joegoda: (StoryTeller)
[personal profile] joegoda
I was 'informed' by those in the know that I needed to put all this down so that in case something happens to me, there will be a record of some sort. What the hell. Why not. Far as I know, if something happens, it won't matter a damn what I did or didn't do. I'll probably be dead. Or not. Maybe I'll get lucky and find myself living in the Dominican (not my choice) under and assumed name (also not my choice).

My name is Benny or Bernie, depending on who you ask. My mother died when I was too young to remember her, and my dad split for parts unknown. All the hospital where I was born had was a smudged record of my birth as 'Male, 17 inches, 3.2 pounds. Mother deceased. Father unknown.' Yippee. Apparently, before she kicked off, mom told the doctor to name me Bernie or Benny. There's some discussion about this because the doc's handwriting was so poor that he could have named me Sally or Sue. But the BE part was there, clear to see. and the last name. That was typed on my mother's admittance papers. D'angelo. Of the angels. Or From the angels or something like that.

I'm not going to get into the life of a kid without parents. Boo hoo hoo. It's rough. It's sad. There's a lot of pain and tears and feelings and stuff like that there. Does there really need to be anything said about it that hasn't been said a kajillion times on the Internet or by that idiot Dr. Philbert or Oprah or whoever the hell thinks they know? No there doesn't. I grew up without parents, a skinny kid, a bit shorter, a bit myopic, and a bit cynical. To say I have a chip on my shoulder is to say that Mount Rushmore is a rock. I'm permanently pissed off, I know it, and I deal with it. I've never shot anyone, punched anyone, intentionally hurt anyone that didn't need it. So far.

I'm a cabbie. A cab driver. I work the airports and the Metro and parts of the eastern outlying parts of a town that thinks it's a city in Northeastern Oklahoma. At one time there was a lot of room here. Still is, but parts of it are now kinda rotten. That's the way life is, you know. If a plant isn't pruned or fertilized or both, then parts get rotten and they fall off.

Problem is, that parts of a city that fall off don't fall very far. They just sit and fester. Well, that's another part of the story.

I was picking up this fair on an ordinary Oklahoma fall afternoon. The air was crisp and full of promise of an interesting winter to come. Never can tell about Oklahoma winters.

We might get six inches of snow. We might get three inches of ice. We might get nothing at all and that will be hell to pay for the fishing tourist trade. Oklahoma has more shore front, square mile wise, than any other state in the country. We like our lakes and dams, yessirrebob. Lots of hunting, fishing, camping. All that nature crap.

For all the boring things about this state, there is one thing I will brag about. We have a lot of green. Trees, prairies, grasslands, forests. All sorts of places that grow green and I find that amazing, having grown up here, and hearing all the talk about how there's nothing to do. Bored kids not having a clue what the real world is about. Get out and enjoy you a nature walk. Get out from in front of the computer and the xbox and the ygame and all that crap. Stop doing drugs and see what is right in front of your face.

Enough of this. I'm supposed to be talking about the thing. That thing that has me sitting in this tiny hotel room up in Bartlesville, eating at the sonic and listening to my arteries harden until the guy comes to tell me it's okay and I can leave or some other guy comes and kills me. If there's a chapter after the end of the story, I guess we'll know.


I pulled up at the Tulsa International Airport. It's only called international because of the length of it's runway. There aren't too many flights that connect Tulsa to, oh, say, France or Germany or even England. In fact, there aren't too many flights that connect to any place, directly, unless you're going to Atlanta or L.A. or Chicago. Someplace like that. It's all business.

There's two levels to the airport. The bottom level is where the ticketing occurs, so even if you park at the top, you gotta go to the bottom. There's elevators and escalators and stairways for that. The upper level is arrivals and that's where I'm sitting.

I pulled up, like I said, at the lower level of the airport, and slid into my spot, waiting for my fair. I drive a Nissan minivan for a taxi. Gold and Blue, which is what the name of the company is called, coincidentally. I like a minivan for a taxi because there's lots of trunk space and when things aren't all that quiet at home, I can sleep in it. Home is another story. Let's just say I live in a six hundred square foot apartment with very noisy neighbors with weapons. It's not always the Oklahoma summers that make things too hot to stick around.

So I sit there, smelling the diesel fumes and listening to the sounds of jet engines. I watch the folks come and go. Families leaving on vacations, all full of hope and adventurous spirit. Little kids wearing bright shiny faces and moms holding their hands as they cross the street before me. Dads looking concerned at meeting the deadline before the plane takes off. Will they make it through security with enough time? Will the airport lose the luggage? Is there a back up plan, just in case? Moms and dads exchange reassuring looks as if to say "hey, we can get through anything, once we're on the plane."

