Follow That Man

You’re a taxi driver in a one-light town. You’ve arrived at the county library to pick up your passenger, a girl no older than thirteen. She says, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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487 thoughts on “Follow That Man

  1. bilbobaggins321

    There are way too many people in this world with broken dreams. I can safely say that I’m one of them.

    The name’s Edgar. It had been many a year since I’d come to the dinky crossroads of a town called Rocket, Nebraska looking for a new start. Almost forgotten were my old friends, old mistakes, the condo I dragged myself to every night after the hours of looking through the bottom of a translucent bottle failed to give relief. Almost.

    Rain was pouring in grey sheets, disrupting all vision. I peered morosely out of the window, cranking the radio to all possible stations to get something other than static. The wipers squealed along the windshield, trying in vain to clear it. Nary a potential customer ambled along the sidewalks. I sighed and leaned back in the uncomfortable seat, relegating myself to another evening in the trenches.

    Suddenly, a shadow surfaced, and the door popped open, unleashing the sounds of the cacophony outside. I jumped, startled, hastened to turn off the radio, still static. Some girl I had never seen before rushed into the seat, eager to get out of the squall. Yes, a girl. I, myself, was surprised. The taxi business doesn’t get a lot of business from minors, does it? But I kept my composure.

    “Where you going, kid?”
    She was a lanky kid, brown hair stuffed in a ponytail, purple shirt and jeans. From out of some pocket surfaced a crisp Benjamin. The door slammed shut, reducing the rain to a low splattering again.
    “Just watch that Mexican restaurant across the street. I’m waiting for someone to come out.”
    I didn’t move a muscle, watched slowly as the bill was placed in my hand. Alarm bells automatically were ringing as loud as an enraged tornado. I cocked my head, meeting her eyes, blue pupils that refused to give up any vital information. She couldn’t be more than twelve. Probably the daughter of some semi-rich vacationer who was just passing through. But that was just what I assumed.

    “That’s it?”
    “Yea.”
    I slid the hundred into the cup holder, not even starting to count the fare. I wasn’t about to get into some run-in with Mr. RV if his kid stole his money for some joyride through the corn fields. This was all some game, wasn’t it? I half expected some scene, some half-hour wait until I drove her back to wherever she lived, needless apologies to the family until I got back to the loitering in the taxi.

    “Who’s this guy you’re looking for, anyways?” I started nonchalantly.
    She just looked the other way, out of the window, nothing to see. This was starting to get more and more absurd. I took a quick glance towards the restaurant. It was closing in less than ten minutes, could barely see the guy at the counter handing out drinks amongst the neon lights.
    “Okay, then . . .”
    I lean for the radio, when she snaps her head back and grabs my elbow.
    “There he is!” she announces in a somewhat-stage whisper.
    My pupils flew to the brown, saloon-like doors, which shortly flew open. Some short guy in a leather jacket and jeans walked quickly over to some motorcycle, swinging around like some dinghy in a hurricane.
    “What- but- he’s drunk!”
    My hands grasped the car door, but I felt her hands move up to my shoulder, almost harshly holding on.

    “Just follow him. Don’t worry,” she said, as if shrugging it off.
    I looked at her again, shocked, put the car in gear. I intended to stop him, wherever he was. The engine roared to life, belching out some combo of smoke and fumes, and I swung the steering wheel as I pulled in behind him in the left lane. The cycle revved up, and he mounted, not even wearing a helmet, crazily veering over past the divider into the turn lane. We both sped up, me lagging cautiously behind him 200 feet.
    “Are you sure I should be following this guy?”
    “I’m dead sure,” she replied, and the way it was said seemed to make me wonder a little bit more about the Benjamin.

    The wipers partially obscured my view of the mysterious target. He was miraculously staying in one lane, nearly popping a wheelie. He seemed in no way hindered by his drenched hair and face. I slowly edged up. 150, 140, 100, 80, feet behind, the license plate still just blurred beyond legibility.

    Suddenly the cycle squealed through a red light, turning viciously to the left. I slammed on the brake pedal, the girl lurching forward, still urgently peering at the drunkard. Cursing under my breath so as not to scar the child, I noticed her expression turn to a dismal sadness.
    “Go, go, go,” she urged me on.
    “What, I can’t disobey traffic, there’s cars coming!”
    For some unknown reason my foot moved to the other pedal, and I turned with each ounce of strength, wild craziness bouncing around my cranium. Why was I doing this for some stranger? I didn’t even care. The other cars edged closer, and then I was past them. The cycler pulled into a gravel drive two blocks down.

    It took me a moment to realize that he had pulled into my house. My tires moved quicker than lightning into the shoulder.
    “What the h-”
    I stopped myself again, shooting a look at the girl. She seemed unusually placid.
    I reached for the seat belt, remembered that I had forgotten to put it on, opened the car door, heard the door of my place slam, anger boiling over like some overdone pot. The rain had slowed to a dull sprinkle.

    I relaxed when she put her hand on my shoulder again.
    “Wait,” she said. I turned towards her, the stars like a canopy finally being revealed.
    “Please, come back to New York,” she said tenderly.
    I glanced back at my house, the door closed and all the lights off. A trillion thoughts were running through my head at once. The world seemed to slow around me.
    “I don’t want you to regret the past, Dad.”
    Stars burst like fireworks in the darkness, twisting and turning. All sanity disappeared, explosions in my soul. It all faded to pitch black.

    ______________________________

    And that’s when I woke up. My eyelids snapped open. Rain was pouring in grey sheets, disrupting all vision. The wipers squealed along the windshield, trying in vain to clear it. Nary a potential customer ambled along the sidewalks. The radio was still static.

    I peered to the left. The Mexican restaurant across the road was just about to close down. My fists clenched. I slowly turned my head to the passenger seat. I rubbed my dirty jeans. Crumpled up inside my leather jacket was the empty beer bottle. My head went down into my palms, and I rubbed until my forehead was raw red. Was that a hundred dollar bill still in the cup holder, or just a remnant of the old me in my head? I could not tell for sure. I cried along with the clouds.

    ________________________________________

    There are way too many people in this world with broken dreams. I can safely say that I’m one of them. Ten years ago I left the Big Apple to knock some sense into my head. Now all I am is a survivor, edging my way along the cleft of my regrets. All I am is a set of hopeful imaginations.

    THE END

    Please comment- Being only 14, I could use some advice.

    1. hoppinghammy

      It was 9:30 at night and I, Kevin was going to the County Library to pick my passenger up. When I stopped by the side, she ran into the car and shut the door. She looked no older than 13. Why is she out so late? I thought.
      “Hey kid,” I start, “Why are you out so late? It’s New York City.”
      “Um, uh,” She started, “I…uh….Was just going…um…home.”
      Then after a few seconds she said, “See that Mexican Restaurant across the street? In about 5 minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
      “What for,” I asked, “And by car?”
      “I know him and yes by car.”
      In those five minutes there he was, tall and dressed in black.
      “THERE HE IS,” She pointed, “FOLLOW HIM! FOLLOW THAT MAN.” I drove really quickly and followed his black, dark car down this unknown road and onto a highway. After about an hour of driving, I told her “Sorry kid. My taxi doesn’t go that far. You might want to catch another one.”
      “NO,” She screamed, “He’s leaving. GO.”
      So I sped off and after another 5 minutes he turned around and we went all the way back to the city. He jumped out of his car and brought a bat out. He waved it at my car and I had to open the window, “Hey dude,” I said, “This girl want-.” She covered my mouth. After about a minute the cops came and took the girl to a house and me to jail. “C’mon man,” Said the cop, “Following is stalking.” Whenever I tried telling them that the girl who’s name is Misty told me to do it, they shook their heads and laughed. “Maybe more time in the cell will do you good.” That’s what happened whenever I told them. So after about 8 months, they let me out and I continued as a tax driver for only a certain number of miles. The girl Misty was another passenger another day and jumped up front. “Now you know why you were arrested,” She said “You stole mommy’s heart.” Then I remembered it all.

