Mark had been doing a lot of local driving the past two weeks as he’d been recruited to be one of a few dozen drivers moving the contents of an entire warehouse – stock and fixtures – from an old building down by the lake in...
Mark had been doing a lot of local driving the past two weeks as he’d been recruited to be one of a few dozen drivers moving the contents of an entire warehouse – stock and fixtures – from an old building down by the lake in Toronto to a new facility in northeast Brampton.
By Mark’s count he’d made the trip 46 times and he was wondering if he would make it an even 50. There were fewer drivers making the runs these days and the old warehouse – which would be transformed into movie and television studios and offices for some 20 companies – was looking pretty bare.
The move coordinator had told him there would be at least two more days of shipping, but asked Mark if he could keep a third day open just in case. Mark didn’t mind hanging around the city for an extra day, but whether it was two or three days, he’d be needing another load once this job ended.
Mark pulled off Hwy. 410 at Steeles Avenue and headed east toward Torbram Road. He picked up his phone from the centre console and was about to dial the number for his dispatcher Bud, when he realized his Bluetooth wasn’t on.
Sure, he could have turned on the speaker of his phone but that wasn’t truly hands-free, and besides, traffic could get heavy along Steeles at a moment’s notice and he should probably be concentrating on his driving.
He placed the phone back into its cradle on the console and geared up as the traffic in front of him cleared, leaving an open road between himself and the next stoplight.
He was shifting between fourth and fifth gear when it happened…
An early model four-door sedan pulled in front of him from the centre lane and stopped dead in the roadway.
Mark slammed on the brakes, but with a full trailer, he wasn’t stopping nearly quick enough. He engaged the trailer’s brakes and the whole rear end of his rig began bouncing off the asphalt, all eight tires desperately trying to dig in.
But it still wasn’t enough.
He slammed into the rear end of the car at somewhere between 15-20 km/h. The car shot out in front of him, then rolled on for several dozen metres.
It was a hard hit.
Hopefully it wasn’t deadly.
Once the thunder of the impact was gone, everything seemed eerily quiet and calm. Mark was aware of his Cummins still rumbling in front of him, but all other sound had been muted by the shock of the impact.
As he watched the wrecked car in front of him slow to a halt, Mark wondered what the heck had just happened. The road in front of him had been clear for several hundred metres. There hadn’t been any reason for the car to stop, and certainly not so quickly.
It was almost as if…
Just then, one of the rear doors of the car opened up and a passenger got out. The man stumbled a few steps, then fell to the ground as if something were broken on his body. A second passenger got out the same door, limping and holding his back as if it too were broken. Then the door on the other side of the car opened and another passenger got out holding his neck with both hands and lifting his head to the sky.
Three passengers, and that was just in the back seat.
A second later the front passenger-side door opened, just a crack at first, but then it blew open as a body fell out of the car onto the roadway. The man lay there for a moment, then tried to get up onto his hands and knees. No luck. He sat back down on the road, resting his back and head against the side of the car. Finally, the driver opened his door and got out of the car, one limb at a time.
“Five people,” Mark whispered. “Where the hell are five people going in a single car in the middle of the day?”
They couldn’t possibly be going to work, he reasoned, since no factory or warehouse he knew of had a shift that started at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Using the same rationale, they couldn’t be going out to see a game, and judging by the way they were dressed, they weren’t headed to the club.
Mark just shook his head and sighed. “This doesn’t look good. At all.”
Traffic slowly began to snake around Mark’s truck and the car he’d just hit, everyone stretching their necks to see what had happened. A few drivers honked and one irate man behind the wheel of a panel van gave Mark the finger.
“Yeah, pal. You’re number one with me too,” Mark muttered.
He checked his mirrors and saw that there was already a long line of cars and trucks forming along Steeles Avenue all the way back to the 410. He knew he should call the police, maybe even request an ambulance for the people who’d been in the car, but even though that was the right thing to do, Mark felt it could wait. Before anything else, he needed to call Bud.He picked the phone up off the console and dialed the number.
“Hey Bud, it’s Mark.”
“I don’t have time for that right now,” Mark said. “I just hit somebody.”
“I was driving along Steeles, nobody around for a mile when a car pulled in front of me and slammed on the brakes.”
“You rear-ended them?”
“No. Not at all. It’s like a 10-year-old Buick or something.”
“I’d slowed down quite a bit before I hit. The car’s probably still drivable, and if I’d have to guess it couldn’t be more than a few thousand dollars to repair.”
“And the car was full of people?”
“Yeah, five of them.”
“And they’re all walking around like they’ve been shot, right?”
“How’d you know?”
“You’re not the first driver of mine who’s been the victim of a staged accident. They’re happening a lot in that part of the GTA.”
Mark was silent, growing angry.
Finally, he said, “What do I do?”
“You got your cell phone, right?”
“And a pen and paper?”
“Call the cops. Take lots of photos, and get everybody’s name.”
“Can you still drive your truck?”
“Then deliver your load,” Bud said. “This thing is going to take months to play out. In the meantime life goes on.”
Mark thanked Bud for his help, then left Mother Load idling as he got out of his truck to assess the damage.