Aggie Glenn looked up as the expensive car drove into her RV and Trailer Sales lot. The windows were tinted, so she couldn’t size up the customers immediately, but if the car was an indication....
Maybe I can sell one of those half-million dollar units.
The door opened, and a teenage boy got out.
Okay, make that $1000.
The vast majority of her sales were to retirees who wanted to travel south for the winter. Some of those people had unlimited cash to play with, and decades of dreaming to fuel the purchase.
Any RV’s she sold to younger people were generally the cheaper units—campers so they could take their kids for a week into the mountains. Nobody this young bought anything. He went around and opened the passenger door for a girl, and they walked up arm in arm.
No sale. They’re just here to window shop and dream.
“Hello, I’m Joe Ferris, and this is my new bride, Judith.”
Aggie smiled and shook their hands. “What can I do for you?”
Joe grinned at the girl and she blushed.
“Her Daddy promised her a nice big RV for a wedding gift, and we’re here to pick one out.”
Nice big RV?
“That’s wonderful. Congratulations to the both of you.
“What kind of a RV are you interested in?” What’s your budget?
Joe looked around the lot, obviously ignorant. “What about that one?” He pointed to a $200,000 Winnebago.
“Just a minute. I’ll get the keys.” Aggie dashed into her office. How rich is Daddy?
Aggie asked a few questions, but the kids had little grasp of what an RV cost. It was even harder to gauge their interests since the girl couldn’t or wouldn’t talk.
“Big enough to live in. We’re going to be permanent tourists for awhile.” He seemed confident enough, but he certainly wasn’t spending his own money. His shirt and jeans were old and worn. The shoes were scuffed and frayed. However, the boy seemed to be confident enough. They circled the lot, and walked around inside several units.
“How do you like this one?” Aggie asked the girl. “Being larger, it has room for a washer and dryer. With a fifty-amp cable, it can handle all your needs.”
The girl did most of the serious checking, opening all the pantry doors, and checking the bedrooms and bathrooms. The boy liked browsing through the user manuals and advertising fliers.
“What do you think, Judith, Honey?”
The girl blushed, and then shook her head.
Okay, on to the next one. Aggie’s estimate of her sale price bounced up and down with each unit they investigated.
Their shopping didn’t seem to consider price at all. Joe never asked, although it was visible on the sales fliers in some them. Yet, she couldn’t shake the feeling they were serious. They didn’t immediately gravitate to the expensive ones with the elaborate fixtures and large TV’s as the window shoppers tended to do. The girl was seriously checking some of the details.
Finally, they took a second look at a used 30-foot Fleetwood Flair. It was a Class A unit—a bus-shaped box on wheels. Joe liked the large windows up front.
“This looks about right.” He went to the rear bedroom and plopped down on the bed. He stretched and yawned.
The girl leaned against the bathroom door, crossed her arms and shook her head at him, but it had already passed her own checks with a nod.
Aggie gave a push. “This one is $65,000 and for the mileage, quite a bargain. It was used in a rental program and has been well maintained.”
Sadly, the couple didn’t like any of the new units. The girl wanted lots of seating space and the boy was uncomfortable with slide-outs.
“Okay,” Joe said finally, “could you show me how to drive this thing?”
Aggie was a little reluctant, but they looked harmless, and it wouldn’t be good to sell them a unit and have him crash it immediately. They found seats and she showed him how the controls worked. He adjusted the motorized rear view mirrors, and asked questions about gas mileage. Finally, they drove out of the lot and a couple of miles up the interstate and back.
He looked nervous. “This thing is huge.” His eyes were glued to the mirrors. “It’s hard to keep inside the lines. It’s a much wider vehicle than the car.”
Aggie checked his progress. “You’re doing fine. Just use the mirrors.”
Joe nodded, with his eyes never looking her way. “Okay, we’ll take it. I’ve just got to call Judith’s dad, and he’ll come over to sign the papers.”