  2. laurentravian

    She slid into the seat of my car. I couldn’t believe it: someone else was actualizing my childhood dream of going somewhere (alone). I squared my cap and made sure my hair was still tucked in. Why did I always get more tips if they thought I was a guy? The kid said, “Yeah, you? Follow the guy who just came out of Little Mario’s. I’ll make it worth your while.” I almost choked on my gum, but did as she commanded. It was raining, and nighttime. The poor guy was huddling to get out of the rain. I slammed on the brakes when I saw who it was. “Why are you stopping?!” The kid yelled in frustration. I turned back to her. “Listen kid, no money in the world can get me to follow that guy. You can go anywhere else for free, but I refuse to follow him.” The kid regarded me. “Lady, you can take off the hat now. You had me fooled at first, but you forgot to disguise your voice.” I obliged her, and let down my hair, popping my cherry mint gum as I did so. She gasped, but quickly recollected herself. “So why won’t you follow him?” she asked. I regarded her closely. “I don’t see how that’s any of your business.” She totally blew me off. “That’s my dad.” I whistled. “Good for him. I see he finally put down roots. Now, why would your father just leave you alone?” She ducked her head. “He doesn’t know I exist. I was put up for adoption when I was a baby, with just a photo of my parents and a name tag. I was hoping he could lead me to my mother.” I surveyed her features. “How old are you?” I asked, holding my breath in anticipation. “Fourteen.” She said bravely. I drew in my breath. Yeah, she was about the right age. “You’re small for fourteen.” I said. She squinted at me. “So?” She said. I sighed. “What’s your name, kid?” “Danielle. Dani for short.” I swallowed my gum in shock. “Look kid, I am between jobs right now, no one wants a lawyer at the moment. I picked up the only job I could find that was respectable, my life hasn’t been very good, and I had you in the middle of law school, and I had no intention of raising a family.” I blubbered hopelessly. She nodded sagely. “I knew it. Can we chase him down now?” I sighed. “Listen kid. It don’t want to see him. He just leaves people. Its what he does. I think we both know that.” She nodded again. “Okay Mom.”

  3. mshoward

    As I pulled up to the library and saw her standing there I knew something wasn’t right. She couldn’t have been older than 13, where were her parents and why was she out this late, I thought as I looked at the clock. I rolled down the window “Did you call for a taxi?” I was hoping she would say no whatever trouble this girl was in I wanted no part of it. She looked like maybe she was a runaway, hardly a privileged girl just getting a ride home from the library, especially at this time of night.
    “Yes I did” she said with a blank stare. She was eerie clearly troubled.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street?” she pointed over my shoulder. “In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.” She commanded
    “May I ask what for?” I didn’t want to get involved, but I wanted to know what was up with her creepy demeanor.
    “JUST DO WHAT I SAY!!!!” she screamed.
    “Ok, ok miss, there’s no need for yelling” I wanted her to hush before anyone thought I was trying to abduct her.
    “There he is!” she informed
    The man walked out, he was tall and stocky he had on dark clothes and had dark hair, he looked like he could have been about late 30’s to mid 40’s. He walked about a block down to a dark alley way it was a short cut to the loading docks of an abandoned warehouse that was used when the city would get outside shipments of goods. Looking around he went into the warehouse.
    “Turn down here” she pointed to the end of the dark alley way next to the warehouse “and stop right there” she commanded again “Just wait for me”
    “I’m sorry miss but I don’t feel comfortable” she cut me off “I’ll give you an extra 100 bucks just wait for me!” she said as she hopped out of the taxi carrying her book bag in her hand. She walked behind the car back to the loading docks. About 10 minutes went by; she came back to the car and casually got in.
    “One last stop, the bus station!” she said calmly
    Disturbed I just followed her orders hoping to hurry up and end this weird night. I was more concerned about having a minor in the taxi without a parent’s permission then I was with the fact the she just really creeped me the hell out. I drove cautiously but over the speed limit. Finally, we arrived at the bus station; I agreed to drop her off down the street just because I didn’t want anyone to see her getting out of my car, she threw me a roll of money “you’ve never seen me before and you will not speak of this night or I will find you John Hampton” she said with a stern look on her face. “Agreed” she nodded Ok shit just got really weird but I nodded in agreement.
    1 month later
    “This just in a man identified as Michael Thomson was found dead in the old distribution warehouse this morning by the maintenance crew. The coroner’s report states that the victim has been dead for about a month. Cause of death seven gunshot wounds, three to the head and four to the heart” the news reporter explained
    “There were no witnesses, but police say that the victim may have known who his killer was.”
    “The victim may have been lead to this spot by someone he knew; there were no signs of a struggle” statement from an officer
    “About two months ago the victim’s 12 year old step-daughter Alisa Johns went missing from her downtown home. The family reported the runaway 24 hours after she didn’t come home from school. There is still no updates on the young girls where abouts”

    My heart began to race as I sat on the edge of the bed starring at the picture of the young I picked from the library that night, confused I can’t fathom that I am now an accessory to murder.

  4. Betty

    “You got money to pay, little lady? ‘Cause if you ain’t got money to pay, we ain’t going nowhere.”
    The girl’s luminous eyes held mine as she nodded. “I can pay. I wouldn’t have called you if I couldn’t.”
    I’d swear those eyes were old, much older than the face they adorned. A moment later, the door across the street opened. A man stepped out.
    “That’s him,” she said.
    I frowned into the darkness. The man wore a tan trenchcoat and a dark hat. Impossible to see his face. He strode to a 1972 Galaxy 500. He unlocked the door.
    I chewed at the inside of my jaw. What should I do? The man got in the car. A moment later, the lights snapped on as he pulled away from the curb.
    “Go,” the girl said. “Go.”
    “Follow your gut,” my pa used to say. So I gripped the wheel and set my foot to the excelerator. The powder-blue Ford was easy to follow. Nobody made taillights like those any more. I whistled softly as we swung to the left around Fountain Square, then ascended the hill towards Mountain Pike.
    Near the top of the hill, the Ford passed under a traffic light as it turned from amber to red. I felt a nudge at my shoulder.
    “Don’t stop! He’ll get away.”
    I floored it, narrowly missing a guy on a motorcycle. I gritted my teeth, waiting to hear a siren. None came. A moment later, the Ford swerved hard to the right, then turned left.
    “He knows he’s being tailed,” I said to the rearview mirror. I pulled up alongside the narrow alley and peered into the darkness.
    “Please don’t lose him.”
    I tensed at the panic in her voice. My gut done clamped its mouth shut. I shifted into reverse, backed up and turned left.
    I drove real slow. I knew this area. It was not the place I wanted to be at this time of night. “Why are you following this guy?”
    “I’m not paying you to ask questions.”
    My mouth gapped open. I’d half a mind to stop right there and put her out. But I couldn’t do it. Not in this neighborhood.
    Brake lights shone up ahead.
    “There he is!”
    I sped up to follow the car as it eased right onto Base Street, then slid into another alley and parked beneath a glaring neon sign. I stopped and shut off the lights.
    The man got out and glanced around before taking a short staircase to a door. He rapped at the door and when it opened, stepped inside. What?
    The girl opened her door and ran straight toward the steps. I was right behind her. “Wait a minute! You didn’t pay me, you little―” It was too late, she pounded on the door and it opened. She dashed inside. Just before the lock clicked, I pushed it open and stepped inside, where I stood in shocked silence.
    “Surprise! Happy Birthday!”

  5. Pdomoniq

    The downtown street was still steamy from the recent rain shower that had just passed as I pulled up to the curb near one of the palm trees in front of the Library. Rachael Miller was the name that Mike my employer and the owner of the Tifton Taxi had given me. I didn’t see anyone. I pulled out my phone and called Mike. However, before Mike could pick up the back door of the van slide open. I hit the end button and turned around.

    A girl of about eleven stood in the doorway. Her shirt and jeans looked damp. Her hair was parted in crocked pig tails, and she wore a a hello kitty bag at her side. She reminded me of my daughter Stephanie when she had been that young.

    “Hello, dear. Is your mother coming?”

    Jumping in, “I requested the taxi,” she said and slammed the door with surprising strength. “Start the meter. There will be a man in a business suit and a black briefcase. I want you to follow him.”

    Feeling sorry for the girl, “Is he your father?”

    “No he is me.” I didn’t get a chance to ask.

    “There he goes,” she said pointing to the man exiting the Mexican Restaurant across the street. The man wasn’t alone. Two children who were about the girl’s age were with him.

    “Let’s give your mom a call.”

    “Go,” she ordered.

    “Shouldn’t you be at the pool or some place keeping cool?” I asked watching the man in the suit stumbled into the driver’s seat of a black sedan parked on the side of the street.

    “No. I should be in a meeting right now,” she mumbled. “Here.”She threw twenty dollars at me. The flat rate was usually 15.50.”

    If anything I was going to follow this man for the safety of the kids and the safety of the public. I gave one more pause before slowly easing from the curb. I started to dial the police when the sedan took an abrupt stop at the light almost hitting a woman with a walker. The car stopped just in time. When the light changed, the car sped through the intersection.

    I put my phone down and followed the car as it drove hurriedly through the light traffic, sighing as the car finally parked at the local water park. Before I could come to a complete stop, the little girl had unfastened her seat belt. “Hey,” I yelled. She drew another twenty dollar bill from her bag and threw it at me. “That’s not what..”

