The Snatching of Katrina Taughtbottom by the Trope Brothers: Take 1

Chloe set a fresh round of beers on the table.

“Thanks,” Zach said, flashing a smile and a wink, “You’re the best!”

Chloe’s heart fluttered like a palsied butterfly. She chided herself for reacting like a school-girl face to face with the star quarterback. But goddamn, what a handsome man. A thousand Armani-clad McConaugheys driving a thousand Lincolns couldn’t weaken a red-blooded woman’s knees more that a single, cheeky wink from Zach Trope.

“My pleasure,” she responded with a smile and wink of her own, determined to give as good as she got. “Let me know if you guys need anything else.”

“Thanks, Chloe,” said the other mountain of a man sitting at the table. Chloe smiled and squeezed the shoulder of the living, breathing Incredible Hulk as she moved away. Patting the massive Jimmy Trope, Zach’s brother, on the shoulder was, she imagined, like patting a Clydesdale. She was certain he could hold her off the ground with one hand. If only she had a sugarcube.

Zach returned to the business at hand. The caper. “So, what we need in the next day or two is to go down our Rolodex and contract one of our favorite pickpockets.”

“We don’t have a Rolodex,” Jimmy said. “Not for, like, ten years or something.”

Zach sighed. “I mean metaphorically. We need a pickpocket. Let’s think of the guys we know and get a hold of one of ’em. Flat fee though, not percentage.”

“Okay,” Jimmy shrugged.

“We need someone to bump Dad. We’ll use his credit card and banking info, and who knows what else we might find, as leverage for the ransom. But mainly, we want the picture of Katrina we know he keeps in his wallet. We’re going to use it in our ransom demands. It’ll shake him up.”

“Got it. We need a Leonardo DiCaprio.”

“What?”

“From Ocean’s Eleven. Leonardo DiCaprio. He was the pickpocket.”

“No he wasn’t,” Zach made a face. “He wasn’t even in that movie. That was Matt Damon.”

“Nah, Damon’s Jason Bourne.”

“Yes, yes he is, little brother. But he was also the pickpocket in Ocean’s Eleven.”

“You sure? I thought it was DiCaprio.”

“Very sure. Now, having Mr. Taughtbottom’s wallet isn’t crucial, it would just add some flair to the whole business. The important thing for now is when and where we snatch her. And where we keep her.”

“Okay, then. Let’s hear the plan,” Jimmy turned one ham-sized palm upward, the other hand clasped firmly around his tiny pint.

The plan was a pretty straightforward kidnap and ransom job. The Trope brothers, the perfect underworld combination of brains and brawn, had laid low for a few months, living comfortably on their last score, The San Francisco Cartier Watch caper. But the money had begun to run thin and contract work wasn’t beating down their door. It was time to get back to work. They decided to go back to their origins and pull off a simple kidnap. Easy-peasy, bing-bang-boom. As a target, they had settled on Katrina Taughtbottom, the pot-pie heiress, star of tabloids, leaked sex-tapes and a TMZ mainstay. Angus Taughtbottom, father and pot-pie magnate, was more than loaded and seemed to dote on his miss-adventurous daughter. Low-hanging fruit. Easy pickings.

“Phase one,” said Zach, holding up his right index finger. “The snatch. She does bikram yoga every Thursday night at a place called You Bet Your Sweet Asana on Stewart Street. That’s right here.” He called up Google Maps earthview on his iPad and pointed as he went. “She always parks in the lot. There, around back. It’s not well lit. We park the van back there during the class and snatch her up when she comes out. Class lets out at 8, but she always stays to flirt with the instructor. Most of the students leave right away. We’ll go with the usual. You snatch. I drive.” He passed a hand over the table like a Price is Right model presenting the next item up for bid.

“What is that?” asked Jimmy.

“What’s what?”

“What did you call it? Bickering yoga?”

