The phone rang at 11:59 Georgia time and came from a 928 area code, he answered it after the first ring.
“Hello, I’m here “he said
“How are things going Mr. Branch?” the disgusting voice of the maniacal asshole seemed to ooze through the earpiece.
“I’ve got your money and I will be ready for your call tomorrow, now let me talk to Grace.” He said in a tone that was assertive but not demanding.
“Really, well that seemed a little too easy for you Mr. Branch how exactly did you manage to grow that from less than five thousand dollars so quickly?”
“I got a loan I’ll be paying off for years, now let me talk to Grace.” A little more assertive now because he had become genuinely worried and it probably didn’t hurt that he had been taking liquid courage for the better part of the day.
“Daddy, I’m fine.” Graces voice came over the line and Jay could finally breathe.
“So everything is okay on your end?” she asked “You’re okay right?” his little girl was worried about him despite what she was going through.
“Yes kid everything is going to be fine, I’m on my way.” “And you’re sure you’re doing okay too right, that jack ass hasn’t touched you has he?” Jay’s heart began to hurt at the simple thought of this.
“No, not yet but I’ll be really glad when I see you daddy.” The way she said “not yet” brought vomit up in Jay’s throat. She definitely knew that if he didn’t come for her that the worst possible things could happen at the hands of the evil son of a bitch that had taken her.
“Mr. Branch it sounds like everything is going to be fine; and you have my word that if you do as you were told everything will stay fine, do you understand me?”
“Yes, I hear you loud and clear and I’m doing what you asked.” He paused, thought about it and said “and I trust your word that my daughter will be fine.”
“She will Mr. Branch as long as you bring my money and do not try to contact the cops she will be just fine. Now out of curiosity how far along in your trip are you?”
“I’m right outside of Henry, Oklahoma.” Jay said getting the name just a little wrong for some unknown reason to himself.
“Do you mean Henryetta, Oklahoma Mr. Branch?”
“Yeah, I think that’s right.” How did this asshole know what Jay was talking about?
“That puts you right on schedule Mr. Branch. So I will stay on schedule and call you the next time at five o clock Georgia time.”
“Okay, so we agree we are both doing what we are supposed to and there will be no problems.” Jay said in a cold calculated voice as if he was simply making a business deal with a crooked businessman.
“Yes, we agree Mr. Branch; I will keep my end of the deal as long as you keep yours.” He dropped the phone on the ground and Jay heard the familiar crunch of it being destroyed; the son of a bitch was careful that was for sure.
Jay sat silently in the front seat of his old Volvo 850 on the side of the highway somewhere thirty miles outside Shamrock, Texas with his phone still held up to his ear listening to absolutely nothing and thinking of even less. He was in some sort of state of shock; he couldn’t move, he couldn’t think, he was frozen in his place with only the loud disgusting hammering of his heartbeat in this world. He plugged the cell phone slowly back onto the car charger and reached into his CD wallet and pulled out a disc with black permanent marker scribble across the front that said ”Punk Rawk” and slipped it in the car’s CD player. As the intro noises to the Refused’s song New Noise began, he finished the drink he had made that was in his cup holder and began to refill it for the ride. By the time singer Dennis Lyxzen asked loudly if he could scream the Volvo was shifted into drive and pulling back out onto I-40 and Jay Branch was once again on his way to save his daughter.