Been locked up honing my video editing skills, working on my next political two cents Ivanka Shyster Moore.
Please enjoy a ride along with an oldie-but-goodie this week…
I’m cruising east up Market, away from downtown. It’s just me and Citizen’s Cab #137 fishing for fares, as we cross the brink into the Loin…
There’s a dude flagging me up at the corner of 7th, at a red.
Olive skinned with broad shoulders, in his mid 30s, my potential fare is semi-buff and sports an expensive black leather motorcycle jacket unzipped over a Hawaiian print shirt unbuttoned low enough to boast two highly-toned pectorals. Dude’s neck is ringed by a white coral choker framed by semi-greasy dark, wavy shoulder length locks that are pinned back from his face by a pair of wrap-around sunglasses sitting perched atop his head. He is semi-good looking, despite the badly faded navy blue shorts and worn white tennis shoes.
I pull over.
But before entering my taxi, my passenger bends humbly into my shotgun window to verify that I am actually agreeing to pick him up. The driver confirms. And dude thanks me upon confirmation, before going for the rear door to then set carefully in back; all calm, cool, and collected. He fixes his gaze intensely through me via the rear view, with the deepest of penetration.
And a very deliberate, clenched-tooth Colonel Kurtz speaks,
“How are you doing?”
Interesting. I sense that Kurtz actually expects a real answer. He’s waiting, all anticipatory.
“I am well… How are you doing?” I play, reciprocating Kurtz’ sustained eye contact back through the mirror.
“Fine. I am doing fine. Thank you very much for asking.”
The Colonel continues,
“You are a good man for asking. Some do not ask… Driver, it seems that I find myself in a predicament. I wonder if you could possibly help. You see. I had a taxi waiting for me, as I went inside of the check cashing place back where you had picked me up. I returned to find that he had left. And I seem to have left my phone in his cab. It is not very important. I do not need the phone. But I wonder if you might possibly drive through the city. Perhaps we could locate him. This is what I am thinking about. Is this something that may interest you?”
I find Kurtz otherworldly, even for the Loin. I mean, dude’s not dirty. But he’s not clean. And oozing from his shiny olive pores, what is this I detect? Why, yes. Yes, I do believe it is… The faint synthetic essence of Eau du Meth.
Yep, casual alright.
As we drive, the Colonel is steadfast in keeping unbroken eye contact via the rear view, looking deep and thoughtful… and schizo as hell.
I pursue the topic of his phone quest. Ya know, the basis of what he’s actually doing in my cab! I figure I might as well ascertain a location, where I might actually be taking him!
“I should probably ask. What color was the taxi? Exactly what are we looking for?”
“Driver, I do believe the cab was blue.”
“Ah, DeSoto! Gotcha. Uh… which way would you like to, um, drive?”
I check the rear view, only to find a now very confused (and suddenly silent) Col. Kurtz.
“You know, you could call DeSoto’s dispatch. Have them radio out to their drivers for your phone. They could figure out who drove you… But hey, in the mean time, should I continue straight on McAllister here, or turn up Leavenworth?”
“DeSoto?? Like Rockefeller! He was a good man. I do understand that he gave 10% of his earnings to charitable causes very early in his life, back when his earnings were very meager, when he had nothing.”
“Oh? I didn’t know. Yeah, DeSoto is the only blue color scheme… Uh, I really need to know which direction to drive. Straight? Or, right up Lev here?” Now nervously, “The light is green…”
“Oh. I guess… take… a right… here…”
A confused vacancy comes over the Colonel’s dark glossy eyes.
“My driver had indicated that he had an appointment, at 10:30… I guess I was in the check cashing establishment longer than was expected.”
Huh? I picked Kurtz up at 10:28. Of course DeSoto left! (Assuming the “appointment” was even real.)
“Oh, he must have had an airport ride, if it was an appointment. Your cab is no doubt on 101 right now heading south… Uh, with that in mind, where would you like to go?”