    Opening the door, she ran towards the man and tackled the man into the patch of grass. I exited the van, and looked on in horror as the little girl yanked a shell necklace from around his neck, and uttered something I couldn’t hear. The other kids looked om expressionless. The man stopped moving for a moment, and then sat up and patted himself. “I’m me!”

  6. Frostie

    It was a hot, mid-July night when I arrived at the county library to pick up a passenger. I rolled my eyes when I pulled up to an empty curb.

    Five minutes. That is all I’ll wait.

    Just when I shut the engine off, I saw a young girl dash out of the library. She stopped, taking a quick look around.

    I looked around, too, wondering what in the hell she was searching for. But the streets were empty. They were the only two on the block.

    She didn’t look any older than thirteen and had long, straight, jet black hair with wide, bright green eyes and a pale, freckled face. When she got closer to the car, I saw a few spatters of blood on her shirt, and a dark red smear on her right hand.

    She jumped into the backseat, and closed her eyes, clutching an old book against her heaving chest.

    I gulped, staring at her in my rearview mirror. After a few minutes of silence, I couldn’t take it anymore.

    “Are you alright?” I asked firmly.

    She jumped at the sound of my voice, almost as if she didn’t know I was there.

    “I… I…” She cleared her throat, catching her breath. “Yes, I am fine, thank you.”

    She spoke with an accent, one that I couldn’t quite discern.

    “Where do you need to go?” I tried hard to keep my voice from cracking.

    She squinted, and stared passed me at something on the other side of the road. She furrowed her brows, pursing her lips.

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    I glanced at the run-down restaurant. It looked like it had been out of business for a long time.

    I looked in my rearview again, watching as she opened her book, poring over the yellowed pages. Everything inside me told me that this wasn’t a good idea, but I couldn’t find the strength to tell this girl to find another cab. I was too curious to turn her down.

    Sure enough, five minutes later, an older man dressed in a dark suit exited the restaurant, hopping into a black car that pulled up in front of the building.

    I waited until he reached the next block before pursuing. I followed him for about fifty miles outside of town before I looked in the mirror at her, frowning.

    “Listen, I’ve got to know what is going on. Why do you need to follow this man?”

    She looked into my eyes, studying me before answering.

    “I made a promise that I am obligated to keep-” she paused, glancing at the book that rested in her lap. “I swore on my own existence that if I ever saw this disgusting waste of a life again, I was going to kill him the same way he tried to kill me.”

  7. Chad

    “Another hard night in the mean streets. No, no good.” Barry drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.
    “Another uphill night in a downhill town, Detective Striker was ready to wash this day away. The bottle of Jack in the glove box would do just the trick, but for now duty called. The stake-out dragged into its fourteenth hour but the detective was vigilant. Eyes locked on the restaurant across the street. Tonight is the night the Corelli family goes down.” The rear door of the Crown Victoria slammed shut and Barry jumped in his seat turning to face the intruder, wielding a half eaten hotdog. His left eye narrowed and he finished swallowing the morsel in his mouth.
    Barry plucked the folded money from her fingers. She was dressed like a boy; drainpipe jeans tucked into Doc Martens and a t-shirt under her flight jacket. Her braided pony-tail hid behind her soft round face.
    “What’s the matter? Never had a thirteen year-old fare before?” She said in a dead tone, challenging his open mouthed gaze. Barry sank back into his seat facing forward.
    “So where to ma’-”
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    “O-kay” Barry surrendered. He shifted in his seat and considered keeping time mentally but before he could start the clock he felt a kick to the back of the seat and his passenger blurted out,
    “That’s him! In the hat!”
    “Oh. Oh!” Barry stammered.
    “Go go!” She rattled. The man exited Juanita’s and immediately ducked down the alley between the restaurant and the pharmacy.
    “Go around.” Barry complied, easing the Crown Vic out of the library lot onto the street. A right then a left and he was parallel to the mark’s course.
    “Let me out at the corner.” Barry nodded. The car lurched to the curb. Barry let it roll a bit so he could see down Holly street. The girl jumped out onto the sidewalk and pressed herself against the wall. Exiting the alley, the man headed toward the corner where his ambush lay. The girl dug into her jacket and pulled out a shiny metal object. As he rounded the corner and caught sight of her, a bright flash caused him to throw his arm to his face.
    “Gotcha Uncle Paul!” The girl chirped with glee. The man laughed and hugged her.
    “That you did Pumpkin! Tell me you at least got my good side this time.” The girl showed him the back of the camera and he seemed amused. He glanced up and met eyes with Barry. He burst into laughter again.
    “No fair. Barry helped you.”
    “Being resourceful Sheriff!” She beamed. Barry grinned as he pulled away and returned the twosome’s waves.
    “See ya Jill!”

  8. w.r.i.t.e.r

    If you’re a taxi driver in a small town, you know just about everyone.
    As I leaned back into the torn leather seat of my cab, I prepared for a quiet night. I get the occasional drunk asking for a ride to his friend’s place to crash, but even that’s a rarity around here. I was parked in front of the one-room library next to a still gas station. It doesn’t matter where I park; if someone needs a lift, they’ll see my chipping yellow paint and find me.
    As the Beatles hummed on the fuzzy radio, I noticed a figure emerging from the library. In the dark of the night, I couldn’t quite make out her features. Upon entering the glow of a streetlamp, the person appeared to be a young, teenage girl. Her light brown hair was tied into two pigtails that cascaded against a pink sweatshirt. Few kids were left in this town, and she certainly wasn’t one of them.
    After looking both ways from across the street, the girl nervously scurried up to my cab. Curiosity winning me over, I turned to face her once she had crawled into the back seat of my taxi. Up close, I saw that she wore light freckles down her nose.
    In a tone of voice that told me she was not joking around, the girl said, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    My policy has always been, “It’s not my business.” But I knew that this was not a usual circumstance.
    “Don’t you have a specific place to go?” I offered, turning so that my eyes were locked on the health-code-violating restaurant she was speaking of. “I charge by the distance, so…”
    “Please, sir,” she pried, attempting to fasten a broken buckle. It’s not my business. I ducked my head, attempting to compromise my motto and my instincts. Still unsure of how to handle the situation, I brought my focus back up to the soon-to-be-shuttered Mexican restaurant.
    As the digital clock above my broken CD player expressed the fifth passing minute, I noticed someone leaving the restaurant. Fearing regret, I started the engine.
    Trying not to attract attention to us, I slowly steered the cab forward. The man we were following was tall, with dusty, brown hair and a slouched posture. I tried to halt my inquisitive thoughts and focus on the faint, yellow lines twisting down the road.
    Eventually, the man entered a relatively small house at a fork in the road. With the bill’s amount calculated in my head, I looked over my shoulder, ready to tell the girl how much she owed. She was still gazing at the door of the house, lost in her own wandering thoughts.
    “Who was that?” I asked, ignoring my policy. Her hazel eyes distant, the girl responded quietly, “That was my father. He doesn’t know I exist.”

  9. HannahBanana26

    I pulled the car to a stop in front of the library where a girl with dark braided hair and furrowed brows was waiting on the front steps. She was so intent on studying her watch that she didn’t even notice me drive up. I considered simply honking the horn to get her attention, but I thought it would be more polite to get out of the car.
    I opened the door and climbed out onto the sidewalk into the afternoon heat. “Did you call a cab?”
    The girl’s head whipped up, revealing piercing blue eyes that caused me to stop in my tracks. They didn’t look like they belonged to a girl no older than thirteen. They looked like they had been around for a lifetime. Like they had seen things.
    “Yes, of course,” she said in an accent I didn’t recognize. She checked her watch once more before turning away to collect her things. Finally, I saw her mouth, although I had received the call to pick her up only minutes earlier. She scooped up her plaid backpack and slung it over her shoulder, taking the stairs two at a time all the way down to the street.
    Up close, the girl was even smaller than I thought. If it weren’t for the harsh facial features, I would have guessed she was even younger. Maybe still in elementary school, which sparked a question. “It’s one thirty. Shouldn’t you be in class?”
    “It’s one thirty-two, actually,” she said while tossing her bag into the taxi. “And I no longer require schooling.” She motioned for me to get into the car before disappearing inside.
    Well, she was certainly strange, but at least she didn’t seem dangerous.
    I took a moment to settle into the worn leather seat before asking her where she needed to go. She hardly waited for me to finish the sentence.
    “In approximately five minutes, a man will walk out of that restaurant across the street. I want you to follow him.”
    At first, I wasn’t sure if she was serious, but for the short time I had known her, it didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. But even if she was serious, that didn’t mean I had to drive her. Not if she wanted me to be her accomplice in some sort of criminal activity.
    “I’m sorry miss, but I can’t do that.”
    “Why not? I have money if that’s what you’re worried about.” She leaned towards me and handed me two crisp hundred dollar bills.
    It would’ve been an excellent bribe if I were the type to accept bribes. “I won’t take that. If you want someone to drive you, you’ll have to call a different taxi.”
    She fell back, exasperated. “I don’t understand. They said the money would work. They said you wouldn’t be difficult,” she said under her breath. I was about to ask what she meant, but I didn’t have the chance. “Perhaps next time.” She pushed a button on her watch, and everything started to fade.

