Sunday, April 15, 2012


elly had borrowed one of Cindy's purses the previous weekend to match a drag outfit and she realized that it would go perfectly with what she was planning to wear this evening.  She went downstairs to his apartment, told him she needed the purse for a party.  Kelly thanked her and in handing it over mentioned how it had been a big hit with all the girls.  Cindy started up the stairs then remembered the roommate Greg had borrowed her toilet plunger so again knocked and explained she needed that as well.  She waited as Kelly walked down the hall and returned to hand her the plunger.  He began to close the door and then, looking at her standing there holding a purse in one hand and a toilet plunger in the other, asked, ``Just what kind of party is this you're going to?''

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ouis pulled to the curb and stopped the cab under a tree between the street lamps that had just illuminated.  A few late clouds scattered pink off the last light of a sun somewhere beyond Twin Peaks and the coast, far out over the Pacific.  Sitting here where Castro peaks at 22nd he can see when a vehicle approaches from either direction.  He dug a small vial from his jacket pocket, unscrewed the plastic cap and lifted the tiny attached spoon to his left nostril, twisting his mouth to close off the right nostril.  Just a quick little toot or two to help him forget this shift, this day.  He leaned back and exhaled, eyes closed, breathing slowly through his mouth, needed to calm down after that Opera drop.  What a world, need a sedative to perk up, a stimulant to calm down.  His next fare can wait a few minutes.
First call of the shift this afternoon, hours ago, he should have just kept going, three black women need a ride over to Marin City, the Sausalito ghetto.  LBJ War On Poverty money of the previous decade, the Model Cities generals erected a revetment to stem the encroachment of affluence.  They found a spot with no sweeping views of the Bay or proximity to quaint shops, just a glimpse of mud flats and distant lights of the mansions of Belvedere, shoved above 101 with cars streaming along the freeway below.
Still daylight and these three women are already drunk, gabbing and jiving, two the backseat and one in front, across the Golden Gate.  No way all three of these large gals would fit in back.  Louis shouldn't have picked them up, liberal guilt overruling common cabbie sense.  Maybe someday he'll learn.
He swings around the curved drive to stop in front of a five story pillbox apartment house squatting in a hollow and these gals don't have any money.  Not one of them has any money.
"You come on in, my sister's got cash," the first out says as they walk toward a salmon pink building.
Well yeah, he's going to trot into a housing project, even in daylight, this white boy will trot right up into that housing project.  Sure.  Louis stands by the open cab door watching her.  No half a league onward for this soldier.
"Come in have a drink," she yells back from the open doorway.
"Can't, gotta work."
"I'll make ya' a K-K-K."  Standing there with a big grin, "You know what that is don't you?"  She emphasizes each word as she tells him what that is, "That's a Korbel, Korbel and Korbel."
At least he got paid.

he tree leaves above the idling cab quiver in a slight breeze, splotches of streetlight wash across the dashboard.  Louis is breathing easy now, methodically, starting to relax.  Really ought to get out and check the front bumper, see if a swash of paint from a Rolls Royce improves the appearance.  Fuck, lucky I'm not in jail for that one.  Two Castro dandies in tuxes somehow scored tickets to opening night at the opera, they're in the backseat squealing, excited, one of them even attempts to sing.  Sounds horrid but it's opera so how can you tell?
Louis probably passed this same pair last night on Natoma, bringing in a couple from SFO, trunk full of luggage, staying at one of those Union Square hotels.  It's a bit past 10p.m. so he gives them the real tour, comes off 280 at 7th and instead of going on across Market he does a little jog through the dark alleys.
From the back seat he hears the man say, "Must be a rock concert, all these people waiting in line."  Louis hits the brights so they get a better look.  "All these people" are guys lined up along the alley with backs leaned against a wall.  But they're hearing a different music, they've got their pants unbuckled and there are just as many guys crouched on knees in front of them.  When the beams hit some pop up and turn away, others glare as the cab slides past, but most just keep going at it, white thighs above bunched Levi's and heads moving in sinusoidal motion, the pump house gang.
From the back seat he hears the women exclaim, "Oh . . . My . . . God! " as the cab clears the alley past a group of men standing around a telephone pole to which another is tied.
Welcome to San Francisco folks, Fruit and Nut Capital of the world.

