The story so far...Mark is watching a baseball game in a bar outside Toronto. He's got several choice loads lined up on a run to the West Coast and back again. Best of all, when he returns to Toronto,...
Mark is watching a baseball game in a bar outside Toronto. He’s got several choice loads lined up on a run to the West Coast and back again. Best of all, when he returns to Toronto, he’s got a ticket to a Blue Jays’ game against the New York Yankees. In the bar, Mark is met by Randy Reynolds who knows Mark. Mark, however, doesn’t remember Randy very well. They talk for a while and it’s obvious to Mark that Randy is a lazy bum. Mark does his best to ignore the man and eventually he goes away. Later, Mark gets a call from Bud, who asks him why he’s driving so erratically on the 401. Mark thinks Bud’s mistaken, but it turns out that Mark’s truck, ‘Mother Load,’ has been stolen.
Mark reports the theft to the O.P.P. He’s put on hold, then told to contact Peel police because the truck was stolen in their jurisdiction. Eventually the O.P.P. does send a cruiser out after his truck, but by then it’s gone from the highway. The thief has gotten away with ‘Mother Load.’ Mark files a report with the Peel Police and afterward wonders what Randy Reynolds might do with his truck. He figures he’ll try to steal his first load, which is a truck full of consumer electronics. Mark comes up with a plan.
Mark was behind the wheel of a rented Ford by 8:30 the next morning. His pick-up wasn’t scheduled until 10 a.m. so he had plenty of time to get to the warehouse in Mississauga so he could wait for Randy Reynolds to show up for the load.
Bud had filled him in on the details of his first few loads and they were big scores from a thief’s point of view. The first load was stereos and DVD players headed for a retail distribution center in Barrie. From there he was supposed to pick up a load of mixed freight from a warehouse across town destined for a department store in North Bay.
And it all began in Mississauga with a couple million dollars worth of electronics.
He turned off Highway 10 onto Matheson Boulevard and headed east nearly three major streets to General Road. He pulled into the lot outside the warehouse at the corner of General Road and Aimco Boulevard, and checked his watch.
It was just after nine.
Mark decided to wait for Randy to show up so he could say hello to the man before the police were called in.
As he waited, he thought of all the ways he’d like to say “Hello.” A fist in the mouth would be one way. Or maybe a kick in the nuts with a steel toed boot. Nice! Or maybe just a few broken fingers and a warning never to touch Mother Load again. At least that way Randy would have a legitimate excuse for not working.
The thought of that put a smile on Mark’s face. By stealing Mother Load, Randy Reynolds would end up with a valid reason not to be working. But if that was the case why stop at his fingers…
By the time Mark glanced at his watch again it was after 10 a.m. He’d been watching the clock closely, but something about doing some serious damage to Randy Reynolds had made the time fly.
‘Where the hell was this guy?’ he wondered. He can’t be a lazy thief as well, can he?
Mark waited until 10:15 before he got out of the car and walked over to the loading docks. He climbed the stairs, opened the door and found himself just outside the shipper’s office. There was a man at the desk inside the office reading the paper and the rest of the warehouse looked like it was on break, not like they were expecting someone to be picking up a load in the next few minutes.
Mark knocked on the door of the shipper’s office.
The man inside looked up from his paper, “Yeah.”
Mark opened the door. “Hi, I uh…I’m looking for a friend of mine. He was supposed to be picking up a load of stereos and stuff this morning and I was going to be riding with him, you know, sharing the driving duties all the way out to the West Coast.”
“He was already here,” said the shipper.
“I’m pretty sure of it. The guy was here before eight. We weren’t even open yet.” He began looking through the paperwork on his desk. “Yeah, here it is. Guy’s name was Mark Dalton.” He looked over at Mark. “That your friend?”
“No, I’m Mark Dalton.”
The shipper shrugged. “He had all the right paperwork.”
“I bet he did.”
“There’s a problem?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
Mark was tied up at the warehouse for another hour, doing his best to co-operate with the police, but wanting to get out of there as fast as he could.
If Reynolds stashed the first load somewhere, or sold it to a fence, there was a chance he’d head to the warehouse in Barrie to pick up the second load.
