A thumping awakens him and he stretches before calling out that he's awake. He goes to the terminal for a quick shower then comes back to fuel up the truck. He backs under the train of loads and checks the bills as he connects airlines. First he makes a quick check of tires and brakes. All in order, he pulls on his airhorn and pulls the loads out of the yard.
At one thirty precisely he pulls in front of Trudy's place and she tosses up her bag to him and climbs the ladder into the cab. "Oh man, you look beat. Didn't you get any sleep today?"
"It hasn't been the best of days, my love." They turn onto the freeway and head east.
"Where's Lenny? Asleep?"
"Not coming this trip. It's all terminal-to-terminal. How you been?"
"Actually I've had a pretty good day. Got some rest and took care of business. Got a lot of info for you. You owe me big time now." She grins widely.
The lights of Hope disappear behind them and they begin the long haul to Calgary. Mike starts explaining what all has happened. He has to include almost all of what he; Nina, Jeff and Marlene have been up to so it all makes sense. When he gets done they are passed Manning Lodge and motoring for Princeton.
"So you see, I didn't get much rest today. They're breathing down my neck at every turn. And now I have doubts about Ray, into the bargain."
"I wish I could have seen that latest forensic report. It doesn't sound good."
"But you don't know Ray. Dig out that old battered briefcase of mine. Yeah, my old one. There's a copy of my interview with him in there. Read it and tell me if you think he's a killer."
She digs it out and reads the interview. They pass through Princeton and head on towards Keremeos down the winding highway.
"He wanted to take her to "Cats". He is a sweetheart." She goes on reading. When she finishes she says, "Can I read the other one, Marie Mathers?"
"Sure, but tell me first what you think of Ray?"
"I have to let it sink in for a bit. Let me read the other one." She starts reading and Mike lets her go. In Keremeos he swings north up the Okanagan. She sits with the two interviews in her hands and stares off across the dark flats to the gray-lit cliffs pocked with mine shafts. "I think your right. Ray's not the murderer, but I think I know who is."
"Well, tell me, for God's sake! Don't just sit there. Who did it?"
"It would be better for your ego if you figured it out."
"Forget my ego, who did it?"
"It's only a hunch, you know, women's intuition. Maybe I'm wrong. If I tell you, it'll throw you off track. You do things methodically; you follow logic, step by step. When you have discovered the truth, you'll be able to prove it. It’s better your way. He won't kill anyone else right away so there's no hurry."
"Are you going to tell me, or aren't you?"
"Hmmmm, I don't think so."
"TRUDY!! Dammit, tell me what's on your mind?"
"That's simple. Sex! When are we stopping?"
"Oh Lord." Mike sighs in resignation as she disappears into the sleeper. He pulls into the truck stop north of Keremeos. "Come on if you want a coffee or a pee."
Trudy tumbles out his door behind him and half rides his shoulder to the ground. They laugh together as they go inside. They order two ciders and sip them at the counter. Before they leave they visit the can together, the other washroom is out of order. Seated on the johns in adjoining booths they chatter away and laugh at jokes written on the walls. Mike gets a cold jug of cider to take with them and they climb back up into the truck. He picks a gear and they are off.
"So it’s always been a fantasy of yours to get laid in a big old truck, eh?
"One with a sleeper on it."
"Well, you've done that. What's next?"
"To do it again and again and again with you."
"Just three more times, eh?"
She swats his shoulder and disappears. In a while she sneaks back out in a cowboy hat of his and that's all. She curls up on the console and says, "Wake me when it gets light enough to see me from outside."
"Trudy! How am I ever going to concentrate on driving?"
"Maybe you better stop."
Mike just keeps on trucking. They go through Penticton and along the lakes toward Kelowna. In the predawn light he glances at her and realizes she's fast asleep. He lays a hand on her ass then pulls it back and shakes his head. He stretches and puts his mind on the road. Along a deserted strip by the lake he stops to have a piss. Trudy quietly follows him down and when he sees her, says. "I have to pee, too. Will you hold my hand so I don't fall over?" She squats by the riverbank and gets rid of some cider, while Mike holds her hand and pisses in the water. They scramble back up to the truck and her bare bottom precedes him inside.
Soon they're rolling again and she marvels at the rose colored sunrise over the water. Ripples break perfect reflections when a fish jumps for a fly. Another CPX rig appears far down the highway coming their way around the lake and Mike watches to catch the number on the cab. Trudy sits up and waves at the other driver as they pass then giggles at Mike's look of horror and says, "I guess I better get dressed."
They roll through Kelowna, out passed the airport and north towards Sicamous. Mike figures he'll make Golden by ten and Calgary by two, local time. If they have anything for Edmonton, he'll sleep there tonight. Otherwise he'll come back to Golden for the night.
At Sicamous Husky Station and Truckstop he pulls in for breakfast. Traffic is picking up so he tries to rush Trudy along, but she's like a mule. She goes faster if you leave her alone. He should know this by now, he figures.
