STRANDED IN KEARNEY by Carl Philo

We left the Lied Performing Arts Center in Lincoln, Nebraska and head home. Our son had just performed in the chorus at the dedication of the center.

 

It was fairly late as we loaded into our Chevy Van and headed for Interstate 80 West. It was a four-hour drive to McCook and I took the wheel for the first shift of driving. My wife, Jan, and son, John, relaxed as I headed for Kearney. When we arrived there I made a restroom stop at the station just south of the exit. Jan and I headed for the restrooms. When I entered the men’s restroom, I found it out of order so I bought something to eat and drink, put it in the van. I woke John and said, “The men’s room is broken so I’ll go to the motel next door to use the restroom, please tell your mother when she returns.”

 

I walked across the parking lot, finished my task and headed back and noticed the van was gone. I questioned the filling station attendant concerning the van, my wife and son. He wasn’t aware of anything.

 

I called the local police to see what I should do. When the officer came he questioned the attendant and I rode with him as I explained what happened. He indicated that most of the time when someone leaves a person somewhere when traveling he or she usually returns within a half-hour. The officer issued an APB to stop the van, if it was seen on the road while driving to McCook. After hearing nothing for an hour and a half, the officer and I were assuming they might have been abducted.

 

The officer and I headed for the police station so I could call someone in McCook since my daughter, Nicole was there alone with a friend at our home. I called a good friend of my wife’s named Reita and explained everything. I asked her to call Nicole to tell her we would not be home that night and she and her friend should stay with Reita. I waited a while longer and received a call from Reita at the police station indicating Jan and John had arrived home. She said, “Jan and I will be right back to pick you up.”

 

I rode with the officer while he was on duty but then I had to sit in the waiting area of the police station from about midnight until 2:00 AM. While waiting all kinds of drunks and derelicts would stop by which made me most uncomfortable. When Reita and Jan arrived we immediately left for McCook, consequently our four hour return from Lincoln had turned into a eight hour nightmare.

 

Jan’s explanation was that she figured it was her turn to drive and thought I had gone in the back of the van with John and had gone to sleep. She drove to McCook, drove into the garage and yelled to John, “wake your dad. We are home.” He responded, “He isn’t here.” She knew immediately what had happened. They tried to enter the house and heard Nicole and her friend screaming as Reita had called them to tell them she would be over to pick them up to stay with her. Jan had to use her key to unlock the door, settle the girls down and call Reita.

 

Reita called me and they left to drive back to Kearney to pick me up. After worrying for so long that they may have been abducted, It was quite a relief to know everyone was all right.