Monday, May 24, 2010

Dog Napping and Ransom Demands...

During the early years of us knowing the Neighbor Man, we were often surprised--really, more like astonished--at some of the things he would come up with. That is not to say that we--Dad especially--were not willing participants in the hijinks and shenanigans. This next story, however, I was not a party to nor did I witness said events...well, except for the last portion, but be rest assured. It is all true. So, if you do not hear from me after this post, it is because I have just implicated myself in a federal crime as an accessory after the fact and am now living as a guest of the state in a maximum security hotel. At least, I will have free cable :)

Our family has always had pets. Dogs, cats...emus, and Mom likes to tell people that we treat our pets better than some people treat their children. Sad, but true. Nonetheless, at the time that this story took place, we had a pampered inside cat and two even more pampered dogs--not to mention the host of strays that Mom felt the need to feed should they show up on our doorstep. The Neighbor Man, however, had none. Thus, begins this story...

One bright and shiny afternoon, the Neighbor Man waltzed in our front door, a smug smile riding his lips. "I just got me the best dog!" he exclaimed. "He's probably even a better watchdog than your two."

Mom and Dad exchanged a glance before following the Neighbor Man over to his house to oh and ah over his dog...a ceramic Dalmatian that he'd set in front of his porch. His watchdog.

Over the next days and weeks, Neighbor Man would comment on what a fine dog he'd procured. No obedience problems, didn't need food or water. Just the best dog a Neighbor Man could ask for. And, every time he brought up his 'fine dog' we simply smiled and nodded. That is until...

The Dalmatian disappeared. He was such a fine watchdog that he didn't make a noise when some thug snatched him off Neighbor Man's lawn! Neighbor Man was inconsolable. His dog had been stolen right out from under him, and it was such a fine dog, too.

More time passed, and Neighbor Man overcame his grief...or so we thought.

"I've found him!" He shouted as he barreled through our front door one night while we were eating dinner. "I've found my dog! I know who's holding him and I have a plan to get him back!" He cried excitedly. Then, he outlined his plan for Mom and Dad. It would be dangerous, slightly outside the law, and there was a good chance not all of them would make it back.

They readily agreed, and the next night, they set off on their caper.

The plan was simple. Mom would drive the getaway vehicle. Dad would be the look out, and Neighbor Man would be on point. They pulled up slow and easy across the street from their target, and there the dog was, standing guard outside the local bar. Silent hand signals on par with what you'd see in army movies and Neighbor Man bounded out of the car, did a drop and roll across the street and up to the bar's front door. A quick look around, and he grabbed the dog...

Which turned out to not be ceramic at all but cement. This was not Neighbor Man's dog. Now, most people upon seeing their mistake would have dropped the dog and run. Not so with the Neighbor Man. He carried on, lugging the heavy cement dog all the way across the street. Dad yelling at him to hurry it up and Mom laughing hysterically at the Neighbor Man. He finally made it across and into the backseat with the cement dog in tow. Dad said later that Neighbor Man looked like he was about to collapse once he got into the car, but no one asked if he was alright. They just got the hell out of Dodge.

The next morning, riding the high of pulling off this caper, they sat around the table laughing and patting themselves on the back. But the question of what to do with the dog was not far from their minds. They were now dog nappers and fugitives from the law. What to do, what to do?

Simple. They would let the bar know that the dog was napped by sending them a ransom note. They cut out newspaper letters like is done on TV and put together a simple note: We have your dog. If you do not pay the ransom in full, he will be no more. To prove that they were serious, they took a Polaroid picture of the dog with a gun pressed against his head and enclosed it with the demand--which I should tell you did not have a dollar amount attached...they didn't plan on returning the dog, after all. The note was delivered early the next morning and that was that.

The Neighbor Man, knowing that the dog was easily recognizable went to the hardware store and bought a can of black spray paint. And, the Dalmatian turned into a black Lab overnight.

And, we all forgot about the ransom note.

A couple weeks later, Mom hadn't put anything out for dinner in the hopes that Dad would take us out. After only a few minutes of discussion, the whole family agreed that we wanted burgers. And, where do you get the biggest, greasiest, really the best burgers? You guessed it. The bar. We all piled into the car and drove to town, not even thinking about the dog napping and ransom note.

As soon as we walked in, we saw it. Sitting behind the bar, propped up and on display for all to see was the ransom note along with the picture. Evidently, the note garnered quite a bit of discussion and debate as to who had actually kidnapped Fido.

We ordered our food and chatted with other bar patrons, all the while wearing secret grins at Mom and Dad and Neighbor Man's crime.

Life Lesson Learned: Do some research before involving yourself in a heist. Cement dogs are much heavier than ceramic ones!