Monday, November 12, 2012

Ryan’s Prison

          Ryan’s Prison

          Ryan Kirby was forty and accustom to having things his way. He was the youngest CEO to run World Communications Inc. He had taken the position at the age of thirty eight. Around the office, though always behind his back, he was known as little Hitler. He knew that his employees called him that and worst, but he didn't care. He loved to be hated and for everyone to fear him. Daily operations were always to be executed his way. At the weekly board meetings, he didn't ask for options or opinions, he just dished out orders and wouldn't stand for anyone to question him. He had married the founder’s daughter and had worked for the man ten years before he retired and left him to run his empire. Doing almost three billion a year in sales and service they were the third largest communication company in the country. Ryan was no different at home; his wife and children knew that he wanted everything in a certain order and knew better then to alter his rules. Everyone woke, ate and played when he said and his word was final, not even his wife had a say in anything the family did.

          Angie had grown up with a father who was exactly like her husband Ryan and it had been her father who had made Ryan the man he was today. She had met him in college at a friend's party. They had become friends and after she graduated he had stayed in touch and three years later they had married. He was a normal and nice guy back then, she often thought but after years of working for her father he became just like man she hated. Her father had raised her and her brother with nearly no love and expected nothing less than excellence. Her mother just like herself today had no say in the affairs of the day to day life of her children. She was to do as she was told to, when to, and how to, and dare she question his authority. Her father had been physically and mentally abusive, and they were not to ever talk about it inside or worst outside the house. She thought of her mother and how she had died before reaching her sixty second birthday. Her father had buried her mother and shortly after, he had a woman half his age on his arm. She thought of all the times her father dumped out his drawers and her mother had to pick up and refold all his underclothes and socks. Everything had to be color coordinated and folded to his specs. The dirty laundry had to be folded before washing, if it was going to sit overnight; he said it would have a lot less wrinkles. Now here she was living in her mother shoes and seeing no end to her nightmare. I'm not going to be my mother, I stood up to my dad and I will stand up to Ryan. The thing was to pick the right time to make her demands and to stand her ground at all cost. Angie had made up her mind that if Ryan wanted to continue this course of action, she was going to leave her marriage. She knew that with her degree in computer programming, she could make a decent living and raise the children on her own.

          One week after making up her mind, Ryan came home and announces that he would be leaving for a week to South America. He explained in no great details as always, that it would be to start negotiations on opening a hub there for the company. He told her, not asked, that she pack some luggage for him and that he would be leaving in two days.  The following night knowing that he was catching his flight in the morning, Angie decided it was time to make her demands. “We need to talk” she said a little timid and a whole lot nervous. “Talk about what” he replied with the authority he use to always take control before the conversation even got on the way. She thought about backing down and calling off the whole thing, but she knew that life could no longer, go on this way. She stiffened her back, and sat up straight and said, “About the way you treat me and your children. I didn't marry you to be pushed around and treated more like a maid, or a slave, and so that I would have to walk on egg shells. I married you because I loved you, and wanted to spend the rest of my life with you”                     “Wait a minute here” he interrupted, “in this house, I say what is, and what isn't done, and how it will be done. You're my wife, and your duty is to keep this house the way I expect it to be kept. My children are my business, and how they are to be raise, is up to me to decide, and for you to comply with my orders” Angie had started this, but just as quick, she had lost control of the situation. She sat there not believing the venom that came from her husband’s words, and the anger in which he poured them at her. She tried getting in a word, but he would raise his finger to his lips asking her to be quite and just listen. He continued, “I'm the one who pays the bills around here, and I'm the one who will tell you what you will, and will not do around here, are we clear, and that's the end of this conversation, understood.” Angie felt defeated, like someone has knocked the wind out of her sail. She got up off her seat and faced her husband to make one final attempt to make her point and said, “I'm not going to live like this” but before another word came out of her mouth, she felt the back of his hand across her jaw and she was right back in her seat. She could taste the blood in her mouth and wiped at it, and the conformation was on the back of her hand. “Don't you ever tell me what you're going to do or not do, understand” With that he turns to leave but stopped, and said. “Make sure my coffee and breakfast is ready early, I don't want to miss my flight” Angie sat there for over a half hour and just cried till she had no more tears and then just went to bed.

