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Down in the dumps — Part 4

The story so far...After the man who stole Mother Load left it soiled and dirty, Mark decides to get his rig professionally cleaned by an auto detailer. He picks a shop called Sweet & Cherry only to f...


The story so far…

After the man who stole Mother Load left it soiled and dirty, Mark decides to get his rig professionally cleaned by an auto detailer. He picks a shop called Sweet & Cherry only to find that the shop owner isn’t interested in working on trucks. In fact, he looks down his nose at Mark as if trucks were beneath him. Mark is angered by this and insists they clean his truck, no matter what the cost. Reluctantly the shop owner agrees to do the work on Mother Load.

Thinking that the detail work on his truck might be expensive, and without anything to do for a couple of days in Toronto, Bud suggests Mark drive a dump truck around town for a couple of days. Mark is employed by Boris Bordenski, who gives Mark a crash course in driving dumps and a list of pick-ups and deliveries to make. While dumping his first load, Mark nearly rolls his truck after setting up on uneven ground and allowing his load to freeze inside his box. He ends the day not looking forward to tomorrow.

On Mark’s second day driving a dump truck, he nearly runs over the dump man after being distracted by a pretty woman on a construction site. Later in the day, while dumping gravel at a building site for a new home in Oakville, Mark pays attention to the dump man, but forgets to check for overhead wires. He takes out the wires with his box and has to sit for hours while rescue workers cut off the power and make things safe. As a result, Mark can’t pick up Mother Load and is charged $150 by Sweet & Cherry for the privilege of leaving his truck in their lot overnight…

Mark wasn’t freed from the fallen wires until after six that evening. Sweet & Cherry might have still been open, but even if he went straight there, it would take him over an hour at this time of day and they’d surely be closed by then.

It was time to call it a night, but Mark wasn’t ready to quit for the day just yet. He needed another load, both to deliver and to execute the plan he had in mind for getting even with Thatch Waverly and the whole Sweet & Cherry setup.

But first he had to call Boris.

“Sorry about the wires,” he said, doing his best to sound apologetic.

“Didn’t I tell you to look up for wires?”

Mark tried to remember if he’d mentioned anything about overhead wires. “No, you told me to clean the box after every dump, and not to waste time because stuff could freeze in the box.”

“And about wires?

“Nothing.”

“Okay, maybe a little my fault.” A pause. “Anyway, you finished with me now, no?”

“Uh, I wanted to talk to you about that. I was hoping you had another load for me.”

“You need the money, right?”

That was sort of true. He would need cash to pay for the detailing job for his truck, but that was secondary to the other thing he had in mind. “Right,” said Mark.

“You clean box?”

“After every dump.”

“Good.” He handed Mark a slip of paper. “Go this address for pick up, this one for delivery. Each one open 24 hours. Bring back truck in morning, I cash you out. Okay?”

“Sure.”

This time the pick-up wasn’t at any gravel pit outside of town. Instead, it was a meat-packing plant in the St. Clair Avenue and Old Weston Road area. At one time entire blocks were taken up by the Canada Packers plant and the stockyards holding their livestock. Now, even though the Canada Packers operation had been scaled down, there were still plenty of meat packaging plants in the area. Mark wasn’t sure who would need a dump truck around here, but the night man assured him he was in the right place.

When the night man came back, dressed in a rain coat, Mark was even more confused.

“What will I be carrying?” he asked.

“Guts!” the man said.

And as if on cue, a specially designed forklift appeared at the loading dock, dumping the contents of large storage containers into the box of Mark’s truck.

“What is it?” Mark asked.

“Guts,” the man repeated. “Organs, entrails, just about everything we don’t end up using for hot dogs or pet food.”

Mark took a few steps forward and looked into the box. It was a bloody mess in there, literally, with animal guts piled several feet deep. And the smell, it wasn’t exactly rotten yet, but it smelled as if it had the potential to stink to high heaven in no time at all.

“Where’s this going?”

“You mean you don’t know?”

“I know where I’m going, but what are they going to do with it when it gets there?”

“The rendering plant will grind it up, dry it out and use it to make feed.”

Mark was both amazed and ecstatic. “So I’ll be driving away with a whole dump truck full of animal guts.”

