Short Piece Involving an Automobile (3 of 5)

by Jay HOLLEY
 

Botanica closed an hour ago but Angela knows the doorman and the bartender has a crush on me, so we let them pour us Jager shots ‘til five. We walk to Houston Street and hail a cab.

I glance around the taxi, looking for the deviation that’s always there. The driver’s nameplate shows his ID, his name looks middle-Eastern — normal. The radio has an amber LED display — normal. In every cab, behind an acrylic sheet, is a notice explaining fixed fares from the airports and standard tipping practices. I spot an anomaly; “obligatory” scribbled in Sharpie marker over “customary.”

Angela whispers, “in my butt tonight,” then slides my hand from her knee up her leg and under her skirt.

All the while the cab is in motion, and traffic is clear. Morning rush hour hasn’t started yet. We start over the Manhattan Bridge when I notice the driver has a beaded seat. I turn toward Angela for a minute, biting her neck, kissing her cheekbone, then back to the beaded car seat, counting a mantra in my head, the pattern of beads dark, light, dark, dark, light.

The driver is superb. He isn’t turning back to watch us, he doesn’t adjust the radio, doesn’t ask for directions to Park Slope. Angela’s undone the buttons of my pants and is straddling my right leg, dripping onto me.

The driver proves his superiority. He rounds the corner and we’re on her block.

“Just park anywhere,” says Angela, “anywhere, please,” and he does, face still forward, eyes not glancing in the mirror.

“Whatever you say, Boston,” he says to her. He noticed her accent. He’s definitely Indian, I decide. “You don’t take too long.”

The sun starting up, our driver picks up a newspaper from the passenger side. I can’t tell which paper.

“You can watch if you want,” I say to him, looking from him to the picture of a baby taped on the dashboard and back to Angela’s crotch.

He fights with the Sports section; it’s not folding over. “Thank you, no,” he says, “remember tip.”

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