27thof April, 1948
From Sacramento and back…not as easy as it sounds
After a couple of days in Sacramento, Ava runs into a school friend, who has a problem…
Beth was a young assistant teacher, whom Ava had struck up a friendship with, and Was quite surprised to find her here. But it seemed that Beth’s daughter, Diana, had gone “missing.” Well, not quite missing…Her father took her. And because he was the father, well, the police had better things to do. Beth asked if she knew anyone who might be able to help her, and Ava offered that she might. It had been a few days since Doug had taken her. “Some place where she will be respected,” he had said. She knew that his father lived in some sort of village or compound up in the mountains outside of Truckee. A place he called Williamsburg. She could offer much, but she had some rainy day money and offered that up.
Ava went back and asker her new found travelling companions if they would be interested to help out her friend, and they agreed. So they take the car that they have been driving up the road a few hours to Truckee. They rent a couple of rooms from a dingy roadside hotel at the edge of town. Pinky goes out and gets some bread and lunchmeat a a bag of apples, while Ava, Emmett and Apollo go to see what they can find out about this Williamsburg place.
Turns out, Williamsburg is not thought of too highly, but its location is not overly secret. It is down a secondary road towards Tahoe. They often ride horses in once or twice a week. They decide to go out and visit, posing as itinerants, with a skilled doctor and teacher. They find the road easy enough, and it is still snow covered, but it has been driven before, so they head carefully down it. The rad is narrow, with sharp turns and occasional steep drops off the side. About half an hour or so down the road, about 8 or 10 miles, they spy a small camp off the side of the road, so they go to investigate. Several of the buildings have bullet holes in them. Inside, they find a body with a rifle, but no ammo. Its rifle has been jammed with what looks like a nail broken off inside. They find shell casings and signs of others, vacated blood stains but no sign of the girl. Just before they leave, they see a stylized “S” on the door. The end of the bottom of the letter was a distinct point, and the end at the top of the letter was a rounded triangle. This shape had a slanted line, or bar drawn across it. Deciding that if the Williams’ had done this, they were likely more than a match for them, and if this was Williamsburg, then the girl was no longer here. So they returned to town Making plans to leave in the morning.
The next morning, as they are leaving town, they see 4 men on horseback ride up to one of the groceries not far from the hotel where they were staying. The decided that they would give it one more chance, so they went over to talk with the riders. A young man was waiting with the horses, and they noticed a bandage beneath his coat. They introduce themselves, and he tells them they will need to speak with his uncle. When the others come out with tied bundles, Virginia starts to introduce them, and the older man tells her to shush, while the men-folk talk. He and Emmet talk for a few moments, and he welcomes them to their retreat. They follow the riders in the car. It takes about two hours to get where they are told the car will have to stay. When Virginia and Ava grab their gear, the older man rebukes them for letting their women carry their gear! The seemed to expect that Apollo would be carrying all the bags, but when Emmet grabbed some, they didn’t say much.
They walk about a mile in fairly churned snow, and they come across a large log across this well defined path, having to walk around it. less than another mile and they come into a small settlement of about a score buildings. These are all log cabins and appear to be about 8 homes, one of which, at the back of the camp is notably the largest. The ladies are set up with the unmarried women and the men are put up with Keith and his 2 ladies.
Over the afternoon and evening, they find out many things, one of which is that they had recently been raided. One of the men was killed, several were wounded and two of the women were taken, one of which was Doug Williams daughter! The Doc, Emmet, with the help of Gramma Dot, the apparent camp matron, Virginia and some local hooch, part of a bullet is taken out of Doug’s gut. Apparently Dot had taken the other pieces out before, and didn’t do to bad of a job. The camp is run by “Pop” Williams, the head of the Williams clan. He is a member of the Latter Day Saints, and expects manners and respect from his community. The next morning, they meet Pop and his wives. With his permission, they take their leave, as the camp “Is not as safe as they had hoped!”
Returning to the car, and then to town, having decided that the girl is gone, and if they were outclassed by Williamsburg people, they obviously had no chance against the Serpent Killers, who took Diana. However, when they get back into town in the early afternoon, they see several men ride up on motorcycles. They are all wearing Leather Jackets with a black tire and the word Tahoe on them. They drive up to The Well, and after they go in several people leave.
They go out to see what else they can find out about the Serpent Killers. The discover that there are three known bandit gangs that occasionally cause problems: The Serpent Killers, The Tahoe Rovers and the Klansmen, an order of the KKK. On the way back, however, Virginia is stopped by Detective Stewart, who asks several questions, including whether she is travelling with a black man, is an older model Dodge 4 door. It seems that the vehicle has been reported stolen, and it was seen in town earlier. She denies it and they head back taking circuitous routes to the car as well as to the hotel. They decided to go buy bus tickets to Reno, and would take the bus the next afternoon.
That night, a little after midnight, a knock at the hotel door woke them. Outside was a bundled up woman, who worked at The Well. Her roommate told her that they were asking about the Rovers. Shortly before she got off shift, she heard one of the talk about “the girl” that they needed to get to “Hotts” tomorrow, and that they had camped up in the pass, just off the road to Reno. She didn’t know anymore and was thanked and left.
As the last opportunity to rescue Diana, if it was her, they decided to head up the road, to see what they could find. About 6 miles from town, at a roadside pullout, they saw several me around a fire in a trash can, with motorcycles. Attempting a stealthier approach, Virginia made to the wood for a call to nature, while Ava went to distract them. Which worked maybe a bit too well…The drunk ruffians decided that they might have their way with her, but…While four of them gathered round her and started to fight, Virginia went to her rescue, as did a baseball from Apollo. Emmet went to se what else he could see, and approached the little lean to with someone sleeping in front of it.
Two of the ruffians had pistols, and the fight seemed to ebb and flow for several moments, and as Emmet approached the tent, it was suddenly swallowed up in shadow! The cloud covered moon and the woods, were fairly dark as it was, but now, its as if something just blocked what little diffuse light there was around the lean-to! A couple of moments later, a man emerged from the shadow with a squirming bundle and went to get on one of the motorcycles. Just then, one of the ruffians laid Virginia low with a well placed pistol butt! As Emmet went to tend to her, sirens could be heard. Ava knocked the escaping man over just as the state patrol pulled up, and both officers got out of the car with shotguns and began ordering people to put up their hands. They ended up shooting one of the ruffians, but they think two of them escaped into the dense forest. Emmet stabilizes Virginia and brings her around. They then harangue the patrolmen to let them be, as they were just defending themselves, and they needed to get the girl back home! He eventually let them off with a warning, as he had dealt with the Tahoe Rovers before, and they were hell raisers.
So, they climb aboard the car, now with a broken windshield, apparently it took a stray bullet, and drive back to Sacramento, Arriving just before daybreak. Within the day they reunite the daughter and her mother, collect a small amount of money, and settle in for a couple of days of recovery, as Virginia is in a pretty bad way.