Monday, August 2, 2010

The Last Weekend of July

Last Weekend had the full moon, but this weekend had thunderstorms on a sunny day for 10 minutes flying through the valley, requiring me to turn on my windshield wipers, as I pulled into the parking lot of one in a series of somewhat docile drunk pickups, that comprised the totality of Friday night.

“Me love you a long time!” My passenger dressed in a slinky red dress told me, as I drove her and the butch in slacks and blouse, that was her companion to the gay bar. The butch was reticent, but the beauty was rabid with excitement, as she told me that she was going to turn 40 and was going to Las Vegas to celebrate. Then she asked me what she should do and where should she go to have the best time when she got there?

“Catch a cab, and ask the cab driver when you get to Las Vegas,” I told her.

This answer made her happy, until she asked why we were taking the route that I was driving. When I explained that it was because she changed destinations after I started driving them to their first choice, she seemed satisfied, so we proceeded. When we got to the bar that she suggested, the parking lot was empty and the last of the people were leaving behind locked doors, so we proceeded to the first destination.

My talkative passenger continued talking about sexual topics, as she had done most of the trip, requiring me to engage her in subject matter that I wasn’t comfortable with, but after driving a taxi for 7 years, you learn to somewhat roll with the punches. Of course after driver’s think that they served above and beyond the call of duty, by tolerating their passengers pornographic propositions, cabbies will find themselves explaining to the boss why they were lewd and indecent. So when they asked how they could request me personally to come pick them up, I wanted to give them somebody else’s number, but it’s easier on my conscience to tell the truth, because the truth never comes back to bite you.

“It’s #25, I told her, we pulled into the parking lot, I handed her my card, with all the information on it.

“You’re not going to charge us $22.00 for the ride here are you?” The fem said.

I hate it when passengers can’t accept the meter, because of their own stupid drunken blunders, and sometimes ask them if they try to argue a lower price with the cashier at Walmart. However, in this case I didn’t, but just said, “give me $17.00 and we’ll call it even. They paid me, and they both gave me another $4.00 for a tip.

My next call was at Walmart, on Turner Rd., where a young woman dressed in very short shorts and a halter top got in the cab, with a small plastic bag. She was going to Keizer, and on the way there told me, that she worked at Pussycat’s on Market Street. I heard that Pussycat’s was a lingerie modeling venue, but asked her exactly what it was. She responded with the following answer.

“You know how you can buy a private dance with a girl at one of the strip clubs?” She asked.

Even though I don’t frequent strip clubs, I know all about them, because I have to go in them to find my passengers. I can tell you everything that you want to know about any of the 6 places presently in business, especially after this passenger.

“At Pussycat’s,” she continued, “it’s all private dances. You pay a girl to come in a room with you, and she’ll do whatever you want.”

I decided not to ask what they might want, since my imagination could easily fill in the blanks, but found out that she had been the girlfriend of #73, one of the taxi cab drivers that I was friendly with. Many strippers are unfriendly when I drive them, on work days, but become very talkative on their days off. Most strippers, regardless of the fact that they live off tips, are bad tippers, and so it was the case this time, but then her current boyfriend or handler was the one who actually paid me.

I picked up Larry the mentally challenged guy who has a season pass to the Volcanoes, the local minor league baseball team, here in Salem. Larry attends every game and will tell you blow by blow, what happened that night, whether you want to hear it or not, while you drive him home. As we approached the split where Portland Rd. merges with Lancaster, I began slowing down.

Why is that yellow light blinking? Larry asked.

“It means caution,” I answered.

“Caution for what?” Larry asked.

“It’s a dangerous 3 way intersection.

“Why?” Larry asked.

It’s at this point that you realize that you should have ignored him, and resist the temptation to tell him to shut up. Fortunately his apartment only took a few more minutes to get to, and I had him home in another 5 minutes. It was fairly busy and uneventful for the rest of the night, as I drove drunks from bar to bar, until around 2:00 AM, when I picked up a guy from Presley’s Playhouse. He was standing out front waiting for me, and got in the cab as soon as I pulled into the parking lot.

“Where to?” I asked my passenger.

“Just get me the fuck out of here,” my passenger exclaimed, and continued, “take me to Stars. Do you know where that is?”

“Yeah, I know,” I told him. Like I already said, a taxi driver knows every strip club in town, and why you would want to go there. So I called it in and began driving North down Commercial. On the way there my passenger, who’s name was Dave talked a mile a minute. Maybe he was on speed, then again maybe he was just a talker, but he was the personification of Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty of the “On the Road” series.

“I’m one of Jerry’s kid’s,” Dave said.

“When was the last time that you saw the “Dead?” I asked him.

“He had Chuck Berry with him and it was in Eugene, I think, but then Jerry died. Do you know why Jerry died? It was because of his heart, he had a heart so big that it finally exploded. He died, and Ken Kesey went Cuckoo with Jack Nicholson over on Center Street, but he never saw the film. The Hell’s angels distributed Owley’s acid and then it was the day that the music died. That was the day that Jerry died. His heart was so big that he couldn’t take it any more so he died. It exploded. Dylan had it right when he sang about the wicked messenger, but what was that song that the Dead used to always do?

“Bucket of Rain?” I asked.

“No, I can’t remember, but do you know why Jerry died?” He asked and answered, “because his heart got so big that it exploded.”

I ended up dropping my passenger off at Canton Gardens, and then had to go to the Speakeasy to pick up the Dykes, that ended up not being there.

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