Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hempstead Taxi

The cab was purple.  It was a purple compact wagon, some small Chevy model.  Her thermal jumpsuit was that shade of dark blue, like the color of a mechanic's work clothes.  What's that brand?


It was Dickies blue.

I remember the car and the jumpsuit but I can't remember her face.  I remember she wasn't beautiful but I do remember she had that Dickies blue jumpsuit.


The driver.

Not many female cab drivers in Hempstead back then and maybe not anywhere but Hempstead was a tough town and not really safe for men or women.  Motherfuckers would rob you for a 70 cent pack of smokes or pocket change.  They just didn't give a fuck!  It's like it wasn't even about what came out of your pockets as long as something came out of your pocket and into theirs.  I wouldn't exactly call it the thrill of the chase but it was definitely a power thing, and if you were lucky you wouldn't catch a beat-down for the audacity to have something in your pockets to begin with.


Back to her.  I don't remember her face and I sure don't remember her name but I remember she smoked Benson & Hedges Menthol 100s.  The memory is funny as shit that way.  It was shitty cold and gray and snowing off and on for a couple days.  I was on the run and hoping to score a place to crash in the student apartments near Hofstra where I was no longer a student.  I had a backpack and a sleeping bag and a couple hundred bucks to last until... whenever.  But it was cold and I was going to blow a few bucks on the cab.  So a female driver but it was probably to cold for even the crackheads to be out cracking heads and she could probably handle herself anyway.

All the cabs in Hempstead were shared back then.  No Uber or Lyft or whatnot.  You all crammed into these little purple compacts and got dropped off here and there.  I was cold and annoyed and sad as hell, probably over some girl, but I started cracking jokes just to hear my own voice.  The other passengers were entirely uninterested but Dickies Blue Jumpsuit came to life and laughed so what the fuck... I kept it up.  We started chatting while she drove through West Hempstead and Garden City and Hempstead dropping the drips at their respective homes.  There was a wet snow falling and the wipers were pushing dirt back and forth.

Everyone called me Greg back then.  God knows why I got MacGregor and people always made a big fucking deal over it though I felt no real connection to the history and heritage, and then they decided to call me Greg.  Greg Brady, blah blah blah.  I introduced myself to Her as MacGregor though for some reason.  Anonymity?  That's what I seem to remember and that's kind of funny.  She instantly shortened it to Mack.

Mack, you pretty funny.  I like you.  You cool if you don't mind me sayin' so but you cool for a white dude.


And it felt good to be cool for a white dude.  Hey, don't judge.  It was 1983 or so and Long Island was more segregated than most places so it's not like conversations between people of different colors even happened often except for the how may I help you today interactions.  We were having some laughs and talking about music and when I was the last passenger she asked if I minded if she smoked.  No I didn't at all and may I also yah man, why not?  A flask appeared from inside the Dickies Blue Jumpsuit and she said don't worry and took a pull off it and offered it to me, and of course I accepted.  It was sweet brandy and burned and warmed and washed out the cigarette fug and it felt really fucking good.  It was a slow, careful ride back towards the campus area and we talked more and laughed and she turned up the stereo.  It was whatever the soul music du jour was and it worked.

When we got near my drop-off she said again.  You know what, Mack?  I'm enjoying this.  You wanna ride around with me for a while?  I was a little scared, I have to admit but I had fuck all else to do and I was more scared of being alone so I accepted the offer.

You gotta git in the front seat though.  Don't worry Mister Mack.  I don't bite.  And she laughed with her head back and hung a u-turn in the Hempstead Turnpike and we lit back to the station to pick up more customers.  And that's how we spent the afternoon and who the fuck knows what people thought piling in and out of the cab listening to us carry on in the front.  It wasn't just a question of the black and white thing, though you really didn't see a lot of that back then.  Not anywhere, even in New York City.  People just didn't do it.  When it came up in conversation even the most liberal people would say the same damn thing.

It's got to be hard on the kids.

I never knew what that meant exactly but that's what everyone said.  Every single, fucking time.

It's got to be hard on the kids.

And this woman and I were just talking, but we were really getting on like old pals.  We'd pick up a load and swing around in the snow dropping them off and then head back in, smoking butts and every so often taking a nip off the flask.  We did stop at the liquor store by the bus station and she waited while I ran in and got another bottle.  After a while it started to get dark and she turned to me.

Hey Mack.  You wanna hang out?

Yah, I do.

And I did and I didn't.  She was older.  I didn't find her attractive really, granted she was dressed like a dude.  It was hard to say what she looked like really beneath all that.  What I could see was her face and her neck and they were dark brown and shiny.  She was Grace Jones black and her skin was really beautiful and her voice was warm and friendly and I remember thinking is she going to want to fuck and will I fuck her and what the fuck nobody knows where I am and what if she lives in one of those fucked up buildings like over on Terrace Avenue where the pizza places and UPS don't even deliver.

Yah, I do.

Awww Mack.  I like you.  You really makin' me laugh.  I like you.

And be damned I don't know if I remembered her name at that moment or if she even ever told me.

I like you too.

