Perishable goods: Former driver finds himself on highway to hell
It was that woman’s fault. That damn woman. Every time he thought about her, his blood boiled. What he wouldn’t give to see her just one more time, preferably pinned under the wheels of a truck. Visions of her squirming beneath 18 wheels gave him more reason to smile than he’d had in days.
The grin faded as soon as he picked up his mail. Eviction notice, overdue power bill, collection letters and one small unidentified envelope with the address carefully handwritten in old fashioned script. Momentarily forgetting the harlot from hell, he chucked the bills and opened the weird little letter.
It has come to our attention that you are currently seeking employment as a driver. We have loads available, and are paying a premium rate for professionals interested in a unique opportunity to haul for one of the world’s largest brokers. We are aware of your past troubles and would like to offer a second chance for you to be successful. Your truck will be waiting and ready, should you decide to accept our offer. Please be aware that, as time is of the essence, a prompt response is necessary.
L. Ruefic, Owner
Perishable Goods, Inc.
18 Shade Street
Lonnie had never heard of Perishable Goods, and he didn’t give a damn. A second chance was all he needed to climb back on top. He quickly packed his bag with everything he intended to keep and left the rest for the apartment complex handy man to sort through. Screw it. He’d be evicted before his first paycheck, and as long as he had a truck waiting, he had a home.
Helena was easy enough to find, but Shade Street was another story. He circled the tiny town until his old pick-up ran out of gas. Every place he stopped to ask directions was closed or abandoned, homes and businesses shuttered and left for the ghosts that seemed to inhabit them. The only sign of life was a big black dog that seemed to appear out of nowhere. He wasn’t crazy about dogs, but this one looked pretty friendly, and for some strange Lonnie reason had the urge to follow it wherever it was going.
He lost sight of the dog about the same time he saw the sign for Shade Street. Parked in front of a building bearing the Perishable Goods sign was the most beautiful red Kenworth W-900L he had ever seen. The brand-new Duraplate trailer was sparkling like a holiday. Chromed and twinkle-lighted to the hilt, Lonnie knew immediately this was the truck they had waiting for him.
Lonnie had been so wrapped up in worshiping the truck he didn’t notice anyone walking up behind him.
“Holy moley, ya’ nearly scared me to death!”
“I apologize for startling you. She’s a beauty, isn’t she?”
“You bet. I’ve wanted to drive one of these babies since the first time I saw one.”
“Is that so? Well then it just so happens today is your lucky day because you will indeed be driving this truck, should you accept my offer.”
“Consider the offer accepted.”
“Are you not curious as to the details of our arrangement?”
“Hey man, as long as you’re paying mileage and I’m driving this truck, I accept.”
“Excellent. Let’s board, shall we?”
“I’ll be riding with you on your first venture out. We’ll call it a training session.”
“You ridin’ shotgun?”
“To use your own words, Mr. Carthage, you bet. I like bets. For all intents and purposes, I am a purveyor of bets.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what that means, but whatever. Let’s roll.”
The smell of brand new leather seats was like perfume to Lonnie’s nose. He’d never driven a truck this nice. He spent the first few minutes stroking the dash and familiarizing himself with the gauges and knobs. He was in trucker heaven.
“Hey, there’s no Qualcomm. We running paper logs?”
“There’s no need for gadgetry, Mr. Carthage. I find ink and paper quite sufficient to cover our work.”