Shoulda Done What I Did by Kirk Alex

Kirk Alex takes us on a characterful ride with a cabbie working the streets of Los Angeles.

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We're at the Plaza Hotel. Three of us. It's past 4:00am. Howie Lipowitz is first up. Sound asleep. So is the cabbie in back of me. I'm barely awake myself. There's nothing going on. Century City is quiet. No cars or peeps.

Now, mind, Howie is pushing 60. White-haired, white dude with a flattop. His face is scarred and smashed-in like a train-wreck. It was common knowledge that Howie has spent time in the joint, just as this other personality trait that he was not shy about by having a corner of a red kerchief always and forever dangling from the left-rear pocket of his jeans.

Yes, gravelly-voiced Macho Man Howie evidently leaned a certain way (and wanted the world to know it). Not that anyone was bothered by this fact or ever bothered him about it. Most folks didn't give a damn. No problem. Lipowitz could be fun to talk to and often I did. But not this night, not this late, because the former jailbird was out like a light. And me? Damned near there. You had to work the hours to see any money.

Main lobby entrance is about two hundred feet in front of us. I notice the doorman step out in his Beefeater getup. Blows his whistle. Lipowitz does not budge. At all. Snoring. Got his head resting against the open window, snoring.

Doorman toots that whistle a second time. Howie is out of it; or else his hearing is not what it used to be - or both. I should tap my horn. Am tempted, so tempted, but don't, for fear of what might transpire. I don't want Howie to jump in his seat and get rattled and do something nutty. The Rooskie cabbie in back of me has his own idea how to deal with the situation. Hits his horn, hard. Oh yes. Don't seem to care that folks up there in those rooms above us might be sleeping and that they might not care for it. Nope. And he does it again. This time it works.

Howie jerks himself awake, turns his key and floors it. He's traveling way too fast for the distance, which may not even be two hundred feet. And it happens: he keeps going, faster than required. Doorman jumps back in the nick of time, pulling the male passenger with him, as Howie - not able to steer in a straight line - veers to the right, jumps the low sidewalk, and slams the right front end of his cab into the left part of the doorjamb. Boom! Son of a bitch.

I can't believe what I just saw. The Russian cabbie in back of me climbs out of his hack, so do I. He walks toward them. Not me. I stay put.

The doorman helps Lipowitz stagger out of his bucket. Howie appears on the shaken side, like he has no idea what just happened, nor is he aware that his red kerchief had got caught on the seat and dropped to the ground.

Doorman picks it up and hands it to Howie. Lipowitz jams it in that rear pocket he usually keeps it in, then turns to take a look where his front end ended up and shakes his head. I can hear him curse. He's standing there and cursing repeatedly. He turns once more, glaring at us, at the Rooskie primarily, I am assuming, for hitting his horn as loud and as long as he did, and flips him the bird.

I've seen my share of accidents, all types: that involved cars, cars and motorcycles, cars and bicycles, cars and buses; SUVs and trucks, you name it. But never did I see a cab drive smack dab into a hotel lobby entrance like this.

Fuckin' Howie Lipowitz. He was too old to be putting in the long hours. What was he going to do now if he got banned by the hotel? And would the owner of the cab he leased it from cut him loose? Could be he was done. Landing a job with a felony on your resume was tough.

The doorman waves the next cab over. That's me. I drive up. He opens my rear door for the man in the three-piece suit, and we roll. Santa Monica is his destination. Decent trip. I hang a left on Avenue of the Stars, take it north. At Santa Monica Boulevard I follow up with another left, taking us west.

"Hell was wrong with that driver?" asks my passenger. "He on drugs?"

"Howie? No, sir. Merely exhausted."

"Christ; might've killed us both. Lucky the doorman noticed, and shoved me out of harm's way in time."

"You know, the driver in back of me didn't have to lean on his horn the way he did," said I. "What caused it. All he had to do was walk up to Howie's cab and lightly tap him on the shoulder. Would've been adequate."

"Why did he?"

"Some of these Russian drivers are like that, sir, is why. Don't give a damn."

"Scared the hell out of me," said my passenger. "I can tell you that."

I had nothing to add to it. Fact was, what I just saw was mild compared to the time in the mid-70s when I was pushing my bicycle up a steep incline on Argyle in Hollywood, north of the Pantages movie house, and some yuppie dude coming down from the north suddenly kicks his accelerator, does a fast and furious U-turn, and the BMW he's in jumps clean up the curb and onto the sidewalk where I'm walking on the east side of the street. And if I hadn't jumped back in time, having dropped my bag of groceries and the bike, I'd have been dead meat.

