Smokin' with the Cabbie

By Kevin Moriarity

I remember some things from that day vividly. Other things are still fuzzy. I remember the warm sunshine and crisp air of a Minnesota summer morning. I was in Minneapolis to speak to a client about their new software system. I was sipping coffee in front of my hotel, waiting for a cab to take me to that client.

The cab pulled up the hotel driveway. I got in on the driver’s side.

“Where to?” the driver asked.

I gave him the address. He pulled out of the driveway. I took another sip of coffee.

“Where is this place?” the driver asked.

“Don’t know. First time here.”

“Dammit!” He hit the steering wheel hard with his right hand.

I jumped. Coffee spilled and burned my hand.

“I expect my fares to know where the hell they’re going.”

I slid to the passenger side of the cab to look at the driver. He was a big guy with long brown hair, maybe in his 30s.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” I said, “Do you have a map?”

“You’re a smartass. You’re from South Dakota. I’ll bet anything. I hate people from South Dakota. You hicks come here in your Sears suits thinking you’re better than the rest of us.”

“Uh…I’m from Chicago.”

He angled his body toward the dashboard. I heard a click.

“I don’t think you are. I think you’re an asshole from South Dakota.”

I looked out the window. We were on an expressway. We had been moving this whole time. He knew where he was going. He was just messing with me.

Suddenly, I felt a searing hot pain on my left thigh. Faster than I thought possible, he had reached around and pushed the cigarette lighter into my leg.

“Damn,” I yelled.

I grabbed his hand, but he kept pushing down. He was very strong. The pain was incredible. A hole had burned in my pants. Smoke was rising from my leg. I was in shock – unable to move.

Instinctively, I made a fist and swung with all my might at his head. I just kept hitting in a blind rage, slamming his head into the doorjamb. His hand left my thigh, but the pain did not stop.

I heard horns, screeching tires, an incredibly large sound. Then blackness – nothing.

All that happened twenty years ago. I still glance at the scar on my thigh and remember that bright, stunning day in Minnesota.

Kevin Moriarity spent a couple of decades working in the software business. A bunch of that time was spent writing software manuals and procedures. That got a bit dull, so he decided to give fiction a try. He also cofounded Waterline Writers – a community of writers and writing enthusiasts in Batavia, IL.

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