          Ryan was dressed and ready for his South American trip when he entered his dining room to find his coffee and bagel with cream cheese already served. Angie had fixed his usual morning meal and had retreated to her daughter's room before her husband came out of their room and into the kitchen. Ryan's bags were by the front door and after having his meal he walked to the door, pick up his luggage and left without a single word. Angie heard the door of a car slam shout and the vehicle drove off before she came out of the room. The relief was welcome, knowing that a least for a week she would have a little peace and not have to deal with his castapo attitude. How did I end up just like my mother she thought, I had sworn to never marry a man like my father and here I am right where I try so hard to avoid. Where will I go that he won't find us, and where we would be safe? That last thought was more a prayer than just some thinking, because she closed her eyes and bowed her head. When she reopened her eyes she released the tears and quickly wiped them with the bottom of her pajama shirt. Her daughter, now being twelve and inquisitive asked, “why you crying mom”
“ It's nothing sweetie, just something mothers do when they think too much” She replied knowing that answer made no sense. Her daughter just stared for a minute then went to the kitchen for her breakfast before going off to school. Angie found herself alone after her children left and fought off the urge to start packing, so she just sat and let her mind wonder, to the what if. What if, I had not married Ryan, today I would be a programmer for IBM or Microsoft. I may even have been my own boss with my own logo and running a successful company called Angelware, the thought made her laugh at her own silliness. Just as quick as that thought came, so was the return of her predicament and she started to cry and sob uncontrollably. The loneliness didn't help, but Angie didn't have anyone close enough to share her burden, Ryan made sure of that. Everyone that got too close to his family, he made sure one way or another, to make them feel uncomfortable to really be welcomed into their private circle. She sat there and prayed hoping that God was listening; after all she went to church as much as possible on Sundays and attended mid week service when ever her husband worked late. Most of the time he wouldn't allow her to take the children on Fridays to the youth service, because he needed her to do all is bidding. Ryan would forbid them from inviting church members over to their house after services because to him, they were over righteous, and nosey bodies, he called them. She really didn't have friends per say in her church, it was always hi, bye, how you doing, I'm fine and see you next Sunday (if Ryan lets me come) the last thought she would think to herself.  The pastor would often ask to visit and have a talk with her husband, and she always gave an excuse as to why that wouldn't be possible. “Sorry but he's at work, he's out of town on business, or he's not really feeling well today” and then she would feel guilty for lying in the house of God, and had to ask for forgiveness. The problem was that the alternative was worst; a small lie verses her husband's sporadic anger.
          The two men sat in their run down 1974 Renault coupe and watched the exit doors to the terminal as people made their way through. Their inside source said that she would call with a description of the Americano when he unboard. The driver was starting to get a little impatient sitting there for almost an hour. El Dorado International was always heavily guarded here in Bogotá, and already they had attracted a few stares. Fifteen minutes ago one guard had asked for the nature of their business and they had simply said they were waiting on a friend. They had been asked to move and to make their rounds like everyone else, which they had done twice, and always feared they would miss their mark. The phone rang and the woman quickly gave a brief description and hung up. Five minutes later the man came out of the terminal and boarded a cab, with the two men on its tail.
          Ryan arrived at his hotel, picked up his key and went straight to his room to unpack and settle in. His first meeting was at ten in the morning Columbian time the following day; which wouldn’t disturb his usual routine since the time is only an hour behind, then the time back in his home town.  An hour later he had hung his suits and places the rest of his clothing in the drawers, neatly and by colors like he expected from his wife. He locked the door behind him and headed down the hall to the elevator. He just wanted something to eat and then return to his room to rest and relax before the hectic business week ahead. He walked up to the elevators and pressed the down button and waited. The doors opened and the two men from the airport stepped out of the elevator, Ryan entered and rode it to the ground floor. Ryan didn’t see anyone by the front desk to ask for a good place to eat, so he just exited the hotel and ventured out on his own. He walked up the street and a block away from the hotel, found a small clean restaurant. He entered and was glad that the menu was both in Spanish and English. He ordered enough for two meals, paid