A friend always begins stories, which do not have a happy ending, with that warning.
Following that tradition, I suppose I should say this is a Mexican tale with an American twist.
Just as I was packing to leave Salem in April, a sales notice appeared on the Melaque message board. A fellow who owns several bungalows was selling his older van.
For a month, he kept the sales talk alive.
And then the tone changed.
In late May, he announced the van was no longer for sale because one of his renters (or an acquaintance) had stolen it along with some valuable personal property.
That sounds like your garden variety of theft. But here comes the twist.
Within days, the owner received an email from the thief stating that he could have the van back for $10,000 MX.
In one of my previous career lives, I was a criminal defense attorney. So, I am used to auto thefts. Car strips. Joy rides.
But van-napping? Now, that was different.
Then the plot really thickens.
On Saturday morning, the owner received the following note at his house. Paraphrasing would completely lose the chutzpah that drips off this communication.
Hi [owner], how are you? Your family? Well, I hope that all is well for for everyone. I am sending you the list with the new prices of the things that you asked for.
You told me before that you would accept the van, if you would like anything else, just add it to the list, here are the keys to the van, let me know what else you would like and I will leave them in the van. Tell me what else you are interested in and mail them (to an email address) and I'll let you know the way the payment can be made and once the bill has been paid I'll tell you where you can pick up the van with the articles inside it.
With nothing more for the moment, you can contact me at the email address for any information that you need.
Hoping that you and yours are well,
"The new prices of the things you asked for?" This is a ransom note. Not a Costco shopping list.
It almost sounds like a bad Grade B movie -- possibly starring Jan-Michael Vincent.
Or worse. It is the type of note that Kim Jong-il would send to some functionary just before the arrival of a poison chop stick.
You may ask, where are the police in all this? To ask that question is to answer it.
In the interim, the van owner continues to entertain us with frequent updates on the message board. If there is a subtext here, it is certainly not apparent.
But it has certainly frightened people at church. Burglaries were the talk of the day last Sunday.
Did you forget? It is a Mexican tale.
Morals tomorrow; parody tonight.