I cringed a little when I saw that the call I had just accepted in the 100 zone was to the Tourway Inn. The Tourway is an old motel on the edge of downtown next to the interstate. It’s common to pick up hookers, stippers, junkies, drunks and other assorted weirdos here and in other motels like this. Sometimes you get people who are totally normal but that’s the exception, not the rule. This time was no exception.
The young man was sitting on a curb in front of the motel when I pulled up. He was wearing a hoodie over his head but I could clearly see his face. He had a round face with a thin scraggly beard and shoulder length dirty hair. He looked a little like Jesus I guess, maybe after he had been hanging on the cross for a while. When he got in the car his mental issues or drug issues or both, became apparent.
At first he couldn’t decide where he wanted to go. It was after midnight and it had to be some place open 24 hours. It was either going to be Walmart on Lakeshore or CVS on Greensprings Highway. After a minute of hemming and hawing a clear preferance for Walmart emerged. We left the motel but as soon as we were on the ramp to I-65 his indecision about his destination returned. This time it was all about money, all about the fare. He wanted estimates for both places. I told him that it would cost 3 or 4 dollars more to go to Walmart. That sealed it, we were going to CVS.
Not long into the ride he started trying to negotiate a round trip price. He said “I only have $15 for the round trip”, I told him that wasn’t enough. “I guess I’ll just have to walk back. I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my back and I’ve been in trouble. Homewood hates me, the 5-0 won’t leave me alone. I’ve got a big blister on my heel that hurts like hell but I guess I can walk back”. I wasn’t born yesterday, I could easily tell that he was trying to manipulate me with his poor me stories. For some reason I felt a little sorry for him and I said OK, as long as you don’t stay in the store too long I’ll do the round trip for $15. The meter was sitting at $10 dollars when we pulled into the parking lot. By the meter the round trip would have cost him $20 or so.
True to his word, he came out of the store in less than 5 minutes carrying something in a bag. I thought, Ok this won’t be bad, I’ll take him back to the motel and make about 5 bucks less than I could have but no big deal. Before we were halfway down Red Mountain I heard the sound of an aerosol can spraying. It was a deep sound, much more like the sound of fix a flat than the sound of deodorant or air freshener. When I looked around he was lying on my backseat with his eyes rolled back in his head. He looked like a person that was dying. I screamed WHAT THE FUCK? but he was out of it. By the time I could get pulled over at the closed Chevron station he was coming around.
Suddenly, his arms were flailing about as he screamed jibberish that made absolutely no sense. I took out my phone and started to call for help. When he saw this he jumped out of the car and started yelling “really? are you really gonna call the 5-0 on me? Really? I said I thought you were dying or losing your mind. Are you OK now? He started pacing around ranting about how the 5-0 was out to get him. “They hate me. “Every time the 5-0 sees me they fuck with me, I’m always in trouble with the 5-0!” I said well, maybe if you’d quit doing crazy shit they’d leave you alone.
After stomping around a little more he got back into the back seat and immediately took out his spray can and took another big huff. Once again he was lying on my back seat looking dead. I got out of the car, walked to the edge of the parking lot and called dispatch, who then called the cops. When the cop got there the first thing he did was to make him pay me. I said I’ll settle for $10 dollars but I’m not taking you anywhere else. He had $8 and that was all. I wouldn’t have gotten my $15 if we had completed the trip. I was glad to get any money but even more than that I was glad to get this nutcase out of my car. As I drove away slowly I could see him in my rearview; being questioned by the 5-0.
copyright 2012 R.W. Walker
*All views and opinions are strictly those of R.W. Walker. These views do not reflect the views of any cab company.