That long white line ended for Henry Buck.
He had returned to his shop with his old lunchbox and empty thermos, and was greeted by the owner, and a few other "Suits" he had walked past some mornings.
"Henry, could you come with us to the conference room inside?" The CEO, Darryl Squibb asked.
As the men trudged through the gravel lot into the monolithic office building that Henry only knew as the place his paperwork was handed in. The men were lead into a large conference room with a huge, beautiful mahogany table surrounded by what Henry imagined were some very expensive high-backed office chairs.
"Have a seat Henry, right at the head of the table..." Darry Squibb pointed to a chair. His steel blue eyes and comical features intrigued Henry. What was this slippery son of a bitch up to?
"Henry, I am sure you are wondering what this is all about?" Darryl smiled and clasped his hands together inter weaving his fingers.
"Well Darryl, I am not sure... Did I finally beat some type of world record for the fastest delivery? And you guys are here to reward me?" Henry chuckled to himself.
The rest of the room exchanged looks uncomfortably.
"Today was your last day on the road Henry..." Darryl said very clearly and concise.
"My last day on the road? I hardly doubt it. Unless one you suits is driving me and my pickup home after this?" Henry continued smiling.
"You are 68 years old Henry and I have done what I can to keep you on. However, there is no longer anything I can do. My insurance company just considers you too high of a risk. I really am sorry to do this to you, you have been an exemplary employee for many years and the whole building is going to be sad to hear you are gone..."
Henry stood in his chair. He reached in the breast pocket of his bibs and pulled out a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes. He pulled one out and lit it with a gold zippo he had in opposite pocket.
"Insurance is it Darryl? Hell, insurance is a necessity. So I can not blame you for that now can I?"
"Henry I am so relieved to hear you say that. I was so worried you were going to think it might be something personal."
"Show me the money Darryl. You better not be handing me my walking papers without a big cheque attached." Henry smiled and ashed his cigarette on the ground and stomped it out.
Henry raced home in his old pickup truck, blatantly ignoring the stop sign at the end of his road.
He parked in his usual spot on the driveway and ran in through the front door.
"Abbie! Honey, where are you?" He shouted
Abbie, his wife, walked in the living room through the kitchen. She was as beautiful as ever with her hair tied back and her apron on. Preparing the family one of her amazing meals.
"Henry?! You nearly scared my to death! What is going on?" Abbie demanded.
Henry smiled and grabbed his wife. He kissed her deeply and with their warm embrace Abbie knew something was up.
"Where is my granddaughter?" Henry asked.
"You know where she is Hen, where she always is... Studying up there in her bedroom." She pointed up the stairs.
Henry walked to the bottom step.
"Tia! Come down here right now!" Henry yelled
He walked over to the couch and told his wife to sit with him.
"Take a look at what I got..." Henry reached into his breast pocket where his cigarettes were and pulled out a cheque for 150 000$.
"Oh my gosh Henry! Is that real? Why? I do not understand..." Abbie stared at him in shock.
Tia slowly scaled the stairs and shuffled into the living room.
"Tia honey, Do you know what I have here?" Henry asked
She shook her head.
"I have enough money to send you to any college or university or school or course, whatever, that you want. I am finally going to invest in something I truly believe." Henry smiled.
Tia stared at him and Abbie and then at the cheque.
"What? How grandpa? Where did you get a cheque?" She asked with deep concern in her voice
Henry stood up and lit another cigarette. Abbie instinctively went to the kitchen and grabbed a clean crystal ashtray.
"Ladies, now there is no need for alarm ok? I lost my job today. I am just too darn old, no insurance companies will accept the risk any longer". Abbie and Tia looked at each other sadly and they both got up and hugged Henry.
"Grandpa I am so sorry. I know you loved driving your truck." Tia said
"Oh Henry, maybe it is time for you to take some time off. Just relax for a while?" Abbie consoled.
"First, we find out about school. And once it is completely paid for, and only then, I think I may have enough money left over to buy my own truck. Work for myself. What do you ladies think about that idea?" Henry switched his glance between them both
The girls smiled and hugged him. They thought this was a marvelous plan.
Because of her leading the pack all throughout high school and her naturally occuring smarts, Tia was setup and had won so many scholarships. For 4 years of tuition and books all it came to was $78 663.14. That left Henry and Abbie with a whopping $71 336.86 left over to start a company. And let's be honest, to save some and invest some and just plain spend some.
