The Hang Out
Hanging out in The Trucking Zone
In July of 1998 I took a job with a small trucking company in Inman South Carolina. They gave me an old T800 Kenworth to drive, as I was one of the new drivers. The owner had a couple of newer W900 Kenworths, but those were reserved for the guys who had been with him for a longer period of time. One week after I started working for him, he offered me one of those trucks... with a catch. The driver who had it had stopped at the I81 Auto Truck Stop in Max Meadows Virginia and gotten a motel room. Some time during the course of the night, he had gone into the bathroom and hung himself. I could have the truck so long as I was willing to take a bus there on Saturday, retrieve the vehicle, drive it back to our shop in South Carolina, and inventory and remove the drivers belongings so they could be returned to the family. I agreed to these conditions.
I arrived at the truck stop with out any complications. I was told the keys to the truck would be waiting at the fuel desk. The clerk provided me with the key and also a small bag containing the personal items that the driver had brought with him into the motel room. I got in the truck and immediately drove down to the shop. As I was tired from the trip, I went home and went to bed, returning on Sunday morning to empty the truck and inventory the contents.
Among the items left in the truck was a small black leather bound journal. Please don't think less of me for this but I felt compelled to read the entries made by the driver. At first I mistook this compulsion for a sheer morbid curiosity. I fought the urge, placing the journal in the first box I removed and adding it to the inventory I was taking. By the time I had finished with the job, I could no longer resist the urge. I felt that the book was calling to me, as if it held some secret that needed to be discovered. The following entries are copied directly from that journal, and do in fact reveal a rather surprising story that must be told. I have not included any entries that were not directly related to this story or any that were not necessary to the integrity thereof. Please forgive my invasion of the decedent's privacy. I'm sure you will soon understand why I felt compelled to share this information.
- July 28 1997 Today is my first day on the new job. I'm pretty excited about it. I got a better truck than I was expecting. The driver who had this one must have quit or been fired or something. I asked the boss why I was getting this rig and he said that the other driver who had it was no longer with us.
- July 31 1997 For the third morning in a row I woke up at 4am. Stupid alarm on the dash goes off at 4am no matter what time you set it for. I was able to remove the battery and disable it so hopefully I will sleep better tomorrow.
- August 28 1997 I'm still enjoying this job, but maybe trucking isn't for me. I feel like I love driving, but I just haven't been that happy lately. I'll stick it out a little longer. Maybe something else is giving me the blues.
- September 4 1997 Called the boss for a load today. He answered the phone and I said "What do you know good?" He asked me why I said that, and I told him I didn't know. He said that the last guy to drive that truck used to say that every morning when he called in. Strange, huh?
- December 10 1997 Can't wait for the 20th. The beer plant is closing for the holidays so we will be off for 2 weeks. I really need the break. Can't seem to kick these holiday blues.
- January 9 1998 Had a totally weird moment today. Got home for the weekend and dropped my trailer at the yard. I drove home, only I didn't. I pulled into the driveway at this big white house across from the Texaco on Rutherford Road. I have no idea why I went there. I've never lived there nor do I have a clue who does. I was almost in a trance or something. Guess I need to get more sleep.
- March 13 1998 Had another dream about that girl Linda. I can't for the life of me figure out who she is or what these dreams might mean. Maybe I'm losing my mind.
- June 27 1998 Good news. I haven't dreamed about "Linda" in a week. Bad news. Got drunk last night and woke up with a tattoo on my arm that says "Linda." What the hell is wrong with me? Called the tattoo parlor and the guy said that I insisted on the tattoo and told him that she was the love of my life.
- July 8 1998 Dreamed about Linda every night this week. Linda. Linda. LINDA! Who the hell is Linda?
- July 20 1998 I love Linda. I have to meet her. I feel like I'm going insane. I can't talk to anyone about her because I don't know who the hell she is.
- July 21 1998 Fuck this. Fuck you. Fuck everyone.
- July 22 1998 Whatever. I feel a little better today. I'm gonna get a motel room tonight. I don't want to spend another night in this truck. I feel like this stupid rig is the cause of all my problems.
The coroner removed him from that room on the morning of July 23rd 1998. I removed the journal from that truck on the morning of July 28th. Under the bunk I found some items in a bag that must have belonged to the previous driver. In the bag was an envelope from a paycheck. It was addressed as follows.
3300 Rutherford Rd
Taylors S.C. 29687
I drove to that address. It was a large white house directly across from the Texaco station. This got me so curious that I went to the local library to search the Newspapers for anything about one Charles Heywood. I found the following entry dated July 23 1997.
Taylors Man Found Dead Of Apparent Suicide
Police officers responded to a request for a welfare check last night and found Charles Heywood hanging in the bathroom of his Rutherford Rd home. Sgt Dan Harmon of the Greenville County Sheriff's Department said that the decedents wife Linda called and requested that officers check on the well being of her estranged husband. "She said that they had a discussion about her moving back in and she told him that she needed more time. She said that he told her that he didn't have more time."
Officer Harmon says that the woman became concerned with the nature of his comment after she got off of the phone. She tried to call back and there was no answer. "She thought that he might have been too upset to answer, so she waited an hour and tried back. She called us around 10pm after she had not heard from him for over 3 hours." Officers arrived on the scene at around 1030, and Charles was pronounced dead when the coroner arrived at approximately 11pm.
Charles is survived by his wife Linda and two sisters. There is no word yet from the family on when memorial or funeral services will be held.
I drove that truck for the first week and I experienced nothing out of the ordinary. That weekend I informed the boss that I liked my old truck better and asked if I could switch back. He scowled at my request, most likely because of the strange nature of it, as this truck was much nicer than the one I was requesting to transfer to, but he granted my request. Two weeks later he hired a new driver for that truck, and that driver drove it for the next year and a half that I was with that company and reported nothing out of the ordinary to me. Perhaps it was all a coincidence, but I was not taking any chances on a truck that had driven that far into The Trucking Zone.