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’.