Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The nanny pointed to little five year-old Benjamin in the tub.
“Are you ready to stand up, Benjamin?”
“And how do we stand up in the tub?”
“Free points ah contact!”
“That’s right, three points of contact. So, since it’s three points of contact, stand up in one, two, three!”
Benjamin stood up, one hand firmly planted on the lip of the tub and the nanny, prepped with a towel spread between her hands whisked him out of the tub, setting him on the little bath rug in front of the tub.
She towel dried his head, face, neck and shoulders and then announced “Arms up!” She dried from the top to the bottom until she got to his waist. “Spread yo’ legs!” She dried down to the feet. “Turn!” Young Benjamin gleefully jumped a 180. Shenae dried head and shoulders again and then another “Arms up!” “Spread yo’ legs!” Finally, the last command of the ritual “Squat!” Shenae finished the dry down by giving Benjamin a light tap on the butt and stating “Now, get out my face and go get your pajamas on!”
Little Benjamin stormed out toward the bedroom and his laid out pajamas that were waiting on him as little Sarah, three, began shouting “My turn! My turn!” Shenae performed the dry down ritual again with Sarah, pulled the plug on the tub, and followed the little girl into the bedroom. Shenae let her pull her “night time undies” and her little footed onesie on herself, standing by just in case Sarah needed assistance. “Good girl, Sarah! You even got the zipper all by yourself!
“Now, both of you in bed, and we’ll start story time.”
Story time started out very interactive, with the kids having to fill in blanks, make up names for characters, and create plot points. Then, in order to get them settled down and sleeping, the nanny transitioned to reading favorites from Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle, and of course, the kids always wanted a reading of Stellaluna. Little Sarah always wanted the same books read in the same order, and the nanny happily complied. The routine gave the kids a sense of security. Although, Shenae sometimes thought that the Grouchy Ladybug needed a ballistic attitude adjustment, and she envied the Very Hungry Caterpillar’s menu options. By the time Shenae got to the end of the nightly stack of books, both kids were asleep, breathing deep. Sarah had just a hint of a snore.
Shenae neatly stacked the books, made sure that the kids’ clothes for the next day were laid out so that they could dress themselves upon waking. When the family wasn’t traveling, the kids’ clothes were all folded in such a way that they could be stacked horizontally instead vertically, and arranged (shorts, shirt, then socks) so that the kids could pick out their own outfits each day. Since they were traveling, Shenae just went ahead and picked out the kids’ clothes.
They were in France, about an hour and half to the southwest of Paris. They’d told Shenae the name of the place, and she’d seen the name in writing. The spoken name sounded nothing like the written name would sound if phonetically pronounced. Eh, Shenae had never studied French. She just started mentally referring to the house as Chateau d’Fancypants. It was a big estate, but not overly so nor was it ostentatious. Not a chance Louis XIV had ever stayed here. The property backed up to a lake, and Shenae found the view enchanting, even if open water made her even more paranoid about keeping an eye on the kids.
Shenae quietly moved to her room, adjoining the kids’ and put on some yoga pants and a sports bra.Then she ensured that the baby monitor was tethered to her iPhone, and went downstairs.The first floor had rooms the purpose of which were obvious:small ballroom (as ballrooms go), big library, big dining room.One room, the original purpose of which Shenae couldn’t divine, had been repurposed into a workout room.Hardwood floors, a couple stationary bikes and an elliptical machine.A dumbell rack with an assortment that went from five to fifty pounds.There was a decent selection of various mats and rollers.One wall was entirely mirrored and had a barre.
When traveling, Shenae was on-call 24/7. On a night like tonight, when the Katzmans (the parents) had rolled up for an evening in Paris, even more so. So, the purpose of the workout was to stay limber, do a little muscle work, and try tread water—fitness-wise—and not forge ahead. Fatigue and soreness was something she could suffer on her own time.
Shenae did two yoga sun salutations, and spent some time on the barre. Her whole family was into powerlifting and kettlebells and triathlons, but to Shenae’s mind, nothing kept you fit like dance. She did a couple of evolutions of dance exercises on the barre. She also did some exercises that had no resemblance to a dance workout, but they would maintain or improve her ability to move her body through space. She finished up with a slow, power kata of Okinawan Te. The bright, beautiful hardwood floor seemed to demand it.
