She stepped out of the deli and into the pouring nighttime rain.
Her eyes widened as she took in the truck in the parking space.
“This ends today,” she hissed, wiping raindrops from his forehead.
But just when she thought the situation couldn’t get any worse, the man doubled down on his actions.
It had been a challenging month for sixty-year-old army vet Andrea Cooper and her daughter Jesse.
Like many families across America, they had decided to take the bold step to start their own business.
But after a few months of little to no customers gracing their front doors, things weren’t looking too good.
Andrea had no clue that things were about to spiral out of control.
After years of wishful thinking and planning, Andrea and Jesse finally opened the doors to their restaurant.
But for the first few months, no one ever came to eat.
Jesse tried all she could to remedy this, employing all the marketing tricks she’d learned in business school.
The mother-daughter duo was almost losing hope when the man appeared.
One look at the man and Andrea knew he would bring trouble.
The fellow was thick with muscle and so tall he had to duck while stepping into the restaurant.
But nothing about his looks gored Andrea the wrong way.
The place and manner in which he’d parked his truck before coming in are what did it for her.
Regardless, a customer was a customer.
So the veteran enthusiastically welcomed him in.
The man stared down at Andrea and grunted.
Instead of taking the seat she had waiting for him, he chose to walk to a different table, carelessly planting himself on the furniture.
Andrea stifled a wince as the chair the man sat on squeaked helplessly.
‘A customer is a customer,’ she whispered under her breath.
If only she knew what she was stepping into.
Andrea took the man’s order, passing it to Jesse and their cooks to get it started.
But her eyes kept jumping to his massive truck parked just outside.
“D’we have a problem, ma’am,” the man asked in a deep, ugly voice.
He leaned back into his seat, and its legs screeched across the floor.
“Beautiful truck you got there,” Andrea said.
But she immediately regretted it.
“Yeah, she’s a beauty,” the man said proudly before wiggling in his seat.
He was about to go into a full rundown of what was under the truck’s hood and how much of a steal it was when Andrea cut him short.
“It’s not supposed to be parked there,” she said with an easygoing demeanor.
“That spot is reserved for staff and emergency only.”
She also explained that the space linked her supply trucks and the kitchen.
But his response left her stumped.
After calling her a few choice words, the man said none of this was his problem.
He would be moving his truck once he finished his dinner.
Andrea ground her teeth, reminding herself this was her first customer.
But the man kept calling her names, oblivious to who he was dealing with.
Andrea watched as he spewed word after word.
Would she risk her first-ever customer because of such an exchange?
She was about to react when something happened.
The door chimes jingled, and a family of six waltzed into the restaurant.
They comprised two parents and four kids no older than ten years old.
Andrea’s fury subsided as she turned to them with a sweet smile.
She took their orders and proceeded to hold small talk with them.
She hoped that by the time she was finished, the man would’ve eaten his meal and left.
She would be in for a rude shock.
The man cleared his bill and marched out of the restaurant.
But instead of getting in his car and driving away, he opened it, fished out a coat, and locked it.
Andrea was speechless as she watched him walk away from the parking lot, stepping into the busy town street.
He even flashed her a triumphant smirk as he left.
But things were about to get much worse.
Andrea couldn’t believe what was going on.
Didn’t she explain to the man that she needed that parking space?
A supply truck was about to come to the restaurant at any moment.
Given how little the parking lot was, it needed that space to easily access the restaurant without obstructing the road and footpath.
The truck was also on a tight schedule, and missing it would mean trouble for Andrea’s business.
Boiling with anger, she huffed a breath and turned around.
How would she fix this situation now that the man was nowhere to be found?
She was still pondering the best way forward when the supply truck she’d been dreading appeared on the corner of the street.
It honked as it drove to the restaurant, ready to drop off the following week’s supplies.
The sight alone withered Andrea’s insides.
Then her eyes landed on the man’s car, peacefully parked in her reserved spot.
Her fear instantly warped into fury.
Andrea’s first order of business was figuring out how she’d move the fifteen-plus heavy boxes of produce and ingredients into her kitchen.
Afterward, she’d find the perfect way to get even with the man.
Calling her staff outside, they painstakingly carried the boxes into the restaurant.
The process was long and tiring, forcing
Andrea’s team to halt all restaurant processes.
They were lucky to transfer the boxes fast before the truck caused heavy traffic in the street.
Andrea was boiling with anger by the end.
There is a lot one can do to a car.
Andrea went through the mental list, smiling at each diabolical plan that surfaced.
She thought about vandalizing the truck, perhaps pouring a bag of sugar into its fuel tank.
She could slash or poke holes into the tires and let the man have a tough day changing them.
But she’d never been a malicious person before.
The circumstances would push her to that dark reality.
Andrea did the only thing she could at the moment.
She phoned one of her friends who worked at a towing company and had him tow the truck.
