A little after 2 AM.
I go out onto the porch for a last cigarette and there is a taxi parked at the end of the drive, about 30 feet away.
To understand how weird this is: it’s a small town, we rarely see taxis anywhere, any time. I don’t think we even have a cab company. It must be from Danbury.
I watch for almost a minute and the taxi just sits there. I walk off the porch and up the drive, staying as far to the right and out of the headlights as I can. My mind is racing: is it Mom, is there a problem, is it my sister, what the fuck.
When I get close to the cab I must look like a twitchy commando, because the driver has his face out and the most earnest look possible.
I say, “… What’s up?”
He speaks with a lilting Middle-Eastern accent: “M’am, someone called a cab?”
“Oh dear… I am at # ________ Road?”
“No, you’re at # ________ Street.”
He then speaks into some sort of PDA: “M’am? I am at your house? # ________ Street?!”
A woman’s voice squawks over the device: “wah wah wah, wah wah?!”
I make an erasing hand-motion at the driver, and sort of hiss-whisper, “I’ll tell you where to go!”
He speaks into the device again: “M’am, I am coming right there,” and disconnects, looking up at me with that earnest face again.
I tell him, “Go back down there to the stop sign, then go back up there,” and point to the road that runs parallel to ours.
“Ohhh! The other road!”
“Oh thank you M’am, I am sorry to disturb!”
I go back to the porch just as Nitram is coming outside, and tell him there was just a cab in our driveway, tell him a little bit of it.
He’s silent for a bit, then says, “Maybe… you should not walk up to strange cars parked in our driveway at 2 AM…”
My stomach immediately clenches and I wait a moment to calm myself. “What would you have done?”
“Walked up to the cab.”
Another moment. “But I can’t because… I’m a girl?”
He makes the lemon-sucking face at me. “Well, I’m just sayin’…”
We stand there for a bit, me trying to keep my anger in check. “You know, you grew up here, in this nice, safe, small town. I grew up in Danbury and Southbury.”
“Yeah, Southbury. Southbury was like Vietnam.”
“What, hot and wet?”
“No. Violence. Blood.”
He just watches me.
“Look, I survived childhood in Danbury. Then I survived Southbury, where I was carjacked, kidnapped, my house burned down around us, my friends were killing themselves and each other… all kinds of shit. Give me some credit.”
He stares at me; then, about the cabbie: “Would you have been ready to punch that guy in the face?”
I almost laugh, not believing this. He says, “What?”
I say, “A cab in our driveway at this time of night — I was thinking: Is it my mom, my sister? Who could it be, why is it here? I went up there expecting that, and worse: expecting… a gun, or anything.” The mind boggles: how could you not be ready for anything when the unexpected and bizarre shows up in your small-town driveway in the middle of the night?? (Yes, it really is that weird an occurrence for round here.)
He’s reassured, or appears to be. “Oh. Okay, then.”
“So I’m good?”
I tell him, “This is so offensive. Just because you live in a big bad city during the week now doesn’t mean you’re okay to deal with something like this in the middle of the night and know what the fuck to do — and I’m not.”
He makes the long-suffering sigh, and I say, “Bite me.” He doesn’t seem to get offended, but then I didn’t say it too seriously, so we get over it.
He puts out his cigarette, says, “I’m going in.”
In my sweetest voice I ask, “Are you sure?”
He falls for it. “Yeah… what?”
I bat my eyes. “Are you sure it’s okay for me to stay out here all by myself? Without you to protect me?”
He starts to close the door, making a mild version of the lemon-sucking face, and a weak laugh. I turn my back on him and pull down my pants and show him my ass, and the laugh turns real.