Long Gone Alley

After midnight in the taxi business is a tough slog, especially weeknights. The phones stop ringing and the drivers are on their own. Fishing for fares as mass transit scales back and the bars start to close.
 
Eddie’s crew mates at the cab company often bragged about stealing fares and shaking down drunks. Galaxy Taxi had a rep for hiring crooks and other boys next door. Eddie remained on the make, but hasn’t robbed anybody.
 
Eddie’s in the game for something else. Sure, he needs the pay stub to keep the parole sergeant off his ass and the money portion for everything else. 
 
Eddie’s out to balance the books with a certain outlaw. Eddie hasn’t found him yet, but the mission marches on. Pounding the strips from darkness to dawn. Shift after shift, until the sun sneaks up and the dispatcher calls him back to base. 
 
A quiet night when a guy in a sharkskin suit flagged Eddie’s taxi cab. Eddie pulled over and the man got in. The destination’s a topless bar, a few exits off the freeway.
 
“Twenty bucks, and it’s up front,” Eddie told him. He’ll pocket the fare and doesn’t call it in. 
“Don’t stare at me like that,” the Shitbird said, as they eyeballed one another through the rearview mirror. 
“I’m not lookin’ for trouble,” Eddie said. 
“Damn straight. I’ll pull out my 9 an’ cap your ass,” Shitbird told Eddie. 
 
Tough guy slipped Eddie the twenty and off they went. Part of Eddie wanted to pull over and light him up. Shitbird looked like he could use it. The punk also reminded Eddie of the past and his mission. Since he wasn’t sure, Eddie continued to scope this joker out. Was Eddie’s mind playing tricks?
 
A mile in, Eddie’s positive. Shitbird’s the one who shanked him in prison. The posse pinned Eddie down as king animal gaffed Eddie’s neck. 
 
Following emergency surgery, the dungeon brass showed up at the hospital to talk about pressing charges. Eddie declined, giving Shirtbird a pass. Eddie’s pastor and therapist urged him to move on and let it go. Eddie told them what they wanted to hear, vowing to settle matters on the street. 
 
Years in the making, the showdown arrived. Eddie feared his bitter temper might explode on the freeway, twisting things haywire. Instead, he punched the gas for a dark corner, bypassing the entrance ramp. 
 
Hugging the turn, Eddie locked the brakes and let the cab skid to a halt beneath the overpass. The sudden stop launched the punk like a missile, smacking the partition with his noggin. He cursed Eddie’s bizarre antics, tumbling into the well with a buzzing headache.
 
Eddie sprang from the driver’s seat and circled the cab for the passenger quarters. In moments, Eddie was through the rear door and swinging a slapjack. The weapon struck Shitbird’s block, dazing his mind even more. Eddie reached down and grabbed the frozen bum, airlifting him from the back seat. 
 
Outside the taxi, Eddie turned and shoved him across the walk. Arms flailing like a wounded duck, stumbling for a pitch-black alley. Eddie felt charged. The adrenalin gushed and he went turbo, unleashing his vengeance. 
 
Atop the pissant, years of pent up rage blacked Eddie out. Pelting away with all the power the slapjack could fire. Whap, whap, whap. Eddie lost track of how many times he hammered the bastard. Between the sore arm and high voltage, Eddie went numb from bombing this dog to hell. 
 
Eddie returned to the cab, knowing he fixed this bastard good. It took awhile, but he finally reached the rainbow’s edge. That place he promised himself to travel, way back in recovery.
 
Two days later, Eddie ran into Shitbird again. At the counter of the diner, reading a newspaper while waiting on his order. The article spoke about a grisly discovery beneath a freeway overpass. Lying in the sewer plants, a black and blue bandit with a bashed skull, mottled bones, and ghoulish complexion.
 
Badge horned in and boxed the place with caper tape. A blinking machine hustled off remains. His family barked, the pirates declared war, while the fuzz promised a full investigation. 
 
A flimsy charade by the city’s finest. Outside his posse and baby mamas, nobody gave a hoot about this guy. Crammed in the sharkskin, the cops fetched a grab bag. Pouches of X, a hot Glock, and missing jewelry from assault victims. 
 
The police knew a thousand guy’s could have pulled this stunt. Once they envisioned that leg work, they shut the case. Not about to let this firebird cause more trouble than he’s worth, even from the grave. Speaking of which, the men at the cemetery carved another alley for Shitbird, bleaker than the one he crash-landed. 
 
Eddie reread the article a dozen times. No physical descriptions or any mention of a taxi cab. The paper called it a gangland slaying, vaulting Eddie further in the clear while washing away his sins. Ahead in the game, Eddie skipped out on Galaxy Taxi and left the revenge business for good.