Emerson Hodell Dyer, 6/23/2014

Current Occupation: Waiter
Former Occupation: Bartender, Journalist
Contact Information: Very little is known about me.

 

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The Car Driver and The Neighbor

 

On the top floor of a three-story apartment building is a window with a neon beer sign. The car driver looks down below the sign at two cats engaged in a stand-off under a small tree between the building and the cars parked on the curb. They growl and make arching movements with their backs and the car driver hopes the tension will continue even though it is distracting him somewhat from his main purpose tonight. But not by much – he finds that he can watch the stand-off and keep his car in the periphery, simultaneously, which is convenient because his attention span is not near long enough to keep surveillance on the car, a white Crown Victoria, for the duration of the evening and into the next morning. The car driver sees the cats as a sign from the universe, an approval of task, and he is thankful as he wedges whole slices of buttered toast into his mouth.

 

Maybe it is too soon to label it a pattern, having happened only four times, but spray-painted words have been appearing on the Crown Vic at regular intervals recently. Of the fears in his life, missing a potential fare is foremost. His sleep schedule is erratic with naps and broken slumbers, but presumably the perpetrators are not daylight vandals.

“If they are daylight vandals,” he once said to his across-the-hall neighbor, “then what the hell?”

“Sneaky fuckers,” the neighbor had said. “I’ll find out who’s behind this, bro.”

 

Looking down at the cats he can’t avoid thinking about the bar that he owned with his brother. It was not a nice place, though to own something, anything in this town had been a goal of theirs ever since they vacationed here in high school.

“This place is like a dream,” his brother had said as they stood on hotel balcony looking out at the endless line of cars on the boulevard.

“Yeah, a wet dream,” the car driver had said.

After high school they saved money and made the move, his brother working at their home town country club for two years while he waited for the car driver to finish school.

Within four years they had the money and bought the first building available, a mostly concrete space in a strip mall near the ocean.

 

The cat stand-off, for all of its promise, comes to a close with no blows having been exchanged, and, having not rested very well ever since the third graffiti, the car driver slowly falls asleep on the cold kitchen tiles below the window.

 

In the morning there are new words sprayed onto his car, though he cannot make out the phrases from inside. The phrases are explicit, brazen. When the car driver sees them he is embarrassed, angry. He gets the paint can and brush from his trunk and begins the process of salvation.

 

The neighbor lights a small bowl of marijuana and, seeing the car driver below, opens his window and puts his head out.

“Hey, dumbass!” he yells.

Startled, the car driver spins around and looks up at the neighbor, who has since found out who is doing the graffiti. Or so he says.

“I know, I know.”

“Just tell me when you’re ready. We’ll go fuck em up good.”

“Yeah, yeah,” says the car driver.

Shortly after sitting back down at the table in his kitchen, the neighbor gets a text message from a friend.

“Christie lookin xtra sluty @ 48th, def can catch a nipslip yo.”

The neighbor moves his head back out the window.

“Run me up to 48th?” he says.

The car driver is standing several feet away from his car, squinting as he inspects the new paint.

“It’s not dry yet,” he says without looking up.

“I got a nipslip I gotta get, bro. You can tag along.”

The car driver is out of shape and has not been on the beach without a shirt in some time and knows that he would seem ridiculous should he appear fully-clothed.

“Ten bones,” says the car driver.

“Five.”

The car driver looks up at his neighbor, the closest thing he has to a friend.

“Fine,” he says. “But I’m gonna cruise while you film.”

The neighbor grabs his handheld video camera and moments later they are avoiding traffic by using two-lane residential roads, the neighbor in the backseat taking occasional pictures of himself with his phone.

 

After dropping the neighbor at the beach, the car driver makes the rounds at a few apartment complexes nearby, two-story wooden jobs stacked in lines down the street with worn cars tilted against the curbs on either side of the road. His brother’s newest sedan is not one of them, so the car driver returns to the beach access lot where he dropped the neighbor.

A jeep with a surfboard protruding through its back opening is pulling out of a spot and the car driver reverses briefly to let it out, noticing as he idles a mother of two tucking her two young sons into the back seat of a sport-utility.

