Jerry opened the pastrami on rye wrapped in foil; inhaling the steam as it rose from the sandwich, he smelled the little bit of heaven on Earth. He didn’t care that he was double parked outside Silverman’s Deli six hours into his noon to midnight taxicab shift. His mouth watered as he bit into the salty meat, crispy rye bread sandwich slathered in stone-ground mustard. The sauerkraut was hot and tangy, the sandwich, perfection.

As he chewed, he took the napkin, wiping the mustard and juice off his face. He could die today and be satisfied with his life. Silverman’s knew how to make a great sandwich. This deli had always anchored the neighborhood where he grew up. When he was old enough to roam the streets, Jerry went to Silverman’s and bought half a sandwich, back in the day when that was more than enough to fill him up; now as an adult, he was able to appreciate a whole portion.

Jerry was still relishing his supper when a man entered the back of his cab; despite the service light being turned off, he silently cursed the man.

“I’m on break, sorry.” Jerry took another bite of his sandwich.

“I’ll wait. I’m in no hurry; it’s warm in here.” Snow fell lazily around them, coating the windows of the cab. It was a few degrees above freezing, and despite the seasonal weather, the man was wearing a scarf tied around his face. He made Jerry a little nervous; something was off, and he wanted to get rid of him. He was technically done with his sandwich, so he wiped his mouth and threw the napkin in the bag along with the foil wrapping.

“Okay, where to, mister?”


“That’s 20 miles. I am going to have to have some kind of money up front, sorry.”

The man threw 40 bucks over the seat. Jerry took it and put it in his wallet. He turned on the meter and moved away from the deli. Chicago traffic sucked, and during this hour when people were trying to get home, especially so. It was already dark at six in the evening. He headed north toward the Dan Ryan in stop-and-go traffic. At least he had been able to finish the sandwich.

Dan Ryan turned into the Kennedy after the split. Seven lanes of traffic bumper to bumper.

“You picked a hell of a time to go north.” Jerry looked in the rearview mirror. It was odd the guy hadn’t pulled down his scarf yet. It was hot in the car. Maybe he had some kind of glandular problem.

“Yes, it’s never good going this direction. It’s why I gave up driving.” The man sat silently looking out the window.

Jerry couldn’t quite put his finger on it; there was something familiar about the guy and his inner alarms were going off. Maybe it was the scarf around his face or his weird demeanor. The guy wasn’t normal, and the further north he got, the more apprehensive he felt. He couldn’t just pull over and tell the guy to get out. Something was off, said his spidey sense.

“Take this exit,” the man said. Jerry merged over to the right, fighting the traffic and the late request to exit. Why couldn’t the guy tell him this a few miles back? He was sweating now, but made it just in time to the turn-off.

“Left at the stoplight,” the guy said again.

“Look, if you’d just give me the address, I can put it in the GPS and you can relax.”

“I’d prefer it this way.” The meter was beyond the 40 the man threw out. Jerry just knew the guy was going to stiff him.

“Look, you’ve used up the 40 bucks. I am going to need some more money.” The man behind him threw another 20 over one shoulder and a ten on the other side. That was just too strange. Jerry fished around for the money when the garrote pulled his head to the back of the seat.

“What the f—.”

“Shut up and keep driving.” Jerry’s heart sank. The guy had used the guise of throwing money over the seat to take a wire and put it around his neck. He was now tied to the headrest.

His heart thumping in his chest, he tried to calm himself down. Jerry had read that people in panic usually die because they couldn’t keep calm to think their way out of a situation.

He thought about the pistol under the seat. He tried to lean forward enough to feel for it, but the wire choked him. He sat up quickly. Just last week, he thought about wiring a holster up farther in between the seat and the back so that he would have access to it in a case like this. Why hadn’t he done it? His daughter. Mara flashed in his mind. God, she was only 14. He and Babs split when she was five years old, but they still had a good parenting relationship.

Oh, Mara, I am so sorry, he cried inside. Take deep breaths, Jerry, come on.

“Why?” was all he could get out.

