• Sam Palmer

Fare

Updated: May 19, 2021






**Legend has it that there is a taxi cab that doesn't take you where you want to go, but where you NEED to go...**



"Dinner tomorrow? My treat! I'm only in town for a few days and would love to catch up with you two! Let me know."



I read the text again, then set my phone down and started applying my lipstick. Still so strange to think that she was here. My mother. Thanks to Michael, I'd finally be meeting her. Not many men would go through the trouble he had to find her. I think he did it because of our wedding coming up. I'm sure he thought I was sad at the idea of not having her there for me on my big day. And, truthfully, the thought had flashed in my mind once or twice. But I had spent my whole life missing out on those "mom" moments, I was fully prepared to go this one alone too. Michael, with the best of intentions, decided otherwise.



He had spent months tracking her down and corresponding with her before I ever even knew. "I'd wanted to be sure she deserved to know you," he said sweetly as he reached for my hand after telling me the news over dinner. I listened carefully as he explained the phone calls, emails, and eventually in person meetings they'd had. She had sent him with pictures of herself to give to me, and I held the photographs as if they were made of glass while I rifled through them. The first few were of her much younger, probably shortly after she left us. She was beautiful. Happy. One at a lake with her friends. One of her kayaking with a dog behind her, both beaming at the camera. I looked so like her. The big brown eyes, the freckles. Even the crinkle above our nose when we smiled. Michael told me she was lovelier in person. Kind. Funny. Smart. "She reminds me so much of you," he'd said. He assured me it was entirely up to me, and they would both respect whatever I decided. But I could tell he really wanted me to meet her, and after all that he'd done to make it happen I couldn't disappoint him. So I agreed to dinner this weekend, and I'd been dreading it all week long.


Don't think about that right now, I told myself. I don't have to worry about that until tomorrow. Tonight I was going to let off some steam. Michael was working late so he would be available for dinner tomorrow. So, I'd hit up a girlfriend of mine and made plans for dinner, drinks and dancing tonight. Exactly what I needed. My phone alerted me that the cab was downstairs. Throwing my phone and lipstick into my clutch, I zipped it up and darted out the door. The cool night air hit my bare legs, and I felt the goosebumps rise as I approached the cab. It was old. Like really old. I felt my mouth turn downward with a grimace as I reached for the chipped handle of the door. It let out a loud creak as if pleading to be put out of its misery. I leaned down to get a peak at the driver, who merely cocked his head to the side but otherwise paid me no mind. It smelled like stale coffee and cigarettes, but otherwise appeared clean. I was in too much of a hurry to wait for another cab so I plopped down on the cracked leather seat and closed the door behind me. I rattled off the address and then felt my phone vibrate in my clutch. I pulled it out and saw a text from Michael "Have fun tonight, babe ❤️ I'll call you in the morning. I love you." I smiled and was about to respond when I became aware that the taxi still hadn't pulled away. I looked up and saw the cabby focused on his radio as he spun the dial furiously with thick gnarled fingers. No stations appeared to be picking up, and he was only achieving different pitches of static with every turn of the knob.


I cleared my throat and used my sweetest voice "Sir, I'm sorry, I'm just sort of in a hurry."


He grunted, never taking his eyes off of the radio. "You all are." The radio clicked and music started playing throughout the cab. "Ahhh there we are," he smiled, grabbing the lever behind the steering wheel and throwing the old car into drive.


"I love you too babe ❤️ Don't work too hard," I typed before returning my phone to my bag. I really was so lucky to have Michael. I let my eyes lose focus and stared blankly out of the dingy taxi windows. The music playing was a sad violin. Well, I was no music connoisseur but it sounded sad to me. Sad but also... excited? I smiled to myself. Don't quit your day job, kid. No chance of being a music critic anytime soon. I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the cool window, letting the violin swirl around me. The notes were long and sad, then suddenly would pick up and become quite innocent and playful, then switch back to lower pitches. Sexy and slow at first, then faster and more mysterious and wicked. I might have to start listening to more classical music, I quite liked this.


I felt my stomach growl and realized how hungry I was. I opened my eyes just in time to see one of our favorite restaurants, Francesca's. Just the cutest little hole in the wall place down the street from Michael's, and their breadsticks were to die for! I could definitely go for some breadsticks right now. But hold on, what are we doing on this side of town? The restaurant I'm meeting my girlfriend at is in the opposite direction. Oh no.. we're going the wrong way.


"Sir, I think we're going the wrong way" I said, but he gave no sign of hearing me. I leaned forward "Sir?" Still nothing, he just kept tapping his finger along to the violin. I looked out of the windows again, and now realized we were not only in Michael's neighborhood but on his street. What the hell was going on here?


"Sir!" I said louder, feeling my temper rising with my uneasiness. The music seemed to grow louder and more fast paced, I could feel the vibrations in my chest. The cab began to slow and then came to a complete stop, along with the music, in front of Michael's house. My chest was rising and falling with my panicked breaths and I stared at the cabby who continued looking straight ahead. I leaned over and looked up to see all of the windows in the house illuminated. Thank God, he's home. "How much do I owe you?" my voice flat, no hint of sweetness, as I opened my wallet.

"Nothing." The gravel in his voice showing no emotion. "I hope your night gets better," he peered over his shoulder, our eyes locking for a moment, before he returned to staring out the windshield.


My uneasiness shot up another level and I hurried out of the cab and onto the sidewalk safely. The door slammed behind me and I turned quickly to see the cab already pulling away. I fought the urge to flip him off as he disappeared down the street. I called tried calling Michael but got his voicemail. I pulled out my keys approaching the door. I'll call for another taxi from inside, and tell Michael all about this total weirdo cabby.


I slid the key into the lock, and paused as I realized music was coming from the other side. And voices. My heart jumped to my throat as I realized it was a woman's voice I was hearing. I felt the sweat on my palms start to bead as I quickly identified the sounds of moaning, screaming, and body against body. No. No. No. My heart raced as I quickly turned the key in the lock, not bothering to close the door behind me and started down the long hallway. The tears burned my cheeks as they made their way down my face. I entered the dimly lit room, and saw the back of Michael's head on the couch. A woman straddling him, enthusiastically rising and falling with each thrust. She was sweaty, eyes closed and lips parted letting out moan after moan. I froze and watched as Michael reached forward, pulling her closer and forcing her harder down onto him. She grew louder with each movement and I watched as she arched her back and let out her victory cry of climax. She waited and then leaned forward and smiled, eyes still closed. There it was. The crinkle above her nose. The tears poured hot and heavy from my chin, as I stood there frozen, lips trembling as the word leapt from behind my teeth. "Mom?"


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