It’s been years since I’ve done a job like this. I quit for a reason and they know the reason too. Instead they call me twenty-two years on the dot to ask me to do a job. Apparently, no one else is good enough. What happened to the others I worked with? I guess I’ll find out. That is if I go. Instead I pace around my living room in my apartment, overthinking this decision. To haul specialized freight across the country. Not to mention heavy. So, I’d be going as fast as maybe 45 miles per hour. Surrounded by men with guns. I’ll have a gun as well. Good think I shoot every weekend. I sigh, running fingers through my shaggy caramel brown hair. This is a huge decision.
They want their answer by Friday, it’s Tuesday. Well the end of Tuesday. The sun is beginning to set, painting the sky in beautiful hues of oranges, pinks and purples. I stand in front of my bay window and watch it slowly set in the distance. Then as night falls upon me, I decide to sleep on the issue. If I can sleep. Even after twenty-two years, it’s still hard to get on a decent sleep schedule. Thinking about this trip isn’t going to help my conscious either. This brings back so many memories. Good ones and bad ones. Ones with long hauls and sleepless nights. Heavy equipment and gunfire.
As I lay in my bed an old memory comes to mind. One I have long forgotten. A time when I was young and foolish. I was still learning my job. It was my first run and all I remember was driving and then a bullet racing through my window, barely grazing my nose. I braked so hard; my tires screeched to a stop. I was ordered to speed up, but I froze. I couldn’t move. It wasn’t until another bullet passed through my windshield, I stepped on it. I pull the sheets up tighter to my chest. My hands begin to shake. I try my hardest to make them stop, but it’s harder than it looks. A restless sleep takes over. I let my body succumb to the night. Praying the nightmares stay away. At least for a night. Give me a night.
It’s been a week since I decided to take the offer and we are getting ready to leave the base. the precious cargo is being loaded up now. I don’t get to know what it is, but then in the past I never did. I just hauled it to where it needed to go without being blown up or shot at. I go over the truck I’ll be driving. Checking over the connections to the trailer, checking the lights, wipers, tires, all the important items. It’s a sleeper cab. I will have to stop every 10 hours to sleep. That’s not my choice, but the law. With this being a government project, we must follow it, though I’m not sure its just a suggestion or if they are serious. I stash my bags under the cab, put my food and snacks inside. I’m ready to go.
A special agent opens the passenger side door and hops into the seat. I raise an eyebrow at him. I don’t normally have passengers. So, this is new to me. he notices my confusion then tells me he’s my personal protection. I don’t know why; I have my own gun. I know how to shoot it. I ask him if he’s going to drive too and all he does is laugh, then says we wouldn’t need me then. they should need me, is what I think. I watch him get comfortable until there is a knock on my door. It’s time for me to secure my load. I may not know what it is, but I must secure it and know the weight.
Strap after strap, I tighten down the load. I wrap the access around the ratchet to keep it from waving in the wind. With it tied down and approved by me, I receive the rest of the paperwork. Then it’s time to hop in and start our engines. There will be two SUV’s in front of me and three behind. All prepared for the worse to happen. Me included. I slide the manila folder down in the pocket attached to the seat. Turn the key over and I listen to the engine roar to a start. The rumble sends a shutter through the whole cab, reminding me of why I fell in love with this profession in the first place.
We start out on a long stretch of highway. Holding it steady at 45. I casually glance over at the agent next to me and can already see the boredom showing in his face. He’s slouched down, elbow resting on the armrest, hand holding up his head as he stares out the window. I wonder if he’s been on many missions. He should of came prepared to keep busy. It will be a long journey for him without something to do. We aren’t even two hours into the trip and he’s staring longingly out the window. This must be his first run. Now he’s stuck with some old guy in a truck for a week. I try to start up a conversation, but he doesn’t seem interested. As we are about to go back to silence, the sound of a chopper is heard over head. That perks him right up.
I don’t recall a chopper being apart of the plan, and apparently neither does he. He has his weapon in his lap before I can even take a breath. He keeps his eye out the window as I keep my eye on the road. I can’t get off track. I’ve been in these situations before. I know what is about to happen next. The special agent tells me to hold tight, a warning I’ve never had said to me. Never needed it said. But just as the words finished leaving his lips, shots rang out from up above. It took all I had to keep the truck straight and going forward. The two-way radio began to go off. Order going off left and right. I keep watch of the SUV in front of me, all while trying not to flinch to the shattering sound of bullets hitting the top of my cab. I haven’t been shot at in a while. I forgot how shocking it can be.
Gunfire comes from in front of me, firing over my semi, aiming at the chopper above me. I watch as they bring out a machine gun and put it up top the SUV, pulling back the bolt and firing. Rounds shoot out aimed at the target. Moving back and forth, a round or two clip the tip of the chopper’s blades. It begins to wobble back and forth, another shot hitting a little closer to the cockpit. The chopper begins to sway even more, black smoke fills the air and it starts to go down. I don’t realize the truck is slowing down until I hear a honk behind me, and I realize the other trucks are further up ahead. I was too preoccupied with watching them take down that chopper.
We pull off the highway to assemble and take a look at the damage. I have some large dents in the roof of my cab along with some scorch marks, but it could be worse. They don’t want us to stay seated for to long. We check the load and our weapons, then we are back on the road. Hopefully we can make some ground before the next hit attacks.