In the dumpster behind Pravda Beer Bar, illuminated by a single overhead light, a raccoon foraged for a quick meal. It near about jumped out of its skin when it was assaulted by a great metal-on-metal clang.
"Scram!" the man with the shovel yelled as the raccoon was already jetting across the parking lot. He muttered a bit to himself about pests and how lazy the other workers were as he heaved a few bags in the bin. He performed the act his predecessor had failed to do. The flip of the lid as he closed the dumpster generated just enough of a wind to push a small scrap of paper out into the light.
The man bent down and picked it up. The writing looked Russian to him, but one bit was certainly decipherable: a time and a dollar figure of five zeros following a one. He took it into the bar.
"I'm no interpreter," a regular stated after studying the note for a bit, "but I'd say this is some ransom demand. Take it to the police, I think."
That's exactly what the man did. After a short detour to tell his boss where he was headed, he went straight to City Hall in the hopes they had someone who could read the note on staff. It felt like the logical thing to do. It took quite a few inquiries before the logic paid off, however.
"It's a ransom note alright," the woman who was eventually able to read it said to a small group of curious folk. They'd become a small train following the man as he went from department to department trying to find her.
"Who's being ransomed?" the man asked.
"That one feminist from the University - she's been missing for about a week now," the woman answered.
"It's a draft of the note we got today!" one of the detectives put one and one together. "You said you found it behind your bar? Do you have cameras back there?"
"We do indeed! Hell, we could watch them right here - I have the password!"
"This is one hell of a lucky break - we'll find the professor in no time!"