Hump Day (BedTime) Storytime #2: Daddy’s Girl

I am most definitely, a Daddy’s Girl. I adore my Father. I call him “Poppa Smurf,” because much like the little blue-bearded cartoon character, my Daddy takes care of many (as in his kids, his girlfriend and her kids, his ex-girlfriends and their kids, his siblings, their kids, old homies fresh out of prison who need some money or a job to get on their feet…you get the point. He’s that guy), often, to his detriment. And I love my Momma one-hundred, but growing up, it was my Poppa Smurf who I chose to spend most of my time around. He was like Superman to me. People came to his shop sad and downtrodden and left with spirits uplifted and smiles on their faces.

To spend as much time as possible with Poppa Smurf, I would do whatever he liked to do.

Daddy’s Likes: work, talking shit, playing the lottery, watching baseball, and philosophizing, about women, mostly. Out of my (available) choices, I chose to work with him. So, from 7 to 18, I spent most summers and weekends of my adolescence down at his shop serving in the unofficial capacity of secretary/ “do-girl.” The latter was a term that I hated, even though that’s what Daddy called the different women who came down to the shop to run his errands, many of whom were “dating” him.

“There go ya new stepmomma Jas,” or, “Oooohhhweee, I might have to make her my new Do Girl,” he’d say when a woman pulled up who caught his fancy. He would immediately turn to catch my expression. I would crinkle my nose and scowl my disapproval. He would burst out laughing.

“Jas,” he said one day as soon as I answered my cell in the parking lot after school. By high school, my Do-Girl duties had expanded to include inventory pick-ups, client drop-offs, and food runs.

“Yeah Daddy?” I sighed. He can’t even say “Hey Jas, how was school today? How’s the college search going? Do you have time to run an errand for me?” I wanted my relationship with my Dad to be like what I imagined other kids had with their parents. But then, I’d immediately scold myself for not be grateful for what I had.

“You got anything to do after school today?”

Sometimes, I would be tempted to lie, depending on whether he’d said something mean to me recently. But more than likely, I never wanted to leave him having to deal with one of those trifling (this was pre- “ratchet”) women that he usually got to run his errands (by now, I had discovered that they were financial succubuses and a threat to my revenue stream). Honor thy Father and Mother. I was his daughter. I felt it was my duty. Plus, it gave me an excuse to spend a little time with him.

“No sir, I’m free. Whatchu need?”

“Come by the shop and pick up this money and this bill then go by the Water Gas & Light.”

“Yessir.”

“And don’t take all damn day Jas; hurry up and get here because I need it done before they close. Move like a Muslim not like a Christian. Move like a Muslim not like a Christian. Move like a Muslim not like–”

“Yessir,” I’d say, loudly cutting him off. This was when my Pops was going through his Minister Farrakhan phase. My sisters and I were raised Christian, so he knew it got under my skin that he was purposely being annoying, inappropriate, and brash. He however, would hang up laughing.

 

********

 

Today, my Dad called me while I was in the car with a guy friend of mine. This is a guy who has shown interest in the past in wanting to, at the very least, be intimate with me, perhaps more. I declined, telling him I didn’t feel like we were on the same wavelength. We’ve become cool friends instead. Anyway, for some reason, some part of me wanted him to witness the interaction between my father and I. I think it was because, I am proud of my father and I like to show him off in spite of, and perhaps a little bit because of, his inappropriateness. He’s a real badass and he’s gonna be who he is and do what he wants. I admire that freed will. Daddy comes on the line through a garbled connection:

“Taz? Taz? Jas, can you hear me?”

When I do finally hear him it doesn’t help that he’s talking to me through a mouthful of food.

“You eatin’ Daddy?”

“What? Am I eatin’? Yeah.” He mutches on through muffled mouthfuls.

“Whatchu eating Daddy?” The guy friend in the car is about to get out, but pauses a moment as if to hear Daddy’s response.

“A chanarygearsg”

“A what?”

“A csjdfhiely”

“Huh?” I hear him gulp.

“I said, a canary, man.”

I busted out laughing so hard it echoed through the parking deck. My friend exited the vehicle with a smirk and a chuckle.

“Did you just say a canary?! Man, I thought you said, ‘something hairy.’”

“Nah man. A canary. Something hairy?? Oh man. I’m not touching that one.”

