Glory stood close to me on a dirty corner. We competed for the attention of a yellow cab with all the self centered, overdressed white collar assholes, who ruin low key spots. And did I mention I despise yellow cabs, the vast majority of them I’d like to knock out and vomit on, but I guess there had to be one or two decent drivers behind the wheel. Gelb is the German word for yellow. A strange word, no?
On the wall behind us read:
I think, therefore I rot. – W. FLOOD
I only faintly remembered writing that, Glory didn’t notice it at all and Descartes wasn’t impressed one bit.
“Cab. Cab,” said Glory, pointing to a cab slowing down, the lights indicating unoccupied. One taxi among an army of occupied ones speeding recklessly down 2nd avenue. I waved my hand at shoulder level, half goofy, half frantic. The car had apparently been sideswiped or involved in at least one collision. How does one go about selecting a profession if you are a terrible driver or possess no understanding of laws or basic tenets of the road?
The cab halted, and I went for the door handle but it was locked. The man inside the car had a brown complexion, braun, probably in his late forties, asked us where we were going from the passenger side window. There was a heavy accent, with a hoarse voice, Middle Eastern was my hunch. He asked in a way that came off aggressive, rude-like, he was in a hurry it seemed. Glory and I were wasting his precious time.
“Where are we going?” Glory asked, looking at me with a furrowed brow.
“Hi. Queens,” I said. “We are heading to Queens.”
“Ugh,” he bellowed. “Where in Queens?” He looked at his watch, surrounded by a forest of hair on his wrist.
“Where?” He was no longer in a rush but now suspicious and curious. “What’s the address?” His eyes seemed to interrogate us, scanning us, judging us.
“I don’t think he likes us,” She whispered in my ear and I felt distracted by the thought of sex.
“149th street and 26th avenue,” I said, adjusting my semi erection, from inside my pocket.
The driver thought about it deeply, and something struck him like lightning, he remembered something. He reached for a large fanny pack on the passenger seat, removed a small hardbound journal from it and leafed through the pages, and found what he was searching for. Eureka.
He tore out of there, the tires spat rocks at us. “Go fuck yourself, motherfucker. Not again.” That was all I could hear clearly, but he yelled until he was out of earshot.
“What was that about?” Glory laughed. “He was the meanest man.”
“What are the odds of getting the same cab driver twice?” I thought to myself I have to call Sonny, but remembered I couldn’t, or rather I shouldn’t, but I knew I wouldn’t call and there was a momentary pang of sadness. What have I been doing this all for? “Fucking Sonny.”
“How many cabs are there in Manhattan? I would think it’s probable. Who is Sonny?”
“Sonny is one of my best friends. And to be honest, my friends and I were notorious for ditching cabs.”
“That’s pretty messed up.”
“We would take the cab back to the neighborhood and get out and bolt through the park. The park we’re going to now was a home away from home. There was no chance we were getting caught by any of the drivers. A few gave chase but most circled around for a while, then dejected they would make their way back to the Van Wyck.”
“Foul. Boys are so dumb. You took food out of their children’s mouths.”
“Did I lose points.”
“You did. Here’s one. Let’s hope he has never been victimized by you and your degenerate friends.”
“I will treat this man with the utmost respect and tip him generously in compensation for my past crimes.”
“It’s a start.”
The cab stopped, it was also battered and in poor condition. A Ford Escape, which made no difference to me, I just wanted to get there. There were dings and dents with a color swatch of all the other vehicles that made contact with this taxi. An advertisement flaunted itself on the roof, promoting an off Broadway play, with a good looking couple embracing and smiling intensely. Glory and I could be them. Why couldn’t I write a play? I’d write one tonight out of spite.
The driver waved us on, as we stood hesitant like vampires waiting to be welcomed in. The driver was older than the previous, irascible one. The man seemed pleasant, and sported one of the most radical mustaches I’d ever seen in person. A pristine chimney sweeper, immaculately white, to such a degree it could have been fake.
“Nett schnurrbart,” I said, congratulating him. He didn’t hear me or maybe he pretended not to hear me, but a device was crammed into his eardrum, preoccupying him as he spoke in a language neither Glory nor I understood.
Glory sat behind him, and I sat on her right, on the passenger side. His license looked outdated and he had a name I couldn’t pronounce or would butcher if I tried. I asked and he said, “Just call me Salim.” That’s not how that was spelled, I thought to myself but alright. He took our coordinates and we were off to Queens.
I wondered who he was talking to and what it was about. His wife? A friend? A child? Grandchild? Were they here or somewhere outside of the country? I had so many questions. Did he like New York City? I didn’t, not anymore. People came here from all over the world and all I wanted to do was run away from this place.
I looked out the window at the droves of people along Delancey Street when we cruised past. Then they were gone and we were on the Williamsburg Bridge, a suspension bridge spanning the turbulent East River. I counted the light poles. The fire escapes caught my eye, all those buildings the vandals climbed to paint over each other. Graffiti was so inspirational, and I never regretted defacing anything or the hours I wasted dawdling away in hopes of becoming less toy.
I became aware of Glory’s leg resting on top of my own. How did these things happen?