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.
Past Kingston, Mark tries to pass a slow-moving lowboy, but as he pulls out to pass, the driver of the lowboy speeds up, preventing Mark from passing. Now struggling to pass, Mark notices a road crew taking up part of the lane he’s driving in. He manages to get by the lowboy, but cuts the driver off in the process. He tries to apologize without any luck. He pulls into a rest station, but so does the other driver. When Mark leaves, after his meal, the lowboy follows him back onto the highway.
Mark tries to stay away from the lowboy, but can’t shake him. He speeds up, and he slows down, but each time the lowboy matches his speed, creeping Mark out and putting innocent drivers around them in danger. Mark decides to report the driver via the radio, but learns it was disabled at the last rest station. Now, uncertain what to do, he pulls into the next rest station, and thankfully lowboy keeps on trucking down the road. Mark is thankful that the ordeal is over, or so he thought …
Mark made use of the facilities inside the rest station, and then wondered if he should pick up a coffee and something to go. A coffee would be great, and there was a Tim Hortons in this rest station – which was his favorite – but there was something about coffee and long hauls that just didn’t mix. If he had another coffee now he’d be stopping at every rest stop between here and Halifax.
But even though he didn’t want a coffee, he wasn’t keen on heading back onto the highway just yet either. He wanted to give the lowboy as much time alone on the highway as he could. With any luck, someone else might cut him off, or wave hello, or just get on the guy’s nerves. Admittedly, it wasn’t much of a plan, but Mark wasn’t sure there was a solution to this particular problem.
Lowboy was obviously crazy. Either that or road raged.
Mark decided on an apple fritter that would keep his stomach happy until dinner time and he ate it in silence while he watched the traffic zoom by along the highway outside the window. The trucks passed by at random, and it was a lot like a lottery really … Any one of those drivers could snap at any moment and when it happened, years of experience, professionalism, and just plain common sense, would all get tossed out the window. It was a lottery, alright, but one in which there were no winners and way too many losers.
He finished his fritter and headed back out to his rig.
Before he got under way, Mark checked his radio and antenna, hoping he might be able to repair them. No such luck. Not only had lowboy cut several of his wires, he had cut entire sections out of the wires, leaving Mark with a bunch of naked ends that were too short to be reconnected.
Mark could feel the anger gathering within him, a hot pot about to boil, and did his best to remain calm.
Sure he was pissed off, but it wasn’t going to do him any good to charge out of the rest station looking for blood. He could get the radio fixed easily enough, and if he needed to, he could always dial 9-1-1 on his cell phone.
Reluctantly, Mark climbed into Mother Load, started her up, and headed back onto the highway.
About five kilometres out of the rest station, Mark saw a rig up ahead parked on the shoulder.
“Awe, come on!” he said in disbelief.
As he neared, it became obvious that the rig pulled over onto the side of the highway was none other than the lowboy being pulled by the roo bar Volvo.
“Doesn’t this guy ever give up?” he muttered.
He tried to take a quick look into the cab as he went by, but the light was wrong and he couldn’t make out anyone in either of the front seats.
For a moment he thought that maybe the guy was taking a nap, but he’d wrongly assumed that once already and he knew in his heart that all the guy had been doing there was waiting for Mark to pass.
And sure enough, before Mark was even a hundred metres down the highway, the Volvo’s twin stacks belched a cloud of smoke and lowboy was signaling a return to the highway.
Mark began accelerating, hoping that while lowboy was getting up to speed he might be able to put him so far behind that he’d never be able to catch up.
But that idea quickly proved a bad one when the traffic started to get heavy heading into Quebec and he was barely able to keep it over a hundred.
If he ran into somebody now, then he’d be the one in the wrong and he’d be in no position to convince anyone that it was really the other driver who was the crazy one.
He checked the road behind him again and saw that lowboy was still getting bigger in his mirrors.
Not only that, but the roo bar on the front end of the Volvo was starting to look a bit menacing, as if it were some huge metal monster, bearing down on him and ready to chomp on his ass the first chance it got.
Mark wanted to get away, but there were too many cars around, and there was nothing to be done but stay on course, keep a constant speed, and hope this guy was just having his fun.
As the traffic continued to slow, lowboy took up a position directly behind Mark.
Earlier he’d kept a constant distance behind, but now he was getting a lot closer.
A couple of times, Mark even lost the Volvo tractor in his mirrors and could only see the lowboy trailing along behind him like a big steel snake.
Mark wasn’t sure how long he could go on like this. If something didn’t happen to end this soon, he’d be forced to pull over and confront this guy face-to-face.
Mark had a Louisville Slugger in his cab that he used to check tires on his circle check.
If he was lucky, the other guy wouldn’t have anything more dangerous than that … Mark shuddered at the thought of this guy carrying a knife, or worse, and realized how easily these things could get out of hand.
Hopefully Mark would be able to figure something out before things got ugly.
And then, as if on cue, an alternative presented itself.
“Yes,” said Mark, smiling broadly.
Up ahead on the right-hand side of the highway, a pair of yellow lights were flashing atop a large rectangular sign, beckoning drivers to pull over and drive through the weigh scales.
Mark usually didn’t have much affection for the inspectors who manned the coops, but right now they seemed heaven sent.
However, as much as Mark wanted to be stopped for an inspection, his cargo was very light and he was well below his gross vehicle weight limit of 80,000 lbs.
Just my luck, thought Mark.
He’d be through the station in seconds and then he and lowboy would be back on the highway just a kilometre down the road from where they left off.
Mark had to think of something, and quick.
And then he was struck with an idea.
He reached over and got out his log book, then took a large black magic marker from the visor above him and quickly scribbled a message onto the back cover of the book.
Then as he slowed down to drive over the scales, he reached over and pressed the log book up against the passenger window.
Hopefully he was moving slowly enough, and at least one of the inspectors was attentive enough to read the message.
Mark watched closely as an inspector sipping a cup of coffee squinted in Mark’s direction as he drove by.
At first the man expressed surprise, then he quickly put down his coffee and nodded at Mark.
Mark slid back into the driver’s seat and began shifting up through the gears, preparing for his return to highway traffic.
At the same time, he kept an eye in his mirrors, watching all of the inspectors scramble out of the coop and flag down lowboy before he had a chance to drive through the scales.
Mark laughed out loud as lowboy came to a stop, probably wondering what the hell was going on.
n, before fixing his eyes on the road in front of him, Mark glanced over at the log book that was now on the passenger seat and read the message he’d hurriedly scribbled onto the book’s back cover –
His penmanship was a bit sloppy and he’d almost made the letters too big to fit on the back of the book, but judging by the result, the four words had done their job.
Maybe he had a gun. Maybe he didn’t.
Either way, by the time the inspectors had it all figured out, Mark would be hundreds of kilometres away.