WE FOUND KIDDIE LAND
Eighteen months we searched for the Kiddie Land refrigerator truck: Eighteen long months.
Nothing was any help at all. Not our massive dragnet, not all the resources of our city, state, nation, the FBI, and eventually Interpol. No amount of technology helped: no traffic cams, gas station cams, or even satellite photography, only the usual tons of leads that all trailed off into nothing.
All that was left of its memory were the traumatized families and friends; a devastated school and community, and an open case file.
After three months, candlelight vigils turned to protests. Public pressure forced a changing of the guard as our leadership was juggled. There were transfers, promotions and demotions. I don’t know a single person who was happy with any of it. But when nothing is happening, something has to be done. After six months of still producing nothing our resources shrank, our numbers winnowed away. There were other crimes, other mysteries to be solved.
Eventually there were only four of us left. Four of us with nothing to do but trace and re-trace, question and re-question, interview and re-interview, until even the high-tension emotions of the family and friends frayed and went numb.
Without meaning to or wanting to, we wore them down. We rubbed out their love, hope, and grief until they were left with nothing but never wanting to see our faces anymore. They never wanted to hear another word about their lost children or that god damn truck.
Which made us feel like involuntary accomplices to the crime. What did we miss? What had we done wrong? Nothing can just disappear like that. It’s impossible.
The Kiddie Land refrigerator truck vanished from the face of the earth.
Until it showed up on Facebook.
A Smartphone photo from some young foreign tourists on a back road.
They were lost. They saw the truck in another faraway state, deep in the abandoned weeds of nowhere. They had no idea what they were looking at. The rusting Kiddie Land truck was ancient, forgotten news to them, buried deep beneath all the news that came after. So they took a photo of their adventure: a lost emblem of forgotten Americana, and went about their merry, laughing and cursing their GPS.
A crappy GPS and two lost college schlubs on a random roadtrip: that’s how we finally found the Kiddie Land truck.
A rush of cathartic, triumphant driving; hours of cathartic angry flying, and more hours of tension filled driving until we finally came upon the field; upon It.
All the eyewitness markings match – This is our Kiddie Land truck.
Our puzzle piece. Once we explore the Kiddie Land truck, we are certain that all of our questions will be answered. Everything else will fall into place. And we will catch and punish whoever is responsible for this.
Whoever? How could just one person have made such a bold kidnapping at all? How could a single person have got away with it? How could a crime of such magnitude have stayed a mystery for so long?
All of us want that truck opened. None of us want to be the one to open it.
We never found the perp – have no idea who he/she/they could be, or what he/she/they wanted. There was never a demand for ransom, attention, anything. And the reason this witness ID’d kidnap vehicle matters at all is because we never found the 24 missing children.
Because of that, none of us want to be the one who opens the back doors on the Kiddie Land truck.
Eighteen long months.
So we stand here, and it sits there.
Something has to break.
– Copyright 2013, E.C. McMullen Jr.
Kiddie Land truck photo originally found at Pikdit / r/creepy
Thanks to John Claude Smith for finding the inspirational photo.
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