A Kidnapping in Haiti



For the third night in a row, people continued to come and go, and the living room stayed full. Francky’s mother and another female relative sat with Tania in shifts of an hour or two. All of them were sleepy, but no one wanted to lie down.

On Monday morning, the people from the Baptist church came and said they were going to have a church service in the living room. The preacher, a man named Bethany, said a prayer that was more like a sermon: “I don’t know why the thieves came to Francky and Tania’s house,”  he said, “but I want to say one thing. If it was because of the three trucks in front of their house, if they had three trucks before, then I pray that they will have six trucks after. We know those are service vehicles. We know they are used to serve the community. We know that if someone is sick in the middle of the night, we can go to Francky and Tania’s, and they will take us to the hospital.” It sounded like he was speaking to God, but it also seemed that he was sending a message to whomever the kidnappers had placed in the house.

At the end of the church service, Bethany asked Tania and Francky if they would like to say anything. Francky said, “I know that Fabby is not going to die. I know that I am going to see her again.” He quoted a Haitian proverb: The innocent never take the place of the guilty. “We know that Fabby has never done anything wrong,” he said. “She is innocent.” He said if they were going to pray, they should pray that he could find the money to pay the kidnappers and get his daughter back.

After the service, Francky’s sisters prepared crackers, sandwiches, and drinks in the kitchen. Francky had to pay for everything they served, so he told them to stop feeding anyone but family members. After he ate, he went to work, trying to put the money together. One after another, he called his cousins and uncles in Haiti and New York. They all said they did not have infinite sums of money. They asked Francky what the final ransom amount would be. Francky did not know.

Francky called the commander again and began to negotiate. It was not as difficult as he had imagined. The men at the UN said they thought the kidnappers would settle for $5,000, and as soon as Francky offered $5,000, the commander accepted. He told Francky to call him back as soon as he had the money.

He called his cousins and uncles again, and once they learned that he had negotiated a ransom of $5,000, they agreed to help. He went to visit some of them, and some of them brought the money to the house. The New York relatives sent the money via wire transfer, and Francky drove into town with four of his friends and relatives to make the transactions.

By 4 PM Monday afternoon, he had the $5,000 in cash. He sat in his truck near the police station in Pétionville and called the kidnappers. “Wait,” the commander said.

Francky called again at 7 PM. “Come get the money,” he said. “Call again at 10 PM,” the commander said.

He sat in the truck until 10 PM, and then called again.

“Who is in the truck with you?” the commander said.

“I have four people with me,” Francky said. “There are five of us altogether.”

“You need to be in the truck by yourself,” the commander said.

Francky told them to get out of the truck. Three of them walked down the street and got into a nearby car where another friend was waiting, but Francky’s friend Annes refused to go and lay down in the back seat. “I’m not going to leave you alone,” he said.

At midnight, Francky called again.

“We’re waiting for you,” the commander said. “Come by yourself to Delmas 83.”

Francky told Annes to get out of the truck and drove alone in the direction of Delmas 83. When he was en route, the phone rang. “Not Delmas 83,” the commander said. “Delmas 64.”

When he reached Delmas 64, the phone rang again. “Stop right there,”  the voice said. “You’re Francky?”

“Yes,” Francky said.

“Park the truck and get out.”

Francky obeyed.

“Lift your hands in the air and lift up your shirt.”

Francky did as he was told.

A man stood in the shadows underneath some bushes and called Francky’s name. He came out of the shadows, stood in the road, and reached out and took the black plastic money bag Francky held in his fist. It was dark. There were no street lights. Francky could not see his face.

He asked Francky one more time to lift his shirt and show he didn’t have a gun. Francky lifted his shirt.

When Francky got back into the truck, he saw two Nissan patrols approaching. The phone rang. “Are these the police you sent?” the voice said.

“No,” Francky said. “The only police I have is God in heaven.”

The Nissan patrols passed.

“Wait 30 minutes,” the voice said, “and we will bring Fabby to you.”

Francky waited 30 minutes. Then he called the kidnapper. “Where are you?”  he said.

“Go back to Pétionville, and wait there.”

By 1:30 AM on Tuesday, he was waiting in Pétionville in front of the St. Pierre Catholic Church. Annes rejoined him, and waited with him in the truck.

At 2 AM, he called the kidnapper, but no one answered the phone.

Every 10 to 15 minutes, Tania called, “Do you have Fabby?”

“Do you have Fabby?”

“Do you have Fabby?”

Francky continued to call the kidnapper, but now it seemed he turned off his phone. At 5 AM, Annes said, “It’s too late. They’re not going to give Fabby back today. Let’s all go home.” So they did, in a caravan, with Francky and Annes in the truck in the front and the other family and friends in the car in the back.

When they reached the house, everyone—family, friends, neighbors, and Tania out front—was waiting by the gate to see if they had brought Fabby home.

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 →