Too Much Traffic on 44th Street During Theater Hour
And where may I take you? Self-portrait 1985
It’s 7:45 PM and 44th Street looks like a damn parking lot. There’s no money in sitting still, and sitting still empty is burning cash with the gas. I’m about three hours out of the garage—down two joints of Hawaiian and half a quart of tequila into my long, long night. Patience is a girl’s name, and if I could get a blond shiksa blowjob from Patience while I’m idling here, I might just idle away the time. Patience of the mental sort, however, and early evening drugs and booze don’t mix.
Fuck it! I’m driving my regular cab, my favorite of all time: a Massachusetts State Police chaser that someone neglected to turn street-legal. Five-speed overdrive transmission, racing frame and shocks, a top-end [KB1] [JH2] north of 130 mph, and acceleration that could blow you back in your seat like a dragster on nitrous. Time to send the world to my very own Hell.
I jam my left hand on the horn and spin the wheel to the right. I stomp on the accelerator and the car leaps onto the south sidewalk of 44th Street, gathering speed like the Apollo mission trying to leave Earth behind. People are terrified, diving into the air left and right to get out of the way of this obvious fucking MADMAN. I get to the end of the block, still on the sidewalk, and blast onto 8th, against the light, turning uptown in a beautiful four-wheel drift.
A siren blares behind me – sounds like it’s in the damn car, and when I look in the mirror, there’s another cab behind me. This one someone neglected to actually turn into a cab. Three very big detectives burst out of the car and approach me—really quickly and quite carelessly considering they’re in the middle of a traffic stop with a lunatic. One cop rips open my passenger door and starts searching the front seat; another does the same for the back seat. The third stomps up to where I’m sitting.
I politely roll down my window. “Yes, Officer?” I say in my best beta-dog voice. “WHAT WERE YOU FUCKING THINKING?” he screams at me. “Well, in retrospect,” I say, “it no longer seems like such a good idea.”
“Get the fuck out of the car,” says my personal detective. Which I do with that special care that drunks take to project normality. He starts to pat me down and seconds later finds the dime bag from the bodega at 14th and 3rd.
“What the fuck is this?”
“Pot, sir,” I say, as he proceeds to shove it deep back into my pocket.
“Get the fuck out of here,” he says. I stutter that I’ll just go home. “Fuck it,” he says, “go back to work, you need the money.” And they get in their unmarked and cruise into the night.
New York used to be so much fun!