We rushed to the study where the antique fax machine sat undisturbed on the oak desk. It was ejecting a piece of paper, like last time. The message seemed to be capitalized. When Heathcliff saw the fax, he pushed past me (who was leading the way) and tore the piece of paper while it was still coming out. He read, did a double-take, and choked. While he was having another spasm on the floor, I read the fax message. I didn't mind too much for Heathcliff, since the last he had a fit, he came out alright.
The message said:
HELP SOMEONE. I’VE BEEN KIDNAPPED.
I was a bit puzzled at first. What would you have done if you read a piece of paper from a fax machine that said "HELP SOMEONE. I'VE BEEN KIDNAPPED"? The first thing I thought of was 'Kidnapped' by Robert Louis Stevenson, a great book (it was the first book I read by myself), and then I thought that the person who sent this message must have been kidnapped, so I had a brief panic while I decided what to do, and then I replied. Normally, my writing would be considered a model in the school I go to, but I was trying to get a lot of questions through. So at best, the scrawl I produced had S's that look like D's.
My message in reply said:
Where are you? How can we help you? Who kidnapped you?
Are they armed? (All the questions I've seen the detectives ask hostages via secret communication on crime TV shows that I could think of at the moment)
I got that far until Heathcliff suddenly recovered, shifted into action mode, knocked me over, and continued the message from where I had left off. I got back up to him writing furiously in cursive; ridiculously flowery sentences probably only a professional with years of practice could accomplish.
'Hey! I was writing that!' I said and budded my way back to having a pen on the paper. I did a quick scan of what he wrote, which I found too silly to mention here, and I said, 'Can we keep some consistency here? You might confuse the hostage.'
'Well, excuse me!' He ejaculated, 'I was trying to calm dear Miss. Theodora down! After all, I'm the professional one here!'
'What? Bumbling sidekick? Were you taking about me?' I read a bit (with some difficulty) where he mentioned a prince charming and his bumbling sidekick coming to rescue the damsel in distress. 'I'm not a bumbling sidekick!' I wrote that down as I said this, and then I added in brackets on the paper, 'if anyone is bumbling it's this intoxicated fool.' I recalled two more questions that I saw on TV, I wrote, 'Can you tell us where you are? Are you in immediate danger?'
I fed the paper in to the fax before Heathcliff could reclaim his position with pen on paper. We waited for a reply, and then I noticed Heathcliff was biting his fingernails. The reply came.
'I don not know the exact location of the place in which I am being held captive, I do believe it is somewhere near the coastline, and I am in the interior of a very large warehouse, the kidnappers are under the order of someone named the Tiger, who is supposedly the son of the Dragon, who by the way WANTS TO MARRY ME! All the guards arm armed, but I am not in grave danger, because of said reason mentioned in previous sentence which I do not want to repeat again.' The messaged ended with capitalized letters, 'FIND ME! QUICKLY!'
Heathcliff was reading the message over my shoulder, and he did a double double-take when he got to the marriage part which I didn't understand. He switched into (presumably) full action mode and delivered a short speech that could very well be heard 3 blocks away.
'THE VILE DRAGON HAD A SON! THIS VILLAIN DARES STEAL MISS THEODORA AWAY FROM ME! ME! MY HEART THIRSTS FOR RETRIBUTION! MY PASSION SEEKS VENGEANCE! I WILL FIND THIS TIGER AND DEFEAT HIM! THAT WILL TEACH HIM TO RECKON WITH HEATHCLIFF CAROLUS VON CURTIN. HE WILL PAY!'
I had my ears covered, so I didn't hear all of what he said, but that came pretty close to the original.
'Who's this Dragon person by the way?' I asked, since I didn't exactly account for all the players apparently involved in this frenzy of situations. I guess I had landed myself in a turf war between rich people and rich people, with kidnappings, marriage proposals, firearms, an intoxicated prince charming, and a damsel in distress who didn't sound too distressed.
'You do not know?' Heathcliff asked, with surprise written across his face, and then he understood, 'Oh yes! Of course you don't! You are a farmer boy, that explains it! You listen carefully, as my bumbling sidekick in this rescue mission that I am about to force you to undertake, you must know some family history. Once upon a time, the Dragon was an old-money in his tender years, he was well known among us folks, and then, scandal came about, it was discovered, by my father and the grandfather of Miss Theodora, that the Dragon obtained his wealth by fraud and extortion and all kinds of villainous crimes imaginable, his family had been doing it for generations, there was more blood on his hands alone that in yours and my bodies combined! And my family, working with the North family, we exposed his dirty work and he was put behind bars for good!' Heathcliff stopped to take a breath.
'And he escaped, didn't he?' I asked, it was very predictable.
'No, his agents broke him out, blew up the prison, and killed everyone in it. He's been in hiding since.' Heathcliff concluded the epic tale.
'Sounds like he's the terrorist kind.' I pointed out.
'It's believed that he is living with terrorists right now in the mountains, yes, that is correct.' Heathcliff looked at me in the eyes, his eyes are very captivating, they are deep brown, like a cocoa color, I'd say 85% cocoa dark chocolate color.
'Okay, should I go and call the police?' I asked him, 'And get in touch with the missing persons hotline?'
'No! Don't do that! This is a very dire situation and it requires action undercover, therefore I enlist you, Charlie North, as my sidekick in this operation, because every hero needs an aid, and I choose you because you are a commoner, and commoners are excellent diversions in professional situations!'
'A sidekick? That's a little degrading, if I heard correctly.' I protested.
'You don't expect a person such as your lowly self to receive more credit that that? Do you?' Heathcliff countered. 'Tell you what, I'll give you all the money in my wallet right now if you will help me out here, now are you bought?'
'How much is that?'
He checked his wallet, and came up with ten all-purpose 1000 dollar gift cards and a hundred dollar bill. I accepted his offer on the grounds that he wouldn't accuse me of impersonating a billionaire heiress, plus the money in his wallet and I wouldn't report his to the authority for drinking and driving and carrying an unlicensed firearm.
'Now, we need a vehicle, I can not use my limousine, for it will attract too much attention, do you have an available vehicle?' Heathcliff asked me.
'I do, but it's not in-'
'Does not matter! Let's go! We got my darling to save!' Heathcliff marched out of they room, yelling, 'GET CHANGED!'
When I look back to that, I think I must have been crazy on that day, or maybe Heathcliff was crazy, but his crazy was infectious.