Internment – Laura J. Campbell

The box truck cut them off, jockeying for preferential access to the freeway ramp. Then it stopped at a red light, giving Rebecca and her daughter, Clare, the opportunity to catch up to it and give the truck driver the look that drivers give to other drivers who zip past only to end up stuck at the same red light anyway. That knowing ‘well, we meet again’ look.

The truck was painted white with a single word written in very large Courier font on its clean metallic side: Internment.

“That looks ominous,” Rebecca nodded towards the truck.

“Why?” Clare, fifteen years old and squarely in the season of knowing everything, asked. “Internment,” Rebecca pointed out. “ No contact phone number. No company address. No permit numbers. The cab windows are tinted. I wonder if it’s transporting bodies.”

“Mom!” Clare exclaimed. “That’s awful! It’s just a truck.”

“What else could ‘internment’ mean? Sounds like being interred to me. You know, interred – being placed in a grave. They’re probably carrying a thousand urns of ashes and a hundred body-bagged corpses.”

“Please never take one of those word association tests, Mom.. ‘Internment’ probably means something innocuous.”

“It looks abnormally clean,” Rebecca continued. “Just like you would expect a body-moving truck to be. And it’s night time . What better time to move bodies? Perhaps they have a bunch of bodies in there right now. Sitting next to us at this traffic light.”

Clare was shaking her head. “No, Mom.” Although her mother’s point was well taken; the truck was almost spotless. Clare had the odd realization that she had never seen a totally clean commercial truck. Or a dirty hearse.

“Imagine if that truck got into an accident?” Rebecca suggested, making up a mock-headline: “Box truck and car collide. Drivers of both vehicles okay. Fifty-seven dead at scene. They’d have no idea where all the bodies came from..”

“That is so bad. You are so bad.”

“Why doesn’t it say anything else? Like what the business does? Or a phone number?”

“I don’t know,” Clare pulled out her phone and typed in the name on the side of the truck.

“It’s a furniture company,” she proclaimed “‘Inter’ for interior furniture and ‘ment’ for entertainment systems. The ‘n’ is shorthand for the word ‘and.’”

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