The sinister looking fellow at the end of the bar made her nervous. His eyes followed her every move as she served customers, wiped the bar, and filled the dishwasher. She’d never seen him before because few strangers ventured down the long pier to her bar catering to the fishing fleet. It was nearly time to close and she hoped he’d leave soon. She wasn’t looking forward to hiking to her car with a big storm front moving in and didn’t want to cope with him if he had something on his mind. As if reading her mind, the man finished his beer, put money on the bar, then said “good night.”
While she poured a beer for one of the regulars, the keg ran dry. She could change it in the morning but if she did it after closing it would settle and be ready for the day drinkers. After shooing out the last customer and stowing her till in the safe, she put on her rain gear, grabbed the hand truck, and went to her storage shed after locking the door behind her. She hated being so cautious about the door but the one time she left it open she found someone sitting at the bar when she came back. A cold blast of wind made her eyes sting and sent her hat skittering down the pier. She watched with dismay as it plunged into the heaving ocean.
Before she could unlock the shed, a hand clamped over her mouth while two arms wrapped her tightly. She struggled but couldn’t break free. Using body weight to pin her against the shed, the assailant put a blindfold over her eyes, then bound her hands with a strong cord. She thought they were going to take her keys and go in the bar but they picked her up, slung her over their shoulder, and carried her down the pier. Her screams went unheard while howling wind tore through deserted darkness.
She heard a door open and she was roughly lain on a hard surface. After the door closed, a motor started and they sped away. Tears wet the blindfold as she struggled to free her hands. Where were they taking her? Was it the sinister looking fellow from the bar? What did they want? Why was this happening? She wondered as the miles ticked away. After what seemed an eternity, the vehicle eased to a stop and she was retrieved from confinement. “Start walking,” a man’s voice said gruffly. She tried asking questions but was told to shut up and get moving if she wanted to live. She wanted to live so she obeyed.
They entered an overly warm room that smelled like beer and recent cooking. She was led to a chair and told to sit down. She could tell there were several people in the room because she could hear them breathing. She trembled as she awaited her fate. “Who are you? And why am I here?” She asked but no one answered.
When the blindfold came off, a strong light dazzled her eyes and it took a moment for her to see anything. When she was able to look around, she was dumbfounded. Her sister, brother, her husband, and several friends sat grinning at her like mischievous children. Before she could speak, they broke into a spirited rendition of the happy birthday song. When that stopped, her husband stepped forward and untied her hands. Instead of confusion and fear she now felt anger. “What is going on?” She yelled, ready to slug her husband.
“It’s your birthday.” He replied.
“You said you wanted a unique experience as a present. Since you’ve always boasted that nothing can scare you, we wanted to test that claim while granting your wish.” Pointing at the sinister looking fellow, he said, “Bill works with me at the bus barn. We figured if he kidnapped you, it would make it feel real.”
Fuming, but not knowing what to say, she finally noticed a table laden with brightly wrapped presents, cake, and her favorite foods. “I think I would have been in the mood to enjoy all that if you hadn’t scared the crap out of me. Now, I just want to go home after I get my purse from the bar.”
Her husband retrieved her purse from under his chair and grinned. “C’mon honey, relax and have a drink. Now that we know you’re truly human and can be frightened we’ll never prank you again. You got the unique experience you wanted, but like the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.”