    * * *

    I pulled to a stop in front of the library where a girl with braided hair was waiting on the curb. She was staring at a peculiar looking watch on her wrist.
    I rolled down the window. “Did you call a cab?”
    She looked up at me, grinning. “Incredible,” she breathed. “I mean, yes, of course.”

  10. Heart2Heart

    Puella,
    Love these lines:
    Did I tell her about the day I left my wife? Did I tell her about my little girl?
    In the end, I simply told her the fare.

  11. itsme

    The mid-day sunlight washes down on the tarmac as I drive to the end of the street. The library itself seems to fold itself into the buildings beside it, the paint peels and cracks on the small wooden door, disguising the complex that lay inside. At exactly 6 minutes to 1, I park, and almost simultaneously, the girl opens the door just enough to allow her through and I glimpse a glimpse of interior. Nothing more than another set of doors. With her hair in bunches to the brightly coloured socks, she couldn’t have looked more than 13. In her hands, she was carrying a large book; but nothing else. She walks briskly to the car; her hands still sheltering the book, the spine nestled in the crook of her arm.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    “You don’t have to remind me, Miss,” I chuckle, “besides, isn’t it strange that they would use The Library out of all places, we could easily have used the antique shop when he was in town the other day.”
    “How will I know that I didn’t have to? After all you were a bit late today. Besides, this isn’t the time to question your superiors even if they were wrong, you understand?”
    “Yes, Miss, sometimes I forget that you aren’t 13 after all.”
    We watch the door of the Mexican place for a dark haired man with a suitcase travelling alone, but even more so at the digital clock.
    “He should be coming any minute now; let’s have another run through of the plan.”
    “We’ve been through this enough times, so much it’s starting to make me think that I can’t remember anything at all.”
    “WHAT?”
    “No. NO. I don’t really mean that.”
    “Never mind. A tall man with dark hair, travelling alone and carrying a suitcase in 2 minutes. We follow him to the airport and meet number 4. at the car park, and give him the book. We leave. Nothing’s going to go-”
    “He’s here.” I grasp the wheel, my foot on the accelerator almost staring as the man (everything according to our meagre description) puts his bag in the trunk…
    And turns around, pulls out a handgun and fires two shots at the passenger window and the glass shatters and rains down on number 2., her hands are still around the book as we accelerated…

  12. puella

    It’ll get me into trouble one day, but my policy is simple: don’t ask questions.
    I’ve seen a lot of things, driving at 2 am Friday nights, and I’ve seen a lot of things, driving noon Mondays. Taxi drivers do. Daylight and darkness, people are the same—strange, and people are my business. People of every shape and every color, people with eyeliner like raccoons and lips red like apples, ties tight as nooses and shirts stiff as boards, people with pink cheeks neuter smiles and hands softened only by roughness. People that whisper, whisper, people that shout, people who are tears held back, tears rushing forth, and tears denied. In a small town, business is people you know.
    So of course, when she came to me, I knew her. And when she asked me to follow the man, I knew who he was too. I knew what she needed to know, and I knew what she would know—where he went, when the dinner was done.
    Some people would say that I shouldn’t have done it, followed him, but business is business and I’ve done worse things for money that what I did today. Today—today I waited for the man to exit the town’s one, little, exceedingly white Mexican restaurant, waited for him to get into his small, old, car, and then, as he started down the little old road called Main Street, drove. Followed him out of town. Not a surprise. There wasn’t much town to drive in.
    Eventually, it got to where we were the only two cars on the road. I didn’t bother to hide that we were following him. Give him a chance to change, to cover things up. He didn’t. He went to the house. To the small cottage, to a woman with open arms and a smile.
    I stopped across the street. The girl got out, and stood in the open air for a long long second in which I think, maybe, the man with salsa stains on his blue collar shirt saw her. Then I started the car back up as she shut the door, and I drove her back to town.
    What did I tell her, the 13 year old girl who’d followed her father to another woman’s home? That it was an old story, written a thousand different ways with words more dangerous flavorful and colorful than hers had been? That it had a thousand angles, that hers was only one, one way to look at the light that, though dying now, might break out in the most unexpected ways?
    Did I tell her about the day I left my wife? Did I tell her about my little girl?
    In the end, I simply told her the fare.
    “25.50,” I said. She pulled the money out of her thin wallet, and gave it to me.
    And I drove away.
    I don’t ask questions, and I don’t give answers. One day it will get me in trouble. It didn’t today.

    1. Frostie

      I agree with Heart2Heart: I love these lines!

      “Did I tell her about the day I left my wife? Did I tell her about my little girl?
      In the end, I simply told her the fare.”

  13. Linzleh

    Morfman shoved the door of El Agave open with his free arm. A white plastic bag containing chicken nachos was swinging back and forth cutting into his hand. Rushing up the street he felt an odd, prickling sense of someone too close, yet glancing over his shoulder he saw little out of the ordinary. Quickly turning down a side street, he felt better moving among the shadows of his poorly lit neighborhood.

    “Kid, he’s gonna see us if I take the turn,” Ancho said as he braked, looking in the rear view mirror at the young passenger.

    “Do it or you’ll lose him!” the skinny, dark haired girl said peering over the seat to watch the man’s progress.
    Slowly edging the cab around the corner Ancho watched this intense kid focus on the man with the bag of food. “Watcha doin’ followin’ this guy anyway?” he muttered as he inched along the dark street.

    “None of your business…” she snarled, suddenly throwing open the back door of the cab, stumbling as she launched herself from the vehicle into the street. No one took her seriously, not even if it was their job to listen, she thought. Vaguely, in the darkening distance she could still make out the swaying white food bag. She moved quickly, sneakers soundlessly disguising her progress from shadow to shadow.

    Morfman could see his building and quickened his pace, edgy that’s what he felt. Maybe it was just hunger, but he could feel his anxiety rising and sweat was clinging to his forehead. He was almost at a jog when he ducked around the closest corner, deciding to double back and wait.

    Ancho couldn’t believe this kid, jumping a fare! Grabbing his keys out of the ignition, he slammed the cab door and followed the kid. Pounding heavily on the pavement he thought he saw her ahead crouched next to a building. Out of breath, pushing himself, car keys held tight in his sweating palm, he lurched ahead another fifty feet. He practically fell upon her and she screamed; punching and kicking at him as he tried to grab her shoulders. His car keys fell to the sidewalk as the toe of her red converse hit his groin.

    Morfman heard screaming, his stomach seized. Not again, he knew that kid had tracked him down. Relentless she was, amazing her determination to claim him, very creepy actually. He left the food and took off at a run; angling away from the commotion on the corner. Spotting an abandoned cab, he yanked the door open, jammed his pocket knife into the ignition and the engine roared to life. Throwing it in reverse, he careened over the curb onto the main road and hit the gas.

    Ancho rolled on the sidewalk as the kid calmly walked away from the crowd. He watched her stomp that guy’s bag of Mexican food to mush. Disgusted he crawled to his knees, snatched up his keys and saw his cab was gone.

  14. JR MacBeth

    TRUE STORY

    “OK, chica, so you want to follow this hombre…why?” The cabby looked at the young girl. Very pretty, but so young. What was he thinking? He pushed the thought out of his head, his abuela’s voice sounding in his head, “Degenerato!”

    “Don’t worry about why, just do it!” She pulled out a wad of cash and threw a fifty at him.

    Ay carramba, one of these. “OK seniorita, whatever you say.”

    They drove only a few blocks. A very large man walked out of the restaurant. “It’s him.”

    The driver looked back at her. “You’re serious? I hope he’s got a car…” He started to laugh. “I hope he can feet into a car, ha, ha, or I think you can follow him yourself a pie, on foot, you know what I mean?”

    “Very funny. He has a car. Watch him.”

    The man lit a cigar, then looked both ways as he crossed the street. There was no need to worry about traffic in this one-horse town, but his big city clothes probably explained it.

    “Who is El Gordo?”

    “My father.”

    “Oh, I’m sorry seniorita, perdoname…”

    “Just shut up.”