When she was done with the workout, she grabbed her water bottle, her face towel and her phone and moved to the well appointed kitchen. Instead of having a single evening “dinner,” she usually ate something light when the kids had dinner, so that she could focus on them and not food, and then another light meal before retiring to write up her nanny journal and do some reading before going to bed.
Shenae pulled down a shallow fry pan from the wrought iron pan hanger over the kitchen’s island. She figured she would crisp up some cabbage and tofu in the pan, and that would be a nice end-evening meal. She went to the brushed steel commercial refrigerator and pulled out the head of cabbage, then walked over to the island and deposited the cabbage head next to the fry pan. Okay, oil. Oil. I need oil. She turned to the left, for the cabinets over the sink, then realized she’d gone the wrong way. This place had a walk-in pantry set-up. Wrong way, dummy. She turned around and shrieked.
A big, ugly, old guy (had to be at least 35 or 40) in a cheap suit was right there pointing a gun at her face. The guy was smirking, and without losing the smirk, he said, “Bon—”
Shenae used her left hand to grab the face towel on her right shoulder and threw it at the smirker. The step forward for the throw put her in range for her right forearm to sweep the pistol to the side (wax off!) At the same time, her left hand grabbed the handle of the fry pan and slammed it into the guy’s head. Since it was a lightweight pan (why, oh why, didn’t I pull the cast iron fry pan down?), she hit him in the head again on the backswing. Then another fore swing and another back swing. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
The guy crumpled during the fry pan tympani. Shenae used her toe to roll him over on his back. Then she hit the guy in the trachea as hard as she could with the edge of the pan. Then again. And again. Because destroying the trach strangled the guy, it took a minute. But, from her time working as a med-tech on a university hospital heart/lung transplant floor while she worked her way through nursing school, she knew “death throes” when she saw them. She slid down against cabinets under the kitchen island, planting her butt on the floor. With no real rancor, she kicked the corpse lying in front of her. Okay. Okay. Breath. Breath. What next? Check the kids! No, dummy, call the cops.
Shenae forced herself to stand, and staggered over to the landline phone hanging on the wall of the kitchen. Upon occupying the house, she had put all emergency services numbers both into her cell and posted them beside the wall-mounted landline. She picked up the receiver and got nothing. No dial tone. No side tone.
She moved back to the kitchen island and picked up her cell phone. No signal. Nada. But she had had a robust signal since they’d occupied Chateau d’Fancypants. Okay. This guy isn’t some random cheap-suit-wearing perv. Got it. She scooped up the guy’s silenced pistol. It was a Sig 226. She dropped the mag; it was full but for one round. She jacked the upper receiver and the chambered round flew out. She replaced it in the magazine, then reloaded the weapon, putting one in the chamber.
Holding the pistol, she started to step off towards the kids room, then stopped. She went back to the corpse, and rifling around his belt and pockets, she came up with three more mags for the Sig. She stowed those in the waist of her yoga pants, then—What the? A wallet? She flipped open the wallet and found it must have been the guy’s true wallet, not a throwaway to hold contingency cash for a smash and kidnap event. Amateur, she thought, putting the wallet in one of the multitudinous drawers on the kitchen island. Then she stepped off, leading with the suppressed Sig, to check on her kids.
Shenae moved silently up the stairs. Because they were marble, there was no creaking or sighing of the winding staircase. Man, I wish our house had had this kind of staircase when I was a teenager. When she got to the top of the staircase, she moved about an arm’s length from the interior wall, and knelt on the last stair, with her left leg braced on the stair below that one. With her head at ground level, she slowly looked around the corner toward the kids’ room. There were two thugs outside the room, talking softly. They were probably waiting for the dead miscreant downstairs to show up with the nanny. Made sense. If you’re going to abduct two children, may as well kidnap a caregiver for the little crumb crunchers, too. She moved a little further from the wall, and put her straightened arm, clutching the pistol on the floor of the hallway, and then slowly pushed out into the hall. When she had moved just far enough out to acquire the thugs, she moved just a little farther out to make sure the kids’ room was in no ways in the line of fire.
