The One With The Transporter

Chapter One

By: Jana~

*****~*****

--He needed money, and fast. The bills were piling up, all of them in threatening 'final notice red' print, warning him to pay ASAP. His landlord gave him a one-week extension, with the stipulation that the rent would be paid in full by the seventh day. He was running out of options.

When his friend, Joey offered him the quick, easy job, the amount of money attached set off several alarms in his head, but he pushed all doubts aside. He needed the money.

"Chandler, would you relax! It's a quick way to make some cash," Joey promised. "Two days up, two days back."

"Yeah," Chandler agreed with a scowl, "But is it legal?"

Joey gave his friend a sideways glance, "For the amount of money we're talking about, does it matter?"

"It matters," Chandler insisted weakly. "I don't need a prison record following me."

"Don't worry," Joey worked to assure him. "It'll be in your possession for only a couple days! Even if it is illegal--"

"So," Chandler cut him off, "It could be something illegal!"

"Look," Joey soothed, his arm around him, "Just drive the car from point A to point B, and don't even give it thought, ok? Then upon delivery, you'll get a fat wad of money, and that'll be it."

Chandler nodded, basically feeling trapped. "Alright."

He wasn't at all happy with the conditions of the job, but he was just too desperate to pass it up, and it was a lot of money. Enough to pay his past due bills, his currently due bills, plus have extra left over.

"Just show up here," Joey said, handing over a slip of paper with the information on it. "And here are the keys to the car. Instructions are in the glove box from there."

"Right," Chandler replied distractedly as he read the note silently.

"And whatever you do," Joey added seriously, softly. "Don't open the package."

"See," Chandler retorted, "That's where it sounds illegal to me."

"They're just protective of their property," Joey explained.

"And just who is they?"

"They're protective over their identities, too," Joey replied. "Just follow the directions to the letter and there will be no problems."

"Ok," Chandler agreed to the suspicious terms. "Thanks for getting me the job."

"Hey," Joey smiled, patting him on the back. "What are friends for?"

*****~*****

--The note was brief, but one part caught Chandler's attention as odd. The note insisted that he read the instructions in the glove box of the car before anything else.

Everything was exactly as it said it would be. The car was in the exact parking garage, in the exact parking spot as the note said it would be.

"A Cadillac," he murmured, smiling as he approached it. Never in a million years would he be rich enough to afford a beautiful car such as this. "Even if only for a few days," he told himself, pleased at the chance to drive the luxury vehicle.

He keyed into the passenger side and immediately retrieved the instructions from the glove compartment. That note was as cryptic as the first, maybe even more so. The directions were simple enough, and the envelope included money for gas, food, and lodging while on the trip, but the absolute secrecy they insisted on with regards to the package, which was apparently in the trunk, made the fine hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

Whatever he was transporting, it was either illegal, or of the utmost importance to the people he was delivering it to. Or both.

His brow furrowed at the situation as he threw his duffel bag in the back seat, then easily slid into the driver's seat. After a quick adjusting of the mirrors and seat, he was off, on an adventure he was sure would be far from unproblematic. He just had a feeling.

*****

--Hours stretched on as he traveled down the scenic, semi-deserted road, the radio softly playing 80's music. When a song came on that he knew well, he would sing along, otherwise, he would sit silent, deep in thought.

The more he thought about it, the more paranoid he became. He was certain, after lamenting for hours, that the package was something bad. Something he was likely going to get in trouble for transporting. He wondered if Joey knew what it was. He wondered, would his friend had gotten him involved in something he knew to be illegal? How well did he know Joey?

--The diner was a greasy spoon, in every sense of the word, but after the hours he had spent driving, he hardly cared. It had food, and it was brown, hot, and there was lots of it, and that was all that mattered.

He originally just stopped to get gas, but when he saw there was a diner attached, his growling stomach dictated he stay and eat. The food tasted ok, though he was sure it would affect him negatively later, but as soon as he was finished, he dropped the amount of the check plus tip on the table and left. His mind wouldn't stop conjuring up all sorts of possibilities for what was in the trunk, like money, or drugs. A bomb? An endangered animal?

Like that dragon in that one movie, he thought as he headed for the car. What was it called? 'The Freshman'?

He shook his head as he kicked at a few pebbles, the car barely a few feet away. Upon hearing a noise, he stopped abruptly, quickly looking around to see if anyone was near enough to him that could be responsible for it, but no one was.

Thinking it strange, the noise itself seeming unusual, he walked around the car, trying to determine what it was and where it could have come from. After finding nothing to explain it, he decided that it was probably a stray pebble he had kicked, hitting the car or something.

Sliding into the driver's seat, his mind was filled with doubts. Sure, it could have been a pebble hitting the car, but that wasn't what it sounded like. It sounded like…

He shook his head as the thought hit him. It wasn't that. It couldn't be that.

A nervous uneasy breath followed him out of the car, and he walked shakily to the trunk of the vehicle, scowling as he leaned in and put his ear to the cold metal. He listened for more than a minute, but he could hear nothing at all. No sounds of any kind.

Relieved, he headed back for the driver's side door.

Taking his place once again behind the wheel, he criticized himself, Stupid overactive imagination.

He turned over the car and peeled out of the parking lot, irritated with himself for getting worked up over nothing.

*****

--It started to drizzle as the sun began to set, but that didn't bother Chandler any. Rain never did. As others would scatter for shelter, he would usually continue about his day, walking casually as if rain wasn't coming down at all. It was just water, after all.

After turning the windshield wipers on to a steady slow pace, he cranked up the radio, both to compensate for the added noise and because it was a song he liked.

He was singing along, relaxing a little for the first time since the start of the trip, when he heard a noise that caught his attention. He quickly turned off the music and listened intently for the sound to repeat, but instead of a similar noise occurring, the back left tire blew, causing Chandler to swerve a bit and skid.

Finally getting the car under control, slowed down, and to the side of the road, he muttered a few obscenities before getting out to see what the damage was.

It was just a flat tire, and although inconvenient and time consuming, it was nothing Chandler couldn't handle. He grabbed the keys from the ignition and headed back for the trunk when he realized, getting the jack and the spare meant he would be seeing the package.

Chandler stared at the trunk for several minutes, wondering what he should do. He couldn't just stay there at the side of the road and do nothing, but if he opened the trunk and saw 'the package', what kind of trouble would he make for himself then?

"I should ask Joey," he mumbled, then grabbed his cell phone from inside the car. He dialed the number from memory, then waited for him to answer. After a dozen rings, it became obvious that he wasn't going to.

Chandler sighed heavily and clicked off the phone. "I can't stay here all night. I'll just, avert my eyes of something," he reasoned. "They'll understand," he further tried to convince himself. "After all, they want their package delivered on time. I can't do that sitting here on the side of the road."

Slowly, nervously, he pushed the key into the trunk lock and turned it. It clicked, jerking upwards to open. The light flickered on, and Chandler gasped as 'the package' came into view.

He stumbled backwards a step or two, his lips curved down into an expression of horror as he continued to stare.

Swallowing hard, he muttered the only words that came to his mind, "Oh, my, God."

TBC

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