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The Tie That Binds
by Marvin Pinkis

A man is abducted by a woman disguised as a Talmudic scholar. Her intent is to induce him to reveal his plans for a revolutionary twist for “Jump Rope,” requiring only one end being held. He is proceeding to the patent office when the woman leaps out from behind a parking meter and asks if he objects to being abducted. He looks at his watch and says, “I have some spare time.”

She takes him to a seedy warehouse district and stops in front of a ramshackle hovel.

“Is this it?” he asks brusquely.

Equally brusque, she sneers, “Inviting, isn’t it?”

“Of course,” he states, “Incidentally, does this abduction come with refreshments?”

“Hey, I’m no cheapskate. There’s a half bag of M & M’s and almost a whole tin of anchovies. Naturally, we split.”

Inside, he submits to being tied up in a straight-back chair. He declines gagging, not knowing where the gag has last been used. The rope chafes his wrists. When he complains to his captor, she’s bemused and says, “That’s bound to happen.”

The bon mot does not go unnoticed and, despite the situation’s menace, it stirs a tingly sensation. Much later, he chuckles confirming he got the pun. Very timely as the woman’s patience for acknowledgment is wearing thin.

The insidious torture includes watching taped Lawrence Welk shows and hearing motivational cassettes for hours on end, recited in a soporific monotone. Every time he starts to nod off, cattle prod in hand, she relates ethnic jokes concerning Amazon tribes yet to be discovered.

He can stand only so much. When she constantly reminds him of his poor taste in socks, he blurts out, “Stop it, stop it, I tell you. I’ll take to heart everything the television evangelists preach and I’ll buy the entire video series..”

“You’re coming around, kid. Well on the road to a strong self-image. Now, if you can stop your thumb sucking, or at least limit it to your own thumb.”

“Are people noticing?”

“Can’t miss it. Let’s get back to ‘Jump Rope’ and “Go Fish’.”

“Not both!”

“Perhaps I overestimated the extent of your capitulation. Shall we watch another Roy Rogers movie?”

“Enough, I’ll shoot straight with you. I’m grateful to you for crafting a new me, someone who can hold his head up high and walk unafraid. Not only will I fork over ‘Go Fish’, I’ll throw in ideas for streamlining ‘Tag.’ These efforts come easily for me. Child’s play, as it were.”

“I wanna see the plans. I been suckered by you innovator guys before.”

The innovator is peeved at her suspicions, but decides to play along. “Well, uh, you see. Seems I left the plans in my other trousers. I’ll mail them as soon as I’m home. Better yet, I’ll Fed Ex them.”

“Wow, what a guy. Here, let me undo you.”

She proceeds with the undoing and each cuts a finger and mixes blood, swearing to be pals forever. For a brief interval their eyes meet, after formal introductions. Her eyes flirt with danger. His eyes flirt with anything.

It’s not a new story. Woman kidnaps renowned innovator of kids’ games. Woman trusses him up like a side of beef. Woman imposes inhuman indignities on innovator. Innovator promises her anything. Woman lets her heart rule. Woman reaches Epiphany only to learn her hotel reservation has been lost. Man wants to get home before the game starts. Woman gazes intently at man and says, “Before I consummate your release, may I ask you something?”

“Ask, ask.”

“Are you seeing anyone?”