Point? Shit happens.

Or how about the time, while in Basic, as I entered the chow line, you had to pause at the desk on the left, where a Sarge E-6 sat with his ledger, and had to announce your name, whether you were drafted or enlisted. This redneck mother cocks his right arm, and slams a powerful fist into my midsection, that folds me. I was in the process of dropping to the floor, when a kind soul, another Basic trainee, from Chi-town, I later learned, drove his hands through my armpits and helped me up, and carried me back to the barracks.

That's right: Shit happens.

Or, how about this: thirteen years of having been cuffed, backhanded and beaten by a father who for some reason resented me; or was it the plain fact he was nothing more than a low IQ cabinet-maker and enjoyed beating his kids, of which I was the firstborn. This had gone on for thirteen and a half years, give or take. And I won't even go into coming back from the Southeast Asian jungle with PTSD that lasted a good six years. This was before they had a name for it. I go to the VA to seek help, and the young punk, steroid-bloated jerk, who didn't know jack-squat about anything, maybe studying psychology, tells me (exact words): "It's time to grow up."

I tell the punk I don't feel good. Got the blues, suicidal. And the dude says to me, with a straight face:

"Isn't it time to grow up?"

I had just turned 20 at the time. Spent a year in the jungle, and this clown, who never saw a jungle other than in a Hollywood flick, lays this crap on me.

It was not long after that a Nam vet, with far worse PTSD, who had gone seeking help, and been turned down, drove his Jeep into the hospital lobby entrance.

"Time to grow up?"

Go carry a goddamn rucksack that weighs sixty-five pounds on your back for a whole year, mother; go sleep on an air mattress in mud during monsoon season, with nothing more than your poncho for a pup tent, then waking up with leeches stuck to your scalp and/or nutsack - and tell me: Isn't it time to grow up?

Go be your old man's favorite punching bag for more than a dozen years and then have the nerve to tell someone: Isn't it time to grow up?

Here's the ultimate irony: Nothing was accomplished in that war. Nothing. NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! WHO SENT US OVER THERE? And to fight whom? Commies? How did that go?

I never ever cared for anything having to do with Communism, but how did it go, amigo? And hippies? Fuck the hippies, as well. Sub-human sacks of horse dung. Initially, we were there to help the South stay a democracy, only the misguided Hollywood clowns and hippie drug-addled loons helped the Red north by protesting in the streets, never pausing to consider the incredible suffering the South would be subjected to after we vacated.

And many, like the Hollywood types, came from where? Rich families. Got it? And not a one would care to move to a Commie nation; only love to pretend to be for them. Anything, anything at all to denigrate the Constitution and democracy. What frauds.

Where was I presently? A woman pulled me out of it with her love, only to yank it two years later and drop me back into a depression that lasted years. And that's where I was at at this point. Stuck in a deep funk. Even so, nothing that happened to me was anything unique or special. Besides, we all get that knock on the door by the Grim Reaper eventually; so why sweat the knocks you had to deal with now and again?

Biggie? No biggie. Humans, certain humans, were just plain mentally defective. Crap happened. To us all. And yes, the dude in my backseat was lucky, and so had been Mr. Beefeater.

I drop the gent off at his ritzy hotel, and drive back. The other cab is still there, on the stand. first up, with four more in back of him. Am sixth up. Way at the end. This is how it goes. The usual crew shows up before the crack of dawn, way before. Early Bird gets the worm, someone once said. They weren't lying. At least I got that run to Santa Monica. Hoped to pick up a load to LAX eventually. Howie and his taxi are gone. Maybe for good.

Couple of weeks pass. Am back on the stand, second up. Lipowitz is first. Yes, the very same. Ex-con, with the flattop and the gold loop dangling from his left earlobe.

Am surprised they let him back on. Hell, am shocked, is closer to the truth. It's a few minutes past 3am. There's two or three other cabs on the stand in back of me, drivers dozing.

I walk up to his heap. Slide in the backseat. Howie is hacking, bad, than blows his nose into a wad of tissues.

"Surprised they let you back on the stand, Lipowitz."

"Why wouldn't they?" says Howie, while shoving the tissues in his ashtray.

"Why wouldn't they? That what you said? Why wouldn't they?"