It wasn’t a good location, the bar, but they put everything they had into it, re-painting the walls, patching up holes in the bathrooms.

In the beginning the clientele was older and they served mostly well liquor and draft beer, barely making enough to cover the mortgage.

They were always one good promotion away from living the dream.

 

“How much longer?” the car driver says.

“What?” says the neighbor, laughing.

“Did you get the nipslip?”


“Yo, hold on, bro.”

Through the filter of the phone, the wind is like someone shredding construction paper over and over.

“Dude, you aren’t even here,” the neighbor says.

“I’m close, I mean, I just pulled into the wrong access, I think” the car driver says.

“Well, yeah, I got mad nip-slippage, so come scoop me up and we’ll go get lunch. Tiffany and Constance are supposedly eating at Ciao and I can catch them on the way out. I got some good shit to ask Constance about,” he says, before saying, “whaaaaat,” though this is probably directed at someone who he is with.

The car driver reverses out of the access, keeping the phone away from his ear as the neighbor continues with the noise, the car driver honking as he sees the neighbor filming two young women in bikinis making out underneath the free-standing shower at the end of the wooden walkway.

The neighbor holds up a finger, signaling the car driver to hold on.

 

In the parking lot at Ciao! the neighbor replays the footage that he has just obtained, sometimes holding the small video camera forward into the front seat so that the car driver can see for himself.

“This is guaranteed five thousand hits,” says the neighbor, very confidently. “I’m like a month or so away from crazy amounts of ad money.”

“Nice,” says the car driver as he watches the front door of the restaurant, though ‘crazy amounts of ad money’ would mean one less client, presumably. He considers lobbying to be his personal driver, sort of on staff.

They have lived across the hall from each other for around seven months, the car driver being somewhat annoyed with the neighbor the first two months due to early-morning loud noises coming from the neighbors side of the hall. These turned out to be the temper tantrums of the neighbor’s girlfriend, supposedly caused by some sort of drug withdrawal, which manifested itself in the form of objects being thrown around the room to wake the neighbor up in order to make him aware of the severity of her condition. She was a chore for the neighbor, but also paid for mostly everything. When she finally moved out he spent several weeks smoking marijuana, finally coming up with the idea to start his own business as a recorder of local people of interest, much like numerous other businesses on the internet do with national and international people of interest.

“Make sure you tell me right when you see those chicks,” says the neighbor, still watching the footage. “This is gonna be so funny.”

These stake-outs are normal occurrences during trips with the neighbor – sit outside of a strip club here, wait outside of a restaurant there – but the car driver has never been able to decide how to pass the time effectively. He is always assigned to the look-out post.

“Can I go in and just make sure they’re here?” the car driver says.

“I know they’re here, dude.”

“How?”

“Because they tweeted.”

As the neighbor continues to watch video in the backseat, the car driver decides to look over his client list, which he keeps in the glove compartment. Written on the back of an envelope, he currently has just seven names. In his mind he also keeps a ranking because, in the event of two of them calling at once, one regular must take precedence. He has shared these secret rankings with only one person, Tiffany, who holds the top spot and has not been charged for a ride in several weeks. She is his Scarlett Johansson, his Emma Stone. Naturally dark-haired, Tiffany is now blonde, the tips reaching just past the top of her fake boobs, and she fills the Crown Victoria with the scent of peaches and lightning and gold each time she gets in.

The car driver is startled from his list as the neighbor darts out of the backseat, leaving the door open as he jogs towards the two women.

“Constance, Constance,” the neighbor says.

The women giggle, stopping to humor him while shifting between various flattering poses. Their sunglasses cover most of their faces.

Rolling down his window, the car driver hears the neighbor ask Constance whether it’s true or not that she has been sending nude selfies to numerous different guys, his camera rolling as the girls giggle again.

She is coy in her response, the car driver making out key words that add up only vaguely.

The neighbor seems to be asking more questions, drawing laughter and feigned sensitivity from the women, and soon points back towards the Crown Victoria.