I laughed again. Given his bawdy sense of humor, I wasn’t either. But that’s my Daddy. The funny guy. The cool guy. The asshole. The boss. We talked briefly, he telling me that he spoke with my oldest sister and my nephew a few days ago, but me knowing that he was really just checking to make sure I was okay in the world and had some money in my pockets. I skirted the money issue somewhat. This is my burden to bear, my mountain to climb. I didn’t want to tell my Dad about any problems until I have answers. So I stretch the truth, a little.

“What you up to Jas?”

“Oh, not much,“ I say, trying to sound breezy. In reality, my days are filled with writing copy for my website while I frantically apply to all manner of freelance, seasonal, and part-time writing work, with the hopes of landing something that allows me to pay my bills, still have pocket money, and energy enough to keep up with my creative pursuits. There are many pots on the stove.

In 15 months, I want to be living in a tiny house on a plot of land that I will be lease-purchasing. In the meantime, I plan to go study abroad in Paris to study and work on writing my book in a small village sometime in the next few quarters.

If I tell my Father these plans, he will only fret. He will see dollar bills. He will see my lack of employment and “reliable” means of income. He will worry, though he may not say, about what happened to me the last time I went abroad (“You’re a woman Jas. It’s not safe.”). He may even worry a little about my sanity. Safe to say, he won’t see my vision.

So, I don’t tell him. And in his case, that’s okay. Poppa Smurf and I have a strange relationship, one where he doesn’t really care to know what exactly it is that I’m doing, though he would prefer it be something worth my potential. So as far as my Pops is concerned, as long as I’m either a good person or a lucrative, slick criminal, do me (It is worth mentioning that I am a bad criminal. Once, when I was arrested for shoplifting, I broke down crying on the floor of the grocery store manager’s office. Like, on my knees, on the floor. I shoulda won a Tony. I just kept saying over and over again, “I am SOOOOOOO sorry! I am sooooo sorry! I wasn’t raised this way!” My sister was on the phone cursing me out as I tried to tell her which precinct to come to to bail me out. The store manager was a young white man who was prematurely balding. When I had been apprehended, he’d said, “We got her.” During my award-winning performance, he stood in the doorway with a smirk on his face. I noticed through my tears and it only made the embarrassment that much more visceral. But, that’s for another Storytime).

My guy friend came back to the car from his errand panting from the heat. This guy, always making moves, I thought to myself. In spite of our incompatibility, I greatly admire his work ethic.

“You know, you remind me of my Dad.” He smiles a little, snapping his seat belt.

“Oh yeah? How so?”

“My Daddy works and works and works so he has money to take care of everyone; like his kids, his family, his girlfriends’ kids, his ex-girlfriends and their kids and literally half of my hometown has come to my Pops for a loan.”

“That’s how it’s supposed to be. Your Pops is a good dude.”

“Yeah, but he never took me to a park, or a movie…like I would give anything to just go to a play with my Pops, just the two of us.”

“Yeah, but he took care of you right? Made sure you had what you needed? He showed you love in other ways.”

“Yeah…he did.”

Whether or not my Dad was a good Dad is inconclusive. Mostly, I feel like the proof is in the pudding on that one. If I let all the foul shit he said to me growing up motivate me to write and to share, then I guess he was a good Pops after all. It’s gonna come out in the wash. Parenting is a complex thing that I am in no hurry to take on.

These days, the goal is just to keep working and show him that his weekly calls asking me “What you up to Jas?” and “You good?” followed by a bank run, are not financial investments that are ill-spent. Poppa Smurf has some funny ways about him, but he’s my Poppa Smurf. And I want to make my Daddy, proud of me. Prouder, of me. Like a little girl in a pink dress in the school spelling bee, I can’t lie, I do. That’s what part of my writing is about. It’s me trying to say all the things I have been too young, too timid, too whatever to say to my Daddy, words that I need him to mull over, turn in his mind. And so. I write. I write, with the hopes that my words will make him, and other fathers and men who hope to someday become fathers, think hard about their roles and responsibilities. Perhaps they will realize, it’s never too late to take your little girl out for dinner and a movie.

In so doing, hopefully I’ll make my heavenly Father proud(er) of me too.

 

 

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Hump Day (BedTime) Storytime #2: Daddy’s Girl

Why Louis Vuitton’s ad campaign with Jaden Smith is not progressive

(originally published here)

LV Jaden photo
Louis Vuitton LVSERIES4 2016.