“You still haven’t figured it out?” the guy laughed and pulled down his scarf. Jerry looked at his past sitting in the rearview mirror.

“Acee. When did you get out?” The man chuckled. Prison life must have been good to him. He had all his teeth pulled and replaced with nice, even dentures. They looked good. Not the rotted teeth of a meth addict he watched leave the court room after he testified.

“Last month. Took me a while to find you. Jerry, I really thought you would have done better than a hack driver! Especially getting all that reward money for turning me in. You sure didn’t use it wisely, did you.” Jerry knew he couldn’t fight with the guy. He was guilty as charged. Yes, he turned in Acee when Tina Bly went missing. Last time he saw her was with Acee. Her parents were his sister’s godparents. Acee was a loser friend that he hadn’t seen, other than that evening in the bar, since high school. They used to be friends, but Acee found extracurricular activities that Jerry was not interested in. By the time they left high school, Jerry graduated, while Acee was already in a reformatory school for boys. They’d lost touch.


How odd to see him that night in the bar; what was it, 26 years ago? He probably wouldn’t have even talked to him, but he did pull Tina, his little sister’s best friend, off to the side.

“Tina, you okay?” Tina was tweaked, he could tell, but she seemed to be with it.

“Jerry, my love! Always looking out for me. I am here by choice. Thank you for always being a gentleman!” Tina threw her head back and laughed. She was pretty high. Jerry remembered wanting to take her home; he didn’t trust Acee. Instead, he walked up to the man and shook his finger in Acee’s face.

“Make sure she gets home safe.” Acee looked up and kind of chuckled at him. It was a week later when Tina’s missing story was all over the news. A reward offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of…

Jerry went to see his mom after hearing the news. Maybe she knew something more.

“I can’t believe Tina is missing,” his mother cried. It’s been a week already.

“A week? They just said she was reported missing yesterday.”

“Well, you know she’s been taking drugs. Her parents thought she was off on a binge. When she didn’t call them, they finally got the cops to look. The neighborhood has put up a reward.”

When Jerry remembered, his head spun. The bastard did something to her. That would have put Tina’s disappearance the night he’d seen her.

Jerry didn’t think twice; he called the police. They asked him to come in and make a statement. He was more than happy too. Acee went to jail. 25 years he got for overdosing and leaving Tina in an abandoned building. He left her there to die. Never called an ambulance or the cops. Tina never had a chance.


“You ratted on me.”

“You left Tina to die, you piece of shit.” Jerry stopped. Probably not a bright move to get the guy pissed off at him right now. He was already trying to scare him, and he was doing a good job. Technically, Acee hadn’t killed anyone; he just ran off as soon as he saw his client overdosing. So maybe Acee was going to do the same to him. Run off and leave him somewhere?

“Did you think of me at any time in all these years?” Jerry couldn’t believe this guy. He was pond scum in the humanity pool.

“No, Acee, I didn’t think about you. I thought about Tina, a beautiful woman you got hooked on drugs, overdosed, and left to die in an abandoned building. That’s who I thought about. Every milestone, marriage, kids. I thought about Tina; not once did I ever waste my time thinking about you.” Spittle flew out of Jerry’s mouth. Acee chuckled.


“Where the hell are you taking me?” Jerry shouted. Now he wasn’t scared; he was pissed. His hand went up to the wire around his neck. It was thick and smooth and it disappeared under the head rest. He pulled on the wire, twisting it, but felt the knot or the lock on the other side of the head rest that stop him from moving. He swore.

“Jerry, did you think it would be that easy? I’ve had nothing to do for the last 25 years than to think about this day. I watched you at the hearing. You told the jury I was trash. White trash, isn’t that what you said?” Jerry stayed silent while his mind was working a million miles an hour. The guy was not in a seatbelt. He’d slid to the middle of the seat so that he could whisper in Jerry’s ear, trying to intimidate him. All those years in prison hadn’t mellowed him out, just made him more evil than what he was. They were getting out of the populated area. Jerry could feel it. Acee was taking him to a place where no one would find him. There, he would kill him; maybe an overdose, maybe he had a weapon on him. Either way, Jerry was going to rot in this damn cab. He wished now he had done more with his life. He started to pray, the only prayer he knew. Leftover memory from his religious upbringing. Somewhere along the way, he’d let it go.

