Jay Branch had set up the ringer on his cell to sound like a loud old rotary phone because that would always get his attention soothing sounds and music never seemed to work. At 5:30 a.m. the sound of the world’s loudest old rotary phone shattered the silence in Jay Branch’s world. It was Grace’s phone calling him.
“Hey, what’s up?” he mumbled into the phone.
“Good morning Mr. Branch.” The man’s voice dripped of pure evil, a cold heartless flat scratchy tone that came from what Jay could only imagine was chain smoking demon from the depths of Hell.
“Hello, who is this?” He picked his words slow and carefully as his heart was slamming against his chest now and breathing had become noticeably harder.
“My name doesn’t matter Mr. Branch what matters is that I have a beautiful young girl tied up in a dark room and if you do what I ask she will remain unharmed.”
Jay felt a sick coldness rush through his blood, he had no idea what to do, what to say.
“Let me talk to Grace.” he managed.
“Okay but just for a second Mr. Branch.” The way that the piece of shit kept saying Mr. Branch began to dig into Jay’s gut and twist like sick getting ready to spill.
“Daddy, I’m okay.”
“Okay Grace just hang tight Dad will take care of this okay?
“I know you will, I’ll be fine.”
“I love you sweetie.” his tears were right behind his eyes they seemed to be held back by anger that gripped his head like a giant unseen hand.
“I love you too daddy.” Grace responded.
“Well that is very nice; it’s good to hear a parent at least act like they care. Now here is what I need so I will be a good boy and you and sweetie can go on living a normal suburban life.” Jay could tell the asshole was smiling like an evil school bully torturing his prey in a dark corner away from supervising eyes.
“I need you to bring me fifty thousand dollars in cash and in random dirty old bills in a big stinky gym bag and I need it here in less than thirty-six hours. And Mr. Branch you can’t tell anyone, I’ll kill her just to be a dick if you do.”
“Bring it to you, in Arizona?” Jay asked.
“Yes Mr. Branch that is where I am.”
“I …I don’t have even five thousand dollars to my name man.” He didn’t know what else to say or do. Why did this piece of shit think Jay had money?
“Well Mr. Branch you had better figure something out.”
“Do you believe me? I really do not have money.” Jay was panicked, his heart was slamming faster and harder now and there was a strange pressure behind his eyes.
“Oh I believe you Mr. Branch, but I don’t care, either way I will be happy.”
“If you bring me the money, I already have a list of things I want to go and get for myself.” He paused “And if you don’t then I will get to play with my new toy for at least a week before it breaks.”
Jay could hear Grace make a small wincing sound in the back ground and he thought he might completely lose his mind right then and there.
“Don’t touch her you asshole.” Jay’s heart had stopped pounding and his head was clear, the world around him had fallen silent.
“Believe it or not Mr. Branch I am a man of my word, and I always keep my word. I will not touch a hair on your daughter’s head for thirty-six hours from right now, I will feed her, give her drink and she will be locked in a small bathroom in my basement in case she needs to go number onesy or twosey. But if you do not bring me the money I asked for.” He paused and then let out a sickening sigh. “Then I will make your daughter my chew toy for a week and when she finally can’t take any more I’ll cut her up into little pieces, put her in pickle buckets and scatter her across the desert for the buzzards.” And then in a mocking tone he said “Now do you believe me Mr. Branch?
“I believe you.” Jay said quietly. “I will bring you random dirty bills in a big stinky gym bag?” Jay stood up quietly and walked to the dresser.
“You’re paying attention that’s good. The money needs not to be new and pretty, and it needs not to be traceable. I don’t give a shit if it’s in a pink backpack you buy at Walmart.” He said then laughed to himself a little. “Now Mr. Branch I will call you two more times, one in eighteen hours to make sure that you are on your way and one in thirty-five hours to tell you where to bring my money. And remember Mr. Branch if you tell anyone and I find out I will kill her just to spite you.”
Jay’s fingers were moving slowly and quietly over the laptops keys as he was listening as close as possible and at the same time he was putting in the user name and password for Grace’s iCloud account.
“Yes I hear you.” He was logged in and the “Find my iPhone program” was locating Grace’s phone.
“The next time I call you it will be from a 928 area code. I am smashing this pretty little phone as soon as a I hang up and I am being fair and starting the clock at 7:00 p.m. so it will be at 12 midnight Georgia time.”
“I understand, but what if I am in some stupid place that has no signal and the call doesn’t come through?”
“Find a strong signal and park there until I call Mr. Branch.”
Locating……narrowing in on Arizona
“Okay” He needed another second “Is Suze with you?”
“Oh her little drunk friend?” Drunk? Jay thought. “She’s still probably sleeping it off, but it’s nice to see you think about more than just yourself and your kid.”
The find my iPhone had stopped north of Lake Havasu in what looked like the middle of nowhere Jay hit the plus button once and then the print screen key so he could save this image.
“Okay I understand, please don’t hurt her.”
“Bring my money and she will be fine Mr. Branch.” Jay could hear the phone drop to what sounded like a tile floor. He had heard that sound before and then a quick smash sound and the phone was dead. He sat down in the desk chair that rolled around his bedroom doubling as the only seat and dirty clothes hamper and stared into the laptops screen. He pasted the screen that the program had captured into paint and stared at it increasing in size a little. The dot was near Regal Road in Topock, Arizona. He could see a little of what appeared to have been dirt road leading off of it. He Googled Regal Road Topock and then switched to satellite view so he could see if there was any houses in that area. What he saw was what looked like a junkyard with random cars and old RVs and now he knew where his daughter was and now all he had to do was go get her.