Tuesday, November 6

Crazy Heart

‘I’M NOT GONNA do a runner,’ the client assured the driver as he handed over an expensive watch. The client, a wealthy young man with a drunken stammer, ran into his house. The driver watched some of the lights go on in the house. It was the middle of the night, a cold two-twenty-four in the morning, and still the watch sparkled as the driver held it. There was no moon. The watch sparkled. He put it on the dash. ‘I’ll do one more customer after this, then I’ll go home and finish off the last of that wine and then I’ll go to sleep.’ His sheets had been on a while; they’d smell like him and maybe a little of her. ‘Maybe a little of her hair and the lotion she rubbed on her legs.’ He tried not to think of her because her bread had fallen butter-side down. In the silence of the cab he could hear the leaves in the wind. The leaves were all shades of blue that had trod in some grey. He turned on a c.d. he had in the player. Hank Williams came out. The driver adjusted the volume so that it was quiet and he looked down the street: cars were parked; leaves pampered the kerb; trees prattled; the clock showed two-twenty-six. ‘She was like summer with cold water on the bonnet.’ He turned up Hank Williams and inched down the window. ‘One more customer then I’ll go home. There is some readymade tuna in the fridge with spring onions, mayonnaise and pepper, just like mum used to make.’ An alarm in the distance. Two speeding cars down the main road, racing, whooping out the window, screaming, a brief and untouchable rainbow in the night. The customer returned – ‘Here you go, mate.’ The driver gave him back his watch. ‘Thanks for the tip.’ (As he pulled away the customer asked nobody at all for a receipt.) The nights were best for driving; clear roads and the windows rolled down, even in the autumn, with the transparent sounds of sleep in the air. Because of the law he could not pick up a customer for another eight miles, so he turned up Hank Williams, lit a cigarette, thought about his wine and remembered her. It was November and the wind roaring on the passenger side was cold.

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