Probably Just a Simple Robbery

Pizza delivery driver is a pretty dangerous occupation. You’re vulnerable, you have cash on you, your company usually isn’t keeping very good track of you, and any evildoer can summon you as long as they’re outside certain neighborhoods. And that whole porn plot never happens. It’s decent money in a good situation, but so few situations are good. Usually, when a pizza delivery guy gets shot, it’s by a customer or pretend customer looking for quick cash. But here’s a counterpoint: two suspects were arrested today in the death of a driver.

A Gwinnett County police spokesperson said Robert Purcell, 40, was found shot to death inside his car.

Police described a possible motive for the homicide as “robbery,” but Purcell was not at his job delivering pizzas at the time.

His co-workers at Marco’s Pizza near Snellville reported him missing after he didn’t show up to work Friday.

Later, police found Purcell inside his car, parked on the exit ramp from Highway 78 westbound to Hugh Howell Road.

Now imagine a fictional narrative with these same parameters. Any number of reasons our hypothetical driver could have been killed: first on the list is the tips he drove away with at the end of his shift. Again: cash can be dangerous. Kind of sad in that he’s forty, as we usually think of pizza drivers as being in their twenties. But the Great Recession messed up a lot of people’s lives. But there’s more: there are details that turn this story into more than just a simple tragedy.

Known as ‘Jesse’ amongst his co-workers, they tell CBS46 Purcell was living out of his car for the past few weeks.

They said Purcell had a disagreement with his roommates and he was looking for another place to live.

He spent most nights sleeping in his car parked behind Marco’s.

Originally from Michigan, Purcell’s co-workers said he had no relatives in the area.

We could run our hypothetical crime story as “guy who got dealt an increasingly bad hand”, or somewhere closer to “guy who lacked the interpersonal skills to get far in life”. This is detective fiction, so it will probably be both. But his co-workers seem to care about him: a lonely guy but okay to work with. What got him there? What got him away from Michigan? Beside the weather, I mean. Such a short story, and we can drag so much out of it. What’s the relationship between the falling-out with the roommates and his death? Or is there one? Or, if we wanted to be all oblique about it, what happened one night in the Marco’s parking lot where only later did the people making it happen find out the guy had been sleeping there and probably noticed what they were up to?

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