The screen went black like it did every night. The message appeared, white letters, all caps:
IT’S 10 O’CLOCK. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE?
Jimmy was supposed to have Robin and Kyle back by ten. Any minute now, they would burst through the door, mouths still red from pizza sauce. Wearing cardboard crowns that said, “I’ve been to Swanky’s”.
Good evening, this is Brenda Ann Snow with Action News Five, tonight…
A big-eyed brunette, Brenda Ann Snow had only worked at Channel Five News a few years. The viewers loved her. Her voice was like gingerbread just out of the oven. Warm and familiar. Good news, bad news, whatever it was, you wanted to hear it from Brenda Ann Snow.
…the district attorney has not commented publicly on those charges. More on that story as it develops, and we’ll be back with traffic and weather updates after these messages.
IT’S 10:09. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE?
Donna looked at the clock. It was 10:09. They never ran that message twice and how could…it was gone when Donna turned back to the screen. A black-haired man in a dark, shiny suit was there:
Divorce? Bankruptcy? DUI? Call me, Will Bentley. I’m your guy.
It’s nerves, she decided. My mind playing tricks. Everything’s fine. He’s a few minutes late, is all. Jimmy is crazy about those kids.
Donna had tried to make things work. Was that a car? It sounded like tires. For Kyle’s sake and Robin’s. But Jimmy now and Jimmy then; it was like two different people.
And now for a weather and traffic update, let’s go to the Action News Five SkyCam and Randy Westlake.
Brenda Ann’s voice was soothing, familiar. Like the smell of cinnamon and warm apple pie. Her dark brown hair came just to her shoulders and poofed around her face. Big hair, as they called it where Donna came from.
…freezing rain and cold temperatures through the night and into the early morning hours. Also, expect delays if you’re traveling near the 3300 block of Monmouth Road. Action News Five Skycam is working to determine what’s causing the traffic tie-up there…
Thank you Randy and on the international front, scientists in Germany say they may have successfully isolated…
No. He didn’t say “Monmouth”. Donna felt warm, and faint for a moment. She stared at the TV. Men in lab coats. Bald, bespectacled men shaking hands. No, she told herself. It’s just nerves.
And when we return, the story of the world’s largest trilobite and the “champ” fossil hunter who found it.
Why did she do it. Why did she let him take Robin and Kyle. Jimmy already saw them twice a week. They would go out to eat or play miniature golf. Sometimes he took Robin and Kyle to visit their grandparents; their white frame house was set back from the road. Almost hidden by trees, it was hard to find unless you knew it was there.
Why did she do it? Because Jimmy had said, hey kids how about Swanky’s, that’s why. Kyle was ten. Today was his birthday, what else could she do…Swanky’s was a pizza place with a player piano. Robin and Kyle jumped up and down.
IT’S 10:22. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE?
White letters, all caps. She closed her eyes, tight. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t possible. Donna opened her eyes and saw Vince Lancomb, the Channel Five sports guy. Fireworks bursting all around him.
SundaySundaySunday be there see fast funny cars ride the rides ride the Annihilator if you dare free hot dogs for kids under eight at Lakeland Speedway SundaySundaySunday be there
“Dissolution of Marriage”; Donna’s mind was made up. She was meeting her lawyer on Monday, before she picked the kids up from school.
She was tired of searching for just the right words, wearing just the right dress and smiling just right just so he wouldn’t…where are they, my babies… it was like some hard, black-rooted thing was growing inside him…some dark-husked weed that took for itself any sweetness and light…where are you, Jimmy. Where are you, you bastard.
…at 750 mm, it is the largest trilobite ever discovered. But Champ, the Golden Retreiver puppy who found it, just thought it made a great chew toy. He’s a digger alright, his owner told Channel Five News. There’s holes all over this yard…
Before we leave you tonight, we have an update on that traffic tie-up…
Her voice was suddenly raspy, and hoarse. Brenda Ann stared at the note in her hand.
…sources tell Channel Five News that inside this white frame Monmouth Road home…
Their mouths were both red from pizza sauce. They both had cardboard crowns on their head.
It was 10:59. The officer looked at his shoes and said, we know where the children are, ma'am.