The car driver quickly pretends to be reading the list again before looking up to see the women waving in his direction – he has famous friends, and maybe an admirer or two, he thinks.

Later he will watch the clip on the neighbor’s computer and know that he was there, a backstage insider to this celebrity sighting.

 

The car driver sometimes cruises the airport for fares, almost always encountering resistance from the cab drivers waiting in their legal and licensed cars and vans. They honk at him, throw their nearest disposable items in his direction, on one occasion even blocking him from driving while letting the air out of his tires. He suspects that one or more of them are behind the graffiti that has been appearing on his car, but he can’t be sure.

The cab area, at the moment he pulls in, is almost entirely absent of cabs and he discovers that the lone driver is asleep at the wheel, though parked. No line normally means no business, but a straggler emerges minutes after the car driver turned off his engine.

The man is short and balding and has on reading glasses. He is wearing business clothes.

The car driver rolls down his window, manually.

“Where you headed,” he says, as the man finds the driver of the official-looking cab to be asleep.

He looks around, as if for another cab or a road to walk to wherever he is going.

“Are you a real cab?” the man asks.

The car driver feigns offense, getting out of the car and reaching for the man’s bags.

“Where you staying? I’ll get you there cheaper than any other company.”

The man is apprehensive, but lets the car driver take his bags and put them into the open trunk.

“The Marriott,” he says, adding on the address.

“Alright, we’re on our way.”

 

The car driver watches through the rear-view as the man examines the car, fingering the numerous small tears in the upholstery, smelling the passenger side headrest.

The car driver tries to take immaculate care of his car, but has little control over his passengers’ destructive habits and lacks the heart to call anyone out on it.  

“Where you in town from?” the car driver asks as he exercises his routine precaution of looking in his mirrors to see if anyone is following.

“Are these cigarette burns?” the man says, counting them out loud to himself.

The stoplights and afternoon traffic on the main bypass slow down the trip and the man in the backseat begins to look outside at the car dealers and tourist attractions.

“Is this the quickest way?” he asks. “Because it seems as though there should be a quicker way.”

The car driver’s phone vibrates. It’s Tiffany.

“ay boy ; ) can u take me to happy hour,” she texts.

“Sir, I got fired from all the cab companies in town because I take the best routes. I haven’t always done the right thing, but I’m an honest person now.”

“Wait,” the business man says. “What do you mean you got fired for taking the best routes? That’s what cab drivers do.”

“Think about it, sir. How do cabs make money?”

“By taking people from point,” the business man says before stopping. “Oh.”

“Listen, do you mind if we pick up someone else? It’s on the way.”

The business man, seeming to have relaxed somewhat, nods his head and says okay.

 

The money they were making at the bar, though never more than small, was still money. The car driver and his brother split everything in half, naturally, each electing to work full days without hiring any help. On Tuesdays, they rested and tallied their take.

“Seems like it should be more,” the brother would say.

“I wish it was,” the car driver would reply.

It was only a matter of time before the brother found out about the car driver’s scheme.

 

Tiffany is looking down at her cell phone as she walks from her apartment and the car driver looks around for any signs of his brother, just out of habit.

“That’s who we’re picking up?” the man says.

“Yes, sir.”

“Oh, wow.”

She is wearing a short summer dress that shifts in the wind. There appears to be no bra underneath.

Seeing the man in the backseat, she gets into the front and almost immediately begins a phone conversation, which causes a tense silence in the rest of the car.

When they get back onto the main highway the business man resumes worrying.

“Are you sure that was on the way? Who is this girl?”

“She’s one of my regulars.”

Tiffany gives a wave of her fingers to the business man.

Soon the man is on his phone telling someone to get on the internet and look up directions from the airport to his hotel.

“I don’t see any addresses,” he says, “hey, driver, why aren’t there any addresses? Where are we?”

Tiffany begins to look annoyed and it has become clear to the car driver that she is probably high on weed and adderol, if not more things. He loves her most when she looks this way – a damsel in euphoric distress.

In the backseat the business man’s stress level seems to be spiraling out of control.

