Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day

He’s an older guy. My age, I guess.

“Brighton Center,” he says, slamming the door.

It’s clear from the accent that he’s a native. Probably grew up in Brighton.

I start the meter, and put the car in gear.

“Which way you plan on goin’?” he asks.

We're down near Mass. General. I tell him my plan: Storrow Drive to Western Ave. to Market Street to Brighton Center.

“You kiddin' me? You tryin’ to cheat me?”

Look, I'll take whatever route you want.

“I'm just joking,” he laughs. He then tells me to go to Kenmore Square and then up Comm. Ave.

We down near the Liberty Hotel, the old jail with its heavy stone fa├žade.

“Nice place,” he says.

Yeah, I suppose.

“I stayed there a night,” he says. “Of course, that was before it was a hotel. And it wasn’t no $400 per night.”

I laugh.

“Actually, that little jam cost me five grand by the time it was over.

I laugh again.

“You do anything nice for Mother’s Day,” he asks.

No, my mother's dead. I'm divorced. Instead, I'm driving a double.

"Well, I called my girlfriend to wish her a happy Mother's Day and she told me to fuck off. I got in late the other night after playing pool. She didn't like that, told me it was the last straw. So I guess we're broke up now."

Sorry to hear.

"I've been married twice and just have never been able to play Father Knows Best, ya know what I mean? But don't get me wrong. She's a good gal. Good Mom. I knew her way back in high school. Hadn't seen her in thirty years when I found her on the Internet a few months ago."

You were old flames?

"Oh yeah, we used to be quite an item. I went out with the two best-lookin' girls in school. One brunette, the other blonde. She was the blonde... She was something. Still is. But I'm too old, too set in my ways. I like doing my own thing. I like my cards and pool. She's better off without me."

Maybe now you can track down the brunette.

He laughs.

"You like drivin'?"

Yeah, I guess.

"I used to drive a cab, in Cambridge."

Really, when?

"About thirty years ago. Drove nights. After the bars closed and the trains and buses stopped running, I used to head over to Blue Hill Avenue. I'd make good money just doing short trips up and down the avenue."

But being a Cambridge cab, you're not allowed to pick up in Boston.

"You kidding me? None of the Boston cabs went to that part of town. Hell, the cops generally didn't go there, either. I had the place all to myself."

You never got robbed?

"A couple of times, sure. But they were just hopeless junkies. They just wanted money for a fix. They'd just grab whatever cash I handed to them and ran, not even bother to stick around and count it."

Still, sounds kind of dangerous.

"You do what you gotta do," he says, directing me to pull over to a corner. He peels off a few bills from his gambler's wad, hands them over. "Be safe, my friend."

I intend to.