for a taxi in Nashville at two-thirty in the morning, a while back. I needed the car to be at my house at three o’clock, I think it was. There is no one on the planet I would ask to take me to the bus station at that hour so I plucked a business card from Music City Taxi off the mirror of my dresser. It was one of those fill-in-the-blank cards that drivers give you when you might need a return trip. The words, both printed on it and handwritten read: ASK FOR: Ron CAR#: 3.
The last time I saw Ron, he was out front of the Greyhound Bus Station, telling me how he did not want his picture in the newspaper. “What if I got people looking for me?”, he asked, his gaze lurching from side to side, in a questionable attempt to remain serious.
"If you got people looking for you," I said, "they would’ve found you a long time ago, Ron. Your car’s parked in the middle of Eighth Avenue five days a week, for God’s sake."
He laughed then, but stubbornly handed me the card and said “You owe me a ride.”
Those were his last words to me. You owe me a ride.
Then, three years later I held the card in my hand in the middle of the night, the opportunity to pay him back, looming on the calm moonlit air. I let it go, zipped my bag for the last time, and called the dispatcher instead. He was saved by the hour.
It was Dave who pulled in my driveway half an hour later. Actor. Storyteller. Low on gas. We discovered that we’d both read all of Steven Womack’s books. We talked about the strippers in Chain of Fools and I thought of how few places I could’ve had such a conversation at that time of night. No place more appropriate certainly, than in a taxi.
Taxi drivers are a wealth of information. Eventually, they know something about everything.
“A dog is the most enthusiastic thing on the planet. If you goes, ‘Do you want to do this?’ he says, ‘Definitely, that’s my best thing.” — Derek
In memory of Maya Angelou, who died today at the age of 86, a look at a slide show of her life in photographs: http://nyr.kr/1pylkYU
Angelou, date unknown. Photograph by Chester Higgins Jr./Getty.
Would the whole world start looking for these girls if they were in a missing airplane? What if they were American girls? Or debutantes? What if they were boys? Businessmen?
“I think maybe Gladstone had it right. I think my father did. They understood that the meaning of life is connected, inextricably, to the meaning of death; that mourning is a romance in reverse, and if you love, you grieve and there are no exceptions—-only those who do it well and those who don’t.”
― Thomas Lynch, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade