June of 1977. It was three in the morning and the Miami air was thick with heat and humidity. Brian was a 27 year old University of Miami law student. He had a wife and baby at home. To pay the bills, along with going to school, he also drove a taxi full time. He would sleep for about 4 hours a day and do his school work on the taxi's steering wheel between calls. At the end of his shift he would drive to U.M.’s parking lot and sleep for 45 minutes before classes started.
Brian was particularly drained tonight, having completed a final exam earlier that day. He finished the last of his Cuban coffee and tossed the empty cup into the trash can sitting next to his parked cab. Next he pulled a pack of Kool’s from his shirt pocket and lit a cigarette.
As he was seated in his cab on a quiet street studying, the dispatcher came on the radio.
“Number 47,” she said, “I need you to head on over to 900 West avenue in Miami Beach, single passenger.”
Ten minutes later he was pulling up in front of a non-descript bar at the corner of 9th street and West avenue. A man that was half slumped over a bus bench suddenly sat up and drunkenly trotted over to the cab.
“You for me?” the man asked.
“I guess I am,” Brian said.
The man got into the cab and slumped against the back seat.
“Where to?” Brian said to his fare.
“Corner of 36th street and 49th avenue,” he said. “Hey you mind if I borrow a cigarette.”
Brian reached between the front seat to hand the man a cigarette. There was no barrier of separation between the driver and the fare in those days.
“Thanks,” he man said as he blew smoke against his closed window.
Brian didn’t really pay much attention to his fare or even to the rest of the drive. Mostly he thought of the final exam that he was to take at 7:00 am after he got off work. As he approached the intersection of 36th street and 49th avenue he turned to his fare.
“Any corner in particular?” he asked.
Like a flash the man had his body halfway through the two front seats waving a gun in Brian’s face.
“Give me the money,” the man screamed. He was sweating profusely and as he spoke spit flew from his lips.
This was not the first time Brian had had a gun pointed at him. He had been robbed before. Twice.
Brian's body was in motion before his brain could fully understand the implications of what he was doing. He grabbed the gun from the man in a single motion. Later, he would reflect on what a stupid decision this was since he could have easily been shot.
Gun in hand, Brian reached backwards over the seat as the man was pulling back apparently still trying to fathom how he no longer had the gun in his hands. Brian grabbed a fist full of hair on the back of the man’s head and pulled. He pulled the man through the middle of the two front seats and proceeded to smash the man’s face as hard as he could into the meter. The man’s nose exploded spraying blood all over the dashboard and meter. Brian pulled him back by his hair again and again, repeatedly smashing the man’s face into the taxi’s meter, two, three, four times. On the fourth time the attempted robber’s mouth must have hit the meter because there was a crunch and several fragments of what appeared to be teeth started to fall from the man’s mouth along with a torrent of blood.
Finally, Brian stopped. The would-be robber's face was red and drenched with sweat and blood. His eyes were wide with fear that he had finally found someone who would kill him for his actions. Brian took the gun and rammed the barrel into the man’s mouth. More splinters of teeth fell as the gun broke them. He cocked the gun, and then he spoke seven words, although his breath was labored from the sudden physical exertion and the surge of adrenaline he spoke calmly and was very to the point.
“No,” Brian said, “You’re gonna pay the fuckin’ fare.”
Movie Line of the Day:
"I'm standing here; you make the move. You make the move. It's your move..." -Taxi Driver
Copyright (c) 2008 http://crudeandfeckless.blogspot.com/ by Kevin McDonald