“Driver, do you listen to Live 105? I was trying my hand just now at morning wit. Like they do on Live 105. But, I believe that I have failed. It would seem that I do not possess their talent. The guys over at Live 105 have really got it. They are real pros.”
“Driver, might I possibly utilize your phone? To place a call to mine?”
Hmm. Not too sure I wanna hand over my phone. I ask Kurtz for his number and try calling his phone for him, as we drive aimlessly up Leavenworth through the seedy Tenderloin.
“Doo… Doo… Doo… The number you have reached… (blah, blah, blah.)”
I get some generic “out of service” recording on the first ring, two attempts in a row.
“Well. That is indeed a shame. Maybe I could get a massage… No. I do not need one. I do feel alright.”
“Driver. Let me give you twenty dollars. And you should be aware that I tip well.”
The Colonel digs through his shorts pockets and turns both of them out before finding a wad of loose crumpled up cash. He retrieves a twenty from the mass and carefully smooths it out upon his lap. Then, Kurtz snaps the bill in the air with two crisp “CRACK!“s, before laying it down slowly and mindfully out flat on the center arm rest of my Prius. Kurtz then smooths the bill out some more.
Hmm. What is this?
A down payment?
Well, I guess this depends on how long this goes on! I’m still waiting for a DESTINATION!
(Damn. What Rose (cab school teacher) Commandment was this?)
Anyway, the meter’s only at $6.80 right now.
“Oh, thanks,” I dryly offer Kurtz.
I put the twenty on the shotgun seat, at the ready to make change if necessary. At least I’m getting paid, I guess.
“Uh, so where would you have gone? If DeSoto had waited for you?”
The Colonel thinks…
“I do not know, driver. Let me work that out…”
(One would think I had asked the good Colonel the exact value of pi.)
“I could possibly get a massage. I do not really have need of a massage, though. I do feel alright. However, I would very much like to pass that feeling on to others… to spread God’s good news. You do not listen to Live 105, driver? Those guys are quite witty. God’s love and light truly guides them.”
“Uh, not really. I listen to NPR, and 107.7 – The Bone, sometimes. So, where do ya think we should head to?”
(Come on, Kurtz. Focus… FOCUS!)
“Uh, let me just get my bearings…”
“I guess we should continue driving up the hill.”
We continue on up Lev, nearing California on Cathedral Hill.
Then, praise the Lord! The Colonel directs,
“How about… Kearny.”
“Great! Kearny, it is!” I gush. “Hey. Would you like me to put on Live 105?”
And I quickly swerve to take the right onto California, to head east down towards Kearny, as I go for the radio…
“Oh! Heavens, NO! Live 105 is not what it used to be. But, thank you very much for asking. You are very considerate. Pat Travers is a dinosaur. They used to play Devo.”
Wait. Kearny and what?
Whatever. I’ll just drop Kurtz off at Kearny & Sac, in Chinatown. God willing.
And the Colonel continues,
“Yes, it is true that Rockefeller was a decent man. The Lord says you must give 10% away, to charitable causes. Or, the serpent shall scorch your fields.”
I drive east down the California Street hill, passing the Fairmont Hotel and navigating around two cable cars. As I do, I am mindful to bask in this wonderful post card perfect view, literally, of the Bay Bridge and downtown San Francisco.
Once at the bottom of the hill, now flanked by Chinatown, I go for the left on Kearny and immediately pull left to the curb.
“So, does Chinatown sound good? Would you like to get out here?”
Suddenly, Kurtz is uncharacteristically decisive,
“No, driver. About four more blocks up Kearny, please.”
Oh! A MASSAGE!! North Beach!
I head up Kearny until it dead ends at Columbus, at the block with all the strip clubs and, er… “massage” parlors. I pull over and stop right adjacent the Garden of Eden.
The meter is at $9 even.
