The last time I was in a taxi, which was in the latter part of last year, the cab didn’t have a credit card machine. The ones in New York City do. This lack caused me to shake my head that Syracuse just isn’t with the times, but that was one company. The cab last night actually had one. I still dished out a $20 bill when I got back to my brother’s house.
The cabbie didn’t start talking to me until my friends left the vehicle. The night had come to a close, ending the Syracuse St. Patrick’s Parade day celebrations. I still ask myself what we’re celebrating exactly, because the pagans — after being voted off the island and chased from Ireland — still reside in the United States. I have nothing personal against pagans, but it’s not like there is any effort to rid our country of a certain group. But it’s about riding on the stereotype that all Irish people are drunks.
It’s not the case.
If anything, it’s everybody else riding the coattails that ruins things. Dear readers, you had to have seen the video of the Fayette Street/Clinton Street brawl. This is why we can’t have nice things.
(Video: Youtube User 360° Videos)
It wasn’t until the gals safely arrived at the apartment that the cabbie broke his creepy silence. As I stared into the night and above the Franklin Square lamp-lights, my inner-McConaughey monologues were disrupted by Captain Cabbie Creeper.
“Hey,” he said. His body still but his head looked over his shoulder. “Why don’t you get in on that?” he asked, grinning wildly.
I quickly channeled my inner-McConaughey and Zenned out for a couple seconds before speaking. In those seconds, I was able to break the situation down into three alternate endings:
1) I could have told him to mind his own fucking business — pun intended — before kicking his seat. This surprise would have caused him to turn the steering wheel, driving the car into the creek. Cue unnecessary overzealous explosion.
2) I could have played along, but that would have done injustice to my friends.
3) I could have broke out my Sean Connery impersonation and had a field day. Sean Connery is always a conversation changer.
The red-eyed devil on my shoulder sat in the front seat, grinning ferociously and puffing on a cigarette. The angel sat beside me, flipping the bird at his counterpart. I looked out the window, up into the night. Do I dare place my head against the window? (Do I dare lick it?)
My reply was short and simple: “No. That’s not how it works.”
It works for some people.
At that moment, I wondered how many whores the driver had picked up in the past. I’m not talking about professionals, but the ones in sheep’s clothing — men and women. It’s a taxi cab. There had to have been plenty of them. Some of them had to have been making out. Some had to have rounded the bases faster than others. Fluid, drug, and vomit remnants wiped down to specks. I was sitting on dried semen and bile. Not even Horton would hear or give a Who.
This driver got creepier by the moment. He smiled more. His cheek bones in the rear view mirror relaxed eventually. His shoulders bounced. He stopped talking to me. Clearly, the two of us did not see eye-to-eye.
That bit of information earlier about getting in with my friends fermented into a fine craft in the 10-minute trip. He was a foreign Patrick Bateman, possibly keeping chloroform in the glove box, or a chainsaw in the trunk. I wondered when we were going to get on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (Into Hell).
If you couldn’t already tell, it was an awkward ride to my brother’s place, which smelled like bacon as I walked through the door. “Hey!” everyone yelled before my brother encouraged me to have some strips of cured meat.
Bacon: a bittersweet reward. The wrinkled, multi-toned strips resembled skin. The cab driver. His possible chloroform and chainsaw combo. He could have been an early-stage Leatherface for all I know.
I shivered to wake. We had eaten all day long. The annual brunch came with a force. The 9 a.m. start time kicked off with delicious Irish coffees. Family, friends arrived in staggered (not staggering) fashion. The eating began and kept going.
Three of us ended up staying downtown, hitting up Empire and then Modern Malt for more food we didn’t need, but it tasted so good.
The next morning, I felt great waking up and helping tidy up at 9:30 a.m. Four of us (and including the two people suggested by the taxi driver that I should have “got in on”). Brunch Part 3.5-ish began with a three-hour binge of “Family Feud.”
New fallen snow had covered the ground by about an inch.
There was no sign of a rogue taxi driver.
Christopher Malone plays with more thoughts and words at his blog, The Infinite Abyss(es). He also writes for the Skaneateles Journal. Feel free to tweet at @Chris___Malone, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.