“Bikram. It’s like regular yoga, but you do it in a hot room so you sweat balls like a monkey.”

“So she might be sweaty coming out of there. A sweaty target’s like catching a greased pig sometimes. I mean, I can do it. It just increases the chances that I might hurt her by accident. You know, concussions are a real concern these days given how much more we know about them,” Jimmy looked at Zach with genuine concern for Katrina’s noggin.

“It’ll be fine, she’s not going to come out naked. She wears, whaddya call ’em, warm-up suits and shit. Fashionable, matching of course, but . . .”

“Django Unchained?” Jimmy blurted. “The bad guy. The slave owner. That was Matt Damon?”

Zach paused, shook his head thoughtfully. “No, that was DiCaprio.”

“Oh.”

“Anyway, Katrina lives a very mercurial life. Not much routine. The yoga place is about the only routine she has. If not there, we’d just have to wait outside her beach house and hope for an opportunity. It could take days. We’ll stick to the yoga place. Agreed?” Jimmy nodded and sipped his beer. Zach suddenly looked puzzled. “Wait. Now I’m confused. Which one was Gatsby?”

“Which one what?”

“In Great Gatsby. Was that Damon or DiCaprio?”

Jimmy furrowed his expansive brow, momentarily a pensive Colossus, “DiCaprio. I’m pretty sure. So, where we going once we snatch her?’

“Huh?” Zach looked puzzled. “Oh, Katrina. Yeah, we’ll use the warehouse in Escondido. Get it? We’re going to hide her in Escondido. Comprende?” The smart Trope laughed, his handsome visage lighting up in self-satisfied delight. Had Chloe been looking she would have been forced to take a knee.

“Very chistoso, Zach.”

“Si! Now, we’ll need to stock the place with decent food, TP, some books or magazines for her to read. I mean, we’re not monsters. Oh!” Zach snapped his fingers, “Damon was the Martian and DiCaprio got fucked by the bear, right?”

“Yeah, won an Oscar for it too. Look at me, I’m a Revenant.” Jimmy Trope jutted his massive lower jaw outward to give himself an exaggerated underbite, rolled his eyes back in his head and grunted, “UUNNNGHHHRRAGHH!”

Instant, visceral, convulsive laughter caught Zach unawares, causing him to spit-take a mouthful of beer across the table. Some came out his nose, “Spot! On! That was spot on, brother!” He gasped and tried dabbing beer off of his iPad with a napkin. “Two hours of grunting and bleeding gets you an Oscar these days. Hoo! Goddamn, that was funny.”

Jimmy was unable to contain a wide grin. He was the brawn, not the brains. Anytime he could impress Zach, other than through a display of physical strength, was a moment to be put away in the nursery of precious memories to be guarded, nurtured, and treasured. The big man was chuffed.

It took a minute or two, but they stopped laughing long enough to signal to Chloe that another round was in order. She nodded, indicating that the beers would be along shortly.

“Let’s talk ransom,” Zach said. “I’m thinking . . .”

“Um, Zach?” Jimmy interrupted and pointed. Zach followed the arc of his brother’s finger toward one of the large TVs on the wall. Most of the bar’s patrons had fallen silent to watch. Chloe had stopped what she was doing to watch. The sound was off, but the picture was very clear. Local reporter, Troy Manchester, was standing outside a mansion, beside a swimming pool. In the pool a body, the body of a woman, a blonde woman, bobbed face-down covered in what for all the world looked like tiny green paw prints. The crawl at the bottom of the screen read “Breaking: Pot-Pie Heiress Katrina Taughtbottom Found Dead.”

Both brothers sat watching, jaws agape as the report switched to a police spokesman, back to Troy Manchester, then to a notorious tabloid photo of Miss Taughtbottom carousing at a Vegas hot spot, then to a close-up of the body floating in the pool, and finally to the anchors back in the studio.

“Well,” said Zach. “Shit.”

© 2016 Whiskey Leavins

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