She is the color of dusty coffee. She climbs slowly in the front seat of the cab, all 92 years of her. She has to go to the doctor.

“Good morning, young man,” she says. “You’re late.”

I was five minutes late because of a funeral procession on Oracle. Must have been some big shot drug dealer or something, with all those mourners.

“Sorry,” I say.

What’s your name?”

“Matt.”

“I’m Rowina.”

“Nice to meet you, ma’am.”

“Matt, I sure hope you’re a good driver.”

“Don’t worry,” I say, pulling onto Pima Street.

“Hmmph,” she says.

“You don’t believe me?”

“Well, I just don’t know, do I?” she says. “My husband Edward always said he was a good driver, too, hmmph. One time, he tried to take that corner over by 36th Street, you know the one?”

“Sure.”

“Well, he couldn’t make it. He crashed it! He walked home and you should have seen him! Whooo, doggy!”

“Boy.”

“Another time, my Edward throwed Albert, that’s my baby, Albert, he throwed Albert out the window when he rolled our old Oldsmobile. Shoot, was I hot! Albert was okay, thank the Lord.”

Some asshole is on my bumper, so I give him a look in the rearview. He switches lanes and passes. I turn and look in through his passenger window, but the guy doesn’t turn his head. Good.

“Edward was all right?” I say.

“Hmmmph, Edward was all right, yes, though I didn’t give no mind about that then. He was too darn stubborn to ever get hurt.”

“One time he did kill a boy,” she says, “a boy he worked with. They was both drinking and my Edward just did what he always did: got in the car and started driving. He drove that car right into a telephone pole. Poor boy was killed, mmm hmmm. Edward went to jail for a couple of years, but when he got out, he weren’t no different. Hmmph.”

“Too stubborn,” I say.

“Ha, you said it, was that man ever stubborn! Lord, he was something.”

I let her off at her doctor and promise to come and get her in an hour. But she looks worried and lost, so I walk her to the door of the doctor’s office and encourage her to walk up to the receptionist’s desk. Then I wave and leave.

As I’m about to pull onto Wilmot Road, a young girl in a huge purple truck runs the red light there at the intersection and doesn’t T-bone me only because I slam the brake pedal into the floorboard. She doesn’t even give me a glance; she looks straight ahead, smiling vacantly. Her own mortality has never crossed her mind.

A quarter of a second later, she crashes straight into a car that is trying to make a U-turn. Wherever she’s going, she’s going be late.

***

For all installments from 6 to 6, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Traveling Mercies
  2. Next Time, Take Skyline
  3. Suicide Lane
  4. Morenci in My Rear-View Mirror
  5. A Spiritual Adventure
  6. Sonja’s Ring
  7. A Pair to Draw To
  8. Grocery Day
  9. A Day with Melanie
  10. The Hot Light
  11. Drano
  12. The Cab Knows the Way
  13. Dodi’s Luck
  14. Don’t Die Before Your Mother
  15. Bob’s Big Day
  16. Nothing But a Human Being
  17. John’s Dream
  18. God Didn’t Get Me No Weed
  19. Ramirez
  20. What’s Going to Happen to Me?
  21. Do I Look Like an Indian to You?
  22. The Maze
  23. Fun with Ruby
  24. Portrait of the Artist as a Certified Loony
  25. Turn Around, Dumbass
  26. Red Bull Blues
  27. The Great Desert Palms Escape
  28. Bitcoin
  29. At Least it Isn’t Raining
  30. Marshmallows on Everything
  31. Mermaid with Doctor’s Mask
  32. My Other Jacket