At ninety miles an hour, I was glad the wind was deflected over my helmeted head. Trips on the bike were my favorite brand of relaxation. I hadn't worked in about a month, but I wasn't concerned. Something always came up.
I had my Yamaha wound up on I10 coming east out of El Paso when the call came. The only phone I linked to my helmet was the little black work phone. After every job I had the number changed, only one guy ever had the number. I didn't even know his name, not his real name anyway.
"Talk to me," I said, pressing the little button on the handle bar with my left hand, as my right hand cranked the throttle on my bike. The sleek black motorcycle dug further into the highway and shot down the asphalt. Anticipation of work had me twitching a bit.
"Box forty three Tuesday." The line went dead after that.
At the next opportunity, I reversed direction, and wound my motorcycle back up. Headed home with a smile, life was good. I had a fast bike, a nice house, and an amazing job.
I got back to San Diego Sunday night, and slid the bike into the third garage stall, my toy stall. At the time it was the only toy, but I planned on more. The two stalls for the main garage, house my work truck, and my 'everyday' car.
My everyday car isn't anything to write home about. Just a normal Dodge Charger, I didn't even spring for the V8. Cloth seats, standard radio, and plain silver paint. That car serves its purpose, mainly keeping me dry when I'm not working, and the weather doesn't like the bike. In San Diego though the weather is usually hospitable, the Charger is three years old and has maybe eight thousand miles.
The work truck is much more special, it also fits my neighbor hood better. I went with a Cadillac Escalade ESV. Big black and sexy, I keep it standard. No need for big obnoxious wheels to be grabbing attention. My Escalade it bone stock.
When I got the garage buttoned up, I popped the back door on the truck, and made sure everything was clean and ready. My pen is just how I left it, spotless and ready. It's made to fit directly under the apron Cadillac uses to cover your store bought goods and discourage thievery.
That truck and I have a history. My work is illicit to say the least. Very little of what I do is remotely legal. Of course it's amazing how as long as I don't get caught red-handed, and I file my taxes like a good boy, no one every cares how I earn my dollars.
I fell into this line of work after a brief run in prison. Seventeen and stupid, I kept my sixteen year old girlfriend out for three days straight, and her father freaked out and called the police on us. He never even noticed when I slipped her back into the house.
She'd said that she would throw a huge fit, and blame it all on him. Funny how things that make sense when you're seventeen seem ludicrous when ten more years is added to your age. The girl caved, the police locked me up for a weekend, and I met Dave Ralston.
Thinking I was eighteen, the corrections officers threw me into the adult holding tank, and there was Dave. Normal looking guy, Southern California accent, maybe five foot ten, shorter than me. He asked me what I'd done, and I told him. Unlike the officers he guessed that I was a minor, and said if I could be sneaky like that, he might have a job I'd like.
At the back of my garage, is a large shelving unit, pretty typical stuff, except for the contents of my large black duffle. Working like I was about to be, I keep it in the truck. Right on the back seat is where it rides. Next to the other black duffle that I keep my clothes in that's all that goes in the Escalade for work.
Once the truck is ready to work, I go about unloading my bike, taking a shower to get five days worth of road grime off of me, and finding some food. I always cook when I'm home. Something about cooking suits me. Maybe it's a distraction from my work stress like the bike, maybe it's just that I eat a lot of crap when I'm no the road.
As a result, my kitchen is the focal point of my home, which is good because the expensive appliances fit the neighborhood I live in. A gated community, with houses well over the three thousand square foot range. The gate keeps the door to door folks away, a key point for what I do for a living. Large homes all around me ensure that my 'little' Twenty five hundred square feet of castle slip under the radar.
Soon as I've got the counters wiped, and the dishwasher running, I Move to the living room and grab a book. I don't like television. Quiet is my ally in work and home keeps me focused and thinking. I'll do online research on locations and I don't mind taking in a movie, but television just feels like chatter to me.
Sometime around midnight, I wake up in my La Z Boy, and stumble back to my bedroom. It's a pretty typical night before heading off on a business trip, at least for me.