    The heavy man squeezed into an older Cadillac. For an hour, they followed, occasionally pulling over, or doing what the young gringa ordered. She didn’t want him to know they followed, but the cabby was sure El Gordo must know. There just weren’t very many other cars out so late.

    “Seniorita? Is your father een trouble?”

    “He’s a doctor. Any more questions George friggin’ Lopez?”

    Suddenly, the Cadillac was gone. The cabby was confused. He must have been too distracted. He looked back to the girl. She had a gun!

    “Ay, Dios mio!” He slammed on the breaks. He now saw the big car was behind him, coming to a stop.

    “Seniorita? A gun? Por que?”

    “Get out of the car,” she said, as she opened her door, “hands over your head.”

    “I have a green card..een my wallet!”

    “Shut up!”

    Heavy footsteps behind. “I think he’ll do.”

    —————————————————————-

    “Another one. Second one this week. Cab drivers.”

    “Looks about the same age too.”

    “Twenty-five, the oldest so far.”

    A crime scene. A body. Two officers chatting over the remains of a man, found in the desert.

    “Do we have anything on these bastards yet?”

    “Maybe. There’s the cigar butts, and the fact that they have to have medical training.”

    “I still think it’s the mafia.”

    “No. A dozen cases. Not just the cigars. I’m positive now that we have one more common denominator.”

    “The female fares. But they said this one was just a young girl…”

    “Maybe…A doctor, and his daughter…A family maybe…”

    —————————————————————–
    —————————————————————–

    ROBIN COOK’S “COMA” HELPED INSPIRE THIS PIECE. WHILE NOT A TRUE STORY IN IT’S SPECIFICS, THE ILLEGAL HARVESTING OF ORGANS IS NOW A $40 BILLION INDUSTRY ACCORDING TO HAVOSCOPE, AND GROWING FASTER THAN THE ILLEGAL DRUG TRADE. IF YOU WANT TO READ SOME REAL “TRUE STORIES”, TAKING PLACE RIGHT NOW, BE PREPARED TO BE ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED, DISGUSTED AND OUTRAGED.

    JR

    1. Naomi

      A well written episode of a kidnapping, and murder for profit, ending with a twist. Your descriptions, and dialogue, are done very well. I think you blended Spanish and English so well in the driver’s speech that using the phonetic spelling of “in” as “een” could be removed without losing any sense of the driver’s accent.

      Your story definitely presented an act of illegally harvesting human organs. What I missed was an emotional connection to the driver. Something that would take me beyond mourning a death, to mourning his (the driver) death. The horror of a human being killed for profit is enormous, but who was the driver and who will miss him, and be crushed by his death? Only a suggestion, but perhaps ending the story with the police notifying the driver’s family about his death, still including the details about the human organ harvesting ring. A way to see the impact of illegal organ harvesting on the victim’s loved ones, and to gain insight about the life that was taken.

      1. JR MacBeth

        Great suggestions Naomi! That old 500 word limit makes it tough on us, but I completely agree, we needed to connect better with the victim. I had hoped that his humor might begin to make him more “real”, and that the George Lopez reference might put a familiar face on him, but at the end of the day, it’s emotion that brings it, and I agree, I dropped the ball at the end.

        I appreciate your feedback on the accent too. I wasn’t sure about using the “een”, but one more good observation Naomi. Even though I was hoping it was “just enough” (but not too much) to ensure the accent was conveyed, now that I look at it again, it was just a distraction, I could have easily done without it.

        By the way, the minute I read your comment, the inspiration hit me that some irony was due. That person who would be crushed by the loss of this poor cabby with a sense of humor, could have been his little sister (hermanita, around the same age as the girl with the gun, who he loved more than anyone, who might have relied on his income, because both parents were dead, etc…

        Thanks so much for your insightful comment and inspiration!

        JR

        1. Naomi

          You are very welcome, JR! I’m flattered that my comments inspired you. I think your idea about the impact of the driver’s death on his little sister is great, providing an aspect of the driver’s life, and further exposing one of the many dreadful consequences of illegal human organ harvesting. The irony of taking a life to save a life (only because of $$$ involved, though) demonstrated by the drastic impact on the driver’s sister, who loses her beloved brother. I look forward to reading more of your stories.

  15. Myra

    George took his eyes from his battered taxi’s rear-view mirror and twisted his head as far as his 86-year-old neck would allow to look full-on at the school girl parked in his dusty back seat. She kept the strap of the worn backpack she had drug down the library’s cement steps in a white-knuckled grip. Her hot pink skirt flared somewhere above her knees. She really shouldn’t wear it so short – not safe these days, he thought.

    “Follow who where, missy? And while we’re at it, what for?”

    “The internet man. My name is Ticey, not Missy and I don’t know where.” She patted the backpack with her free hand. “He forgot this, so I looked to see who he was so I could give it back. We gotta stop him!”

    “I think you left something out, Miss Ticey. What do you mean ‘Internet Man’ and stop him from what?”

    “It says he’s supposed to take a bomb somewhere and blow something up. He’s supposed to pick up the money, wait five minutes and leave. Here’s the instructions.” She tossed a page torn from a yellow legal pad over the front seat. It doesn’t say where so we have to . . . There he is! Follow him!”

    George turned to see a twenty-something dark-haired man carrying a Wal-Mart bag exit Taco Tom’s, glance up and down Second Street and head to a dented Econoline van that may have been tan beneath the grime. The van spun out of the gravel lot spitting rocks and headed north toward the lone green light shining at the intersection of Main and Second Street, right next to the county courthouse.

    Something stirred to life deep in George’s veins, something rooted way back to the call of duty he had answered in 1944 the day he turned 18. “God help us,” he muttered.
    He put his taxi in gear, pulled out behind the van which was considerably exceeding the posted 25 mile-per-hour limit. He pressed harder on the accelerator while glancing down at the note. The light ahead blinked red. The van didn’t slow.

    “Holy Moses!” George cried, pulling a sharp left into the city park.

    “What are you doing? He’s going that way!” Ticey screamed, “You’re going to lose him!”

    Jaw set, eyes dead ahead, George squealed to the shore of the small lake at the center of the park. Arthritic pain forgotten, he jumped out, yanked open the back door, grabbed the backpack and splashed into the water. With every ounce of strength he could muster, he heaved the pack toward the deepest part of the lake, hurried back to the cab and threw it in reverse. The explosion rocked the cab as water shot into the air.

    “Wow, that’s crazy,” Ticey said, finally peeking over the back seat. “How did you know?”

    “Paris, WW II. Picked up a bit of French. Your little yellow note said ‘bibliotheque’ – library in French. He was supposed to blow up the library. You saved our books Miss Ticey. Check that out.”

  16. The Wired Journal

    I had just dropped what I hoped to be the last fare of the night, twelve hours of driving had earned me just over two hundred dollars. I was exhausted and strung out from the road. I was in route to gas up. I normally wouldn’t have stopped, but it was getting late and my conscience could not allow me to pass by such a young girl probably no more than thirteen at such a late hour. I pulled over and she quickly jumped in.
    “Where you going young lady” I asked. I was shocked at her response.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant over there across the street?”
    “Yes what about it?” I asked.
    “In about five minutes a man is going to come out of that restaurant; I want you to follow him.”
    “Hey, look! I’ve had a long hard day. My shift is over and I’m going home. I’ve no time for playing games.”
    “OO please Mr. I’m not playing games this is really, really important. Here look I’ve got plenty of money. I will take care of you. Please?”
    “OO really, is that so. What can possibly so important to a young girl that you are out so late and stocking grown men? Your parents know where you are? Are you in some kind of trouble?”
    “No, this man is my girl friend’s uncle and she…; OOO my god there he is. Will you help me please? Will you follow him? I’ll pay whatever it costs.”
    “Alright kid, but no funny business, and any sign of trouble and that’s it. You understand?”
    “Yes, perfectly, there’ll be no trouble I promise.”
    “So what’s this all about?” I asked.
    She barely had a chance to respond, when he spotted my taxi and began waving as if to flag me down and began running across the street.
    “O my god” she screamed hysterically, her voice cracking with fear and tears.
    “He saw us, Go, Go, Go. He’ll kill us. Step on it. Go, Go, Go, hurry.” she screamed.
    My heart and adrenalin began pumping uncontrollably. In fear for both our safety I hit the gas and sped away. She was crying hysterically and uncontrollably at this point but still blurting out “OO my god he seen us, he’s going to kill us. We’re going to die.”
    He stopped running and I could see in my rear view mirror him holding something up waving and shouting something. I wasn’t much more than a block down the street when two dark SUV’s with lights flashing and sirens blazing were on my tail. I had no choice but to pull over. She frantically jumped out of my taxi before I had a chance to come to a full stop rolled on the ground then got up and began running. Within moments, my taxi was surrounded by people screaming with guns drawn shouting.
    “Federal Agents put your hands on the wheel.”
    I quickly complied. Seconds later I heard multiple gunshots coming from down the street in the direction she ran.

