Chapter One 1st Tuesday It's a cold grind as Mike pulls away through the stoplights in Revelstoke and starts the climb towards Golden. He isn't in the best of moods this trip. He misses a gear and curses, glaring at a tan Cadillac with Oregon plates as it swishes by throwing slush and water up the front of his rig. "Bastard tourists!!" Mike waves his closed fist at the windshield, "Watch him!! He'll cut me off now!!" Lenny just grunts with a small smile.
"I told ya!! See that!!", Mike explodes in fury. "Shouldn't allow people like that on the roads when it starts to snow." Lenny knows what is really bugging Mike and it's not the tourist but he knows enough to say nothing. He watches the sun sparkle off the new fallen snow. It's May but you never know what to expect for weather up here in the parks of western Canada.
Roger's Pass could be clear and dry when they get there or it could be like it is here, wet and slushy. You have to be ready for anything this time of year. As they pull under the 'Road Conditions' sign it says Number 1 is wet with slippery patches through Glacier National Park. There's no mention of Roger's Pass. Lenny looks out across the town of Revelstoke in deep shade with lights winking on in section after section of the town. With a little luck they'll be into Golden before midnight.
It feels like they've been on the road for two days instead of one. They had left Port Coquitlam early this morning and got into Kelowna before the warehousemen went for lunch at the Zellers Department store. They'd been lucky there and got quite a bit of weight off the rear trailer although they did have to shift some of the load back for balance. Through Sicamous they had checked out just fine at the government weight scales.
Mike starts flicking on lights and Lenny checks his side. Clearance lights show up on the trailer and the pup close behind it. Everything seems to be in order so he gives Mike the high sign.
This was an unusual load so they gave it to Mike. They always did! His big Kenworth could make time and do it economically, as well.
They are hauling from Vancouver Harbor to Kelowna, Calgary; then on to Medicine Hat for Zellers with goods from the Orient. Then picking up a trailer in Lethbridge for Canadian Tire stores back on the coast. Another truck had brought it to Lethbridge from the east. They could stretch this trip to four days but Lenny knew they'd be back in Port Coquitlam (POCO) yards in three.
Mike was in a foul mood and would really push it. A sly smile crept over Lenny's countenance as he thought, "And all over a piece of tail! That's what has him so worked up!" When they had gotten to Laidlaw, Trudy was not at the truck stop. Mike had called her and she'd said her little girl was sick, so she wouldn't be able to go with him on this trip. Mike had been miserable ever since.
Mike calls out, "Can you see those chains in your mirror? I hear something rattling and it sounds like it's on your side. They haven't broken loose, have they?" Lenny stretches out his neck but can see no problems on his side.
Lenny calls back, "Can't see anything loose here. Nothing's making sparks anyway. I don't see anything unusual." They roll on for another mile or two. Mike exclaims, "That's it!
I just caught a glimpse in your mirror of a flicker. It's a train down on the tracks beside us. Do you see it?" "No, it's too dark! …Hold on, there it is. I see it! …Yep, I guess that's what was making the noise. It's down below us." They roll along in the dark, still gradually climbing and soon overtake another eighteen-wheeler. The other rig is laboring heavily and flashes his lights for Mike to pass.
Mike picks up his microphone and calls out, "Hey there, Mayflower! You got your ears on, good buddy?" The CB crackles with a southern accent, "What the 'ell you guys call dis white shit? S'pose to be blossom time inna Rockies, they tole me in LA. Ha!!!" Mike chuckles and keys the mike again as they pass, "Where you bound for, my friend?" "Uhhhhh." pause, "Edmonton, is what the bills say.
Some asshole who made his fortune down in movie land is moving home, they tell me. What the 'ell he wants to come back to this crap for I'll never know!" "Tell you, friend, the man's got good taste, that's why, hahaha.
By the way, this stuff should run out before you get to the big hills. Good luck, now." "See ya on the flip side. We're out and gone." Once again the night closes in on the two friends in their K100 cab over Kenworth with the big roomy sleeper. (insert pic of truck) Mike swerves away from the shoulder to avoid the tan Cadillac sitting with it's nose up against some rocks and he lays on the air horn splitting the night like a foghorn. Lenny watches the car as they swing by and says, "Doesn't appear to be much damage.