“Are you praying?” Acee asked incredulously. “You still believe in that shit?”

“I haven’t practiced it for a long time, but I feel it comforts me right now. I want to go with a clean conscience, Acee.” He watched the man laughing in the mirror, nearing hysterics. He slapped his hand on his knee as if it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard while tears rolled down his face.

“Do you really think that God is going to help you now, Jerry?” Jerry had a moment of clarity. He was going to die—that was evident—but so was Acee.

Jerry stepped on the gas. Acee did not even notice; he was still laughing and banging the seat with his hand. Jerry hoped God would forgive him the suicide and murder, knowing his heart was in the right place. He was avenging Tina and taking this crap of humanity off the street. They should have never let him out of jail. He was just looking for the right spot. The light poles were too far off the road, but there were some underpasses he could see up ahead. He knew if he hit them at a high rate of speed, Acee would fly through the windshield. Jerry would be dead not only from the impact, but because of the garrote that secured him to the head rest. It would break his neck or choke him to death.

“You know, I did it with her a couple of times before she died. She was a fine lay. I didn’t mean to kill her; she wanted me to give it to her when she climaxed. I was climaxing at the same time. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I gave her my dose, not hers.”

Jerry saw the train bridge ahead. Solid cement; he could definitely kill them both.

“I don’t want to hear about it!” Jerry shouted at Acee.

“Hey! Slow down, you’re gonna kill us both.” Acee cautioned. Jerry floored the pedal. The cab whined and shimmied as it reached top speed, barreling toward the train bridge. The car hit going over 100 miles an hour. The old Ford jerked back from the upright of the train bridge; Acee flew through the windshield between the two air bags that had inflated.

The car came to a sudden rest. A tick, tick, tick, sound. Things were dripping, metal was cooling. Smoke was rising, but Jerry didn’t die.

“Shit.” He was going to burn to death right here, he realized, when the smoke rose from the engine. He only hoped Acee was dead.

“Hey, mister, get out of the car.” Jerry opened the door.

“I can’t, there is a wire tying me to the head rest.” The guy opened the back door seeing the tied wire.

“What the hell?”

“The guy was robbing me. He tied my head to the seat.

“Got it.” The kid tugged and pulled and finally got the wire loose. Jerry couldn’t believe it. The wire probably had saved his life. It fell in his lap. Jerry started to choke.

“Come on, it’s getting ready to blow!” the kid shouted. Jerry went to stand and then fell out the door. He rolled several times for the ditch. The kid grabbed his coat and dragged him in the snow along the ditch. Jerry helped as much as he could with his legs propelling him away from the car. They could hear the distant sirens of a police car or fire truck.

“I called the cops when you crashed,” the kid told him. And then the car erupted. It wasn’t one of those explosions you see on television. It was a disappointment with how lackluster it was. The dripping gas touched something hot and then a whoosh of flames slowly ate away at the cab. It was then fully engulfed in flames and then bullets Acee had in the pistol exploded; again, it wasn’t even as violent as if he’d shot the gun.

Jerry started to cry. His neck wasn’t broken, although he had a good gash across it. Probably carry the scar for the rest of his life, but he had another one. A scar that was deeper. No one would physically ever see it.

The ambulance got there along with the fire truck. People were rushing about. A paramedic stood before him.

“Are you alright?” Jerry started to cry. He was in shock, then he prayed as the fire increased in intensity. That could have been him.

“Hey there’s another guy here, he’s dead,” called out the other paramedic. The firefighters were putting out the flames on the cab. Jerry pulled the blanket the paramedic had wrapped around him, tighter. His body shook with shock and cold.

Jerry bowed his head saying the Lord’s Prayer. How odd he hadn’t said this for years, and today he found comfort in the words while thanking the dear Lord for delivering him from evil.