With the floor supporting her extended arm, she rested her head on her shoulder, got a good sight picture, and squeezed off four suppressed shots. She got two hits on each thug, and as they fell, she dumped the rest of the magazine into them. Shenae slid back onto the stairs and reloaded. She went back on the floor, and presented on the two targets again. After a slow count of thirty—during which she also regained control of her breathing—she got up, walked down the hall toward the two targets, and place a final round in each of their heads.
Shenae’s first instinct was to check on the kids. But if Benjamin heard even a whisper of the hinges, he’d be up and bouncing. She light-footed slowly around the rounded hallway that wrapped around the big credenza with the chandelier. Coming to the last bedroom that faced out front, she slipped in and approached the window from an angle. She stayed low and pied the window the same way she’d been taught to pie corners. There were three big black SUVs in the circular driveway that surrounded the round fountain in front of the house. Two guys were outside by the vehicles, wearing cheap suits, smoking and talking.
Every abductor she’d seen was wearing a cheap suit. What? I got the Reservoir Dogs trying to snatch the kids? No landline, cell phone jammed, these guys must figure they’ve got this, easy. No comms, huh?
Shenae reached up and twisted the emerald stud in her left ear. Her dad had gotten the emerald studs for her during one of his trips to Colombia. She also had some jade studs that he’d got her in Guatemala. She traveled with them everywhere. She twisted again.
“What’s up, Sweet Pea?” came the voice of her dad.
“Dad, I’m in a bad way, here.”
“SITREP.” For as long as she could remember, she had been rendering Situation Reports to her dad over the phone. Ride home from the party change? SITREP. The date of the LaCrosse banquet changed? SITREP. She really wanted him to be not only at her graduation, but at the rehearsal, too? SITREP.
Succinctly but comprehensively, she gave him a run down of the situation in about 30 seconds.
“I’m sorry, Sweet Pea, I can’t do much to help you from here. You’re going to have to navigate this on your own.”
“I know, Dad.”
“Look, they probably only want the nanny so that someone can take care of the kids. And so that they have a hostage that is easy to dispose of to prove their seriousness. But you’re not the primary target. You could probably E&E out without too much problem, and let law enforcement sort out getting the kids safely home.”
Shenae felt a quick, very hot surge of anger. “Dad, no way am I leaving those kids. They. Are. My. Charges.”
“Good girl. Hold that passion close. It’ll help see you through. Now, you’ve got the pistol. Have ye checked for any long guns?”
Shenae tiptoed over to the two corpses, looked at their hardware, and whispered, “Okay, I’ve got an MP-5 and some kind of long, anorexic bull-pup looking thing.”
“Probably a Steyr AUG. Just guessing,” said her dad, “but is the MP-5 the model with the integral suppressor?”
“Okay. Take the H&K and look for extra mags. Not sure these cretins would be smart enough to load up subsonic rounds, but take what you can get. Plus, you’re checked out on the MP-5. No way you want to try to learn to load, clear and reduce stoppage on a bull-pup under duress.
“And remember: what’s Plan B for a kidnapping gone bad?”
Shenae took a deep, quavering breath. “Assassination.”
Shenae had to move the corpse of the MP-5 guy to get the sling out from around his shoulder. She also found three extra 30-round magazines in a kydex mag holder on the guy’s belt. She undid the buckle and whipped off his belt, then grabbed the kydex and stowed it, too, in the waistband of her yoga pants. The elastic of the waistband of her yoga pants was becoming seriously challenged. Lululemon never imagined this in the design specs. I got to fix this; be damned if I get killed with plumber’s butt. It would be undignified. Instead of going into the kids’ room, she went into her adjoining room.
Shenae kicked off her flip flops and pulled on her Saloman trail runners. She had some other athletic type shoes, but the Salomans had the quick zip laces. Every second counts. Clock’s got to be tickin’. Next she pulled out her “nanny jacket,” a lightweight canvass cross between a London Fog and a duster, with plenty of pockets. If I’ve got this, I’m Mary frikkin’ Poppins with her magic frikkin’ carpet bag. Plus, I probably should be wearing more than just a sports bra. She moved all of her spare magazines for both pistol and sub-gun to the pockets of the jacket. Then she spent a moment ensuring that she could confidently grab for whatever she needed, and that it would be there in the right place. The Sig, though, stayed in her waistband. She needed that right the heck where it was stable when she reached for it. Then she walked toward the door to the kids’ adjoining room. As she neared the wall, her stomach did a serious flip and her breath hitched hard. She sagged against the wall, feeling tears well in her eyes.