Just slid off the road." "Yeah, he's alright. Just in a big hurry, that's all. He won't be bothering us again tonight though. He chuckles and starts whistling a lilting tune. Sure enough as they near the Selkirk Mountains and the Rogers Pass the road becomes dry and bare.
They climb up through the snow sheds and into the pass itself. "Do you see any signs saying we have to chain up, Len?" "Nope, must be bare and dry all the way. It sure looks it." They can see two other rigs ahead of them climbing the long steep grade to the summit. Everyone is moving steadily and low intermittent chatter is heard on the CB. They rush headlong through the long curves heading into the upgrade as the moon lights the road ahead beyond the sweep of their headlights.
Mike starts the process of gearing down, keeping the revs up by ear and disregarding the tachometer. They can hear the huge diesel purr steadily and feel the surge of power as Mike matches power requirements with the gear he selects.
Black smoke belches out of the pipes as they climb, dark pavement spinning out behind them in the large side-mounted rear view mirrors. As the lights of the lodge at the summit first appear over the rise Lenny realizes he has been holding his breath since they started the climb and he releases a long sigh. Len breaks the silence, "I think we're going to make it into Golden long before midnight, Mike.
It's only ten ten." Mike grunts and waves his hand towards the lodge, "Looks like Jack up on the pull off. Can you see if that's his rig?" He points ahead and up a rise where another CPX rig is parked with clearance lights burning. He picks up his microphone and calls out for Jack. There's no response but he sees him out by the side of his trailer checking his load. Mike gives a toot on his air horn and Jack waves as they fly by.
He has indicated by his friendly nod and wave that all is well with him. Lenny accompanies Mike as swamper (helper) because many times parts of loads have to be unloaded by hand as in Kelowna today.
In a pinch Lenny can handle the driving and is licensed to do so but is reluctant to travel much at night as driver. He is content to travel the roads with another driver and assist in loading and unloading.
There are few drivers that have permanent swampers. On the long hauls across the nation two drivers pilot the truck and take turns driving. On shorter inter-provincial runs the driver is usually by himself or herself and the trips are terminal to terminal. Loading and unloading is done by warehousemen in the terminals. Local deliveries are done by a driver alone and the customer assists with loading and unloading.
Near the summit they swing through the curves and enter the first snow shed on the down side with jake brakes barking as Mike gears down. They pass through one tunnel and into the next… then out into the night. The pavement widens out before hitting the next tunnel and they pick up some speed before the walls close in around them again.
This snow shed is a long tunnel that curves back and forth as they rush by metal girders and mountains on their right, cement pillars and westbound traffic on their left.
They emerge into the night again and there is just one short dark tunnel before the curves and the steep downgrade from the pass.
After clearing that last tunnel Mike pulls into a brake inspection pull-off and parks. Time to stretch his legs and check the brakes and tires. Both men jump down from the cab and meet in the headlights glare. Mike checks his watch, "I think you're right Lenny. We'll be in at the Husky truck stop in Golden about eleven forty-five their time. I'll call Toronto from there. Central Dispatch may have decided they need this load in Calgary early tomorrow morning.
We'll see." Mike goes under the side of the load and checks brakes while Len walks around checking tires. They meet back by the driver's door and both indicate all is well. Mike climbs up into the cab and goes through some tapes looking for music while Lenny climbs in his side. He tosses a couple to Len who inserts one into the player and adjusts the volume. The rig moves ahead towards the long downgrade. With the diesel barking and backing off, Mike judicially applies brakes intermittently as they descend into the valley then quickly he gears up for the haul across the valley floor and the next upgrade.
They swing through the turns with musical accompaniment and soon pass by the "time-change" marker as they climb again into the Selkirk range of mountains. Now they have an hour's difference but Mike has taken the time change into account. They can still make it to Golden by midnight. Soon they have crossed the Selkirks and are descending into the Rocky Mountain Trench. They come out across the Columbia River and it is eleven twenty local time.
