The brains behind the ransom note clearly suffers from more than just a tad of nostalgia for all things homemade.
For a start, he almost forgot to ask for money. Allusions to the kidnapped are sketchy at best, meandering and forgetful and indifferent at worst.
‘I bit my lip,’ it reads in different-sized and colored letters glued lovingly to the paper. ‘The crunchy sound it made reminded me of excavating asbestos – which I’m told is bad for you.’
It is in the feel of the note, the texture, the loving care invested in choosing the letters and fonts, the way they’d been clipped from magazines and newspapers and old birthday cards. It completely dominated and overruled any further drive for some kind of import or statement – not to mention the exact sum of money demanded fell by the wayside in this sick tangential devotion.
‘The importance of Oreos. I cannot overstate it. Its absence. The brain of the individual registering its absence. The physical brain. Imagine the juxtaposition of a casserole and a nightmare. Imagine the two actually MERGING, physically.’
‘Imagine you were made of aluminum. Now, you’re apologizing to your mom – who doesn’t approve of aluminum.’
‘My girlfriend’s stomach changed the Pill: it simply changed the thing. Now some unknown creature or entity or abomination or redeemer or 8-foot tall basketball player inside her sees the light. It will make a glorious cameo in our life – maybe, as whatever it chooses to be its literal manifestation. Then it will go back to its village. Where it is known as the Phantom Thug.’
‘The Phantom Thug is back!’ the villagers will scream, when they see – or rather when they think they see – him.’
Admittedly, the following sentence is pasted really artfully, its letters collated really lovingly and charmingly:
‘Tractors. I don’t know. Their states of mind. It’s not sexy – what I think of when I see a tractor on my uncle’s farm, what I think its state of mind may be. What I see – it’s not sexy. It’s not the embodiment of sexy. No way. It’s not a commercial in any shape, manner of form, for sexy.’
Forensics and handwriting experts and kindergarten teachers good at cut-and-paste stuff and the identification of its possible author, and one or two inhouse anthropologists are scratching their heads over the following line, put down with less punctiliousness: ‘You will miss the real Star Trek.’ The letters get more mangled and squidgy and indeed, some appear to have been pasted to the paper with actual gob, as the sentiment digresses: ‘The old one looked good from Earth; but the new Star Trek unless I’m very much mistaken will look like a diner, and will appear only splendid from the moon. Which is in my backyard, as you know. And which is where I’m keeping our precious YOU KNOW WHAT. In exchange for which I am requesting a sum of money to the tune of YOU ALSO KNOW WHAT.’
Somewhat Facetious Postscript:
‘I am reading this book about the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It’s really long.’