4. Circuitous Route


Teetering my heels on the curb, I’m staring into the street when the car pulls up. It stops just short of me, and backs into the spot on my left. The driver pops out, and goes around the back of the vehicle, closing the trunk he just popped as he tells me “It’s full.” He’s a gangly man, past middle age, and wearing an oversized Hawaiian shirt. There’s a small tupperware container tied around his neck that says donations on it. One dollar bills flap out of his shirt pockets. It’s rare that a driver has so much flare.

The passenger door opens, and he folds the seat up. “I have to make some room in here,” he says, sliding a stack of blankets behind his seat, and out of the way. This makes room for my suitcase. Having to sit in the front passenger seat, I wonder if this is a real taxi. How did it get here? There’s not any stickers on the windshield. I haven’t checked my phone.

The driver goes back around the car, gets those long legs in, and settles behind the wheel. All big smiles. But as he starts to drive I notice he’s got a black eye on his right side. I hope it’s not from the previous passenger. I still don’t know where we’re going, but now I’m a little too afraid to ask. And I don’t have any cash for his bucket. I’m sure it would be rude to ask to see his license. Not taxi, but his driver’s license. This guy is all over the road. I finally figure to ask him who does he work for?

 “The people, man. All the people,” he says. Strangely jovial, talking through that big ugly smile. “What most of these people don’t realize, is you have to take the wheel.”

 “That doesn’t seem right. You’re driving,” I say.

 “You’ve gotta grab the wheel, man. You gotta grab it and hang on,” he says, emphatically grabbing the steering wheel and jerking it from side to side.

 “Yeah sure, I’m getting ya.”

 “Ah, you think you are, but are ya?” he asks.

Truth is I don’t know. I’m getting more uncomfortable every second. If it wasn’t for my survival instinct being enacted as he swerves from lane to lane, I’d really lose it. Then I start to hear giggling, coming from the rear of the vehicle.  I look over at him, hunched over the wheel, grinning like a goof into the sun. I hear the giggling again, louder this time. I look into the backseat, but it’s only blankets and my case.

 “Who’s giggling?” I ask.

He turns that crooked smile on me once more and says, “That’s Myra.”

I sink into the seat, terror comes over me, and I’m unable to deal anymore. What does this mean? The instinct for flight kicks in, which causes me to wake up, on the subway. Although I don’t know in what part of the city. I’m just glad the nightmare is over. I’ll probably spend the rest of the night getting home, but I have plenty to think about.

Today I covered a lot of ground, and made the last of my deliveries several hours ago. Deciding that as late as it was I’d save time by having a drink on my way back. Until I overshot my stop. I’m trying to figure out how long I’ve been asleep and riding the rails. Any estimate reveals the answer is: too long. I shift in the seat from my slouch and the empty pint slides off my lap. No effort is made to prevent it’s clankety-clank on the floor.

I look around in the mostly empty train car, trying to regain my bearings. At least I’m fortunate enough to take the subway, and not have it smell like the county landfill. Who do I have to thank for that? Where is my saviour? And then I see him. He’s sitting just a couple seats in front of me, across the narrow aisle. Yep, today we ride with a celebrity. You may have seen him around. Places like tortillas and toast. French or otherwise, he doesn’t discriminate. If it contains gluten, he’ll be there, sooner or later. Countless times I’ve heard people say they found him, but I never thought it would happen to me.

post 4 picI should ask him to grant me three wishes. No wait, that’s not right. I grew up with Christianity, it just didn’t take. I guess what I’m saying is that it isn’t completely unfamiliar to me. And they’re always talking about him at the meetings. It sort of centers around that, which I don’t mind despite being a non-believer. Seems to calm the others.

But I do have so many questions. When did he get back? Why is he here now? Am I on the naughty or nice list? What stop is he getting off at? If he’s everywhere, then why does he have to take the subway? I’m tempted to take the seat in front of him and peer around his crucifix to bombard him with my inquiries. Really take the wheel. However, I am a bit concerned this will launch him into a sermon of fire and brimstone. It could be just the thing he’s waiting for. While I don’t mind making someone’s day occasionally, the good people of this train car don’t deserve that.

Look at me, thinking of others. He must be rubbing off on me already. I get the nerve, out of nowhere seemingly, to approach him. When I get around to the front of his crucifix I see a little bin in his lap. And it says donations on it. I keep moving to the next train car.