It’s a moonless night in Brampton. In a truck yard in the southeast corner of the city, a single overhead light flickers over a line of trailers neatly parked, one next to the other for as far as the eye can see.
Two sets of eyes are looking them over.
A flashlight sweeps up between the trailers, momentarily shining on a serial number then moving onto the next.
At last the light catches the right sequence of numbers.
“This is the one,” a voice whispers.
“Right,” says another.
Seconds later a tractor pulls into the yard through an unguarded gap in the fence. It rumbles slowly through the lot, all its light dark as the night.
The flashlight flickers…“Over Here!” And the tractor picks up speed until it reaches the two men on the ground.
Then, with a precision of a team that has done this sort of thing dozens of times before, the tractor is hooked up to the trailer.
In less than a minute the two men on the ground are in the truck and the trailer is being eased out from between two others.
Lights still out, the tractor glides toward the gap in the fence, then through it. At the roadway, there’s no signal, but the rig turns right.
Now the driver of the rig runs up through the gears. Third…Fourth…Fifth…
Suddenly the lights of the truck come on and the rig instantly becomes just another truck rolling down the road.
The only difference is there’s a half-million dollars worth of stolen auto parts inside its trailer.
Mark was hours away from reaching the rail yards in Vaughan to deliver his load, and hadn’t planned on speaking to Bud for a couple of days while he took some time off.
Nevertheless, here was Bud calling him on the phone…something had to be up.
“Hello,” Mark said.
“Mark, it’s Bud.” Mark smiled and was about to give him the old ‘Bud who?’ routine, but Bud cut him off. “Now before you go and make some smartaleck remark like ‘Bud who?’ just listen.”
The smile vanished from Mark’s face. “I’m listening.”
“Now you know that cargo theft is a big problem in our industry.”
“Sure. Drivers are telling me all the time about how their trucks are stolen, or how they’re being robbed…sometimes at gunpoint.”
“Right. Everybody’s getting hit but some companies are getting hit more often than others.”
“You mean the ones without security cameras, security gates and security guards. The ones who don’t realize their loads are worth millions.”
“Exactly,” Bud said. “And there’s one company in
Brampton that’s getting hit more often than most. They had two trailers vanish from their lot just last week.”
“Vanished? Like just disappeared into thin air?”
“Of course not. They were hooked up and driven away by thieves.”
“You mean stolen?”
“Yes, and they know it’s a little late in the game, but they want to figure out how it’s happening and stop it.”
“Security cameras. Security…”
“They’re doing all that, but they want to do more.”
“Let me guess. That’s where I come in.”
“Exactly. They figure the thefts are all inside jobs, or at least the thieves are working on inside information, but so far they haven’t been able to prove anything.”
“And they need someone to get inside the ring and help their internal investigation so they can have something concrete to pass along to the
“And of all the drivers in the city – no, the country – why am I the guy who’s so lucky to get this job?”
“You like this kind of stuff, don’t you?”
Mark wasn’t sure if Bud was asking him or telling him. “Sure,” he said, making sure his voice had just the right tone of sarcasm. “I love getting into situations where my life might be in danger.”
“Like you’ve never put yourself in that situation all on your own.”
Mark thought about that for a moment and had to concede that he’d done some reckless things over the years. But getting into most of those spots had been his choice.
This time he was being asked to put himself at risk for people he’d never worked for and didn’t even know.
“Anyone can leave their truck
lying around to get stolen. In fact, this sounds like something the police should be doing, sending someone in undercover.”
“Sure, they could put a cop into the company, but he’d be spotted right away. They need someone whose been driving for years and knows the business so he won’t look like he came out of nowhere when he arrives on the scene.”
“So, why me?”
Mark knew he was forcing Bud to say something nice about him and he was enjoying the dispatcher’s struggle.
“Because you’re not only a great driver, but your background as a private detective and the number of daring adventures you’ve been on in your life make you the ideal candidate.” A pause. “The only one for the job as far as I’m concerned.”
Mark was left speechless a moment. So much so that he was sure Bud was lying. “You’re so full of it.”
“No, it’s true. And I convinced them that it’s all true as well.”
“That’s right. In fact, I pumped you up so much that they’ve agreed to give you nothing but the best loads and to pay you double their regular mileage rate.”
Mark sat up behind the wheel when he heard that.
“Yes,” Bud said. “And all you’ve got to do is show up and be your usual self, getting into trouble taking names.”
Mark had to admit he was intrigued. This was the best of both his worlds.
For one, he would be doing some investigative work like he’d done for years before becoming a truck driver.
And second, he’d be driving good loads for top dollar.
In a nutshell, this might be some of the most dangerous and exciting truck driving he would ever do.
How could he resist?
“Alright,” he said at last. “I’m in.”
Sure it was dangerous and he’d be taking a risk, but in the end, how much could go wrong?