I’m so going to die. The kids are going to die. She sob breathed for a couple moments. She reached up and twisted twisted her emerald stud.
“Daddy,” she sobbed, ”I feel so scared.”
“I know you do, Sweet Pea. Trust me, I know.
“But does it matter what you feel?”
“Does it matter what you want or hope or dream?”
“What matters, then?”
“What I do.”
“That’s right, Sweet Pea. And if the only thing that matters is what you do, then…?”
“Then there’s nothing to it but to do it.”
“Ah,” said her dad, “that was a test. You passed. Now, you’ve got two choices, neither is good. You can try to exfiltrate with the kids, or you can Alamo up. What’re you thinking?”
“I don’t think there’s any way I exfil with the kids, especially if we come under fire.” The thought flitted through her mind Bird Box is the stupidest movie ever made.
“So, Alamo it is, then. Now, you go high or low?”
Shenae thought about it. Low. Less glass, more stone walls. Easier to keep the kids under solid cover, plus…”Dad, I think I can go low and exfil. I’ll call you back.”
Shenae”s pale complexion meant that whenever she got upset or stressed, it showed. Her ice blue eyes really highlighted any exhaustion or stress induced puffiness. She reached into one of the pockets of her nanny jacket and pulled out a travel pack of mission essential wet wipes. She scrubbed at her face in an effort to ensure that the her wan face and puffy eyes didn’t upset the kids.
When the Katzmans had first occupied Chateau d’Fancypants, Shenae had had the opportunity to walk the house and the grounds with the head maintenance manager Michel Chiery (another name that didn’t sound like it was written). They had walked the property’s perimeter (fenced). They had walked the grounds, which were festooned with hedges that would break up a lot of straight line movement across the property. They had toured the house itself, east through west wings, top to bottom. In the basement, which was very Chateau-y and made Shenae think about The Cask Of Amontillado, Michel had turned to her and said, in really decent but heavily accented English, “Now, do you want to see something very, very secret?”
Shenae got zero predator vibe from the twinkle eyed, slightly potbellied maintenance manager. Still, she looked around the basement and identified four field-expedient weapons. Ooh, lookee at that barrel over there, it has a pipe wrench sitting on top of it. “Sure,” she’d said.
Michel walked over to a rack of storage shelves, reached behind the left side of the second shelf from the top, and clicked something. The rack of shelves swung seamlessly and silently away from the wall, revealing a door-shaped opening that had stairs leading down. Michel flipped a light-switch on the right side wall, and bare bulbs, hanging from the ceiling and spaced about every twelve feet turned on. He started to turn to walk down the stairs, then looked at Shenae as she grabbed the pipe wrench and posted it up on her shoulder. Michel grinned, turned back to the stairs, and began to descend.
The tunnel leveled out and, after about 600 metres, presented another set of stairs that led up to the boathouse on the lake. Instead of being hidden behind a shelf, the exit was a trapdoor in the floor. The boathouse was low and long. There were five or six different types of motorboats, hanging by cables from davits. There were also canoes, kayaks and a couple fat-sterned rowboats. The boathouse had a dugway canal down the middle, so that the boats could be lowered and have direct access to the lake.
Shenae figured, if I can get the kids to the boathouse, we can get out by boat. Maybe.
She stepped through the door into the adjoining kids’ room. As expected, Benjamin popped up, awake and alert and ready to go. In contrast, even Benjamin’s jostling of the bed as he sat up did not bestir the heavily sleeping, slightly snoring Sarah. Shenae shhhd Benjamin, and softly shook Sarah. Sarah opened her eyes, saw Shenae, and rolled away from her. Man, kid is an Olympic level sleeper. She shook Sarah again. Sarah opened her eyes, sleepy and muzzy and irate. Shenae lifted Sarah and put her on her feet. Sarah immediately turned and tried to dive back into bed. Shenae caught her, and put her back on her feet. Sarah took a deep breath, no doubt to wail, and—
“Sarah, reach for the sky, touch your toes,” said Shenae, modeling for the little three-year old. Sarah automatically followed suit. Shenae did one more iteration of reach and touch (bless him, little Benjamin joined right in).
