Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Alamo Inn, Great Basin Highway, Alamo, Nevada

I left Vegas late morning under a cloudless, pale-blue sky and planned to retrace my route back to Boise, Idaho. To my surprise, the Bellagio concierge had been helpful. Cande, a bouncy Latina new on the job and eager to impress, listened intently as I outlined my search for Embry Hamilton who had vanished seven years ago on a road trip to Vegas from Boise. Embry had reservations at the Bellagio, but had never shown up. Cande informed me she had a degree in hospitality with a minor in computer sciences and would do some research in her records.
The next morning while eating breakfast in a booth at the fountain in the hanger-like lobby, Cande slid in across from me with a broad smile. She informed me she had found an email sent to the concierge desk seven years ago with a request to pass to Embry’s friend.
In the email, Embry noted he was tired and stopping for the night at the Alamo Inn on US 93 in Nevada. He said he was in room 30 and gave the Inn’s phone number. I sat back recalling there was no record of any email to the Bellagio. Embry’s friend claimed he never showed. Perhaps the email was not passed. Cande shrugged when I asked her if the email had been forwarded. She informed me seven years ago the management information system was not so well developed.
“Back then it was hit or miss.” She said, looking at me.
Cande commented that at least the email showed that Embry had made it as far as the Alamo Inn, about 150 hundred miles from Vegas. We looked at each other and I could tell that Cande was intrigued with the mystery.  What happened to Embry Hamilton?
By early afternoon, I was turning into the Alamo Inn, an L-shaped collection of 50’s-style cinder block rooms. There were a few vehicles in the parking lot, but no one about. I parked and followed the numbers down the inverted L, turning right at the extension and stopped at room 29. There was no room 30.
Instead I found a concrete foundation for a room next to 29, indicating that room 30 might have been torn down. As I pondered the situation under a gray sky and stiff breeze, I heard the gravel crunch and looked to see a large man coming toward me. He had a round, red face, was dressed in a white sweat shirt and baggy khakis, a large stomach sagged over his belt.
He gave me a friendly smile and asked if I wanted a room, introducing himself as Dennis. We shook hands and I quickly filled him in on my search. “Seven years ago Embry claimed to have stayed here in room 30, but there is no room 30.” I concluded.
 Dennis informed me he had owned the Alamo for six years. That the former owners, Bob and Bess Bradford, had a problem and room 30 suffered as a result.
          “What happened?”
          “It’s complicated.” Dennis replied.
          He then went on to explain that the former owner Bob had yearned to drive in the September Nevada Silver Classic, the 90 mile road race on State Route 318, which closes for the occasion. On an impulse, Bob took the couple’s life savings of $75,000 and bought a Ford Shelby Mustang GT 500 to participate in the race.
“When Bess found out what he had done she was irate and went crazy.”  Dennis said with a laugh. He explained that Bess grabbed the car keys, ran out into the parking lot and jumped in the Mustang intending to drive it into the Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge behind the motel.
Dennis paused and stared at the spot where room 30 had stood. He looked at me, saying that Bess lost control of the muscle car as it smoked across the parking lot and ran it into number 30, demolishing the room completely.
We stood in silence, huddling in the chill. It occurred to me the race was run at the time Embry was in the area. Possibly Embry had been in the room when Bess went berserk. I suggested my thought to Dennis who shook his head, dismissing the idea.
“Bob and Bess said room 30 was empty at the time.” The heavy man replied and then shrugged. “On the other hand…”
Dennis let the unfinished sentence hang and I asked what he thought the couple would do if Embry had been in the room. The current owner gave a sigh, saying the couple would have taken the remains into the refuge and buried Embry in the Pahranagat Foothills.
Was it possible that this bizarre incident at the Alamo was the answer to the riddle of Embry Hamilton’s 7-year disappearance? Was it that simple?
Or was there something else?