Unzipped

The cab driver sits impatiently in his car behind a row of cars waiting to get out of the parking garage. He’s tapping the steering wheel with his long fingers, mumbling come on, come on to himself, urging those in front of him to move faster, but he knows it isn’t their fault; it’s the parking attendant. This woman has a penchant for making small talk with each person who passes through her lane, as he’s been victim of her chatting many times. The driver is close to laying on his horn to make a point that she needs to hurry it up. He has fares to pick up and a living to make. Every minute stuck in this garage is time his competition has to pick up his customers and the driver can’t have that.

The SUV in front of him taps on its brake and the interior of the driver’s car illuminates with red. The driver catches his reflection in the rear view mirror and marvels at his red countenance; how his eyes seem to glow and the light reflecting off his silver hair makes it look almost pink. He chuckles to himself at the thought of having pink hair and what his four-year-old daughter would say to having a daddy with such hair.

Finally, it’s his turn to pull up to the woman whose name tag states her name is Tina. She is a homely woman with large, protruding ears, a mess of thin, greasy looking ginger-colored hair tucked behind her ears, which didn’t help mask the size of them. Her nose is strong and broad, and her lips thin and pale.

“Oh! ‘Ello again, you! Ready to start yer night, I take it?” Her accent is thick and the driver can’t quite place it. It’s English, but from what region, he can’t tell. It’s too proper for Cockney, but still rural enough to make him question her origin. As she speaks, the driver notices she has what his grandfather called “summer teeth.” You see that feller over there, my boy? He’s got summer teeth: some ‘er there, some ‘er not.

The driver is waiting for her to do what she always does when she talks to him: start playing with the zippers on her pants. Whenever Tina and the driver converse, Tina zips and unzips the pockets on her jeans over and over again. The first time the driver heard the noise, he wasn’t sure what it was, or where it was coming from. What’s that sound? he asked. (ziiiiiiip) What sound? she replied. (ziiiiiip) That! That sound there! What is that? (ziiiiiip) Oh, she sounded sheepish, that’s me pants. I have a nervous habit, I suppose, and can’t help messin’ wit the zippers. (ziiiiiip)

“Aye, yer goin’ to be a busy one then tonight, I’m a fearin’,” she says as she hands the driver his ticket (ziiiiip). “Lots o’ people out and about tonight. I fink it’s the full moon, always messin’ with people and such (ziiiiip). You be careful out there, ya here, cabbie? Don’t take guff from no one, and if’n they do, you just give ’em the business, if ya know what I mean (ziiiiiip). There be lots o’ talk of a serial killer, ya know. Some poor bastahd be hackin’ folks up and leavin’ ’em to die, but the kicker is, ‘e takes a little present wit ‘im (ziiiiip).” She winks a yellow eye at him. The driver can’t tell if her eyes truly are yellow, or the reflection of the single bare light bulb hanging above her head from a worn cord.

“Will do, Tina. Have a good night, and see you in a few hours,” the driver replied. Tina winked again (ziiiiip).

“Oh, cabbie, I’ll be ‘ere. You know I a’ways is (ziiiiip).”

The driver pulls out on the road, merges into traffic, and shakes his head. Tina and her zippers unsettle the driver; it’s such an odd thing to do, and he wonders if she does it all the time, or just with him. He drives a few miles before he picks up his first customers; a tall, lanky young man and a short, chubby woman. Both are dressed in neon colors, and the driver thinks the woman is wearing fairy wings of some sort, but it is hard to tell since she’s seated in the back now.

“Where to, friends?” the driver asks.

“151 8th Avenue, please. We’re going to a rave!” squeaks the woman. The driver looks in his mirror at her, and sees her hand her companion a small silver flask, and wipes her mouth with the back of her fat hand, her fingers smearing the ruby red lipstick on her lips across her face. The man takes a long pull off the flask and hands it back to her. She giggles as she stuffs it down the front of her enormous cleavage. The man leans over, places his face between her breasts and from what the driver gathers, bites the woman, as she lets out a loud squeal and pushes his face deeper into her decolletage. The driver smiles to himself and signals to switch lanes.

The couple is making out in the back seat and the driver decides to have some fun with the kids. “Hey, you two hear about that serial killer going around? I hear he likes rave kids.” He glances up into the mirror to see if they heard him. The boy did not, and is busy slobbing all over the girl’s tits, but she hears the driver, and is suddenly very interested in what he has to say.

“What? Are you fucking around with us?”

“No ma’am, I am not. Heard it on the radio before I picked you two up. Some sicko is going around to raves and killin’ people. Stabbing them to death and leaving them in alley ways for the wild cats to eat. But…he takes a little present before he goes. You know, a prize from his victims. A little something to remember them by. I’d be extra careful out there tonight if I were you. Plus, it’s a full moon. Lots of crazies out anyway. Could make it easier for this guy to hide that way.”

“Burke! Burke!” she hisses into his ear. “Did you just hear what this guy said? A fucking killer! He’s killing people at raves!”

Burke decides he’s done with his girlfriend’s breasts and sits upright. “No shit, huh? That’s fucking rad!”

Burke! This isn’t fucking funny, you asshole! We could get killed!” she whines.

