Shuttle pulls up, out pops a bleary — eyed mascot, in his black Cadillac, with black glasses, black eyes, and a bright white smile.
The air dreams of smoke, the pleather taught, the rims of the cup holders stained in old conversations and clumsy knuckles. Percolating stains round out the imperfections, along the rest inof the interior. The radio booming with old beats stuck in a tense relationship between myself and a dark haired stranger that zips his words in the same pulse.
“Where you coming from?”
He shouts above the noise. My eyes, glazed over from a long night of back-patting and toe turning. Mugginess kept me up late, my 6:30am flight was not any better recovery for such a questionnaire….
“I love it there,” he screams, “what an adventure…”
He kept bating me with his pleasantries — cupping me to give in to his trap — steal my attention from joys of absolutely nothing.
I stared up from my distractions….
“Sure — is, it’s something”
He could tell I was not in the mood to banter — what else could he spin on. I squinted at his iPad in the front seat, 7 minutes to my destination. Good graces.
My fumbling became tiresome and I began to give in to the madness.
“It’s damn hot here, how do you do it?”
“I stay inside, and when I’m not inside — I drive.”
He chuckled like a 4-year-old, gitty over his own decision to take to take the high road. Devote his days to sitting and breathing and slowly becoming part of the pleather screams.
“I fasting now…” Broken English came through — it was something African from what I could tell.
“You know Ramadan?”
The moment when you agree kicked in, that slight of hand, that percieved assumption and reaction. The “you know everything moment…” Why people do that, why do I do that? Its easy enough to admit defeat and take the slap of humility in the face. But know, we have to know, we have to be there, we have to had seen it, had lived it, had to see what anyone else likely saw. Don’t you punt that bullshit at me — of course I’ve seen it. Have-not I, haven’t I?
Mentally l’ll be telling myself while I gracefully acknowledge my evergrowing wisdom — please. Take the kick in the nuts and move on.
“I thought I did, it’s where you fast right?”
“Yes, 30 days, no food or water from 4am — 7pm. And we pray several times a day, its’s day 11. I lost 6 pounds so far.”
Impressive is an understatement. His eyes dropped above his glasses as he looked from his rearview mirror to make sure eye contact was made. The bullish grin, those pearly pills. Pensive and painless, he paused for my response. As every customer that day, and each of the 10 days before likely heard the same story — stowed in hot air that brushed under the seat cushions, along the paneling, underneath the floor mats that still had the. bad breath of the same voice of the voiceless.
Actually impressed, would I ever do the same willingly. Maybe, for my children, my wife, my family, maybe my 🐶, maybe…
“Yes, it’s long time.”
Shaking my head in false disbelief, 3 minutes pulsing in the foreground.
In his zipped up fashion, he was grabbing the slightly slower routes, one turn here, another there…just enough to leave me panting just enough to beg for a touch more.
“These builders, they don’t stop.”
The landscape blended into a haze of desert, and top hats sitting on 2x4's. He slowed to peer into the chapter a bit. Sunburns and cracked boots — the mud dripping into a frozen state as the clock moved Westward. Their dreams looked tired, sad, not the smiles of a useless chap in a rented wagon, peering into dreams that I am not often humble enough to understand. The moment took me to a past not far behind me, stowed away in a closet we all know too well.
I came back quickly…
“They certainly don’t…”
The air thickened, dashboard read 111. My eyes puckered. The orange emblem I’m so used to blurred my chronological thinking. My voice cracked as I lifted my jaw — but not before the black sauna stopped short, get up, get out, get on.
“See ya sir, have a good one.”
“You as well”
The door swung shut and smoke kissed my lips goodbye. and I exhaled aloud with nothing but regret. For not asking more, for not finding out the meaning between that hero I just met. A simple man with nothing flashy but his ripe religion and gurgling stomach. I thought of the conservative shiteheads that likely sat in this man’s carriage day after day. Judging his pitiless confusion for nothing but his tired days and bowed indifference.
I walked towards the door, and realized.
With a whisper.
“We’re not much different”
Written In an uber(s)