“That’s it. That’s the one,” he said to the driver. He pointed as he said it, the cigarette held in his fingers glowing in the dark.
The driver slowed the truck and rolled down his window to get a better look. “You sure?”
He nodded and replied, “Yeah, I’m sure. The sunflowers have grown up, but the road is there, alright. Back up and put your headlights on it. You’ll see.”
The driver did as he was told and as the truck stopped at an angle so that its headlights were on the gap in the sunflower rows, the driver observed, “They might have been irrigating. Could be a muddy mess in there.”
“You Americans and your irrigation water. Remember where you are. No irrigation out here. But you gotta take it real slow. Won’t be able to see more than a few feet in front of the bumper. Road bends a bit to the left, too. And we’ll have to back out once we’re done,” he explained to the driver. “That’ll be the tricky part.”
“Maybe we should wait for dawn,” the driver said, taking a quick sip from a pint of vodka he’d been working on since they left town.
“No, we gotta go now. In the daylight, eyes in the sky could see the sunflower stalks moving as we drive through, especially if there’s no wind. We can’t risk that.”
“What about if they buried, you know, . . . things in the road?”
“You’ll never feel a thing if they did.”
“Okay, then, you ready?” the driver asked, putting the truck in gear.
He took the pistol from the glove compartment, jacked a round into the chamber, and nodded. “Yeah, and remember, real slow and it bends to the left.”
The truck lurched slightly as it entered the field. As it disappeared amidst the towering stalks and slowly made its way deeper into the field, the two men were jostled back and forth as the headlights barely illuminated its path forward.
He checked his phone and told the driver, “Another three hundred meters or so. Almost there. You’re doing fine.”
The driver just drove, concentrating hard on not veering off into the sunflowers. He wanted another swig of vodka bad but couldn’t risk it. It was hard just keeping the truck’s wheels on the dirt road.
“Stop! We’re there. Look over there. See it!” he exclaimed.
The driver slammed on the brakes and the old truck came to an abrupt halt. “Yeah. Not very big, is it?”
He opened his door, pushing aside the sunflower stalks as he did. Signaling for the driver to follow him, he pushed his way towards the package that was about ten feet away, the driver following him close behind.
“You know what’s in it?” the driver asked.
“We never know. Sometimes it’s communications equipment, sometimes high explosives, sometimes night vision goggles. Whatever it is, it’s hard-to-get stuff and we need all we can get,” he explained to the driver as he carefully removed the netting around the package. “Here, pull on this while I hold this other thing over here.”
After few minutes, they had the package opened and its contents sorted.
“Take those parcels, put them in the back of the truck, and cover them with the tarp,” he said to the driver. “I’ll take this little box into the front for the trip back.”
“You mind if I rest for a minute, drink a bit?” the driver asked.
“Nah, you did good. We got time. You want some of these, by the way? Came with the package,” he asked the driver. “What are they called, anyway? Never seen them before.”
“Oreos. You don’t see them here in the Ukraine,” the driver said, taking a few and putting them into his pocket. “Some American supply sergeant in Poland probably thought it might perk us up a bit. Try one. They’re okay.”
He bit into one tentatively and chewed on it for a moment. Then he ate the whole thing and reached for another.
“See what I mean?”
“Yeah, these are good,” he said smiling. “You done resting? We got a long trip back to our lines before sunup.”
“Yeah, I’m good. Maybe next time we’ll get some Fritos,” he said.
“Fritos? What’re they?”
“Got you interested, haven’t I,” the driver said, a wry smile on his face.