Email: Frank John is Trying to Kill Me
It was a slow Monday, my first day back in the office after Thanksgiving. I was nursing a doozy of a hangover from too much turkey and pumpkin pie, trying to decide between writing a column or taking a nap.
That’s when I got the worrying email popped up from a “Mr. Frank John.”
“Hello,” he wrote, “This is the only way I could contact you for now, I want you to be very careful about this and keep this secret with you until I make out space for us to see.
“You have no need of knowing who I am or where I am from. I know this may sound very urprising to you but it’s the situation. I have been paid some ransom in advance to terminate you with some reasons listed to me by my employer. It’s someone I believe you call a friend, I have followed you closely for a while now and have seen that you are innocent of the accusations he leveled against you.
“Do not contact the police or try to send a copy of this to them, because if you do, I will know, and I might be pushed to do what I have been paid to do. Besides, this is the 1st time I turn out to be betrayer in my job. I took pity on you, that is why I have made up my mind to help you if you are willing to help yourself.”
To say the least, it was surprising. It’s not every day you learn a hitman has been hired to rub you out like a puppy pee stain on the new carpet for unspecified reasons. To make matters worse, in my case, it was by someone I “call a friend,” no less.
My first reaction, I must admit, was to feel sorry for Frank John. The poor guy has two first names and evidently can’t spell his way out of a paper bag. His syntax also left something seriously to be desired.
On the plus side, FJ seemed to have something of a conscience, no small career impediment in his purported line of work. As he so colorfully pointed out, this was the first time he’d turned out to be the “betrayer in his job.” It was touching to have his pity — I think.
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
What would Mr. Big say if he learned that Mr. Frank John, Internet hit man, had suffered a case of conscience and betrayed his client — aka, whichever of my friends wanted to terminate me, the way I feel about Time-Warner half the time?
Anyway, for the moment at least, as advised, I decided to keep what turned out to be a brazen extortion scheme totally under wraps and not go to the police because (a). Mr. Frank John seemed to have eyes everywhere; and (b). he’d evidently been watching me long enough to know I really am innocent of the lame-brained and downright bonehead things I’m ccused of doing — something, by the way, I’ve been saying for years to my wife and basically every teacher I ever had since junior high school, where I super-glued Miss Bertha “Ben Franklin” Gamble’s purse to her desk chair.
Anyway, here’s the rest of his chilling email exactly as it was sent:
“Now listen, I will arrange for us to see face to face, but before that, I need $5,000. I will come to your home or you determine where you wish we meet; I repeat, do not arrange for the cops and if you play hard to get, it will be extended to your family. Do not set any camera to cover us or set up any tape to record our conversation, my employer is in my control now. Payment details will be provided for you to make a part payment of $2,000 first, which will serve as guarantee that you are ready to you co-operate, then i will post a copy of the video tape that contains his request for me to terminate you which will be enough evidence for you to take any legal action against him before he employs another person for the job. You will pay the balance of $3,000 once you receive the tape.
“Warning; do not contact the police, make sure you stay indoors once it is 7.30 p.m. until this whole thing is sorted out, if you neglect any one these warnings, you will have yourself to blame. You do not have much time, so get back to me immediate!
“Note: I will advise you keep this to yourself alone, not even a friend or a family member should know about it because it could be one of them.
“So if you are interested, i await your reply ASAP so i can tell you how you will make the payment. Thanks, Frank John”
Whatever else is true, you have to give the guy decent marks for politeness and a certain crude thoughtfulness. Maybe it has something to do with the generosity of the season.
I idly wondered, however, which of my so-called friends or seemingly caring family members might be behind such a cold-blooded scheme to pocket a quick five grand.
This is, after all, America, where anything can and does happen and eventually winds up on the “Nancy Grace” show.
I ruled out my own children because, well, being recent college graduates who are living like Third World refugees in New York City, they simply phone up and ask for money and I send it to them no questions asked. They have no need to try and shake down the old Papadog because I’m their built-in pigeon.
Could it be, on the other, my in-laws Miss Jan and Bill, who are behind this madness? Miss Jan seems so sweet and upbeat, I’ll grant you, always chirping on like a human Hallmark card about her wonderful toddler art students or the essential goodness of everyday people.
