Things are slow for Mark Dalton and he spends some time driving loads in and around the Greater Toronto Area waiting for Bud to give him a long haul. During that time Mark meets an attractive young woman named Tanya. They become intimate and just when things start going well between them, Bud comes up with some long haul loads. Mark says good-bye, but promises to be back soon.
Mark reached Edmonton before noon. After dropping his trailer off at the auto parts warehouse he picked up a coffee at the nearest Tim Horton’s and sipped it, wondering who he should call first – his dispatcher Bud for a new load, or his new flame Tanya for some tender words.
Just thinking about it brought a smile to Mark’s face. He’d been without a steady girlfriend for so long, he’d forgotten how nice it was to have someone to miss. It called to mind one of his favourite Jackie Wilson songs and the line “Oh-ho what a feelin’, to be loved!”
He took out his cell phone and gave Tanya a call.
“Hello?” she said.
“Hi, it’s Mark.”
“Mark?” It was a question, the tone of her voice sounding like she didn’t have a clue who was calling.
Mark wondered if he hadn’t called Bud by mistake, or maybe everyone had that reaction when he called.
“Mark. Mark Dalton.”
“Oh, hey, hi Mark. Where are you?”
“Awe…that’s so far away.”
“It’s where I had to deliver my load.”
“When are you coming home?”
Mark smiled. It sounded like she really missed him. “As soon as I can, babe.”
“Well, when’s that?”
“I don’t know. I’ve got to call my dispatcher and see where the next load is going.”
“It’ll be going to Toronto, right?”
“Maybe,” Mark answered. She obviously wanted a definite answer and Mark just couldn’t give her one. “I don’t know for sure. I’ve got to see what he’s got for me.”
“There are trucks that go from Edmonton to Toronto, right?”
Mark nodded, even though she couldn’t see it. “Every day.”
“So get one of those and come back to me…” Her voice trailed off, getting all breathy and sexy before the line went silent. It was pretty persuasive, but the bottom line was that while he could ask for a load heading back east, he was pretty much stuck taking whatever load Bud had for him. After all, Bud needed Mark to take the loads he had, not cause more problems for him.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Mark said, feeling the confidence evaporating from his voice with each word. “But to be honest with you, Bud isn’t in charge of every truck that leaves Edmonton. He has what loads he has, and if he’s got a load that’s going back to Toronto, great. If not -“
“If not, you’ll wait for one, right?” She cut him off in mid-sentence and sounded like she wasn’t about to take “No” for an answer.
Mark moved the phone from his mouth and let out a sigh. He should have called Bud first. It wouldn’t have changed what load he’d get, but at least he would be on more solid ground with Tanya and could tell her he was heading to Vancouver or Seattle, or wherever, instead of having to be defensive and cautious about what load he might be getting.
“Let me call Bud and I’ll get back to you in a few minutes.”
“Okay,” she said, laying a sultry syrup over her voice that had Mark thinking about bobtailing it back to Toronto right that second. “I’ll be waiting for your call.”
Mark hung up and dialed Bud’s number.
Mark wasn’t interested in playing any of the usual “Mark? Mark who?” games with Bud so he just laid it all on the line.
“Bud, this is Mark, Mark Dalton. I’m in Edmonton right now and all I want to hear from you is that you’ve got a load for me headed east.”
The line was silent for several seconds before Bud said,
“What the hell kind of hello is that?”
“Bud, I need to get back to Toronto.”
“What is it? Something wrong with your parents?”
“No, nothing like that.” Mark was doing his best to avoid telling Bud the truth, but he knew the man would hear it eventually.
“Then what is it?”
Mark let out a sigh. “You know that new woman I met…Tanya?”
“Yeah, she sounded hot.”
“She is…and she misses me and has been on my case big time about coming back home.”
Bud started to laugh.
“What is it?”
“The amazing Mark Dalton, done in by a woman.”
Mark let Bud’s laugh fade, then said. “So do you have a load for me or not.”
“Sure I’ve got a load headed for Toronto…Next week. Right now I’ve got a half-dozen loads headed for Vancouver and Seattle. One for Prince George and two for Victoria. You can wait there for the Toronto load, or you can take a load west, then get another one back again, then pick up the Toronto load when it ships.”
“Damn,” Mark whispered.
“Hey, I’ll get you back home, but you’ve got to give me some time. Besides, those loads west are good ones…earn yourself a bit of coin.”
“No, it’s not that. I’m not looking forward to calling her back and giving her the news.”
Bud gave a little chuckle, but didn’t offer any words of encouragement. This was, after all, Mark’s problem. “You want a load or not?”
“I’ll take one, sure. What have you got?”
Bud gave Mark the info. Minutes later he was dialing Tanya’s number.
“So when are you coming home?” she said, not even bothering to say hello.
“Uh…next week sometime.”
“What? I have to wait another seven days before I see you?”
“Closer to 10.”
“Oh Mark,” her voice was suddenly all soft and sultry.
“Don’t you want to see me?”
“Of course I do but I’ve got to make a living. Bud’s got a load headed for Toronto, but it doesn’t leave for a few days yet. In the meantime I can make a run to the coast and pick up some extra cash before heading home.”
She tsk’d into the phone and Mark knew he’d better do something quick.
“I’ll bring you something nice,” he said, regretting the words before he’d even finished saying them. He’d just set a bad precedent in which he could easily become required to buy the woman a gift every time his work took him away from her for any length of time.
“That would be nice. Earrings, or maybe a bracelet.”
“Geez.” Mark’s face was getting flushed.
“What was that?”
“Uh, you got it.”
A short pause, then, “I guess I could wait a little while longer. After all, it’ll make our reunion all the more exciting.”
“Exciting, yeah,” Mark said, then thought, If I don’t go broke first.
Mark took a load into Seattle, deciding to do a bit of shopping at the duty free store at the border. They had a range of bracelets there, still pretty expensive despite the tax break.
He decided on a mid-range gold number with a wheel pattern running all the way around it. If nothing else, he thought, it might remind her of him whenever he wasn’t around.
After the delivery in Seattle, Mark took a load out of Vancouver headed for Edmonton. In Edmonton, the load Bud had promised was still waiting for him. At least Bud’s holding up his end of the bargain, thought Mark. Now if only Tanya was waiting for him and not too angry about him spending so much time away from her.
He gave her a call as he cruised down Highway 400 past Innisfil and warned her that he was less than an hour’s drive away.
“I’ll be waiting for you,” she said, her voice all thick and syrupy.
Mark pressed a little harder on the accelerator.
He pulled up in front of Tanya’s house just over an hour later, grateful she lived near a shopping mall that didn’t object to drivers parking their rigs in their lot.
After turning off the ignition, but before the engine of his 379 had come to a complete stop, Mark was stuffing the bracelet box into his jacket pocket and running his fingers through his light brown hair.
He climbed down from the cab, locked the door and hurried across the street, feeling like a teenager before a hot date that he knows will get him laid.
And then, just as he stepped onto Tanya’s front walk, her door opened.
There, standing in the doorway, was Tanya dressed in a shimmering short slip – just like the one Elizabeth Taylor wore in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
In a word, she looked HOT!
Mark bounded up the walk, climbed the steps two at a time and was greeted by a pair of open arms and the warmest, wettest kisses he’d had in years.
They stumbled inside the house, the door banging shut behind them.
The door didn’t open again for two full days and all during that time all Mark could think of was why he’d stayed away so long.
– Join Mark Dalton next month for Part 3 of A man, his truck and a woman.
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