Aggie was cautiously pleased. They didn’t haggle over the money, but the father might. They parked the large unit next to the office and walked in. The kids were arm in arm, faces pleased and excited about their new purchase.
Now was the moment of truth. Were they rich eccentrics, or had she spent an hour and a half catering to deluded kids. She glanced at a red footstool next to her desk she hadn’t noticed before. Where had that come from?
Later. Right now, I need to get some signatures.
She was unconscious before her hand reached the phone.
Bob Four came out of a closet and activated the talkie. Judith removed her arm from Joe’s.
“You enjoyed that, didn’t you?”
He grinned, but said nothing.
Bob Four said, “Let’s go.”
“Wait a minute,” said Joe. “I want to be clear here. Did you find the right papers?”
Bob Four said, “I believe so. I found several other sales documented in her recent files. She’ll wake up with a signed contract and an agreement not to run the credit card charge for another five days.”
He pushed the stack of papers across the desk.
Joe looked them over. “Nice signature.” It looked legitimate. Aggie would forget the names they used due to the rollback. ‘John Smith’ had signed the contract and the other papers.
“I got the idea from an episode of ‘Rockford Files’ on the television last night. Angel had....”
Joe cut him off. “Is the credit card number good?”
Judith nodded, “Yes.”
“Good, then let’s get out of here. We’ve got five days, maybe, to get this rescue completed. Maybe less, if Aggie can’t believe she would have done the deal like that.”
Judith led the way out, checking for anyone else on the lot. She waved, and the aliens slipped quickly out of the office door and up the step into the RV.
“I’ll park the car.”
Joe nodded. “I’ll follow. Don’t get too far ahead. I can’t drive this thing very fast yet.”
The SUV pulled out. Joe in the RV had to make a wide circle of the office. The thing had an enormous turning radius compared to the car. He winced as the side of the large boxy vehicle cut too close to the edge of the office. He jammed on the brakes and steered even wider.
Judith drove a few blocks to a furniture store and left the Lexus in the parking lot. She locked it and carried the keys back into the RV.
“I hate to leave it here. Dad loves that car.”
She sat in the front. Joe looked back, counting heads. Sam Five was stored in the rear closet. Fred Four had climbed up onto the dinette bench. The Bobs were sitting on the couch.
“Use seat belts if you’ve got ‘em,” Joe called as he shifted into drive and pulled back onto the road. They slipped back onto the interstate and Joe settled into the slow traffic lane. He had a long drive ahead of him, and in spite of the brief training drive, he had a lot to learn about this vehicle.
It felt very strange, as if he were sitting fifty feet high above the road. He looked at the large side mirrors. This unit didn’t even have a center mirror, unless you counted the little one he used to look at the interior of the RV. It was impossible to turn around and look while driving.
Joe double-checked the gas gauge. No way was he going to make the same mistake twice. Had the manual actually said this thing had a 75-gallon gas tank? It’d take a fortune each fill up.
Once they’d settled in to a cruise. Bob Four unclicked his seat belt and walked up to the front. He asked, “Can you get the television to work? The remote control doesn’t seem to do anything.”
Blake knocked on the door, Carl asked him in.
“Sir, Santaquin has missed a scheduled check-in, and they don’t answer a call.”
Carl dropped the papers immediately into the shredder and went to the wall map. He ran his finger along the highway from Rock Springs to Santaquin.
“How many people do we have in the Kingman area?”
“Five at the most.”
“Get them all in place, and tell them to expect an attack. Send the plane to Santaquin to assess the situation. No, you go personally. I have to know if it is Whitfield again.”
“And you, sir?”
“Whitfield has Valet, but the attacks are happening at a slower pace, as if they’re traveling by road.” He looked at his assistant. “Don’t wait for me. Two of our Guests are missing from Rock Springs. If my fears are correct, then maybe two more from Santaquin. In a couple of days, if we don’t stop them, the Trust will have totally failed in its duty. Get going!”