Sunday Scribblings, "Worry"

The prompts over at Sunday Scribblings is “worry.”
“Are you a worrier? Know one? Is there a particular worry that you can't shake? Ways of coping with worrying?”

Cab Fare
I should have hoofed it home, but it was late, it was cold and Briggs said he’d share a taxi.
Fucking Briggs.
Of all the people out tonight, I get stuck on a dimly-lit street corner in outside one of those hipster, back-alley clubs where there’s not even a sign. Just some steroid junkie in a black monkey suit sitting on a barstool next to a five-foot length of velvet rope strung between polished brass poles.
My head is pounding from the smoke, the lines shared with Tatyana in the ladies room (all the while having to listen to that whiny bitch of Tabor’s scream that she was trying to piss) and the dead Scotch and sodas in my gut.
And while everyone has escaped into the night (morning, really), there was Briggs.
Barely functional from the Mezcal (always the trend-setter), the marching powder (both nostrils caked with dried blood) and his ‘script of Xanax.
Sober, Briggs incorrigible asshole. Wasted, well, he was a severe sonofabitch.
“Hey, fuck you say, Brennan my man, share a cab?”
I look for a way out and succumb to the fact that we’re the only two left on the street. And I’m thinking I could use a couple of Briggs' Xanax right about now.
“Yeah, Briggs, we’ll split. But seriously, no fucking around this time.”
Briggs likes to play a game with cabbies he calls “Point of Origin.”
“Jesus, man, you’ve got no sense of humor,” he says, snapping closed his Zippo lighter and taking a hungry drag off a clove cigarette. “Relax a little bit, you’re a young man.”
Briggs steps into the street, puts his index and pinkie fingers in his mouth and makes this ungodly whistle.
And up rolls a monster yellow cab, a late-model Cadillac Seville. Pristine, clean.
“Sweet,” Briggs says. “Coming, comrade, or are you just going to stare.”
I duck into the back with Briggs and the door’s barely shut when the Cadillac’s V-8 rumbles to life and we’re pinned to the seats, which I notice are lush leather, cordovan-colored like spilt Cabernet.
Briggs doesn’t notice. He leans forward to the partition and immediately starts in at the driver, who is tall, thin and has this weird bowl-cut cap of tar-colored hair.
“Bet I can tell you your native land in five guesses,” Briggs says, raising his eyebrows like his best Belushi impersonation. “Say I get it right, and this fare’s free for my friend and I.”
The driver doesn’t speak, doesn’t turn, just trips the meter with a boney white hand. He’s wearing a wool jacket, black and tailored, and as the hand goes toward the meter, I swear the jewelry holding the guy’s starched French cuff shirt together is a silver skull.
“By your delicate, yet darkly handsome features, I’m guessing Eastern European, right? Armenian, perhaps, or maybe Bulgaria?”
“That’s three,” the driver says, brusque and oddly hollow through the Plexiglas, and accelerates the Cadillac down streets devoid of cars. “Guess again.”
We’re headed for the tunnel doing 90.
And I notice that there’s no door handles back here. No locks, either.
“Ahh, funny guy, huh?” Briggs says, cracking his knuckles and winks at me. “Ukraine.”
“That’s four.”
I can see the driver’s blood pump at his right temple, blue veins through pasty, white-ash skin.
“Get this guy, huh Brennan? OK smartass, Transylvania’s in Romania, right? You creepy fuck.”
“Five,” the driver says, just as the Seville’s nose begins the decent into the tunnel’s grade.
He turns completely around to face us, smiles a big gaping grin that’s full of sharp, twisted teeth, like porcelain spikes.
His eyes are split and yellow-green like a serpent, and he looks at Briggs, winks and says…
“Care to give it one more shot, motherfucker?”
The tunnel is a vortex of flames.
And that’s when I notice the meter – it’s running, only it’s years that roll up on the red digital readout, instead of dollars.


Anonymous said...

egads! -Meg

Miss Alister said...

Geezus, Thom, what the fuck were you on when this radical shit let like blood from the gash in your brain???

Brilliant, my man! This fare is packed full of description-rich nutrients so visceral, so delish : )

Miss A

quin browne said...

this is why i avoid gypsy cabs.

floreta said...

what a ride!

Life without Clots said...

weird...what was on your cheerios?

gautami tripathy said...

Great ride, ThomG!

listen to me

Dee Martin said...

Yikes - I'll be avoiding cabs for the next couple of hundred years now...

when the musics over said...

The devil's taxi on the highway the hell! That was fucking awesome, Thom! What is it with those places with velvet ropes? Man this went perfecto with the tequila, lime , and salt over shaved ice my man. I love this twisted western hardscrabble stuff you come up with! Nice read, but I want more.

Daily Panic said...

this was scary. I think about nights like this really happening!