-writing-prompt-146/ with thanks).

Kuidaore #atozchallenge

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Kuidaore; to eat yourself into bankruptcy. 

He didn’t know what else to do now and re-living his past allowed him to feel something again. He made bookings at any restaurant he could, though some he knew lied to him about being fully booked for months. They either remembered him from all those years ago when he had given them bad reviews or they had heard about his demise and thought him out of his mind.

Well, he was wasn’t he? The dementia that had taken his wife had decided it wanted him too. He was a better fighter then her but it was hard now he was on his own. Sometimes he thought about contacting his daughter again and making things right but the pain was too much. So instead, he looked up the newest places to eat and phoned them.

‘Byon’s, how can I help?’ asked the cheerful male voice.

‘Can I have a table for one for tomorrow around half past six?’ he said.

‘Yes, you can. What’s your name, please?’

‘Mr Higgson,’ he replied, trying to hold back a chuckle. Giving false names was his new way to get in.

‘That’s booked for you, thank you.’

‘Thanks.’

Hanging up the phone, he jotted it down in his diary and looked up another place to phone for the next night.

‘Hello, The White Rabbit pub,’ said a tried woman’s voice.

‘I’d like to book a table for two, please,’ he said.

That was his other trick, to book extra seats and then say that person or them weren’t coming but he still wanted to eat.

‘For when?’ the woman asked.

‘Friday lunchtime, around half one.’ he answered.

‘Yes, we can fit you in. Name?’

‘Mr Higgson.’

‘I’ll book that in.’

‘Thanks,’ he said and hung up the phone.

He wrote that down under Friday then leaving the diary open on his desk, turned to his old PC. A document was open on the screen and he had been typing up his notes from yesterday’s meal.

The Toad At The Hall Inn is a most pleasant place though it would be even nicer if dogs and children were banned. My meal which I shall describe shortly, was constantly interrupted by loud barking and crying. Also, there is the constant arriving and departing of hikers, cyclists and drivers, making relaxing in this ‘cosy countryside’ place hard. 

Looking at an open notebook, he re-read his scrambled notes then carried on typing. He worked on his review for another twenty minutes then he needed the bathroom. Getting up on cramped knees, he hobbled to the bathroom.

The phone rang whilst he was in there. He didn’t bother hurrying, the answer machine would get it and it was probably only a cold caller anyway. Gone were the days when, the editors, colleagues, friends and chiefs would phone him to suggested this or that place, to give praise about his latest review or remind him of a deadline.

Who was that ringing him?

He came out and picked up the phone. It stop ringing and there was a dial tone. They had hung up. With a shrug, he wondered what he had been doing. His thoughts had wandered, a bad thing to let happen. He looked around, hoping something would remind him, when nothing came in went into the living room and put the TV on.

There was a daytime cooking show on. It jogged his memory, I must phone those other restaurants and get some more money, he thought.

It was really only food, travel and bills he spend money on now. Well, what was left of it….He had gotten through most of his savings now but what else was he going to spend his money on? And what did the money matter, it was the food that counted! The food was the most important thing!

Speaking of, what was he doing right now? He glanced around, unsure then got up.

‘I should phone those other restaurants,’ he said and hobbled back to his desk.

Postcard #42

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Dear Lucy,

Please ignore the picture on the front. It’s an old postcard I had to dig out of my stash! This is a sign of how bad things are becoming down here. The weather has slowed delivers coming in and only wants needed has been arriving. The shop is sold out of almost everything and the village council are handing out supplies.

I have been raiding my chest freezer and finding all the wild berries, fruits etc we picked over the years. Knew they’d be handy some day, but not like this! Don’t bother to send anything, it won’t get through as they have stopped all personal packages and none important mail. I’m sneaking this one out!

All the best, Vernon.

Post It Note #42

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New Year’s Resolution;

Eat all you want.

It’ll be harder for anyone to kidnap you ever again.