A Thin Place
The cabbie’s filibuster causes Gus’ stomach to sizzle. Gus marinates in midtown traffic that is as blocked as his oxycodone-addled bowels. The a/c in the ancient yellow Crown Vic wheezes summer’s fetid fumes, and sweat slimes Gus’ shirt like a sloppy Polident kiss.
The cabbie points at a tired old building sheathed in a sidewalk shed. ‘If this is your property,’ he says, ‘I will tell you how to make money.’
Gus seethes, yet says nothing.
‘One,’ the cabbie enthuses, his head turned to face Gus. ‘Divide it into studios and sell them to artists.’
Gus wants to cry. ‘Two,’ the cabbie says, as he slams on his brakes to avoid a bike messenger. ‘Make it a titty bar. Everyone loves titties.’
Through the nicotine-yellowed divider, Gus reads the cabbie’s license, notices the on-off flicker of the orange ‘check engine’ light, and glances at his watch for the tenth time in two minutes.
‘Three,’ the cabbie continues, holding up three fingers for emphasis.
‘C’mon, man!’ Gus whines. ‘Let’s go! I’m late!’
‘My friend!’ the cabbie snaps. ‘Your President Bush is in town for United Nations General Assembly meeting. You may wish to walk to your destination.’
Gus pulls a crumpled twenty from his slacks, stuffs it through the partition slot, and opens the backseat door even as the cab rolls forward.
‘Bous tize!’ the cabbie swears in Arabic as Gus limps to the two train. ‘Ahmak!’ Kiss ...
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