Taken Unawares

At our Writers Group last night the topic was to imagine that you’d been kidnapped. How much would you be ransomed for and why? The word “gobdaw”, by the way, is a Dublin word, a more polite version of “gobshite”…


“That’s not him,” said the Boss.

“What?” said Joe, the Henchman.

“How could you even think it was him?” snorted the Boss. “He looks nothing like Bono.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve often been compared to Bono.”

“As in the sentence ‘compared to you, even Bono is good-looking?’,” asked the boss, sneeringly.

“But it has to be him,” said Joe. “You said I was to go into Finnegan’s pub in Dalkey, where I’d find a little shortarse -”

“Oy,” I said.

“- who think’s he’s God,” finished Joe.

“Ok, you’ve got me there,” I said.

“What do we do now?” asked Joe.

“Well we can’t ransom him,” said the Boss. “Just shoot him.”

“Here, hang on,” I said. “Who says you can’t ransom me?”

“Ok, we’ll try it,” said the boss. “How much should we ask for? A hundred? Two hundred?”

“Say a hundred-and fifty,” I said.

“No, make it a hundred,” said Joe. “A hundred-and-fifty just means more letters to cut out of magazines for the ransom note.”

“Ok, a hundred grand it is, then,” said the Boss.

“Grand?” I said.

“Glad you agree,” said the Boss.

“Seriously? A hundred grand? No-one’s worth that much,” I said.

“We were going get two million for Bono,” said the Boss.

“Oh,” I said.

“What, not quite in his league?” sneered the Boss.

“It seems that not only am I not in his league,” I said, “but we don’t even seem to be playing the same sport.”

“Well, how much ready cash do you reckon your family could get their hands on?” asked the Boss.

“About fifty quid,” I said.

“Well, that’s not much use,” said Joe.

“Sorry,” I said. “They might get up to sixty if they look for change down the back of the couch.”

“Sixty quid,” snorted the Boss. “We might as well shoot you.”

“Then you’d be down sixty quid,” I said. “Plus one bullet. Look,” I continued, “I could give you a Promissory Note.”

“What’s that?” asked Joe.

“It’s what Ireland gave the EU to pay back the bail-out,” I said. “It’s like giving you money, except that you never actually get it.”

“What’d be the point of that?”

“Prestige. I could truthfully say that you forced a huge ransom out of me. You’d be a legend in the underworld.”

“That’s true,” said Joe. “You might even get a nickname, like the Penguin, or the Joker.”

“The Gobdaw,” I suggested. “You’d get a full-colour five-page pull-out profile from the Crime Correspondent in the Sunday World.

“Ok, we’ll go for it,” said the Gobdaw. “You give me a Promissory Note for a hundred grand, and you’re outta here.”

“Why not make it three million,” I said. “I’ve always wanted to be bigger than Bono.”


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