Anna & Amber's Secret Powers
Chapter 3: NOW & ZEN pg. 7
The police arrived at their house in about a half an hour. It was about five thirty pm by then. The officer who knocked on the door was squat and had rounded arms like he had stuffed a bunch of tennis balls up his sleeves. He was curt in his questions and responses, trying to get the facts of the matter down and appear serious. Meanwhile, his partner was lurking around in the front hallway after Mom let him in, absent-mindedly picking up some of the dolls on the piano which the family had bought from Bali, putting them back down guiltily when Dad gave him a quizzical look.
"Ok, Mrs. Salveson. I just want to ask a few more things," the officer said. "Why didn't you check with Mrs. Sherene to verify that there was a party?"
"Well, they wrapped a present," she noted. "Why would they do that if there was no party?"
"What's the gift?" he asked.
"I don't know, they bought it and wrapped it before I could get a look at it," mom replied.
"Let's open it," Dad said and grinned. He almost seemed eager to open it, as if it was his birthday or something.
"Sure," said the officer.
"Maybe its moon sand!" said the other officer. When everyone looked up at him, he looked down and offered, "I have a daughter too."
But when mom tore at the paper and opened the box, there was simply more balled up newspaper inside, no gift at all.
"Well, that's not a very good gift," the other officer said.
"I think its no gift at all," said Mom. "It was another lie."
"Why would they lie to us?" asked Dad. "And go to all the trouble of faking a gift?"
"Can you help us find them?" was what Mom wanted to know.
"Well, mam, we can put out an Amber alert, a Missing Person's Report, which lets all the patrol cars know to keep a look out for them. That will mean that the online newspapers and stuff will know about it too, and sometimes they put out an alert via email to local residents and even on the electronic signs on the freeway. We'll find your kids," he promised.
"Oh God, I hope so," mom choked up. "I just don't know why they would do this!"
At that moment, another officer came inside. He was holding the CD player the girls had stashed under the car before they had left for the bus. He held it above his head, almost like a trophy.
"I found this hidden underneath your car out there. Watch this," he said, and he clicked the play button on the CD. Soon, a car horn echoed around room.
"Is that the car horn you heard, mam?" the officer asked.
And that is how they discovered how the girls had tricked them into letting them go off on their own.
"You got to admit, its kinda clever," admitted one of the other officers. Everyone looked again at him, and he fiddled with the billy club hanging from his belt to avoid their looks.
The other officer was all business. "We'll put out an Amber Alert," he promised. "We could find them soon if there's a report that some kids are missing and someone picks up on it."
And that was how the Missing Persons alert was issued and how word immediately started getting out. The Daily Bulletin newspaper put "Missing Child Alert" right on the front of their web page. The Claremont Police Department put out an email to all Claremont residents. Over all the land that existed between San Bernadino County all the way to the beaches of Los Angeles and Orange County, radios in police cars were buzzing with the news to be on the lookout for two kids, twins, age 9, who were possibly lost or kidnapped. "It's an Amber Alert, and one of the kids is named Amber," they all remarked to each other. "How convenient!"
Soon, every TV in Los Angeles was blaring, "Missing Rancho children, more information on our 6 O'clock news program, which starts NOW!" Then there was their photo up there while some upbeat theme music started playing.
And that is what made a certain Mrs. Katzenjammer sit up in her chair at home, brush the parrot off her shoulder, and lean forward to turn up the sound on her TV. She recognized those kids! Those two adorable kids on the TV were the same ones she had seen and talked to briefly on the bus earlier that day! "Get me the phone," she told her husband.
* * *
The wind was whipping in the girl's faces as the truck rumbled up Monte Vista, their hair stinging up into their eyes like a tornado.
"Be there soon!" said Rich. The girls looked at the watch on Anna's wrist, and it said 5:57pm. They passed by a few new housing developments and stopped briefly at a red light that said Old Baldy Road that was flashing instead of solid ("Its just like a stop sign that way," said Rich when he heard Anna gasp a little when he rolled through it without hardly stopping), and then they were starting to climb up a little hill.
Soon, the Padua Theater came into their sight around a bend. It was almost magical. There were rows and rows of olive trees, and there were cheery strings of lights draped all over them out in front of the building, like waterfalls of light. Beyond that, the rolling foothills were stained with purple ink, looking lush and verdant in the rising moon's illumination. It was like Disneyland, or something. Behind that was a long path that led by a fountain and scores of flowers and bushes, ending at an adobe house with a red tile roof and Mexican tile decorations on the outside. The bushes had small star-shaped flowers on them that were exuding a beautiful scent. Amber looked at Anna, and Anna looked at Amber.
"Here we are, that'll be fifty dollars please," said Rich, turning and looking at them through the cab window as the car pulled to a stop.
When he saw their frightened faces, he added, "Just kidding."
Both girls breathed a sigh of relief and when he whipped his hand in the air like "run along now" they both bolted from the back of the truck, leaping over the sides and onto the pavement.
"Don't forget your bags!" Rich reminded, them, so Anna jumped back in and then tossed both bags down to the sidewalk outside the path leading to the Adobe. "And no stealing my lemons!" With that, Rich tipped his cap and idled his car down the road again, leaving them behind in what was a sudden quiet.
"Thank you!" they called out behind him.
Slowly, then, they made their way along the path to the Adobe house, kicking olives out of the way like little stones. They could hear the crickets start to chirp again as the noisy bugs relaxed back down into their nightly routine. Anna and Amber could see some people in the Adobe house, so they followed the path until their feet fell into the light streaming from the doorway.
Inside they could see there was a ballroom with hardwood floors. But before Anna and Amber could set foot inside, a group of odd looking people tumbled out of the door.