Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The kidnappers are revealed

I’m in Guatemala this week on a Mayan Spirituality Retreat. We’re supposed to be spending the week tromping around ancient Mayan ruins and discussing matter of spiritual import with our hermanas y hermanos from Presbiterio del Norte. But I’m really going just to see old friends and spend some time relaxing. Maybe I’ll have something wise to say when I get home.

In the meantime, I’m leaving the finale to Part One of the Flamingo Chronicles for Elizabeth to post. This is not the last you will hear of Fannie--her adventures are far from over.

For those of you who have been on tenterhooks waiting for the identity of Fannie’s kidnappers, I will reveal the answer. I met personally with the kidnappers last night and the mystery is solved.
But first, let me recap our adventure and let you try to guess it yourself.
When I went to Guatemala, Linda Terpstra bought me a beanie baby flamingo that would fit easily in my suitcase. Fannie stayed on the supply shelf in the recovery room for most of the week, acting as cheerleader for the patients and the toys in the box below her. On Thursday we were visited in the hospital by a live Toucan, who was the most beautiful bird I had ever seen. At lunch the next day I first realized that Fannie was missing.
At the airport coming home I looked in my backpack to find a 6 inch stuffed Toucan puppet. I never saw anybody put the puppet in my backpack. Back home I installed him in my window to watch for Fannie.
About a week after coming home I received a photo of a flock of live flamingos in my mailbox (no postage, hand-delivered) and a ransom note. The note demanded answers to certain questions the kidnappers would present over the coming days.
Over the last month I received anonymous e-mail from a source only identified by the address : I couldn’t believe anyone was so into this as to set up a totally separate e-mail box. The birdnappers and I corresponded on a regular basis.
Then the drama picked up last week. I went to the mailbox to find a small clear plastic box filled with pink feathers and two bleak eyes staring out. Clearly a flamingo had been “offed” when I failed to answer one of the questions correctly. In my agony, I responded to the kidnappers that I hoped it would not be Fannie (my favorite) but maybe one of the other birds, possibly Francine. I reasoned aloud that nobody really liked Francine anyway. Remember how she was always futzing about my house making centerpieces out of old coffee grounds and banana peels? And how Fred finally stuffed her leg down her throat because she tried to reupholster the couch while he was sitting in it? Francine always got on my nerves.
The same day I got a message that the bird in the box was not Francine but Fernando, an obnoxious neighbor. And that I had rendered Francine catatonic with my hurtful remarks. They said that she had gone over the edge in her grief and pain to become Muslim.
However, the kidnappers told me I could have the birds back if I provided a bucket of chicken at 6:30 last night. I was so excited I called both of my daughters and invited them and their husbands for the grand release. Our whole family had become involved in the mystery and I felt it only right for them to see who was behind all this fun. Colonel Sanders all around.

I came home with the chicken a few minutes before 6:30 and found both sets of kids in the living room waiting.
We waited. And waited. About 6:45 I started looking outside for a car. Then I happened to look in the back yard and what should I see there but two plastic flamingos in the garden. I looked back to see Emily grinning from ear to ear.
It had been Emily and Steve all along. With Elizabeth and Jeff as silent co-conspirators. Even Beaven was in on it.
I immediately recognized Farfel there in the garden right where he was supposed to be and Fred looking in my window at the TV set. Emily said the rest had to stay in storage until the church auction.
While I was in Guatemala, Emily and Steve were on vacation at Disneyworld. They saw an exhibit of live flamingos and decided to take a picture of them to bring home to me. When we all got home and I told them the story of Fannie being missing, they picked up on the kidnapping idea and ran with it. And what a ride it has been!
I’ll have to say I’m a little sad that it’s over. In some ways, I feel like I’ve lost a playmate. But I’ve also gained several others….the grackles, Harold, Clarice….I may be playing for a long time.
Who did I think it was? I was absolutely convinced it was Patty Bechtol. She was on the trip to Guatemala and had access to Fannie there in the recovery room. She had access to my backpack in the airport. She works near my house and was on her way home during the two times something was hand-delivered to my mailbox. I was so sure it was Patty that I was even a little disappointed to find out it was Emily.
We are still left with the question, “Where is the “real” Fannie? I don’t know. Obviously, she is in Guatemala. Beyond that, I don’t have a clue.
Patty told me that she and Fannie had many a conversation late at night in the recovery room and Fannie expressed an interest in nursing. Patty said that there are a couple of accelerated classes Fannie might be able to take there in Guatemala. She said for me to not be surprised to find Fannie at the hospital when we return—but this time as a nurse.
But for those of you who have hung in there and joined me on my adventure, especially for you who sent Emily e-mail messages saying “Free Fannie”, thanks for coming along with me. I’ve enjoyed it. I hope you have, too.

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