The rain shot down without an ounce of mercy. It pounded on every inch of Georgie’s cab—it trickled down the sides and danced down the windows. Suddenly, the poetry of the raindrops that had me hypnotized was interrupted and I fell out of my temperate trance; an array of colours flew by and this creature began to roar as it passed, a keening sound like the gates of hell just opened up or maybe Dancing with the Stars had been cancelled. A car-carrying tractor trailer honked bloody murder over and over, louder and louder. Immediately, my friend and I who sat in the backseat realized the cab was dancing on the road. A sharp swerve turned bumpy as it began to drive into other lanes. Fearful for our safety we yelled, “Georgie! Wake up!” Our lunatic cabbie lullabied himself to sleep at the wheel. In this moment of fear, tentacles of thoughts poisoned my mind and lay dormant beneath my skin without a way out. I questioned the risk we took-this midnight ride from Buffalo to Cleveland.
We were on a mission—a simple one, we thought. Our destination: Columbus, Ohio for a two day music festival. A Toronto bus took us to Buffalo where we should have caught a bus bound for Cleveland where a final bus would take us to Columbus. It was as though the music gods wanted to test our passion for music when the Cleveland bound bus departed early. We were in a predicament when we discovered the next bus was going to leave in 12 hours. Waiting meant missing the entire first day of the festival.
Then in the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was our angel. Instead of a halo, he had a receding hairline, instead of an angelic smile; he was missing a few teeth. Jabba the Hutt wobbled toward us.
We emptied our pockets and prepared ourselves for a three hour cab ride. I was thrilled our journey was at full steam ahead so I didn’t mind the rain that began to fall in fact I was marvelled by the movement. Then, it grew harder; the rain was the clouds missiles and the cab we were riding in seemed to be its only target.
“Georgie! Wake up!”
“I didn’t fall asleep!” defended George.
At that moment my friend and I made a pact- we had to stay awake and keep Georgie occupied.
The rain was vengeful and I was cranky. But more than anything, I wanted to be safe so I did what I rarely do when I’m tired: converse.
“What made you want to be a cab driver?” I started.
“I wanted peace in my life,” he rubbed the back of his neck, “I wanted simplicity,” he nervously chuckled. What an odd reason, I thought.
“Don’t we all,” I blurted.
“You want it more when the last image you have of your two best friends are of their charcoaled bodies,” he whispered.
“When we found them, their bodies were still smoking, like a chicken on a rotisserie!” he yelled.
Finally, words managed to form into sentences and I asked sombrely, “What happened?”
“Operation Urgent Fury," he said.
“I’m a former U.S Marine. I served in the Grenada Invasion.” He changed lanes. “My best friends and I did everything together, except die together. For some reason, they didn’t include me,” he joked. Then, wide eyed Georgie couldn’t stop talking. He has three children and he likes Elvis Presley. Shortly after he came home from the war he and his wife divorced. He admitted a different man returned home, one who felt disconnected from the person he loved.
The cab ride made me realize great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one. All I could think about was George and the way I regretfully misperceived him. So much of what we perceive cannot be truly expressed. And yet when we communicate with each other suddenly we feel that connection.
Before George drove off he rolled down the window for one final lesson, “That’s what we live for, girls: confusion, hardships, and uncertainty included. You gals are here for music? Well, life is like music. If songs consisted of only one note we’d go nuts. It’s the blending of the different notes that makes music.”