The story so far...Out of the blue, Mark gets a call from his ex-wife Jenny, who he left years ago when, while working as a private investigator, he videotaped her in a motel room sleeping with anothe...
Out of the blue, Mark gets a call from his ex-wife Jenny, who he left years ago when, while working as a private investigator, he videotaped her in a motel room sleeping with another woman. She wants to get back together again and seems to be sincere about it. Against his better judgement, Mark agrees to pick her up the next day and give reconciliation a try.
Although the night together was great, it doesn’t improve their relationship the next day. Mark is irritated by everything Jenny does and he realizes there’s no way he could ever be together with Jenny again…
Mark picked up the pieces of Jenny’s credit card and stacked them one on top of the other.
“Do you have another card?”
“Huh,” Mark said, looking up from the tiny pieces of plastic in his hand. “Oh, no, but I have some cash in my truck.”
He slipped the pieces of credit card into his pocket and headed back to Mother Load. He kept a few hundred dollars in cash on hand for just such emergencies. As he sat in the truck counting out bills, Mark noticed Jenny’s cell phone sticking out of her open purse. After putting away the cash he didn’t need, Mark picked up her phone and dialed her number. When the answering machine kicked in, he punched in the code that accessed her messages.
The first message was a woman’s voice. A very angry woman’s voice. “You sleep with my husband again, hell, if you even so much as talk to him again, I’ll make you wish you’d never met the son-of-a-bitch!”
A female voice again, this one different from the first. “I found this phone number in my husband’s pants. He says it’s the number for his accountant, is that true?”
A man’s voice. “This is CFR Collections, our records show you’re three month’s overdue on your last payment. If you want your card activated, you must make a payment within three days…”
Another female voice. “This is TD Visa calling. I’m looking for Jenny Dalton. Your account has been suspended with us and we are now in the process of seeking garnishment of your wages.”
Man’s voice. “Hello, Jenny McDonald…”
And on and on and on it went, message after message of credit companies and disgruntled women, wanting either money or their husbands. The first woman seemed to be the most aggressive, hinting that she would kill Jenny if she ever saw her, but not really coming right out and saying so.
Obviously Jenny was taking the threat seriously.
And suddenly, it all made sense.
Jenny had called him up to get back together with him, sure, but more important was that he represented a quick ride out of town and a place to live for a few days or weeks while things on the home front cooled off. And, if they got back together again, her debts would become his – morally, if not legally – and he’d be on the hook for several thousand, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars.
Mark felt a chill run down the length of his spine.
This was more like the Jenny he knew. She was using him as an escape from her troubles, and a solution to her lifetime of financial mismanagement.
And he’d actually thought she’d wanted him back for love. Obviously, she wasn’t running back to him, but running away from the mess she’d made of her life. And she wasn’t looking for him to take her back, she was looking for him to come to her rescue. Well, he might have done that in the past, but not now, not anymore. It had taken him a while to get the message, but he’d learned it the hard way. Jenny was no good for him, no matter what she said or did, she would always bring him down. She’d used him before, now she was doing it again… only this time it would be the last.
Mark exited the truck and paid for the fuel, the seed of a plan already germinating in the back of his mind.
Mark knocked on the door of the motel room about a half-hour later. Jenny opened the door, dressed in a barely-there nightgown that did little to cover up her admittedly gorgeous body.
“What took you so long?” she said, all soft and sultry.
“Uh, I needed a lot of gas.”
“You’ve got a full tank, huh?”
“Then you can go all night.”
Mark doubted that very much, but he was willing to give it a try. Sure, he felt bad about spending the night with Jenny knowing they had absolutely no chance of getting back together, but he assuaged his reservations with the knowledge that he was using her for one thing while she was trying to use him on a number of different levels. The sex was great, as usual. Mark slept like a baby until six. Then he rolled out of bed, quietly packed up his things and left the room.
Jenny was snoring faintly as he closed the door behind him. He considered leaving her there outside of Winnipeg with nothing more than her credit cards and her luggage and letting her find her own way home. He also thought about leaving here there stranded, and contacting the woman on the answering machine – the one than wanted Jenny dead – and letting the woman know where to find her. In the end however, he didn’t have the heart to do any of those things to her.