Recently, Louis Vuitton released an ad campaign in which Jaden Smith, 17, son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, is the new face of their SS 2016 Womenswear line and the third installment of their Series 4 Campaign. If your eyebrow went up, not to worry, you were not alone. And trust me, I’m a pretty progressive thinker, open to entertaining a variety of perspectives and notions, but calling this “progressive,” I don’t get. Progressive would have been if they created unisex-wear, or better yet, put out a press release that stated they were dropping “Womens” and “Mens” from all signage throughout their stores and campaigns from this day forward so that clothing simply says “Wear.” They could also have runway shows with models of all gender expressions fully integrated into every show.

That would have been progressive and that would be setting a precedent, especially as the oldest fashion house, for what the future of fashion should look like. It would, that is, if they were really about that life and trying to be all activist-minded like they’ve been making themselves out to be in the media.  Hiring a famous young black dude with a slight build and soft features to wear a black skirt with metallic embellishments, a white fringe tank, and a black moto jacket surrounded by what feels like a harem of rail-thin white girls, and then calling it an ad for Womenswear, is just LV trying to create a visual question mark, trying to elicit some kind of emotion and that, is not progressive.How can it be, when Prince and David Bowie, respectfully, did it first? It reads, instead, as desperate.

More than that, it reads inauthentic and exploitative of young Smith and the wisdom of naiveté. With more and more conversations around sexuality, sexual orientation, gender as binary and gender identity happening around the country, many brands and companies seem to feel the need to show that they’re down. Which, when done well, can be good. Think of Cheerios and their interracial family commercials. See? Warm fuzzies, right? In contrast, LV claiming to be progressive in gender-bending with this ad feels tired. And, let’s not forget that just a week before releasing Jaden’s ad, Vuitton had just announced that Lightning, a character from the Final Fantasy game series, would also be the face of their Series4 Campaign, the name given to the collection of visual works that comprise the SS 2016 ad campaign for Louis Vuitton. Marc Jacobs has been gone for a while now, and new Director Nicolas Ghesquière is trying to shake things up, make his mark. It’s cool. I get it. So, was he successful in his efforts? For sure, but perhaps for some of the wrong reasons? Definitely. This ad didn’t feel like the Cheerios ad or even close. This felt like, “Hey look over here, we’re Louis Vuitton doing something totally new! We’ve got a guy in a skirt! A black guy! And it’s in an ad for women’s clothes! Can you believe it?! See, it’s cool and edgy and outside the box for guys to wear what girls wear! Whoa!”

Dear LV: if shallow is how you’ve made your money all this time, stick to what works, and don’t suddenly try to become deep. Let’s be real: you are a bit conceited, snobbish and self-aggrandizing. Perfect for an overpriced, really old clothier that is attempting a new direction. Perhaps this is the positioning Louis Vuitton should have claimed, instead of “progressive.”

Why Louis Vuitton’s ad campaign with Jaden Smith is not progressive

Case File Update #6: CASE CLOSED!

Mr. Hill is the first to speak.

“You know who the kidnapper is? Well, out with it Detective! Who is it, so we can go get our Harrietta?”

“Well, it’s a classic tale with a twist, really. You see Mr. Hill, Brittany is in love with Harry,” you state matter-of-factly.

“What!?” Brittany’s neck burns with crimson splotches that are covered by make-up on her face.

“It’s no use denying it, Brittany. You have been in love with Harry for some time and have found it more and more difficult to be around him and Harrietta together. Your fellow cheerleaders knew, right Jasmine and Mary Michael?”

“Huh,” the women say in unison.

“Sure. You two knew, because Brittany would confide in you, perhaps tell you things that she said Harry had told her about how mean or unsupportive Harrietta was to Harry, things to make you think negatively about Harrietta?”

Harry was standing now. “Brittany,” he questions softly, “you didn’t do that, did you? Smear Harrietta’s name with lies to our friends? You’re supposed to be my best friend. Why would you do that?”

Brittany is holding her head in her hands, slumped forward in her chair. At the sound of Harry’s words, she jumps to her feet. Tears stream down her face as she whirls to face him.

“Because I don’t want to be your friend, Harry! Don’t you see that? I am madly in love with you! And I don’t understand why you don’t feel the same. I mean, who really supports your dreams? Who’s been pushing you to go to Hollywood? Not her. Me, that’s who. Not Harrietta.”

Without missing a beat, Harry continues. “Where is she?”

Brittany snorts. “Oh so now just because I don’t like your girlfriend, I’m guilty of kidnap?”

Everybody says in unison, “Yes.”

“No,” you say. “That is not what that means.”

“No,” questions the group in unison.

