Tell a story that starts with a ransom note.

Corey sits in his car, envelope of money in one hand and ransom note in the other. He looks around the empty street wondering how the hell he ended up in the middle of all this. But honestly, he knew. He knew exactly how the hell he ended up owing Frank Lowery 10 grand.

Corey and his wife Shuana were happy, ecstatic rather, when they received the call from their daughter that she had found the one. She and Frank planned on coming up to visit for a weekend so they could meet him. “You’ll love him”, she had said. “he’s nothing like anyone I ever dated in the past.” Corey remembers the relief that swept over him thinking that his daughter finally moved passed her tattoo cigarette rebel type stage. Maybe this Frank was a business man. Maybe he owned a house or even a nicely decorated apartment. Maybe his parents weren’t divorced.

Corey smiles to himself. It’s a how-could-I-have-been-so-naive smile.  When Grace said “nothing like anyone I ever dated” what she meant was psychotic. Literally. She met him on the steps outside a psychiatric ward on the outskirts of Albany. Grace, like her mother, was the life saver type, always thinking she could change people. Her mother, however has a success story very few people share. Not many people could have done what she did. Corey has been sober for just over twenty years now.

The patchy yellow grass crunches a bit under Corey’s feet as he makes his way to the front door. He hopes his daughter is in another room. He doesn’t think he can handle the sight of whatever Frank might have done to her just yet. Actually, he is not really sure what to expect. True to Frank’s cryptic nature, the ransom note read like a riddle. From what Corey deciphered, the $10,000 was a “dowry for Lowery”. Frank never even gave Corey an option to decline a marriage request. It also stated that if Corey did not bring the money to this address by 12 noon on April 20th, he would be forced to see Grace in a way he has never seen her before.

Corey shudders now at his mind’s image of his daughter possibly naked, tied down to a table with her legs spread. Before he can even knock on the door, Frank opens it as much as the chain lock will allow. The house looks dark and reeks of stale beer and moth balls. Frank does not say one word but instead holds out his hand for the envelope. Corey hesitates. Should he run? Would his parental instincts kick in allowing him to bust open the door? Should he ask to see his daughter right now?

Suddenly, a strong fury bubbles up through Corey. A ransom note? 10 grand? No sober middle class 62 year-old should have to deal with these games. Corey kicks open the door, pulls out the shot gun hidden in the back of his pants and without hesitation, shoots Frank in the leg.

Corey considers himself a good Christian man. Death was something he would never bestow on to anyone. The wound was to merely buy him time to find his daughter and get the hell out of there. Out of both fear and adrenaline, he shoots Frank in the other leg and drops the lamp standing by the door on his head. Corey then runs through the house in desperate search for his daughter. He calls out her name over and over but hears nothing. Once upstairs, he comes up to a locked door. He uses the final bullet to break down the lock. It takes him a split second to decide that in whatever state he found his daughter, it would have to wait to be processed; He simply grabs her and runs.

He notes not to trip over the now unconscious Frank and runs straight to his car. He places his daughter in the back seat, picks up the shredded train of the wedding dress and closes the door. Corey presses the gas pedal down hard and doesn’t stop once until his car is parked at the police station. He sits there for just a second taking note that his entire body trembles. When he turns around to take a look at his daughter, “forced to see Grace in a way he has never seen her before” completely understates the fact that this girl is not Corey’s daughter at all.

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