“They won’t fill it all the way up, but yeah…basically.”

“Sweet!”

On any other night, Mark would have taken his load directly from the slaughterhouse to the rendering plant. But tonight, he would be taking a little detour, both of route and of time. With a box full of guts in his truck, Mark stopped at an East Side Marios and had a terrific Caesar salad and pasta dinner. Afterward, he dropped in to a nearby Tim Hortons and had a coffee and an apple fritter. When he was done it was only about 10 in the evening, so he found a quiet place to park the truck and cracked open a paperback western novel by Ed Gorman. Hours later, when he’d reached the halfway point of the book, Mark checked his watch and decided it was time.

When he’d first asked Boris for another load, he’d been expecting to get a box full of gravel, or sand. The load of guts had been a more than welcome surprise. Mark had planned on dumping a load of dirt on each of the cars in the Sweet & Cherry lot as a way of teaching that asshole Thatch Waverly a lesson about giving a hard-working man a break. But while dirt would have been nice, guts were like…the bomb. Just the thought of Thatch Waverly cleaning beef fat out of the nooks and crannies of a Ferrari brought a smile to Mark’s face.

When he reached the Sweet & Cherry lot, Mark was struck by how clean and shiny Mother Load was. Her body gleamed, and her chrome shone like the sun, even under the dim glow of the streetlights surrounding the lot. They’d done a good job, no doubt about it, maybe even too good since they’d even scrubbed all the grease off the fifth wheel and left the metal there clean enough to eat off.

But did he need his truck to be that clean?

No.

And was the job worth a couple thousand dollars?

No.

And did they have to charge him $150 just to let the truck sit overnight?

No.

And did Mark have to be made to feel like a second class citizen just because he drove a truck and not a high-class sports import?

Absolutely not.

But did whoever owned the Ferraris and Porsches in the lot deserve to get their cars smeared with animal guts, just because Thatch Waverly was an asshole?

No.

Mark let out a sigh. Dumping on the cars in the lot would be punishing their owners, not Sweet & Cherry. Mark needed to think of something else, a better plan that would put all of Mark’s wrath squarely on Thatch Waverly’s shoulders.

As a gentle breeze wafted through the open window of the truck’s cab, Mark suddenly came up with a better plan.

There was a saying that “Less is more” and while hot cars buried beneath mounds of guts would be quite a sight, he’d need much less than a load of entrails to make his point.

Mark parked the truck on the street in front of Sweet & Cherry, climbed up onto the side of the box and used a shovel to scoop up a bunch of guts and drop them onto the side of the road. Then, after climbing back down, he grabbed several handfuls of guts and carefully tucked them into inconspicuous places on the underside of each of the cars in the lot.

Mark couldn’t help but snicker with delight.

The owners would pick up their cars tomorrow and everything would be fine for a while until they began to notice the foul odor emanating from somewhere on their vehicle.

Maybe there’d even be flies buzzing around the cars, like they were driving roadkill on wheels. Then it would be up to Thatch Waverly to explain why their cars smelled like crap, refund their money, and clean their cars all over again.

It would probably be touch and go for a while, but he
‘d probably be able to hang onto his business.

And maybe, just maybe, he’d have a newfound respect for trucks and their drivers. Thatch wouldn’t make the connection on his own, but a note sent in the mail a few months down the road, would probably be enough to clue him in.

The next morning Mark got his bill and paid it all in cash, using all of the money he’d earned driving the dump truck as well as a few dollars of his own.

“What name do you want on the invoice?” Thatch Waverly asked.

“Boris,” Mark said. “Boris Bordenski.” Mark didn’t have a problem giving the man a false name.

After all, Bordenski was a shady character in his own right and deserved to catch a bit of heat of his own down the road.

Later, as Mark turned to leave, Thatch sniffed at the air.

“Do you smell that?” he asked.

“Smell what?” Mark said.

“I don’t know, something rotten.”

Mark wanted to say your whole operation, but held his tongue and left the shop without saying a word.

– Edo van Belkon’s latest novel is Scream Queen. To order it, or any of his other titles, visit www.vanbelkom.com. Meanwhile, Mark Dalton returns next month in Part 1 of Two for the road.


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