“Ah, baby, relax. I’ll protect us,” and he leans over and goes back to her tits. The driver smirks and drives them the rest of the way to the bar in silence. He pulls up to the curb and parks the car.

“That’ll be $17.50, please.”

The girl reaches into her bosoms once again and produces a small credit card holder, opens it, and hands the driver a twenty-dollar bill. “Keep the change,” she says to him as they leave the cab.

“Hey, thanks. And remember–be careful out there.”

The driver pulls away and back into traffic. The rest of his night is uneventful; just the usual fares, and nothing exciting. He finds himself laughing at the two rave kids periodically during the night. Gullible fuckers. They made his night less mundane. At 2:00 a.m., he makes his way back to the garage. Tina’s shift is over, and some fat, pimple-faced kid with sausages for fingers takes the driver’s ticket. They make their transaction and part ways. The driver takes the cab to its usual parking spot on the fourth floor and parks.

He marks down his mileage for the night, adds up his fares, divvies the tips and pockets them, and puts the rest of the money into the small zipper bag that goes to the office at the end of his shift. He takes the bag to the night drop box and heads back to his own car which is parked across the garage. As the driver approaches his vehicle, he sees the dome light on, and slows his walk. Closer to the car, he sees the passenger side door is slightly ajar. The driver reaches for his back pocket where he keeps a switch blade, and puts his hand on the weapon, ready to pull it out.

He walks to the passenger side and examines the door. Someone pried it open with something, and he looks around on the ground and sees the crowbar under the car next to him. He takes the knife out of the pocket and flips the blade open. Then, he stands in front of the door and quickly swings it open, knife poised in his hand, ready to attack. He looks on the floor of the car, expecting to see whomever jimmied his door open to be crouched below the dash, but no one is there. He hits the unlock button, and goes to the back door and flings it open. Laying in the back seat, a figure huddles into a ball, trying to obscure themselves with the old ratty blanket the driver kept. He grabs the blanket with one hand, the knife still in the other, and yanks it off the person, exposing them to him. He stands in disbelief for a few seconds when he sees who has broken into his car–Tina. He knew it was her by the umpteen zippers on the pants.

“The fuck are you doing, Tina?!” he bellows at her. She covers her head with her arms and tries to curl into a smaller ball, as if that would make her disappear from him. The driver grabs her left ankle and yanks hard. Tina lets out a loud yelp as she’s scooted across the seat and almost out of the car. She grabs on to one of the seats to keep herself from falling out.

“Tina! What the fuck? What the fuck?!” The driver is furious.

Tina slides out of the back seat, and stumbles as she gets up. She re-positions her clothes and smooths them out, as if that will help her appearance any. She stands upright and faces the driver.

“I can explain–” she starts before the driver cuts her off.

“You goddamn well better, you psychotic bitch! What’re you doing in my car? You have ten seconds to explain yourself. One…two…”

“A’right, a’right! Jayzus Christ! Gimme a bleedin’ minute, you fuckin’ wank!”

“…four…five…six…” the driver slowly brings the knife up to her eye level.

“The fuck is that for, you loon?! You tryin’ to fuckin’ kill me?!” she screams.

“You have eight seconds, Tina. I suggest you tell me what in the fuck you were doing in my car.” The driver turns the blade in his hands, the point catches the overhead fluorescent light and flashes. He can see it sparkle in Tina’s eyes as she looks at the knife.

“Okay, okay, I was waitin’ fer ya to get off, cabbie. I t’ought maybe we’d get a drink or somethin’…” she explains, here eyes never leaving the blade.

“So you broke into my fucking car?”

“Aye, I did. It’d be easier dat way, cabbie,” she says slowly.

“Easier for what, Tina?” The driver lowers the knife to his side, the adrenaline rush subsiding.

“Easier to do dis–” and in one swift movement, Tina rushes the driver, grabs his wrist and shoves his own knife into his side. She pulls his wrist up and he can  feel his flesh tearing. The driver stumbles back into the car beside him. He’s in shock and Tina takes advantage of this and takes the knife from his hand. She pushes up against him, and he’s surprised at how much force she has for such a slight woman. Tina takes the knife and slits the driver’s throat in one swift swipe of the blade. The driver’s blood splatters her face when she hits the jugular and the blood soaks his shirt in seconds. He gasps for air, and the slit in the throat bubbles with blood. Tina is still firmly against him, and stabs him repeatedly in the sides. The cabbie is weak and starts to slump down to the cement. Tina steps away from him and the driver falls to the ground. His blood is everywhere, and Tina tries to get away from it.

“Aw, ya fucker, these are my favorite sneakers!”  She kicks him in the side and can feel the toe of her shoe sink inside the driver’s belly. He tries to make a sound, but it’s difficult when his neck is ripped open from ear to ear.

Tina leans over the driver, the knife still in her hand.

“I a’most forgot. I need dis,” she whispers in his ear, grabs it with her free hand and slices it off. The driver is fading fast, but the fresh wave of pain in his head brings him back to consciousness for a moment.

He’s on his back, his blood all around him, and the last thing he sees before he shuts his eyes for good is Tina putting his ear into one of her pockets and zips it shut.

 

Advertisements