They pass the lights of the lumber mill at Donald and from there it's a straight run into Golden. Their faces are lit then fall back into shadow as the bright flickering moonlight reflects off the river casting a cold white glow into the cab.
By eleven forty-five they are pulling off Number One highway into the truck-filled yards around the Golden Husky service station and truck stop.
Mike grabs paperwork and descends from the cab.
He and Len enter the café and head for the washrooms. "Grab us a table and order up java, Len. I'll get on the horn to Toronto. Okay?" Len nods as he heads into the café. He eyes the room and grabs a table by the front windows. As he pulls himself into the booth a waitress appears by his elbow. "Start with coffee, Len?" He looks around and sees Jena, an old friend who has been waitressing here for many years.
He holds up two fingers and she fills two cups. Jena, who is about forty-five, winks at Len and says with a smile, "Got a new girl on tonight, I'll send her over and tempt Mister Mike." She laughs and Len grins but shakes his head.
"Mike's not in that good a mood tonight so I doubt he'll be amused but what the hell, give it a try." He chuckles as Jena leaves them menus and heads back towards the kitchen with the coffee pot. Len settles to enjoy his coffee and Mike soon joins him. He explains Toronto has instructed them to drop the pup in Calgary and go straight to Medicine Hat (The Hat, as he calls it) with their goods then proceed to the Saskatchewan border at Gull Lake to pick up a load for Canadian Tire.
Then it's back into Alberta to Lethbridge where they will load some freight in the main trailer for the coast. He continues, "Guess I'll try for a few hours shut-eye here in the yard. Did you order?" "Not yet," says Len, "I was waiting on you." A pert young waitress of about 25 comes up to their table and Mike exclaims, "Hey Blondie, I haven't seen you around here before.
You must be new!" "I'm Cathy and I am new. Can I take your order?" Mike gets a twinkle in his eye, "Let's start with a quick tour of my rig out there in the yard. Have you ever seen the inside of one of those big trucks before?" Len just grins and says, "This here is Mike and I'm Len.
Pay him no mind. What's the truckers' special tonight?" Cathy grins, "I rather like his suggestion but I better not mess up my first night on the job. Steak and hash browns with fresh asparagus or peas on the side. Its discounted 25% and it's really good. I had it earlier." Len decides to go for the steak but Mike wants something lighter so he can sleep.
He decides on an omelet and toast. "Got to try and get a few hours sleep out there in the sleeper. You can bring me coffee around five." He grins lopsidedly at her as he winks.
She leaves to get their order. In a moment Jena comes by and tousles Mike's hair then she cuffs the top of his head a glancing blow, "I'll bring you coffee at five, Mike, and drown you in it!" She grins and goes on towards the front counter. They clean up their food and Mike goes to get a few hours sleep. Len spends an hour gabbing with Jena then goes for a walk around the yard. He then meanders down the highway to the government weigh scales where he chats with the officers for another hour before returning to the café for coffee.
He joins some other truckers who have come in and puts in time. Around four thirty he starts watching for Mike. Just after five he sees Mike's long lanky figure climbing down from the cab with a towel over his shoulders. He grins. Mike will grab a quick shower and be in for coffee in about fifteen minutes. He turns to catch Jen's eye and she is looking towards the rigs in the yard.
She glances his way and nods. Mike's coffee will be waiting for him when he comes in. Soon they're on the road again, diesel roaring as they climb up out of Golden in the early dawn's pink light. Then they descend through the S curves and cross the Kicking Horse River twice before they start to climb for Banff, Alberta. They whistle past the railway town of Field watching for wildlife.
By seven they are rolling out through the Bow Valley and across the flat lands of Alberta heading for Calgary. By eight-thirty they roll into the CPX terminal yards and drop the pup. They fuel up and by nine-thirty are heading into the rising sun. Mike dons dark mirror sunglasses and Len hits the sack in the sleeper. Mike sings along with western music on the radio as he wheels across the flat prairie.
With his single trailer only half loaded he has to be doubly careful to keep his speed down. It's easy to get a ticket out here on the flat lands.