“Is she high on drugs?” he says.

“Sir,” the car driver says.

“Can you let me out here, please? I do not feel comfortable anymore, not one bit.”

“Sir, we’ll be there in three minutes. Don’t worry.”

“Don’t worry, easy for you to say. You’re not in the backseat of a gypsy cab with a girl in the front who is high on drugs. In a town you are not familiar with, no less.”

The car driver looks over at Tiffany who, though still on the phone, turns around to face the man, rises slightly, and pulls her dress down to reveal her right nipple, of which the car driver catches a glance.

“Will you please shut the fuck up?” she says to the man before covering back up and resuming her conversation.

The car driver cannot remember ever in his life seeing something that made him happier.

He more or less knows that the business man is not working for the police or the department of transportation or anyone else who might be out to fine or jail him. But the threat, coupled with the graffiti, is enough for the car driver to deliver the business man to a different hotel, deeming this safe after seeing the business man restrict his gaze to the floorboards after the Tiffany incident. This is a standard practice that the car driver is always able to rationalize to himself – surely there will be a shuttle available to right the location of the duped.

 

The car driver sits at his kitchen table with his cell phone plugged into the outlet – his battery is not what it once was. He plays a skill game with crudely drawn cartoon animals, sometimes passing several levels in a day, other times stagnating or giving up.

    The neighbor’s familiar tribal knock causes him to fail the level.

    “Yo, can we ride?” the neighbor says, excited.

    “Where we going?”    

    “I’ll tell you on the way, let’s go.”

    In the car the neighbor promises to pay any traffic tickets that the car driver might incur on this trip as long as he will speed and disregard all other road signs.

    “Nasty wreck, bro. Nasty. My dude says there’s probably somebody dead.”

    The car driver turns down the radio, a rap song.

    “Yo, lemme get that volume back,” the neighbor says.

    The volume is returned to loud.

    “Hey, so why do you want that on the site?” the car driver says, louder than the music.

    “What? The wreck? That’s some Andy Warhol type shit, that’s why.”

    “Who?”

    “Dude, Andy Warhol, he was like the most famous artist of all-time? He was all into death or whatever.”

    The car driver nods and makes a mental note to Google this famous death artist.

 

    The car driver’s brother had said very emotional things, angry statements when he found out for sure that their money was being unevenly distributed. He made vows, swore violence. Did the car driver blame him, even for one second? No. But he also didn’t know what to do to make it up to him. The brother removed himself from all social media, changed his phone number. He told his parents of the car driver’s infidelity and made it clear that they were not to encourage any contact between the two.

 

    In the neighbor’s apartment the car driver watches as the footage is reviewed.

    “This shit is so killer, dude. So killer,” the neighbor keeps saying.

    The car driver is having ideas.

    “So like,” he says, “if I was in a really bad accident say, and like some people got really hurt or whatever.”

    “That’s fucked up, bro.”

    The car driver watched a commercial on the television for a moment, thinking.

    “But what if I really need to be on the site, somehow?”

    “Why do you need that?”

    “So I can be famous.”


    “That’s not how it works, dude, it’s the other way around. You gotta be famous or interesting or a hot chick to get on the site to begin with.”

    “How do I do something good enough to be considered famous though?”

    “Man you gotta figure that shit out for yourself. Oh man, I got so much killer stuff from that shit though.”

    The neighbor gets up and retrieves a few bills from his backpack, handing them to the car driver.

    “This is guaranteed thousands of hits, like maybe ten-thousands. Good look on getting me there super- fast. I gotta edit this for a while, get the video up. I’ll catch you later though, bro.”

    The car driver gets up and stretches, though he doesn’t know why.

    “Do you think that that girl Tiffany is single?”

    The neighbor pauses before lighting his marijuana, laughing soon after.

    “Keep dreaming, bro. Keep dreaming ha haha ha ha.”

 

    The car driver uses the windfall from the wreckage to buy a twelve-pack of good beer, a habit that he swore off with the closing of the bar. But, he reasons, he needs to think, to relax.