      1. The Wired Journal

        I’m not sure what the ending was myself I just signed up here. I saw the writing prompt felt the stimuli and jumped on it, This was a first draft and I did no editing or revision I just clicked post when I hit the 500 word limit. I do like the idea that I can take it in many directions though. In as far as the quality and voice stuff I’m just learning so I guess it is what it is. I’m very happy I found this site though and am looking forward to learning more and trying to developing my writing. thanks for the comment JR your taking the time to read me and commenting is much appreciated.

  17. scidney57

    As I pulled the cab up near the curb to the library I couldn’t help but think that this hadta be one of THE strangest fares I ever had; at least for this week. And me a sixty-year-old toll booth collector outta Brooklyn moving to the boonies to get fresher air for my one last lung; you wudda thought I seen it all, nah, guess I ain’t. So I pulled my ball cap lower on my head, slanted it near my eyes, (I wanted my old tough-guy look) crimped out my cigarette butt in the too full ashtray, thinking what’s a spindly looking kid about 13- years-old, with a carrot-red afro, dangly jeweled earring–just one, (that looked like she borrowed it from her grandmother, nah, great-grandmother), wearing eyeglasses too big and bold they seemed like they magnified her eyes almost outside her face, doing calling a cab in the middle a broad daylight? Crap, she had a skateboard for crap’s sake too, ride it kid, ya don’t need me. But then that’s what I get for thinking; so I rolled down the window.

    “Hello, Mister, can I get a ride?”

    “Wadda needa ride fa, kid, ya gotta skatebowhd, dohwncha, uz it. Now geht atta heh, skhram-o.”

    ” But, Mister, you see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him. My mother’s a waitress there and she said that man is been talking about blowing something up. Every day he comes in he’s always talking about it on his cell phone. Please, mister, I got to follow him.”

    Whats a cabbie ta do? I’m sittin’ in a one-light town, with no udda fares, gotta whiney, red-head spouting sum B S dahrections and itsa sunny day. Gotta take dis fare I sez to me. “Aw right kid, wher ya goin’?”

    “Thanks, Mister, just follow him when he comes out, we’ll see where he goes to?”

    We? I think. I ain’t in this.

    Just then this freak ofa teenager (wearing all ripped an messy clothes, with spiky green/yellow/blue hair and tattoos up his arms in the same colors) grabs the handle of the cab, opens the door and jumps in.

    “Hey, I don let no freaks in dis cab–GET YER ASS OUTTA IT!”

    The red-head pipes up, “Oh, sorry mister, that’s my brother, ah, ah half-brother, he just looks freaky, he’s my helper. Our parents met in a bar, it’s a long story.”

    “Crap, ya cudda gihve me an attack! Kidzz!”

    “Hey, there’s the man! Let’s go!” sez the brother.

    I speed off. Like a commuter flying through the “pass lane.”

    We follows him to dis abandoned building right near the blinkin yellow light and these two kids hop outta the cab and trowa cuppla bills on tha seat and yell back ta me.

    “Meet us tomorrow, Mister, at the library. Same time. Thanks for the ride!”

    Whatsa a cabbie ta doh? Ina one-light town and no udda fares in sight? Guess I know where’ll be tomorra.

  18. mick60a

    I was sitting in my cab outside the county library admiring the latest sunset when my fare jumped in the back seat

    “Where too Miss?” I asked her as I looked in my rear view mirror.

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes a man will be coming out, I want you to follow him.” She said.

    “Miss?” I asked.

    “Yes I know it sounds crazy but trust me, he will be coming out in five minutes.” She said as she handed me a couple of Fifty dollar bills.”

    I turned in my seat to get a better look at whom my fare was. She was no more than thirteen years old. A green rubber band held her soft brown in a pony tail that hung over her left shoulder. Her nose had a few freckles on it as well as the rest of her face.

    She smiled at me, and I saw a glimpse of her childhood still shining in her green eyes as well.

    “That’s him,” She said as she tapped my shoulder.

    I noticed a man with a slight limp walking away from the Mexican place. If I had to say it he would be in his late fifties or maybe early sixties.

    He got in a cab that was parked up the street from mine and got in, the cab pulled away from the curb. I put my cab in gear and followed.

    It stopped in front of the hospital a little while later. I pulled into the hospital waiting area. The other cab stopped at the door, the man got out and went inside the hospital.

    My fare was sitting in the back, chewing on her thumbnail.

    “Miss?” I said.

    She started to cry and told me that the man we followed was her birth father.

    “He had gotten my mother pregnant but was married and would not leave his family. But he always sent money for birthdays and holidays but Mom told me he was a special uncle.”

    “Last month she finally told me about him. That he was my real dad. He had called her and told her about his condition.”

    “So I just have to be there for him at least once in my life Sir!”

    I nodded.

    I called dispatch to let them know I was done for the day. I got out of the cab went around and held the door open for my young fare.

    “My name is Mike.” I told her.

    “Annie!” She said as she smiled and wiped away the tears.

    I took her arm in mine and walked into the hospital with her.

    She checked in at the front desk. I followed her down to the surgical wing. She hugged me as a nurse came and took her into pre-op.

    You see Annie was a perfect bone marrow match for a man she had never met.

    Blood truly is thicker than water.

  19. crazy101

    This is the first time I’ve posted and I think I messed up and my story got mixed in with earlier post instead of most recent. (My fault of course) Sorry! So I reposted. I hope that was okay.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________
    Dispatched to pick up a fare, I pulled my cab into the parking lot of Wade’s only library a few minutes before ten. The sign on the door read closed. Not surprising since most people in this one-light town turned in before the sun did.
    Camouflaged by the shadow of a Sawtooth Oak, a tow-headed girl stepped out into the moon light. She donned jeans and a black jacket and the youth of thirteen years. Not one day more. She was too young to be out alone. Even small towns have psychos.
    She opened the cab door and slid in behind me.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of the restaurant, and I want you to follow him,” she said with a smile.
    “Follow him? Why?” I asked.
    She dug in her pocket and extracted two crumpled bills, tossing them over the seat. “Why…doesn’t matter.”
    “It does to me. I could lose my job if my boss found out,” I said. I picked up the two-hundred dollars and handed it back.
    As I stared at her through the rearview mirror, her eyebrows kissed in frustration. “Who would tell?” she asked.
    “I don’t know? Maybe the guy you want me to follow,” I stated the obvious.
    “I’m running out of patients with you,” she snapped and threw the money at my reflection.
    “Okay…that’s it. Get out.” I snatched the money off the floorboard and slung it out the window.
    “There he is,” she said, pointing to a tall mountain of a man walking to his truck. “Just follow him.”
    “Tell me why,” I said as headlights turned south onto Main Street. And that’s when I heard a click. I heard the click of a gun being cocked. The lethal sound made me gasp.
    “I was going to kill him,” she said in a steady voice that turned my blood cold. “And now you’ll take his place.”
    “You’re the killer they been talking about on TV?”
    “Well, yeah, but don’t believe everything you hear,” she said, waving the gun about. She leaned back against the seat and laughed. “They’re trying to blame me for three murders that I didn’t do. Hell, I’ve never even been to Alabama. And that stupid news anchor woman hasn’t even mentioned the four men I killed in Louisiana.”
    “Why?”
    “Why not?” She smiled, winking.
    “Michael this is Karen,” blurted the dispatcher. My heart didn’t skip a beat. It stopped. I felt the gun push against the back of my skull. “Where you at?”
    “If I don’t answer her, she’ll call the police,” I said, trembling.
    She twisted her fingers in my hair and jerked my head back, shoving the gun in my face. “One wrong word and your dead sooner than later.” She let go.
    I picked up the microphone. I swallowed my fear.
    “Michael?” the dispatcher said.
    “Yeah Karen.”
    “Duck.”
    And I did as my father—the tall mountain of a man—shot to kill.

  20. rob akers

    NOTE: I came in at 588 words. I am sorry but I could not shrink it down any more. Next week I will stop at 400 words.

    A Captain Bill Rimes Story

    17 September 2011

    Major Jimmy Everest popped his head in Bill’s office. “Dude, the clock on the wall says that’s all.”

    Jimmy was 5 minutes early for the Pilot Meeting and Bill was not surprised. “Where is the DZ and the TOT?” Bill asked.

