Sunday, February 20, 2005

Without a trace

As I was driving home this afternoon, I looked up at the the giant screens that line our interstates every 3-5 miles within city limits. Usually the billboards give up to date information -- weather info, construction updates, or the famous 'Click it or ticket' -- in reference to our seat belt law. Today, the sign read "Child Kidnapped." The lights at the top of the screen were flashing for additional emphasis. The sign gave no other information other than a description of the vehicle -- blue Dodge SUV and a license plate -- and a message to call the police in Big City to the North.

For the entire 3-hour drive, I checked out all the cars, looking for a blue Dodge SUV. I repeated the license plate number under my breath. I wondered if the child was a boy or a girl and how old he or she was. I wondered if the child knew his or her kidnapper. Why did the kidnapper do this? Was it a disgruntled parent on the wrong side of a custody battle? A stranger? Who witnessed the kidnapping and managed to get the license plate number? Did they happen to see if the kidnapper went north or south? If they were coming south, then maybe I'd come across them. Mostly I hoped by the time I hit the first sign in my Current City, that the Amber Alert would be replaced with the usual "This city is STILL under construction" message; unfortunately, when I got to the city's outer limits and the first 'achtung' sign, the headline was still "Kidnapped child."

Now I'm wondering whether the kidnapper saw the Amber Alert. I wonder if he left the highway. But mostly, I wonder about the child and pray that the alert worked, that the blue Dodge SUV was spotted and that the child has been returned to his or her home.

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