The man is enveloped in an aura of ominousness. He stumbles forward, about to trip and fall at any moment. As he reaches for the handle of the cab door, I nearly put my foot down on the pedal, but then she appears. She is like nagging in the flesh. It’s as if she has a litany that contains all of your life’s misdoings and sins, and she is going to tell you off for each and every one of them. Then two wispy little things follow in their footsteps. Daughters, but not sisters, in their twenties, each the offspring of these mishaps of creation.
They all mix like a laboratory experiment waiting to explode. The man gets in the front. The ladies get in the back. The man can’t piece together a sentence and lies slumped over on the verge of unconsciousness. The woman, on the other hand, pieces sentences together at such an alarming clip I suspect she’s trying to get proper mileage out of each and every word she knows before they all go out of style.
They want to go to the farthest reaches of the city. But first one of the girls must get downtown. Admonishments fly left and right. At a hip downtown address she moves to get out, but not before her comatose father tumbles headfirst out the door and bangs his cranium on the pavement. The blood comes gushing out of his bruised temple and the woman goes off like fireworks.
She yanks the girl out of the car as if she were a pair of jeans from the closet. A fist to the face is her reward. Bowed down like hunchbacks they pull at hairs and throw haymakers at each other. The other girl moves to join the fray, but gets sidetracked by the bleeding husk of a man, now semi-erect. The fisticuffs move along to a soundtrack of name-calling. She is a slut to him is a drunk to her is a bitch to her is a cunt to him is a whore to her.
I get my iPhone out, not knowing whether to film this or call the police, but the snitch in me prevails. Before the bright blue lights arrive, the tragic woman and her long suffering child re-enter the car amidst a flurry of blows, and as the doors close, the other girl bellows a catalogue of curse words and kicks the side of the car like she was at football practice.
He is a fiend with a checkered past. His stories reek of embellishment and his life seems like a tragedy of Greek proportions. He namedrops like he is flipping through a rolodex of state prison inmates and his millions illegally gained seem like they could at least pay for the cab fare, which he can’t afford in the end. Like the bums of the downtown benches and squares, his saga is urgent and needs to be heard for him to feel like he still exists. Like the recollections of his glorious heyday somehow justify the bleakness of his today. I’d not like to walk a mile in his shoes, although maybe having one of his stories to tell as your own might make you the centre of attention at a dinner party. Depending of course on what kind of lowlife dinner parties you frequent.
To round up the shift I get stiffed. This jogging suit wearing son of a bitch be showing up at 7 am on a Saturday seeming totally legit in his utter sobriety and talking all casual on the way to Mosó, where he pretends to have lost his card and goes inside to fetch legal tender, never to show up again. I got sumbitches number though. He about to get stepped on.