THE STORY SO FARMark is awakened by a mechanic working on a truck in a yard where Mark has parked overnight. He talks to the mechanic but the man is not too friendly. In the morning Mark learns the mechanic wasn't fixing the starter motor, but...
THE STORY SO FAR Mark is awakened by a mechanic working on a truck in a yard where Mark has parked overnight. He talks to the mechanic but the man is not too friendly. In the morning Mark learns the mechanic wasn’t fixing the starter motor, but stealing it…
Mark leaned back against the grille of Mother Load as the police officer investigating the parts theft asked him a bunch of questions.
“So what did the guy look like?”
Mark thought about it, but couldn’t really recall. “Hard to say. It was dark and he had his back to me most of the time. And when he did turn around to face me his face was covered with grease.”
“So you didn’t get a good look?”
“No,” Mark said, feeling like he’d let the cop – and the owner of the Western Star – down. “But he did have a name on his coveralls.”
“Oh yeah, what was it?” The officer put his pen against his notebook in preparation for the name.
The officer’s hands went to his sides. “His name was Joe?”
“That’s what the patch said.”
“Uh huh.” He paused for a moment. “Let’s talk about the truck.”
“Right, it was black, sort of a matte finish, like it had a quick coat of flat black primer on it.”
“That’s something at least. You get a licence plate number?”
Mark slowly shook his head. “I never thought to check it.”
“Did it ever occur to you that this guy might be stealing something off the truck and not repairing it?”
The cop’s tone was condescending and Mark didn’t like it one bit. “Why would I think that? I’ve been driving for years and every mechanic I’ve ever seen is covered in dirt and grease, is wearing someone’s old clothes, and drives a beat-up old van like that. I’m telling you, there was nothing special about this guy.”
The officer sighed. “I suppose you’re right, but there’ve been a string of these thefts in the area and we haven’t been able to get much on the people doing it. It’s frustrating to have an eye witness who can’t help us.”
Mark conceded that point, wondering how he could have been so easily fooled by the mechanic. Just the way the man had talked to him should have tipped him off, but so much of it made sense. After all, who else but a guy who didn’t like dealing with people would be working on trucks at midnight? “I guess I’ll keep an eye out for these guys in the future.”
“We’d appreciate that,” the officer said, handing Mark his card. “And tell all your trucker friends. The more people we have looking for these guys the better.”
A few nights later Mark was parked overnight in a large yard in Vaughan, Ontario that served the container traffic coming and going through the nearby rail yard. As he slept, he found himself dreaming about Angelina Jolie and how she had come to his hotel room for a drink, but had sat down on the edge of the bed as if she had intentions of spending the night.
“Making yourself comfortable, I see…” he said.
She answered him, but Mark couldn’t quite make out the words. That’s because there were people out in the hallway, talking loudly and making plenty of noise.
“Excuse me,” he said, intending on asking the people on the other side of the door to shut up because he had Angelina Jolie in his hotel room, but at some point before he reached the door his eyes fluttered open and he found himself not in a hotel room with a hollywood icon, but inside Mother Load in a truck yard in Vaughan.
And the voices? There were people outside, working on a truck. Mark checked his watch. It was two in the morning. This can’t be on the level, he thought, and decided to check it out.
This time Mark brought his flashlight with him, intent on seeing the mechanic’s face and making sure another trucker wasn’t getting ripped off.
“Evening,” he said as he approached.
“How you doin’?” came the friendly response from behind the cowling. He was working on a Freightliner and the engine cowl had been pulled up to expose the engine compartment. Just past the truck was a dark minivan with its back hatch open.
“Well, I was asleep,” Mark said, making note of the minivan’s licence plate number. “But something woke me up.”
“Sorry about that,” said the voice. “They don’t give you a lot of space to work.”
Mark peered around the corner of the truck and saw the mechanic installing a part onto the engine. When the man noticed Mark standing there, he stopped what he was doing and looked Mark in the eye. “I should be done in a minute… let you get back to sleep.”
Mark noted the man wasn’t hiding his face. “Hey, that’s a big flashlight,” he said. “Maybe you could shine it over here for me?”
The fact that the man was asking for Mark’s help, getting him involved, told Mark that this repair was probably on the level. He switched on the flashlight and shone it on the engine, allowing the mechanic to easily tighten the bolts he was working on. A moment later there was a voice behind them. “Are you done yet?”
“Just finishing up,” the mechanic said.
Mark held the flashlight in place, but turned around to see who had joined them. There were two men standing there, one an older man in his late fifties, early sixties, and a younger one, twenty-something and wearing a jacket that had the word
“Security” emblazoned on it in several places.
“This is my truck,” the older man said, probably noticing the inquisitive look on Mark’s face. “I need it first thing in the morning.”
“Not to worry, I’m done,” the mechanic said, pulling himself out of the engine compartment.
Mark switched off the light. Obviously this was a legitimate repair. The driver was there and so was the security guard for the truck yard. “I’m going back to bed,” he said. “Good night.” He turned to the driver. “Good luck in the morning.” “Thanks,” the driver said.
Mark awoke to the sound of more voices outside his truck. Without getting out from under the covers, he peered out the windshield… “What the hell!”
Several York Regional police cars were parked around the truck that had been serviced the night before. Minutes later Mark was changed and out of his truck desperate to find out what had happened. One of the officers saw Mark approaching and said, “Were you here through the night, sir?”
“Yeah,” Mark said.
“Did you see anything?”
“I talked to the mechanic who fixed the truck. I even talked to the driver. He was supposed to be gone at six. Did something happen to him?”
The officer shook his head. “The owner couldn’t get his truck started this morning. When he looked under the hood he noticed about six pieces missing from the engine.”
“No,” Mark shook his head. “He was installing something. I held a light for him while he bolted the part on.”
“Which side were you on?”
“Driver’s side,” Mark said.
“Take a look on the other side.”
Mark walked around to the passenger side and gasped. Everything on that side of the engine that could be removed was gone.
Mark thumped his fist against the truck. “I was sure they were legit,” he said. “I talked to the mechanic, the owner, even the security guard for the yard was here…”
The officer laughed under his breath. “This yard doesn’t have a security guard.”
– Mark Dalton returns next month in Part 3 of Till Theft Do Us Part.