The story so far...After picking up a load of plastic pool toys headed for Halifax, Mark is cut off by a young man driving a 10 year-old Buick LeSabre. When Mark blasts his horn at the man, he gets a ...
After picking up a load of plastic pool toys headed for Halifax, Mark is cut off by a young man driving a 10 year-old Buick LeSabre. When Mark blasts his horn at the man, he gets a one-finger salute in return. Mark chases the man along the highway, endangering several people’s lives before realizing what he’s doing and slowing down. He vows not to get caught up in the moment like that again…
Between Brockville and Cornwall the highway had been fairly quiet and Mark had been able to listen to a good chunk of one of his Deathlands talking books without interruption. The Deathlands was his favorite men’s action/adventure series, with plenty of guns, larger-than-life heroes, mutants and a sprinkling of sex. It was the perfect mix to pass the hours on the road, and now that the entire series was available on cassette he was working his way through the fifty or so volumes whenever he got the chance.
Up ahead in the lane in front of him, Mark saw an empty lowboy that he seemed to be reeling in at a pretty good clip. He hadn’t had to pass anyone for a while and he wasn’t keen on doing it now since he was in no real hurry, but this rig was moving too slowly for him to follow for any length of time.
Mark checked his mirrors, saw there wasn’t anyone racing up the left lane, and pulled out to pass.
He was creeping past the lowboy slowly, almost making him wonder why he was even bothering to pass the guy. But it soon became obvious that the guy had sped up while Mark was trying to pass him. Mark knew plenty of drivers who hated being passed by other truckers, especially when they were pulling a light load and some big tanker roared on by because of some big horsepower advantage. Maybe this guy was like that, although it wasn’t likely since Mark wasn’t hauling anything but puffed up plastic and foam and the guy’s trailer was empty.
After about 20 seconds, Mark was still trying to get by, inching up on the lowboy as if his fingers were walking along the trailer to mark his progress. He pressed the accelerator down hesitantly, not wanting to get caught up in another situation like the one he’d had earlier in the day, but needing to pass the truck so he could be on his way.
At last he was even with the other trucker’s cab. He looked over at the man and waved hello. The other driver had only been periodically glancing to his left, but when Mark gave him a wave, he immediately put his eyes on the road in front of him and kept them there.
“And a good day to you too, buddy,” Mark said aloud.
Finally, he was past the lowboy and was just waiting for his trailer to clear it so he could move back into the right-hand lane when he noticed a road crew working in the passing lane up ahead.
One of their trucks was half way out into the lane and a few orange cones were lined up on the shoulder.
Mark checked his mirror and saw the other driver was still trying to match his speed, as if he wanted Mark to work damn hard to pass him.
Well, Mark was working. In fact, he was sweating now.
He had two choices. He could either hit the road crew’s truck, or he could cut off the lowboy and hope the two trucks didn’t touch. He decided on the latter since it was the only one in which it might be possible for everyone to get through it without a scratch.
He floored the accelerator and waited for the last possible moment, then pulled right. He missed the rear end of the road crew’s truck – which had now pulled completely onto the shoulder – and he’d managed to get far enough in front of the lowboy so that at worst, the other driver would have to slam on his brakes.
Mark heard the blast of a gas horn behind him.
“Sorry,” he said aloud, looking into his mirrors. The lowboy was sending up a cloud of black smoke, and the trailer seemed to be shuddering on the asphalt.
The rig began to grow smaller in his mirrors as the driver pulled over onto the side of the highway.
Mark got on the Cobra and began trying to make contact in the hopes of apologizing, but no one was answering. Maybe we’ll meet up somewhere down the road, he thought.
The lowboy had become a tiny speck in his mirrors now, but he could still make out the plume of smoke rising up from its stack as the rig got up some speed and prepared to rejoin traffic. But as the minutes passed, it became apparent that the lowboy wasn’t just getting back into the highway’s flow, he was making some serious steam trying to catch back up to Mark.
With each kilometre that passed, the white, early model Volvo with a roo bar across the front of its grille, grew larger and larger in his mirrors. He guessed it was around 10 years old, probably with more than a few million kilometres on it. It was obvious the rig wasn’t going to win any races, but Mark wasn’t in the mood for driving like a maniac.
After all, he’d been there and done that just that morning, and that had been excitement enough, even for Mark. But the lowboy just kept on coming.
Mark saw a sign for a rest station coming up in another two kilometres and figured it was about time for a break. Sitting down with a meal and a newspaper might do him some good, and it might also give the guy in the lowboy a chance to cool off.
He pulled right onto the offramp and slowed his rig. He brought it around back and parked it so that he would be able to see it from several of the picnic tables set up outside the rest station.
As he walked toward the main building, Mark noticed that the lowboy had also pulled in and had parked – in one of the few open spots at the opposite end of the lot from “Mother Load.” He watched the rig for a long time waiting for the man to get out and approach him, but he never did. Well, at least he’s not looking for a confrontation, thought Mark, as he entered the rest station. He used the restroom, ordered a burger, fries and coffee, and then grabbed a copy of the Truck News to read while he ate lunch.
He was half way through the Eastern section by the time he finished eating and carried his coffee with him back to his rig. As far as he could tell, the lowboy driver hadn’t come into the rest station, and maybe hadn’t even left his rig. Perhaps he was tired, and needed to catch a few winks. Hopefully that would explain his erratic driving. Sure, the guy had spent most of the day driving to deliver whatever equipment he was carrying, and now that he was returning home he was beat, just trying to put a few more kilometres under the wheels before taking a break.
That was probably it, had to be. It sure beat thinking that he’d tried to get Mark killed after Mark had cut him off through no fault of his own. Mark paused a moment in the parking lot. Maybe he should go over and knock on the guy’s cab and explain what happened.
He could tell him he was sorry and that he hadn’t meant to send him off the road.
Then again the guy might be sleeping by now, dreaming of someone like Shannon Tweed, and Mark waking him up wasn’t going to make matters any better.
Might even piss him off. But, if Mark left now, the guy would keep sleeping for another few hours and by the time he woke up Mark would be half way to Halifax.
That made the most sense.
They were both professionals, after all.
Best to just let it go, water under the bridge, or more appropriately, asphalt under the tires, and they could both get on with the job of delivering goods and making themselves a living, while making sure stuff like that didn’t happen again.
Satisfied with his decision, Mark took a sip of his coffee and headed for his rig.
Inside, Mark set the coffee cup into its holder, turned the ignition and waited for the idiot light to dim.
Then he turned the key further and the Cummins roared to life. In moments he was under way.
As he cleared his trailer of the other rigs parked in the lot, he noticed movement in his mirror. Apparently, lowboy was on the move too. n
– Next month: Drivers of the Purple Rage – Part 3.