“No, but it may mean that extremely loyal and easily manipulated friends and colleagues can find themselves pulled into something that is quickly over their heads. As you say this, you begin to stroll toward the other end of the table. “Right Mary Michael and Jasmine?”

Mary Michael has been staring at Jasmine shaking her head ever-so-slightly.

But by now, Jasmine is ignoring her.

“Jasmine? Is there something you want to say?”

“We just couldn’t kill her. She’s our friend,” Jasmine blurts out.

“Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP,” Brittany screams from across the room. Mary Michael sits with her head hung low. The room is completely silent, like the air has been sucked out.

“Brittany convinced us that the only way for her and Harry to ever be together, was to remove Harrietta from the equation. The way she explained things, once Harrietta was gone, Harry would need comforting and she could swoop in. They would be together, finally, and would fly off into the sunset to LA to start their new careers in Hollywood,” Jasmine finishes.

“We were the henchmen long before we realized it,” adds Mary Michael. “And by the time we did, we were too afraid of her to back out. So, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, we called Harrietta from an office line in the arena and told her we had car trouble. She said she’d come down and pick us up.”

“She’s so kind like that,” says Jasmine.

“But when she got here, we asked her to come in the arena for a bit so we could finish packing everything away,” Mary Michael says. “When she wasn’t looking, we knocked a row of floor mats over onto her. One hit her in the head and knocked her out.”

“We thought she was dead at first, and we panicked. We realized we didn’t want to kill anybody, especially somebody as nice to us as Harrietta is.”

“Is?? So after all of that, you two screw-ups really didn’t kill her after all? Just for that, I should end you both with my bare hands.”

“Where. Is. She?” This time, Harry’s words were loud, clear, and cut through everything else.

“She’s in the boiler room,” Jasmine whispers.

You motion for the officers who you had sent to the scene by the Chief to come in now. Pointing out the perpetrators for arrest, you get on one of their walkies and say, “Have an EMT meet us down in the boiler room of Philips Arena, stat! And have a veterinarian in the area on standby!”

Mr. Teague, Mr. Horford, Mr. Korver, Mr. Hill, Harry, and even Mr. Goldwater rush after you as you run to the nearest set of stairs that access the boiler room. As you run, you hear Brittany being belligerent with the arresting officers while Jasmine sobs and Mary Michael has gone stoic.

As the door to stairwell closes behind the group, Brittany’s parting words echo in the stairwell and in everyone’s head:

“And I woulda gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddlin’ Detective!”

Case File Update #6: CASE CLOSED!

Case File Update #5, Part II

“So, we know that Harrietta went missing sometime between Saturday night after 11PM and before 9AM Sunday morning. I have confirmed the alibis of Mr. Hill; you were at a 24-hour charity marathon with your wife?”

“That is correct.”

“And you were photographed with Mr. Korver, Mr. Horford, and Mr. Teague and their significant others, who were in attendance as well?”

“Yes.”

“But how do you know they were there all night,” Brittany suddenly interjects.

“Great question, Brittany,” you say. “Multiple guests and food staff confirmed having to fulfill orders for turkey sandwiches on rye and bowls of spaghetti for these three throughout the night and into the morning.”

“We were hungry,” Mr. Teague says guiltily. “Plus, we’ve been trying to put on as much muscle mass as possible before the season revs up. We didn’t mean to be an inconvenience.”

“Not at all, Mr. Teague. Just stating facts. Now for that earlier question Mary Michael asked: Brittany, if you weren’t with Mary Michael and Jasmine, where were you?”

“I can’t say.”

“No? Why not?”

“Look, if you wanna get on someone’s case and find holes in their stories, you should ask those two what they were doing the whole time they say they were together practicing. You practiced all night?? I mean, think about it. Plus, Harrietta’s a big ole bird.”

“That doesn’t sound very nice Brittany,” Kyle says.

“I don’t care if it sounds nice, Kyle.” Brittany lets out an exasperated sigh. “You know what? I’m not gonna say where I was because I don’t want you losers ruining my chances at stardom. But I will say this: I was working on making my career dreams come true that night. So I couldn’t have possibly kidnapped Harrietta. Besides, like I said, she’s a big girl. It would take two people to subdue her, at least.” Brittany cuts her eyes at Jasmine and Mary Michael.

“Why Brittany, it sounds as if you are trying to insinuate we had something to do with Harrietta’s disappearance,” says Jasmine.

“Did you?”

“Of course not Detective! We love Harrietta, remember? It’s why we came right over when you called this meeting,” Jasmine reassured. She paused for a moment as if considering her next statement. “And, I know what those little red and blue pieces on the ransom note are, too.”

