When A Stranger Calls

He needed to make a phone call. He glanced up and down the street. No one could be around when the call was made. Good thing this was known as the shady part of town, anyone who knew what was good for them didn’t dare venture here.

He reached into his pocket for his cell phone, he didn’t really want to risk his call being traced but what other options did he have? His pocket turned up empty. Oh the phone was in his glove box.

He walked briskly back to his car which he had parked in the shadows. He didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to himself. He pulled his cell phone from the glove box only to find it was dead flat. His sister had told him many times that if he left his phone on a flat surface the battery would drain faster but he never listened to his sister, she was usually wrong.

About that phone call. He needed to make it, but how? There was a trilling ring from behind him. He flung himself around in surprise. He hadn’t realised there was a phonebox.

He crept towards it, looked around making sure no one had crept into the alley while he wasn’t looking, he picked up the receiver and wiped the ear and mouth pieces with a disposable tissue.


“Hello Johnnie” The voice on the other end sneered his name.

“Who is this?”

“You should know Johnnie. You were just about to call me.”

“Fitzgerald?” He asked uncertain.

“The one and only.”

He looked around himself again. “How did you know I was going to call?”

Fitzgerald ignored him. “Let’s play a game Johnnie.”

“What kind of game?”

“I’ve got your daughter.”

“I know, I got your note, Fitzgerald.”

He wasn’t sure if Fitzgerald would like being addressed directly but he had no time to worry about his feelings right now. All he cared about was getting his daughter back.

“You have twenty four hours to bring me a pack of chewing gum. Do that and your daughter lives.”

He thought he must have heard Fitzgerald wrong. “All you want is a pack of chewing gum?”


“This will be no trouble.”

“Ah ah ah! Not so cocky Johnnie. You’ve got to find me first.”

He hadn’t thought of that. How would he find Fitzgerald?

“Good luck Johnnie.”

“Wait! You didn’t tell me what brand of gum you wanted?” The line went dead.

He looked around himself, what was he to do? He knew he couldn’t get the police involved or Ellie-Rose would be dead. Would they believe him anyway? It couldn’t be often a kidnapper asked for chewing gum as a ransom.

He thought about where Fitzgerald might be. He must be close for he had known Johnnie would be at that payphone. Did Fitzgerald have a look out close by? Did Fitzgerald have a tracker on him? He searched himself but couldn’t find anything. There had been something oddly familiar about Fitzgerald, yes, it was his voice. Where had he heard that voice before?

Johnnie thought he had better get the chewing gum first. He sprinted to the local dairy, rushing to the counter with a wild look in his eye, frightening the elderly lady who was manning the till. She didn’t make polite conversation just rung up his order. He didn’t blame her he probably would have been scared of himself too.

“U-uh that will be $2.50 please.”

He gave her a $5 note, told her to keep the change and sprinted back out of the store. Once outside he stopped to think. Where to now?

An idea suddenly hit him. He sprinted back to the alleyway where he had parked his car and collected the map from the glove box. He would mark on it all the lookout points that were close by just in case Fitzgerald was near.

There were only two. The local fire station and a set of flats on Hadleigh drive. He decided to try the fire station first. He grabbed his binoculars from the glove box and zoomed them in pointing them at the fire station positioned in the distance.

Bulls eye! He could see a man with a gun standing on the fourth floor balcony. Mind you, this didn’t mean this was the right place, that could be a completely different guy up there all together. He didn’t really want to go near this man if he wasn’t the right guy, the fact he was carrying a gun around meant he was slightly crazy to start with. Unless he was a police officer but this guy didn’t look like one. He looked like he belonged in the mafia to be honest.

It was a risk but he had to try.

He drove his car most of the way stopping just around the block from the fire station and deserting it there. Once he got Ellie-Rose back they would have to run. This would be a challenge because Ellie’s ten year old legs could only carry her so far but he didn’t want to risk being seen. He walked the remaining block and once he got close enough he crept up the fire escape praying the guy hadn’t spotted him yet.

The back door was open so he crept inside being careful not to make a noise. He needn’t have made the effort as it turned out they had camera’s watching him. “Ahh glad you could make it Johnnie! No trouble getting here I take it?” Fitzgerald’s voice spoke from behind him. It sounded even more familiar now.

He spun around ready to confront Fitzgerald but instead dropped his jaw in shock. It was no wonder Fitzgerald sounded so familiar. He looked familiar too. Fitzgerald was his daughter’s favourite teddy bear. He had seen this bear so many times, except now the bear was holding a gun and it was pointed at him.

“I’m going crazy right? Hallucinating?”

“Not at all Johnnie. This is very real.”

“I have no idea what’s going on right now.”

“I’ll tell you Johnnie, after you hand over the chewing gum.”

He threw the gum to Fitzgerald “Where’s Ellie?”

“I don’t have Ellie. I dropped her off at Gracie’s house on the way here and gave her a note to give to Gracie’s Mum from you.”

Gracie was Ellie-Rose’s best friend. They spent a lot of time at each other’s houses. Johnnie was relieved that Ellie wasn’t here, even though Fitzgerald was her teddy he was obviously crazy so who really knew who he would and wouldn’t harm. How on earth was he going to explain this situation to Ellie though? He hoped she hadn’t told Gracie and Gracie’s parents about this. They would all think she was going crazy. Except probably for Gracie, it wouldn’t surprise him if she thought it was cool. She was an odd child but a good odd.

“Then why am I here?”

“Because, Johnnie, it’s you I want.”

“But why?”

“I have hated you ever since you threw me out the two story window of Ellie’s room that dark December day.”

He remembered doing this, he had done it on accident of course. Ellie was playing dress ups with Fitzgerald and wouldn’t go to bed so he had taken Fitzgerald off her and in the struggle accidentally dropped him out her two story window. This in turn had made Ellie cry so he had-had to go down and get Fitzgerald before she would even consider going to sleep.

“That was an accident. I didn’t throw you I dropped you.”

“It still happened!” Fitzgerald snarled at him “It also really hurt! You humans think just because I’m soft and fluffy I have no feelings but I do and I feel pain.”

“I’m sorry what can I do to make it up to you?”

“Nothing!” Fitzgerald had pulled the trigger and fired the gun before Johnnie had a second to think. He heard the noise but seconds went by and he couldn’t feel any pain. He looked down and sure enough there was a bullet in him but still no pain. Maybe he had already died and was in heaven.

He woke up covered in a cold sweat and trembling. He threw back the covers and rushed to Ellie-Rose’s room. She was sleeping soundly cuddling Fitzgerald. It looked like neither of them had moved all night.

He knew it was his new heart medication, ever since he had started taking it he had been having very strange out of it dreams. He didn’t want to go on like this. He would make an appointment at the doctors tomorrow to see about being taken off it.

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