The work was boring and the pay was minimal. But she donned the high-visibility yellow vest and stood beside the road near a construction project, turning a sign to tell drivers when to stop and when it was their turn to pass.
Most drivers ignored her. A few waved thanks as they moved on. She didn’t notice the passing cars much either – maybe an occasional sporty model or as especially noisy truck.
On a very ordinary Wednesday, a very ordinary gray SUV passed her. A man was driving and a child was in the passenger’s seat. The little girl was crying.
“What?” Amy wondered, “Daddy wouldn’t buy her an ice cream?” The car moved on, and the one was driven by a cute read-headed guy in a Jag who gave her a grin and a wave – much more interesting to think about than a naughty child.
A couple of weeks later, she noticed a man driving with a little girl again. The child seemed to be trying to hit the man. Children were so ill-behaved these days. Was it the same car? She couldn’t see the man in the driver’s seat clearly, but she thought the first girl had had pigtails. Well, maybe she got a haircut. It was just another gray SUV in those endless lines of impatient drivers and passengers.
It was the following month when a gray SUV was first in line. The driver was obscured by shadow, but the girl on the side near her seemed to be trying to tell her something. Amy couldn’t make out the words through the closed window before the driver shouted something and hit the child. It couldn’t be the same car – this girl had dark hair, and the others had been blonde. Hadn’t they? She wasn’t sure. But Amy didn’t like seeing children hit. As the car moved on, she memorized the license number, and the next day, she stopped in at the police station.
It was the day after that before the police went to talk with the car’s owner. But he wasn’t there. The neighbors said he had packed up and left the day before.
They found the three girls, though, and four others, when they dug up his back yard.