The capricious breeze sauntered carelessly through his stubborn hair, pushing this way and that until the dogged gel that was holding everything together finally sighed, shrugged its shoulders and gave up. Whereupon, the follicle company, mimicking the primordial warrior dance of the galaxies, began its mad performance.
The hair’s owner, oblivious to the upper level drama, scanned the street carefully, as he watched for a car with a lighted roof extension; a kind of hands up “here I am!” indicator of a vehicle that would serve to transport anyone almost anywhere, for the right price.
Eventually, a taxi appeared and the tight-lipped guy with the day-old facial stubble raised his hand urgently, eyes flashing a message to stop; and so, duly warned, stop it did.
“Take me to 25 Blaker Drive please”.
The driver, who was sporting a ridiculous porno moustache nodded, as he reached forward and started the meter.
The moustache twitched a little bit; a hairy snake trying to rouse from slumber. “So. All done for the day?”
The passenger looked down at his black leather knapsack. This was no ordinary taxi passenger. This was a man who deduced things, and did so quickly. He realized that the cabbie had leapt to a quick conclusion. There was the knapsack. Ergo, his passenger was coming home. It was a little presumptuous, he thought. He could have easily been wrong. Maybe he was heading out somewhere. Maybe he was on his way to a coffee shop, there to write the greatest Canadian novel ever.
But wait. No, this cabbie obviously was aware of the city. He knew 25 Blaker Drive was nowhere near a coffee shop. Further, he likely realized it was an apartment building. Apartments generally serve the purpose of providing homes for people. Except for those who use them to grow drugs. Maybe the knapsack was used to transport drugs, he thought to himself. But no, the cabbie had likely seen many drugstore afficionados in his day, and so he knew his passenger looked nothing like any of them.
Ergo, the cabbie had guessed correctly and knew his passenger was heading home.
All of this passed through the passenger’s mind in less than 2/10 of a second. Finally, in grudging acknowledgement of the cabbie’s deductive reasoning, he rewarded him.
He sighed, looked out the window and mumbled “yup”.
Below the hairy snake there suddenly appeared a satisfied smile. “Well now you have the weekend at least. Got some big plans for the next few days?”
The passenger shrugged. “It’s kind of a long weekend for me. A ten-day weekend actually.”
The moustache twitched, and the yawning maw beneath it opened long enough to suck in a breath before expelling its next particle of thought. But the passenger preempted it with “and no, I have no real plans.”
With the that, the maw snapped shut. Other forces were now at work, diligently determining yet another course of discourse. Wheels within wheels turned and jerked, mixing just the right combination of reasoning and query.
Small talk was no easy endeavour.
Eventually, the only thing it could arrive at came forward. “Really? No plans?” It was a pathetic attempt. The cabbie, along with his moustache and maw knew this. All three of them shivered in unified embarrassment, while waiting patiently for the contemptuous reply.
The reply came, but left contempt at the curb. Contempt would have to find another cab to sit in. This one was going to have two riders, and no baggage.
“Well I’m glad you asked, actually.”
The moustache began to move upward, just a bit, while the maw clamped down fiercely, determined not to display its sudden joy.
The passenger continued. “I’m just really happy we’re going to have warm weather, because I want to walk as much as possible. I’ll play each day by ear, and see what happens. I might go away, but right now I’m not going to plan for anything in particular.”
The maw opened, which surprised the moustache and the cabbie both, who were not expecting it. “So is this your only holiday for the year?”
The passenger shook his head. “No, I have a few more weeks coming to me. Not sure when I’m going to use them.”
The maw opened again. It was obviously on a roll. The moustache and cabbie both decided to sit back and just watch. “Maybe you’ll use them at the end of the year. Maybe at Christmas”. This wasn’t a question, so much as a statement of fact. One that was rewarded with a nod.
“Yes, I think I want to head out west during the winter.”
The maw was silent, so the moustache churned and rolled over, thinking. The cabbie cleared his throat, the maw took notice and the moustache went along for the ride.
“Out west? Oh that’s good. How far out west?”
“Vancouver Island. I have some family out there.”
The maw had gotten its second wind. Before the moustache knew what was happening, it creaked open yet again. “Are you married?”
The passenger looked at his watch, and then glanced out the window. They were still a long way from his apartment. There was time.
The maw barged forward, determined to see this thing to its end. “I hear you my friend. I’m still married, but things are not going well. I’m hoping we’ll end it soon.” The moustache had no idea whether this was a good thing to admit or not. The cabbie was sure it wasn’t.
The passenger, oblivious to the conflicted emotions of the cabbie, found himself in ignorant agreement with the moustache. He felt his face starting to glow. “Yeah, well. I wish you good luck with that.”
The maw knew no embarrassment or sense of appropriateness. Moustache and cabbie both were horrified and helpless before the wave of thought. “Well, for the past seven years I’ve wanted out. They say seven is the number for release.’
“Um” said the passenger.
“Oh yes. I’m really hopeful that we will have The Talk soon. I’ve had quite enough. We both have, actually. Every time either of us opens our mouths, the other rolls their eyes, and I say to myself ‘here we go’. Was it like that for you, before the end?”
The passenger’s eyes looked up and to the right, pulling down some dusty irritated memories. Memories who just wanted to be left alone.
“Yes, it was. I ended up working later than I had to….”
The maw jumped open quickly. “Yes, yes! I know exactly what you mean. So that you don’t have to face another argument when going home. So you put off the conflict as long as you can.”
The passenger sighed. “Yes, that’s it exactly.”
“Oh, I hear you my friend.”
The cab turned into the driveway, having arrived at last.
The passenger opened his wallet and took out a twenty, deciding then and there to overtip the cabbie. Perhaps it was because of an unconscious sympathy. Or maybe it was because he had enjoyed the scintillating conversation. Quite possibly it was because he recognized a kindred spirit; he saw himself in the cabbie, only a few years earlier, while still in a tremendous state of despair.
The passenger twisted his mental arm behind his back and finally gave up the truth to himself: he just wanted to get out of the cab as quickly as possible.
As he stepped out of the door, the moustache turned itself up in a grin, dragging the maw with it. “Remember: seven is the number of release!”
The passenger was certain that today, the number was twenty.