Caution: Adult themes ahead…

2000px-Parental_Advisory_label.svg

Well, I did it.

I wrote and published something on Amazon for sale to the general public.

I took the leap.

All of the years of procrastination, the fear of rejection, the worry…

I decided to chuck it all.

Caution has been dispatched without ceremony.

And now, I prepare myself for the results.  Success and reward or folly and failure.

The die has been cast.

But all of this with a twist.

The genre which finally allowed me to break the barrier is, shall we say, of an ADULT nature.

So needless to say, this is not Shakespeare, nor Hemingway… not even Danielle Steele.

But it’s mine.  And my hope is that it leads to more.

Self-control did get the better of me.  It’s written under a pen name to shield my personal and professional connections.

So this is no flack advertisement.  No link included for you to follow in order to purchase this torrid tome.

If you want to read it bad enough, most of you know how to contact me.  I’ll send you a link and your purchase stays forever in the vault of my discretion.

It’s certainly a side of me that very few people know existed.

But damn, does it feel good.

I’m more relieved than anything, to be honest.  And someone has already been kind enough to purchase it.

One sale down, hopefully many more to come.

My irresolution was fulfilled before the end of the second month of the year.

So I listened to “Raise Your Glass” as I put the final touches on it and pushed “Publish” and these lyrics played out as the mouse button clicked:

So raise your glass if you are wrong,
In all the right ways,
All my underdogs,
We will never be never be, anything but loud
And nitty gritty, dirty little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,
Just come on and come on and raise your glass.

Finally, after all the years that my words never produced a penny, I am beginning the journey to if not producing an income, at least supplementing my income.

It was time to raise my glass.

And for the bravery to put my words out to the masses, whatever source that came from;

I thank you.

I thank you.

This spring, my hope be eternal.  And to quote the Shawshank Redemption

Hope is a good thing.  Maybe the best of things.

So raise your glasses, and join me in a virtual smashing of the champagne bottle across the bow of my writing career.

The horizon’s clear and seas are calm for now.

 

Taxicab Confidential Part Deux: An indecent proposal…oh, and cocaine

When one grows up in the ‘burbs, you tend to be sheltered from the seedy, murkier parts of life. As I’ve grown older, not only have I seen firsthand those parts of life but I’ve been a part of them a time or two.

We’re all big people here, right? Can you handle a little rawness? I certainly hope so. If not, feel free to click out of this and go find some cute kitten videos on YouTube. Please. No hard feelings if you do.

The sex industry in St. Louis is alive and well, I am happy to report.

I had the pleasure of safely and professionally chauffeuring some lovely women to work at the Gentlemen’s establishments on the East Side.

On more than one occasion, I transported working girls to and from their “date’s” hotel.

They were mostly friendly and polite. And great tippers.

Ya hear that men? Don’t be stingy with the tips for the ladies, because they treat other tipped employees right.

I remember quite vividly one working girl. Fresh-faced. Girl-next-door. Right down to the freckles on her nose. I was picking her up at a hotel and she sort of dropped herself onto the backseat.

Bad night? I asked.

“Stupid Craigslist johns.” Was all she said.

We drove in silence for a while. She asked if she could smoke in the car. Technically we weren’t supposed to let them, but I told her to go ahead and make sure the window was cracked a bit for some fresh air.

Hopefully your next gig will be better. I purposely left the comment open and non-judgmental.

She proceeded to tell me that she had a kid at home with her parents. She had a couple of dates lined up for the next day. She only worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She made enough cash (usually) that made a straight job’s paycheck pale. The rest of her week was devoted to her kid.

I admired her for that. Keeping her toddler in diapers and food and a roof over their head. That’s real life, folks. You do what you have to in this world to make it work.

I kidded with her, telling her that her job sounded a lot better than mine, and more fun. But nobody would pay a middle-aged fat guy for that kind of service.

You’re not THAT fat, she chided me. And believe me, I know several women who would pay for a No-Strings night with a funny, clean, non-psycho guy without worrying about her hair, makeup etc.

I laughed and told her I would call her when I decided to switch careers.

But dammit, I never got her number.

A week or so later, I picked up one of my regulars from a dive bar in SoCo. She was a good customer. She was a decent-looking, chubby redhead. Recently broken up. She was whining about the lack of decent men there that night (personally, I wouldn’t look for decent ANYTHING at this bar, but I digress) and how she really needed to get laid.