On the other hand, perhaps it came from Mr. Bill, a seemingly thoughtful man who stays abreast of breaking events in the world but who, in retrospect, clearly didn’t cotton to my mocking remarks about Sarah Palin at the Thanksgiving table a few years back. Mr. Bill and I see eye to eye on basically everything except the New York Giants and Fox News.
I made a quick inventory of our neighbors and realized none of them were even home over the long Thanksgiving weekend. So how could they have possibly been watching me walk the dogs and hear me rail about all the self-serving boobs in Congress, and how I wish some enterprising seventh-grader would super-glue their sorry hind-ends to their chairs until they agree to pass Simpson-Bowles.
Perhaps Mr. Frank John was actually hired by boobs in Congress!
Then I realized Mr. Big might actually be others I’ve written unflattering things about in my long and checkered journalism career.
Pip Pip Hooray!
Speaking of boobs, Donald Trump comes quickly to mind, he of the premature orange hair and the ego that more or less resembles a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. True, I did once remark that listening to Bullwinkle Moose lose his hot air as he deflates would be far more interesting and useful than anything The Donald has to say about anything.
Then there’s Pippa Middleton. Admittedly, I said some highly unflattering things about the power of her gorgeous bottom in print back during all the Kate and William wedding hoopla when the sight of Pippa’s shapely derriere going into Westminster Cathedral as she carried her sister’s veil caught the eye of the paparazzi and wound up causing a mass public frenzy, spawning its own Facebook site — The Pippa Middleton A Appreciation Society — and making her the most eligible single woman in world. All I wrote was: “So she’s the bum that made Mark Zuckerberg rich.” Is that really so bad?
Of course, it could be any number of my favorite whipping boys — Grover Norquist, the NCAA, or the entire state of South Carolina, for that matter.
In the end, here’s how I replied to Mr. Frank John:
“Dear Mr. Frank John, Just wanted to say, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the thoughtful heads up. I do so appreciate that you are risking your professional credibility to prevent me from being rubbed out like puppy pee in the new carpet, and I’d like to make you a generous counter offer.
“I won’t go to the police with your laughably written extortion note if you’ll kindly tell me your real name and explain why you agreed to do the job for a paltry five grand. Seriously, dude, ‘Frank John’ sounds totally made up to me, like some cheese-making killer-monk’s name in a bad horror film, and what’s the cheapo kill fee about? How humiliating! Why, I send that much to my freeloading kids every six months! One thing you should know is, I’ve worked hard in my life to offend any number of pointlessly famous or shallow-minded folks who wouldn’t mind never hearing from me again. These people are generally wealthy beyond all reason and can well afford to pay loads for a decent hit.
“Finally, permit me to offer you some friendly advice. Please enroll as soon as possible in a basic course in everyday grammar at your local community college. Your career may well depend on it! In these challenging times one can’t overstate the importance of a well-written extortion note.
“For the record, I will tell nobody that really cares a fig about this peculiar situation but please be aware — and pass along to Mr. Big — that I have plenty of powerful friends in very high places, including my wife, the NCAA, the good people of South Carolina and Donald Trump, for starters. I can tell you from hard experience, Frankie J, that you don’t want to mess with ANY of these people. Especially my wife.
Mark Zuckerberg, President and Founder, Pippa Middleton A Appreciation Society”
Sadly, Just Another Scam
Strangely, I have yet to hear back from Mr. Frank John.
Imagine my surprise when I learned yesterday that the Arizona attorney general and attorneys general from a dozen other states are investigating similar threatening emails that have cropped up by the thousands lately in the personal emails of ordinary gullible folks like me — all using nearly identical language to that used by Mr. Frank John, the cheesy monk turned compassionate hit man.
Seems the people who not long ago were pretending to be rich widows in Ghana eager to share their late husbands’ diamond fortune with you or the mysterious Swiss investment billionaire looking for a safe haven in your personal checking account have, in fact, adopted a different tack for stealing money from innocent and gullible people: threatening to rub them out if they don’t pay up.
Truthfully, I’m a little disappointed it’s just another Internet scam. For a minute or two, I pictured myself being grilled by Nancy Grace, discussing my journey through the shadowy world of Mr. Frank John and Mr. Big.
Even as I write this, I’m still alive, which I guess I should truly be thankful for.
Award-winning author Jim Dodson, Sunday essayist with The Pilot and editor of PineStraw magazine, can be reached at email@example.com.
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