“Now,” said Shenae, “We’re going to sing one of our favorite songs.”
“The Guacamole Song!” cried Benjamin, bouncing on his feet and ready to execute the motions to the Guacamole Song.
“No. But you’re close, Benjamin.” God, I hate the Guacamole Song. “Instead, we’re going to do Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” Shenae led the kids through two quick iterations of the song, once again modeling the motions for the kids. Despite her crankiness, it seemed like Sarah was getting into it.
Shenae quietly sang the song as she modeled the motions. Even though they’d quite literally been dragged out of bed, the kids enthusiastically went through the motions. Such sweet little sugar boogers.
“Okay, now we’re going to do a new one.” We have got to be running out of time. C’mon, nanny, you’re on the clock. “It’s called Eyes and Ears, Elbows and Knees, Don’t Move Until I Say ‘Unfreeze.’ It’s fun! C’mon.”
She led the kids through it, closing her eyes, covering her ears, then squatting, putting her elbows between her knees with her hands still covering her ears. She led the kids through it three times, making sure they stayed in position until she said “Unfreeze!” Every time, the sub-gun slung across her chest seemed to bang into her in new and creatively uncomfortable ways. Okay, that’s as much rehearsal time as I can give them. We are blade-running here, time-wise.
“Okay, now hold hands, and come with me.” She held the pistol grip of the MP-5 with her right hand, with her left she held Benjamin’s little hand. Suboptimal, but she needed to maintain positive control of the children. She led them back into her room, then out into the hallway. Shenae was hoping to spare them the sight of the bodies sprawled out in front of their door.
Shenae tip-toe walked down the hallway, knowing that the kids would mimic her, Sarah exaggerating her tip-toe walk. Shenae had taught the kids the tip-toe walk for those rare instances when Mrs. Katzman was taking a nap when the kids were up. Around the hallway they tippy-toed as it curved around the credenza, past all the rooms—mostly bed and bath rooms—to the very end of the hallway. There, there was a door to a flight of servants’ stairs. She ushered the kids onto the close, tight wooden stairwell, then turned back to the door.
There was no lock on the door, but Shenae reached into one of the multitudinous pockets of her nanny jacket, and pulled out a small rubber wedge. She slipped the wedge under the door, on the far side from the hinges, and kicked hard once to make sure it was lodged tight and would prevent, or at least delay, anyone trying to use the servants’ staircase. As she turned to take Benjamin’s hand again, she heard shouts of surprise and anger echo up from downstairs, and then more shouting. She surmised that part of the team had come inside to see what was taking so long, and found the body in the kitchen. Though she didn’t speak Le Froglaise, she figured that the team was shouting for the upstairs element that was now perforated in the hallway. And we are now officially out of time.
Shenae knew she wouldn’t be able to hear anyone pounding up that marble staircase, but that they would. Once the two dead Reservoir Dogs in front of the kids’ room were discovered, the remaining members of the team would begin searching room-to-room. But, she figured that if there were a lick of sense among them, they’d realize that they had to do a tactical search, as she was armed. Also, they’d have to do a thorough search, because just maybe she’d taken the kids and tried to hide somewhere. She hoped that would give her and the crumb crunchers maybe a little bit of a time cushion.
She led the kids down the stairs to the first floor. This was the part of her on-fly-plan that raised her pucker factor. The stairs’ exit would put her on one side of the kitchen. She had to traverse the kitchen, trying to shield the kids from the guy who’d suffered death by frying pan, then turn down a hallway to get to the stairs of the basement. Shenae took a couple of deep breaths, then knelt and put her lips next to Benjamin’s ear.
“Okay, honey. I can’t hold your hand right now. But you need to hold your sister’s hand and stay right behind me, and quiet. Okay?”
Benjamin seemed to have picked up on the seriousness of the situation. Bright lad. He nodded solemnly.
