“Hey baby, wait here," he said to her as he began to get up and walk out the bar.
"Where are you going?" she asked reaching out to him.
"Listen, we have been through this before. I go where I want and when I want, so don't ask me any stupid questions and you won't get stupid answers."
She looked at him with hurt eyes and he pulled out a cigarette and placed it between his lips. He gave her a side glance and said, "Wait here, don't go anywhere until I get back." Then with a flick, his lighter was aflame and he lit his cigarette as he headed out the door of the bar. Then he was gone.
I sat and watched as she turned back towards the bar4 looking into her drink. She was a real beauty but her evident sadness diminished her looks leaving just a sad countenance for the world to see. I stared at her but said nothing as I sat in my corner chair wondering what could bring such a beautiful young woman to this point where she is putting up with such an arrogant asshole.
She just stared into her drink and let the ice melt as she continued to twirl and twirl the swizzzle stick in her drink. There was a clock above the bar but she didn't once glance at it. She was content on waiting for her beau, her man, her lover as he ordered.
A couple of hours passed and it was getting late and the bar was about the close. She stared at the door now, probably wondering when he would come back. But I knew he wasn't coming back. Probably by this time he was in some apartment fucking some other woman, some cheap tramp he picked up and leaving his beautiful, sad woman, all alone.
I sipped the rest of my drink (seltzer with lime) and walked over to her.
"Excuse me, Miss?"
No answer, just a stare and the rather obvious attempt to become invisible by not acknowledging me.
So I let her sit in silence and walked out the bar. I walked over to the cab that I should have been driving now but I was no mood to drive tonight. My mother had died a few hours earlier and I did not want to drown my sorrows but I did drown in my sorrows. So I went to my favorite watering hole, drank my seltzer and lime (been sober for five years), while I observed the living, prayed for the dead and wonder which ones were better off.
As I started the cab, there was a knock on the window. It was my beautiful, sad princess, so I rolled the window down to hear her.
"Could you take me to Brooklyn, please?" "I am off duty, sorry."
"Please I will never be able to get a cab at this time and I don't want to take the subway. I have money if that what you are worried about."
She opened the back door and slid in the cab. I looked at her in the rearview mirror.
"Where are you going?" I asked her.
"Right across the bridge." and then titled her head back and closed her eyes. Damn, anytime someone says right across the bridge they mean Bed Stuy or East New York.
As we drove towards the bridge I asked her, "Do you remember me?"
Her eyes opened as I spied her in the rearview. "No I don't, could you remind me, I am really tired."
"I was just in the same bar you were in I said 'excuse me' to you but you choose to ignored me," I said trailing off waiting for her reaction.
"Oh, I am sorry but I was a million miles away I didn't even notice you." she said then she realized what she said, "I mean I was preoccupied."
"Well all I was going to do is ask you if you needed a ride, ironic huh?"
"Why did you think I would need a ride?"
"I saw the scene with your boyfriend inside, he told you to wait for him but I knew he wasn't coming back, I have seen his type before."
"I didn't know you took in eavesdropping as a hobby but that was private conversation," she said a bit perturbed at my intrusion.
"Not too private, he was yelling at you. As his type will often do."
"You don't even know him and what exactly is his type?"
"That simple, he is a self-centered, arrogant self proclaimed pretty boy that think the world revolves around him and you my dear are but a mere satellite in his universe, in a perpetual spin around him."
"You don't know anything about him."
"You know the sad thing is that beautiful women like you are attracted to these 'toxic guys' and then think all men are horrible after being burnt by these bums."
"And you are one of the good guys, right?"
"I don't know how good I am but my mother taught me how to treat women. She felt it was her duty to teach her sons the proper way to treat and respect women."
"Well if that is true, Mr. Good Guy, then tell your mother thank you from all the women of the world," she said in a tone ripe with sarcasm.
"My mother died this afternoon," I blurted out.
"Oh I am sorry, I didn't mean any offense" her tone changing, "my condolences to you and your family."
"Yeah" was all I could say.
We drove along in silence for a few miles when she asked me, "Are you married, is there some lucky woman that's benefiting from what your mother taught and I am not being a smartass I really want to know?"
"No, I am not married. I have been involved in some long term relationships, but right now I am alone."
"Your lucky" she said under her breathe.
"I heard you , why do you say that?"
"It just hard being in a relationship sometimes there are so many compromises, so many ways you have to accommodate the person you are with. I wish I could just be myself for awhile, I want to be me for just a little bit," then as she realized she has given too much away about herself, she just stopped talking.
"You know in a real relationship you do not change who you are, your partner complements who your are, both your strengths and faults and in a very good relationship you change for the better, you grow as a person and in the end your relationship is what sustains you into the future."
"How do you know so much about relationship, Mr Single no-one-in-my-life man?"
I look at her in the rearview mirror, "Are you in a rush to get home?"
"I asked are you in a rush to get home? I want to show you something."
"What is it?"
"It is a surprise, you have to trust me but it is definitely worth your time."
"Damn, I hope you are not a psycho and I regret saying this but OK , I'm game."
I turn off and head to Long Island, She keeps asking me where we are going and I kept telling her not to worry. We talked about love and life and how important it was having a strong sense of self in finding the right mate.
