Vidalias – Todd Mercer


There’s going to be enough air if we keep from panicking.

Me and Benny are under a load of onions and the truck’s been in motion half an hour. These aren’t luxury travel berths, but they were pricey. The people we approached knew how bad we needed out of the States. There wasn’t time to find a fairer bargain.

The weather-beaten farmer at the wheel looks like he’s been a grandfather his entire life. How did he get involved?

We stop, roll a few feet, stop, roll again. Almost to Canadian Customs. Benny’s breathing too loud. If I whisper about it though, that will be louder. After the next stop a customs agent speaks to the farmer. Benny’s got to quit the audible gasps, before it’s me or him.

Hold steady and we’ll escape this produce-covered darkspace. We’ll stretch out in fresh air in minutes. Showers and supper.

If the car Benny bought over the phone is gassed up, ready in the farmer’s barn? Off to Vancouver. We’ll blend in, live quietly. Let the detectives back home chase dead ends. Men crazier than us will make trouble, keep them occupied. Someone always steps up.

We couldn’t have stayed free had we stuck around. There must be an informer. They would’ve never known to come after us. We’re lower than low profile. Not sure who’s in their pocket. Even Benny, could be. Unlikely though, real long-shot.

Maybe he wonders if it’s me.

He’s starting to huff and the customs inspector digs into the load.

I won’t do it, but only because I’ve known Benny since we were snot-nosed kids, shop-lifting. Even when he got us caught joyriding and we were incarcerated six months, I didn’t do it. Hell, I’m the best friend this guy has.

I won’t do it, but I so want to.

About the contributor: Todd Mercer writes from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018. Recent work appears in: Down in the Dirt, The Lake, Praxis and Star 82 Review.

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