The story so far...Mark takes on a load of spirits from the Bacardi Distillery in Brampton, but is hijacked before he makes it to the highway. He's eventually knocked unconscious and is found hours la...
Mark takes on a load of spirits from the Bacardi Distillery in Brampton, but is hijacked before he makes it to the highway. He’s eventually knocked unconscious and is found hours later tied up in the back of his trailer. Mark decides to work with the police on a sting operation and takes another load from the Brampton distillery, this time headed for the LCBO warehouse in Malton. But instead of a load of spirits, Mark hauls a load of policemen, who are delivered safely to their destination without any problems. The police call off the operation for now.
Mark was eager to try to make the sting work with another load, but the police weren’t all that interested.
“This wasn’t a task force operation,” Detective Monahan said. “And we do have a few other criminals to catch, so…”
“You can’t just leave it at that,” Mark said. “These are million dollar robberies. Armed robberies.”
“We’re going to be keeping a close watch on the shipments coming out of the distillery … and shipments out of a half-dozen other yards in the city, but we can’t afford the manpower to put on another sting like we did today. We’ve got to get back to our regular work, and Bacardi has to get back to shipping their product.”
Mark was about to say something more, but he knew that he’d be wasting his breath. Finally he said, “I’d still like to take a few more loads for them.”
“Look Dalton, this is a highly organized crime ring with employees, a distribution network, and all sorts of resources at their disposal. The last thing we want, or need, is some civilian who figures he’s going to bring the whole thing down by himself. You hear me?”
“I hear you detective,” Mark nodded, thoughtfully. His eyes were on the floor, but they rose up slowly until he was looking the detective straight in the eye. “Now maybe you can hear me. I got ripped of for a very profitable load, and then I successfully delivered a truck full of police officers to a booze warehouse … a delivery that paid me nothing. As you pointed out on a previous occasion, I have a truck that’s expensive to run, and a business to operate, so getting another load from the distillery would be an excellent way of making up for my lost time!”
Detective Monahan appeared to be speechless, looking Mark over as if sizing him up. “Well, since you put it that way, I suppose I could ask the shipper for a favor, get you a few more loads.”
Mark had been all ready to have it out with the man, and now he had to be polite and say, “Thank you.”
“Just stay out of trouble, all right.”
“I don’t go looking for it, you know,” Mark said to a now empty room. “It just, sort of… finds me.”
He wound up getting a load to Montreal that was scheduled to leave the distillery the next morning around 11. He got a room at the Comfort Inn on Norfinch Ave. There, as he lay back on the bed, his mind began to wander and he eventually got to thinking about how the thieves had known to hijack him the first time, but leave him alone the second. It was as if someone had tipped off the thieves so they wouldn’t bother with the second load. That meant that it was either an inside job, or somebody was spending an awful lot of time watching the trucks being loaded.
So, the thieves had probably known Mark had been involved with the police.
But there would be no police trailing him tomorrow morning. He’d be all by himself again, a sitting duck for a group of thieves.
Or maybe not. He’d promised Detective Monahan that he wouldn’t try to catch the thieves by himself and he had no intentions of trying it.
However, what was to stop him from putting the word out and letting people know he was willing to go into business with the thieves? At over a million dollars a load, even a one per cent cut would be like winning the lottery.
Then when he’d been accepted by the thieves, he could give the police all the information they needed to break up the operation and put everyone involved behind bars for a long, long time.
He started with the coffee shop of the Comfort Inn. Judging by the number of rigs parked in the hotel lot, the place was popular with truckers who wanted to spend the night somewhere other than their sleeper before taking on a load in the morning.
He found a group of men sitting around one table, a couple of them wearing ball caps of transport companies, the others casually dressed in sweat suits. “How you doin’ fellas?”
The men nodded, said hello.
“You’re looking at one lucky man…”
No one prodded Mark to continue, so he kept the conversation going all on his own.
“Got me a load of booze in the morning going all the way to Montreal. There’s some extra work that goes with the load, but the pay is excellent… And it couldn’t have come at a better time too, if you know what I mean. I’m overdue a few payments on my rig and my ex-wife’s screaming at me how the kids need braces… and to top it all off, my mum needs to go into a home. You know what those places charge each month…”
And on and on he went, spreading the word that here was an owner/operator who was pretty desperate for an infusion of cash. After visiting two more coffee shops and a nearby bar Mark headed back to the Comfort Inn. And waited.
His cell phone rang around nine.
“Yes, who’s this?”
“Hear you’re hurtin’ for cash.”
“Not drivers who play it smart.”
“I think I know what you mean.”
“You sound smart to me.”
“You got a load tomorrow, right?”
“Now a dumb shit driver would take that load straight to its destination and get his mileage, right?”
“But a smart driver, now he’d stop for coffee at a little mom and pop shop at the corner of Steelwell and Hedgedale.”
“I hear they serve good coffee there,” Mark said.
“You are smart, aren’t you.”
“I like to think so.”
“You park your rig as far from the coffee shop as you can and you stay inside for a second cup of coffee. When you get out, you check your load… and then you call the cops.”
“Earn yourself a quick ten large … cash.”
“Easiest money you’re ever going to make in your life.”
Ten thousand for having a cup of coffee beat the hell out of working for a living. But of course, he wouldn’t be taking any money for his part in this. As soon as he got off the phone, he’d be getting in touch with Detective Monahan to tell him what was going on.
“And one more thing,” said the voice on the phone.
“You try anything funny, like say, calling the cops…”
Mark said nothing.
“Just remember,” the voice continued. “We know where your parents live. Something goes wrong with the plan, then something goes wrong with them. Understand?”
Mark felt his heart skip a beat. “Yeah, sure. No problem.”
The man on the other end hung up.
Mark got a dial tone and called his parents.
“Nothing, I just wanted to call and see how you and dad were doing.”
“His back’s acting up, but other than that we’re fine.” A pause. “When are you coming to see us?”
“As soon as I can, mom.”
He was off the phone a few minutes later.
He sat up in his motel room late into the night, wide awake and wondering what on earth he was going to do now.
– Next month, Mark Dalton returns in Part 4 of Thick as thieves.