He pulls in for lunch at Brooks, Alberta. Len comes out to join him. Just over another hour will see them into the 'Hat'.
They down their lunch and are on the road again by two. About three thirty they pull into the new mall east of Medicine Hat and they back into the Zellers Department Store warehouse dock.
Warehousemen swarm the trailer and the load is unloaded in half an hour. Mike checks again with Central Dispatch in Toronto and there are no changes. They head for the Saskatchewan border and drop their empty trailer at a set of highway weigh scales before going on to Gull Lake. The yard in Gull Lake is an unattended fenced yard behind a 24-hour service station.
Mike unlocks the tumblers on the gate looking for trailer 5709, spots it and backs up to hook onto it.
As his 5th wheel slides under the trailer it latches and he slips down from the tractor to stretch his legs. Len comes around from the far side and tells him the seal number as well as confirms the tires on the far side are okay. Mike nods as he hooks up airlines and pulls the bills out of the trailer's pouch. He crosschecks the seal number, checks the contents and destination then nods his head and does a circle check of his own.
When both are satisfied that everything's in order Mike heads for the gate. Len walks to the gate, buttons up the yard and joins Mike in the cab. Now they head into the afternoon sun as they backtrack to the Alberta border and the scales house where they earlier left the empty trailer. They hook up to it behind the first and pull up on the scales. Everything is okay. They head west for Medicine Hat and then turn southwest to Lethbridge on Highway # 3. "Are you tired, Len?
We'll be in Lethbridge by ten thirty. I plan to sack out there for an hour or two then pull on through to Cranbrook for another few hours sleep. The reason for the couple hours in Lethbridge is I like to hit Crow's Nest Pass refreshed." Mike grins as Len nods and heads for the sleeper.
On schedule Mike drops the empty trailer in Lethbridge and hooks up to a load of pottery destined for the coast. He puts it in front and the lighter load for Canadian Tire in the rear then pulls them around into a darkened area of the yard.
Its his turn in the sleeper birth and Len goes to chat with some of the warehousemen on evening shift. He chats with the night man after midnight for about an hour then goes to thump the side of the sleeper with the flat of his hand.
Mike climbs down rubbing his eyes and yawning. Checking his watch he says, "Thanks, Len. I would have slept through the night if you hadn't wakened me." He stretches and heads off though the gloom to the washrooms.
Soon they are westbound again on Highway # 3 heading into the foothills of the Rockies. Traffic is light as they climb towards the summit of the Crow's Nest Pass. They are fully loaded and the climb is slow but steady, black smoke belching from the twin pipes and streaming back over the load. They roar through the community of Crow's Nest and Mike let's her roll down the gentle grade from the summit towards Sparwood. Len crawls back into the sleeper for a while and Mike puts in a tape of his favorite country and western music.
He calls back to Len, "Cranbrook by four." Len just grunts. It's as he figured, it will be a three day run. In Cranbrook Mike pulls into the CPX yard into a corner and parks. Len climbs down to go for a walk and Mike goes to the washroom.
He comes back and curls up in the sleeper. Len ends up chatting with the night man. As the eastern sky brightens he wanders down to the rig and pulls out a book to read. He reads for about an hour when he hears Mike roar out, "Len!
Are you there?!" Len calls back, "Right here Mike, what's up?" "What time you got?" "Eight fifteen." "Hell's bells! I was hoping my watch was wrong.
Guess we better get on the road." He comes climbing out of the sleeper and pulls the tractor around to the fuel pumps. "Might as well top up here," he grins, "Save our supply at home." By nine-thirty they are on the westbound trail rolling down the slopes of the Purcell Mountains. Through the fertile valleys they roll and around noon are approaching the Nelson Range and the town of Creston. Number 3 highway is a much slower route than Number One due to the grades and corners.
Number One is the Trans Canada Highway and thus has been improved with longer and easier corners and lesser grades. Number 3 is typical of mountain roads everywhere. There are long steep grades and quick abrupt corners at the bottom with narrow bridges to navigate. It will be like this all the way back to the Fraser Valley at Hope. There's no stopping in Creston. It's straight through on highway 3A then 3 again to Osoyoos and the Okanogan Valley.
