“Conniver?” Punk said to Fred. “What would he have to do with it?”
“He sponsors the activities for this weekend. Did he give you a discount slip for your campsite?”
“It’s an advertising gimmick. And he would pull a stunt like that. He’s crazy.”
“That’s for sure,” came a voice behind them. PJ turned around to see Gigi standing there.
“Have you met Gigi?” Fred asked Punk and PJ. “She was Conniver’s fourth wife.”
“Fourth?” PJ said in disbelief before she could stop herself. But she was thinking that explained the big motorhome.
Gigi grimaced. “You’re thinking I should have known better? You’re right.”
PJ didn’t know what to say so just kept quiet. The group broke up with the woman with the cast being helped back to the golf cart, clutching her barking dog.
They walked back with Fred and Doris. PJ said “Why would Con Conniver even be here?”
“Oh, he always comes here for Halloween so he can take credit for all of the activities. He’s probably camped down in the lower loop,” Fred said.
“He is such a sleaze,” Doris added.
“Do you know the woman with the cast?” PJ asked her.
Doris nodded. “That’s Bonnie Bruns. She has a broken ankle. They towed a golf cart out here for her to get around in.”
“Could have been one of those boys, though,” Fred said.
“What boys?” PJ said.
“Tom and Adela next to you in the Airstream.”
PJ looked blank.
“That little silver trailer. They have a boy Blake—13 or 14—and he’s got a friend with him. They’ve been sneaking around playing pranks since we got here. One of them might have done it as a joke.”
When they got back, Punk invited them all for a beer. “I owe you something for all the help you gave me today,” he told Fred.
“You do,” Fred agreed, and then proceeded to show Punk how to get a nice campfire going.
As they sat around the fire visiting, another couple came walking along the road. They stopped and whispered and pointed at Punk and PJ’s camper. They walked over to the fire.
“Who’s trailer is that?” the man asked.
Punk raised his hand. “Why?”
Instead of answering the question, the man said “Where’d you get it?”
“Happy Camper Heaven. You want to see inside? It’s all blue. We call it ‘Blue Heaven,'” Punk said.
The man and his wife looked at each other, and then shook their heads.
“I think we’ve seen inside. We used to own it,” the woman said.
“Really?” PJ sat up straighter and smiled at them. “Did you trade up for something newer?”
“No. We took it back after a month and ended up buying another used one from a different dealer.”
Punk was alarmed. “Why?”
“There were so many things wrong with it. First time we camped, we had a heavy rain and the roof leaks. Furnace doesn’t work right—we couldn’t ever get it to stay lit,” the man said.
Punk and PJ looked at each other in dismay.
“Then we found out two other people had owned the same trailer for a short time—found so many problems, they took it back too. I’m Stan, by the way, and this is my wife, Shirley,” Stan said. “It’s kind of a bait and switch scheme he’s got going.”
“So did he give you your money back?” Punk asked.
“Oh, sure,” Stan plopped his ample body on the bench of the picnic table. Shirley sat beside him. “All except a thousand bucks. We considered ourselves lucky cuz we didn’t know then that he’d done this before. He would have given me all my money back on a more expensive unit but we didn’t want that. We weren’t sure we ever wanted to camp again.”
“But—,” Punk shook his head. “I don’t get it.”
Stan leaned forward. “He has several used ones that he sells over and over. If someone ends up keeping one of them, fine, but if not, and he makes $1000 or so each time he sells it. He comes out smelling like a rose.”
PJ said, “But he didn’t pressure us at all! Actually he was trying to sell us a smaller, cheaper one.”
Stan glanced over at Punk’s pickup. “And then he told you your truck was great and it would pull anything, right?”
Punk’s mouth dropped open. “Yeaah.”
Stan nodded. “Did the same thing to me. So of course I thought I needed a bigger trailer. Thing is, I ran into the previous owners in a campground just like you did, and they had the same problems with it. Conniver doesn’t fix anything before he resells them. He doesn’t even prep them.”
Punk told them about the water faucets and the empty propane tanks.
“Have you tried the furnace yet?” Stan asked.
“No, I just got the propane tanks filled before we went to the bonfire. I thought I’d turn it on before we go to bed tonight.”
“Let’s go try it now,” Fred said, and Stan, Fred, and Punk all trooped into the trailer.
PJ had just asked Shirley where she and Stan lived when a loud KA-BOOM shattered the night.