She watched as the vehicle was pulled out of her parking space, content that she’d taught the man a lesson.
But she had started a war that would cost her more than she was willing to give.
Andrea could breathe easily now that her parking space was free.
More customers were also pouring into her establishment, which was more than good news.
The next day started well for her too. She had five customers in the early morning and six more by noon.
But as she was tending to them, the man appeared at the door.
He was frothing at the mouth with his fists balled.
“Where’s my truck,” he grunted, his voice vibrating through each surface and crevice in the restaurant.
“Had it towed,” Andrea answered casually.
She didn’t even bother to spare the man a look.
She grinned as she turned around, “I would check the impound lot downtown if I were you.”
The man banged the door as he left. He would bring war.
It wasn’t long before the man drove into the restaurant’s lot, revving his truck loudly.
He didn’t even bother entering the building, only parking the vehicle and leaving as he had the previous day.
He blocked the day’s supply run as well as scaring some of Andrea’s customers.
She called her friend immediately, and he came and towed the truck.
But this war was far from over.
Most customers who had started coming into Andrea’s restaurant didn’t come the next day.
But the man showed up in his truck as was becoming his habit, which he must’ve picked from the impound.
He drove it up Andrea’s lot before entering the restaurant and asking to speak to her.
What he’d reveal would leave her hands tied.
“That parking lot is public,” the man said with disdain.
“It doesn’t matter whether you claim it’s special or not. Be thankful I haven’t pressed any charges.”
Leaving his truck in place, he crossed the street and disappeared into the crowd.
Andrea quietly watched as he did.
Her stomach flared with pain as she realized a terrible truth: the man had bested him.
Andrea couldn’t have the man’s car towed again since he was right.
That parking lot was a public space.
Even though she insisted that the space in question was reserved for her staff and supply truck, she legally couldn’t force anyone not to park there.
She knew the harm that truck would do to her business, seeing that it ruined her day-to-day activities.
It also took up valuable parking space, which she needed for her staff. What could she do now?
Desperate for what to do, Andrea resolved to talk to the man.
After all, wasn’t diplomacy the best fix to any problem?
She swallowed her pride and waited for him to come.
But the man didn’t show up.
The day came to a close, forcing Andrea to go home dejected.
She hoped he would appear the next day.
Two more days counted, with the supply truck coming and finding the man’s vehicle blocking its entry.
Andrea and her staff were forced to halt all processes again.
They carried the heavy boxes from the streets outside, through the restaurant floor, and into the kitchen.
Andrea, who was frothing with anger, couldn’t even form the words to express how she felt.
Even her daughter feared talking to her.
To make matters more painful, Andrea learned that the man was taking his truck away in the dead of night only to bring it back in the morning.
It was clear that he was intentionally trying to ruin her business.
Nothing changed, no matter how many times she tried to talk to him.
As the days went by, things got worse.
The man would now bring another massive ugly truck to sit next to the truck.
In addition to blocking supplies, the vehicles also blocked patrons coming in for food.
People stopped visiting the restaurant as parking spaces or even getting to the entrance became harder every day.
The situation was getting unbearable, and Andrea had to find a way to deal with it.
She knew she needed help, so she called in a favor from an old army buddy.
Her plan would be sure to show the man she, too, had claws and fangs that she wasn’t afraid to use.
Andrea asked her army friend if he could have someone bring along a tank.
She aimed to park it before the man’s trucks, boxing them in for months if necessary.
By this point, she wasn’t afraid of the consequences anymore.
The only that worried her was her daughter Jesse, who was in her second trimester of pregnancy.
If push came to shove between Andrea and the man, she didn’t want her pregnant daughter caught in the crossfire.
Despite this crippling fear, Andrea went ahead with her plan.
Her friend delivered the tank, blocking the two trucks from leaving the lot.
The man came the following day, his eyes wide as he found Andrea leaning against the tank with a broad grin.
But she didn’t stop there. She needed the man to understand who he was dealing with.
Andrea jumped into the tank and maneuvered its ordinance to face both trucks.
She revved the tank, although the rev wasn’t high.
However, the beast of a vehicle roared aggressively, sending tremors all over the street and causing the man to shrink into himself.
His pale face told Andrea everything she needed to know: the man didn’t expect this type of response from her.
She stuck her head outside the manhole with a smirk and hopped out.
The man had cost her a lot, from her business’s health to her mental well-being.
She wanted him to go through the same, to feel boxed in by circumstances that didn’t need to be.
She’d make sure he never crossed another business owner again.
Andrea kept the tank for one long month, which saw the man come every day to beg her to release her trucks.
The tank brought in a new clientele, army enthusiasts who wanted to see such a magnificent piece of machinery up close.
Her business picked up again.
Hoping that the man had learned his lesson, Andrea drove the tank back to her friend.
But as she passed him on her way back, a fire in his eyes told her this fight was far from over.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination.
Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.