As they swing north to Keromeos they are less than a hundred miles from the route they followed east two days ago. It's after five as Mike pulls into the last fruit stand in Keromeos to stretch his legs, check the rig and pick up a case of apples for his wife.
They also grab a cool cider each and chat with the attendant. "Are you hungry, Lenny?" asks Mike as they head back to the truck. "I was thinking of stopping for some Kentucky Fried Chicken in Princeton.
Can you make it?" Len's reply, "Lead on. Sounds good to me!" By seven twenty they are parked on the shoulder of the road in Princeton by the KFC. They bring their food to a picnic table overlooking the Similkamine River flowing noisily with spring run-off.
The weather is mild. Len breaks the moody silence, "Why are you still driving rigs, Mike?
I thought you were doing well with that insurance investigations business for the Provincial government." Mike shrugs, "Not enough work in the small town of Abbotsford to keep a guy going steady.
I was working for a local security company as their insurance fraud investigator. The pay was good and I have the background in security from back east in Ontario, but we're settled in Abbotsford now and there are just not enough jobs to keep a guy going full time… and I enjoy driving truck." "Why not take on a partner and do long hauls back east.
I would think the money would be better and it would be steadier. One run a week, Vancouver to Toronto, and the rest of the week off." Mike grins, "The long hauls don't sit well with my wife. This is bad enough. She complains that I am never home now, as it is. I probably won't have another run this week. She'll be happy." "And then again, they might have another load for you tomorrow." "That's true but my wife finds this job tolerable because most weeks I only have a single run and it's only to Calgary or the Okanogan.
I can often do some investigations on the side the rest of the week.
It's work near home, I'm home for supper and it works." Len goes on quizzically "And then there's Trudy… how do you get away with her in your schedule? I hope you don't feel I'm getting too personal. I am truly curious." "No, that's okay, Len. You know my situation as well as anyone, I suppose.
We work together most often." He pauses, "I fit her in." Again a pause, "She has something… or perhaps I should say we have something. that has stagnated in my marriage. I don't know just how to explain it. She's special, alive and damned intelligent. There's a spark between us, a bond. Like in an undercover operation, a good feeling of two like spirits doing intimate things together.
My wife and I once shared feelings similar to the ones Trudy and I enjoy. Somehow we have become bogged down in the humdrum everyday mechanics of keeping our marriage and family together and afloat." He continues, "It's not all sex with Trudy, although that's terrific, but it's also good old plain intelligent conversation. She has helped me with investigations in the past, she knows how to use her head." They sit quietly to finish their meal each with their own thoughts.
Mike stretches and walks around the rig checking tires, brakes and hoses. The stretch of highway between here and Hope is the worst on number 3 so he wants to be sure everything is working right. Finally they climb back up into the cab and head for the coast.
It's raining lightly as they climb up passed the mine tailings from Copper Mountain mine and it's going to get dark early tonight. Mike figures they will be in Hope by nine-thirty so he can stop at Trudy's.
Len has got him thinking about her again and he's wondering how her daughter, Crystal, is fairing. He should have picked up some comics for her. He thinks belatedly he should have got some in Calgary. It's constant barking of the Jake brake on the downhill runs and roaring of the diesel on the upgrades after they pass the lodge in Manning Park.
Mike is watching for wildlife but traffic is light, since it is only Thursday, so the driving is fairly easy. As they pass the Hope Slide Mike starts whistling and appears more cheerful than he has the whole trip.
Len grins as he realizes what this means. They'll be making a stop in Hope! Len has known the petite blond from the truck stop in Laidlaw for nearly a year now but has never given her much thought. He knows she was from Prince Edward Island and that she was married to a Frenchman out at the base by Chilliwack.
She married him down east and it hadn't gone well. He's heard her comment that the only good thing that ever came from their marriage was her daughter, Crystal. Her father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Forces and her ex was in the forces as well. If his memory is correct he doesn't think her divorce is finalized yet. He wasn't aware until two weeks ago that she and Mike were seeing each other.
