by Betty Wallin
Tom Church and I decided to sell TipTop houses. There were some sample houses in Nevada. The agent that contacted us was rather strange. Managing the house sales was a side business. His main occupation was making crocheted tassels for the chorus girls in Las Vegas shows. I don’t know if he custom fitted them, but didn’t doubt it. We drove up and looked at the houses, then stopped in Tecopa for dinner on the way back. During dinner, a terrific windstorm came up and we drove across the street to a heavy cluster of tamarisk to get our vehicles out of the wind for the night. It looked like the trees grew metal babies as the area was filled with cars whose drivers obviously had the same idea. Where to go?
I had the bright idea to drive down to Afton Canyon campground along the Mojave River. The wind and blowing sand were blinding but at least the wind was blowing from behind us. We made it down to the campground about midnight. It was empty, a gentle breeze was blowing and it was beautiful and quiet. I chose to sleep in the back of my truck with Buster (the club mascot). Tom put his sleeping bag on top of a picnic table, then we crashed, so tired.
Not long after I went to sleep, I woke up with a start at the sound of a siren, and a truck going in circles all over the campground with red and blue flashing lights. After about five minutes of this frightening display, the truck stopped by our vehicles. The sheriff got out and explained that they had been chasing a murderer from Las Vegas and he stopped on the Freeway, jumped out, and ran down the dirt road toward the campground. He asked, “Have you seen him?” Of course we hadn’t. The sheriff then said in a confident tone, “Well, let us know if you do as we are sure he is around here somewhere.” Leaving us with that cheerful thought they drove away.
Too tired to pick up and drive anywhere else, we decided to take our chances. Buster and I retired back in the truck and Tom stayed in his sleeping bag on the table. At first I could not hear a soda can shifting in the breeze, but Buster could and would growl at it. Sure it was the murderer, I was on full alert, but nothing happened. After about the third time, I heard the noise and realized that if it was the murderer he had shrunk into the size of a soda can and donned an aluminum suit labeled 7-UP. By morning, Tom said he did not fare much better. The breeze would lift the sleeping bag up off his back a little and he was sure the murderer was lfting it off his neck and looking down at him.
We did not linger that morning and promptly got ready to drive home. No sign of another human being which made our leaving much more pleasant. It’s amazing how scared a person can be who has such courage tackling obstacles with a 4x4 in the company of the Desert Explorers and bright sunshine.
PS We never sold any houses.