She lived over off Clinton, in a small frame house.  It looked neatly kept but it's hard to say.  Everything in Hempstead looked filthy in the gray and snow and now dusk.  I could see the top of the water tower over the houses.  I'd lived over there a while before but left because the young guys in the area were fond of chasing white kids from the college for fun.  It's just the way things were.  I didn't realize when she got out of the car that she was about my height and was a bit taken aback and she said come on in, Mack and we'll get something hot to drink.  She was very quick to tell me to take my boots off and "don't track no shit through the house" so I did.

Sit down while I take this shit off.  I sat in a chair in the front room and watched as she stripped off the Dickies Blue Jumpsuit and boots.  Underneath she was wearing a tight sweatshirt and tight jeans, those jeans that are all embroidered on the back pockets like designer jeans which were everything at the time, but no designer you ever heard of.  She was really tall and lanky.  She took the state trooper gomer pyle hat off and revealed a short afro.  She was not pretty.  Nice shape.  Round in the right places.  But not pretty.  The smile was so fucking friendly and warm though with full lips still hanging on to some lipstick and a space between her front teeth.

She had pretty hands.  I'd never looked at hands before really, but she had pretty hands.  Long, graceful fingers and she sat on a sofa and pulled out a smoke with her long, graceful fingers, and asked me to light it for her, and I did.

You got any reefers, Mack?

Of a certain age.  Reefers.  That's what people over a certain age called weed.

It's okay if you don't.  I got some.  You smoke?

I'd actually quit at the time.  Mostly.  I said yes.  She got a couple glasses from the kitchen and a bottle of Seagram 7.

So here we are, Mack.  What you wanna do.

Let's smoke.  Let's get to know each other.  I was trying to be smooth now.  It was obvious what was happening now, or at least soon.  There was no other reason to be there and I had no idea why it was me but there I was.  It just worked out for us that way.  There was some old movie on the console television but the sound was down and the radio was on.

Awww Mack.  You wanna dance with me?  She got up and pulled me by my hands out of the chair.  She reached down and took my hands with those long, graceful fingers and pulled me up.  I sure as hell didn't want to dance.  It's funny that you can want to fuck but be terrified of dancing.  I had danced before but never with someone my own height.  She pulled me close.

Put your arms around me, Mack.  She pulled me close and swayed against me, her face the same level as mine, and just a few inches away.  She wasn't really attractive but I was attracted and I wanted the dancing to end so I moved in for a kiss but she told me to slow down and let it happen.  She kissed me quickly when the song ended and we sat down and drank more and smoked more and laughed and talked.

I like you, Mack.  You really funny, and you cute for a white boy.  I hope you don't mind me sayin' that but a lotta white boys just.... you know.

The distance between us on the sofa seemed to have gotten smaller and we were leaned back on the cushions facing each other.  Faces close.  This time she leaned in and pressed her mouth against mine.  Her lips were full and soft and it didn't take but a minute to be in a full on make-out grope.  She swung her leg over and sat in my lap facing me.  She pushed me back and kissed me hard, moving her hips against me.  I don't know how long that went on but at some point she stood up and peeled off the sweatshirt and the jeans came down.  I don't know if I'd ever seen a black woman naked before that.  I think I had but it seemed very new.  I remember her skin was very smooth and beautiful.

You mind if I suck your dick, Mack?

No, I would like that.

And she did.  She pushed back the coffee table and knelt on the carpet in front of me and took it in her mouth and went slow and deep.  I remember letting out a sound and maybe I was wasted, or not, but it took me a second to realize that the sound came from me.  After a bit she moved up and straddled me again and reaching between her legs, guided me home.  Rubbers?  Shit.  I'd heard of them.  It probably wouldn't have occurred to me.  Maybe sober, but probably not.  She guided me in though and it was wonderful and felt perfect and she pressed her whole body against me.

You ain't gonna get all funny if I try to kiss you now after suckin' your dick, right?

Uh uh.  No.

And it was the best kiss I'd ever had in my life up to that point.  Maybe I just needed it more than ever right then and there, all lonely and mostly broke and not knowing where the fuck I was going to end up.  She kissed me and it was even better than anything else we were doing.

I remember how long and lean and tight her body was.  I remember running my hands down her back from her shoulders to where her waist curved in and then back out toward her hips and buttocks.  Round in the right places.  I did it again and again and again.  The palms of my hands and my fingertips were tingling.  She had her fingers wound into my hair and kept kissing me.

What was it that felt so fucking good?  I don't brag about this shit but I'd been laid an awful lot but...

But what?

Maybe I never needed it so bad.

I remember my heart beating so hard.  I remember finally resting my hands on the small of her back at the top of her ass and pulling her down onto me roughly.  I remember trying to get as much of my body pressed against her as possible.  As much contact head to toe as I could get.  I don't really remember moving to the bedroom but we spent the night there and did pretty much everything a man and a woman can do to each other or with each other.

You gonna stay with me tonight, Mack.

It wasn't a question.

And I did.

In the morning we fucked once more and maybe I'm weird but to this day I hate to use the word fuck when I remember that day.  We had cigarettes and instant coffee for breakfast and she drove me back towards the campus and outside she leaned over and kissed me.  I remember it was just lips.

You fun, Mack.  Thank you.

And that was that.  I may never sort out what it is that makes this one stand out.  I don't talk so much about sexual exploits but I can't suss what made this one seem like... not an exploit.

But that was that.

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