When they're back on the highway, he finds himself wondering about Nina and what she's doing this morning. He wishes he could call home but he's still not sure about a bug on his phone. He thinks it highly unlikely, but all the same, not worth the chance. Trudy breaks into his thoughts with, "What you pondering on? They'll survive without you for a day or two."
"Imp, your psychic, I swear you are."
"Want to know about your suspects?"
"Sure. What'd you get?
"Well, you know the Realtor, Mr. Hairyman, Harrington, no Harrison. He and his wife are swingers." She grins. "Just like you and Jeff, I guess. Only they do it with lots of couples." She looks thoughtful for a moment and murmurs, "You have three women your screwing. I guess you could be a swinger. Swinger Mike. I like that. That's what I'll call you."
"Don't you dare!"
"Swinger Mike. Swinger Mike. Are you there, Swinger Mike?" She laughs and Mike tries not to pay any attention to her.
"Do they know about me?"
"So I'm your secret sweetheart, am I?"
"You were telling me about the suspects."
"I could be your secret mistress. We could have a ceremony where we are wed as Master and Mistress. How quaint. Would you take me to be your awfully wedded mistress, Mike? Then if I didn't obey you, you could beat me and make me carry buckets, oaken buckets of water up the hill to our secret cabin in the mountains." She breaks into song. "Wouldn't it be love-ely, love-ely, love-ely?"
"You know what I mean."
"It disturbs me, but I think I do."
"Anyway they live in Port Coquitlam. I have the address here somewhere. They love to swing. And the night of the murder they were swinging with a very prominent couple in our government circles who are not married and shall remain anonymous for now, in the Harrison Motel at Harrison Hot Springs. They were there all night and I bet even the police won't get that date out of them."
"How did you find that out? I don't think I really want to know. How reliable is your informant?"
"On a scale of one to ten."
"What do they do for an encore?"
She shrugs, "Royalty, I suppose."
They both break up laughing. They swing around the lake at Three Valley Gap and along the sheer overhanging cliffs then cross the bridge heading for Revelstoke. Trudy tips the jug of cider up on her shoulder and tries to take a sip. It runs down the front of her and she laughs as Mike shakes his head. "Never do to take you into a civilized part of town."
She giggles and chokes on the cider. Hacking and coughing, she tries to pour him a cup. Mike gets snickering and finally laughing as she does it.
"There." She proudly hands him the cup. "I plan on you licking that cider off my teats later, you know. And I don't want to be sticky all day, hint, hint."
Mike drinks the cider and watches traffic. They pull into Revelstoke and start the climb into Glacier Park. They climb through the park and over Rogers Pass then across the time change line and down to the Columbia River. At ten fifteen Mike pulls into the yard at the Husky in Golden. "Lunch time. Let's go."
"I can't go in like this."
"You'll find a jug of water in the sleeper. Clean up and come on in." He opens the door. She pouts and goes behind the curtain. Mike peeks behind the curtain where she is washing her chest. She grins at him and dries on his towel then pulls another top out of her bag. They go inside for a bite of early lunch.
After lunch when they're back on the road for Calgary, Mike asks, "Did you get an address for the Harrison’s?"
"Yep. Let me dig out my paperwork." She reaches back into the sleeper and kneels beside him on the console. "Ronald and Rita Harrison, 361 Larkin Ave., it's out near Glen Park and the Coquitlam Center in POCO. Nice houses in that area. He must be a fairly successful Realtor or else his wife has a topnotch job. It's quiet but close to all the amenities."
"I don't suppose you have any idea why his name would be in Flo's address book?"
"I've been thinking about that. Of course there are many ways, but most logical was they met at a private party or hired her to appear at some private due. They may have just hired her as a third party for a threesome. You plan to interview them? I'd like to come along. Kinky people interest me."
"That why you hang out with me?"
"Of course." They laugh.
"When we get back I just may ask you to accompany me on some interviews. I have to get to work on this case quickly now that the police are raising so many obstacles. Can I get a copy of your schedule?"
"I'll get it for you when we get back."
"How did you make out with Vanuetche and Scanlon?"
"Got addresses and some dirt on both." She looks at her paperwork. "Anton Vanuetche, called Tony by most friends, lives alone in his deceased mother's house. It's not transferred to him yet; it's at 787 Wilson Ave., its down near the west end and backs on the river and Reeve Street Park. It's an older part of town with small older bungalows. You know he's involved with drug trafficking, eh?"
"I don't know to what extent, but he has many nighttime visitors and often stops in Vancouver in the Vietnamese drug gangs' territory when he's supposed to be making deliveries for CPX."
"Are you sure?"
"How do you find something like that about a person?"
"My secret. You would have found it out on your own, given time. I know you've been busy; two women almost next door to each other. It's a wonder you can keep up?"
"That isn't all I do."
"You got more of them?"
"Oh shush. You know what I mean."
They have passed Field and are nearing Lake Louise. Trudy goes on, "Scanlon. Now that was the tough one. You know he maintains about three different addresses. As near as I can figure he keeps women at those addresses for hire. His stable of call girls. He may appear to be a cab driver to you, but in reality he's a pimp.