Well, I was sped a little to make sure we wouldn't miss what I wanted to show her. The road was completely dark and she was now a bit nervous. But I had driven these roads a million times and drove each bend and curve as if they belonged to a lost lover I was reacquainting myself with. After about an hour's drive, finally we pulled up to a closed up beach house.
"Whose house is this?"
"It is mine, hurry up we don't have much time."
"Why did you bring me out her because I am not getting out of the car until I know? Did you bring me out here to rape me, attack me, kill me? Damn, I knew this was a big mistake."
She seemed nervous and upset but I walked over to her and reached out my hand and said calmly, "I would never do anything to hurt you, ever."
She must have felt my sincerity or maybe she felt she had a better chance of running away standing up but she got out of the car.
"Come this way, quickly"
She followed as I headed onto the beach.
This is my favorite spot in the whole world. I looked up and the sky was full of stars. The stars, so bright that they looked as if someone splashed paint across the sky. I said nothing as I looked out and began to see along the black void that was the sea project a slight glimmer of light and as the sun began to rise the colors changed and then changed again.
What is taken for granted by the entire world on a daily basis, the rising of the sun, was one of the most awe inspiring sites you could ever imagine.
She stood next to me, quiet and then she grabbed my arm and said "Thank you, I needed this."
"This is one of those things that make you feel both small and grand at the same time."
"I know that I have some things to think about but you have helped to put things in perspective. You know you should have become a shrink."
"I was a shrink, in my former life."
"You were, what happened? Why are you driving a cab?"
"The short story, I lost my license to practice due to a problem I had with alcohol."
"Oh, I didn't mean to pry but you are so good, can you get your license back?"
"I like driving a cab, I meet so many different types of people and see everything. Plus if I hadn't been driving a cab I wouldn't have met you."
I leaned forward to kiss her, she started to kiss me and then pulled away. I said nothing but I took her arm and guided her back to the car.
With the sun up, she got a good look at my beach house. "Wow, you own this place, its huge."
"A trinket left over from my days as a psychologist."
As we walked over to the car, she said "if you took me inside now, I wouldn't say no."
I looked at her and I knew that if I took her inside I would have her body but she would be lost to me forever. I stopped and said, "You look different to me now."
"When I saw you in the bar, you were a sad but beautiful woman, now I can see the joy starting to shine through."
She got into the cab next to me and as we drove back to Brooklyn, she put her head on my shoulders.
"My wife is dead, you know."
"Excuse me?" she said "I didn't catch what you said."
"My wife and my child are dead," I paused to catch my breath, then I continued" I killed them." The words penetrated my soul. I couldn't believe I had said them out loud. She sat up and moved away from me. I could feel her eyes staring into me.
"Did you just say you killed your wife and child?"
"Yes it was about five years ago on this very road, we were having a party one Saturday night at the beach house and of course I drank too much but I wanted to get back into the Manhattan to go to the Knick game that Sunday afternoon. So I loaded them all in Range Rover and despite protestations from my wife I began to drive."
I stopped at this point because everything becomes police reports and court records to me because I have no actually recollection of anything at all after that moment of putting them in the car and starting the engine.
"Well somewhere along this road, about ten miles from my beach house, I veered onto the oncoming lane and had a head-on collision with a tractor trailer truck." my voice was now cracking, "my blood alcohol was off the charts and I was charged with vehicular manslaughter and DWI."
Silence. She was waiting for more. What more could I really to ease the pain I was feeling at that moment but I continued the story, "A good lawyer and incompetence on the part of the DA allowed me to avoid jail but the judge remanded me to rehab and counseling. The State Ethics Board took away my license as it was my third DWI and I was deemed a danger to my patients and the community. I had hit rock bottom. "
"But one day I was out here drinking as usual, contemplating suicide and I looked at the sunrise, I mean I had seen many of sunrises after closing one bar too many but that day I really looked at the sunrise and as you witnessed, it was both glorious and humbling."
"I began to realize that I was missing out on the little but important things by focusing on the superficial. So I downsized my life and began to do things that I would enjoy." I stopped again and I could see that she had taken it all in but I couldn't tell her feelings about it.
She told me to pull over. I did and then she gave me a big hug, nice and loving and one meant to heal someone in pain.
"You needed that." she said.
"Yes, I did a whole lot." I said as I started the car and began to drive back to NYC. "By the way, you never told me where you lived."
"It doesn't matter anymore, I don't want to go back there, he'll be there when I get back and I don't want him in my life anymore. Besides he's toxic , you know," she said with a smile that was bright as the sun
"So what do you want to do," I asked.
She snuggled against my arm and said, "I want to see the sunset...with you." Her face was lit up again. This time her inner and outer beauty converged at once and she was truly radiant.
"If you could see what I see right now than you would know that there isn't any sunrise or sunset that could ever compare to the light and beauty that emanates from you when you are happy. It is truly a wonder to behold," I said, smiling to myself, as I remembered what my mother, the eternal optimist, always said, 'what God taketh away, God also giveths'.
"You know the best sunset are on the beaches of California. If we grabbed a plane now we can get there in time to catch it."
"Really, California?" she hesitated then she said, "I'd go anywhere with you."
I took the exit that led us to Kennedy Airport and brought two tickets to Los Angeles, CA.
As the plane took off and this whirlwind romance kick in, I fell asleep knowing that what ever happens between us, we will both be better for it and that all that good relationship is truly about.