and headed backed to the hotel. He entered the hotel lobby and noticed once again that no one was manning the front desk, but thought nothing of it and proceeded to his room. He unlocked the door, stepped in shutting it behind him. When he looked straight ahead he was shocked to see a man sitting in one of the chairs and a revolver pointing at his chest. Another man stepped out of the bathroom to his right, he also held a hand gun, and a devious smile on his face. Ryan saw that his suit cases where on the bed, and that all his clothes where thrown in, like dirty laundry in a basket. The man sitting down said in his broken English, “is everything in the bags; we want to make sure we leave nothing behind” Ryan didn’t know what to make of the situation, so he asked, “Are we going somewhere” Again the man sitting down responded and seem to be the one in charge, “you will be our guest for a few days, now you can come the easy way, or the not so easy way. Which is it going to be” Ryan replied “how about I just stay, and you can go without me”  The man by the bathroom put his gun in the back of his waist band, walked up to Ryan, and without warning, punched him in the gut so hard that he buckled over dropping his bag of food and throwing up on top of the bag. Ryan fell to his knees and was trying to regain his breathing, when the man grabbed the back of his hair and made Ryan look at him. “Now just so you know who is in control, you will get up, walk to the bathroom, get a wet towel, and clean this mess up. Because we don’t want to leave any evidence that something happen here, understand” Ryan understood just fine, because unlike the man sitting down, this one spoke perfect English. Feeling smaller then his five foot six inch frame, and no longer having the napoleon syndrome he was accused of exploiting, he cleaned up his puke.
          The two men had driven for over three hours the last time he had a chance to look at his watch, because the brute had confiscated it along with everything else. For the first time Ryan was not in any sort of control, and the feeling was a sinking one. He feared he was going to die because neither man did anything to hide their faces. When they finally came to a halt they were in the middle of no man’s land. All Ryan could see was mountains, he wasn’t even sure that he was still in Columbia. The two men stepped out of the car and didn’t even bother to ask him to follow them. He sat there for over thirty minutes before he got up enough courage to step out himself. The brute came stomping towards Ryan like he was about to do more damage and stop right in front of him. “Did I tell you that you can get out of the car” Ryan was so nervous and scared that he didn’t answer the man, which earned him a slap across the side of his head. “Around here I’m the one who will tell you what you are to do, when you are to do it, and how you will do it, do we understand each other” Said the brute, with a tone that had business written all over it. “Now you sit in that car till I tell you to come out” Ryan stood there for a minute and stared not really knowing how to react, he was not use to taking orders and that earned him another fist in the gut that finish empting what little was left in his stomach. He was grabbed by the collar of his shirt, and shoved back in the car with a headache that came from bumping his head on the top edge of the car. The brute slammed the door and that caused Ryan an ankle injury when his foot fails to enter the car with the rest of his body. Ryan was left to sleep in the car all night, and it wasn’t till midday on day two, that brute came to give him new orders. The door opened and brute stood there and said, “okay its lunch time, are you hungry” Ryan didn’t answer, he just shook his head, and that earned him a slap in the face, then brute snatched him out of the car, stood him up and said, “I don’t really care if you’re hungry or not, but you will fix lunch for my partner and I. looking down at Ryan, brute said “see all those gardens over there, well we grow everything we eat, and everyday you will pick what we will eat” Brute waved his finger at Ryan indicating for him to follow behind as he entered the house. Once inside he showed him the kitchen and then took Ryan out back to a basin and said, these are the dirty clothing and you will hand wash them daily. Ryan asked “why did you choose me” Brute laugh and said, “well I studied in your country, and I needed someone who will help me keep up with the language, and you were the only American who showed up. Now around here you don’t ask you just do what you’re told and we will all be happy, comprende” Ryan asked, “do you know who I am”
“Yes you’re Ryan Kirby from the U.S of A” brute laugh at his own joke. He knew Ryan’s name from the flight manifest and that’s all he knew, but Ryan didn’t know that’s all the information the two men had on him.
          Two days had gone by and Angie had not heard a single word from her husband. She shucked it up to the fact the he left being angry with her. The phone rang and sitting right next to it she reached over, picked up the receiver and said, “Hello”
“Angie, this is Dale, how are you”
“I’m fine thank you, what can I do for you” She replied. Dale was her husband’s VP and also his most trusted employee.