    He wakes up the next day around noon and watches video of Tiffany on the neighbor’s website, trying to imagine the perfect thing to say to her next time she is in his car.

    Around four o’clock he fills his tank and gets on the road, driving aimlessly for several hours. He feels oddly content and senses that progress will be made soon, somehow.

 

He first drove Tiffany while working for one of the companies (assholes, all of them) and now she calls at least twice a week wanting a ride here and there, this drink to that club, that club to late-night diner, but never to home.

“Can u pick us up at HOB?” she texts, the night well into its routine.

Waiting at a light on the bypass he replies, “I’m out back. I think the band is hanging out with people.”

Moments later she responds, “where rrr u?”

The car driver maneuvers through the labyrinth of street leading into the music venue, driving the opposite direction from the other cars as fast as possible, needing to make it to the back of the building before the women do. He snakes in and out of rows, cutting through empty gaps of cars. His phone begins to ring just as he reaches the back lot and he sees Tiffany sitting on a curb, her phone against her ear.

The car driver honks.

“Yay!” she says, jumping up and snagging the shirt of another beauty. Three others follow and he gets out and opens both passenger side doors.

“Silly,” she says, getting into the back seat, “we’ve been out here for twenty minutes and the band hasn’t come out yet.”

“I must’ve been,” he says, “thinking of someone else or something.”

The women are small and tan and fit easily into the backseat, each adjusting their clothing or hair and the car driver closes both doors and returns to his seat.  

“We’re starving!” Lily and at least one of the other girls say as they pull into traffic and the car driver asks what they are starving for but they have begun to talk amongst themselves.

He catches errant pieces of the conversation – men, women, cigarettes – as they roll the windows down, decompressing the scent of a gourmet sugar factory that they have sprayed themselves with and replacing this with smoke of two kinds.

 

On the highway the car driver’s phone flashes on the seat, an unknown number. When he drove professionally it was customary to answer calls by saying “cab,” immediately. But sometimes it is the police who are calling and he takes care to avoid suspicion as often as possible.

“Hello?” he says, the volume in the back seat continuing.

“Hey,” an angry person on the end says, “is this the cab that dropped me off at the wrong place earlier?”

“This is not a cab, sir. You have the wrong number.”

“Yeah I don’t think I fucking do have the wrong number. Give me the number to your manager or I’m calling the goddam cops.”

Under different circumstances the car driver might indulge the plaintiff, but with Tiffany’s voice flashing through his car he is no mood and he switches to speaker phone and hands it to the hyper-active women in the backseat.

“Who is it?” one of them says and before the car driver can answer the women are saying dirty things into the phone; filthy, phone sex phrases he did not think them capable of and his own sex straightens in his jeans. He cannot see Tiffany in the rear-view but pictures her dark hair thrashing in the wind as they ride. She lost interest in the dirty talk early, the other three continuing on and at some point it seems likely that the plaintiff has ended the call.

The car driver motions for the phone to be returned to him.

“Who was that?” the girls say.

“Wrong number,” he says.

The girls do some muted murmuring.

“Hey, where is his meter, Tiff? Is this guy a real cab driver?”

“He’s not like a cab cab,” she says. “He’s like a private cab.”

“Private cabs are supposed to be like a lot nicer though, right?”

The one who said this is shhhh-d and called a bitch by the others and they laugh awkwardly.

“It’s okay,” the car driver says, reaching for some licorice in the center console. “I’m just doing this while I figure out some stuff.”

Tiffany leans forward and says to him, her lips touching his ear, “don’t listen to her she’s really high on molly,” and the car driver smells her hair, smoky and sweet. In an instant, the best one the car driver can remember, she shakes her fingers through his hair frantically and returns to the party in the backseat, calling the insulter a bitch again.

The car driver runs his own right hand through his hair, elated.  

 

    There were drugs in the car driver’s life during the time of the bar, consumed sometimes with his brother, sometimes with adult entertainers, sometimes alone. Stimulants, both street and pharmaceutical, used mainly for cheer during downtimes and transcendence during uptimes.

