The Quotable

What the Overnight Cabbie Sees

January 19, 2013

So the 50-something guy just released from the hospital gets a ride to a house in upper Thousand Oaks. It’s 36 degrees outside, and with a shaky finger he has to ring the doorbell. Expensive dogs start barking. Voices soon murmur in order; a young girl, a woman, a husband. His brother answers, then comes out on the stoop but doesn’t let him in. Out of respect the brother pays the fare and when I leave, the two are on the driveway under pale moonlight that seems to be slowly starving the world, and the brother – now smoking – keeps calmly shaking his head.

 January 27, 2013

Reading by the light of the gas station when two buddies stumble up, wallets freshly drained by a local bartender, their Step-o-meters set to Home, James.

One says: “Godalmighty did you see the rack on her?? She’s a work of art. Like a Salvador Dali Parton. And when she bent over? Boom. G-string. God I love whale tails.”

“So where’s her number.”

“She didn’t dig me. Says I’m too full of one-liners.”

I mark my page and drive toward the closest bar in walking distance. The bartender, a girl I call Ashley Applebottom, leans over the cooler, restocking, a thread of red lace peeking above her waistband. She sees me in the bar mirror.

“You drinking tonight?”

“Just making the rounds.”

“No one left but these two that spent the night hitting on me.”

“Yeah, your fan club just passed me two blocks away.”

Her eyes scan the bar. She crumples her mouth then turns to the computer and types something in. It spits out a receipt.

“There goes that tab.”

“Maybe not.”

She locks up. We get in the cab. They’re still walking three blocks away, now eating ice cream bars from the gas station. Ashley leans out the window.

“Hey boys, so what’re you doin tonight?”

The king of one-liners approaches the window. “Nothing, what’re you doing?”

“Just heading back to my pad. Got a bottle. Gonna settle in.”

Both hop in. Ashley whips out her phone and texts me: ‘police station. lol’

I play along. The station is strategically located in the open hills where surprise attacks are unlikely. Ashley gets out first.

“So you boys wanna pay the tab you owe me or do I just go ring that bell over there?”

They pay up. With tip. Then we both get out, she opens one back door and I the other.

“Hop out,” I say. They comply and whine, then Ashley and I get back in and drive off. We’re half a mile away, just getting back on the freeway when I finally break the silence.

“So what’s a ‘whale tail?’”

January 31st, 2013

“Can you believe an ounce is only ten bucks?”

Byron and I have played in a few impromptu bands over the years. He has a beautiful Rickenbacker bass and can identify any piece of blues ever recorded, rattling off the composer’s name and the year it was recorded. Not bad for 24 years old.

His latest singer/guitarist suddenly perks his head up and walks away from our little pack, through a small wrought iron gate to the front door of the bar. In the parking lot he meets a rumbling, ice blue Mustang. He comes back an ounce heavier and ten dollars lighter.

Byron sees me watching, shrugs and says with a charming smile: “we like heroin.”

Since Layne Staley wasn’t there to do it for me, I roll my eyes. “I guess all bluesmen gotta have something to sing about.”

“Oh we don’t wanna sing about it we just wanna smoke it.”

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