"More tragic than crazy, really..."
As some of you know, I'm guilty of aiding and abetting criminal activities. I am also guilty of enabling self destructive behaviour. Whether intended or not, sooner or later a cabby will play a part in making the world just a tiny bit darker. Hell, follow the proper chain of cause and effect, and it is entirely possible that I bear some responsibility for some current or future atrocity.
Oh Crabby, if only you hadn't thrown out that guy...
Tonight's story happened a couple of years ago. Christmas and New Years had come and gone, and the people had woken up to the fact that they didn't have any money left. Consequently, they remained indoors in the evenings, and pickings were very slim indeed for those of us who live off others' disposable income. I had just dropped off a customer in May Town, and had begun rolling off to Iron Square. The plan was to park by the 711, and quietly hope that some weekday drunk would stumble by and ask for a ride. Hope is the keyword here, because what I expected was another forty minutes of sitting on my ass, reading a book, and not getting paid.
I was in luck, however. The com hissed, and dispatch hailed me:
"Car 3, May Town, Saw Street."
I try to avoid May Town. It is an area infested with dingy bars and the broken down people who frequent them. I don't have anything against those people, but the fact is that they usually call cabs when they're too drunk to walk two blocks home. Economically speaking, May Town sucks. These days it's a bit different, of course, thanks to gentrification. Still, it was one of those nights where one will take whatever horse is available, and avoid looking it in the mouth.
"Car 3, five minutes."
"Car 3 five, confirm."
"Confirmed, Car 3."
So off I went to Saw street. And as the fare appeared on the display, I smiled. It was going to Shamrock Street, way on the other side of the river. Not a great fare, but decent none the less. So I arrived at Saw Street, and my fare was already waiting for me.
He was well built; muscular, with long curly hair. However, that's all you can say for his appearance; his skin was almost grey in its pallor, and his eyes had that tense, trembling look of the truly desperate.
"How much will it cost? I don't have a lot of money."
Fuck you, mister. Fuck you to death. "How much do you have?"
"About 150," he showed me two crumpled bills. I nodded.
"That should about cover it."
"Thanks, you're a life-saver."
"Don't mention it."
So off we went. During the trip, his phone rang. He was very quick to answer it.
"Hey baby... yeah I'm in the cab. It'll be about ten minutes. Yeah, I can't wait.... all right. Bye."
The hand holding the phone dropped to his lap and he drew a long, miserable sigh.
"I'm a fucking idiot."
He barked a bitter laugh.
"I don't even know her name."
Since it was more of a monologue than a dialogue, I'll attempt to recreate it for you. All that I brought to the table was mostly nods, expected questions, and liberal applications of "Aha?" and "Go on".
"I don't know her. I didn't even know she existed until about half an hour ago. I got in touch with her through <some hookup-site>. The fucked up thing is that I have a fiancé and a son. He's only four. Anyway... yeah. I guess I'm a sex-addict. I'm fine for a night or two, but the moment I'm alone I head back to the computer. I get laid maybe two or three times a week, and never with the same person.
"Every time I do it, I promise it will be the last. I don't even enjoy it. When I cum, I feel nothing. It's just spasms, you know? Afterward, I feel sick and I go back home. I even have a fake number I can give them. I don't want them calling me, I don't want to remember them. Most of them are as fucked up as I am.
"Hey, at least it's not heroin, right? I mean, there are worse things to be addicted to, right? That's crap, buddy. I've been addicted to all kinds of shit. It's all the same. It's all just bullshit. I stay off it for a while, and things go fine, and then... Christ, the anxiety... It's like... It's like something is chasing you. Something horrible, and you don't give a fuck about who you trample. You just want to get away. But you don't.
"It started with drugs. I was a musician. Played in a rock band. Did the whole rock'n'roll lifestyle. Whatever there was to snort, I snorted. Pills too. Weed. Even tried junk once, but thank god I never got stuck on that. Anyway, I managed to leave that all behind. Started taking care of myself. Started eating right, and working out. I worked out a lot. I looked great. I felt great. And as long as I kept working out, I felt great.
"At some point, I realized that I was fuckable. Like, chiselled fucking adonis fuckable. I mean, what's the point of having a great body if you don't get to use it, right? So I started hitting bars to pick up chicks. Like, constantly. And that made me feel great. Then it made me feel good. Then it made me feel... not bad."
"I don't know what I'm so fucking scared of. I have a good life. Steady income, a girl who loves me, the greatest son ever. But... drugs, or working out, or fucking... there's always something I need not to feel like complete shit. I don't know how to break it. I know I'm destroying everything, but I ... I don't know what to do."
By now we had arrived at Shamrock Street. He gave me the money.
"Look," I said. "I can take you back home. Free of charge. Go back to your family, and tomorrow, get help."
And he hung his head for a second, then shook his head. "I appreciate it, buddy. But if you do, in an hour I'll be right back here."
A girl appeared in the door. She was wearing sweatpants, an oversized t-shirt and no makeup. Her face looked just as grim as his. Somehow I doubted she was looking forward to this.
"Your change, sir." I said.
He left the car, and walked up to her. They embraced, and kissed with a level of passion I can only describe as "adequate".