If he got there before Reynolds – several hours before Reynolds was due to show up – then maybe he could stop this little crime spree at just two loads.
Sure, it was a longshot, but Mark had to do something to stop this guy.
He reached Barrie before noon. The Peel Regional Police had notified their counterparts in Barrie about what was going on, but Mark didn’t see any marked cars in the lot.
Must be keeping a low profile so as not to scare him off, he thought.
Mark found an empty spot between two cars in the employees’ parking lot and made himself comfortable.
Even if Reynolds was early again, he wouldn’t be by for at least another hour.
And when he arrived, Mark would be ready for him.
Mark waited for over two hours but there was no sign of Randy Reynolds and Mother Load. The guy was either late, or had been early. Mark didn’t really want to go into the warehouse and find out which it was, but he had no other choice.
He got out of the car and started walking toward the loading docks.
And that’s when his cell phone rang.
“Yeah,” he said, answering the phone.
It had always bothered Mark that people answered the phone that way in movies all the time, but here he was doing it too. Maybe it had something to do with stress or anxiety…or the anticipation of yet more bad news.
“It’s me, Bud.” Mark had to give Bud credit.
He was usually pretty surly on the phone, but ever since Mother Load had been stolen, he’d been nothing but friendly and helpful. Mark doubted the attitude would last but he was grateful for now.
“They found Mother Load?”
“Is she all right?” Mark paused after he’d said it. He would have thought his first question would be “Where?” but he’d asked if she was all right, like she was a member of the family.
“I don’t know,” said Bud, his voice sounding sad that he didn’t have the answer. “But they did tell me where they found it.”
“It’s in an industrial park at the south end of Brock Road in Pickering.”
“Yeah, it’s on the east side of Toronto.”
Ah, thought Mark. The moment the crisis appears to be over, Bud is back to his old ways.
“I know where it is,” Mark said. His surprise was not over the truck being abandoned in Pickering, but that it wound up in Durham Region involving yet another police force.
“They want you over there to take a look at the truck.”
“I’m on my way,” Mark said.
He first saw Mother Load from about a half-kilometre away. All the wheels were on it, it didn’t look to be banged up in any way, and all the windows were intact.
So far, so good.
He pulled up next to the truck, introduced himself to the Durham Regional Police Officer on the scene, then headed over to Mother Load.
The driver’s side door was unlocked, which saved Mark the trouble of crawling under the truck to retrieve the spare he had tucked away in a magnetic box behind the oil filter.
In the past he’d had the spare hanging off the oil dipstick, as well as on top of the battery in the battery box, but after Mother Load had once been held hostage by an unscrupulous repair shop on the West Coast, he’d moved the key to a less conspicuous and harder to reach spot.
He hesitated opening the door a moment, not sure he wanted to know what the inside of the truck looked like, but he had to open the door sooner or later and…it might as well be sooner.
He pulled open the door.
And nearly started to cry.
It was an absolute mess. There were candy wrappers and melted bits of chocolate all over the carpet.
There were several
empty coffee cups and pop cans lying around too, some of them not entirely empty. One can of Coke was still dripping onto the floor, creating a big black stain on the light grey carpet.
Then the smell finally hit him. It smelled like urine. “Dammit!” he said. He’d heard of delivery men sometimes taking a leak in the backs of their truck because they had nowhere else to go, but doing it in the cab, that was downright…well, mean.
Mark held a hand over his nose and continued to rummage through the cab, checking the storage flaps on the doors.
He couldn’t believe it.
They guy had taken everything of value.
He’d even taken Mark’s stash of Canadian Tire money, which after his last visit to the store amounted to about 35 cents.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the bastard had even taken Mark’s Blue Jays ticket for next week’s game against the Yankees.
Which got Mark to thinking.
He wouldn’t be attending the game, but there was still a good chance someone else might use his ticket.
Mark looked forward to finding out if Randy Reynolds was a big baseball fan.
Edo van Belkom’s latest book is BE VERY AFRAID! To order it, or any of his other titles, visit www.vanbelkom.com. Meanwhile, Mark Dalton returns next month in Stealing Home – Part Four.