First you have to promise not to tell my mother.
It was October of 1996 and I got home from work around 6pm to find Brian on the phone. When he hung up, he explained that Jennifer had left a message on the answering machine saying that she would not be home that night--she needed some time alone. Right. Jennifer was 11 years old. He had already managed to get one of Jennifer's friends to reveal that she had taken Rosa's bus home from school instead of her own. Rosa's mom didn't have a message, but Rosa was missing, too.
Rosa lived near the Hyattsville library and I figured they went there to camp overnight. I drove right over, but it was a Friday and they close early on Fridays. I knocked on all the doors, hoping someone was still around, but no.
I called the police. They said they couldn't do anything. I said that I was pretty sure that they were in the library. That was impossible, they assured me, as the library was rigged with motion sensors throughout. As soon as someone walked around in there, an alarm would go off. They suggested that the girls were probably visiting friends or shopping. I went to the stores and gas stations around Rosa's house and showed pictures of the girls. No one had seen them. I left their pictures with the security guards at PG plaza. The rentacops there seemed a lot more concerned than the county police.
There was a police substation in the office building next to the library, but no one was staffing it. It was dark and it had started to rain. I went to the library and poked around some more. A police car drove up and the officer inside told me to leave. I explained what was up and he said he'd look into it and get back to me. He drove off. It was getting really windy and the rain was hard. I was pounding on the doors (there are hardly any reachable windows) and yelling the kids' names, but I could barely hear my own voice over the storm. I checked in with Rosa's mom, she had nothing. I went home but Brian hadn't heard anything, either. I drove back to the library and tried prying some metal doors open with a crowbar. Didn't work. Finally the storm quieted down and I went back to the front doors and yelled.
Rosa and Jennifer came tearing down the hall and let me in. I used the reference desk phone to call Rosa's mom and then I drove her home. On the following Monday, I called the library to see what they knew about it. They weren't aware that anything untoward had happened. There is a security contact whose phone number is filed with the police and the security company, but no one called her. She confirmed my suspicion that the library was not actually littered with motion sensors, but she also learned after calling the security company that several alarms had been set off Friday night, but they had been disregarded.
The girls had gone to the library and hid in the bathroom during closing. Then they came out and set up in an interior space and spent the night worried and scared. They couldn't hear anything but storm noises. They were truly relieved to be rescued, even though they were in big trouble.
Big trouble? Hah! What could I do? Act mad (I tried) but I was a lot madder at the cops than at the kids. Jennifer was really sorry anyway. So I just made her promise never to tell my mom.