Tuesday, September 22, 2009
That Summer of ’76 had been the loneliest you had ever known. The months dragged along, and the days just got hotter and hotter, as you drifted from one theater to another searching...searching for the ghost of the girl who had overdosed in your bed earlier in the spring. Not able to find her, you mostly found yourself alone in scuzzy adult theaters during the day, because you got some odd comfort from being surrounded by all those other lonely men.
You occasionally made it into the night, and the first time you saw him was when he took you to a double bill of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Return of the Dragon. You knew his name was Travis cause you could see it on his taxi license in front of you, but you two barely exchanged a word as he drove you to the theater. You recognized him though as he was one of those other lonely men who haunted those films during the day. You almost mentioned the coincidence to him but, before you could, you were already on the street watching his cab drive away.
You saw him throughout the summer, as the days grew even longer and more painful. You had taken to popping as many pain pills as you could afford to buy on the street, and one night in a daze you almost stepped out in front of his taxi after seeing a Swedish import called Anita. Gone to the point of being out, you made your way hazily into the heat drenched night.
By the mid part of the summer you had mostly stopped going to the adult shows, as the faces of the men who sat close seemed to look more and more like yours. Not so surprisingly it was across the street from one of those porno houses where you saw Travis again, going in and quickly coming out with the most beautiful woman you had ever seen. You could see they were fighting as you made your way across the street towards them, away from the double shot of Bucktown and The Eiger Sanction you had just seen. As the beautiful blonde rushed away in a cab, Travis briefly glanced at you, with some recognition, but before you could say anything he was gone again into the sweat-soaked streets of the New York night.
You didn’t see Travis again for a couple of months but you had read about him. Ironically his meltdown, no matter how heroic the papers made it out to be, helped set you back on a better track. You were surprised to see him one last time when he picked you up again to take you to another downtown movie. The back of the cab smelled like sweet perfume and, at one point, you thought he grinned at you in his rearview mirror, but you decided that it was just your new found sobriety playing a trick on you.
You elected to skip a last stand at the porn house you both used to visit, and instead you had him stop at a place showing Rudy Ray Moore’s Dolemite. In need of a good laugh you felt like it was the perfect choice for the evening, which of course it was. Hopping out of the cab to pay, you were shocked when Travis reset the meter and said, “It’s on me brother, it’s on me.” Not having even a moment to thank him, you watched his cab drive down the street into the city. You stood and watched it until it was just two small red dots in the distance melting into yellow. You nodded silently to yourself, as you realized you would never see him again.