Bud convinces Mark to go undercover at a trucking firm to see if he can help stop cargo thefts from the company.
Mark is hired by Chenai Trucking and shows up to take on his first load for the company.
Over the next few weeks Mark drove for Chenai Trucking as if it were any other company he’d worked for over the years.
As promised, he got great loads to far away places and the company paid on time.
Furthermore, in all of his time working for the company, not a single load had been stolen, either from the company’s yard or on the road.
The addition of a security gate, cameras and a security guard had obviously had an impact on the company’s fortunes, but it was still odd that they had gone from being one of the most robbed trucking companies in the GTA to one of the least.
If things continued like this much longer, Mark would have to consider
either becoming a regular full-time driver for the company or cutting his ties and moving on to something else.
The money was good, but Mark had signed on for some adventure and so far there had been none.
He decided to plant some seeds to see if anything would grow.
Coming into the Chenai yard late one Friday night, Mark stopped at the security gate to let the guard make note of his trailer’s identification numbers and the serial number on his seal. When he was done jotting down the information, Mark followed the man into his kiosk and started up a conversation.
“Do they keep you busy?” he asked.
He was an older South Asian man who had probably been a truck driver once upon a time.
His face was old and weathered, with one eye half closed.
He hobbled more than walked, as if he’d injured his knees or spine at some point in his life…maybe both.
“Trucks in. Trucks out. I walk the yard every half hour. Sometimes someone calls on the phone. It’s enough.”
“Did you used to drive truck?”
The man smiled, revealing a gap-toothed smile. “Years ago,” he said. “In India.”
“Why not here?”
“In India, crashed my truck. No eye here,” he said, pointing to a sunken right eye socket. “Broke my back, broke my legs. No more truck. This job is good…good for me.”
Mark sighed in disappointment.
If the cargo thefts had been an inside job, then chances would be good that the new security guard might somehow be in on the operation.
But that didn’t seem to be the case.
This guard seemed happy to have work, was thorough and careful about how he did his job and was open about his life history with seemingly nothing to hide.
Still, that didn’t mean he couldn’t plant a seed with the man and see what might come out of it. “But you’d still like to drive if you could?”
“Of course,” he said, looking out the window of his booth at the road that cut across the horizon. “This is a big country. I’d like to see more of it.”
A sigh. “Do you like to drive?”
Here was the opportunity Mark had been waiting for.
“I don’t mind driving so much, it’s how much the ex-wife takes from me every month that I don’t like. The more I drive, the more I make, right?”
The man shrugged.
“Wrong. The more I work, the more she gets.” Mark shook his head, trying to sell his anger. “Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but do they need cheerleading and riding lessons? I can’t keep up most months and my truck payments are always a few days behind.”
The man looked at Mark for a long time, studying him.
Mark let him look all he wanted, giving him all the time he’d need to get the story right when he told someone – anyone else – about the new driver with money problems.
“I’m always looking for extra money,” he said. “You know what I mean?”
“Yes. I understand.”
“Good,” Mark nodded. “Now I have a question for you.”
“If you had a choice, would you rather go to the East Coast or West Coast?” To Mark’s surprise, the man didn’t laugh or even crack a smile.
Instead, he half closed his eyes and thought seriously about the question. “West. The Rocky Mountains. I hear they are nice to see.”
He enjoyed seeing all that Canada had to offer as well.
“I like the mountains too,” he said. “Maybe I’ll take you for a ride one day.”
“I’d like that very much.”
After his talk with the security guard, it didn’t take long for the feeling Mark had working at Chenai Transport to change.
Whenever he was in the company yard it felt as if he were being watched, not by the security guard, but by other drivers in the yard.
It could have been just his imagination but he couldn’t help but feel there were far more trucks idling in the yard than usual, more tires being changed, more maintenance done on trucks.
And all the while there was at least one set of eyes on him, screening him… For what? Mark wasn’t sure.
Nothing happened for several days.
Mark picked up and delivered his loads as usual, people seemed to watch his every move in the yard, and there was no talk about stolen loads.
Until Mark was approached by another driver.
He was doing an extensive circle-check in the yard, making sure to be around for as long as possible so that if anyone wanted to talk to him, they would know where to find him.
“You Mark?” a voice said.
Mark climbed out from under his trailer and said, “That’s me! Who are you?”
“My name is Suki. I was talking to Parwinder in the security office and he told me you like to make money.”
Bingo! Mark thought, struggling to maintain a strict poker face.
“Yeah, my ex-wife is bleeding me dry.”
“Yes, he told me.” He paused a moment to take
a quick look around. “You want to make some money, fast?”
“What do I have to do?”
“Not much. You just park your truck in a place where we say. Then go have a nice long dinner. You know, take your time.”