Shenae extended the adjustable, telescoping butt stock of the MP-5 to about three quarters out. She wedged it into her right shoulder and took a firm grip on the plastic heat shield around the barrel with her left hand. In the dim light of the staircase she checked the fire selection switch and moved it from single shot to three round burst. She’d been raised as an adherent to the “once shot, one kill” doctrine, but in this situation she figured anything worth shooting once was worth shooting thrice.
She stepped carefully out of the stairwell, and began cat walking across the kitchen. She kept her eyes looking straight forward in relation to her head, and scanned the kitchen by discreetly turning her head. She kept the barrel of the MP-5 in a direct line with her chin, so that the little sub-gun was always aligned with wherever she was looking, except when she would take quick micro glances to her rear to make sure that Benjamin was right behind her, and that he kept Sarah’s hand in his.
She traversed the kitchen, passing the central island on the far side from Frying Pan Man. She could hear male voices calling back and forth in French, but she didn’t see anybody.
They got to the door to the stairs and stepped through. Shenae softly closed the door and, with hand motions, communicated with Benjamin that he should walk his sister to the bottom of the stairs.
Along the right side wall, there at the top of the stairs, there were hooks with various and sundry maintenance/housekeeping accoutrements hanging from them. Shenae grabbed a shop-light with a long, black cord. She tied the cord off on the columns of the hand rails on either side of the stairs, third stair down, at what she hoped would be about ankle level for anyone coming down the stairs. Then she flew down the stairs, and told Benjamin and Sarah to come with her. Holding Benjamin’s hand, she hustled, as fast as the children’s little legs would let them move over to the shelving unit that hid the entrance to the tunnel to the boathouse. She reached behind the second highest shelf to the left, reached her finger into the little hole in the wall, found the loop tied into the wire inside that Michel had shown her, and pulled. The shelf rotated open and smoothly and silently as it had before.
Just as she was motioning the kids into the tunnel, she heard an angry shout of surprise and heard the thuds of a body falling down the stairs. She forcefully whispered “Eyes and ears, elbows and knees!” Both of the li’l darlin’s hit the position straight away. Shenae took a knee, and oriented on where the basement stairs would have dumped the guy out. She had made the necessary assumption that the kidnappers wouldn’t know about the tunnel, and she needed them to waste precious time trying to figure out where they had gone. No way she was going to be able to hide the tunnel’s entrance with this goombah in the basement.
When the goombah stood up, staggering a little, at the base of the stairs, he was silhouetted in the light spilling down into the basement from the kitchen. Exhaling three-fourths of the deep breath she had taken when she took a knee, she gently pressed the trigger twice, sending two three-round bursts at his center of mass. He went down hard. Huh, the kidnappers had bothered to load subsonic ammunition. That was pretty darn quiet.
Shenae closed the shelving unit door, turned on the light switch, and said softly, “C’mon little munchkins, time to go.” Both kids stayed exactly where they were. Oh, yeah. Follow your own rules, nanny. “Unfreeze!”
Benjamin and Sarah stood straight up. Shenae shooed them to walk in front of her. The slowest person set the pace, although Sarah’s little legs thrummed hard and she was moving out smartly. Shenae swapped out the partial magazine in the MP-5 for a full one. She put the partial back into the kydex sheath stowed in her nanny jacket. As they passed each bare light bulb, with the kids out front, Shenae swiped up and back with the barrel of the machine pistol, breaking the light bulb.
When they finally approached the stairs up to the trap door in the boathouse, Shenae told the kids, “Okay, eyes and ears, elbows and knees.” Once both kids had assumed the position, she carefully and quietly climbed up the short set of stairs. She pulled a pistol magazine out of the nanny jacket and held it in her left hand. In her right, she held the pistol grip of the MP-5. She used her right shoulder, with the MP-5 oriented out into the boathouse. She softly placed the magazine on the corner of the trapdoor’s lip, propping it up. Then, with the sub-gun generally aiming out, she just looked and listened for a slow sixty count. Nothing. She couldn’t even here any noise or voices wafting over from the direction of the Chateau. Good. Nothing to it but to do it.
