I’m coming up on a red at 7th, heading west on Market. The Tenderloin.
There’s an empty Yellow just ahead of me at the light and an historic F line street car just letting off on the platform to our left. As the passengers pour out onto the island dividing the two westbound lanes here, I note one dude – a bit frantic – check out Yellow, and then come running back to me. Dunno why dude would be getting off a train and then immediately try to hail a cab, or why he didn’t go for the empty Yellow in front, but I wave him in…
Although a bit edgy, a skinny 30-ish Pryor is wearing a clean white T nicely tucked-in that complements his chocolate skin, stylish jeans, and a large diamond earring in his left ear – presumably fake, he seems like he may be rational.. He probably is just in a rush to get somewhere. Rent would ne’er be paid if it weren’t for Pryor’s lot.
He jumps in back, anxious.
“We need to drive. I’m going to the Fillmore. Make a U here.”
Well, I should mention that I’ve been remiss in mentioning that there’s a black & white just behind the train that Pryor jumped out of. I am NOT making an illegal U right behind a cop! Besides, WTF? The Fillmore is west of here. Pryor is telling me to go east!
“Uhhh. I can’t make an illegal U here, sir. There’s a cop right there and my license is my living. Besides, you said the Fillmore, right? That’s ahead of us…”
“(GASP!) Okay! Okay! Take a right here. Take the right! We gotta move, man! We need to drive… They’re coming! They’re after me!” Pryor squirms and rocks and looks all around and behind out of the back window, as hunching to clutch the shotgun headrest in front of him.
“Uhhh. It says no right on red, sir. There’s a cop right there.”
“Come on, man! Go!” Pryor pats the headrest, nervously.
The light turns. And the street car, Yellow, and the cop all proceed straight, as I take the right heading up towards the heart of the TL. Well, and en route towards the Fillmore…
And with clipboard/waybill perched on the steering wheel, I drive.
“So, you said the Fillmore. Fillmore and….”
“Eddy. Take me to Fillmore and Eddy. Drive, man. Faster! We need to drive! They’re gaining on us. They’re everywhere! I don’ know why! I dint do nuthin’! But they’re coming! They’re all around us!”
“Uhhh. Just who is after you, anyway? Is it the government?”
“I don’ know, man. I swear I dint do nuthin’! Right there! See! Those Mexicans! Oh, God!!” Pryor points nervously out of the window to his left, towards an empty sidewalk.
And we come to a red at the next block, McAllister & Lev.
“Please, please, drive!”
“Uhhh. Sure. I can take a right here up towards Turk… I guess we should head up Turk anyway.”
Pryor shakes and jitters, swaying in his seat like a jumping bean on a hot plate.
(Ok. Sorry about that:)
“We gotta move, man! They’re coming! Take the left… HERE!”
“Uhhh. That’s Golden Gate. It’s one way…”
“Okay, okay. The next one then!”
On Turk. Right. Like we were gonna.
So, at this point, I’m feeling like I might not get paid for this ride. Hmm. I think I’ll be pretty content though, if Pryor just gets out of the cab sooner than later… without figuring me for one of “them” and putting a knife in my back! Better get my game on…
“You can relax, brother. I got you. I’m a professional. You got in the right cab. I can protect you.”
And Pryor takes interest. He stops scanning around for a second, and perks up to look at me, to size me up in the rear view.
“You got me? You can protect me?” And Pryor calms a bit, before again starting to scan all around and out the back window. Pryor again hunches back in his seat as he clutches the headrest, and shakes his head.
“Well, you AIN’T protectin’ me NOW! Look! There they are!! They’re STILL comin’!! They’re RIGHT behind us!!!”
And we come to a red, at Polk.
“Take the right here. Take the right!!”
“But Fillmore is straight up Turk,” I relay in protest.
“MAN! WE GOT TO DRIVE!!”
I take the right up Polk.
And we come to a red behind some cars, post-haste at O’Farrell – adjacent the famous Mitchell Brothers strip club.
“Oh God, man! You GOT TO move! I swear I don’ know why they’re after me. I dint do nuthin’! I swear! Oh, shit! I CAN NOT STAY HERE!! HERE THEY COME!!!”
And Pryor like a skittish cat at a pit bull match all shaking and rocking jumps for the door handle and darts out of the cab in a mad dash across traffic running into O’Farrell and east down the sidewalk (away from Fillmore) as craning to look back and all around 360 as he sprints.
The meter reads $4.80.
But no knife in the back, either!
I’m just SO glad that Pryor did not peg me for one of “them”.
He really never suspected a thing.
I better call-in to control back at HQ and let intel know that Viper has flown the coop. Give the team a 20 on Pryor. Had I known I’d be risking blowing my cover, I’d have never let the subject in.
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Photo by Christian Lewis
Check out Alex’s Book 1 – San Francisco TAXI: A 1st Week in the ZEN Life…