Thick as thieves – Part 4

by Edo van Belkom

The story so far…

Against the advice of the police detective in charge of the case, Mark decides to get involved with the thieves. He puts the word out that he’s a trucker with money problems and might be interested in an easy score of cash. As he’d hoped, he’s contacted by the thieves who give him specific instructions about where to leave his load so it can be easily unloaded by the thieves. Mark has every intention of informing the police about what’s going on, until the man on the phone tells him that if there are any complications – such as police involvement – they will kill both of Mark’s parents. For the first time in years, Mark Dalton is in over his head and at a loss over what to do.

The next morning Mark picked up his load. Although he hadn’t done anything wrong yet, he found it hard to look the shipper and everyone else on the dock in the eye. He’d gotten into this thing thinking he’d be able to get out whenever he wanted, but such things weren’t up to him. When you’re in, you’re in and it’s almost impossible to get out. He’d laughed when Al Pacino said as much in The Godfather Part 3, but now he knew better.

For the time being Mark decided he would go along with the thieves’ plan. Of course, he would be looking for an “out,” but there was no way on Earth he was going to put his parents in any kind of jeopardy. Just thinking about it now made him feel sick to his stomach.

As he exited the distillery, instead of turning west on Steeles, Mark turned east so he could make his scheduled stop at the coffee shop that was in the industrial area south of Steeles and west of Tomken Road. Explaining to the police why he had taken such a detour from Highway 410 just for a cup of coffee would be a tough task, but Mark had always been able to think on his feet and everyone said he could bullshit with the best of them.

If all went well his trailer would be ripped off and he’d make a report to the police. As long as he wasn’t implicated in the robbery, $10,000 would be finding its way to him at some point in the future. He had no intention of keeping the money, and would likely give it to charity – or maybe send his parents on a trip and give the rest of it to charity – and that would be the end of his career driving loads of booze and cigarettes.

Mark turned onto Tomken, and then made a right at the first street, Steelwell Road. The coffee shop was on the corner of Steelwell and Hedgedale. It was called Truck-a-stop and Mark could almost picture the short, aged Italian man that would be working behind the counter inside.

They’d told him to park as far away from the shop as possible, and in order to do that he’d have to drive around the back of the building and park between the building and the fence on the other side of the lane. It was a perfect location for the thieves because the back of the trailer was completely hidden from view and any size truck could back up behind it without attracting much attention.

Mark shut down Mother Load, got out and made sure all of the doors to the cab were locked behind him. All he needed was a greedy thief to start looking through his truck after the trailer had been cleaned out.

He took forever to cross the parking lot and reach the coffee shop, dragging his feet every step of the way. As he neared the shop door, he could just hear the sound of another truck in the distance. It was likely already backed up to his trailer and in less than an hour, he’d be hauling a trailer full of nothing.

“What-a you want?” the short, aged Italian man said from behind the counter.

“Coffee please.”

“Espresso or dirty water?”

“Pardon me?”

“You wanna espresso, or a Can-a-dee-an coffee?”

Mark had never been in a place that called any kind of coffee Canadian. “Uh, Canadian please.”

The man poured out a large cup and Mark dropped a loonie on the counter.

Mark spooned in some sugar, but couldn’t find any creamers on the counter. At one point he almost caught the attention of the man behind the counter, but decided in the end it would just be easier to drink it black. He took a sip, then glanced around the shop. There were middle-aged and elderly men smoking cigarettes and playing cards all over the place. There was a large screen television high up on the wall in one corner of the room, and there were shelves of products – cookies and soda pops he’d never seen on sale at the A&P – lining two of the other walls.

Mark didn’t belong here, that was obvious. In fact, no trucker belonged here. This was kind of a social club for older men, or a place where young men who didn’t collect regular paychecks conducted their business.

Mark imagined what he would sound like talking to the police. “Well, I decided that since I was headed to Montreal, I thought I’d get a little European atmosphere first.” Or, “Sure it’s about 20 minutes out of the way, but I just had to have an espresso before I hit the 401.”

He finished his coffee and pushed it away from himself and across the counter.


“Uh, yeah, sure. Espresso this time.”

The man smiled, as if Mark’s order pleased him to no end.

Mark glanced at his watch. He’d been here 20 minutes. He’d finish his espresso and head back to his truck. If he happened on the thieves while they were in the act, then so be it. He stirred two spoonfuls of sugar into the tiny cup and drank the coffee in a gulp.

He left money on the table for it, then headed back outside.

It was still cold outside, or at least it felt like it with the way the sweat down Mark’s back seemed to turn to ice in the wind.

When he was halfway across the lot, he was aware of the sound of screeching tires coming from behind one of the nearby buildings. Then a dark blue car was racing across the parking lot toward him.

“Hey Buddy, you’re going to kill somebody driving crazy like that,” he shouted. But then he noticed the small red light blinking on the car’s dashboard.

The police!

His first thought upon realizing that he’d be busted was that his parents were going to pay for his mistake. Even though he hadn’t tipped anyone off, the police were here now and the thieves would probably blame him for it.

He’d have to do his best to convince them otherwise.

Mark began to run.

When he reached the alley he saw that the truck the thieves had loaded, a 24-foot International Van Body that had the name of some bakery on the side, had also been stopped by the cops. The cops had their guns drawn as the driver and his three helpers were slowly getting out of the cab.

Mark ran toward them.

A police car screeched to a halt in front of him. Two cops got out, the one on the passenger side first. “Stop right there!” the cop commanded.

Mark kept running, but slowed his pace somewhat.

The cop caught up to him, put a hand on him and tried to turn him around.

Mark glanced over and made sure the driver and his friends were watching… then he threw a right cross that caught the cop square on the chin.

The cop was dazed a moment, but recovered. A second later, there were hands all over Mark, pushing him down onto the pavement and twisting his arms behind him.

“Take it easy pal…” someone said as cold steel snapped around his wrists. “…and you’ll be all right.”

After that, all Mark could think about was whether or not his little performance had been good enough to save his parents’ lives.

When they arrived at the police station Mark still hadn’t been placed under arrest, and he was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to be. Then he was brought into a room where Detective Monahan sat waiting for him.

Mark stopped in his tracks, not sure if he should be happy, or ashamed. “Caught the bad guys,” he said, putting on a smile.

“Yeah,” the detective conceded. “What the hell did you think you were doing?”

“I thought I’d go along with them, then call you to set something up.”

“So what happened?”

“They said they’d kill my parents if I talked to you.”

“You’re worried about them, are you?”

Mark nodded.

“Well, your father’s worried about you too. Says he’s going to kick your ass th
e next time he sees you.”


The detective sighed. “Give us some credit, Dalton. We knew what you were doing.”

“You did?”

“Your dispatcher, Bud, called and told us all about you. Told us not to be surprised if you went and did something stupid on your own. So instead of trying to stop you, we watched you around the clock. Damned if you didn’t go and do just what Bud said you would.”

“But my parents -“

“Your parents are all right. You on the other hand are in a whole lot of trouble.”

“Are you going to arrest me?”

“Maybe. Constable Bradley, the one you caught with your right hand, his shift ends in about 10 minutes and he said he’d be dropping by to see you.”

“See me for what?”

The detective shrugged.

“Uh, if you won’t be needing me for anything else,” Mark said. “I think I’ll be moving on now.”

Moments later, Mark was gone. n

– Mark Dalton O/O will return next month in another new adventure.

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