separates my empty life from chaos, the motion keeping me alive. Day
after day of playing out the fucked-up implications of a normal life
destination, even someone else’s, giving me a purpose to live
My cab is just up the street, and when I walk
back to where it’s parked, there's a guy waiting in the rain. A
dark apparition carrying a beat-up old briefcase, emaciated, wearing
a stained black raincoat about two sizes too big, blank eyes sunk
back in his skull, totally oblivious to the shitty weather
conditions. With his long hair and beard, he reminds me of one of
those pathetic pictures of Jesus I used to see in Sunday school when
I was a kid.
"Are you waiting for me?" I ask.
“Yeah, can we get in out of the rain?” He
“ Sure thing.” I say, and press the remote
device on my key ring to unlock the doors.
As soon as we're inside, I start the engine and
turn on the windshield wipers. When I glance in the rearview mirror,
I catch a good look at the man's face as he lights a cigarette.
There's a tattoo on the back of his hand, I can’t quite make out.
It looks like some kind of reptile. I usually don't allow smoking in
the cab, but something about this guy makes me fore-go the rules.
When he gets the cigarette lit, he leans back in
the seat, catches my eye in the mirror, and says, "Swifty, I’ve
got five hundred dollars in my pocket, and it’s all yours if
you’ll drive me to New York, to the Tappan Zee bridge."
Using my first name catches me by surprise; until
it occurs to me he's noticed my name on the hack’s license posted
on the dash. Upstate New York is about 90 miles from Kearny, but five
hundred dollars is a lot of cash, and I don't mind the drive. I reach
over, turn off the meter, and say, "Dude, you just bought
yourself a driver."
“How long to get there?” he asks.
“In this rain, about an hour or so.”
I take rt -21 North to I-95 starting to feel
pretty good about heading somewhere out of the ordinary, meantime
Jesus hasn't said a word. So just to break the ice, I ask where he
lives in New York, and he tells me he keeps a room downtown. When I
ask about family, he just sits and stares out the window.
The only other words spoken over the next fifty
miles was when he leaned up and asked if I would turn down the radio.