I blacked out for several hours then woke up in the back of a truck. Hands and arms were tied. Felt around my back pocket. The ring was gone. Middle-aged man was walking over. Man knelt down. “Hello, Ezra.”
I had been gagged. Man chuckled: “Pleasured to make your acquaintance. I’m Ezra.”
“MGgGggm.” Fairly certain that he wasn’t Ezra. I was Ezra. It’s not a common name.
The Other Ezra walked to the front compartment and said something. Truck pulled over. Several more curly-haired men came out with beige badges and carrying batons. Dragging me into the woods like where dogs go to be shot. I barked and whimpered.
About a dozen men. The crew were like Russian Dolls of each other. And the oldest, with enough size for the others to fit, was sauntering up to me. He put his hands together smug.
“We apologize for the interruption Ezra. We’re essentially a non-violent organization, however, in this instance the stakes were extraordinarily high. You will understand.” “MMMGGGmm.”
“Yes, I’m glad to hear it.”
A younger man walked forward with the little box and the older man took it. I was hollering madly. Could feel the ropes loosening with my movement.
“You have been forcefully invited to an emergency meeting of an autonomous organization of men known colloquially as The Ezra Assembly. Why an emergency meeting, you ask?” He shook the box. “Why, you’re the emergency! You and this sterling silver ring. We found you on the beach, carrying it. Now, what could you have been planning to do with this ring?”
He waited. “That was not a rhetorical question Ezra.”
“He’s been gagged, Sir Ezra.”
“Un-gag him then!”
The gag ripped off. My hollers formed words and the words were loud. “HELP! HELP! ANYONE HELP!” The cold feeling of a knife on my skin. Decided to stop yelling.
“Give me my ring!”
“Ezra. This is going to prove much more difficult and tedious if you do not play along. You are a guest in the Assembly, and we have a certain code of manners.”
He waited. “It was an engagement ring. You were planning to propose, weren’t you?”
“Leave Katherine out of this!”
Sir Ezra looked to his men and shook his head in amazement. “You have had twenty-three years of life and still you have the manners of a twelve year-old. Please don’t embarrass us.”
“Who is us? Who are you people?”
“The important question is who are you, Ezra. You have known Katherine for how long? Five months, something like that? And you know that she has a controlling side that will not mesh well with your inexorably free spirit.”
“I’m in love with her! I shall ask for her hand—” I was drowned out by boos. Must have offended these strange men, they were looking at me with complete disgust. They shouted at me.
“She’s crazy!” “You idiot!” “She’ll take the kids!”
Sir Ezra silenced them with a simple wave of his hand. “You are in love with attention Ezra. Katherine is a human person who you will grow to loathe. But there is no use arguing with you. At this age, you are interminably stupid.”
“I resent that! I’ll have you know I’m pursuing a doctorate in—”
“Yes, we ought to discuss this as well. When you decided to pursue a graduate degree, did you really interrogate why you were doing it? Or did you just want to stay out of the scary professional world for as much time as possible?”
The nerve of these men! Kidnapping me, then rudely questioning my life choices! In a burst of anger, I jumped to my feet and grabbed the knife. Before the men could jump on me, I tightly grabbed onto one of the younger Ezras and put the knife against his neck. “One step closer!”
These men, these ridiculous and cruel men, looked at me with absolute fright. There was this strange silence. Nobody could move and I was somebody and so I was paralyzed too. Sir Ezra had his hands above his head. “Please, Ezra, don’t be rash. We can talk about th—”
He was interrupted by the Ezra in my arms, who shrieked and thrashed around! I panicked and let him go; he fell to the ground clutching his chest. And with his fall, the sea of men around him toppled to the ground, crying out to the heavens and dying in front of me. Within ten seconds I was the only one left.
This wasn’t my fault and I had to get back to the beach.
I ran as fast as my legs could carry me to the highway. My watch was gone, but judging from the sun, it must have been nearing seven. I know it’s dangerous and all, but I had to get back before sunset so I waved my arms around on the shoulder. The first couple who pulled over were headed to Nags Head, not far from our hotel. I thanked them gratuitously. We sat in silence for an hour.
It hurts your feet to run on the beach, but there she was! Sat on a seaside rock and reading. I yelled out as I got close, wheezing and my heart burning. This was the moment I had been waiting weeks for.
“Where were you? I hate it when you do that, you just disappear and I have no idea where you’ve gone! You could’ve died and I would’ve—”
“Will you marry me, Katherine?”
I ask for this to be tagged speculative fiction. THANK YOU. I also ask for one’s hand in marriage. Formally and with minimal gagging.