Searching for Georgia, A Novel
Chapter 3: Taken
It’s almost midnight. I have been tossing and turning. I can’t sleep. Yaya has gone nuts over Scotty and me. I am horrified that she caught me, bare breasts and all, messing around with Scotty. Just my luck that the first time I do anything risqué, I get caught red-handed. She and Mom are thick as thieves and bound have a come to Jesus meeting with me tomorrow after they have deliberated how to handle me. Ugh! Even though Daddy is sheriff of this county, I wish he’d handle it. Yes, he’d feel protective of me and may want to wring Scotty’s neck, but he lets me get a word in and I’d get him to see the light. He’s the quiet calm with the fiery women of the family, me included, this I know. I love women in our family, but you can’t mess with them either. They lay down the law, tougher than Daddy, despite all his accolades as a strong law enforcer. There is talk around town of folks trying to change the laws to allow two four-year terms for sheriffs just to keep him around longer once his term is up next year.
I want to go home. Yaya and Papo’s house is like home to me, but I don’t have everything from home here. I usually don’t sleep with my oversized soft teddy bear, Cuddles, but on nights like tonight I want her. I want my Springer Spaniel, Duke, too. We named our Spaniel, Duke, because it seemed like he duked it out for us when we were selecting a pup. He didn’t give the other six pups a chance. He cut right in front of them vying for our love and attention. That and he’s a purebred, with the breed being from England, Duke just seemed aptly appropriate. I want Cuddles and Duke. But, Yaya went to bed and I can’t just take off. I’ll just go down for some water and maybe raid the fridge.
I walked downstairs quietly, got a Tervis cup from the cupboard and got myself some water from the fridge. I saw both Yaya and Papo’s phones charging from their normal spot on the kitchen counter. An idea popped in my head… My cell was upstairs. I could text Yaya that I went home. She won’t be able to argue with me, not able to see my text till morning. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I went up and got my phone. I turned down Yaya’s volume all the way so not a peep would come out of the phone once the text came through. Then I sent a text.
“Yaya, sorry about tonight. It’s late, but I’m going home. I’m upset. I want to snuggle with Duke.” I had a key to my house and know the alarm code, but sent a text to Mom just to cover my tracks. Mom is usually so dang tired on Friday nights after her week of teaching. She has long crashed by this hour. Dad is working through the night as his work cycles through a four days on-four days off, then, three days on-three days off schedule. I’ll send Mom a text to cover my tracks.
“Mom, I want to sleep at home. I’m on my way over. I have the key. No worries. Don’t wake on my account,” I typed, then hit send.
I softly, quietly, opened the door and tip toed barefoot and in my pajamas out of the house. Every slight noise seemingly magnified, but I made it out, locking the door behind me. The night was anything but quiet. The cicadas blared, a symphony of soothing night-time sounds. Fireflies flickered over the lawns. I live just three houses down on the same side of the street. What is that noise behind me? Shit. Shit.
“Hello. What are you doing out so late, little girl?” a male voice asked. He smelled of marijuana. I turned to see this creepy, middle-aged, tall man with weathered skin and a long, reddish, U-shaped trucker’s mustache. He appeared stoned.
“Couldn’t sleep. But, I am almost home. My Daddy’s there. He’s the sheriff. I got to get home…he’ll be worried,” I was nervous. This felt dangerous. I felt my knees bend and get ready to sprint.
As my knees bent, I felt his hand cover my mouth, stifling my voice. Oh my God. No. No. No. This cannot be happening. His other hand wrapped around my waist as I kicked and belted out a muted scream. My kicks had no impact on his solid grasp of me, but I tried best I could. I wished I had put shoes on, even better my boots. Maybe then I could have a chance of hurting him and freeing myself. My wide, frightened eyes noticed an outline from his Levis front pocket that indicated he was armed. I was in danger. He ran with me to the end of the street and pushed me in his black Nissan SUV. It smelled of pot in his car and it was a mess. Drive thru bags and wrappers, old clothes, and surprisingly, a booster car seat, and little girl’s pair of light-up, pink sneakers. The shoes looked small, like they’d fit a five year-old. Does this lunatic have a daughter? Then my mouth was uncovered for a millisecond, stuffed with a vile smelling T-shirt and tied tight at the back of my head. My arms and feet were wrapped in cable as I kicked and wrestled to no avail. Oh God, no! God, please help me! He tossed the booster seat in the back and laid me flat, tied-up and used every seatbelt to secure me. Was this planned? It seemed premeditated, but haphazardly executed. Why me?