    “You have to, like, know how to act when people are looking,” the neighbor says, hovering over several lines of cocaine drawn out on his coffee table. “People who are famous for being famous aren’t as worthless as everyone makes them out to be.”

    An attractive blonde sits to his right on the couch, the car driver sitting Indian-style on the floor on the other side of the table.

    “What do you mean, learn how to act when people are looking,” the car driver says.

    The blonde, almost simultaneously, says “Do you ever want to fucking run all the way across America?”

    “I mean, like,” the neighbor says, “all the videos you see on my site, which is on the verge of fucking blowing up, by the way, the people you see have a talent for acting, like while I’m filming. That’s not how they are, naturally. I mean, you’d be way more boring on camera than you are in real life, and you’re not that fucking interesting in real life, no offense.”

    “I used to run track in high school until I fucking started smoking,” the blonde says. “No, I mean cross-country, why do I always fucking say track? I could run a really long way though.”

    “Then I need you to teach me how to act when people are looking, or at least, you know, give me some suggestions.”

    “Dude, it’s not something you can teach! I’ve been trying to explain that to you. Goddam.”

    The blonde, smoking a cigarette, launches into a tirade about running shoes and the neighbor, after inhaling two lines, says “Put your cigarette out and let’s go fuck, or you know what? Don’t put it out. But I’m sick of all this talking. This fucking coke is weak as fuck.”

 

    He can’t sleep so he drives, clenching his teeth as he sits on the speed limit. The car driver wouldn’t pick up a fare tonight even if there were one. The streets are empty now, but the sun will come up in a few hours and cars will begin to be pretty much everywhere. He uses this time driving to think about what he can do to make the website, to look for signs of his brother, to wonder if he could start his own people-filming website, a rival to the neighbor’s that could make him a notable resident. His goals are few, dire.

 

The car driver uses the rest of the day to catch up on some sleep, waking up occasionally to flip through the three channels that he gets, wondering about whether he is a success or a failure (or neither), and praying that his phone will ring soon.

Around eight o’clock it does, the familiar two-toned ding he has assigned to Tiffany’s number.

“At Market Common, cum git me?” she texts.

“Of course. How many?”

He has to hope that it is the same crew that lavished him with money the night before, otherwise he may wind up back at the title loan window.

“Jus 2.”

Two probably means pro bono and the car driver enters into an arbitration period with himself. The gasoline in his car will take him no more than twenty-one more miles and he crunches the numbers from his apartment to Market Common to her apartment and back to his apartment. Assuming that this is a freeby, he will not be able to accept another ride until more gasoline money is procured. He weighs this against her beauty and is soon turning the key in his car, eager to soon be in Tiffany’s presence.

 

As she kisses and gropes a well-groomed man in the backseat, the car driver realizes for the first time that Tiffany is not a lonely person. In fact, he decides that she has all the companionship that she needs, perhaps even more than she needs.

He pulls into a gas station at her request and she gets out, giving her date another kiss before closing the door.

“Wow,” the guy says, wiping his mouth. “See these to-go bags?”

The car driver nods in the rear-view.

“She couldn’t wait. She made them box everything up because she literally couldn’t wait to get home.”

“Oh.”

“I’m in town for a convention, right? I think I’m coming to the trashiest tourist trap in the country, right? And then we’re out at a strip club last night and I meet this one, Tessa or Tiffany or whatever. We hit it off immediately, go back to my hotel, fuck all night, I mean all night. She’s so fucking kinky, man. I slog through the presentations today, take a quick nap, meet her at the restaurant and guess what? She’s ready to go home, can’t wait to take me back to her apartment. But she’s out of condoms, so here we are. Some fucking luck, huh? I love this town! Love it!”

“Lucky guy.”


“Anyway, thank you man for driving us.”

The car driver feels himself needing to exit the situation and has a rare idea.

“Listen, it’s no problem. I drive her around a lot, and you seem like a good guy so I’ll warn you – she always insists on paying the fare.”

“Really? She said you drive her for free.”

The car driver laughs nervously and the guy in the backseat laughs too, though without nerves.

