The Flag Pole

Some things you just never forget, like the symbolic clanging of the flag pole. On this particular day it was a heavy rusty chain pounding against a flag pole.

I was standing in the empty lot of the state fairgrounds where a carnival atmosphere comes to Oklahoma City every year.

At the time I was writing an in-depth feature article about two missing girls.

There had been no trace of them. The families were in limbo and the trail had long been dead.

Backtracking Their Movements:

This is the sad story of two 13-year-old girls who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I back-tracked their activities 24 hours prior to the abduction. And so I knew many things about their day together because I’d retraced their steps.

But someone managed to lure them away. Then that person probably hit the nearby interstate and drove out of town. With two unwilling victims whose screams could not be heard.

The Scene Of The Abduction:

And so on a cold blustery day, I stood on the concrete in that empty fairground lot. Rubbish skipped across the asphalt in front of me.

It had been a far different scene when the two girls were kidnapped in 1981. And so I tried to imagine the sounds of the carnival.

The crowd milling about. The carnies trying to sell their wares. The sound of squealing children on the roller coaster.

This now empty lot was the last place they were known to be.

When I wrote this type of article I went back to the place the victim or victims were last seen.

The Loved Ones Left Behind:

For families of the missing, there are the passing of years that eventually leads to the loss of hope.

And there is inevitably a child’s room in this type of story, remaining just as it was when they last left it. And within these four walls are the childhood accouterments of a young life that never ages.

I stood on that day looking at the shrine this room had become. My eyes took in the details. The school trophies. The baseball caps. The teddy bears.

I tried to envision the girl’s last moments there.

The State Fair:

The crowd that milled about the fairground that day included those two girls who had no idea of what was to come. That someone would jerk them away from life as they knew it.

One could turn and see the nearby interstate across from the concrete lot. Hear the passing cars and semis speeding along to some unknown destination.

Where and why did he take them?

You would have to wonder at the mounting terror of two little girls as they were being driven farther and farther away.

Those two young girls, kidnapped in 1981, would now be women.

As for me, after I wrote that article I went on to live my life. Raised two children. Got married and got divorced. Moved from one state to another. Then back again.

But somewhere at some point, I will again be within hearing distance of a loose heavy chain clanging in the wind.

I will pause and listen as it pounds against a hard surface over and over again.

And I will remember those two missing girls that have never been found.

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19 Comments

  1. Haunting really is the best way to describe your post — amazing writing. Glad Debra sent me over. I don't know how parents faced with this situation survive it.

  2. A couple where I came from have never found their son. He moved off somewhere after highschool and has never been heard of or found. He was a year younger than me. This family will always grieve. Yes death is a closure.

  3. There was a prayer that I read when I was a child asking God to take care of those that are awake in the dark and are lonely or afraid. Your haunting, lonely story was written so well that I immediately thought of that prayer of comfort. I can not imagine the sleepless nights of those parents and other relatives. How could they bear the anguish? The evil of the offenders can not be comprehended by a normal mind.

  4. You need to be an author and write a book. I am thankful each day that at this point in my life I have not had to suffer with pain like so many families do. How painful it must be for a parent to search and keep searching and no answers. I ask myself why was I put here and not somewhere else where there is so much pain and no beauty.

  5. It is a hard lump in my throat and salty years in my eyes as I write to you .Just this week in Minnesota we left our porch lights on in recognition of Jacob Wetterling having gone missing 24 years ago (
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Wetterling ) I doubt there is a week that goes by that I don't think of him or his family. I know he is one of thousands that is gone from us, I feel their pain more strongly than the others. Your pain came through in your writing, and today I am feeling it along with you.

  6. What an awful thing for everyone concerned. The children's pain is likely over but oh- the pain that is branded into the heart of family and friends. That is never eased as long as there is the questionable hope that the children are out there somewhere.

    It is the most terrifying thing that could befall a parent- even more agonizing than losing a child to death. xo Diana

  7. There are many sick people in this world we live in..,not always are they the ones that you would expect them to be…If I had a list of 1000 different people I would NEVER of picked the name of the abuser who molested my 2 grandsons…his name would of been probably the last name I would of ever imagined…it was the 14 year old son of my daughters very best friends…and they were our friends too and were like family to us all…we loved them…needless to say my grandsons told my daughter what he was doing to them…85%m ofm children never tell..so the counselors informed them how lucky they were…right under our noses he was abusing them every chance he got,,,he was convicted and tried as an adult,,yet he spent no time in prison because of his age..if it had come out after he was 18 he'd be sitting in orison where he belongs today…he has to register every year as a sex offender and take counseling…if he misses one class he will be put in prison..the age has changed since this happened to our family about 5 years ago…he ruined my 7 and 9 year old grandsons childhood and the 7 year old is still in counseling because of it..so please don't always look for the obvious loooking criminals when they could be someone you know..we loved him and still cannot believe this happened to them and devastated us all…always be watching closely to your children!!! Carol

  8. I've just been watching a tv show about a young boy who was abducted and victimized for 4 years and eventually returned to his parents. He is forever changed and it was not the happy reunion that we would like it to be. When our youngest daughter was in kindergarten, I would watch her get off the bus across the street. Another little girl would still be standing on that corner even after our girls crossed the street and came home. I asked my daughter if her classmate was waiting for her parents to pick her up. She didn't know, and when I looked out again, the little girl was gone. I found out later that year that the 5 year old girl was afraid to go home where she was being sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend while her mother was still at work. Although I thought it was odd that there was nobody there to meet her, and commented to my husband that it was terrible that her parents were late to pick her up, I never suspected anything as horrible as what was happening to her. It doesn't matter where you live, it happens everywhere. I can't imagine what the parents of missing children go through.

  9. It is hard to even imagine. It does play with your mind and pull you in. You feel things so deeply. It's okay to like to be alone. (((((HUGS))))

  10. What a heart wrenching story! My heart is still heavy since my son is away at boot camp. At least I can take comfort to know that I'll see him again though. Your story is a reminder of the cruel world we live in sometimes. Our children are the most precious thing on this earth and hurts knowing that so many have been victimized in some way.

  11. I can't imagine………….how life must change after an abduction. Sounds and sometimes smells bring all that pain that has been pushed far away, back to the surface for another time of why, oh why!! ((hugs))))

  12. Beautiful post! Isn't funny how events stay with us forever. How sounds can remind us of things in the past. The past never remains there. Little things can take us back there. Sometimes good and sometimes not so good. But such is life. We go on. This post made me think about many things and how they stay with us. Hugs, Teresa

  13. What a profoundly deep post. I am sorry that you have not been able to write the conclusion of their story.
    Last month I spent a few hours looking at the RCMP missing persons database online. I read about the countless individuals who literally vanished without a trace. Having had a brother who vanished when I was 14, I can feel a bit of the emptiness that the families feel. Fortunately, for my family, my brother reappeared four years later. To live year after year not knowing where your loved one is, would be torture.

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