This time, it was Mary Michael who’s head jerked toward Jasmine.

“You do?”

“Well, I think I do, Detective…they look like the plastic our cheerleading pom-poms are made from.”

“Indeed they do, Jasmine, indeed they do. Is there anyone who can confirm that you and Mary Michael were practicing between the hours of 11PM and 9AM?”

“No, we were in the arena alone. There may be some video of us in the halls on the way to the locker rooms at different points, but nothing continuous.” Jasmine looked quickly at Mary Michael again. “Actually, I’m not sure the cameras are on that late or can pick up anything in the dark, but yeah…we were here practicing all night.”

“Thank you for your honesty, Jasmine.” You stand to address the whole group. Harry is conscious again, laying with a cool towel on his head on Mr. Hill’s couch. “I know who kidnapped Harrietta.”

Do you know who kidnapped Harrietta? If you do, now is the time to write in to the Chief (reply below!) and let him know:

-Whodunit? And,

            -Why?

Tune in tomorrow for the epic conclusion and to find out which Detective won in, “Case File Update #6: Case CLOSED”!

Case File Update #5, Part II

Who-Done-It Mystery Case File Update #4, Part II

Everyone gasps as they examine the paper. Harry faints. Mr. Hill slams the paper down suddenly and spins around, pointing an accusing finger at Jerry.

“Harrietta does not do Hollywood?! This is your fault! Whoever these people are, they have come after our beloved Harrietta, trying to spook Harry. Who do you owe money?! The Italian mafia? Some casino bosses? A madame? And now they’re trying to shake Harry and his Hawks family down using Harrietta, huh?!” He rushed over to Jerry, grabbing him up bodily. “Answer me! Answer me, you bamboozling crook!”

You step in before things begin to escalate, pulling the men apart. Once things settle again, you turn to Mr. Goldwater also.

“Mr. Goldwater, care to answer?”

“Ohhh no. You people aren’t gonna pin this thing on me, no sir. As much as I didn’t like that chick, I know that hurting her in any way takes my golden goose out of action. And no way I’m trying to risk that. Yes, I owe a lotta people, a lotta money. And, Harry is gonna fix that problem for me. So even though it’s only for my own selfish reasons, I want the little clucker back. Besides, if anybody had anything to do with this, it’s that ginger. She’s obsessed with Harry.”

“No I’m not!” Brittany had jumped to her feet.

“Oh no? Then how come you always seem to come around when Harrietta’s not with Harry? That’ why I’m not worried about her, because I know if it’s left up to you, she’ll be out of the picture soon anyway! Wasn’t it you who told me ‘not to worry about’ that little birdie, that she was gonna ‘fly the coop soon enough’?”

Now Brittany laughs louder than what seems necessary.

“Old Man, you sound absolutely crazy. How could I be the one who kidnapped Harrietta when I was with Jasmine and Mary Michael the whole weekend, practicing our new routines for opening week, right girls?”

But instead of Mary Michael and Jasmine chiming in the way they normally did, there is silence. Brittany whips around to look at her faithful cronies.

“Girls??” Hushed whispering can be heard between Jasmine and Mary Michael at the opposite end of the table. “Girls? Are you listening? I was with you two all weekend, isn’t that right?”

“No, that’s not right,” Mary Michael finally answers.

Like a light, Brittany instantly switches. She lunges across the table, clawing at Mary Michael’s face.

Think you’re close to figuring it out? Tune in next time for, “Case File Update #5: Crook in the Chicken Coop!”

Who-Done-It Mystery Case File Update #4, Part II

Case File Update #5, Part I: Crook in the Chicken Coop

Al Horford sees what is about to transpire and uses his lightening-quick reflexes to drag Brittany across the table and back to her seat, preventing what would have surely been attempted murder.

Because of all the commotion, Harry finally comes to from his fainting spell.

Voice shaking, Mary Michael says again, a little louder this time, “No, that’s not right.” A hushed murmur spreads around the room.

You have now listened to the important people and bird in Harrietta’s life for over an hour. You decide now is the time to present the final piece of the puzzle and see what happens.

“Well, I think this would be as good a time as any to add the latest informational update to this discussion. The paper that Mr. Hill is holding, is actually a scanned copy of the original. The original was sent off to the GBI lab for forensic testing.” You pause for a moment to look around the table and gauge reactions. But everyone starts to fidget and look around the table as well. “We found trace elemental particles of a polyethylene compound. It appeared to be two-tone in coloration, a metallic red and blue mix that was fused into the adhesive underneath the letters. Also, the paper is the same brand used by the Atlanta Hawks.”