Then inspiration apparently struck her. She was toasted, but managed to get herself into a forward sitting position (the better to display her cleavage with) and asked:

So how’s your night going? Busy?

I allowed that it was pretty slow.

How much would you charge?

For??? (I’m good at playing dumb)

A drunken grin. “A little fun.”

Have you ever had that hot drop of fear in your stomach? When a little flirt just turned on you and now you had your hands full? Yeah. That was this.

I played it off.

Sweetie, if you are gonna pay for it, you should at least get a young, good-looking guy with six pack abs who can go all night.

Yeah, she said. And he’ll knock me in the head and steal my shit. C’mon. I’ll give you 50.

50. I wasn’t sure if I should be grateful or insulted. But on nights when taxi calls are sparse and you are staring down the end of 12 hours behind the wheel with no money in your pocket, 50 means the difference between making money or being in the red.

I thought about it. Briefly. But my wife might frown on my being a paid sex toy for drunken females. Call it a hunch.

As I walked her to her door (she couldn’t have walked there on her own) I told her no, and that she would thank me for it the next time.

But there were plenty of no/slow business nights that might make a man re-consider.

The next time I drove her, I detected just a little bit of embarrassment. I joked with her just like nothing had happened. Because really nothing did. She seemed relieved. She didn’t thank me verbally, but I’m sure she did in her mind.

One of the last days that I drove, I picked up a stunning dark-skinned young woman in a barely there painted-on mini-dress.

Did I saw stunning? I mean red. frickin’. hot. Hot enough to make even the most die-hard Klansman want to jump ship and hang up the mask.

Sunday afternoon. 2pm. She is still baked from partying all night. I don’t mind. The scenery was nice.

She purred. Baby, how much this ride gonna cost me?

I promised not to charge her a cent more than the meter said.

She hiked up her skirt. “Do you think we can work something out now?”

I told her that she was looking at a 35 or 40 dollar ride. I’d max it at forty, so she didn’t have to worry about it.

She pulled the skirt back down to a more modest range. But modesty in a mini-dress is relative. She was still showing more than most women would be comfortable with.

Thanks baby, she said. Let me give your tip now.

Up from between the seats comes her elegantly curved pinky nail. With an amazingly large pile of cocaine on it.

A fatty bump, just for you baby. And a little extra. Eyes and smile big. A generous dusting of white powder on her exposed chest (probably not accidental).

Now, there’s no bigger fan of hot women than I, but I was fairly sure that taking cocaine from this gorgeous creature was covered in some sub-paragraph of the famous mother admonition of not taking candy from strangers.

I decline politely. Naw, baby. I’m cool. You go ahead and enjoy.

She was shocked. “I only buy the best shit, baby. This is good shit.”

I’m sure it is, baby. You got a good thing going. Enjoy.

So she did. And then her nose started pouring snot. And the emotional trainwreck of her life screeched into the station.

A hell-broth of tears, mucus and makeup quickly converted her face from stone fox to hot mess in a matter of minutes.

I dropped her off at the motel by the airport. You see this motel on the news from time to time.

A beautiful disaster. Staggering on stilettos into a weekly-rate motel. Looking like a bad mugshot come to life.

A fine way to wrap up my cabdriving career.

Taxicab Confidential aka The Devil in the Backseat

Babes, barf, bullets…

3 words that summarize the gig of taxi driving.

Some of you know that a few years ago (during a mini-retirement) I was in need of income, and the best laid plans that I had amounted to diddly. Jobs were damn hard to come by, so I sucked it up and got behind the wheel of Taxi #638 for 9 months or so…

And my oh my, it was a crazy, dirty, dangerous job (that I also had more fun doing then by rights I should have).

A few of those days stand out more than others. The New Year’s Eve that I spent driving #638 was the night I made the most money ever.

It was also the night I almost died.

But I jump ahead: here are a few of the highs and lows of hurtling towards mayhem behind the wheel on St. Louis’ streets.

1- The Devil in the Backseat

“I’m not the Devil, dude.”

Aw fuck, no good conversation EVER starts with that sentence. I picked him up at the South County Mall. His destination was unclear. Bad sign #1.

He talked to himself. A lot. And screamed. And cursed.

When I asked him where he was headed, he hemmed and hawed and had trouble forming a coherent sentence.

Drugs, I thought. Or just mentally ill.

Call me a bad person, but I really didn’t give a shit. After 2 minutes, I was ready to throw the crazy sonuvabitch out on Lemay Ferry and take the hit from the dispatchers.