When the state had realized I'd been kept in adult holding over night, and my lawyer reamed them over it, I got a little lucky. The judge in court thought that there was no way I was going to take a young virile teenage girl without her consent and have no marks to speak of on my person. He also thought that a night in 'real' jail should be enough to make sure I didn't let it happen again.
My legal troubles were disappearing. I ran into Dave again though. He gave me some subjects to look into to see what I thought. I didn't see him again until the end of my sophomore year in college. I'd been researching what he told me about relentlessly. I don't know what to say about my interest in what he wanted me to do. At the time, I didn't even know what he wanted, but just knowing it would be wrong was appealing. Especially with the research I'd done.
Dave for his part just gave me a business card. He said if I was still game, I'd need to call the number on the card and say so when I graduated. He also complimented me on my major.
I graduated on time two years later with a B.S. degree in psychology. I'd been toying with the subject matter Dave seemed most interested in, in my personal life for a while. In hindsight that could be thought of as a mistake. Mixing business and pleasure in my world is dangerous.
Monday morning, I got up early, made an omelet, enjoyed a good cup of fresh ground coffee, and took a long shower. The showers on the road tend to suck, and I like to enjoy the last one before I head out.
In the wall of my living room, behind the wood paneling, is where I keep my business safe. The safe doesn't get opened until right before I leave, and I replace its items as soon as I return. These things are never left out.
The first thing I take out is my logbook. I didn't make it, but it's the book that has every P.O. Box I use in it. Without the book I can't find my work. Tangled web we weave indeed. My chemicals are also in the safe. Soon as someone with a little knowledge was to see those, I'd be done for.
As it is, I keep the chemicals in a steel box with heavy foam inserts to protect them, and a five digit combination on it. There's also cash in the safe. I keep several thousand bundled in the safe for expenses. It's just cash though.
Walking to the truck with my logbook, chemicals, and three thousand in cash, I just go straight to the truck and get in. The chemical box goes under the passenger seat; cash in the center console, and logbook in my lap.
Before I even start the truck, I open my logbook to page forty five. Phoenix, Arizona. Knowing my destination, I open the garage, start the truck, and back out. When my alarm senses the garage door shut, it'll monitor the motion sensors for five minutes, and then activate. Pretty simple set up and hassle free for me.
An hour later, I've got the GPS programmed for Phoenix. I never program the GPS for exact addresses. Last thing I need is for my boxes to show up in the GPS like some connect the dots trail of crime.
I get to Phoenix around three. I can't check my box till the next day though, so I find a hotel. Never a motel, Escalades stick out at motels. Mostly when I have time to kill, I rest. The next day can be easy, or it can turn into forty hours of no sleep and constant stress. Or worse, page forty-five of my log book could have said Seattle, and I'd literally have no rest until I made it home. You don't get to be picky in my work though, picky people disappear.
I started off working with Dave. Pretty simple, listen to the senior guy, don't make mistakes, and get paid. Nothing was too clear at that point. We just moved crates from point A to point B. The pay for transporting the crates was spectacular. Dave came to my apartment really late one night though, and everything changed.
"There's been a mistake," he said. I just nodded and grabbed my coat. I only suspected what was in the crates at that point, but I knew that a mistake would ruin everything. Dave seemed surprised that I didn't care what the mistake was.
In Phoenix, I woke up around eight, and packed my clothes bag. I wouldn't be coming back to the hotel. Checked out and in my truck by nine thirty, it was time to get to work. I opened my log book again and found the address on the GPS the hard way, by zooming in on the map.
Sometimes there's a key stuck to the page of my log book. Phoenix didn't have one. When there's no key, I know to expect a simple dial combo box. The combo is always the same, and I memorized it years ago.
It took me twenty minutes to get to the box, retrieve my package, the same bulky manila thing I always end up with, and find a Sonic drive up. I park the truck in one of the slots pointing away from the Sonic, and order my food. Here's where I'm patient.
.... There is more of this story ...