She went with them on a run to Kamloops and Calgary. By the time they reached Kamloops he knew they were close and had been for some time. Well, it was none of his business. He liked Mike but didn't know his wife or family that well, had only met them twice in the last year of running with Mike. He knew Mike had a varied past of driving truck and serving as a prison guard for quite a few years.
He also knew he was involved in insurance fraud investigations for a while. It appears he still is on the side. As they pull down into Hope Mike swings off the highway and pulls farther into the lower residential area out near the airport. He eases the rig to a slow pace and stops on a solid grassy shoulder by an isolated frame stuccoed bungalow all in darkness.
"I'll only be a minute," says Mike as he opens his door and prepares to climb down. "Uhhhh, I may be a bit longer… have you got a good book to read?", he blurts out grinning at Len with a shrug.
Len laughs, "Get out of here!" As Mike wanders across the grass Len thinks she might not be home.
He doesn't see any car and the place is in darkness but Mike goes to the door and raps. He waits and then raps again. A light comes on in the entryway and Mike talks to a young girl on the step. It doesn't look like Trudy. In the dim light she looks too tall, too dark and too young.
Soon Mike comes back to the rig and climbs up into his seat. "She's working for someone else tonight at the truck stop." He mumbles something else and grunts as he puts the truck in gear and eases back out onto the wet blacktop. Circling the block they head back to Number one highway (the Trans Canada Highway).
Soon after leaving Hope they come to the Laidlaw truck stop. They pull in as Mike exclaims, "Time for a coffee!" He pulls the rig along side three others in the lot and they go inside. They seat themselves at the counter and Trudy brings them coffee. She has a special smile for Mike and beckons him to follow her. They slip out a side door and she comes into his arms. After a passionate kiss and embrace Mike eases her back down onto her flat feet and asks about Crystal.
"Oh Mike, I wanted to go with you this time so bad but Crystal developed a bad cough and sore throat. I thought it might be tonsillitis but the doctor has her on some medicine and it is getting better. I missed you so much the last few days. Must be just because I knew you were on the road all alone somewhere. You were probably chasing some other waitresses somewhere, weren't you?" Mike raises his right hand, "I swear I never touched another hand except maybe Len.
Does he count?" He grins. This brings a smile to Trudy's lips and she says he had better not be messing around with guys. Then she adds she doubts he would be interested in guys anyway, not the way he is with her.
They both laugh over this. Again she comes up on her tiptoes to pull him down for a long kiss. Mike's dark eyes twinkle as he lifts her off her feet and she wraps her legs around him continuing their kiss. He lets her down and she catches her breath, shaking hair back out of her eyes and chuckling, "Feels to me like you've missed me!" She glances at the bulge in his pants, "I think we better go back inside before I get fired… or you get fired up." She giggles as she opens the door.
They stay for about half an hour, Trudy often coming by to gab with them. Then it's back to work so they return to the illuminated rig idling in the yard and climb aboard. Mike's in a real good mood now and they head west for Abbotsford, then north across the river to Mission and west again to Port Coquitlam (or POCO, as they fondly call it).
It's nearly midnight when they pull into the CP Express and Transport (CPX) yard on Kingsway. As they pull in Mike sees a dark car leaving the lot so he flashes his lights at them but the car goes on and leaves the lot.
"Hmmmm, that's funny. He didn't flash his lights or wave or anything. Wasn't that Ray's car? You know Ray Chauffe, don't you? He does local deliveries on day shift. I wonder what he was doing here so late at night." Len responds with, "It sure looked like his car.
That's his rig at the end of the row. Maybe he was working on it or something." After they drop the trailers and park the Kenworth, Mike walks over to Ray's truck and lays his hand on the Mac's hood.
The bodywork is warm so he knows it has been running recently. Len comes over to join him and says, "Warm, is it?" Mike nods. Len continues, "Must have been him. Looks like he washed it. He babies that Mac like it was his own. Somebody should tell him that CPX owns it." They chuckle together as they head for the parking lot.
