My life is just like the legend of Hercules, except I’m a cab driver.
I ain’t got the chiseled jaw, biceps like the Rockies, or the flowing Fabio-esque curls of one Kevin Sorbo. Hell, the only weight I lift is pack of Marlboros and three Red Bulls a night.
One fare described me to my face. The wise ass took a long drag on a cigarette I gave him, looked me up and down, and said, “Mister, you look like the twisted step child of Charlton Heston and Steve Buscemi.”
Yea fella? At least I got Heston. You’re the runny mess sliding down the pant legs of Donald Trump and Carrot Top.
I smiled. I took his money. I always do.
Where was I? Oh yea. Hercules.
Seventeen years as a cabbie in this city and the women throw themselves at me. Even in the nice parts of town there’s always some sweet little thing who sashays into my cab and doesn’t want to pay the fare. Can’t blame these chicks for offering. I’m like Heston. I’m like Heston playing Hercules.
And if you think it’s easy being every jerk’s chauffer then you’ve got another thing coming. This job is like the twelve labors. The people in this city drive like they’d rather slit your throat than heaven forbid your being on the road make them late to their own shitty job.
Then lastly, like Hercules, I always end up picking up some bitch like this born to make my life hell.
It was two o’clock in the morning on a Saturday night. Bars closed their doors ushering out a flood of drunken college students. When I pulled up beside her it was because she looked the least like she’d puke in the back seat.
There was a smoky mystery to her as long as her legs. The cut in her skirt traveled up the front like an uptown hooker, and trust me when I say I have no problem with hookers. It was when I set eyes on the thick purple eye shadow done up like cats eyes, and the long frizzy halo of jet black hair that I knew this was my Hera.
As she stepped into the back seat I tilted my rear view just in time to get a glimpse of her rack. I’ve seen better. But tonight I hadn’t.
“Where to?” I asked.
“Hayville,” she said.
“Sheesh, lady,” I said, “You’re costing me money with a place like that. That’s thirty-two miles outside my area.”
Those big sweet cat eyes looked back at me as she lit a cigarette, her pouty lips twisted in annoyance.
“I’ll make it worth your while.”
“Lady, you can’t smoke in the cab.”
“I said,” she emphasized with the snick of her lighter, “I’ll make it worth your while.” And she leaned back, her arms draped over the back of the seat putting it all on display.
Like I said, I hadn’t seen a rack like that all night. Or those legs. By Hera, she had nice legs.
Hayville was in the boonies. The only sort that lived there were good ol’ boys and pig farmers. Only twenty miles outside of the city and it was a whole other world. She didn’t look the part.
I readjusted my mirror. She refused to open her window, so I cracked mine.
“You grow up in Hayville?”
She exhaled, blowing a lungful of smoke into the front of the cab. The fumes were quickly sucked out my window. I often called this kind of conversation “pretty talk.” Seeing she was having none of it I knew this was going to be a long ride, so I clamped my teeth down on my own cigarette, and pressed the lighter down in the dash.
“Oswald, did I say you could smoke?”
“The only reason I ask,” I said, ignoring the disdain in her voice, “is folks from Hayville don’t make enough dough for a cab ride from town. And you don’t look Hayville.”
All attempts at conversation were failing.
“And call me Heston,” I smiled back through the mirror.
“Your license says Oswald Patterson.”
“Folks say I look like Charlton Heston.”
I did my best to show the good side of my face.
Damn kids. No culture.
She blew another cloud of smoke in my direction. I almost missed exit fifty-seven. I jogged the old jalopy over two lanes, barely missing a guard rail. I cursed and spat as the vehicle jostled us, aligning itself down a small two lane highway. A sign pointed to the right. Hayville.
“Jesus Hera!” I shouted back at her. “You trying to blind me? Get us killed?”
Her lips twisted with amusement, “Hera? Am I your goddess, Oswald?”
“Just a pain in my ass,” I said, sucking my cigarette down to the butt. I flicked it out the window. “Are we close?”
“We’re close, Oswald.”
“And how will your trouble be worth my while?” Was Hera even worth this fare? “Forget it. We’re turning around and I’m dropping you off at the first gas station we see.”
She smile again. The closer we got to Hayville, the more she smiled. A giggle, maybe brought on by booze, filled the back of the cab. The innocent schoolgirl nature of it nullified my threat.
“Oswald,” damn I hated how she said my name, “Would you believe I had rejected nine cabs before you picked me up? I was waiting for you all night, on that corner.”
“What? How come?”
She told me to turn at the end of the fence. The road became bumpier, potholes causing the car to jump, tossing us around in our seats.
“Because a dear friend told me you give discounts.”
“Sugar, you have to pay the fare. Maybe even double for my trouble.”
Her breasts were on display again, in my rearview. She unbuttoned her blouse, letting the sides fall down just enough for me to see the white lacey number underneath. Suddenly the cab was feeling warm.
“Oswald, I’m prepared to pay.”
We pulled over on the side of the dirt road leading to her place. Hera said she lived with her parents, so it was best to settle our affairs on the side of the road.
My pants were around my ankles the instant I set foot outside the car. My goddess was spread across my hood begging for her Hercules.
Then we were blinded by some bastard’s brights.
“About fucking time!” She shouted before I could mount her. I shielded my eyes from the parked truck leering down at us. Turning back around, Hera held a gun in my face.
“You’re robbing me?” I asked, hands up, pants down.
She smiled again, but not the friendly kind of smile.
Blam! Bam! Blam! Bam!
My cab wheezed as she shot out my tires. Several men half my age surrounded me holding bats, laughing as I cried out and cursed.
She pressed the pistol below my chin with a sneer. Purple eye shadow and tears painted her cheeks.
“This isn’t a robbery, Oswald,” she growled. “Sis!”
I turned in time to see a younger girl, a familiar girl, marching toward me. Weeks ago she was another fare. Aphrodite. With a bat.
An explosion went off between my legs. Gasping for air, unable to move, I rolled around on the ground cupping my genitals.
“Next time take my money!”
Aphrodite spit on me, and left me rolling in my own filth.