Only a few times of the year does it occur, but when the phone rings, vibrates it is a call from a dealer.
Are you up for a mission he asks? You’ve been through the steps, know the drill. Can be trusted with a knapsack of large bills, plenty of cash. As you leave town from a Maine truck stop.
Climbing up into the shot gun seat of a large, shiny 18 wheel semi cab over trailer truck. Turn up the Travis Tritt, Hank Williams Jr, Judds and Clint Black please. As the chorus of “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” gets tuned down low to talk.
After just finishing an Alan Jackson song before that crooning “It’s okay to be itty bitty”.
That’s a big 10-4 good buddy. Where you heading the driver asks? Glad to have someone to make conversation with besides whoever usually gets dialed up on the head set. To ease the monotony of reflectorized Interstate 95 highway road markers. To pass the time as white line fever runs its course. The miles recorded with a ruler and counting on fingers to keep the log book current, legal.
You travel light, just barely dressed for the season.
Hanging on tightly to the $15,000 that is filled to the brim. Stashed with cash, no clothing items in the slightly worn dark green LL Bean knapsack. Except a neon yellow brush, small tooth paste tube and push up stick of red original Old Spice deodorant. The knapsack the one tool item that will never wear out, comes with a life time warranty to be replaced for free. No matter what. Even if it was abused, ridden hard and put away wet so to speak. Nothing the manufacturer could have protected the user from out in the willy wags of Maine. But stood behind with a rock solid promise to each and every customer anyway. Neat.
You end up in upper state New York. Smelling of diesel. Pine tree hanging air freshener. The driver shakes your hand, watches you climb down out of the air conditioned cab. Going out into the night. Blending into the shadows. Wished good luck. Ten hours later, give or take a few minutes after linking up with the road jockey sitting on an air ride seat. His own chain drive wallet filled with cash for tight places too. For the long ride out and back to Northern Maine. The top of the world.
You made a series of cell phone calls as you got closer to the pick up destination target.
Text messages pinged back and forth between your contact. Who does not want to meet you at the truck stop with the goods as you suggest. He clearly, efficiently instructs you to meet him in a dark, off the beaten path place. With only a lonely pay phone, park bench. You doze, nod off waiting. Slumped on the only available hard maple seating to be found in these desolate parts. As you wait, text, call, check where Mickey’s big and little had are now. But nothing. No show from Billy Bob or whatever he said his name was. Just not happening as you grow worried, concerned.
Until dawn when a truck pulling a trailer with a loud motor. Combined with the sound of loose, flying disturbed gravel jars you awake. Out of the trance where the sand man put you. Mixed with road fatigue, anxiety all taking its toll. Droggy, a long way from home. And the man you had never set eyes on before, nor will ever again is in one major hurry. Nervous, kurt, okay rude. Barking “Got the money?” and not explaining where he has been for the last eight hours. While you were stood up, cut off and a tad edgy about the knapsack contents to worry about losing. Keeping it intact, used for it’s one and only purpose is pretty much all you have thought about since leaving the nice clean bed. The picket fence and attractive home with attached garage. Where the prettier feminine half of the partnership equation awaits your return. Safe and sound. In one piece and alive. Hopefully.
To pick up a vehicle found online by the car dealer back in Maine.
What did you think we were leading up to? (Smile). Bought off Ebay this time, not Craig’s List. Not an online rental car depot auction. After careful study of the eighty images of the good, bad and yes ugly. Scanning the car fax, running the VIN and generating a few phone calls, a couple emails. Then setting up the details of the meeting rendezvous.
With answers to initial vehicle queries going smoothly. No bumps in the road. And it’s why you got the call. To see if you were up for another adventure, a little road trip. As an Army of one. Hitching a ride to the drop off point.
To bring it in, after the drop of cash released. Getting the keys to fire her up in the exchange. Backed off the trailer behind the pickup with the lift kit, big mudder tires. Sliding across the leather driver’s seat, behind the wheel of the car chased down like Dog the bounty hunter. Without the video cameras, bright lights, boom mic, trench coat and long blond hair dye job. The new to you wheels destined for a dealership parking lot back in Maine. But not staying there for long. Because after a good cleaning, some Texas sunshine being applied with a razzle dazzle of polishes, detailing to make it the prettiest belle of the ball, she’s going to her forever home. Already has a buyer looking for just this kind of ride. In this price range, color and build list of options.
The last retrieval done a few months back in the heart of Manhattan armed with a larger stack of big bill currency.
Reeling in something more exotic. A Porsche. The setting more to your liking. Out in the open and in familiar surroundings because you had spent time there as a young buck. Most of the neighborhoods feel deja vu familiar. Carrying cash because your checks are not the legal tender that will cut it. To get a set of keys and then bounce. To high tail it home. With just enough money to pay the highway tolls. Plastic to swipe for the reinbursed gas fill ups. A bite, snacks to eat along the way.
Maine, a little ways up the pike, but worth the extra two coffees, one bathroom break to get to Vacationland. If it was an easy hike, everyone would be doing it all the time. And something would be lost in the place still unfiltered, natural, unspoiled by man. Unplug, recharge in Maine. Are we there yet?