Ten-thirty PM and Rick was tired as he rolled into the gaudy and glaring service centre. Roads here in Indiana were very well kept and the “bears” didn’t seem to make a nuisance of themselves. Cruisers in these parts usually meant help and not harassment. Couldn’t say the same for the Home State.
Left her idling and stepped down for the prudent walk-about. Some funny noises from the back left had him a little concerned.
Concerned! That was an under-statement these days. A blizzard and a white-out had put him in the ditch up in Wisconsin six weeks ago. Insurance adjustment on the damage proved a real battle of second-guessing and pencil-sharpening. That didn’t mean that the payments had stopped; that the Boss or Dispatcher had shown any significant compassion or patience. And Rachel was showing the signs of stress while trying valiantly to bring in some sunshine.
He would have to phone her inside before taking some dinner. Wedding anniversary was only 3 days away. He just had to be home. There was one more leg and shipment on the inbound. Hopefully no complications or last minute changes. Last year he had been deep in the South picking up a load of fruit and had missed their day.
Now circuiting the truck with tire iron and checking inflation. He didn’t realize that he had picked the darkest corner of the lot. Probably just tended away from the glare.
Suddenly a tap on the shoulder from behind, and unexpected words “Hi Fella”. He whirled around and almost unintentionally swung out with his piece of steel. But NO…it was just a young girl in a short red skirt with a questionable smile on her face.
The smile got larger and she pointed over to three vans to the rear and right of his trailer about ninety feet. Two had doors closed but interior lights on. The third was dark. She pointed over with her thumb to that third one and muttered “Wanna play?”
Rick just stood there mute with a sense of the muscles in his face tightening and a lump in his throat. It seemed that he was thinking much too long about this. “Things have been rough Buddy. Who would know?”
And then one of the 2 occupied vans opened and a big man stumbled out giggling in a way that would certainly embarrass him in a fitter frame of mind.
Rick finally spoke. “No little girl…too much of the good back at home. But then I don’t suppose you know much about home. I’m sorry for that. Do you know that I just about clocked you with this piece of steel?”