Henry and Abbie returned from a cruise they very much needed and Henry went straight to work searching for his truck. He and Abbie had also discussed and agreed to run this business out of their home. And because the house was on almost an acre of old farmland, they decided the first order of business was to have a shop built. A place for an office and something with big enough doors and ceiling's that Henry could park the truck inside. The construction and permits and everything included cost just under 12000$. The government paperwork, talking with a lawyer and all the necessary documentation and due diligence to start a company was paid for. That cost 3300$. Henry found a 1980's Peterbuilt, that had been fully restored. Engine, drive train, body, EVERYTHING. It was the truck of his dreams. All except that it was painted bright pink. Henry just could not have this. So he purchased the truck and had it repainted. for 35000$ He had it inspected and fit for duty. Slapped on license plates and all other finishing touches cost around 850$ They had $ 20 186.86 left over. A nice cushion for any new business owner.
The Peterbilt was painted in an army green color. It looked very sharp with all the polished aluminum.
"So, now all we need is a name for the business Hen'..." Abbie said to him
"I have the perfect name: Old Man Transport." He smiled
Abbie laughed and hugged her husband. "I think that is perfect."
For a few months work was difficult to come by. Henry had landed a few short local jobs just from his contacts of living there for so many years. Insurance had remained an issue due to his age he was paying some major high premiums. But if he could find enough work it would be profitable. That was the day he got the most important phone call yet. From a man named Ed Trickle.
"Hello Henry, I am an old man myself... My wife just past away and I made her a promise I would not just sit around and die. So what I am asking of you is to come to my town and we can load up all the equipment I have been collecting and buying over the years to start my business. I have everything I need aside from the land to to do it and the geographic legal right to create what I want to create..."
"I am sorry, what the hell are you talking about here Ed?" Henry responded.
"I'm going to set up a distillery. Make my own liquor. And hoping it all works and people like how it tastes, I am going to be in desperate need of a fella to transport it to all these wanting folks... Understand?" Ed chuckled softly.
"I think that is genius. And you know, I have plenty of land here left. And we have already paid all the permits to do construction. And I would obviously help you out..."Henry was astounded at the possibilities in a joint venture with this stranger.
"Henry there is one caviot... I was just recently diagnosed with cancer. I am still pretty healthy but it won't last forever. Do you understand?"
"I understand. We have to hurry up and get this thing going!"
Thus cemented a bond between a dying man and a man who found like he had renewed his life. Henry and Abbie made the 10 hour drive the very next day. They spent the day talking, getting to know each other as they slowly and effectively loaded a cargo trailer.
"Ok Ed, just follow us home now alright?"
"Are you two sure it won't be a bother having me stay with you?" Ed asked sincerely.
"How about this, anytime you think you want your own place we will find it, alright?" Abbie reasoned with Ed.
"Ed, you just give me and Abbie a chance would ya?" Henry winked and chuckled.
The distillery was built directly beside the shop. With money being no obstacle the construction was finished in record time. Ed had planned this all out, so when it was finished he flew in 2 men from Alabama, 7th and 8th generation moonshiners to show him how to start. Within 3 months the first bottle of "Old Mans Brew" was tested at a party full of all the employees and contractors and volunteers that had been involved. Henry decided they would only hire seniors that needed a job or did not want to stop when they were asked. Henry quickly transformed his lone wolf strategy into a fleet of classic, restored semi trucks along with owning all of his own trailers.
And Ed was so gallantly happy to have created something that everyone enjoyed. Something people would talk about for years to come.
Ed passed away almost 3 years exactly after they started producing liquor. His dreams were made and his thought was he wanted to help fulfil other dreams. So he left a large amount to go towards scholarships and small business. He left a huge amount for Henry and Abbie to grow the business.
About 5 years after the start of "Old Mans Transport" a familiar white GMC pickup pulled into the driveway of Henry's massive compound. The window rolled down and the truck stopped.
"Darry Squibb, it has been a long time. How are you doing these days?" Henry rested his arm on the side view mirror of Darryl's truck.
"Well Henry, believe it or not... I got canned today. They led me out with security. No severance, No nothing..." He trailed off.
"Darryl, I will see you tomorrow morning, 9 AM. Of course you have a job here. Old men have to work after all..." Henry smiled and shook Darryl's hand.