“Well Angie I’m calling to find out if you heard from Ryan, he missed both today and yesterday’s meetings in South America and frankly I’m a little concern” Angie sat paralyzed and speechless and finally said, “no I haven’t talked to him since he left two days ago, and I’ve been worried but figured he was busy and would call when he had a chance” The truth was she was glad he hadn’t call, thinking he would still be mad and would just call to harass her. Though at times her husband could be overbearing she would never wish him ill. She was lost in her thoughts when Dale interrupted her. “Angie I don’t know what to make of this, it’s not like Ryan to be irresponsible. We are going to lose the bid on the contract if he fails to show up and with a real good reason for unconvincing our future partners over there” Without an answer to convince Dale of her husband absences she ended the call. Ryan had left a hotel number in case of an emergency so after hanging up the phone with Dale she dialed the number. The clerk on duty simply said that Ryan had checked out the same day and never returned.
          Three days and Ryan was hurting from the abuse the brute laid on him every time he failed to do exactly as he was told. The brute seem to take pleasure in dishing out pain and punishment, if things weren’t done to the letter of his every command. Ryan started to feel degraded after day four and by day six he was totally defeated and the brute had him eating out of his hand. The brute would call and Ryan was there in a flash knowing by now that the brute would hurt him if he was kept waiting. Ryan had to be in bed at ten at night when all his chores were done and up at five to collect the chicken eggs and clean the pig pens. Then it was over to the gardens to pick the veggies for the day’s meals and then all the cleaning, wash clothing and on and on and on till ten at night and lights out. At the end of day seven Ryan went to his room closed the door and for the first time in over thirteen years, he kneeled down and prayed. “God help me” were the first words out of his mouth. “Why is this happening to me, what have I done to deserve this injustice” In an instant he wished he hadn’t asked that question. The voice was like the wind and like thunder all wrapped in one and Ryan heard it clearly. “Do you not see how you treat people? Do you not know how you degrade your employees?  Do you not see how your words and your actions demoralize your fellow human beings? Do you not see how you destroy the characters of others by making them feel inferior to you? Oh, oh and don’t get me started on how you treat my lovely, humble, and one of the most meek human beings to ever love me, do you know whom I speak of”? The room went deadly quite and Ryan stayed where he was and didn’t dare move. Then the voice returned and this time it had anger in the thunder. “Answer ME now Ryan or this will be you judgment and your punishment”
“My wife, it’s my wife you speak of” Ryan replied while swallowing his own tears and mucus.
“And why should I help you as you first asked”?
 “Because I promise never to be who I was, or act that way again.” The room went silent and Ryan stayed on his knees till he was drained and passed out with only his face on the hard thin mattress.
           When Ryan woke up he realized that he had over slept and fear made him jump knowing the brute would inflict pain if his breakfast wasn’t on time. The sun had long been up because its rays were deep into the room. With more panic then a rat with a cat on its tail, Ryan ran out of his room and found the house silently empty. He walked outside and saw no one, over to the chicken coups and only the chickens and the pigs in their pens. The two men were nowhere to be found. Ryan walked back in the house and still no sign of the two men. He walked into his room and stared at his luggage took three steps, grabbed his small carry on, his wallet, passport and took off running. The car was right where it had been since the day they arrived. He jumped in the driver’s seat, thanked God for the keys in the ignition and the airport was his next stop.
          Eight days since Angie had seen or heard from her husband and she had every police from New Jersey to the equator looking for him. No one was able to give her an answer as to his whereabouts. She had everyone in her church praying that he would turn up, and at this point, dead or alive she just needed to know. The bell rang and Angie got up, walked to the door and answered thinking it would be the police with the news that they had found her husband. The man standing there was a half haggard and run down version of her husband, but it was him. She looked at him and knew immediately that something had change. He didn’t look bossy but more like a bruised up, college days, I’m a nice guy and my name is plain old Ryan. “Where have you been, and what’s happen to you”? Angie asked as she stared and started to cry. I have been learning the art of proper manners, respect for my fellow men, etiquette, and most of all, how to honor, respect, treasure and love my wife. 

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 
44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
 Matthew 5:42-44

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