Jake is a delivery man with a mission to earn his boss’s approval to date the man’s daughter. When he gets an opportunity to prove himself, Jake doesn’t realize his very life will be placed in peril.
Jake headed toward his third stop for the day. He was determined to prove to his boss, Osmond, that he was dependable and efficient at delivering packages. It was the only way he could prove himself worthy to date Margo, his boss’s daughter.
“I’m making good time,” he said as he stopped at the curb. “Now, I just need to keep this up.”
Jake went round to the back to fetch the packages he needed to deliver. He reached for the first box and froze. A strange, whimpering cry was coming from his cargo. A chill ran down Jake’s spine as he scanned the various boxes and crates stacked in the truck.
A soft scrape, like claws, drew Jake’s attention to a particular crate. Sometimes people illegally shipped live animals, but usually, those were small critters. This box was big enough to hold a medium dog or a far more dangerous creature.
Jake took a deep breath and kicked the side of the crate. The immediate response was so horrifying that Jake leaped from the truck and drove to the nearest police station.
It took a few minutes of convincing before two police officers agreed to check out the cargo in Jake’s truck. They followed him out into the parking lot.
“You say this crate screamed at you?” Officer Lopez asked as Jake opened the truck.
“Whatever is inside the crate screamed at me,” Jake replied. “It sounded like a person.”
Once the doors were open, Officer Lopez had no trouble identifying the crate that had caused Jake so much worry. It was jerking and wobbling as though it was alive. Lopez tapped the side of the container with a crowbar.
“Let me out of here!” A squeaky voice called out from inside the crate.
“It’s a kid!”
Lopez immediately set to work opening the crate. “Hang on, kid, I’ll get you out in a minute.”
Jake stared in amazement at the skinny boy that climbed out of the box. His clothes were raggedy and a few sizes too small. There were dirty marks on the boy’s face and knees.
“Who are you, and why were you in that crate?” Officer Lopez asked.
The boy looked at the police officer fearfully. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I had to hide in that crate or the bad men would’ve hurt me.”
“What bad men?” Jake asked.
“The bad men in the warehouse where the packages are stored.” The boy stepped toward Jake, but Officer Lopez grabbed his arm.
“Not so fast, kid.” Lopez looked sternly at the child. “Bad men? I want to hear more about this, starting with what you were doing in that warehouse.”
“I was there because…” the kid trailed off and looked away.
“You were stealing, weren’t you? You’d best tell us how to contact your parents because you’re in a lot of trouble,” Lopez said as she guided the boy out of the truck.
“I don’t have any parents, and I wasn’t stealing!” The boy struggled in Lopez’s grip.
“I was there because I saw two men loading up a car and knew they were up to no good. I wanted to protect the warehouse so I went inside to investigate.”
“A likely story. Tell us the truth, and we’ll go easy on you. Otherwise, you’re looking at juvenile detention or community service, kid.”
“I am telling the truth!” The boy looked pleadingly at Jake. “Please, mister, you have to believe me. I was trying to help, and I still can because I saw what those thieves look like.”
Jake followed as Officer Lopez escorted the child into the police station. He wasn’t sure what to think. He knew thieves were a problem at the warehouse lately because Osmond had insinuated Jake was one of them two weeks ago.
Margo had invited Jake to dinner so he and Osmond could get more comfortable with each other. Instead, Osmond had spent the evening giving Jake suspicious looks and talking about the ‘rats’ in his company.
Jake ran. While the thieves pursued him, he ducked and wove through the maze of shelves filling the warehouse.
“Mighty big rats that are walking off with thousands of dollars worth of packages. Clearly an inside job too.” Osmond had fixed him with a fierce glare. “I’ve been in this business long enough to know where to start looking when the rats start scratching.”
Surely one child couldn’t be responsible for stealing so much. There wasn’t enough muscle on the boy’s arms to carry anything heavy. Jake hurried to catch up to Lopez and the kid.
“Wait a minute,” Jake said. He crouched down beside the boy. “Tell me everything you saw.”
The police refused to let Jake speak to the boy, Simon, until after they questioned him. He waited an hour before they led him to a room where Simon was waiting.
“I’ll tell you everything,” Simon said, “but you have to promise to help me. They want to call child services, but I must return home to Granny. She needs me.”
“I thought you didn’t have family,” Jake replied.
“I have Granny. She’s looked after me all these years, but now she’s very old, and her pension doesn’t cover all our needs.”
Simon hung his head. “That’s why I was at the warehouse. I stole groceries from there sometimes.”
“So you lied to me? You are the thief.”
“No! I did take a few things in the past, but this guy pulled up with a car. He and another man packed the trunk and back seat full of packages. One of them works there. I know exactly who it is.”
