It was a story…
Ed bent over to pick up the next box off the truck and laid it on the loading dock. Sun wasn’t quite up yet,
the wind still had a chill to it from the night. A few stars decorated the sky still. But the ache in his
arms pretty much occupied his mind. He looked into the truck at the remaining thirty or so bigger boxes, then
just sat down on the dock.
Needed a minute, Ed thought. Few more months, then he’d retire. Maybe Malibu. Or someplace warm.
Eh, who was he kidding? Probably just ignore the world til Christmas. Maybe longer. He looked up as a couple walked by. Plainly but nicely dressed, they looked like they had Asian features.
He caught the eye of one, who gave him a nod. Then a wink. They kept on walking up the street,
probably for breakfast.
Ed shook his head. He imagined the wink, had to. It was almost like they knew him. He stood up, shaking his head
again then hands to loosen them up. Get distracted too easy these days Ed, he thought. Gotta stay focused on
your work. Wasnt like there was a going to be a ‘flash of light’ or something that would appear out of thin
air. He took the little blue egg-sized stress ball from his pocket, giving it a few pumps in each hand. Need to
get my focus, Ed thought. Bang out this last batch of boxes then head over to Gregg’s Shop for a slice and a
cup of coffee. Could’ve eaten breakfast first. But with all the idiots that come flying in to unload thinking
they are entitled to their own special spot on the dock, just ain’t worth the aggravation. Tho watching that
one guy gets into an argument with a lady over her delivery yesterday was priceless. Beat the shit out of Jerry
Springer. Best guess is the guy did a bid on the delivery, parcel unseen, in a fit of rage to beat out another
shipper. However, he didn’t realize what she had wasn’t a movie prop. It was full-scale, military grade.
He tried to weasel his way out of it, saying he didn’t have licenses after she blew up when he tried to hit
her up for money. No shit. He can still hear her words echoing all over the dock at the top of her lungs.
“But how am I going to get my field cannon home????”
Ed was just waiting to see after the guy finally left her in the lurch if she was going to load it up and blast his ass. Would’ve been funny as hell. Tho anyone asked, he didn’t see shit. But when he came in this
morning, it was gone. Wonder what kind of home she had that she needed a field cannon. Or for that matter,
why the hell she needed one. Ed heard a noise in the corner, a rat looked like it had been in a fight with something and was flailing in a puddle of trash. Didn’t look so good, tho no reason anything should need to
suffer an end like that. Ed took out a broomstick and moved away from the trash, flipping a piece of string that had
gotten tangled around the rat’s neck. There ya go, little fellow, Ed thought. The rat did a few flips on its
sides before righting itself. After a minute, it ran down a dark side of the wall out of Ed’s sight.
Ed then heard the sound of a bicycle tire squeal and a young voice call to him. Shoot, he forgot. He waved
at the voice and walked into the trailer, grabbing a large stack of papers. As he came out, he dropped the
papers on the dock in front of a young boy, wearing a ball cap and jacket. The kid already had his
swiss army knife out, cutting the string and starting to roll the papers into a bag he had.
Ed smiled. Nice to see a kid up early, trying to make some money for some sort of dooflicky thing.
Wasn’t sure if it was a video game, book, or someplace the kid wanted to go to. Maybe it was a movie
he meant. Ed didn’t know nor did he ask. The kid was on a schedule and he wasn’t going to mess with his
mojo. Ed went back into the truck for another box and came back out, noticing a tall man standing by
the lamp post watching them. He looked like a mortician. Probably some guy that had a long night partying
and wound up here to sober up. Didn’t seem like a freak and the kid didn’t seem fazed. It had been
a very long time since Ed saw any form of law enforcement down here. Have to think on over coffee the
last time it was later.
Ed turned his back, the young voice saying something as it trailed off. Ed turned back around, watching the kid disappear on his bike. The tall man in black was gone. Heck, for that matter, Ed seemed to be the only one around. The kid had left a paper for him, one of the extras they get in case one gets damaged when
they’re delivering them. He glanced over the headlines, reports of the death of Harry Stone, some great TV producer.
His stars were planning a benefit in honor of him for some charity or another. Probably wanting to use it
as a launching event for a new company while there was still some of Harry’s warmth in people’s minds.
Or wherever they wanted it.
Ed flipped it to the back, some ads for alcohol and small news story on another death in Millville.
Cub reporter, Ed thought. It was only a few lines. But it got this kid their first credit.
Gotta start somewhere, Ed thought.
Ed went back into the trailer and grabbed what looked like a light box. Idiot kids liked to do it ass backward,
lifting all the heavy stuff then the light. It all has to get unloaded. This way, he could have more
room to shimmy the heavy stuff out. Ed had just placed one foot on the dock when the bottom of the box
opened and its contents spilled out. Ed cursed, flipping the box over and tossing the contents back in
before anyone saw anything. The top was still taped so he could just fake…
It was a hat that stopped him. A Totenkopf. He froze for a moment, then pulled himself together and threw
it all in the box. It wasn’t his business nor his shipment. He didn’t even want to know why there was
a pair of black stiletto boots in there. He got it all back in and folded the box together.
Shit, he thought. That took a lot out of him. Ed was feeling the need more and more for that coffee.
Just to take the edge off, he thought. He started to go back into the trailer, then just shook his head.
Naw, I gotta get the coffee. A few minutes later, Ed was still laughing after the service Gregg gave some tourist about their food. Gregg was in rare form, dousing the entire plate of pancakes in syrup.
Then he set it on fire. There’s your crepes, he said. Yea. Gregg….
Ed stopped in his tracks. The trailer he was unloading was gone. All the stuff he unloaded was also gone.
But that was impossible. This town was too small for theft like this. Plus any truck that could haul
this thing would have made a ton of noise going past the coffee shop. Ed checked his watch and the clocks
in the loading dock office. They said the same thing, he was only gone for five minutes. Absolutely
no way. Ed thought he might have been finally starting to lose it when he saw the newspaper the kid had
left him was still in the office. Ads for frying pans and the new Pixie camera plus the article on the Millville Deep deaths.
He went back out, jumping off the loading dock and into the yard. It was all pavement, so no tracks.
Ed then noticed a woman in all black holding up a lamp post across the road from the dock.
He opened the gate and started walking towards her. She took a long draw on the cigarette she
‘Ed, we have a deal.’ she said. ‘I can do my thing until sunrise without hassle. We agreed to that.’
Ed nodded. ‘Yea, yea. Don’t care. I do care about what happened to the trailer I was unloading this
morning. Did you see who took it?’
The woman took another draw on her cigarette, weighing her options as to whether or not it was worth
asking for money. Before she spoke, Ed already had a $20 in his hand. Her eyes riveted to it, her
top starting to open reflexively when she caught herself. Ed smiled. ‘Just the info. I already had
my breakfast.’ She grabbed the $20, tho Ed didn’t let it go. ‘And what happened..’, Ed asked?
The woman took a last hit on the cigarette, then dropped it to the ground and crushed it out.
TO BE CONTINUED…
MILLVILLE DEEP MYSTERY
An Acme Detective Agency Campaign
The first Chapter of the new campaign I am running under the working title ‘Rounds’ campaign.