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Business as Usual: The one about the blow job lady


Business as Usual
Cabbie Vic Pasternak returns with part eight of his 12-part storytelling series. — illustration by Josh Carroll

I’m stepped out taking a whiz at one of Coralville’s dozen gas stations.

Next I make the rounds for water, fresh coffee, smokes. Four hours to go and then I’m out of town for six weeks, maybe longer. I’ve salted away my ducats and am taking my first vacation in years.

The counter kid asks, “You know where I can find angel dust?”

“Why ask me?”

He shrugs, “You’re the cab driver.”

“Shave the mustache, Zorro. You look like a creep.”

When I get back to my taxi, dispatch has a hot one waiting for me.

“TAKE IT OVER TO APPLEBY’S. #13 NEEDS YOU IN THE LOT.” Number 13 is our code for cops. Sometimes PD cuts one loose and we get the call.

Humping into Appleby’s, I slow-cruise the building. No cops and nothing in the lot but a red van. Next, a woman leaps out of the van and runs at me waving her arms.

“Let me in!”

“Door’s open.”

“I said, you let me in your taxi!” A vampire looking for an invite. So I patiently wait on her to yank the door and climb inside. In the flash of domelight, her face looks like the bottom of a foot soaked in water—with two black eyes.

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“My boyfriend got arrested but it’s not his fault. We told the police I was driving and I told them it wasn’t his stuff, I told them it was my stuff.”

“Ma’am, I am not the court-appointed lawyer. I am your cab driver.”

The lady throws a hand to her face and makes like the tears are brimming over. She just can’t take it anymore.

Me neither, and I punch-start the meter.

“He’s going to kill me.”

“Where are you going?”

“You can’t bring me there.”

“I don’t even know where ‘there’ is.”

She gives me the address of the trailer court way out on the other end of Hwy 6.

“I’ve got money at the trailer.”

“Not good enough.”

“My friends have money at the trailer.”

“Long walk from here.”

“When they find out he’s in jail, you don’t know what they’re going to do to me.”

By the lot lamps I can see she was a once-attractive woman, the party girl who aged to become loose. Wan tones and pockmarks, teeth burned off at the root. A cage of flesh with its spirit detached but still flittering about inside. A fucked-up junkie.

Fuck it, four hours to go and I’m outa here. I turn out of the lot and head down the Strip.

This is when she chokes me.

Not the first time I’ve been choked at the wheel. But she’s not so much choking me as desperately clutching me about the collar.

“Don’t touch the cab driver.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry—don’t hit me again.”

I haven’t touched the lady and I am very clear in spelling that out.

“Cops already gave you a pass, my bad luck. Don’t make me punt you back.”

I roar across town from west to east in record time. She chatters the whole way and I hear none of it.

Coming off the highway beside the trailer court, I cut down the third alley between tumbledown shacks. Tree of heaven and narco wagons. Big Wheels and Wiffle ball bats left outside. More than one meth lab has blown up out here, and I count four burn-outs standing on black footings and iron spaghetti. Like toys left out in the night, nobody cares.

An electric blue F-550 with chrome finishes, a diesel stack and KC lights is parked beside the trailer she wants.

“Will you come back here?”

“Why?”

“I need to get out of here, I need to get back to La Crosse. Get back here at six in the morning, can you do that?”

“I get off shift at six.”

“Seven, then. Or eight. Oh, I don’t care when, just please, you don’t know what they’ll do.”

Now the trailer door opens and I can see a figure standing in the dark of the doorway, a man silhouetted by blue television light showering the background.

“They won’t ever know you’re coming.”

The meter shows $22.75 on its big red dial.

“Call it $20 and pay me.”

“But I need a ride.”

“Then call a cab.”

“I’ll wait for you,” she says. “I’ll pay you for this ride then.”

“I need cash. Now. I’m not coming back here.”

For a long moment the woman is utterly silent until: “Open your pants.”

“Just get the fuck out.”

Cut loose of the fare, she does as ordered and leans in the domelight.

“I’ll be waiting for you.”

Then she hustles for the trailer, up its stairs and past the man in the doorway. I can feel the abyss of him staring into me, but I cannot see into the abyss that is him.

He shuts the door and I spit gravel getting out of there.

Back at the shack after shift, I tell everybody about it, and Dr. Bob laughs his ass off.

“Haha, that’s the Blow Job Lady.”

“No way, I don’t let the Blow Job Lady in my cab. I’m the one who put the Blow Job Lady on the No-Haul List.” She’s been a permanent member of that illustrious list for years, stemming from reasons worth her moniker.

Dr. Bob is dismissive.

“She pulled that same shit last week—boyfriend in jail, he’s going to kill her, scary friend in the doorway. But did you get paid? And by that I mean in cash money?”

“Well, I wasn’t going to let her fellate me.”

“Brother, how long’ve you been doing this? We do this because people pay us cash money to do it. Or they go to jail and then pay us money. Maybe this shit is getting to you.”

I feel lame for letting the Blow Job Lady in my cab, though how could I recognize her with meth sucking all the shape from her face? What really pisses me off is that I failed to get any money.

Tipping out of the scuttlebutt, I go whiz and reflect on my own worn image in the mirror. Maybe this shit is getting to me. Maybe it’s exactly the right time to take a vacation and never come back.

Do you owe Vic Pasternak money? Anybody with outstanding IOUs better pony the fuck up. He splits for Belize on Monday.


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

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