Three patrol cars and three groups of volunteers proceed through backyards and front yards, eastward along parallel streets of Navajo, Seminole, and Cherokee to their junction at Creek Lane jutting down toward the park.
(In the vacant lot between 4120 and 4124 Seminole a volunteer hears a plaintive mew over his left shoulder. Investigating, he finds Sarah, a black-and-white Persian, pretty as a calendar cat, and nearly as smart, stuck in a tree. Color printed signs with Sarah’s face, Have You Seen Our Kitty, and a phone number have hung on telephone poles all week. Not the object of this search, but a compensating discovery nonetheless, and – the volunteer believes – a hopeful sign.)
Amy Dukes’ house, 2120 Cherokee receives particular attention: a two-story ranch and a daylight basement. A generous half-acre fenced-in lot, with pine trees in back where English Ivy conceals a treacherous jumble of fallen branches, rotted stumps, and gopher holes, a likely setting for any number of mishaps from snake bite to broken bones.
(An overenthusiastic volunteer who’s read too many Readers Digest “Everyday Heroes” articles, secretly dreaming such a glamorous opportunity would enter his own life, shouts to be on the lookout for signs of coyotes, which have been recently sighted in the area. Other volunteers glare him down by way of shushing him. The heavily sedated Mrs. Dukes is asleep – or at least lying down – in the curtained bedroom just above the hill rise.)
Being the shortest of the streets, Navajo reaches Creek Lane first, followed by Seminole and Cherokee.
(In the Navajo search party, volunteers hear Seminole calling Amy’s name, as if at this point they are speaking to each other. Each two-note “Ay-mee, Ay-mee,” means “We’re still looking,” and the answering, “Ay-mee, Ay-mee,” means, “We’re looking, too. We’re looking, too.”
The wires overhead converge with the volunteers and follow silently overhead. A full-color poster asks Have You Seen Our Kitty for a cat already rescued.
(No muttered promises of Amy’s safe return in exchange for, say, all the money in the Dukes’ bank account, spoken through a handkerchief to disguise the voice or even Amy herself, repeating what the kidnappers tell her, travels through the wires. No high-tech police encryption signals race upstream tracking those bastards or bastard to wherever he or they’re keeping her, even if they’re calling from a stolen cell phone somewhere that they’ll throw in the back of a moving truck from an overpass, it’s amazing what they can do with GPS these days, and those satellites keep track of you every living second, which makes you nervous, still, it’s something you’re grateful for at a time like this. To repeat, no such signals zip humming through the phone lines, but you may believe they do, if you wish.)
A three-mile trail circles the park, but the volunteers disregard it, fanning out and going straight through the brush – the county does a good job maintaining this: pine-straw covered hills with nothing worse than poison ivy and a few wasp nests.
(A volunteer, recently humbled for too loudly mentioning coyotes, will secretly prize the poison-ivy rash earned this solemn day, praying God it will be he who finds her. For the moment, she lies on her tummy beneath a privet bush on the lower trail, damp hair spread like spilled yellow, one arm folded behind her naked back, bare legs crossed at the ankles, staring into the darkness of moist dirt and rollie-pollies, expressionless, as if trying to master the strange lessons she learned her last day.)