A Kidnapping in Haiti

By

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The next day, Saturday, some family members tried to call the kidnappers on the cell phone they had stolen. Tania told them to hang up the phone. Lonnie called Francky. She had contacted a policeman who had some experience with ransom negotiations. “They’re going to start really high,” she said. “They’re going to ask a lot of questions. They’re going to put pressure on you. You have to be patient.”

She drove to the house and picked up Francky and took him to the United Nations compound to meet a Haitian-American negotiator who had worked for the New York Police Department. Francky gave him a statement. When he returned home, a visiting Haitian policeman wearing civilian clothing pulled Tania and Francky into the bedroom and said, “Be careful what you say in the living room. It would be easy for the kidnappers to keep an ear in there.” He said it was possible that the same person who had tipped off the kidnappers about Francky and his trucks was in the house right this minute. Tania told the others who had been in the house during the break-in—Clonette, Nadia, and Serge—to keep quiet about the details of what had happened.

Later that afternoon, the UN negotiator came to the house with two French UN kidnapping investigators who asked follow-up questions and searched the house for physical evidence. Someone came into the bedroom with a cup full of bullets they found all over the house. The UN investigators took them for analysis and said they must have come from pretty big guns. They saw the hole where the big man shot into the bedroom ceiling, and they told Francky the bullet should be somewhere in the room. They asked him to strip the bedding. The bullet had entered the mattress where Talor, the 5-year-old, had been laying. The bullet missed his leg by inches.

***

Francky visited the investigators at the UN again on Sunday, and when he returned home, Tania said, “I can’t go another day without hearing her voice. You have to call the big man. Even if the money is not ready, I need to talk to Fabby. I need to know if she is dead or alive.” A few weeks prior, in Cap Haïtien, a 6-year-old girl was kidnapped, and her father did not know as he handed over the ransom money that his daughter was already dead.

Francky called. The man who answered called himself the commander. Francky said, “Hello, commander.”

The commander said, “How are you doing?”

Francky said, “We’re fine. We’d like to talk to Fabby.”

“She’s sleeping,” the commander said and hung up. Ten minutes later, he called back. “Fabby is watching TV,” the commander said.

“I want to talk to her,” Francky said. Then he heard her voice: “Hello, Daddy.”

“Hello, Fabby. Have you been bathing and eating?”

“No, Daddy.”

The commander took the phone. “What do you have for me?” he said.

“I’m going to have to borrow some money,” Francky said. “I don’t have money. It’s the weekend. The banks aren’t open.”

“What will you give me?” the commander said.

“I will give you $3,000,” Francky said.

“Is that all she’s worth?” the commander said. “$3,000?”

“No,” Francky said. “She’s worth more than that, but I don’t have any money.”

“You don’t have any money yet,” the commander said.

“I will call you back,” Francky said.

There were no more phone conversations on Sunday.


Kyle Minor is the winner of the 2012 Iowa Review Prize for Short Fiction. His second collection of short fiction, Praying Drunk, will be published in 2014 by Sarabande Books. His recent work appears in The Southern Review, Gulf Coast, Best American Mystery Stories, and Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers. More from this author →