As I headed south on the interstate, the sky was more white than blue. Not a cloud for miles. I consulted the weather app on my phone before leaving the house, and there was a storm forming in the northern part of Mexico but it wasn’t due in southern Texas for another twenty-four hours. I should reach my destination and head back home while it was still daylight. A single woman my age always planned ahead when traveling alone.
I raced alongside hundreds of other cars on the highway, and the drive was uneventful except for the persistent pounding coming from the trunk of my sedan. It was nothing of consequence so I turned up the radio.
As I crested a small hill, thunderheads rose up ahead. The sky to the west was clear all the way to the horizon, but by the time I neared my exit, the storm clouds were overhead. I cursed the weather app and stepped on the gas pedal. I really wanted to make this delivery in the daylight.
When I exited the interstate, I turned off the radio and I heard the pounding again. I passed only a handful of cars on the state highway, but when I turned left onto an unmarked, farm road, I was the only one in sight.
I drove on for a bit before I stopped the car. I put it in park, grabbed the tire iron I kept on the floor by the passenger seat, and popped the trunk open. I stepped out onto the gravel lane and looked up and down the road and into the fields on both sides.
I waited until the trunk lid lifted all the way and I could see the shrouded bundle clearly. It was still intact. It looked like a very large holiday ham wrapped in old rugs and bound together with tightly knotted ropes.
I was always careful when filling deliveries. I purchased my supplies with cash at Goodwill stores. I did all my research at libraries far from my residence and wore old pairs of white gloves when I paged through the books. I made sure not to leave fingerprints, neither physical nor digital. Should anyone tear into my computer, they would find nothing in its history except for bread pudding recipes and pictures of my grandchildren.
The bundle writhed and I hit at it with the tire iron. I hit at it and hit at it until the movement stopped. The rain started as I slammed the trunk shut and ran for the cab of the car. My destination was close by, another ten or fifteen minutes, so the delivery would still be fresh.
By the time I pulled onto the property, the rain was coming down in sheets. The only light visible was a thin shaft that poured out from the front door of the old farm house. It illuminated the rickety, wooden porch, and a tall, thin man dressed in overalls and work boots.
I circled the yard so that my car faced out, and I could get away easily. I made sure my doors were locked, and I reached for the gun I kept tucked in between the front car seats before I popped the trunk open. I watched as he limped over and lifted the bundle. He hoisted it onto his shoulder as if it weighed nothing. It did not surprise me. Even though I pretended to be feeble and elderly, I too could bench an impressive amount for my size. It was a necessity in my line of solitary work.
He slammed the trunk closed and started back toward his house. Neither one of us acknowledged the other, and I pulled away almost immediately. It would take me three hours to get home, maybe more in this infernal weather. If he was happy with his order, there would be a deposit of money waiting in my business account by then, and I prided myself in pleasing my home delivery customers.