At the top of a hill, the lane next to the taxi was moving in a steady stream. The taxi waited, twenty cars away from the light in the left-hand turn, waiting for a covered green. In the taxi, Jason turned to look looked at the cars flowing by. His thinking entered into that momentary disorientation that happens when you look at a moving and stationary object simultaneously. He didn’t say it, would he, he couldn’t know without saying something, or would that send the cabbie into rage like the one yesterday? Jason would be late though, and they would say ‘you’re always late’. He hates that but slightly less than sitting in a cab that’s going to be late and not making a suggestion he knows without doubt would make them early.
Jason’s thought had to, so it did get out, “you know, it’s a lot faster if you go straight here and turn left up at El Dorado a couple blocks because,”
“But you can get stuck right there in this intersection if someone crosses the street. That’s why I didn’t go that way.”
That’s true. But how many people walk in LA? He didn’t say it.
“You’re the boss, man, I’ll go straight, no problem.”
“It’s your call, really. I’m always open to new ways of getting around to avoid jams, which you guys always how to do.”
Jason stared and tried to focus on the poster behind the passenger seat in front of him of local restaurants in Silverlake and Los Feliz near downtown. The driver wasn’t unfriendly, assertive maybe. However, the exchange was enough to make Jason’s neck automatically go into spasms–side effects of chemotherapy on the brain’s command center. Then the neck and the shoulders started.
The cab reactivated Jasons’ authoritative personality and his prowess as a fine driver, professionally trained, to race cars and motorcycles for the fun of it. Driving performance was something Jason had taken for granted until illness made him dependent on other drivers and taxis. Come to think of it, though, taxis might not be the place where he is most uncomfortable.
He thought about the joke with his wife, that the worst part of the chemo sessions (even the surgeries to get tumors out of the neck and the hips) wasn’t the feeling of black substrate moving in his veins instead of nourishing red blood. (That river of void.) The worst thing was dealing with his father’s driving, that lurching tank plodding out of Cedars-Sinai. That broke all records. They had to break the arrangement made when Jason was twenty-four, that Jason would always drive, to avoid disastrous clashes. Dad, according to Jason, used the brakes more than the gas, and created dangerous situations—which wasn’t true.