Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne are interchangeable . This is the last thought that flowed  through my mind as everything went black.

Let me explain. Not about Jackson and Bruce but about me. There is nothing special about me. I know that we are not supposed to say that out loud  or admit this , but it's true .   I am twenty two, work full time at a local Pet Store chain,  and live  with my parents with our 90 pound white Lab , Big Boy  and our  newest addition, Jagger , an orange tabby Maine Coon. Every day  before work I jog around the block . Today is no different .

I lace up  my Under Armour sneakers recently purchased from Marshalls , my pink  joggers and grab my ear buds .  I head out around the block for a very short run , not even  a mile, but  a positive way to begin my day.  The street around the corner  behind my house  was recently paved so there is a lot of  crunchy gravel that flies up and down around my feet in a relaxing and hypnotic way  as I run. At this point  my radio is streaming  a live version of Racing in the Street with of course  a back story  from the boss explained in his calming and charismatic manner . I am reminded  of my older sister sharing her knowledge of  70’s icons  and I feel a smile  cross my lips. Then, Whammo!

That's all that I remember before the black out and if I squint my eyes and  think really hard  I may have  heard some of the crunchy gravel behind me , not sure.

I am sitting up.  My wrists are bound  to an armrest  on a really uncomfortable chair  and there is a scratchy cloth tied around my eyes and head . I don't hear  anything, all is silent. Where am I ?  From the other  room  I can  hear Frank singing Summer Wind. Abruptly  the music is shut off  and I can hear 2 voices , both females.

“ Where was she ? Did she see anything?”

“ No ,    I grabbed her on  Edgewood. No one  saw or heard anything”.

“ Good”.   Then she breathes in , sniffles  and blows her nose and repeats  “Ok  Good . We need  to find  out what she has done  with the cat.”

 At this point , I'm almost ready to jump out of the seat ! What ? Cat ? What are they talking about ? My heart is racing  a million times a minute . These voices  sound young , I'm young  , but they sound like teens. The deeper voice  says ,

“She was at the petstore , overseeing the cats  and now ours is gone . I asked the Manager  and she wouldn't  tell me ”

 “Oh Jeez, replies the one that sniffled.  So you took her ? Kidnapped her ?This is nuts.”

 Deep voice responds , 

“We needed to find him , bring him home . I didn't know what to do , I had  no choice.”

At this point , I'm sweating and nervous , and not knowing what to do. And for some reason  my mouth is not  covered. No gag. 

So I Yell! Loud.

“ Hey ! Hey you both ! I can get the cat ! Please  come in, let's talk!  Is this me ? Did I really  just do this? Yes I did , Ok ,here  we go again.

 ”Hey ! I can  get the cat . Please come over , let's talk”.

 I hear  Sniffles say from the other room “ What ? She can talk ? She is not  gagged?

“Yes , '' responds  Deep Voice , “I forgot that part ”.

 Me again , 

 “Hello, is anyone there? Let's talk !”

 At this point I am hearing muffled voices and then footsteps. I can smell both Dolce Gabbana perfume and Bacon . I can feel the two of them standing in front of me. The first to speak is Sniffles  and she asks point blank .

“Where is the cat ?” and proceeds to  blow her nose into something.  I respond 

 “ The cat is safe. I know where he is and I can get him for you.  But  you have to let me go. But please, don’t take off my blind fold . I don't want to see either of you . I just want  you to deliver me back on the street where you took me and I will let you know where he is. ”

 I hear someone shift their weight from one leg to another and Deep Voice says,

“ You know where he is ?  Can you get him for us ?”

 “ Yes, yes. ” I say quietly  with the utmost of urgence .  “I can bring him to you . We can come up with a mutual location and I can bring him in a carrier. You can just scoop him up and be on your way .”

 For a few minutes , more silence ensues. I'm trying to mentally  keep myself calm  so I can think straight and be convincing . I need to plan my next move .  I’m really trying to give myself kudos for keeping calm and not overthinking  the situation as is my usual personality.  Because,  the cat involved in all of this discussion, the celebrity  cat, the cat of the moment , is none other  than my Jagger.   I am not giving him up.   He was the parting gift after my boyfriend  broke up with me . He pretty much said  “ Yep  we are breaking up and hey why don’t  you keep the cat?”  A total Ben Stiller line I remember thinking at the time . As if this would assist me  in handling the break up and would possibly make Liam feel  a little better. My consolation  prize for nine months of dating.

 Ok , back to the situation at hand . I straightened up  and took a couple  of deep breaths. Jees , these wrist binds are really starting to pinch.

Sniffles  speak first. She says to deep voice ,

“What do you think ? Do we trust her ?”

Deep Voice  pipes right up , “Yes , let's go with her plan . Because , really  all I  really want  is the cat .” I hear a slight catch in her throat as she says this.

 “Ok “, they both chime in  at once ,  and Sniffles informs , “ but don't try anything funny “.  Another movie line .

Sniffles continues and I now know without a doubt that she is in charge here .

“ We are going to untie  you , put you in the car , and drive you back to Edgewood.”

 I nod and think that this is a good thing  and this could possibly  work. They slowly start the process of untying  my wrists  from the armchair and some one assists me in standing up. We slowly begin walking , I am in the center  and hold on to both of them as I am led through a room .  Light and a breeze hit me as I am helped  down the stairs.  I am guided  over to the open door of a car , I get in and someone touches my head , like a police  officer does  in helping  a criminal maneuver the backseat of a police car in all of those cop television shows.

 We are now driving . No one is speaking .  I can only hear the maddening sound  of the radio buttons being pushed frantically to change the stations. After approximately 20 minutes , the car starts to slow down , and slowly comes to a stop. I can hear a dog barking , it sounds familiar,  one of the many dogs  inside   the many houses in my neighborhood.

Deep Voice gets out of the passenger side of the car and says ,

“ Ok , Rickie ” What ! How does she know my name ? as she opens the rear door , and speaks into my face . Ahh that bacon smell again. 

“Ok ,  bring the cat  to Lodestar Park  tomorrow at  8 am and leave him and the carrier at the top of the hill near the volleyball net . If you don’t show up , we know where to find you” Now , I feel like I'm listening  to Deniro .

I respond  meekly “ Ok”.  I practically   crawl  out of the car . Someone , I think it's Sniffles ,  helps me step up onto the curb. 

 As I listen for them to  return to the car, I  hear the  door slam and the sound  of  the  auto locks.  I stand another moment  at the curb and  I hear the car pull away.

After I am confident  that they are gone , I slowly  remove the blind fold ,  and glance at it , a brown kerchief.   As I am standing there ,  on the curb,  I look up to the sky  and feel rain on my face and for the moment  , my first thought is , I am safe.

 And my second thought  is ,  ‘this is my worst nightmare’.

October 01, 2021 14:39

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