They come up to Len's old Pontiac and Mike says, "Goodnight Lenny. See you next round. Likely next week." "Right Mike. By the way, did you put the waybills in the pouches on those trailers? Seems silly but I don't recall seeing you do that and it could save you a trip back here tomorrow." "Oh Shit!! Thanks, Len. I had my mind on something else, I guess." He grins and they wave goodbye as Len pulls out of the lot.
Mike walks to his Mustang and fires her up. He drives back into the yard and goes to the trailers they have dropped. He jumps out and puts the bills of lading into each trailer's pouch. As he goes back towards his car the Commissionaire on night duty appears in the car's headlights.
"Oh, it's you, Mike. I thought it was but I had to come down and check. It's been a quiet night but one has to check everything." "Dave, have you been here all night or have you just come on?" "Just came in at midnight. They had a night shift in the warehouse until eleven-thirty, so they said they didn't need security until midnight. Have you just come in from Calgary?" "Round trip this time to the Hat and back with stops in Kelowna, Calgary and Lethbridge.
Back on number 3 so it was a grind. That highway really takes it out of a guy." "Well, you go get some rest and take care, Mike. I have to finish my round. See you later." Commissionaire Dave Broady waves as Mike leaves the yard. As Mike crosses the Pitt River Bridge heading east towards Mission and home to Abbotsford, a police cruiser with lights flashing and siren wailing passes him headed towards POCO.
Mike thinks out loud, "Thursday night, must be an accident. Weekend parties don't start until tomorrow night." He chuckles as he heads on down the wet highway. It's a misty wet night but warm so he drives with the window down and whistles with the music on the radio.
When he reaches Mission he debates whether to turn south to Abbotsford and home or to continue west to Hope, Laidlaw and Trudy. He decides to turn south and go home.
In Abbotsford's residential area south of the hospital Mike pulls into his driveway. There is a flickering glow from the large front window in his condominium so someone must be watching TV. Probably his wife, he thinks. He unloads his overnight bag, locks the convertible and walks to the side door. He unlocks it and steps inside where he takes off his work boots and leaves them with his bag by the clothes rack in the entryway. He steps up two steps to the main level and goes to the living room door quietly.
The TV is hissing and the screen is covered with a snowy pattern. He steps forward and sees his wife sleeping on the couch. Marlene Claymore (nee McRae) is an attractive brunette of twenty-seven, who married Mike when she was eighteen. Their oldest child, Richard has just turned nine so she was three month's pregnant when they married. They had been going together for nearly a year at the time. She has given him two daughters since, Shelly, who is eight and Janet, who is six and a half (she insists on the half).
The house is quiet except for the hiss from the TV. Mike picks up the remote and clicks it off causing Marlene to stir and open her eyes. She smiles, "You're home!
I didn't expect you until tomorrow night." She reaches for him and he kneels beside her, taking her in his arms and kissing her. She pats the couch beside her and he sits to tell her, "It was a real fast run. No traffic to speak of and no work except driving. It went perfect." She runs her hand up his shoulder intimately and says, "Are you hungry? I can make you up a hot beef sandwich with leftovers from supper, if you'd like?" His hand runs lightly up the inside of her thigh as he asks, "Have you got anything else that's hot?" He grins and winks.
She pulls him down to her so she can kiss him suggesting, "Maybe you just want to go straight to bed." He reaches up to turn out the lamp and responds with a passionate kiss of his own.
Moving her over with his hip he lays down beside her. He runs his hands over her body and under her housecoat to cup a breast and tease a nipple. She breathes faster and whispers, "Oh Mike, you haven't come home this horny in quite a while. What's the occasion?" Mike whispers back, "Do I have to come up with a special reason to want to make love to the most beautiful woman in Abbotsford?" He kneads her breasts as he kisses her and she responds by pressing herself to him and whispering, "Just in Abbotsford?" Around three thirty they sneak upstairs, Mike carrying his clothes, and they go into their bedroom.
She gets to the bathroom first, but as soon as she's finished Mike goes for a shower. When he comes to bed she sleepily kisses him goodnight.