You see confused expressions come across the players’ faces as they turn and look at each other, as if asking silently, “What the devil is made of red and blue chemicals that has something to do with the Hawks?? And, what is ‘polyetha-something’ anyway?”

“So it’s been you all along, huh Grant? Is that why you tried to pin it on me, because you’re the crook? You probably sat in this nice office and cut out letters in the air conditioning while Harrietta’s somewhere stuffed in a hot pen.”

“Wait, what? Grant, you kidnapped Harrietta?” Harry looks like his red feathers have taken on a sickly tinge of green. “This is all…just..too much..” Harry faints again.

“I always knew nobody could be that giving and open-hearted in reality,” Jeff sneers. “Your poor wife. She’s gonna get the shock of her life about her perfect husband.”

Before Jerry can get out the last syllable, Grant Hill, apparently still incredibly agile since his time away from the court, is out of his chair, around the table, and within arm’s reach. He takes the opportunity to sock Jerry in the nose. The motion is so quick and smooth, you never see it coming until it’s too late. Dark red blood pours like a faucet from the center of Mr. Goldwater’s face.

“My nose! My frikkin nose! I think you broke my nose, you jerk! Did you see that Detective?”

“See what,” you say calmly.

“Are you serious?!”

“Yes, Mr. Goldwater, I am. And, I suggest you clean yourself up and get serious as well. Especially since our investigation also uncovered unexplained large sums of money that seem to be magically moving from a bank account for the agency you work for in LA and your personal bank account.”

Jerry the Agent, finally falls silent.

Part II is but a click away!

Case File Update #5, Part I: Crook in the Chicken Coop

Murder Mystery Case File Update #4, Part I

Case File Update #4: The Search, or Hawkeyed at Philips Arena

“How do you know it’s not a scam? How do you know it’s even the real Harrietta?”

Mr. Goldwater!” Mr. Hill looks at him sharply.

“I mean, I want to get Harrietta home safely just like everybody else,” Jerry Goldwater says, “but it’s like I said before: she probably just ran away for awhile, or, or…naaah.”

“What? Or what?” Harry paces nervously, running his feathers through his Mohawk over and over again.

“Or, maybe she’s the one trying to get the ransom.”

What?” Everyone turns to face Jerry the Agent.

You, Grant Hill, Harry the Hawk, Jerry the Agent, Brittany, Jasmine, Mary Michael, Kyle Korver, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague sit around a large wooden table in Mr. Hill’s massive office.

It appears that Jerry the Agent has finally said too much, you think to yourself.

“Jerry, if it weren’t for Harrietta, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” Harry says. “I can’t believe you would even suggest such a thing as that, man. Watch yourself.”

“Yes, Mr. Goldwater,” Grant Hill interjects. “You are about one more comment away from being dismissed from this building and your job, if I have anything to say about it. Harrietta is family and we are not going to tolerate you disrespecting our family member.” Mr. Hill turns to you. “Detective, shall we begin?”

“Yes, please Mr. Hill. I have already been debriefed on the latest developments in the case, so if you don’t mind, I would like for you to share what you know concerning the ransom with everyone first.” As Mr. Hill begins, you settle into your seat and watch the room.

“Roughly an hour ago, I received a delivery from a courier service, followed by a call from an eerie voice. And I mean eerie. It sounded like the guy from the Saw movies. It was scary.” Mr. Hill took a deep breath and continued. The voice said, ‘We have Harrietta. Leave $1 million in unmarked bills in a black dufflebag in the last stall of the men’s bathroom in H-Section by the start of halftime of the Charlotte Hornets game on Friday. Try anything funny, and you can reference my message to see what will happen.’ They hung up. I opened the brown envelope that the Courier dropped off. This was inside.”

Mr. Hill holds up a white sheet of paper encased in an evidence bag. All the letters on the paper have been cut from different magazines. There are two side-by-side pictures in the center of the paper. The left photo is of a bound and gagged Harrietta, tied to a chair in a dark room. The right photo is of a bucket of chicken from KFC.

The message reads, “How do you like your bird: rare, or well done??” There is a skull and cross bones underneath the pictures and a hashtag:

#HarriettaDoesNotDoHollywood.

Stayed tuned for Part II!

Murder Mystery Case File Update #4, Part I