10/07/2013

The Getaway Cab (Short Story)

The Getaway Cab

My brakes screeched a bit as I pulled over. The night around me buzzed with never ending life. There was a large crowd of people outside the theater. He calmly pushed his way through the frantic majority and opened the back-right door to get in my taxi. He handed me a slip of paper with a destination written on it. Straight down the road, ten blocks.

The address was scribbled in black ink. There were stains from red wine above the sloppily written location. It must have been red wine, because I could smell it in the cab. My passenger wore a tuxedo with a bright red rose pinned to the blazer. The boutonniere was slightly withered, but the color stood out against his black jacket.

I turned on the meter and pulled away from the curb. The street wore the expression of a late-night pedestrian who just witnessed a murder. The city outside became a blur of bright lights and sirens as I accelerated down the road. My passenger chose not to speak with me. He silently sat in the back seat, staring out the window.

Blue lights filled the cab as three police cars sped through the first red light. "Guess there's been some crime goin' on," I spoke. The light turned green, and the silence continued. An ambulance flew past in the left lane. I looked up in the rearview and watched it get further away. I looked up to see another one coming straight towards me, close enough to make my heart sink. I swerved back into the right lane, snapping myself into focus. "Sorry," I muttered. His gaze was fixated on the road outside, facial expression unchanged.

My overflowing collection of air fresheners on the mirror swung violently from left to right. I buy myself a new one every three months, and instead of replacing the old one, I simply add the new one. There was a time when I knew how many were hanging there. Now there's so many that I'm not sure I could even fit another, and it's almost been three months. My silent passenger still stared completely motionless into the hectic night.

I struggled to keep the wheel straight despite utter confusion. The rain began, and poured all over the city. I mostly try not to use the wipers, because their motion gets on my nerves. The sudden change in weather forced me to put them on high. Two more police cars dashed through the next red at the same time as I did. We crossed paths, but neither of them stopped. We were six blocks from the theatre, and four away from the destination.

I glanced up into the rearview to see the police cars speeding down the road away from us. There were bright lights and sirens behind us, maybe at the place where I met my passenger. I quickly peered over to see the same cold and lifeless expression on his face. The red rose decayed into nothing, falling from his chest as if it were never there. I guess I never saw the rose then.

His destination was the tallest hotel downtown. The red numbers on the meter displayed the fare for this ten block voyage. He reached into the pocket on his blazer and handed me exact change, in cash. Then, he reached back into his pocket, and handed me a hundred dollar bill. Freshly printed, but it also had a red wine stain on it. "Thanks," he grinned, turning swiftly and deliberately for the door of the hotel. The pouring rain had no effect on his demeanor.

The sirens screamed out louder into the night. I needed gas, so I went to the station up the block. I discarded my old collection of three-month air fresheners. I filled the thank completely using the fresh hundred dollar bill. The cashier handed me change, bills without wine stains. I bought myself a new air freshener. The guy at the counter told me that this new one should last at least six whole months.

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