And Kurtz goes back to proselytizing in the rear view mirror, eyes now ablaze,
“Yes, one MUST spread God’s love and light!! As HE commands! HE is the only one who can do this for you!! HE must receive you home…” The Colonel, digressing, “How much money did I give you, driver?”
“Oh, you gave me a twenty. We’re good. The fare is only nine dollars… Uh, would you like some change back?”
The Colonel’s face again goes awash, in the deepest of thought. (Well, actually… just confused.)
Kutz snaps to, blurting,
“Stay, driver! Wait!!”
And Kurtz slowly pulls another twenty from his crumpled wad of cash. And again, he carefully, mindfully places it flat on the center armrest of my Prius, and again irons the bill out slowly, until wrinkle-free.
He hands Driver up the offering with,
“Take this money, driver. You may add it to the first twenty dollars.”
“Wow. Thank you,” I assure.
As I turn to take the bill, the Colonel takes what I sense has been a long awaited opportunity to now stare directly, deep into my eyes. But, the Colonel seems unresolved…
Stirring in intense internal deliberation, and with pursed lips, Kurtz again blurts,
And he now pulls out a five from his wad, before methodically smoothing it out on the armrest (yes, of my Prius) as he did the others. And Kurtz stares all expectant in the rear view…
And all at once, the Colonel pulls out yet another five. And he smooths it out on the armrest (sure, of my Prius) and stares intensely in the rear view…
And the Colonel pulls out a one now! He flattens it carefully, mindfully, and stares some more…
And, ANOTHER one… Same deal.
I remain silent all the while, stoic. I just wait, with eyes fixed straight ahead, wondering when it will stop.
I could argue. But, it does behoove me to not risk agitating the good Colonel! That course could be construed as, um, disrespectful. Yes, this payout is way weird. And way unnecessary. Aven exorbitant. Bizarre! But, I do NOT want to rock the boat with this guy.
Suddenly, new inspiration bursts from the back!
“Wait! Promise me! Well… Could you maybe consider… possibly giving 10% of this money away? To one in need?”
“Oh! Why, of course! I, um, do sometimes give money to Save the Children.”
But the Colonel visibly deflates at this, crestfallen.
Kurtz at first hesitates, then speaks somberly,
“Oh… I suppose that would be fine. That would be ok. Or… Or, maybe you could give the 10% to someone in need of… of a hit of crack.”
“Oh… Why, uh… Yeah, I suppose I could do that. Sure. Will do!”
“Great! God is LOVE my dear, dear friend!!”
But then the Colonel’s mood juts. He goes unexpectedly melancholy. Kurtz frowns, a scowl.
And again, with a confused and contorted brow,
“I did share this good news with my girlfriend. But she will not hear of God’s light. I do not understand why.”
And with this, Kurtz reaches for the door to exit… He opens the door. But then he hesitates.
And it’s back inside the cab! And AGAIN piercing the rear view with the most penetrating eye contact,
“I guess one CAN lead a horse to water… But one can not MAKE it drink!”
And finally, finally, Colonel Kurtz gets out of the cab!
He faces all austere up Broadway, but then pauses with yet another flash. Kurtz turns back towards the cab and now leans into the shotgun, locking his eyes on mine.
He opens his mouth to speak, with seconds passing before words, digging ever deeper, ever more seriously.
And the Colonel openly deliberates, with a thousand-yard stare,
“Well… I suppose one could HOLD the horse down… Maybe pry open its mouth… And POUR the water in…”
Kurtz plays out this scene out in his mind. He mimes a prying motion with his hands. And he meanders internally, almost visibly… again with confused deliberation.
Then shaking his head, the Colonel has arrived at a decision.
“Well… No… I do not suppose.”
And Kurtz retreats from the door.
I throw the Colonel a peace sign, adding the ‘ol, “Have a good one!”
As I slowly pull off, and away from the Garden of Eden.
Please SHARE, if so inclined…