"Wasn't my fault accelerator was stuck. We got a mechanic to take care of it. I'm good with the hotel. They like me here."

"Fuckin' lucky," I said. "All I gotta say. Had it been me I'da been banned for life."

He laughed. "Gotta know how to work with these people," says Howie. "Can't be turning down fares."

"You mean like the four drunks staggered over from the Playboy Club that I refused to take last month? And you gimme a hard time about? That damned near got me banned from the hotel, because you ratted me out to the doorman?"

He laughed.

"Didn't expect to be backstabbed over it."

"I didn't rat you out," says Howie.

"Who did?"

"Makes no difference. I took the drunks. They didn't fuck with me."

"And you got your money?"

"I always get my money," chuckled Lipowitz.

Yeah well, rumor was he carried a piece. I had something under the seat, but a tire iron was hardly enough against four burly drunks, or someone armed.

So we're chewing the fat, both of us trying to stay awake, discussing how to deal with unruly and/or dangerous passengers, general self-defense and protection. Cabbies were getting shot or mugged about once a week. I knew of several, as well as one Iranian driver who'd had his throat slit by a serial killer who had killed eight cabbies in this manner. Another driver, a French national, had been shot in the chest and left to bleed to death one night in South Central. Being a taxi driver in LA was something like walking a tightrope without a net to break the fall, should you miss a step. Or maybe it was far worse than that.

I mentioned the crowbar I kept within easy access under the front seat.

"Won't do you much good if the mother's got a gun," says Howie.

"Swore off guns ever since Nam," I tell him. "Unless shit happens that forces me to get one."

"Could be too late by then."

"So whatchu got, Howie? Keep a piece handy? No way. Not with your record."

"Lean over," says Howie.

I lean over the backrest. Spot a Smith & Wesson .38 jammed between the seats.

"What the fuck?"

"I'm licensed to carry," he says.

Knowing he had spent time in the pen and that he was a convicted felon, there was no way he'd have been allowed to own a piece, not legally. Howie claiming to be licensed had to be bullshit. Had to be. Yet, there it was: Saturday night special. Stuck between the two seats.

"That real?"

Not hesitating for so much as a millisecond, the loon grabs the gun and points it point-blank at me. In my face. So close to my eyeballs I can actually see the bullets inside the chambers.

Lipowitz was a certified wackadoo. I climb out. Remind myself to keep clear of this fool. For good. Just stay away from him.

Doorman blows his whistle, and Howie drives down to get his passenger - without slamming the front end of his cab into the lobby entrance this time.

Am first up. At five past six, the intercom blares:

"We need a cab at the Tower, please. One taxi at the Tower."

Ah, finally. Action. I wipe sleep from my eyes. Maybe we can get the day moving. Make rent, all that. I pull away slowly, passing the Plaza entrance on my way up the relatively short drive and over to the Tower, where various heads of state have stayed over the years. Century City is high-end, money. Mere stone's throw from Beverly Hills (which is north of here). Not that it does me and others of my destitute ilk much good or that we enjoy being here. But as a cabbie you go where the jack is (unless you liked to work the radio - when said radio was hoppin').

I pull up to the door. Four college football types walk right past me and get in the taxicab station wagon already sitting there. May have dropped a load minutes before I arrived; more than likely. The tallest says:

"We'll take this wagon. We can get more people in the station wagon. There's two other guys coming down. They're stuck in the elevator I think."

Sounded like bull to me, more-than-likely, only what can you do about it? I nod. Maybe he's telling the truth, maybe it's not a line, so long as I can get a decent fare out of this. Got lease on my mind ($180), gas, etc.

I'm standing there with my trunk open and the bellhop pushes a cart out with a pile of torn dark green garbage plastic bags loaded with crap, a battered suitcase - and I hear a woman, cursing. She's shouting pretty damn loud. I look. Woman is short, black, in a dirty T-shirt. Sweatpants stained with gravy and ketchup. On the heavy side. Got a salami in one hand, a large French roll in the other, and is taking bites, alternately: from one to the other, between cursing and screaming at the doorman.

"Don't give me your shit, you hear? I want some goddamn service! That's all I want! Gimme service! You won't gimme my ride, gimme service then, goddammit!"

I have no idea what the fuss is about. A second bellhop, skinny, short, in his forties, joins the other guy. The short dude looks like a funeral director I saw saw once. Neither here nor there. Both doormen appear flustered, not knowing what to do, where to go with this woman and her belongings. She was being 86'd, this much was clear. You didn't have to be a chess master like Bobby Fischer to figure this one out.

