Twilight Gods

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man gets an unexpected surprise on his last cab ride.
Note: This is the last non-Christian story that I published
before rededicating my life to God.

Submitted: January 19, 2009

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Submitted: January 19, 2009

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The damn summertime in Detroit is the worst time to be outside. The black folks in raggedy cars fry under the sun and watch pretty white asses cross the street or maybe something else.  Hector sits in one particular cab. His name is Hector Valdez and he is an immigrant from Mexico listening to the sounds of Mrs. Celia Cruz. The sun that will silently destroy his brown face is captured by the softness that keeps him calm and will slowly melt away. His car is a faded piss-color that reflects off the sunlight near the crack house on Watson Street. Hector looks in the mirror; a black girl is crossing the street, her nappy curls break from the yank of her pimp's hand. Hector turns away, a green light urging him forward and he is gone. Still stuck under the streetlight, the black girl reminds him of a stolen book bag, a faded memory of a bygone era of beat boxes, Adidas shoes and typewriter bracelets.

Hector cannot stop for her; the next time is his last but that will not come for a few minutes.  Hector glances up; he cannot see a thing. His eyes twinkle as ghetto children will make wishes upon false stars. Perhaps he'll play the lottery.  He glances at his watch: It is almost evening. It is 6:33, a strange time indeed. Hector turns on the radio but it is about death. He shoots past another flickering light and passes wilted bouquets and moldy teddy bears.

A woman is standing on the corner, her thumb stuck out , her dark sunglasses rotting beneath cakes of makeup beneath a battle-scarred face; but what is pleasure? A romantic twelve-gauge shotgun that lands with delicate care onto dangerous, fake faces whose eyes will widen when they realize how strange it is to see a clown in close range. The shape of hands, the ammunition of a thousand armies and Hector's visor drops in deluded fright as his car slams on the brakes to avoid twelve angry pigeons, one of whom is lying lame and dreamy under the blood-red evening sun.

The woman opens the door and climbs in. Her lips caress words with ease and Hector pinches the meter in sight. Hector closes the door and speeds off into the evening night. Hector side-steps the birds and flicks a dozen gray hairs of his in different directions.

"I'm thinking of playing the lottery. Got any numbers you can suggest, honey?" Hector asks, but it is more of a statement than a question.

"Yeah, none. Now, I'm going to 1212 Penrod Street and please hurry," she says, looking down at her watch, "I haven't got much time.'

"All right." Hector arrives at another red light.

Homeless men are putting on a late-night play. The streetlights hide their faces but Hector can see them carrying one off down the street. Maybe someone is on a cross and has earned the right to be carrried by the other men. Hector looks in the mirror. His own cross is hanging from the shadows, which gives him a shadow as well. Hector realizes that he needs a shave, but then he hears a noise and his eyes focus on the woman sitting behind him.

Hector begins to notice some strange things about her. For one, she has black leather gloves on her hands. They move up the unusually hairy arms. Two, she has a moustache, struggling not to fall limp, hiding behind a contempt for kindness that the lovely transvestite prostitutes on the corner willingly embrace.

"What's the gun for, man? Are you going to rob me?" Hector asks.

The man is taken aback for a moment but then calmly replies, "No. But I'll play you. To forget that we ever met." The man throws a ten-dollar bill into the air. It lands on the plush vinyl of the passenger seat.

Hector realizes where he has seen the man before. It is today when he is at his mother's house. It is during lunch but before her soap opera comes on. The newscaster speaks for exactly two minutes or one hundred and twenty seconds. A child is crossing the street and is hit by a drunk driver. The drunk driver is arrested. The blood alcohol level is .012, above the legal limit but the jury has mercy on him and gives him a year of probation. It is June and this happened last June.

Hector cannot remember the headline because it reads in the newspaper like this: EGAPMAR NO SEOG NAM.  But Hector feels the man's pain enough to understand the intimacy this man finds with destruction. Hector then ponders if he should call someone? But at his own home, he has a wife, four children, his parents, his three brothers and their two wives that depend on him, his shared contribution. Hector's stomach churns as him and the man sit in silence. Hector tries to make conversation, to try to understand the man, to change his mind.

"You're my last customer, you know? Yep, that's right. Last one for the evening. Was thinkin' about maybe going over to Baker's on Eight Mile. I know it's kind of far away but they've got great jazz music."

"I don't listen to that shit or anything else. I hate music." Hector smells cigarette smoke coming from the backseat. The man rolls down his window.

"Bummer. Hey, you know, man. I like to watch a lot of television. It's nothing like what I see out here in the streets but its close. Hey, which do you think is more exciting? The life of a cab driver or the life of a newscaster?"

"I don't know," is the reply.

"A cabdriver, you know why?" Hector says.

"Watch the road, you stupid fuck."

Hector winces at first but then realizes that the man is talking to an old, blind, deaf and dumb black man who almost steps from the curb and almost runs into Hector's cab. He narrowly misses hitting him and pulls onto a side street. Hector drives a block and pulls in front of a Tudor-style house.

The man thanks him through the window and tips him two single dollar bills Hector listens to the sound of the doorbell. A light comes on in the house. One life for another. Hector could call 9-1-1 but then what? Does he want to be on the news tomorrow? He shakes his head no.  Then, he remembers that the Coney Island is open all night. Hector drives a bit and then sees a familiar face. A transvestite named Dorothy Gale, who is known for her red slippers and rescuing dogs off the street. But when Hector examines her, she's actually wearing brown shoes, and ugly ones. But then, a stroke of genius hits him. He'll ask her for her favorite number and play it tomorrow in the lottery, after work, after the news and after Hector buys a new pair of dark, shaded sunglasses.


© Copyright 2017 PiperDavenport. All rights reserved.

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