    “Drop Zone is the Bean Dip. Time Over Target in fifteen mikes!”

    Bill knew Jimmy had chosen the Mexican restaurant based solely on the waitress. “I am IP inbound, starting run-in.”

    “Billy, I have an eye problem.” Jimmy said.

    “You can’t see having less than 3 margaritas?”

    “No, that hottie has the afternoon off. I can’t see coming back.”

    Walking out, they were stopped by Colonel Ramirez. “Bill, follow me.”

    Jimmy looked at Mad Ram and decided to ride with someone else while Bill followed the Colonel into his office. “You are ordered to report to the Wal-Mart parking lot. There will be a white van there, get in and do what they say.”

    “What’s up Boss?”

    “I don’t know and don’t make me care. I just got off the phone with the General. Off you go!”

    Bill stopped his Jetta next to a white van and the cargo door opened. He got in and it drove off. The two men
    with bad haircuts in the front were quiet while the three Air Force Officers in the back row, exchanged semi nervous looks. Stopping at the Library across from the DZ, a teenage looking girl climbed in while the driver turned to Bill and handed over several pictures. “Captain Rimes. Do you know that man?”

    “Yes.” The girl’s appearance told him there was trouble and no one in the van was on his side.

    “We need more than that. Tell us everything you know about him.” The man in the passenger seat added.

    “Am I under arrest?” Bill asked.

    “Not yet.”

    “Am I being charged with a crime?”

    “Not yet. Did Major Everest smuggle alcohol into the AOR?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “What was in his foot locker?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “Why did you help him move it?”

    “Because of the tent inspection.

    “You admit that you knew he had something in the locker!” The passenger yelled at Bill.

    “I knew it was heavy. Look, Jimmy is the best pilot I have ever known and I trust Jimmy with my life but not my money or my wife. I don’t have a clue what was in the locker. Who are the three stooges?” Bill motioned to the back.

    “We are witness only.” One of the three spoke.

    “I am not saying anything else without a lawyer.”

    The middle Officer spoke. “Captain Rimes, I am now your legal counsel. You do not have to answer any more questions. You are not under suspicion and you are free to leave anytime.”

    “Then I choose to leave.” Bill started to get up when the girl blocked the door.

    “AC. It has been 2 years since I last saw you.”

    She spoke up defiantly. “I am Air Force Lieutenant Gloria Reynolds. I hate that nickname.”

    “Do you know what the name means?”

    “Army Chick.” She spitted.

    “Anal Cavity, as in that is what you liked Jimmy to explore. Do these men know you slept with him the entire deployment in Afghanistan? My lawyer better call it entrapment.”

    “Is this true, Lieutenant?” The Bill’s lawyer asked.

    “I caught her in the act.” Bill answered. “Now, drive me back to my car because I don’t trust you, the Salem Witch Hunt, this dirty old whore or Jimmy and his one way trip to Leavenworth.”

      1. Amy

        Still love to hate that Major Jimmy! I loved the “eye problem” lines…terrific. I hope Jimmy gets what’s comin’ to him soon. Look forward to more!

  21. radioPanic

    Sorry, I’m gonna be a jerk here, and post twice. After reading some of the posts here, I just wanted to see if I could do something with no supernatural elements, no science fiction, no weird science. And I felt an unexplained compulsion to use the word “tweenie” a few more times. (“Tweenie.”)
    ___________________________________________________________________
    I look at Tweenie in the rearview, saying, “Uh, rules say you have to give me an actual destination.”

    Tweenie peels eyes from Tequila’s front door, rolling them with a theatric sigh. “Fine. Home, then. But you gotta take the same scenic route he’s gonna take.”

    I rub fingers over my brow. “All… right… I guess.”

    She taps a staccato burst of manicured nails on my shoulder. “There he is! Don’t lose him! Go go go go!”

    “He’s walking,” I say, with a slow shift into drive. “Think I can manage.”

    We poke along behind. I pull to the curb several times to let him pull ahead, but it probably doesn’t matter. The guy’s oblivious, ears stuffed with earbuds, marching along in a rapper’s swagger, arms jerking, flapping, flinging swaths of attitude. Baggy cuffs scuff the walk, and a huge Ecko shirt waves from his skinny five-four frame.

    I glance in the mirror, and Tweenie’s got eyes glued to the guy’s back, face twisted in a look that should be controlled under some federal statute.

    “You know, I’m prohibited from knowingly being party to anything illegal,” I say.

    She looks at me like I’m something the cat left soaking into the carpet overnight, then back to the guy. Whatever. Less I know, the better. At least the meter’s running.

    At long last, the guy approaches the bike rack in the shade of the huge oak and starts patting his pockets.

    “Wait here,” the girl hisses, and jumps out, leaving the door wide.

    “The f—?” I watch, mouth open, as she sneaks up to the guy. I spread my hands. “The fuck are you doing?” I mutter. I drop them in my lap, spread them again. “The fuck am I doing?”

    I kill the fan, and July heat barrels in to erase all the AC’s headway. I swipe a bead of sweat from my face as the girl rounds the tree after him.

    Some kind of scuffle, and my hand’s on the door handle, but I can’t make sense of what little of the flailing shows around the massive tree trunk. Then Tweenie’s running back to the car, huge pink grin. She jumps in and slams the door. “Drive! Drive drive drive!”

    I pull forward, and the guy, just a kid, clutches his waistband, stuffing his boxers back in, looking at us, wires dangling from his ears.

    “You’re it, fucker!” the girl shouts, finger jabbing at the window. The kid flips her off.

    “Ahhh,” she says, settling back. “And rules are, no tag-backs for fifteen minutes.”

    Once my heart’s settled back roughly where it belongs, I ask the huge pink grin in the mirror, “Home, then?”

    “Nah, I feel like celebrating. Dairy King! My treat.”

    “Before I accept, I should point out that he’s on a bike and can make it clear across town with time to spare.”

    “I’ll take my chances,” she says. Manicured nails reach over and bounce a bike lock key onto the front seat.

    “You’re on.”

    1. Ishmael

      I couldn’t choose which was my fave, tweenie this story or your other. I think I first came across your works a few weeks ago, and haven’t been disappointed in the least. This accomplished everything you set forth to do. Totally away from all the supernat stuff…just a game of tag. Fun romp! You have an excellent way about your stories. Thanks for the second great read from you this week.

  22. mwhite1212

    The library’s a great place to start a story, wouldn’t you say?
    I’m one of two cab drivers in Prince County, so I guess the odds of me taking this fare were pretty good. Still, seems like I’ve got some really bad luck. The trouble started when I picked up this little girl at the county library. I pull up and this serious-lookin’, punky kid gets in my cab.
    Right away, I felt some kind of nervous energy coming off of her. I turned around to ask her where she was goin’ and she said, “In a few minutes, a man is going to come out of that Mexican restaurant, and I need you to follow him for me.”
    “Are you serious?”
    “I’m very serious, sir.”
    “You got any money on you, kid?”
    She showed me a twenty dollar bill, so I said to myself, might as well, right? I didn’t have anywhere to be anyway. A fare is a fare.
    “Who is this that we’re going to be following, if you don’t mind me asking?”
    “I’m sorry sir, but I do mind you asking. I’d rather not say.”
    “How old are you?”
    “Thirteen.”
    “Pretty serious for being so young, don’t ya think?”
    “I guess so.”
    I turned around and looked at her in the rearview mirror.
    “I hope you don’t plan on doing anything illegal. I don’t want to be caught in the middle of anything. You seem a little bit nervous right now, and that makes me nervous.”
    “You have no reason to be nervous, sir. I just need you to follow that man for me.”
    We waited for about another five minutes with her staring out the window at the restaurant entrance. I didn’t ask any more questions. Suddenly she jerked up straight in the back seat and said, “That’s him.”
    A short, stocky man with dark brown hair came out and walked to the small parking lot. I turned the ignition and watched until he got into his car and pulled out onto the road. There was no other traffic, so I waited a second before pulling off, trying not to be obvious.
    Now, I live in a small town, and it’s really hard to not be obvious when you’re following someone. This guy started slowing down after the first few turns, and I got the idea that he knew what was up. Then he suddenly slowed down pulled over.
    “Please pull over,” said the girl, looking at me in the rearview mirror, “I need to speak with him.”
    For some reason that I cannot explain, I pulled up behind this guy. He got out with his hands raised and was cursing me in Spanish. I noticed the girl slip out of the rear passenger door, but he never did. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her raise a pistol and point it at the man. I looked at her just as she pulled the trigger twice. I remember being impressed by how well she held the gun.
    I put the car in reverse as she reached for me and yelled, “Wait!”
    I don’t know why, but I did. She got in the back seat and looked at me in the mirror.
    “My name is Kaeda, and that was the man that killed my father.”