ops are directing traffic along Van Ness, the opening night gala began in the City Hall rotunda across the avenue from the Opera House, a seated dinner for the million dollar donors and now they're all jaywalking as if they own the street to where a line of young men in white tux coats, black pants and black bow ties await them before the magnificent entryway.
Women in dresses that have names, Oscar and Ralph and Rucci ("so who will you be wearing?" Silence of the Lambs), the men in sleek black and he can't get through to drop these two off.  A real zoo is floating across Van Ness front of the cab, penguins with peacocks.  Someone has parked a 1934 Rolls Royce (the small California tag above the long European tag reads "34ROLZ"), cherry, open cab for the driver, steering wheel on the right, shining maroon and black, chrome headlights the size of pumpkins, it's set a bit out beyond the curb lane on display to add a bit more elegance to this little shindig.
These people here seem more intent in looking about, being seen, than in getting inside, the arrival is more important than the ultimate destination.  Some woman about to cross in front of him turns and waves and that's enough of a gap to get the cab through, make a little sashay, smooth sailing to the free curb space up ahead.
Except for that dammed Rolls, a bit too wide for America and the edge of his bumper makes a little slash along the front side as he slides past.  In the mirror he sees his passengers turn, staring out the rear window, one is bleating, "Look what he did to that beautiful car!  How could you do that!"  Louis accelerates, rounds the corner out of sight along the side of the building.  He pulls over, the cab settles to a stop and gets very quiet.
"Listen you two fucks!" yelling as he swings around to them staring like two wide-eyed lemurs in the back, "I know where you live, if this ever gets back to the company it's going to be your fucking asses, capiche?"
They toss him a twenty for the $5.70 fare and quickly exit.

t the crest of the hill Louis takes a deep breath, time to get back to work, shifts into drive, the cab descends into Noe Valley.  Outside the address he sees the front window lights go out on the second floor and a porch light come on.  Holy shit! as the door opens and this amazing blond, short skirt, thin hips, heels, great legs, emerges slinging a handbag across her shoulder and comes down the stairway.  This can't be real, god, not another fucking drag queen.  Louis twists around to watch as she turns to slide into the back seat, trying to catch the Adam's apple, the hands.  She tosses her head and as she gives him an address on Buena Vista he sees just enough.  Yes!  exactly how the proud father must feel: "It's a girl! "
Louis now retraces his route back over the hump from Noe Valley and down into the Golden Ghetto of the Castro.  A little rolling stop at 19th just as two guys enter the crosswalk so that he has to brake hard.  "Goddam faggots!"  He glances in the mirror at his passenger.  A half block on, as he nears 18th, another guy jaywalks unconcerned right in front of him and Louis has to brake again, yells over the squeal,  "Fuck! These fucking queers think they own the street.  What'd'ya have to do, kill a couple before they get the message?"
He glances in the mirror, her head is turned, profile, blond hair, gazing off to the left.
Louis is still shaking his head as they sit the long light at Market but somehow gets to BV Park without plowing into any pedestrians.  He pulls up at the address, an enormous Victorian with steps up to a wrap-around porch and bright light coming through the beveled leaded glass of the double doorway.
His passenger exits quickly from behind him and stands next to window digging into her purse.  He rolls the window down to hear her count out loud each dollar bill and then each of the coins until she has the exact amount on the meter.  She hands the money across while staring directly at him.  Louis looks at it then gives her the old what, no tip?  expression.
The blond hair flips as she nods her head towards the house, ``I'm going to a party in that place there,'' she tells him, ``and it's going to be just full of fags.''