I always use the same cabbie. You could call him my driver. Gideon picks me up from home within 15 minutes anytime I call. He’s unmarried, has no kids and speaks broken English. Maximum availability and minimum communication. We’ve developed a system. Flat rates. Extra if I call after midnight. Extra if I have him follow the same car for too long. Extra if I jerk off in his cab. It’s simple.
It’s October, which means windows up. I’m directing silent cinema—no yelling or moaning to accompany the moving mouths and torn faces that I’m watching. We drive around the blocks and bends of the city until I’ve cast my afternoon’s entertainment. As a kid you’re always taught not to stare. It’s rude. I disagree. Ignoring, not paying attention to detail, avoiding eye contact—that’s rude. People want to be looked at. It gives them something to complain about.
I have Gideon tail a couple fucking in the back of another yellow car. The girl sloppily straddles her partner and her skirt transforms into a tube top. Her arms act as springs cramped against the roof as she bounces, and a layer of soft white steam coats the rear window, obstructing my view. I rack up my tab.
As my viewing session comes to a close, Gideon pulls up to my building. Before I have time to pull out my wallet the passenger door opposite me swings open. A woman with wild black hair and a cigarette still in hand plops in. She slams the door shut, doesn’t speak, but the looks she throws me says hurry the fuck up.
I linger a moment longer as I examine her. I can’t tell if the stilt-like heels she wears mean she’s talented at walking, easy, or both. I shove my wallet deeper into my pocket as I explain to her that the driver has made a terrible mistake. This is not, in fact, my home or my stop. I ask her where she’s headed and tell her what a coincidence, me too.
She’s in too much of a hurry to argue or bother with waiting for another cab. I seem too unthreatening for her to care whether I stay or go. Maybe, I’m sure she thinks, this prick will even pay my fare. And of course she’s right, I will.
For the first time, my focus does not shift beyond the windows. The drunks, the junkies, the sobbers, the fighters, the changers, the scum—all of the true reality stars blur around us through the slashing city lights, but my gaze stays fixed on her.
I watch as she tugs her tights farther up her thighs, and as she rhythmically strums her pearl nails against her knee, fighting off her urge for another cigarette. Questions answer questions answer questions answer nothing. I ask her where she’s going and she tells me on a date. She asks if I’m forgetting something. She asks doesn’t she look familiar?
And she does. She’s apartment 13B.
She says that my ignorance doesn’t surprise her. She accuses me of being an interaction avoider. An eye contact hater. I close my eyes but I can feel her staring at me now, and I hate it. It’s rude. Her gaze persists and she blows a steady stream of smoke right at me. She asks me why I’m following her, and finally I have no question and no answer. I try to look out into the city but even the dirty shell of the cab windows doesn’t comfort me anymore. I roll them down and try to suck in the polluted air but I can’t breathe.
She asks when the last time I walked somewhere was. I don’t remember, but I don’t tell her that. She asks when the last time I talked to someone aside from Gideon was. I don’t answer that either. She scoots into the middle seat. I press myself against the cheap plastic framework of the door. She asks when the last time I felt anything aside from my own hand on my dick was—when the last time I felt anything at all was.
She tells Gideon to pull over and she throws open the door, but she doesn’t walk away. She waits by the door, and yanks her tights and lights another cigarette. She asks aren’t I gonna pay him and tells me to get out of the car.
Then she takes my hand and we walk.