Are you Threatening Me?

When I was a kid in sixth grade, my best friend lived across town. It wasn’t a big town. In fact, it was barely a town by many respects. Nevertheless, across town could have been on another planet. We rarely had a chance to see one another except at school in English class.

English class was taught by Ms. Gerth. This, of course, has no bearing on the story what-so-ever except that she had made the serendipitous decision to have all of the students in a seating chart which was alphabetical by last name. -Fortunately for me (and James–although he might not have agreed to this at the time), Harris and Hernandez are close in the alphabet. Sure there are other last names that could have managed to surface in the class. Names like Harowitz, Henderson, or even Hathaway (Which just happens to be the last name of a friend which we will have to leave for another blog) could have spoiled this chance meeting and quite possibly the friendship between the two of us. Lucky for us, I was stuck in front of James in Ms. Gerth’s class.

James found me annoying, and I was jealous of him. Apparently I was annoying because I was always talking (in a "Happy-Go-Lucky way," he told me one day) I was jealous of him because he could draw better than me. In fact, he could draw way better than me. He had drawn some graphics on a poster advertisement that we had to do for English class. His ad was about the movie "Back to the Future". His graphics were amazing.

As with most friendships, we used to make idle threats to one another. I'm sure it must have started something like, "You better do THIS… or I'll do THAT" — You know… Trivial stuff. Things that we do all of the time throughout our life. One day he decided to up the ante. He did something that day that could not be done in this day and age or it would get you in a whole lot of trouble. He wrote me a threat letter. It was really pretty clever. It was written as if it were from a terrorist in some foreign country.

The terrorists were Libyans. Not that James had anything against them personally. Apropos, this was the organization that was in Back to the Future. So it was clear that there hadn't been a thorough search to find an even better terrorist organization.

The threat letter read as follows:

No need to worry,
No need to hurry.
This is only a threat,
So don't be upset.
The contents of this note
Only means you'll be broke.
We have an army of grand,
That'll blow you off your land.
So, hurry up and finish reading this letter,
And hope your financial problems turn out better.

At the bottom of the letter, which had been written on an eight and a half by eleven sheet of low grade typing paper, was a perforated line. It wasn't real perforation. It was drawn in a unique way in which a penciled-in perforated line could be made to look like it was real.

It looked real.

Below this unbelievable line, there was a payment stub. In the payment box, there was a amount of one million dollars. The amount had been filled in a different font. It was a meticulous bank font that had been overlaid in the meticulously pristine payment stub graphic art.

The damn thing looked like art.

"This looks like Art," I remember mumbling as I was trying to comprehend the artistry of the threat itself.

Below were the payment options of cash, check or credit card. Beside the credit cards there were the infamous logos for both MasterCard and VISA. Astounding. I felt threatened by the graphite laid out before me on the low-grade typing paper. However, it wasn't the actual treat that threatened me.

In subsequent days, we exchanged more threat letters between us. Each one became even more outlandish than the one before. James' threat letters were always much better than mine.

One of his threat letters was even carefully interrupted in the middle with another threat letter. The letter, as with all of the threat letters, started with the most sincere apologies on the finding of this particular note. It went on to describe the poor financial condition of the terrorist organization of which you, the finder of this note, were now obligated to. The interruption was from some new terrorist within the organization that had tried a hostile takeover of the note itself. Apparently, he was unaware of the threat "Already in Progress". Its believability was enhanced due to the specific generalities within the ambiance of the note. These include items such as a "Failure to Pay" and "Past Due" stamps that were carefully drawn on the threat letter's envelope. Punishments for the failure to pay usually were drastic measures to which no soul would wished to be subjected to, and it said so in the unmistakable neat lettering found on the bottom of the payment stub.

One day the notes ceased after fake balances on fake credit cards were maxed out. Fake lives were ruined and shambled. Hundreds of millions of fake dollars of fake expenditures had been racked up without the fulfillment of any of the threats. Fake stamps had been endorsed, yet the postal service had never been paid.

Life continued. Neither James nor I ever heard from any terrorist organizations again.

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