Roy, the Drunken Cabbie

Roy was my best friend the summer I lived in Dallas, when I was 19. He was a drunk, in his sixties, a cabby, and an Ayn Rand fanatic. I had bad insomnia and lived alone in an old truckers dormitory in the back lot of a radiator repair shop in the industrial area, not far from Deep Ellum. I was only two years out from the accident and had just left a six month meth addiction. And I got very lonely. I cried a lot in those days. It’s the summer I discovered masturbating (I’d already had a baby and 12 lovers). And I could call Roy anytime I wanted and he would come and pick me up and I could drive around with him, him drunk, me lonely, and he would regale me with stories of his life and hard-sell me on Ayn Rand while he collected his fares. He was quite into The Fountainhead. I didn’t know anything about anything and so didn’t know that this should be a red flag. He was my best friend. I miss Roy sometimes, oddly. Randomly.

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Beside you in the truck, I almost forget you’re there. I’ve pressed my body so close to the door next to me – as far from you as I can be – that I hope it doesn’t accidentally fling open. My face is smashed against the window and I am staring up at a moon unlike any I’ve ever seen before. It’s a bright, white, full moon high up in the cloudless black sky. Around it is a white circle of light. And around that – filling up the vast desert sky – is another circle, silver and perfect. I meditate on the moon and try to forget you’re next to me. The Smashing Pumpkins are playing on the radio. I barely notice that I’m mumbling the words. Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage. I don’t think about the fact that I am now homeless. And pregnant. You let me live with you out of the kindness, so I thought, until I began to guess you wanted my body. Then I realized you wanted my baby. As soon as you realized I’d offered it to someone else, we fought.

“You’re acting like a crazy person,” you said.

And, with my most theatrical crazy-eyed look and Bette Davis tone of voice, I said, “You haven’t even seen crazy yet.” I was playing, you see. Mimicking. I didn’t know how to feel or what to think, but I knew to be indignant. I knew not to go down without a fight. Never without a fight.

To my delight, you looked frightened. I scared you – you a grown man, a home-owner, a bona fide professional adult who’d found me and taken me in. I was like an actor who’d stuck her lines, and was glad you bought the narrative. I wasn’t crazy, but alone, pregnant, and terrified. I just wanted to pull off any emotion that made me seem so much stronger than I felt. Plus, I thought you were gross.

Still, your eyes got wide. You went white. “Don’t even think about it,” you said slowly while I packed up my meager belongings so I could be carted off to God knew where. I had no idea what you were threatening me to avoid thinking about, and I didn’t want to think anyway, so I cried and screamed at you while you carefully watched my every move, worried I might steal from you. You thought I’d do it covertly, in the low class way – not in the more sinister, subtle way  you’d hoped to take my baby: by convincing me the classic Barracuda in your garage was a fair exchange.

And now, here I sit in your truck in the middle of the night – not in a cage any longer, but tossed into the whole, wide world with a baby I won’t keep growing inside me, now-homeless, still-penniless, and meditating on the moon.

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