I couldn’t see much with my body strapped facedown horizontally. The madman got in to the driver’s side and drove. My darting eyes saw a wad of money on the passenger’s seat. By the look of it, he had been making exchanges.
“Well, what an unexpected surprise,” he finally spoke. “The sheriff daughter, huh? Thank you very much for clearing that up. I was hoping that was the case.”
He drove about twenty minutes as I could see each minute pass on the dash clock, but I could not make out much more as my vision was limited to a bit of the dashboard and the passenger seat. I tried to feel for my bearings here in Cobb Springs, Georgia, the only town I have ever known, but I soon lost all sense of them. He parked the car in a garage and it closed behind us.
I am a fighter. I have much to live for…Mom, Dad, Jack, Yaya and Papo, Granny and Grandpa, Iza and the girls, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and life itself. It’s strange Scotty’s name didn’t come to me. Last night I felt a disconnect with him while we parked, before Yaya came a hollering. I realized that I love the way Scotty looks, the way it feels to have him choose me, and the way everyone else looks at me like I’m the one that won the lottery of boyfriends. But, we don’t really talk that much. We hangout in groups and arrive and leave together, but have we ever done anything just us? No, I don’t think so. Despite Scotty being gorgeous…and me having the esteemed title of his girlfriend, at this moment, his name is not running through my head as a loved one. His name, the name that just a few hours ago and much of the eight months prior consumed much of my thoughts, is not the one I want to call out. Now, I want my Mom, my Daddy, and Yaya. I want my family. I want Jack and my best friend Iza. I want my doggie, Duke.
The man left me in the SUV. He unloaded a few things, his drugs and money, from the car and went into the house. What the hell is happening? I can’t move. I pushed the disgusting shirt with my tongue, but it was secured in place. I went ahead and screamed with every ounce in me, but my muffled sound was unheard.
He opened the car door, unbuckled the seatbelts and carried me again, my hands and feet still tethered, but my eyes wide open. He walked me though a slightly messy, but normal looking kitchen, albeit dated. Then, I was taken down a stairwell to a musky-smelling basement. He opened a back room with a key. The room was without windows, long and rectangular. In it there was a TV, a couch, a coffee table with a bong on it, empty beer cans and on a side wall an open closet. In the closet there was a large, aquarium-like glass container with artificial light growing weed and lots of it. Still tied up, he sat me on the couch. Then he turned on the TV.
“I lost my little girl today. Her momma got her way. I ain’t sure when I’ll see her again. I’m going to show your daddy just what that feels like. I ain’t going to hurt you or have my way with you, even though you’s a pretty little thing. I just want to hurt your daddy. He don’t use his power right. He’s working for them, the feds, taxing me and taking away my God-giving human rights,” he said, his scary, crazy words for this equally scary and crazy night. A part of him seemed to be trying to commiserate with me. I am not looking to make BFFs with you, psychopath. Set me free, please. Why my Daddy? What does he have to do with you losing your little girl? Did he get you on all this marijuana mayhem you have going on? It was the likely answer… Daddy doesn’t talk about work only to say he does his best to keep his darling Hawk ladies and his precious Hawk boy safe.
“I’m John Doe to you. Just call me Sir, Mr. John, or even better Sir John Doe, regal-like, ha,” he chuckled, amused with himself. Dumbass, how the hell can I address you with your disgusting garment stuffed in my mouth and tied so tight I can barely breathe? He looped through all the channels and then settled on cooking show. “Man, I could use me a good meal. You cook? Haha. Kid, listen, I’m locking you in. I’ll be back. Don’t do anything stupid.” He picked up his gun, left the TV on and walked out. I could hear the key turn as he locked it behind him.
I couldn’t move much. Best I could do was roll over to the door and make kicking sound, but I was paralyzed in fear. Oh Georgia Jane Hawk, what have you gone and done? Why couldn’t you just have stayed put at Yaya’s. Being caught messing around with Scotty seemed like the end of the world just hours ago and now I’d do anything to back to dealing with that mess, now seeming so small. This, this was big. Then the tears came. Ah hell. Deep breaths, Georgia. Sobs, barely audible, stuffed sobs was all that I mustered. I have to get the hell out of here…