After sitting on my ass for an hour the bell finally went off. It was the 23rd of December and the information on the meter told me I was picking up a fare named Linda and we were doing one of those damn “Via” things, which meant stopping, waiting and then onward and upward. She, “Linda,” was at an apartment complex called “Boston Commons” and I for the life of me didn’t see anything “Boston” about the dump other than it was a “Common” dumping ground for knuckleheads.
I was also agitated in that there wasn’t a building number or apartment number listed. I guess the darlings in dispatch figured I’d just go door to door and ask people if they were “Linda.” You know, “Knock, knock, hey dude, you Linda?” As I called the phone number listed I saw the fugitive fare named Linda, waving at me, so I counted my lucky stars and then, “Damn it!” She got in on the left side, which cab drivers hate. There’s nothing like having a total stranger sitting directly behind you, out of site, oozing booze and you not knowing whether they’re a serial killer or a fugitive from the bath tub.
“Where we going Mam?” I asked.
With a slight slur she answered, “Well first we’re going to the liquor store and then we’re going to Hampden and Parker Road where my father lives.” (A quick note here for you wanna be cab drivers. You’d be shocked to know how many times we pick up people that are “Three sheets in the wind” and their first destination is the liquor store. If you’re a matter fact kinda guy like me you’re thinking, “But you’ve already been there.”) The other part of this little trip is we were going to be going through the busiest, most screwed up intersection in Denver, Arapahoe Road/Parker Road which would take forever, which is money lost for a cab driver.
As I wheeled onto Arapahoe Road heading East her cell phone rang and I almost pooped my pants. (Another quick note here. You’re a cab driver and you have a perfect stranger, the potential serial killer right behind you, and their custom ring tone, which is set at full volume goes off, and in a fraction of a second you’re listening to AC/DC screaming 28 inches from your ear.) I looked down to make sure I hadn’t spotted myself, took a deep breath and pressed down hard on the accelerator.
She blurted into her cell phone, “Hi, Kathy, I’m going to Dads. The shit really hit the fan and I’ve just about had it.” There was the short interlude as Kathy responded and then Linda continued, “No, no, it got really ugly this time. She started pulling my hair and then she threw me to the floor.” With that, my serial killer named Linda started crying hysterically and screamed into the phone, “She kept screaming at me I hope you die you bitch! All I want out of life is for people to give me just a little love, just a little love. Is that too much to ask for?”
I raised my right arm and said, “Uh mam, is the liquor store going to be on my left or my right?”
“To your right,” she sniffed. And then she continued, “No Kathy, it’s over, it’s finished, I’ve tried to accommodate them and all I get is hatred and thrown to the floor. Oh God, sometimes I wish I was dead.” She wailed.
I raised my right arm again and said, “You got a name for that Liquor store?”
She sniffed some snot bubbles and said, “Luke’s Discount Liquors, it’s your next right hand turn.”
“Gotcha.” I replied and I flicked the turn signal.
She continued, “No Kathy, there’s no turning back! I’m tired of busting my ass to please people and all I get for my troubles is thrown to the floor and told to go to hell. Living with them “IS HELL!” She screamed, which caused me to jerk the steering wheel to the right and I almost clipped a Jeep Cherokee. I rolled up to Luke’s Discount Liquors and Linda stumbled in. I did a quick check of the back seat looking for weapons, this was an angry woman and she was drinking. I’d been around angry women before and it wasn’t pretty. Just then she reappeared with a bottle of, Ah, “Chardonnay” which always goes good while experiencing emotional trauma!
She got in on the right side of the car this time and I breathed a sigh of relief. If she came at me with one of those mace canisters I could at least see it, react and bail from the car.
I smiled, “So, off to your Dad’s?” She looked at me with puffy eyes and mascara resembling a Crow Indian on a suicide mission up against the Blue Coats and said, “Yes. I’m having a bad day and I suppose you've noticed.” My brain was doing that thing again, going “Duh! You’re screaming like a banshee, bawling your eyes out and gee, the poor slob in the front seat probably noticed?” And then I said, “You did seem to be a bit upset when you got in the car.” I didn’t say, “Didn’t notice a thing until you started slashing your wrists.” Well, as usual, my calm demeanor and soothing insight had her purring like a kitten by the time we rolled up to her Dad’s place, one of those luxury Senior Homes.
I said, “You know Linda, sometimes life takes us down roads we don’t want to go down, but once down them we’re the better for it.” (Of course my brain was doing its thing and saying to me, “What the hell did you just say? You’re not making a lick of sense! Besides, she’s drunk.)
As she paid, she looked at me with those puffy eyes and the Crow Indian mascara, wiped her nose and said, “I’m so glad you were my cab driver tonight. What’s your name? Bill? Well Bill, have a Merry Christmas.” And then she got out of the car, stumbled, clipped the corner column of the entrance and went down in a heap.
I looked back and said, “And a Merry Christmas to you Linda. Have a nice evening.” And with that I drove off, richer by twenty one dollars.