The route they had to take from Wilson headquarters in northern New Jersey to the FDA building just outside of Washington DC in Maryland would bring them to Pennsylvania in forty-five minutes and then cut laterally east to New Jersey and the New Jersey Turnpike. From the turnpike they would go through Delaware and cut west to reach the perimeter of DC and upper Maryland. Right now they were entering a tiny zone in Pennsylvania that protruded into their itinerary.
“This part of the trip is slow. They’re always doing construction on this segment of the road. See up ahead, the road is narrowing to one lane. We’ll be crawling along for awhile.” Frimple down-shifted causing the giant truck to hiss, roar and belch black smoke from its dual stacks.
The road expanded again to three lanes for about fifteen-minutes. There was little traffic at this time of the morning. DeCarlo looked at his watch. It was five-thirty-five.
“Oh oh, looks like a detour ahead.” Frimple geared the truck down with more hissing of the hydraulics and a groaning protest from the diesel engine.
A state police car with its rotating dome lights was beside a tank truck which appeared jack-knifed across the highway. The state trooper waved Frimple to a stop and Frimple rolled down his window.
“What’s happening officer?”
“We have about a two-hour delay to get this tanker rig moved. Take this right detour. It loops around. You’ll be back on the highway in fifteen-minutes.”
“Okay.” Frimple took the exit onto the tree-lined two-lane road. “I hate this, but it happens more often than not.”
“This road is bumpy.” DeCarlo missed the comfort of his big Buick.
“So what. Our cargo isn’t fragile.”
The truck disappeared around the wooded landscape out of sight of the highway. The driver of a car parked on the side of the road in the opposite direction picked up his car phone.
“They just passed me.” The man watched the black smoke from the truck’s stacks diffuse into the atmosphere.
The state trooper answered the man. “Good. Take care of things at your end.” The trooper got into the police car and shut off the rotating blue and red lights. The tank car
started its engine, straightened out and moved down the Pennsylvania highway.
The parked car moved onto the road behind the trailer truck. After five-minutes the man spoke into the phone again. “They’re three miles away. I’m right behind them.”
“This road should begin its turn back according to the state cop’s direction.” Frimple looked at the road which showed no indication of looping back toward the highway. Another state police car with its lights flashing was horizontal across the road blocking both lanes.
“What the Christ?” Frimple looked at DeCarlo. “Now what?” Frimple brought the truck to a hissing stop and rolled down the window.
Two state troopers moved toward the truck. “You’ll have to get out of your vehicle.” The trooper barked at Frimple and then noticed DeCarlo. “Both of you.”
The second trooper went around to the passenger side of the truck.
“What? Why do we have to get out? What’s going on?” Frimple protested.
“Just get out. We’re looking for a hijacked truck. Get down and show me your cargo manifest papers.”
“Hijacked truck. This is ridiculous.” Frimple opened the truck door and stepped onto the road.
The trooper took the papers and walked with Frimple and DeCarlo to the back of the truck. He looked at the papers. “Open it up.”
“This cargo is sealed. It has to remain intact until an official at the FDA
acknowledges that no tampering has taken place.”
“Open it, now.” The trooper drew his pistol.
“Now wait a minute. I’m an executive of Wilson Medical Products. You can’t do this.” DeCarlo reached into his jacket pocket to get his identification.
“Raise your hands.” The second trooper pointed his gun at DeCarlo.
DeCarlo began to sweat. “What is this?”
“Break the seal, driver.” The trooper motioned to the tagged lock with the gun.
Frimple complied when the gun barrel was pressed against his chest. He broke the seal, opened the rear folding door and raised it.
The trooper looked at the manifest papers and checked the exposed boxes.
“This is the right truck. Okay you two, move to the side of the road and stay facing the woods.”
The car that had tailed them pulled behind the truck which was now at the side of the road. A small tank truck labeled “Septic Tank Pump Service” pulled to the left of the rear of the trailer truck. A man got out and pulled out a long hose. He began pumping what smelled like kerosene onto the NDA boxes.
Frimple smelled the fuel and turned to look.
“Don’t turn around.” The trooper prodded him in the back with the gun muzzle.
The man from the car went up to DeCarlo. “Your name is Paul DeCarlo? Dr. Paul DeCarlo?”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“I’m just making sure.” He pulled out his automatic and fired two bullets into DeCarlo’s face.
“Oh my God.” Frimple looked at DeCarlo’s twitching form thrown back to the edge of the road. He now smelled the black smoke from the burning trailer as the boxes of NDA documents were set ablaze.
“You want to look at your truck. Go ahead and look.” The second trooper pushed him forward.
“What’s going to happen to me? I’m just a truck driver.” Frimple was tremulous.
“You were just a truck driver.” The car driver in civilian clothes fired his 9mm automatic twice into Frimple’s chest. He turned to the state policemen. “Okay. We’ll take
it from here. This rig has to burn completely. You two get out of here with that car. We’ll see you at the debriefing.”
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