As quietly as possible, she levered the trapdoor all the way open. She scooted down the ladder and told the kids, “Unfreeze” in a soft whisper, then, holding Benjamin’s hand, she led the kids up the stairs and into the boathouse.
She’d put some thought into this during their 600 meter promenade through the tunnel. Two rows of davits, all holding boats, were on the left and right sides of the dugway canal. Six boats on each side. Canoes and kayaks hung suspended from the rafters.
Shenae moved to the third boat on the right. It was made of a highly burnished hardwood, teak or mahogany or something.
She put the kids next to the wall, with the admonishment, “eyes and ears, elbows and knees.” Then she hit the button on the rearmost davit holding the rowboat. The electric motors that spooled out the cable that lowered the boat into the water were very quiet—not silent, but very quiet.
Once the rowboat was in the water, Shenae lay down on the concrete and disconnected the cables from the lift points front and rear (fore and aft?). The bow was still tied off to a cleat next to the lead davit. Shenae grabbed two sturdy wooden oars off of the wall and gently placed them into the rowboat. Then she hustled over to the wall closest to the chateau, where there was a switch box. She dropped the lever to off and then, opening the box, she removed the fuse and tossed it into the corner. Nobody was finding that anytime soon.
Next, Shenae ran over to the equipment locker. She had already planned on taking the kids out in a kayak or canoe, but only felt comfortable with a 1:1 adult to kid ratio, so had figured that whenever the Katzmans got back from Paris, and it was convenient to them, was when they’d go out. Still, she’d taken two mini-sized polyurethane life vests—the slim type, not the poufy type—and laid them out on the equipment locker a couple days ago. These she grabbed and ran over to the kids. She got the kids vested up, and then lowered them into the bow of the rowboat. She then told the kids, “Okay, lie down and go roll-poly-olie, and I’m going to build a fort around you.”
The kids went down in the bow, curling up on the floor (Is it a floor, on a boat? Deck seems a little grandiose for a rowboat). She then ran back to the equipment locker and grabbed the biggest armful she could of the big orange poufy vests in there, then ran back and deposited them on and around the kids. She did the same again, using up pretty much all the vests in the equipment locker. She had a wild…idea? theory? aspiration? that the vests would provide extra protection for the children. If a round had to keep penetrating each layer of polyester filler that it encountered, maybe the round wouldn’t be able to penetrate. Maybe.
Shenae sat down in the rowboat and placed the oars in the oar locks. She gently pushed the boat away from the canal wall and began to softly row the boat out. Because she was facing the stern, she got a view of the property as she pulled out on the lake. The water was smooth as glass, under a half moon. This would be lovely, if people weren’t trying to kidnap my kids. She kept pulling on the oars.
When she was about a 120 meters out, she heard a shout, then lots of shouts, she saw muzzle flashes from about four different places on the property. Nothing, though, seemed to hit the boat or come near the boat. Shenae shipped the oars, picked up the MP-5 and emptied the mag putting out three round bursts in the general area of each of the muzzle blasts she saw. She had no illusions that she might’ve hit anything. The surface of the lake was glass smooth, but c’mon, she was on a moving boat. She swapped out mags on the sub-gun, then commenced to pulling the oars. She kept the boat on a straight line away from the property.
She heard a tiny voice behind her, “Shay-nay, I aw’a rah.” Sarah-speak for, “Shenae, I want to row.”
“Not right now, Plum Blossom. It’s nighttime, and three year olds are only allowed to row when the sun is up.”
“Okay. Shay-nay, k’yi hab a snack?”
“Aww. You know, sweetness, I left the snack bag at the house. I’m a bad nanny. Now, cuddle up with Benjamin and stay warm.”
Jeezy peezy, thought Shenae, now I’m going to have to let her row a boat. Awesome.
Shenae kept pulling, on the oars until she figured she was so far from the property there was no way they could see her, even if they had night sights. ‘Course, if’n they had night sights, they’da shot me to ribbons while I was pulling out the boat house. Then Shenae turned the boat toward her intended destination. She’d picked the biggest, gaudiest, most palatial estate on the lake, on the theory that there would be security, there. The lake was big enough that the kidnappers could drive around all night and not find where she ran aground. Plus, good luck getting a look at the lake from the front side of all the properties surrounding it.