I'm secretly praying that they don't put her in my cab. And it has nothing to do with race. Race ain't got a thing to do with it. This woman is a mess. She is either drunk or seriously messed up on something.

The bellhops look my way. Both of them. Looking at me. No no no. Don't do that. Please. "My fare is coming down," I explain, throwing it out there. Never mind that my passengers took off in the station wagon. And the passengers "in the elevator" the tall college football player type had been talking about are non-existent, pure fantasy. Fact was: I was out of luck. Because this psychotic broad here that the bellhops were desperately looking to unload and get as quickly and as far away from the hotel as possible was going to be shoved my way.

I was nothing more than a ready-made solution. Far as they saw it. And me? I'm thinking: I'm too damn old and weary to have to deal with another nutcase this early in the morning - and I also know I have to use caution and diplomacy. One has a right to turn down a fare now and then, for good reason, but if a cabbie develops a rep and becomes known for it at these hotels around here, well, what they do is make a phone call - and suddenly you are persona non grata. Which was something I did not wish to risk.

The woman keeps cursing, making a fuss. And I see the inevitable coming. Right there and then I should have closed my trunk and got out of there. I should have. Played it smart and got the hell out and away. But no. You see, it's a tricky situation, and made more difficult by the fact the woman is black.

Well, I didn't want a scene, that might've escalated. No, sir. So I stayed quiet. And the fools dumped the woman's junk: shampoo bottles, salt and pepper shakers, hair brushes, combs, lipstick, nail polish, hand lotions, skin creams, perfumes, etc., in my trunk. All of it. A nice - not so little - pile of this useless shit right in my trunk, then slammed it shut.

I was screwed. And knew it. This was going to be some nightmare. One I would not be able to erase from the memory banks anytime soon. This is the kind of crap LA cabbies had to deal with. Psychotics/drunks/pimps/strung out junkies/desperate out-of-town johns looking for action.

So why not leave the cab business and find something else then? What keeps me chained to it? I'd tried other things. And they haven't worked out. None of them gave me the time I needed to get some writing in the way driving a cab did. Also, here's the bitch of it, you weren't exposed to the variety of peeps the way this business made possible, and for a writer who wrote about humans, nothing beat being a cabbie.

Also, there is the psychological factor. Once you got used to being outside, being able to work when you (supposedly) wanted to work, it was damned near impossible to walk away. So yes, it was a trap/Catch-22 - in more ways than one. You weren't free, you only thought you were.

Sure, pluses existed: the decent fares, the gorgeous babes, meeting sharp/creative types who treated you like a human being. (Those were usually from somewhere else, as opposed to here in LA.) So it wasn't all a pile of negative drama and trauma. But then you had what was taking place here, now, with this loony-tunes broad, chomping down on her sausage and French baguette.

The doormen were gone inside before the broad even climbed in the backseat. They wanted nothing to do with her. She was out of their life, and stuck in mine. Nice of them. Cabbies didn't rate. Bellhops were a bunch of effing losers, yet acted like they were above us.

"4272 Liemert," she says. Only she's chewing on the sausage, or maybe the baguette, and I can't understand what she's saying. I keep asking her to repeat, and she does - but I still can't figure out what it is she's muttering. She tosses the half-mangled salami and partly-eaten baguette out the window, glares at me.

"JUST GO! DRIVE! MOVE IT!" she screams. "I don't have time for this!" I pull out of the driveway.

"Go right," she says. Easy enough. "What you do is turn right on Motor," she tells me.

Well, first we have to go to Pico, turn right - and take Pico Blvd to Motor; because if you turned right on Motor, off of Pico, you ended up at 20th Century Fox.

"You mean turn left on Motor, don't you?"


"We can't do that. You mean left, don't you?"


I nod. Man, I really did it this time. Fucked up, but good. I shouldn't have let them do this to me. I should stop the cab right here on Avenue of the Stars, take her lot out of my trunk and dump it on the sidewalk, and leave her here. Or else get her to the nearest cop car. I've done that before, had to. But then you've got the racism thing. Not only that, if you made a move like that, who is to say she might not explode? Far worse than what she was exhibiting presently.