He had something better in mind.
So he paid for the hotel room, which was the least he could do, and brought all of her luggage in from the truck and left it with the clerk at the front desk.
When he was sure Jenny and her belongings were safe, he hopped into Mother Load and headed west toward Winnipeg. The load didn’t have to be at the warehouse until late in the afternoon, so Mark had all the time he needed to find just what he was looking for.
Just outside Winnipeg Mark found a greasy spoon that suited his purposes. It was the kind of place truckers loved, with good food, smiling waitresses, and an informality that suited people who had been on the road for days. It was also full of people having breakfasts that suggested news about the dangers of cholesterol hadn’t made it this far up the nation’s highways. Plates were brimming with bacon, sausages, eggs and even more bacon and sausages. This was exactly the sort of place Mark would find the driver he needed to carry out his plan.
And there he was, sitting at a table in the corner, alone, a morning paper in his left hand and a forkful of sausage in his right.
Mark made his way over to the man and saw he was wearing a pair of tar-stained jeans. Perfect. His red t-shirt was stretched out across his gut, unable to cover the distance to the top of his pants, and leaving a big fleshy grin between the two pieces of clothing. The button on the jeans seemed at the bursting point and the pants themselves were held in place by a pair of baby blue suspenders. The front of the t-shirt was spotted with fresh grease stains and a couple of splotches of something that might have been last night’s pizza. Excellent.
“Mind if I sit down?” Mark asked.
The man looked around, obviously wondering why Mark had chosen to sit at his table, when there were still plenty of empty ones.
“If you want.”
Now sitting across from the man, Mark realized he also had a bowl of chili waiting its turn to be eaten. Mark had learned years ago that chili was a food that was best avoided when on the road in the confines of a truck cab… especially if you were riding with someone else.
Mark just looked at the steaming bowl of chili, and smiled.
“I’m Mark Dalton,” he said, shaking the man’s rough and dirty hand.
“Name’s Mick,” he said. “Like the truck, but with an ‘I’.” Mick smiled at that and Mark saw that he had only three teeth inside his head.
Perfect. Mark couldn’t have found a better man if he’d put out a Hollywood casting call.
“Well, Mick… I’ve got a little proposition for you.”
“Hey, I’m not that kind of guy,” he said, getting up to leave.
Mark put an hand on the man’s arm. “No, nothing like that Mick. In fact, it’s a money deal, but just about opposite to what you’re thinking.”
“Oh, yeah. What’s in it for me?”
“A hundred.” Mark said.
“Two hundred,” Mick replied.
Mark sighed. It was more than he wanted to pay, but it would probably be worth every penny, maybe even be a bargain by the time all was said and done. “Deal.”
Jenny stood a
t the front desk, her head swiveling around on her neck in search of Mark.
“The room is already paid for, ma’am,” said the clerk.
“But there is a room service charge, and a charge for four phone calls this morning totaling fifty-seven thirty-three.”
“You said the room is paid.”
“The room is, yes.”
“Where’s my husband?”
The clerk’s face was a mask of confusion, and then it suddenly brightened with realization. “Ah, he left you this.”
He handed Jenny a letter.
Learned a bit more about you than you wanted last night. Bad credit and some crazy lady wants to kill you. That’s sounds like something that might happen to me. Anyway, look to your right. See the big man there looking like a fish out of water. He has money to pay the rest of your bill and I’ve paid him to give you a ride back to Toronto.
She looked around and spotted the big dirty man standing by the front door. He waved back at her.
If you refuse to ride with him, he’ll gladly take my money and drive to Toronto without you. I suggest you ride with him. He could use the company, and the road he’ll be driving back to the city is straight and narrow, and that’s the kind of road I think you really need to be on, before we ever think about getting back together again.
All the best, Mark.
Jenny closed her eyes and let out a scream. When she opened her eyes, Mick was smiling at her with all three of his teeth. He had two of her luggage cases in his hands, with the third stuffed up under his right arm.