“Hey, this is no problem, dude,” said the guy standing in the street at my taxi window, his friend by his side. “Take these girls, too.”
The bars had just let out on an unseasonably warm Saturday night — Sunday morning, technically. Lower Church Street was abuzz with humanity and lined with police officers keeping things more or less under control. The females in question had signaled me from the curb after I was already engaged with the men, so, by rights, the boys had dibs on the cab.
But both girls were muy, muy caliente, which, one suspects, explained the guys’ eagerness to share the ride. One was a statuesque blonde. The other girl — with gorgeous skin the color of a latte — was wearing just high heels and a ridiculously short dress that was cotton-candy pink and spandex tight. It was the type of garment that, up until last year or so, you’d see only on a stripper. That’s what I call progress.
“Why, that’s so nice of you,” I said to the guys. “But first, where are you going?”
“Shelburne Village,” they replied.
I lowered the passenger window to speak with the women on the curb. “Where are you girls headed?”
The spandex hottie said, “Our fucking car was towed. D’ya know where the Spillane’s lot is at?”
“I do, but it’s in the opposite direction these guys are going, so, sorry, you’ll have to catch —”
In a flash, the girls had leapt into the back seat and locked the other back door, shutting out the guys. “Go, go!” the blonde commanded, and I obeyed, leaving the guys drop-jawed in the dust. Though this move was unfair to the boys, it represented the path of least resistance. I’m not proud of it, but, by two o’clock in the morning, this is how I roll.
“Ladies,” I said, taking the left onto King Street, “do you know if the tow lot is open this late? ’Cause I’m not really sure.”
“Oh, fuckin’ great,” Spandex Girl replied. “We have, like, no idea.”
“OK, don’t fret. I have the number for Spillane’s. Lemme give ’em a call.”
I reached somebody at Spillane’s, who proceeded to explain what, to me, seemed like a convoluted procedure. “Hold on a sec,” I said, cupping the cellphone.
“Here’s the deal,” I said to the girls. “Apparently, nobody is at the lot this time of night. We can leave them a number, and they’ll get in touch with the tow driver, who will call us back within 25 minutes — supposedly. The driver would then meet up with us at the lot. The woman I have on the phone can’t even tell me whether or not they actually have your car.”
They looked at each other, conversing with their eyes. Decision made, the blonde said, “Fuck that. Just take us to our hotel, and we’ll pick up the car tomorrow. We’re staying at the Comfort Inn on Route 7.”
Shit, I voiced inwardly. In that case, we could’ve doubled up with the Shelburne guys. I quickly dropped the second-guessing, though. This is just the way the ball bounces in the course of any single night of hacking. If you’re not the kind of person who can go with the flow, you’re not cab-driver material.
“Hey, can we stop at a burger place — you know, like a drive-through?” Spandex Girl asked. “It’ll just take a minute.”
“Sure, girls,” I replied, masking my reluctance. This time of night, it could take 15 minutes or more to get through a Burger King or McDonald’s. But girls got to eat, I figured.
“Are you folks from up here?” I asked, as we came to Shelburne Road.
“Nope,” the blonde replied. “We’re from Manchester in New Hampshire. We’re thinking of relocating. Things are not good for us down there, put it that way.”
We were stopped at a light, and Spandex Girl was trying to get a signal on her cellphone. “Crap, I think my battery’s run out. I bet I have, like, 60 texts from my boyfriend. He must be going nuts.”
“Fuck him, Nicole,” her friend declared. “We’ll see him back in the room in, like, 10 minutes. Hey, girl, your va-jay-jay — it’s out there, hon.”
Involuntarily, it seemed, my head pivoted. Sure enough, there it was — Nicole’s vagina, in the flesh.
Nicole rose in her seat to pull down her minidress, which just barely did the trick. “Sorry about that, cabbie,” she said, giggling. “I’m a little tipsy.”
“Nooo problem,” I said, definitely my understatement of the week. Underwear is so passé, I thought.
We circled onto the drive-through line at McDonald’s. At the speaker, Nicole put in the order for both of them, which involved a lot of chicken and French fries. (I myself never eat at these fast-food joints, so the whole process was intriguing to me.) At the pickup window, Darlene (according to her name tag) took the money, and we waited for the order. And waited. My customers, particularly Nicole, grew near apoplectic.
“What the fuck is this about?” Nicole protested to no one in particular. “This is supposed to be fast food, right? This ain’t what I’d call fast.”
“Could I tell you guys something?” I spoke up, though I knew it wasn’t apt to be well received. “This ain’t the big city. Things move a little slower here. I don’t know if you’d be happy living in Burlington if you’re looking for a fast pace.”
“Well, that’s bogus,” the blonde said, setting me straight. “We’re from Manchester, New Hampshire, for fuck’s sake, and even we get our McDonald’s order faster than this.”
Finally, after more than 10 minutes, Darlene popped open the window and passed me the bag. “Have a great night,” she said earnestly, oblivious to my customers’ ire. In any event, all was forgiven in a moment, once they broke out the fries.
As I pulled up to the doors of the Comfort Inn, I realized I dug these girls. Yes, they were blustery and pissed off at just about everything. But they were alive, bristling with energy — no doubt about that.
They paid me the fare and threw in a tip, which I especially appreciated, given how crappy their night had gone. When Nicole got out on the passenger side, her dress was again hiked up, affording a fleeting but splendid view of her bodacious buttocks. I decided in that moment to call it a night — quitting, I figured, while I was ahead.