“That’s not exactly true. She finds ways to pay me and then she always complains about how trashy the people are who don’t pay her fares.”

“Ah, she like does this type of thing a lot, or?”

Tiffany is at the register, swiping her card in the payment machine.

“Fuck,” the guy says reaching into his pocket, “what do I care? I’m only here another two nights. Is forty enough?”

    The car driver takes the two perfect bills, crumples them into his hand and opens his door while removing his keys, sprinting off into the night.

 

    The gas station’s lighting is intense, as if to signal heightened importance or something, and it reaches into the first few rows of pines across the street. The car driver has wisely chosen to stand behind a tree beyond the light. He does not know exactly why it is here, of all places, that he finds himself, but he senses that the situation can be salvaged, maybe.

    The neighbor does not answer the car driver’s first call, or second, but on the third try he gets through.

    “I figured it out,” the car driver says.

    “What’s up, dude?”

    There is rap music on wherever the neighbor is.

    “I got something for the website.”

    “Oh yeah?”

    “Yeah, come to the Shell station off of 21st.”


    “You mean, like, walk there? I’m at the apartment, bro.”

    “Shit. But it involves Tiffany and you’re not gonna want to miss it.”

    “Yeah, lemme go man, I got company.”


    “No, no! I’m serious. You gotta do this for me, please. I’ll drive you for free for a month.”


    “Okay, man, I believe you and shit, but I don’t have wheels, you know?”

    “Hey, just call a cab, I’ll pay for it.”


    The neighbor laughs.

    “Alright, man, yeah.”

    “So you’re coming?”

    “Sure, dude,” the neighbor says, ending the call.

    The car driver looks back at where he left his car and sees Tiffany and the man talking outside of the car, looking confused.

    It’s as if the universe had turned its attention, however briefly, back to him for the first time in weeks. He estimates five minutes for the cab to arrive at his apartment, one minute for the neighbor to get down stairs, and seven minutes for them to travel the distance between here and there. In the meantime he has to think up something, the best thing ever, and then execute it with perfect timing. Whatever it is has to be spontaneous, the first time he has done anything that way in years, and it has to be fun and entertaining and dangerous, and Tiffany will laugh and cry and the video will go viral, probably even spur the neighbor’s website into the local spotlight, if not nationally, and Tiffany will leave the douchebag she is with and they can go out celebrating, maybe ride the SkyWheel or have a drink at a fancy bar where she knows everyone and they will re-live the scene, telling whoever is around and impressing them and inflicting on them a strong desire to watch the video as soon as it is uploaded, sharing it on various social-media sites and texting the link to everyone they know, and maybe even his brother will see it somehow and realize that the car driver is not a completely bad person, that he is capable of some things, though not all things, and maybe they can be friends again, or at least on speaking terms or hanging out terms.

    The car driver’s thoughts zip past each other as he tries to devise a plan, thinking back on videos that made it onto the neighbor’s website, knowing that the neighbor will arrive at any second, and if he isn’t engaged in the act by the time the neighbor is out of the cab and filming, that it will look staged, and so the car driver begins walking slowly through the trees, slightly hunched over, and as he is approaching the end of the light, a cab pulls into the gas station and he picks up the pace, not running but not walking, still wondering what the act will be, comprehending the circumstances and immediately feeling absolutely grateful for the opportunity to do, what exactly, but nevermind, and the cab turns out to be empty, the neighbor nowhere in sight, and so the car driver pauses before crossing the street and watches as Tiffany and the guy getting quickly into the backseat, the cab pulling slowly out of the gas station.

The car driver looks into the cab as it passes him, picking up speed, and sees Tiffany and the guy kissing each other, completely unaware of his presence on the side of the road.

    He stands there for some time, the car driver, thinking of the ways that the situation has changed and considering all of the options that he now has. In the end, he chooses to fill up his tank and drive back to his apartment, making plans on the way to start shooting video of himself with his phone, reviewing the videos, making adjustments, and teaching himself how to act when someone is looking.     

 

 

 

 

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