"Suppose they had a falling out? Maybe she wasn't telling him about some of her tricks or she was telling the other girls they didn't need him. In general causing trouble in the crib. Do you think he would resort to murder? What's his sexual preference?"
"He's a pimp! What more do you want?"
"Why would he go to such lengths to make it appear a sex crime if he's involved in the sex trade? To warn the other girls? It doesn't make sense. The finger of suspicion would point right at him. Still, if he didn't mean to kill her, only scare her, hmmmm."
"I don't think she was slavish enough to him to go with him to the crime scene. Of course I don't know what their relationship was like. We're going to have to talk to his girls, eh?"
"Definitely. I suppose the police already have. I didn't see it in any reports, though."
They roll into Calgary around one thirty PM and Mike drops the trailers. He checks with dispatch and they have a train going north to Edmonton for him. He gets the bills, checks out the trailers and fuels up. When he talks to Toronto they tell him he has a longbox in Edmonton that's going to Vanderhoof. Since he doesn't have a swamper with him, he's to drop it in Prince George. A local driver will deliver it from there. If they have anything for the coast in Prince George he can head home, but at the present time there is nothing for him going south. It looks like he might have to bob tail back to Sicamous for the longbox waiting there. They head out of Calgary towards Red Deer on number two. It’s flat and lots of lanes. They're soon flying along.
Trudy comes out of the sleeper and he fills her in on where they are going. She watches the flat prairie roll by and says, "Are we going to be home tomorrow night?"
"Oh, I think so. It will probably be late."
"I didn't figure on more than two days. I'll have to make some calls if we aren't home before morning day after tomorrow."
"Tired of my company already?"
"You know better. It's Crystal. I have to keep in touch with her or she'll be wondering and worrying. She shouldn't be worrying about her mother, she should be concentrating on school and play and just being a girl."
"Yeah, I know what you mean."
"Do you think I should be raising her alone?"
"What? What you thinking?"
"Do you think I should have another one?"
"Haven't you got your hands full already?"
"Sometimes I wonder that's all."
"Trudy, you have that gleam in your eye. You haven't stopped taking the pill, have you?"
"No! I'd tell you if I had."
"Yeah, I thought so."
As they near Edmonton the sun is low in the sky on their left. Mike drops the train of trailers in the yard and hooks up on the trailer for Vanderhoof. He talks with Toronto and they tell him to bob tail from Prince George to Sicamous.
Out of Edmonton on sixteen to the truck stop at Edson Mike is facing the setting sun and it's dark when they pull in behind the service center. He parks by other rigs near the fence. Trudy gets out with him and they head for the bathrooms. They meet back in the cafe for a bite.
"Are we staying here tonight?"
"I thought we'd better. I'm starting to get laggy on the shifts and we'll soon be back into the mountains. You tired enough to sleep?"
"Later. I'm not that tired yet." She looks at him knowingly. Mike just grins as he reaches across and takes her hands in his.
"Finish your coffee then... or do you want to bring it along?"
"It's finished. Let's go."
Hand in hand they return to the rig and she climbs up his side ahead of him, over his seat and into the sleeper. He just grins as he clambers up and watches her bare bottom ahead of him. "You do that on purpose, don't you?"
"What did you say?" She looks back with a mischievous grin. "I didn't hear you." She wiggles her ass and disappears behind the curtain. He follows her.
Much later she comes out through the curtain and perches on the console in her cowboy hat. Mike pulls on his jeans and a pair of slippers. "I'm going for coffee. You want one?"
"Yeah, I'll join you."
"You can't go like that in only a cowboy hat."
"I'll grab a robe and wait for you outside the cafe. You can bring me out a cup."
"Okay. I'm going then." He starts to leave and she says, "Wait for me."
She follows him to the service station and uses the Ladies while he's inside. When he comes back out they take their coffee back towards the rig. They stop by the fence and marvel at the Northern Lights throwing bands of color in the sky overhead. Mike lifts her up on a rail and she leans against his shoulder as they drink and chat, watching the sky.
Mike says, "Going to be a hot clear day tomorrow. By this time tomorrow we should be back down near the valley. I guess I should call home but I almost dread to hear what has been happening. Nina wasn't supposed to go in to work today so there won't be anything new there. Marlene will be upset with me because Jeff is in such a bad mood over events, he won't be giving her any attention. Probably Marlene and Nina spent the day together."
"They are probably having a lesbian affair by now and they'll kick you out so you can come live with your mistress."
"I can dream, can't I?"
"You want to carry your dream to its logical conclusion, I'll move in with my mistress and keep her knocked up. We'll raise a dozen kids, and I'll seek peace with some other waitress on the road somewhere else."
"No! You tease! Let's go back to bed."
He lifts her off the fence rail, kisses her and carries her to the truck. She goes up the ladder ahead of him and he reaches up for a little feel as he follows. She stops to let him have a good feel then goes over the console with him in hot pursuit.