The Kidnapping by Ann Stewart McBee
Associate fiction editor Matt Weinkam on today's story: “The Kidnapping” is a covert operation. Like the infidelity it describes, the story is full of secrets and disguises, of pleasure and pain. Every sentence tells us something new, hides a horrible truth behind it. The characters may hurt one another but we are left to interpret the scars.
I like to tell people I am CIA--that the hot pink scar on my cheek was made by a close-flying bullet and not the mishandling of a curling iron. He likes to say he is a double agent, a communist spy, an Al Qaeda operative. He pretends convincingly to speak Korean. But guns abhor him. Ever since I confessed to buying one, he’s been following me. I finally pull over at a sleepy side street, and he stops his Jetta behind me. Like my husband, he too has a beard, which makes me feel more guilty, not less, for the way I inhale him so deeply. His eyes are agitated, flashing and quivering like butter turning brown in a pan. He stutters. He’s the picture of emergency, of the sense of being almost too late. I walk around and slide into the passenger seat. He tells me to call my husband and let him know I’ll be late. But when the phone emerges, he pries it from my hand and stuffs it into a padded envelope, already addressed.
My phone lies under piles of hastily-paid utility bills, birthday cards, and sad manuscripts as I am resting against his chest in the bathtub, his hand between my legs in the tepid water. It is sifted this way and that by a tired, spectacled woman in uniform who will soon lose her weekend hours as I am waking up sore, clutched like folded laundry in his arms. It fights for space in a plastic bin as I am buying the video game for my husband, turning naked for him so he can scan my body for love marks, wincing against the scalding vice of his fingers. It jostles about in a comically square truck as I am lying, sifting, fighting, jostling for the ring that will not be heard.
Ann Stewart McBee was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She earned her PhD in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she still teaches undergraduate composition and creative writing, and served as an editor for cream city review. Her work has appeared in Ellipsis, Untamed Ink, So to Speak, and At Length among others. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband and a mischievous terrier. Her novel Veiled Men, is looking for a home.