Lots of businessmen and businesswomen cross the street, too. They look a lot a like, the two genders blending in to what I call businessfolk. However, if you ask me, women have begun to play this whole business thing a lot better than men ever thought they would. Women are ruthless, more savage then men are, if you ask me. And I suspect that in the end, it's the men's lunch that's gonna get eaten. Stupid men. Trying to make up for decades of oppression, sure. Stupid women. Trying to make men pay for decades of oppression. Basically, mankind is stupid. They'll never figure out how to get along as long as they don't recognize the intrinsic difference and how to bridge that gap. And I don't know, so don't ask me. Two failed relationships, not even getting close to the "Will you" stage.

So, I'm sitting there, listening to a bit of Chopin in the radio. Classical stuff, I love it. Yeah, I like old rock and roll, too. I've danced my dance and sung my drunken renditions. But for calm and clarity, give me solid violins and serious chamber. I don't know what it's all called. I just know that it stirs something in me, makes me see blue skies when there are gray. Rainbows when life is full of sewage. So, when I'm sitting and waiting, if I got a choice, I listen to the classic stuff.

An airport shuttle passes by me, big and hulking and white and blue. John is driving it, older than dirt and probably shuttled Will Rogers back in the day. He beeps at me and I wave. He's got his constant companion, a little yorkie dog named Picasso, sitting next to him. I've never seen a yappy dog that didn't yap, with the exception of this one. Not a peep, and still as friendly as all get out. I call him the shoe shiner, because if he likes you, he'll come up and roll all over your shoes to show how much he cares. He's marking his territory, I know, but it's cute in a small non yappy sorta doggish way.

John pulls into the spot reserved for shuttles, a few hundred yards ahead of me. There are other taxis sitting. There's another Gold and Blue, just ahead of me, driven by Maximilian Diego Sanchez Smith. I swear that is his name. Max is a Mexican Jew from New York. Don't know how he found his way down here, but he's a friend of mine, such friends as I got. We've shared a few beers and I've listened to his stories bout his six kids, all doing fine except for his youngest. Doing some sort of missionary work over in the Congo, I think he said. His wife, they've been married for thirtysomething years, is a good woman, but she doesn't always understand him, he says. Well... that's to be kind of expected, don't you think? Men, women. Communication is never that easy at best. It takes work, or so my exes will tell you.

I see the signs that a plane has just dropped of a load of prison... passengers. Remember how fresh folks look heading to the airplane? All smiles and happy and worried and stressed? Bright and shiny? Take all that, leach it away from having been sardined in with fifty or sixty other sardines and flown for hours and hours in cramped seats which were built when the average weight was about one fifty and now the population is nearing two hundred per and you have some pretty beat up, not shiny at all, glad it's all over and buddy is there a bar in this town folks rolling in. Kids crying from pure exhaustion, moms not even daring to glare at their beloved husbands. Dads stalking, head down, wondering if they remember where they parked their car and did anyone break into their house while they were away? Give 'em a day or two and they'll be champing at the bit to go again. Anything to break the monotony that is their real life here in good old Tulsey Town in OK of the USA.

I see a guy, a real proper gent, mind you. Dressed to the nines and carrying a suit bag over one arm and a big ol' briefcase in the other hand. No rollie dog carrying luggage for him. He has it all. He has it under control. And he's walking toward my cab. I hop out.

"Where can I take you, sir?" That's my standard line. Some guys say, "Where to?" Some say "Metro or suburbs?" Some just sit in the cab and expect the patrons to do all the work. Maybe that's why I get call outs, folks that ask for me specifically.

"I need to connect with the Metro line, 707Metro C." His voice has an accent, and now adays I can't tell Aussie from British, German from Dutch. Let's call him... refined. He's tall, too. About six six or so. Slightly gray at the temples, wearing stylish rimless glasses. Thin, but not terribly. He probably didn't have any cramped seat at all. In fact, I would claim him to be a first classer.

"Metro C, 707 line. You bet. It's about twenty five minutes away, depending on traffic. The standard fare is thirty up to the first 15, two-fifty for ever mile after. Is that okay with you?"

"Sounds delightful." I open the door for him and notice his shoes are shined to a bright gloss. He smells wonderful, and this is from a guy whose idea of cologne is called Irish Spring. I'm looking forward to a big tip.

I reach for his bag and say, "Bag in the back okay, sir?"

He snatches it away as if I'd slapped his hand. "No thank you." His voice has an edge to it. The same sort of edge a taco truck driver -roach coach here in Tulsa - gets when you ask if there's horse meat in the food. "The bag needs to stay with me."

"No problem, buddy," I say, smiling. "The customer is my first priority." He climbs in the back and I close the door. I climb in my side and remind him to buckle up. It's the law, after all. I see him smile grimly and nod and wrestle with the seat belt until I hear the latch click.

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