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Show, shine’n…shrug (October 01, 2010)

The story so far...


The story so far…

After several weeks on the road, Mark decides to give Mother Load a thorough cleaning, inside and out, top to bottom. He’s so pleased with the outcome, he decides to enter the truck in the Fergus shown’n’shine that weekend.

Mark does his best to get his truck really clean, but he can’t compete with the driver of a Freightliner parked next to him whose whole family is constantly polishing and shining their truck. Mark comes up with a plan and offers some boys at the show a way to make some money.

“Thwock!”

“Thwock! Thwock!”

Mark opened his eyes and lifted his head off his pillow. He remained that way for a few moments, listening. He thought he’d heard something, but there was nothing more. He shut his eyes and went back to sleep.

“Thwock!”

There it was again, sounding as if something was striking Mother Load’s front windshield.

“Thwock! Thwock-ping!”

Having an idea what it might be, Mark threw the covers off and jumped out of the bunk, landing hard on the floor of the cab and stubbing a toe against the passenger seat as he hurried to open the door and get out of the truck. Finally, he had the door open and it was just as he’d feared. The boys he had hired to egg the Freightliner had gotten it wrong. They were pelting Mother Load with eggs instead of the gleaming Freightliner next to him.

“What are you doing?” Mark said in a whisper, waving his arms as he ran out in front of Mother Load, putting himself between the boys and their assault on his precious truck. “I gave you boys $10 each to throw eggs on that truck over there!” he said, emphasizing his point by thrusting a finger in the direction of the Freightliner. “That one!” he said again. “Not this one!”

The three boys just stood there looking at Mark, each one holding an egg in their throwing hand.

“We know,” one of the boys said at last. “But that guy gave us $20 each to throw the eggs at your truck.”

Mark clenched his teeth and turned around to look at Mother Load. There were five distinct eggs splatters across his windshield, and one more hit his front grille. He could clean the egg off the windshield easy enough, but the stuff in the grille was going to be tough.

He turned back around to face the boys. The damage was already done, so there wasn’t a lot he could do other than say, “I want my money back.” He held out his hand to press the point.

Nothing happened at first and for a moment Mark thought that he just might see his $30 again.

But then an egg sailed past his head, followed by two others that hit his forehead in rapid succession.

“Spla-plat!”

Mark wiped the egg from his eyes and saw that the boys were gone.

From somewhere behind him and to his left, a deep throaty laugh rumbled up from somewhere deep inside someone’s huge, bloated belly. Mark resisted the urge to turn around because he didn’t want to confirm what he already knew. The Freightliner owner was laughing at Mark while Mark stood there in the middle of the night with egg on his face.

But as the laugh grew louder, Mark finally turned around and faced the man. He was standing there in a stained white T-shirt, cut-off pajama pants and sandals -one of which had a broken strap.

Mark looked at the man, seething in anger, but had to wipe a bit of egg from his right eye so he could be sure of what he was seeing. As the man stood there laughing at Mark, his wife was circling the truck with a flashlight in her hand, perhaps to make sure no egg bits had bounced off Mark’s face and landed on their truck by accident.

‘How in the world can I compete with that?’ Mark wondered as a rivulet of yoke streaked down his nose and hung on the tip of it for what seemed like forever.

“You better clean that stuff off your truck right away,” the man said, now with a can of beer in his hand. “If you let it dry, the protein in the egg will make it almost impossible to get off without scraping. And, I don’t know if you know this or not, but scraping is bad for paint and chrome finishes.”

“Is that so?” Mark said with a sigh. He was angry with the man to be sure, but how upset could he really be? He’d paid the kids to do exactly what had been done to him. The only difference between the two men was that one paid more money, or had better timing, or was just luckier when it came to keeping his truck clean.

“Yeah, that’s so,” the man said, sipping his beer. “I’d lend you a bucket and a sponge, but then, you know, you’d get egg on them and then I’d end up getting egg on my truck when I used them.”

“We wouldn’t want that.” “No, we wouldn’t.”

Mark raised a hand. “No problem, I’ll get my own bucket.” Then he turned his back on the man wondering where in the world he was going to find water and a bucket to clean his truck at -he looked at his watch -three o’clock in the morning?

Water was easy enough to find, but a bucket was a whole different story. He walked silently behind the rows of trucks parked nearby, but all of them had been buttoned up tight for the evening. He eventually managed to locate a white five-gallon pail behind one of the booths selling food. The pail had a lining of some sort of food residue and Mark had to rinse it out several times before it was clean enough to use on Mother Load. Lights came on in a few nearby trucks as he rinsed the pail and one man actually came out to see what all the noise was about.

“What are you doing?” the man asked.

“I’ve got to wash my truck,” Mark said.

“Now?”

“Yeah. I don’t really want to. I have to.”

The man shook his head and muttered as he walked away, “You guys take this show’n’shine stuff way too seriously.”

Mark, rinsing the bucket one last time, couldn’t disagree.

By the time he got back to his truck, the egg had already partially dried up. But he was actually lucky that all of this had happened in the middle of the night and not the middle of the day. Sunlight beating down on the egg stains would have practically baked them onto the paint and he might never have gotten them off.

As it was, a bit of soap and water, and plenty of elbow grease got the windshield clean enough that he could leave the rest for a fresh rag and window cleaner in the morning. The grille, however, wasn’t so easy.

He began by wiping at the grille with his rag, but each time he thought he had everything clean he would discover a bit of eggshell or yoke that had found its way into some crack or crevice that the rag couldn’t clean. As a result, he was standing in front of his truck with a flashlight and a Q-tip till five in the morning, and even then he knew he hadn’t gotten everything clean.

The rest would have to wait till morning…after a couple of hours sleep, but before the judges showed up to look Mother Load over.

He climbed back up into Mother Load’s cab, locked the door behind him, and then crawled back into bed. As he pulled the covers over him and laid his head onto the pillow, the slight pitter-patter of rain began to fall against the roof of his truck.

“Raining?” he sighed in defeat. “This show’n’shine just keeps getting better all the time.”

-Mark Dalton returns next month in the conclusion of Show, shine’n…shrug.

———

Did you know that there are two full-length novels featuring Mark Dalton?: Mark Dalton “SmartDriver” and Mark Dalton “Troubleload.” For your free copy register with ecoENERGY for Fleets (Fleet Smart) at fleetsmart. fleetsmart.gc.ca. Both are also available in audio book format.


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