The Pick-up

Jerry sat in the car parked outside the warehouse, engine idling, struggling to keep his eyes open. He was sure he fell asleep at some point each night but, he could barely tell. He would be laying in bed  each evening in, his alarm  sounded and it was morning again. The time between just gone, blank, devoid of either rest or dreams. What he really found draining right now, however, was how monumentally boring the waiting was. He began to think the reason why Maslow’s guys all smoked was just to pass the time.

He reached down to the console for his coffee, the cup now half empty and cold. This was supposed to be a simple pick up. Something in a shipment, something hidden from customs, was delivered to the warehouse. Jerry didn’t know what it was but it had to be small enough for Victor and Joseph to carry it out themselves. Drugs, jewels, art, the people who dealt with Maslow had diverse tastes. Somewhere, high up, Jacob would be looking at the car, just in case something went wrong. In case Jerry couldn’t be trusted. He was fairly certain there was a rifle involved. It didn’t worry him, just more of Peter’s over zealousness when it came to planing. Betrayal wasn’t part of his job at the moment.

The more he thought about it the less sure what is job actually was in all this. He began to wonder what was taking the other two so long. This thing should be pretty straight forward. The warehouse was friendly. Peter said he got the call confirming the package was delivered earlier today. What if someone else had gotten turned? Working for someone else? One of the warehouse employees, one of Maslow’s people?

Suddenly Jerry could feel the cross hairs weighing on him. He wanted to throw the car in gear and take off. He knew that was the worst decision. If he wanted to get through this he had to ride it out. He just had to wait. He breathed out slowly.

Glancing into the rear view he saw the door to the warehouse open. Joseph stepped out and walked to the rear passenger side door of the sedan. He just stood there. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at Jerry he just watched the door he had just come out of.

A long minute later Victor emerged. He held the door for an older woman in a business suit and dark green sunglasses; hair graying probably in her fifties. Victor took her arm as the door closed behind them. They walked towards the car. Every step she took seemed thought out, purposeful.

Joseph opened the door of the car and the woman entered the vehicle. Victor stepped around to the other side and got in. Joseph closed the door behind the woman then stepped into the front passenger side. They sat for a moment in silence.

The others began to have a quick paced conversation in Russian. Jerry struggled to understand at the speed they talked. He was able to figure out they were discussing his credentials. He just stared forward and pretended not to listen.

“Your name is Jerry?” the woman asked with a slight accent.

“That’s right ma’am.” Jerry looked at her in the mirror, his gaze reflected in her sunglasses. His head began to ache slightly.

“Do you know who I am?”

“No ma’am.” The dull ache in his head seemed sharper now, almost piercing.

“I am Liliya. They,” she waved her hand around the car indicating the two other men, “they call me Baba. For you, ma’am will do for now.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Good, you will take me to see my nephew Peter now.”

She turned her head away from him. He felt the pain begin to ease.

Jerry put the car in drive, and headed back to the office.

This scene is 14th in a story currently known as “The Untitled Thing”. The rest of the series is indexed here

Spending Too Much Time Driving.

Much as I predicted the month of December has done a bang up job of keeping me off my bike. I know I’ve mentioned that driving is a high stress activity for me. My distaste for driving is one of the few things I feel truly passionate about. Between running around for the holiday errands, playing the part of family chauffeur, and being ill (again!) this month has all been a bust for me getting any serious miles in. I have been assured that the holiday season is highly disruptive to most people’s schedules; that’s what I always wanted to be lumped in with “most people”. At any rate the amount of time I have been spending driving all over town has made me an angry and nervous wreck.

The other day my wife and I left the house early to do just a little bit of last-minute shopping for Christmas. It had been a long stretch of work and it seemed like I’d been getting less and less sleep, as I was getting home later than normal only to have to get up a few hours later to get our daughter ready for school; my mornings had been filled with a combination of yard work and errand running. I have been wearily trudging along, my sights set on December twenty-fifth because after that I might be able to sleep in for a couple of days. It was an unusually chilly morning, at least for Florida, so the I had the heater on, mostly just to defog the windows. I don’t normally listen to the radio while I drive but, my wife likes to listen to NPR in the mornings. She was discussing with me our itinerary of stores that we were going to be checking for the gifts we had left to buy. It was shaping up to be yet another in a series of all day driving events.

The extended lack of sleep, the practiced rhythmic drone of the radio announcer, and the comforting warmth of the trucks heater was making me drowsy and I began to get distracted. I apparently had not heard my wife tell me something so she touched my arm and called my name. I glanced at her for a just a second and then I heard her suck a breath quickly through her teeth. I knew before my head whipped around what happened. I didn’t see the light had turned red.

I slammed the brakes but it was too late. The truck slowed, but not enough to stop me from running into the little coupe stopped in front of me. I couldn’t believe the physics involved as the impact forced the other car into the traffic of the intersection where it got hit on the passenger side by another that was turning left; the two cars spun around and then apart in a shower of metal and glass. In less than a few seconds other drivers, unable to react in time careened into the wreckage; car after car piled into the intersection, in a seeming endless stream.

This is the point that I woke up in my bed, again. Just like I had the time before, and the one before that. The scene continued to play out in the predawn morning over and over again. Each time I awoke I had to spend several minutes adjusting to the fact that none of it had actually happened.

I’ve been driving too much. Far, far too much. Hopefully tomorrow I will wake up and find out that the errands have been finally finished and I can get back on the bike. I have to get back to riding soon or I’m gonna loose my god damned mind. In the meantime I can take some solace that I have not, in fact, caused some god awful traffic accident that quite possibly killed and/ or maimed several people.