by Sam Blue
A family man struggles to make a living the best way that he can.
|"Take a deep breath. Relax. Remember why you do this. You do this so you can have time to spend with your family," I told myself.
The time was 9:48 AM. It was a Tuesday morning. Most of the traffic on the Interstate should have died down by now. I went through a checklist in my mind.
Full tank of gas? Check.
Current and valid license, registration and proof of insurance? Check.
Lights, blinkers, headlights in perfect working order? Check.
Printed map with a starting address from my "brother's house" in Houston, TX to my "house" in Metairie, LA? Check.
Nondescript, family sedan in a popular and low-key color? Check.
It was a plain-Jane white 2004 Toyota Camry. I think my next one will be a hybrid. Gas prices are killing me.
I like to fill up just once on the trip. There's a gas station just off the Interstate in Crowley, LA. I like to have a full tank of gas before I get to Baton Rouge. Some days in Baton Rouge, there is absolutely no traffic at all. On other days, it takes two hours to get through the city.
Brand-new, state of the art, highest rated radar detector according to Consumer Reports? Check.
No obvious weld-marks, missing screws or signs of tampering on the car? Check.
No unusual odors or anything else that might cause some unwanted attention? Check.
Phone number and pass-phrase at the drop site memorized? Check.
A well-rehearsed story of where I'm going and where I'm coming from? Check.
I grew up in New Orleans. Graduated from John Curtis High School in 1994. Go Patriots! Graduated from Louisiana State University with a business degree. Go Tigers (if I'm pulled over in Louisiana)! I live in Metairie, LA, just outside of New Orleans. I'm an insurance salesman for Allstate which happens to be the insurance that I have for my nondescript family sedan.
I'm coming from my younger brother's house and going back home. His wife gave birth to their second son two weeks ago and I was visiting them over the long weekend. Yes, I'm married. I have two kids of my own. They couldn't make the trip. She had to work.
Precious cargo valued on the street between a half to one million dollars? Check.
That's enough coke to land me in jail for a very long time.
Thank God I'm not black. I would have been pulled over and caught a long time ago.
My cut will be at least $20,000. I make three trips a year. I'm not greedy. Besides, do you know what $20,000 in cash looks like. You can't exactly just walk into a bank with that much cash and expect to make a deposit.
I'm not smart enough to find a way to make a living that allows me to reasonable support my family and be able to spend quality time with them.
There was no traffic to speak of around Houston. The weather was nice. I like it better when it's raining. It reduces my visibility. But it also reduces the cop's.
I'm making good time. Cruise control set to exactly the speed limit. Made it through Texas with no problems. Now my nondescript car, with a Louisiana license plate, blends right in.
I pull in to my predetermined gas station. I fill up my car with gas. I always pay at the pump. And I always use my blinker when changing lanes or turning.
Now I'm back on the interstate. The speed limit goes down to 60 on the 17 mile long Atchafalaya Basin bridge. Cruise control now set to 60.
The traffic through Baton Rouge is not too bad. Slow, but moving. Almost home.
I take my exit off the interstate to the warehouse. I pull up to the door. I dial the memorized number. 1-504-643-2199.
The phone rings once. Twice. Thr..."Margo's," the person on the other end says.
"It's a sin to kill a mockingbird" I say.
"I'll be right down." the guy says.
The automatic door to the garage opens. I pull in. The garage door closes shut. It's louder than I wish it was. I get out of my car. Then, I erase the phone number that I just called out of my cellphone.
The time now is 3:58 P.M. Made good time. Obeyed the speed limits the whole way. Stayed out of rush hour traffic.
I hear someone walking down the metal stairs from the apartment above.
"What's going on?"
"More of the same," I say.
"How's the kids?" my acquaintance asks.
"Growing up fast," I respond.
"Do you want to come back later or just wait?"
"How long will it take you?" I ask him.
"Not long, I don't think. Do you know what your carrying?" he asks.
"I never do," I say.
"I should be done within an hour. Two at the most"
"I'll just wait then."
"You can chill out upstairs if you want. I'll be up in a minute," he tells me.
His apartment is pretty low-key. I get $20,000 minimum for a drug run from Houston to New Orleans. Sometimes I get a little extra. I guess depending on what I'm hauling. I've got no idea what this guy makes for just taking it out my car.
I turn on the TV. Turn the channel to the news. Typical run-of-the-mill news. President Bush. Paris Hilton. The War in Iraq. The War on Drugs. An alleged drug lord's family held a press conference. They're pleading for his safe release after being kidnapped last week.
I hear footsteps up the metal stairs.
"I'm all done."
"Wow. In and out in less than an hour. That's service," I say.
"You want to see what you were hauling?" he asks.
"Sure, why not." I respond.
We take the walk down the flight of metal stairs. My car is parked, ready to exit the garage.
On a table rests a handful of black garbage bags. Odd-shaped. Not perfectly rectangular like usual.
My friend pulls open one of the smaller bags.
"Is that a fucking hand?" I ask.
"It sure is."
"Was that my haul? Was I hauling a body?"
"Yep. Former drug lord Benito Valenzuela." he says. "And here's your money. $30,000. You got an extra ten, considering the cargo."
"Gee. Thanks," I respond sarcastically.
Another four months without having to work a real job? Check.