Shenae rowed the boat right up the shallow beach of the property she’d been aiming for. As the rowboat grounded, she said, “Okay, my little muffins! Time to et out of the boat!” It couldn’t be helped that she exit the boat ankle deep in water, but she grabbed each of the kids in turn and swung them up onto the pebbly beach of the property. Taking them each by the hand, she began walking toward the house, a chateau that Louis XIV may well have stayed at. As they walked up the manicured lawn toward the house—“house, hah!” a uniformed security guy came around the corner and bustled toward them.
While the guy was still maybe 100 meters off, Shenae considered, Okay, what’s the play? Stainless steel ball-buster, or damsel in distress? Right about then, another armed security guy came around from the other corner of frikkin’ Versailles, with a German Shepherd Dog on a leash. Aaand damsel in distress it is. “Okay, kids, do what I do.”
Shenae dropped to her knees and threw the MP-5 out in front of her a good ten feet, then pulled the pistol from the waistband of her Lululemons (Ow, I didn’t realize how uncomfortable that was ’til just now) and pitched it next to the sub-gun. She shrugged out of her nanny coat and held her arms out to her sides. Aw, jeez, forgot all I’m wearing is a sports bra. “Please!,” she began weeping. A little snot, kiddo. A little snot always seals the deal. “Please! Call the police! Please! They are trying to kidnap the children!” Tears sprang from her eyes. Snot leaked from her nose. Shenae realized mid-snot snorffle that she wasn’t really acting all that much.
Police came. Other police were dispatched to Chateau d’Fancypants. Once the body in the kitchen was discovered, the gendarmerie descended on the chateau and around Shenae and the kids in full force. The cops gave Shenae and the kids a ride-with-armed-escort back to Fanypants. On Benjamin’s behalf, Shenae asked if they could turn on the lights and siren. The driver’s English was less than stellar (Better’n my French. I gotta fix that) but he got the gist and turned on lights and siren, thereby making Benjamin assess that he had the coolest nanny ever.
Hours later, there were still police vehicles at Fancypants, processing the scene. Mr. and Mrs. Katzman had hired an on-call helicopter service to get to the chateau in the fastest possible manner. Mrs. Katzman had gone upstairs to lay down with her kids. It was a different bedroom than they’d had, as the scene in front of their old room, where Shenae had shot the snot out of two bad men was still being processed. Shenae’s only request had been that whatever bedroom Mrs. Katzman chose to pull close her kids, it have an adjoining room for Shenae.
Shenae had bummed a couple of Galoises from one of the EMTs at the scene. When she broke the filter off and lit up, the guy had just given her an insider’s nod and moved off. Shenae had seen her dad and her “uncles” from his work do so with their cigarettes countless times around the fire pit out back behind the house, as they drank from mason jars and told stories. Gosh, so many of those guys are gone now. She remembered watching at the edge of the firelight with one of her brothers, Liam, as they told stories. Sometimes, one of the guys would break down crying, and be pointedly ignored by the others, except for maybe a hand to the shoulder, or a soft clinking of mason jars. Other times, someone would cry and be teased mercilessly by all the other bearded men around the fire. Shenae had never figured out the criteria for eliciting one response or the other. For whatever reason, the circular fountain with its burbling waters reminded her of the fire pit.
Mr. Katzman walked up after long conversations with the police that were scouring the Chateau d’Fancypants. Lean, but not skinny, with thinning hair and tortoise shell glasses, he said, “The police will stay until the security professionals I hired get here.”
Shenae nodded and said, “Good.”
Mr. Katzman had his hands in his pockets. He shuffled his feet a little and said, “Shenae, I’ll never be able to thank you enough. What you did here was simply amazing.”
Shenae said, “Yeh, well my dad talked me through it.”
Shenae took a last drag off the smoke, pinched and rolled the burning ember off it, and then proceeded to micro-roll the remains.
Mr. Katzman toed the cobblestones of the driveway, maybe a little awkwardly.
“Um, Shenae, didn’t your dad die in Syria last year?”
“Yeah,” she said, exhaling the last of her smoke. “Yeah he did.”Published in