Keep your wits, stay calm. Take her where she wants to go. Don't question, don't say anything. Maintain and drive. Then, of course, there was the other thing: if there was something genuinely the matter with her upstairs I would want to show some courtesy, bit of empathy. We were all in the same boat, were we not? There were times kindness was key. Some peeps can't take life's knocks and crack. Lots of peeps were bipolar around here. On Prozac, Thorazine, et al. It was there. She wouldn't be the first. My feeling and attitude was the rest of us, who were able to hang on somehow, ought to have sense enough to show a degree of compassion and patience. Of course, there was always that (outside) chance that you were being played for a sucker, taken advantage of.

I turn right on Pico. Take it west toward Motor. Am not driving fast at all (as am not certain what exactly is the matter with this woman in my backseat). "You still want me to turn right on Motor?" "Turn left here," she said, not shouting this time. We head south on Motor, through monied Cheviot Hills. Ray Bradbury lived here, in a cheerful yellow house. Nice man. Always. Those were the pleasant fares, types like Ray. Only how did it help me now with this nut, who's eating chocolate-chip cookies at the moment. Chocolate-chip cookies. Offers me one. I don't want it. Want nothing from her, but take it just the same.

"Eat it. They're good cookies."

I jam it in the ashtray.

"Turn left here," she says, when we reach Manning.

We get on the I-10. Take it east. Off at Crenshaw. South Central. Did being down here make me nervous? Not the first time for me. You had maids and chefs who worked in Beverly Hills and lived in South Central. Good people, hard-working, but having to spend any amount of time in South Central made one plenty anxious, especially after having had my cab used for target practice one hairy night a while back. Couple of bullets had thudded into the right rear door. Was it the Crips or was it the Bloods? I never stopped to find out, and just jammed it out of the area. Also, this was where my pal Frenchie was robbed of the few measly bucks he had on him, then shot in the chest. Bled to death - over nothing. Again, it was a damn shame, because so many decent working-class black folks lived in the region. What were you going to do?

We arrive at her address. I take her stuff out. Leave it there on the sidewalk. Wait to get paid. Although, short of a miracle, I doubt it is going to happen. Because, yes; guess what? She hasn't got money on her. No, no, no. No way. After all that. I've got twenty-three dollars and thirty cents on my meter. There is gas, there is time; plus the cash owed - and the abuse. And she does not have money on her person.

"This isn't right," I tell her. "I'm here trying to make a living. It's not right. I've got over twenty-three bucks on the meter."

"I know it ain't right. I'll pay you. It's my boyfriend who's got the money. He lives just five houses from here. Why don't you come on over with me?"

I close my trunk. Notice salt and cookie crumbs all over my backseat as I climb in behind the wheel. Exasperated is how I feel. Exasperated. Utterly. As I pull away.

"Have it your way, motherfucker!" she shouts. "Don't you want your money? Fuck it!"

Relieved to have her out of my life, I make it back to the hotel. The tall bellhop wants nothing to do with it. Does not want to hear it as I try to explain that I got burned.

"She wouldn't pay me."

"I got nothing to do with that," he says, walking away. "Go inside. Talk to the guys who put her in your cab."

I go in, to no avail.

"We didn't know she couldn't pay you. I swear it," says the short, skinny one who who still reminded me of a funeral home director.

"We had no idea," he says again, lying through his teeth.

Bullshit, they didn't know. Frustrated by it all: not getting paid, the time lost, gas, all of it - the three hours I spent on the stand waiting for a fare... What to do? Get more upset, or go back to the stand and try again? I return to the stand. Need to recoup somehow. Hope to. Make up for lost time, try to make a few bucks. Catch an airport run or two. You hoped.

The other drivers hear the story and think it's funny. All got answers. Bunch of Monday morning quarterbacks.

"Refuse passenger before begin trip," says a Russian.

"Get money first, then take woman here she want to go," says another driver.

"You think that's always easy?" I try to forget, but can't. Hotel employees back at the Tower were the ones behind it. It had been their fault. Entirely. Had known what they were doing all along. Yes. Didn't give a damn. And the cabbie gets shafted. So what, man? Who gives a fart? Except, I can't accept it. There is a need to go back and attempt to collect compensation.

I return to the Tower. Ask to speak to the manager. From the desk clerk I find out that the woman, my fare, had owed them six-hundred bucks. Had also destroyed furniture in her room.

"So how could you people put somebody like that in my cab? Knowing she didn't have money to pay me?"

He goes in the back. Several minutes later a woman in her thirties appears. I give her my story. She apologizes, then says:

"We aren't responsible for that."

