“So we know that the kidnapper was a woman, but that’s about all we know,” the Sheriff said. “We don’t know if she knew the kids, or since Katie was half asleep and no one heard the woman in Jake’s room, we don’t know if either of them recognized her.”
“Wouldn’t it seem that she had to be somewhat familiar with the house to know where the kid’s rooms were?” Dina asked.
The Sheriff pondered that for a minute.
“You mentioned you had a rodeo here, yesterday. How well do you know all of the people that attended?” Sheriff Thompson was still taking notes.
“No one but Brad has lived here a year yet,” Miss Bessie said. “Brad has owned the ranch for twenty years, but up until recently he hasn’t socialized much. If any of us know the neighboring ranchers at all, it would have to be a new acquaintance.”
The Sheriff was getting up to leave when Steve and Tom walked in. Tom said he had an airplane to catch and excused himself. Steve was interested in talking with the Sheriff.
“Please sit down, Sheriff Thompson,” Steve said. “I don’t know if this will help you much, but we know of one place that woman and the kids stopped. It’s a house that Dina and I owned seven years ago. Its about five miles from here. By the time Tom and I got there she and the kids were gone.”
“How do you know they were even there?” Sheriff Thompson asked.
“Inside the house sitting by the front door, there was a picnic basket packed with fresh food. At the very bottom of the basket was a pink hair ribbon.”
“Oh, Steve,” Dina said. “It was Katie’s wasn’t it? We didn’t take it out and brush her hair like we usually do because she was so tired from the rodeo. She must have put it in the basket hoping we would find it.”
“Any ideas about where they may have gone from there?” The Sheriff asked.
“None at all,” Steve answered. “I’m just hoping that Arf and Annie are still keeping them in their sights and will take a safe opportunity to get them away from whoever she is.”
Annie: I’d give my right paw for some water right now. Where do you think she’s taking Katie and Jake and why did she kidnap them in the first place?”
Arf: It beats me. It looks like she’s going towards town, though. I hope she is, it will be easier for us to call attention to ourselves and get the kids away from her. Let’s look around the back of this truck and see if we can get any clues that might tell us who she is.
Annie: Be careful, Arf. If she sees us, she might panic and hurt the kids.
Arf: Yup, I know. All I can see back here is an open toolbox. It has some tools like Steve uses in it. He’s a handy human. I don’t think she’s a handy human do you? Wait…there’s a locked file box back here, too.
Annie: I don’t see a suitcase anywhere unless it’s up in the cab. You would think she would have packed some things if she plans to spend the night somewhere. Uh Oh, she pulled over. If she comes back here and sees us, shall we corner her?
Arf: Not if we don’t have to. We don’t know how far we are from town and this is an old country road. It could be a long time before anyone comes along. We’ll just have to play dumb if she sees us.
Brad and Mark had been to every ranch they knew about and no one knew anything about the kids. or the woman.
“Should we go back to the house?” Mark asked. “Maybe they’ve heard something.”
“I can’t go back and tell Jamie we couldn’t find little Jake and Katie. We can’t leave any stone unturned. Let’s drive into town and check around. We can call the ranch from there.”
“Okay, sounds good,” Mark said. “Its not that far and we can take the shortcut.”
The woman got out of the truck, but didn’t look in the back where Arf and Annie were. She had spotted a little roadside park and she felt the need to get out and walk.
“Come on kids. Grandma wants you to get out and go for a walk in the park with me. I’m feeling a little light headed. I guess I should have gone back to get the picnic basket. We’ll just enjoy the fresh air for a few minutes and then drive on into town and find us something good to eat.”
Arf and Annie spotted a little water fountain. They were too thirsty not to take the chance they could steel a drink without the woman seeing them. They couldn’t let the kids see them either. They would tell the woman and it wasn’t a good time to show themselves if they didn’t have to. That would put them in a position to keep her from taking off with the kids for who knows where.
Katie and Jake were starting to get homesick. They didn’t know this grandma and they decided she should take them home. She could stay and visit if she wanted to. They would tell her right after they got something to eat in town. Yes…that was a good idea.
Brad and Mark were just a few miles from town when they saw an old truck sitting on the side of the road.
“Someone’s truck must have broken down,” Mark said. “Funny…you don’t usually see anyone on this road. Most people don’t know about it. Whoever was driving that truck was lucky someone came along to give them a lift…unless they walked all the way. Keep your eye out for someone walking to town.”
Brad and Mark didn’t see the park where Jake, Katie, and the woman who took them from their beds were about to return to the truck.