Day 8: 09 Aug 2010.
Got into work early, and good thing I did -- a ship from Lithuania was just coming into port, an hour early. Frank, Kiplinger's Dock Supervisor, was standing outside the office when I arrived.
"G'Morning, Trav," he said, waving.
"Hey, Frank. That the freighter out of Vilnus?"
"Yeah. They're probably all fucked up on the time difference or something."
"Maybe they broke a few speed limits out there. Anyhow, you ready to get the office up and running? My boys are all set," Frank said.
"Yeah. Give me five minutes, then start scanning in cans," I said, unlocking the office.
"Right. Time to earn our checks. Such as they are," Frank said, grinning, as he headed down the stairs for the dock.
I booted up my machine and got to work.
* * *
We got the Vilnus ship processed by two that afternoon. The police called shortly after to talk about my truck.
"Mr. Sykes? My name's Detective Weinstein, I'm with Wilmington PD. I've been assigned to the vandalism of your 2003 F-150?"
"Right," I said. "Find out anything?"
"Not too much to go on. Yours was the only vehicle hit. Looks like a baseball bat was used. We did check for fingerprints on the note -- nothing. Probably gloves."
"So what's next?"
"Um. . . what's next is nothing. As I said, there's not much to go on. You probably know more about the vandalism than us."
"How do you mean?"
"One truck hit. A note left on the dashboard. That says you were targeted, personally. But you said yesterday you didn't know who might do this."
"That's true," I said, but of course it wasn't entirely. I knew that it had something to do with maninblack422 and Jared. I just couldn't explain that without coming off as a complete nutbag.
"Well, that's about it, then. Keep your eyes open. Call us if you see anything suspicious, anyone lurking around your vehicle. Did your insurance take care of the windshield?"
"Yeah, they replaced it yesterday afternoon."
"All right. Our end is wrapped up, unless you have anything more you want to add?"
"Nothing comes to mind, Detective."
"Have a pleasant day, sir."
* * *
I got home a little early, around five or so. Made a stir fry with Tofu and some spicy red sauce with a label I can't translate -- think it's Thai -- and sat down at the computer. Dicked around on the Internet until well past dark.
I was watching Burn Notice on Hulu when my phone rang -- it was the office.
"Travis. Jed Kiplinger. Listen, we have a last-minute arrival from St. Petersburg. I need you to come in and help out, OK? Maybe two hours of work, and you can take the day off tomorrow," Kiplinger said.
I was impressed -- he actually got my name right.
"Yeah, OK. Give me about ten minutes," I said, sighing and hanging up. I shut down my computer and put on my combat boots. Just as I was heading out the door, I noticed the message light on my BlackBerry flashing. I checked -- a new BBMessenger message.
It was from maninblack422. It said: "Stay away from the docks tonight. Can't explain more, but you're in a large amount of danger.
I was about getting sick of this shit, so I tapped out a quick reply: "Hey, fuck you, guy. I don't take orders from anyone. Especially not faceless ghost-men who hide behind the Internet."
I assumed he'd logged off already, but that was fine with me. He'd get the message eventually -- unlike IM, BlackBerry would deliver it when he turned his phone back on. I felt a little better. Sure, it was impotent rage at best, but at least I'd gotten some of it off my chest. I smirked and headed for the front door.
The last thing I remember is walking toward my truck -- everything went black just a second later.