Fiction: "Jake Brake," part three
by Mike Woodson
30 November 2004
The knock on the cab door awakened Jake with a start and brought him out of his dream. Nightmare was the better word for it. It was always the same nightmare with few variations. He'd had it ever since he was a was a kid. Frankenstein was chasing him! The silliness of it all unnerved Jake. A grown man having nightmares. A monster that was always coming, always threatening, never stopped and the sense of losing ground to increasing danger throughout the dream had Jake, on more than one occasion, waking in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming.
How does a man explain that to the ex-wives and girlfriends? His present wife, Sandra, thought he was nuts, and who could blame her? Jake was a robust figure of a man and was amazingly fit for his occupation. Above average in height, muscular and stoic. Not the typical picture that sprang to mind when someone envisioned a man who is afraid of his dreams. Jake always made the excuse that it was "Iraq flashbacks" even though Jake had never been in Iraq, much less served in the military there.
Still, the dreams came with increasing frequency and vividness. The last one was the worst of all. He'd had it the night before he picked up the chemical fertilizer in Barstow. Jake dreamed that he had picked up a refrigerated Sea-Land container full of agribusiness soybeans in Portland and trucked it to the Port of Tacoma. At the POT Jake had cleverly thought to outwit the unrelenting prusuer and stowed away on a Maersk-Sealand container ship bound for Asia with a stopover in Hawaii. Once in Hawaii, Jake jumped ship and checked into the Imperial on Waikiki. Smart move thought Jake but Frankenstein was smarter. The modern Prometheus with his "benovelent intentions" had walked clear across, underneath the Pacific Ocean and caught up with Jake, broke down his hotel door with an apple in his hand and told Jake to eat the apple. The agonizing suspense and fear made Jake take the apple and bite into it. But before he did worms came out of it and talked to him in words he didn't understand. Jake rationalized the whole thing as bad truckstop food. Just a bit of undigested burrito he told himself.
The soft knock on the cab door awakened Jake from his nightmare. The pony-tailed blonde with the ready smile said, "follow me." Jake wiped the sweat from his face and forehead, released the tractor-trailer brakes, switched on the headlights and running lights, put the Fuller 18-speed transmission in first and headed down the road that was illuminated by the the desert sunrise, the blonde's Ford Bronco out in front. Jake was relieved, if for only a moment, of the warning dream that would never go away.
Blondie headed south, crossed I-40 and turned onto a dirt road, not even a county road, just a plain old dirt road. Jake cursed under his breath as the tractor-trailor's air-ride suspension creaked and groaned under the weight of the fertilizer load and the rutted road, "God dammit, the destination better be no less than a mile from here because I'm not going to ruin my rig over a nice set of tits!"
Two hours later the blonde's Bronco came to a dry creek bed and crossed over. "That's it, I'm done, I'm not going any further until I get somes answers," Jake said aloud. He set the truck's brakes, pulled on the airhorn, turned off the ignition and got out of the truck, madder than hell.
The Bronco spun around and pulled up beside Jake. "What's the problem?" Blondie cooed.
"I'll tell you what the fuckin' problem is, little lady! I'm out in the middle of nowhere. I have seen nothing but jackrabbits and tumbleweeds for the last 40 miles! My truck is being beat to shit on this dirt trail, the nearest main road is the 95 which is, near as I can tell, about 80 miles east or the 62 which is well over 100 to the south. And to top it all off I don't know who you are, what your name is or if you even have the $1200 bucks they said I would be paid! So you have about 30 seconds to come up with some real good news for me or this rig gets turned the hell around and the fertilizer gets sold to the first jew load broker I can find!"
Jake always loved intimidating people. Usually it was shippers who didn't want to pay what they said they were going to pay or customers who found some chickenshit excuse like the load was late or a can of Lox was damaged. All it took to straighten them out was a big, pissed-off trucker and the right buzz words.
Blondie never batted an eye. She just smiled at Jake through his whole rant and the only reaction Jake noticed was when he said, "jew load broker." She got out of her car and walked slowly over to Jake to about a foot from where he stood. She put her hands on her hips and brushed the hair from her face. That blonde hair, the desert sun reflected off it and made it seem almost outer worldly. It didn't look like hair but like pure white light. Her blue eyes looked directly into Jake's and it reminded him of the color of the blue lakes of of the North Carolina mountains his father took him to when he was a kid.
"I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself earlier," she said. "My name's Elizabeth but everybody calls me Beth. Our ranch is about eight miles from this dried creekbed. It's easily passable, my father was a trucker before he died and had used this route many times in his truck and never had any problem. He even taught me how to drive big trucks. If you want I can drive your rig the rest of the way for you, if you're tired or unsure. Your truck has a Fuller 18 Autoshift, right?"
"I can drive my own truck," Jake fumed. Jake didn't like being put in a box, especially by a female, and he didn't come all this way to be song-and-danced by a pretty face and halter top. Whoever sent this woman out to meet Jake and take him through this desert hellhole knew what he was doing. Jake knew many a trucker that would follow this honey-blond cutie over hot coals and broken glass and no questions asked with little or no payoff at the end. Jake smiled to himself. "The price is double, $2400 instead of $1200, take it or leave it."
"Done, you'll have your money, in cash, in 30 minutes, let's go," came the reply.
Jake, with blondie in the lead, pulled up to a row of five well-kept double-wide trailers. In the background were eight or ten acres of rowed lemon trees no more than three feet high. Jake turned off the motor and stepped out of the truck. Out walked a man a little younger than Jake, about 35 years of age.
He stuck out his right hand and said, "Hello, my name is Alexander, glad you could make it."
To be continued...