"You put her in my cab knowing full well she couldn't pay me. She didn't pay for her room, right?"

"She paid for her room." Now they're changing their tune.

"You kept her car, isn't that right?"

"That's another story. But yes, we did keep her car."

She tells me to write my name and phone number down.

"I can't promise you anything."

Where was the justice? Now, twenty-three bucks is not a lot of jack (well, it's enough to a cabbie) - but it is also the principle of the thing. I work for my money, put in long hours. In fact, had pulled sixty-five hours without sleep just to keep my head above water - and then these clowns do something like this. You bet it irked.

Suddenly one of the bellhops gestures to a black dude in his 30s walking up the driveway.

"There. That's her boyfriend. Talk to him."

I go outside. Explain the situation to the "boyfriend."

He seems like a reasonable guy. Pleasant.

"She's got problems," he tells me. "She's on Lithium. I'm really not her boyfriend, just a friend."

"How do I get paid? Can you pay me?"

"I don't have money on me. I had to borrow money to take the bus up here."

"Well, what do I do? Can you help me out?"

"What can I tell you, man?" he says. "It ain't like she don't have any money - she just won a settlement. Got ten grand - so that ain't it."

"You couldn't pay me, and then get it from her later?"

"I ain't got it on me, brother. If you want, you can give me your phone number and I'll see what I can do."

"Why don't you give me your number?"

He's not keen on the idea. I write down my number, for what good it is going to do. Thank the guy. He's still apologizing as I'm driving away. I had twenty-three bucks and thirty cents on the meter - to end up with a stale cookie for time spent, fuel wasted; not to mention the disrespect I'd been subjected to.

I'm back on the stand at the Century Plaza. Second up. Howie Lipowitz is first up. Already knows the story. Thinks it's quite hilarious. He climbs out of his cab. Forever amused.

I stayed in my seat. Lipowitz walks up. Couldn't stop chortling. I was sure he had wisdom to impart, like the others earlier, with trips to LAX, that I'd missed out on by trying to chase down what the kooky cookie lady had burned me for. Never mind that Lipowitz was lucky that they let him play the hotel. Now he was the one with the remedy.

The way it usually worked in life. The biggest losers were the ones with solutions to everything. I let him run his mouth. He was enjoying himself way too much for me to want to stop him.

"I heard," he says. "Should have done what I did. Had a drunk get in my cab the other night. Took him six buck's worth. I ask to be paid. Asshole says: 'I don't want to pay you. That's it. If you don't like it, too bad.' I took it in stride. Instead of getting worked up, I stayed calm. Said to him, knowing we were two blocks from the Culver City cop station: 'Wait a second: Let me get you closer to your place. Get back in.' Drunk staggers back in, says to me: 'You're a pretty good guy after all.' 'I try,' I says to him, as I pull up in front of the station; only the fool in my backseat is so hammered he don't get it. I turned to him: 'Listen, let me just go in there and make a quick phone call, and then I'll drop you off in front of your front door. How's that sound?' 'Goddamn, you're a good guy. You're all right,' he says. 'Yeah, I know it,' I tell him. I go in, and come out with two bulls. They handcuff the asshole. Take him inside and book him."

"And all you had on your meter was six dollars."

"Six bucks and ten cents. And got paid. Had money on him."

"I was out twenty-three thirty, not counting tip. That was some expensive chocolate-chip cookie - that I never wanted any part of."

"Maybe you should've eaten the cookie," says Howie, trying to be funny.

Doorman blew his whistle. Lipowitz walked to his cab with that red kerchief dangling from his left rear pocket.

"Go easy on the accelerator there, Howie," I advised him. "Try not to hit the fuckin' hotel this time. Could get banned for good, bro; you're not careful."

"Six bucks and ten cents," Howie reminded me, as he pulled away. "I got fuckin' paid, bro."

1 comment:

  1. I thought the author developed the character of the cabbie very well: his disaffected childhood, his experience in Viet Nam, a failed love affair, etc. Then he makes us feel what it’s like to drive a cab in L.A. It is all believable. The end, however, I felt was a little weak. The end of a piece of fiction is of course the most difficult part of the work to pull off (I’m the unrivaled king of weak endings). The story was strong in all other respects: characterizations, dialogue and so forth. I suppose I just expected the black female passenger to turn out to be Oprah Winfrey or Diana Ross or something, and take the piece by storm. Nice effort, though, Kirk; maybe you could reconfigure the ending somewhat.