Simon told Jake the car had pulled up to the back loading bay, which only had dummy security cameras. The security guard let the driver in. Simon was watching them load the car with packages when he knocked against one of the shelves, and it tipped over.
The security guard came looking for him, so Simon hid inside one of the fallen boxes. He’d intended to escape in the morning but had fallen asleep. He’d only woken up when his hiding spot was loaded into Jake’s truck.
“I believe you,” Jake said. “But I don’t think the police or my boss will want to investigate this further. So, I’ll look into it myself.”
That night, Jake didn’t go home after work. Instead, he found a corner of the warehouse to hide in, where he had a clear view of the back loading bay.
“I’ll prove to Osmond that I’m not the thief,” he whispered as he settled down to wait. “Then he’ll have to accept my relationship with Margo.”
Hours passed. Jake was falling asleep when the loading bay door started lifting. He straightened up, and all his courage drained away at what he saw.
Either Simon had lied, or the size of the operation had grown overnight. A panel van was parked in the loading bay, and at least five burly men were climbing out the back.
“This is too much for me to handle alone.”
Jake removed his phone from his pocket and dialed 911.
While he waited for the police to arrive, Jake huddled in his hiding spot and watched the men load up boxes and crates. They spoke harshly to each other while they worked and joked about the terrible things they’d done in the past to people who interrupted them.
Jake was too scared to move. The men were close to his hiding place and moving closer. Soon, they’d catch him.
Just when Jake thought it was all over for him, the leader said they’d be leaving soon since the van was full.
A wave of relief washed over Jake, but then he realized he couldn’t let them leave yet. The police were on their way, but it was up to Jake to ensure the criminals stayed put until they arrived.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Jake activated the video on his phone camera and rushed from his hiding spot.
“Nobody move,” Jake shouted. “I’ve got everything on video. All of you are in a lot of trouble. Your only hope is to put everything back and get out of here.”
The leader pointed at Jake. “Get him, boys. You know what to do.”
Jake ran. While the thieves pursued him, he ducked and wove through the maze of shelves filling the warehouse. Jake wasn’t fast, but he knew the warehouse well, which helped him stay ahead of the criminals.
As one of the thieves closed on him, Jake dove through a gap in the shelves. He rolled to his feet on the other side and ducked just in time to avoid being grabbed by a thief.
Heart thumping in his chest, Jake sped away in the opposite direction. He took a few rapid turns to lose his pursuers and ended up face-to-face with the leader.
“Looks like you’re out of luck.” The bulky man hit a fist into his open hand as he spoke.
“I’m going to smash that phone, and then you’re going the same way.”
Jake’s mouth was too dry to speak. The leader grabbed his collar. Jake raised his hands in surrender just as the wail of police sirens reached his ears.
The leader threw Jake to the ground and ran for the van. Red and blue lights flashed across his body as he dove behind the wheel. The rest of the thieves raced for the van, but the leader pulled away without them.
The next few minutes were chaos. The police swarmed the warehouse while one of the patrol cars peeled off in pursuit of the van. One of the officers helped Jake to his feet while the rest arrested the thieves.
Jake’s boss arrived then. He was startled to hear that Jake had lain in wait for the thieves and called the police to arrest them.
“Thank you.” Osmond put his hand on Jake’s shoulder. “You’ve saved my business and shown me that you are a brave and resourceful man. It seems that I’ve misjudged you, Jake. Margo will be lucky to have a man like you in her life.”
“That means a lot to me,” Jake replied, “but we mustn’t forget that the real hero here is that boy I found in my truck.”
Osmond agreed with Jake that Simon deserved a reward for his assistance in exposing the criminals. He also agreed with the idea Jake proposed to thank Simon.
The next day, Jake contacted the police and discovered child services had taken Simon to a shelter. He fetched the boy there and took him home.
“You and your grandmother will never have to worry again,” Jake told him. “My boss is so grateful to you for helping identify the thieves that he’s agreed to pay you a big reward. Additionally, he’s given me the task of delivering a food parcel to you each month.”
The news overjoyed Simon, and Jake was pleased to see how his condition improved every month when he delivered the food parcel. That was, however, just the beginning for Jake, as Osmond started giving him more tasks in logistics in addition to his delivery work.
Within a year, Osmond promoted Jake to manager in the delivery company. He was proud to have earned Osmond’s trust. He thought of the perfect way to celebrate his promotion: Jake bought Margo an engagement ring.
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t make assumptions. Osmond and the police who freed Simon made assumptions without proof, and they were both very wrong. If Jake hadn’t acted, their assumptions might have had awful consequences.
Sometimes people do bad things because they’re desperate to survive. Simon stole groceries from the warehouse to help his granny put food on the table because he had no other options.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.