I finally understood that he wanted food first. He directed me to the QuikTrip and got out to get a couple of hot dogs. Or so he said.

He actually just stood inside the door at QuikTrip and stared at me.

There are moments in life when one wishes that they had ready access to a gun. Or mace. Or Chinese throwing stars. This would have been one of those times.

He came out empty-handed and just sat in the back seat. Silent. Brooding.

Where to next?

He tried to tell me that he wanted to go to a hotel in an area where I knew there were no hotels.

It was at that point I knew that he was up to something. Fortunately, I was the one driving. I cranked up that old bad-ass Police Interceptor and screeched out onto Lindbergh. I pulled in to the lot of that crappy Motel 6 that used be there (Now thankfully demolished) and said,

“Ride’s over. Get out.”

He argued. I told him to get the fuck out on his own or I would come get his ass out myself. And he’d be staying overnight in the hospital instead of a cut-rate dive motel.

He looked at me and I stared right back into his eyes with the scariest look I could muster, even though my innards felt like jelly.

He got out and then tried to get back in so I laid some rubber down on that parking lot. Time to call it a night.

2 – Talisha

The area public schools have to provide transportation to certain types of students. There aren’t enough buses to do this so taxis do a lot of school runs. Some are fairly lucrative tickets and some aren’t. Talisha was a $8 fare that I grabbed every chance I could, even if it meant missing a higher paying trip.

She was a sweet, beautiful 7 year old with brown skin and dark eyes. I had to go into the school to pick her up and sign her out, and I always walked her to her grandma’s apartment door. She would hold my hand and skip down the school hall. I would tie her shoes for her and carry her books. She would make things for me at school: paper snowflakes, crayon drawings. We’d talk about her day on the short ride home. She’d tell about the things that her mom and grandma were up to. (I had given multiple rides to both over the months and we knew each other by name).

One day she was sad. It was “Wear your pajamas to school day” but she told me that she didn’t have any “bajammies” so she didn’t get to participate. That broke my heart. I wish I would have known about it the day before, because I would have bought some for her.

Of all the people I met driving, I miss her the most, and hope that she is doing well. I hope that she finally had some bajammies to wear to school on Pajama Day. Love you, T!

3 – For Auld Lang… holy shit, what was that?”

New Year’s Eve was drunk with the promise of lots of cash and lots of drunks. I had a core group of regulars who called upon me to guarantee them a safe ride that night. I started about 4pm and I knew that I’d be lucky to be home by 4am. I was all over town. Brentwood to Downtown. Webster to the West End. Affton to the Ritz-Carlton. Lots of sharp-dressed folks ready to get their party on.

The a slow spell. I started picking up fares from dispatch and I drew a short run in South St. Louis. State street to state street. As you STL folks know, the state streets can be kinda sketchy. I picked up a nice young woman and she told me her destination. I believe it was on Oregon Street at a dead end. It was about 9:30pm.

I pulled up in front of her building and as she was paying me

WHUMP!

It sounded like somebody threw a chunk of asphalt at the car.

Her eyes were big. “Where they shootin’ from?” she asked.

I told that I thought it was just a kid throwing rocks. “Naw, they shootin'” she said again.

Foolish or not, I decided to get out and make sure that the young lady got in her door safely. I opened the door and glanced across the roof of the car. A fresh, shiny divot in the steel showed me exactly where the bullet hit. 2 inches to the left and an inch or two down and that sucker would have been in the back of my head.

I got her to the door and ran back to the car.

All right, assholes, if you want a second shot, it is going to be at a fast-moving target. I cranked 638 around back in the direction that the bullet came from (dead end street, remember) and romped on it. The beautiful thing about police model Crown Vics is that even with a 120,000 miles on them, they can still flat out burn up the street.

I roared through the streets and didn’t stop until I was a few miles away. I pulled into a mini-mart and calmed my nerves by watching drunks stagger in and out, with one occasionally displaying what they had most recently enjoyed eating by spray-puking in front of my car. I came within a hair of calling the cab company, telling them where the bastard would be parked and that they could come and get it, that I was done. Instead I drove home, took an hour break and dropped off a lot of cash. And I hit the streets back around 11. I wisely decided not to tell my wife about the bullet until the next day.

Friends I have more of these to tell, so look for part two. It will involve sexual propositions and cocaine. Those two elements always lead to good experiences.

Happy New Year! Be safe out there.