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Thou Shunt Not Kill! (August 01, 2009)

The story so far:




The story so far:

Mark is on his way to a huge truck yard near Vancouver. He calls Bud, but his dispatcher has no loads for him and none on the horizon. When Mark reaches the yard, there are cops everywhere investigating a murder. Mark parks his trailer and manages to wedge it into a very tight spot. The yard manager sees Mark park his trailer and is so impressed he offers Mark a job as shunt driver to replace the driver who’d recently been killed in the yard.

Mark gets checked out on the controls of the Ottawa shunt truck he’ll be driving and gets some instruction from another of the shunt drivers in the yard. With time, he gets the hang of the job and begins to enjoy the work. At break time, he buys a coffee and sandwich from the catering truck that visits the yard and the coffee man on the truck tells him a bit about the shunt driver, who Mark now thinks was murdered.

A driver approaches Mark and talks to him about the dead shunt driver, hinting that the man stupid and was killed when he threatened to go to the police to reveal the illegal shipments going through the yard. Mark sees an opportunity and says he’ll play ball, especially for the $25,000 promised to him for hiding trailers in the yard. Then at the end of his shift, he finds a missing trailer loaded with drugs and comes up with a plan…

Mark closed the barn doors of the trailer and placed another seal on the lock. He fished around in his pants pocket for the card the man had given him, then pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number. It rang just once before someone answered.

“Yeah.”

“This is Dirk Malton, the new shunt driver.”

“Oh yeah.”

“I found the trailer you were asking about.”

“That’s great, when can I pick it up?”

Not so fast, Mark thought. Either this guy had a short memory or there truly was no honour amongst thieves. “You mentioned money before.”

“Did I?” “You did.”

“How much you have in mind?”

Mark didn’t know what to say. He wanted it to be large enough to make the risk he was taking worthwhile, but he didn’t want it to be so low that they would have easily given him more if he’d only asked. He decided to try and sell himself as a good investment. “Before I tell you, I just want to mention that this isn’t a one-time deal, right? You bring me more trailers and I’ll be able to keep’em for you on an ongoing basis.”

“So what are you saying?” “There’s a value to that, right?” “You want in bad, eh?”

“Well, this is a chance of a lifetime,” Mark said.

“What is it with you? You need the money for drugs, gambling, or women?”

Mark did his best to giggle like a schoolboy. “A bit of all three.”

“Okay. You want in deep, you’ll get deep in time.”

“Then, how ’bout $25,000 to start.”

He could hear the man groan on the other end of the line, but Mark knew there were millions at stake.

“To start what?” the man replied. “A new bank?”

“I’ve got your trailer and I’m taking a risk.”

“Alright, alright,” he said. “I’ll be there in an hour. Have the trailer ready for me.”

“Will do.”

An hour was just enough time for Mark to make a few phone calls. He scrolled down his contact list and found the number he was looking for.

An hour later the man Mark had been speaking to on the phone pulled into the yard in his brand new Freightliner. Mark had the trailer he wanted hooked up to his Ottawa and wouldn’t be letting go of it until he had the money in hand. They met in the main roadway between trailers in the middle of the yard.

“That the trailer?” the man asked. “You got the money?” The man nodded.

“That’s the trailer,” Mark said.

The man pulled a bulging envelope from an inside jacket pocket. As he handed it over to Mark, Mark gave him a larger envelope stuffed with paperwork for the load.

“The paperwork’s immaculate,” Mark said. “It’ll get you anywhere you want to go.”

The man opened the envelope and started filing through the papers. “Nice,” he said. “You do good work.”

Mark hefted the envelope in his hand. “I know I asked for a lot, but I’m worth it.”

“Aren’t you going to count it?”

Mark opened the envelope enough to see that it was filled with $50 and $100 bills, and not cut paper. “I trust you. Besides, in order for this thing to work out, we have to trust each other, right?”

The man smiled. “I think this is going to work out just fine.”

“Oh, I know it is,” Mark said, waving good-bye and heading back to his yard mule. When he got to the truck, he clim
bed up into the cab and dropped the trailer where it was. Then he hurried off around the far end of the warehouse to where Mother Load was parked idling.

In less than 20 seconds, he had parked the Ottawa and was bobtailing out of the yard in Mother Load. When he passed through the gates, he tooted once on the truck’s air horn and the roadway and area around the gate was suddenly lit up with the red and blue flashing lights of a half-dozen police cars.

A couple of hours later Mark was sitting across the table from a detective in the interview room of the nearby RCMP detachment.

“So, when Billy said he didn’t want to be a part of their crime ring anymore and wanted out, they threatened him. And when he said he would go to the police, they murdered him.”

“And you just happened by?” the detective asked.

“Right place at the right time,” Mark shrugged. “You’d be amazed how often that’s happened to me.”

“We appreciate your help, but there’s a small matter of the money this guy gave to you as part of your arrangement.”

“Right, the money.”

“He’s saying it was $25,000.”

Mark laughed.

“Twenty-five grand? If he was giving me that much, I wouldn’t be here talking to you. I’d be hiding trailers for him right now.”

The detective nodded. “We thought so. This guy’s a small-timer with a big imagination. He’s boasting about a lot of things, not just what he paid you.” A pause. “So, how much was it?”

“Five-thousand,” Mark said, taking the envelope from his pocket. “It’s all there. I didn’t touch any of it.”

The detective began counting the money. “We’re going to have to seize this as evidence, and as proceeds obtained by crime you won’t be getting it back.”

“Not a problem,” Mark said. “I’m just happy to help out.”

“And you did. It looks as if this guy is interested in pleading and giving us the names of the people he worked for. With any luck you won’t have to testify.”

“Great,” Mark said. “That’s the way I like it.”

A block from the police station, Mark was on the phone with Bud.

“Hello?”

“Bud, this is Mark.” “Mark who?”

“I don’t have time for games right now, Bud. I need a load right away… one that takes me as far away from here as possible.”

“How does California sound?” “I’m there, dude,” Mark replied.

Bud gave Mark the details and said he could pick up the load in a couple of hours. The delay suited Mark just fine since he had to make a stop before picking up the load anyway.

The house was a modest starter home in Burnaby. When he drove Mother Load up the quiet residential street, people who were out watering their lawns or washing their cars all stopped and stared. But Mark didn’t care who saw him or even if they called the police on him for bringing a heavy truck into their neighbourhood. There was something that needed to be done, and the sooner the better.

When he’d found the right house number, Mark pulled to a stop at the curb and left Mother Load running. He climbed down from the truck and started up the driveway. As he approached the front door, he saw some kids’ toys lying in the yard and a bicycle leaning up against the side of the garage.

He rang the doorbell.

After a short delay, the door opened and a young woman stood in the doorway. She was obviously expecting, looking quite haggard and in need of sleep. There were people sitting at the kitchen table, most likely her parents, and a boy stood in the hallway half hiding behind his mother so the stranger at the door couldn’t see him.

“Hi there,” Mark said. “Are you Billy’s wife?”

“Widow,” she said. “Are you a friend of his?”

Mark tried to smile. “You could say that.” He reached into his jacket and pulled out the envelope. “This is for you,” he said.

“What is it?”

“It belonged to your husband,” Mark said. “I’m sure he would have wanted you to have it.”

And before she could say another word, he’d turned and was heading back down the driveway toward the waiting Mother Load. Less than an hour later, Mark was on his way to California for a long, long haul.

-Mark Dalton returns next month


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