Ralph Jones’s previous work for The Toast can be found here. This is his first piece for The Butter.
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money; but what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career; skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t…I will look for you…I will find you…and I will kill you.”
“No I don’t know who you may be,
I don’t know what you want from me.
I have no money but I do
Have skills that would endanger you!
If you let my daughter go
I won’t chase you, no no no!
But if you keep her, oh dear me,
I will find you, you will see.
Not only will I catch you, I
Will make sure that I watch you die!”
DAVID FOSTER WALLACE
“At this moment I don’t have a huge clue as to who you may or may not be but I don’t actually believe that this starting point per se disqualifies me from making the following statement as to my intentions. I’m unrich so if you’re looking for some kind of ransom, knock yourself out – I can’t help you as far as all that’s concerned. This present conversation is one in which I aim to make clear to you, my interlocutor, that I have developed a number of, let’s say, qualifications . These qualifications become particularly pertinent w/r/t my daughter, whom, we know as pretty much an established fact, you have kidnapped. Now — and this is the thing you’ll need to pay attention to, because here comes the important bit — the bit that, even if you hadn’t been listening to the rest of the conversation, you’d still need to remember because otherwise this whole thing would have been frankly a damn waste of everybody’s time  — say you let my daughter go…we won’t need to deal with each other ever again. If, on the other hand, you don’t take the (advised and ) aforementioned course of action, I can’t say that I won’t come looking for you. This will be non-good for you because it’s inevitable that I will find you. After which the likelihood that I will kill you is infinitely more strong than it is weak.”
1. It has taken me a long and not unhard career to develop these skills.
2. It is not my aim to waste time but I think that a reassessment of what we mean by ‘waste’ when it comes to time is long overdue. In other words, I think we have wasted time not spending enough time discussing the concept of wasted time.
3. I have nothing to add at this point.
“Holy crap. Holy crap. Oh my God. Who are you?? I’m really freaking out here. My heart is beating like the biggest drum in the universe. I can’t give you money because I’ve got, like, none. I have super-loads of skills though. It’s taken me so long to get them…I am not kidding. And you are not gonna like the person I become when I use those skills. So if you let my baby come back to me, I won’t chase you. But the thing is, if you don’t, I will chase you. Seriously. And I’ll get you. And my inner goddess and me will kill you, for sure. Holy cow.”
“I am Liam Neeson’s Pet Rottweiler.
Your identity. I don’t know it.
I don’t have money, so I tell you, I am trained. I know this because Liam Neeson knows this. I say, I can make life very hard for you.
A solution of lye and water will dissolve a wooden spoon.
Let my daughter go and I will not chase you and I will not hunt you down but keep her and you will experience the kind of pain that makes you realise you’re alive.
But you won’t be alive.
None of us are.
Maggots will feast on your eyeballs.
I am Liam Neeson’s Huge Karate Teacher.”
“I know thy voice but know not who thou art.
Nor can I profess to know thy mind.
If ransom be thy motive, know that I
Hath money only for the clothes that cloak
My skin. In place of coins I hath acquired
Valuable knowledge of the sort that breaks
The backs of men like you. Return my girl.
If she and I are reunited, thou
Shalt have no cause to hear from me again.
But lo, if you should choose a different path
(O God! I can scarce imagine such a fate),
Scouring land and sea I will find you
And with my sword I will remove thy tongue.
A plague upon you! I will not rest until
Thy body rots six feet beneath the earth.”
“A flâneur such as I ought to be cognisant of your viral statistics but, alas, in this department I find myself malnourished to a degree that is, well, flagitious. Nor can I claim to be in any way clued-up on your raison d’être. Capacities I do possess, however, come in the form of acquired aptitude. These morsels d’expertise have been honed, chiselled, refined, over a career whose longeur could not in all good faith be described as insubstantial. If you relinquish my blessed sprog I won’t be forced to put into action the aforementioned skillset, but I’m afraid that if you decide against this approach I will put you in my sights as a poacher would a cervidae. Much like the deer you will not be conscious of your imminent shuffle off this mortal coil. Unlike that beautiful beast you’d probably swear like buggery as you popped your clogs.”
“Will kill you if you do not return daughter.”