An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Friday, December 29, 2006

Limehouse Blues

Charlie sat in the back of a cab taking in the changed London that they were crawling through. It was the same scabby Vauxhall Corsa that he had taken last week ... he had specifically requested the same driver and had even postponed his journey to ensure the desired continuity. The selfsame very black Nigerian piloted the rusty near hearse through packed roads and back streets as they ground their way onward at all of 9 miles an hour. He was convinced that some of the bodywork had fallen off since his last journey. Dark brown cigarette burns made a pattern like smallpox in the back of the driver's seat. He looked at that massive greasy neck and particularly at the bizarre series of scars and lumps along his hairline. One of the most recent oozed a yellow pus onto the flannel collar of his brightly coloured plaid shirt. Charlie was tempted to blot it with his handkerchief. He was tempted, but he resisted.

It was the reticence of this black granite driver that had drawn him back. This time the driver had not even mentioned the incident with the cyclist. He had just opened the door and ushered him in after confirming the destination. No word had passed between them since. He sighed now and then when a particularly stupid driver crossed his trajectory but spoke nary a word. Not a fuck or a bastard. Charlie congratulated himself on his excellent choice. Clifford was a one in a million driver - a silent driver. A diamond in the rough was our Clifford and he would be getting regular work from now on.

"Drop me off at the Narrow Street bridge Clifford - I may call you Clifford I hope?". Clifford nodded slowly and steered the cab off of The HIghway and pulled up actually on the bridge - his brakes squeaking sourly. Charlie poked a folded twenty into his plaid pocket and stepped out of the rust bucket. He refrained from slamming the door for fear that it would come away in his hand. Instead, he closed the door gingerly and a shower of rust particles were caught in a sunbeam as he did. He checked his watch and turned to Clifford - "If I'm not back by 5 and 20 up piss off back to Tooting OK?". "When boss?" "5 and 20 up - 5 and 20 to 2 - 1 35 OK?" "OK boss". He plucked the snagging arse of his trousers from his crack and stepped on over the bridge and toward the Grapes.

He was back inside 7 minutes. As he had suspected, Petra was not there. No sign of her. Another name on the bell push - some hyphenated bitch. Petra had disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as she had reappeared. About par for the course. Mind you, he'd have something to say to that fucking writer next time he saw him. It had been worth a try but he had come up blank. C'est la guerre. That's the job. He hopped back into the cab - "Home James, and don't spare the horses". He laughed a hollow laugh. "Clifford boss, not James. You forget already?" Charlie let it go. Like so many things in life, Charlie just let it go. "Tooting, Clifford - no rush! Let's go home."


1 comment: