Taxi Driver
Kate Bolin

I don't remember being anythin' but a taxi driver.

Not that I've been born in a cab and doin' it my whole life, mind you, just that, before fifteen years ago, I don't remember anythin'. I was in Canada, and I came over here. The first job that appeared was drivin' a cab, so I started drivin'...and I've been doin' it ever since.

Sometimes I wonder what I was doin' before I was in Canada, because I'm sure not like other people. I've got somethin' on my bones that make me stronger, heavier, tougher, and I can heal faster than everyone too. The weight of my body is tough on the cabs, though. I may look like I'm around 200 pounds, but according to Gus, the mechanic, I'm puttin' enough damage on the shocks for a 400 pound man. Damn, and here I thought I was a lightweight.

Of course, bein' so different means that I can take the routes the other cabbies don't want to take. I've been held up a few times, but after they try to hit me, they usually run. Plus, I've got these blade things in my hands -- the boss don't know, and no one else does, 'cept a few who try to pull a gun on me.

So I was on my usual route, along the streets where all the hookers hang out...I don't mind them, most of them are nice girls just caught up in a bad situation -- ran away from home because of somethin' bad, needed money, and didn't know what else to do. A few of them like doin' it, but a bunch more are just trapped in it. Sometimes I give 'em free rides to places. Sometimes, if I've known them for awhile and I know they're not spendin' it on crack or booze or whatever, I give 'em a bit of money -- not too much, though, 'cause you don't earn much when you're givin' free rides to whores.

I was drivin' along, and I saw one of my regular girls. Rogue (she liked to be called Rogue by everyone here...didn't want to talk about her past life) was around sixteen -- maybe thirteen, but definitely not more than sixteen, and she'd been on the streets for about a year, livin' with a few other girls in a beat-up apartment.

I had to admit, I liked her. She was smart, and tough, and she didn't seem to be caught up in anythin' bad, 'cept for hookin'. And even that was a little weird -- she had issues about bein' touched, so she'd be wrapped up in yards of rubber and vinyl, and she'd never actually touch the johns. Big hit with the ones who thought they were all diseased or somethin', and she'd always seem to find 'em...

She'd always seem to find me too, flaggin' me down after she had turned a few tricks, gettin' into my cab with a wad of cash, handing me a few bills and tellin' me to just drive. We'd drive, and talk, and eventually, we'd find a beat-up diner, drinkin' coffee and eatin' greasy eggs. I knew that, despite the cash, she didn't eat often, too busy payin' off people to leave her alone, too busy replacing the latex gloves she seemed to always wear, so I'd always pay for her meals, as we sat and talked some more, sometimes about our days, sometimes about anything in general.

That day, we ended up in our regular spot. She was making quick work of a pile of hash browns, and I was finishin' off my second cup of coffee. She had been pretty quiet today, and it wasn't until she had gotten half-way through her breakfast that she spoke. "I got an offer today...somethin' big..."

I looked at her, frownin'. "What?"

She looked up, her eyes still pretty under all that makeup. "I got an offer today...old guy...wants to put me up for a bit..."

That just didn't sit right with me, and I told her so. Who was this guy? What did he want? What was he gettin' at? I've seen a few of these guys on the news, I know what happens. Find a little whore, ain't no one gonna notice her missin'...

She shrugged. "He seemed good enough...and he paid me 300 just for sittin' with me and talkin'...." She took another bite of her breakfast. "And from what I hear, it ain't like I'll be doin' anythin' I don't wanna do...hell, I hear he don't even want me for fuckin'..."

That got me even more worried. What man goes around pickin' up hookers and not usin' them for sex? But she looked determined, and who am I to argue? I'm just a cabbie, I ain't runnin' her life.

I saw the old guy she was talkin' about, though. One day, I just sat in my cab and watched her, watched her pick men up, then watched this long black limo pull up right next to her. This woman got out, and she was a looker. Long-legged, slim, gorgeous hair, and I wondered what the old man wanted with Rogue when he had that next to him, but when this tall young guy, just as gorgeous as she was, got out and stood next to her, I figured that the woman must be the old man's daughter or somethin'...'cause this guy was obviously with her, even with those stupid-lookin' red sunglasses of his. They were talkin' to Rogue and she looked calm and totally with whatever they were sayin'.

I was still worried, of course, 'cause I've seen enough girls go into limos and come out in body bags, but what could I do? She was a big girl, and, hell, she's done enough in her life, she can make her own decisions, right?

When I was sittin' there, worryin', the beautiful couple had gotten out a wheelchair, and I know it's not right of me, but once I saw that chair, I relaxed, you know? I figured, he's a cripple, and he ain't gonna do anythin' wrong to her -- he can't. And when the old guy settled into it, balder than even old Gus, Rogue looked happy to see 'im. And when she got into the limo with 'em, I figured, you know, that was that. There went my Rogue, and I'd have to find someone else to go on long drives and to greasy diners with.

That's what I figured, right? She looked happy, right? Everythin' should've been perfect and she would've gone on to a better place than this, right?

Then why did she show up back on the same damn corner a month later? I drove past her, not even realizin' it was her, until I saw those eyes -- still those pretty brown eyes, but they were so heartbreaking. It hit me right after I drove past her, and I had to back up, stoppin' my cab right in front of her.

It was her, all right. Wrapped up in the same damn latex and vinyl she left with, lookin' exactly the same as when she left, 'cept she had these white streaks in her hair and she looked so sad, as if everythin' she lived for had died and took her along with it.

I didn't know what to do, I didn't know what to say, so I just opened the door. She got in, looked at me, handed me a hundred dollar bill (I ain't seen a hundred dollar bill since I started workin'...what was she doin' with it?), and whispered, in the frailest, softest voice I've ever heard, "My name's Marie..."

I took the hundred, tucked it into her breast pocket, and, despite how much I just wanted to take her into my arms and tell her the whole world was gonna be okay, that she looked so much like a lost little girl, I just said, in my strongest daddy-like voice ('cause I felt like her father, and for all I knew, I could've been...), "I'm Logan..." I looked out at the road, then back at her. "Wanna go get somethin' to eat and you can tell me all about it?"

She nodded, and I could see that she was holdin' back tears. I rustled about in the glove compartment, grabbed a couple of tissues, and as I handed them to her, I started up the cab. And we drove.

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