Web Site: David Grant
An excerpt from the novel "Corporate Porn".
an excerpt from Chapter Ten
On Mickey’s way back to the Plaza, the nametag hanging from the rearview mirror tells him his taxi driver is named Ahmad, the same name as the driver of the taxi he took to LAX. He even looks like the same guy. Of course, he’s wearing a turban, and Mickey can only see the back of his head. There’s no way to be positive, but it’s a pretty cool thought.
Ahmad looks back at Mickey and begins talking.
“Every day, there’s this lady I pick up…” Ahmad says.
“Yeah?” Mickey takes the bait.
“So every day, I pick her up, and she only goes a block.”
“Yeah?” Mickey stares at his finely manicured hands.
“So I ask her, I see you walking to the car, why don’t you just walk the block? I mean, really, it’s not worth her time, never mind my time. I mean, c’mon.”
“So about a week ago, I pick her up and drop her off one block away. I get a call, so I’m distracted, and I accidentally hit—I mean—bump her as she’s crossing the street. Now she walks the block. Funny, eh?”
“Yeah, dude. Funny.”
Ahmad collects Civil War pornography. Mickey takes another downer.
Mickey looks out the window and peers into the offices as they pass by. The modeling gig isn’t going to last forever, but he sure as hell isn’t going to end up in one of those buildings.
“I want to do something else,” Mickey says out loud.
Ahmad looks back, wondering what kind of drugs Mickey is on.
The dispatcher comes over the radio, drowning out the talk radio station, and begins yelling at Ahmad, because he was late picking up his last fare. “I’m sorry, Ahmad, but this is the third time. Consider this your last fare for our company.” Ahmad mumbles something under his breath. Mickey isn’t sure who Admad’s talking to, but he’s able to make out the words “fuckface” and “cocksucker.”
The rest is lost in his accent, but those two words: clear as fucking day. Ahmad glances at Mickey
through the rearview mirror (catching him checking out his hair). He shakes his head and grunts, so Mickey says, “Bummer, dude.”
Ahmad locks all the doors, rolls up the windows, and steps on the gas.
Not cool. Mickey tries to talk down Ahmad, who is driving like a maniac on FDR drive, going around turns that Mickey’s Porsche would have trouble handling.
“I cannot go on like this!” Ahmad screams.
Everyone has a plan until they get hit.
Mickey explains to him that he can work for another taxi company, and Ahmad tells him that this is the third company in the last month that he’s been fired from.
Mickey asks him to pull over and let him out, because he doesn’t want to get into an accident and have his face scarred. Ahmad says that he’s going to drive them both off the Brooklyn Bridge.
There’s a picture of Kip Winger on a “Back to the Eighties” issue of Rolling Stone wedged under the driver’s seat. Mickey hates to think this is the last thing he’ll see before he dies.
Ahmad is driving in the breakdown lane. He almost takes out a Ford Taurus that is overheating and then just misses a tractor trailer that’s changing lanes. Mickey can’t look. Instead, he stares back down at the magazine. In the upper right hand corner is a caption: “Was Garth Brooks serious when he created Chris Gaines?” Good question, man, but no one can answer right now.
Another sharp left turn out of the breakdown lane causes Mickey to hit his head against the window, messing up his hair, leaving a gel residue on the glass. Paul Harvey is telling the rest of the story on the radio. He’s talking about how kitchen appliances aren’t as safe as they used to be.
Paul Harvey doesn’t sit in the exit row.
They approach the Brooklyn Bridge. Ahmad is chanting something in Arabic or English. It’s hard to say. All Mickey can focus on is Kip Winger. For what it’s worth, he wishes he had Kip’s hair.
Halfway across the bridge, Mickey’s taken all his downers. He can see Ahmad gripping the wheel like he really may take a turn for the worse. Off the bridge.
It’s time to change. Mickey’s thoughts with his life on the line.
Mickey yells at Ahmad, telling him to stop, and at that moment, Ahmad slams on the brakes and pulls to the side, against the bridge. Ahmad turns up the radio and tells Mickey to quiet down, so he does.
The radio announcer is reading the daily lottery numbers, and Ahmad appears to be making checks on a piece of paper (maybe a lottery ticket) as the numbers are called. After the first five numbers, Ahmad puts up his right hand. His fingers are crossed. “Please let it be the number thirty.” The next number is thirty. Ahmad screams. It’s a scream of joy. Mickey hopes it’s a scream of joy. On the side of the bridge with traffic passing by on the left, pressed up against the bridge on the right, Ahmad
is screaming something about a winning lottery ticket. Ahmad holds the ticket up to the rearview mirror,
next to a pine tree deodorizer. Do all taxi drivers have the same new car scent pine tree deodorizer that has turned brown because it was bought years ago? It’s gotten to the point where it’s uncomfortable if a taxi doesn’t have one of these.
“How much did you win?” Mickey asks Ahmad, just trying to make conversation, sounding a little freaked out.
“Thirty-five? That’s cool, man. See? Fuck this taxi. You don’t need it; you’ve got thirty-five grand right there. Cool.”
“No…” says Ahmad.
“What?” Mickey hopes this doesn’t mean he’s going to take both of them and the ticket off the bridge.
“Thirty-five million,” says Ahmad. “You have been very good to me, my friend.”
The next five minutes are a blur for Mickey, but here’s the gist of it: Ahmad repeats the amount five times, Mickey says “No way, man” six times, Ahmad calls someone and speaks Arabic to them, confirms the numbers, and then he reaches into the back seat and grabs Mickey’s arm in a strange, friendly sort of way.
“Let us go to Paris,” says Ahmad.
“Say what, dude?” Mickey definitely doesn’t understand his accent. “I thought you just said ‘Let’s go to Paris.’”
“Yes, my friend. Let’s go. I don’t know anyone in this country. Will you go? Just for the night?”
Fucked up on downers, this sounds like a good idea to Mickey. He agrees to go for the night. After all, Mickey knows agency-type people there.
“Man, I feel mentally raped. Cool.”
And they’re headed to the airport.
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|Reviewed by Candace Ho
|Wow! I really thought he would take it over the bridge! What an enthralling story!|
|Reviewed by John Burns
|Great lead-in. Want to know more about these two. Refreshing up beat style.|
|Reviewed by CJ Heck
|Excellent! You had me from the first word ... more, more, more.