    1. MCKEVIN

      A good complete stoey. I liked it and I hope you continue it the future. It would be exiting to know why the guy killed the girl’s father. Good job.

  23. MCKEVIN

    Very good. I especially like the part of a story within a story. Don’t be surprised if I use that little gem in the future. See ya next time at the forum.

  24. Nicole778899

    She held out a gloved hand as I was driving by. I stopped the cab and she opened the door letting a bone chilling breeze in.
    “Thanks,” She murmured rubbing her hands as white puffs came out her mouth. She was much younger then expected, but decked out in a thick winter cost and sunglasses it was hard to tell.
    “To sunny for you?” I joked.
    She laughed, ” Let’s cut to the chase, you see that Mexican resturant right there?” I strained my eyes, but figured out what see was talking about. ” In five minutes a man will walk out of that resturant, I want you to follow him.”
    I raised my eyebrow and chuckled, “Where’s your parents?” She smiled and put her hands in her pockets. In her hands laid two hundred dollar bills.
    “Keep you mouth shut, and follow the man.” Her voice turned icy and hollow.
    A man came out the resturant, puffed a plume of smoke, and threw a cigar on the ground.
    ” Hurry up he’s gonna leave!”
    ” Listen-” A click sounded and something was pressed up to my head.
    ” If you don’t follow him I’ll blow your brains out!” She jammed the barrel deeper into my hair. I looked for the man and saw a door close on a car. I started driving and she took the gun away. ” You want to hear a story,” She paused, then continued without answer. ” A woman married a man, she wanted children so bad she didn’t care about who he was. He was crazy, mental, tried to kill her and the children. She was in that hell for years and when she got out it wasn’t done. Her terrorized her daughter, she came home every night and couldn’t sleep with fear. He turned her against her mother. ”
    The man’s car stopped and he walked into a dark alleyway.
    ” Let me out. ” The girl demanded. I stopped the car and she clambered out of my cab and walked in to the alleyway. Three gun shots rang out and the girl returned with blood sprayed on her body. She walked out to my window and spoke through it. ” That woman was my mother. ” Then held up her hand and two hundred dollar bills fluttered to the ground.

  25. aprillee

    Henry pulled the taxi up to the one stoplight in town and looked both ways. With nothing in sight, he considered going but waited until it turned green. So far today, he had taken Ms. Ashton to the doctor and listened to more detail of her ailments than he cared for, delivered a sick Elizabeth to her mother, cleaned the seats from the sick Elizabeth, and seen to it that Jimmy got home from after-school detention. Tonight, he would be at the bar to take Hugh home once he’d had enough. He hated this job.

    His young passenger ran down the steps of the library and dropped into the seat beside him. Her backpack fell to the floor, and she picked up the copy of “Surviving Natural Disasters” he had been reading.

    “Nice,” she commented.

    “Where to?”

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    “Why?”

    “Are details really necessary?”

    “Does your mother know what you’re doing?”

    She threw up her hands in exasperation. “It’s always mothers with you people.”

    “You’re a minor in my taxi. I need to know you have permission to do whatever it is you’re doing.”

    “Things were so much easier when I was older and could do things myself. There he is. Sooner than I expected. I don’t have time for explanations. We have to follow him.” When Henry didn’t move, she said, “Go!”

    Why was he doing this? Henry pulled out behind the old pickup truck.

    “Not so close. Haven’t you ever followed anyone before?”

    “No.”

    The stoplight turned red. The truck zoomed through. Henry slowed.

    “What are you doing? No one’s coming! Go!”

    He stomped the pedal. No one stopped him. No blue lights appeared.

    They followed the truck for twenty minutes, getting faster as they passed the town limit. Part of him knew he was being stupid. Another part felt a rush of excitement as he glanced down and saw ninety on the speedometer.

    “There!” the girl yelled.

    The truck skidded off onto a dirt road. Henry followed. Janet was going to kill him for messing up the car.

    “Stop!”

    He slammed on breaks by a field. The girl jumped out and ran after the man who had gotten out of his truck and was running into the field. Henry followed. He should stop her. The man glanced back, smiled, then vanished. She stopped and pulled a black box covered in lights from her bag. After studying it a moment, she threw it back in and started back toward Henry.

    “Lost him,” she said.

    “Who?”

    “He’s wanted on seventeen planets.” With determination on her face, she said, “I will be the one to catch him.” She dropped back into the car, so Henry did, too. “Being young is proving difficult. I could use a parental figure around.” She gave Henry a sweet smile. “You up for the job?”

  26. EdwardPaul

    The sheer horror of feeling someone enter his mind is something that Jack would never be able to adequately describe.

    Jack saw the girl as he pulled his cab up to the curb in front of the library. She couldn’t have been more than 13 or 14 in Jack’s eyes, but he lost the ability to judge the age of anyone under 20 a long time ago. As she crossed the street in front of the cab she kept looking up the block as if looking for something or someone.

    She stepped onto the sidewalk and finally turned her head, noticing the cab for the first time. It looked like an idea suddenly hit her and she changed her direction and moved towards the cab. Jack made sure his fare light was off, but it was too late. She was already in the back seat.

    “Are you the one that called for the cab?”, Jack asked.

    The girl hesitated and ran her hand through her long blonde hair. “Yes”, she finally said.

    It was a lie. Jack knew this wasn’t his fare. “Listen, someone called for a cab. If you are not that person I cannot take you anywhere.”

    She ignored him and looked out the front of the cab up the block towards the resturants and bars. “Do you see that restaurant?”, she asked. “The one with all the colors?”

    Jack looked out the windshield and saw the one she must have been referring to. “The Mexican restaurant? Sure. You can walk there, you know.”

    She kept her eyes focused on the restaurant. “In less than five minutes a man is going to come out of that restaurant. I want you to follow him.”

    Jack turned and faced her. “Don’t know what you’re up to and, quite frankly, I don’t really care” he told her. “Please get out now. The person who actually called for a cab will be here any second.”

    Her gray eyes bored into his. After a moment it became apparent that she wasn’t going to leave. Jack was about to tell her to leave again when she leaned forward towards the thick plastic that separated the front of the cab from the passenger seat.

    “You’re not going to care if I make a scene and cry and you’re not a perv so a child seducing you isn’t going to work either”, she began. “So please understand that I am truly sorry for this.”

    Jack didn’t know if he heard he correctly as what she was saying didn’t make sense. He opened his mouth to tell her to get out when he felt it. “It” was the only word that came to his mind because “it” was unlike anything he had ever experienced before. Through his eyes he could see the girl, young, blond, childish face. But in his mind he saw images as if they were vivid memories. He was daydreaming, but the dreams weren’t his. The images and thoughts were like memories, but they were of things he never saw or experienced in his entire life.

    The memories were old, so very old. He saw houses made of stone with straw roofs in a forest, and he saw them burned to the ground. He saw children playing in a field, careless of any of the worries that adults have. And he saw them laying dead in the same field in which they played. He witnessed the destruction of cities with buildings that he couldn’t recognize. He experienced the pain and loss of love while, at the same moment, the sickening thrill and exhilaration of taking a life. He saw blood on what appeared to be his own hands, but the hands were different, scarred, and old.

    If evil where a tangible object, he saw it as a memory.

    He knew that his own memories were being displayed to the girl in the backseat of his cab. He knew what she was doing because it was now part of his own memory. He knew that there was nothing he could do to stop it because he lacked the power and the skill, even though the memories gave him the knowledge.

    In that brief moment it ended and he knew he had to follow the man who had just walked out of the Mexican restaurant. Jack turned forward and started the cab. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the student who had called for a cab coming out of the library, a look of confusion on her face as the cab pulled away.

      1. EdwardPaul

        Thank you! Yes, the word limitation drives me nuts. I couldn’t get it below ~740!

        There will be more. There needs to be more. It needs to be written. You know how it goes. I will probably start a blog that will have the results of these prompts.

    1. Ishmael

      Great story…leads me to wonder so many scenarios, and I’d love to see where this goes if/when you continue it.

      If anyone empathizes with you about the word limit, I’d say it’s me, but it’s probably all of us. Truth is, I saw many areas where you could have condensed without losing any of the integrity of the piece. Here’s paragraph two, as an example:

      “Jack saw the girl as he pulled his cab up to the curb in front of the library. She couldn’t have been more than 13 or 14 in Jack’s eyes, but he lost the ability to judge the age of anyone under 20 a long time ago. As she crossed the street in front of the cab she kept looking up the block as if looking for something or someone.” (70 words)

      “Jack saw the girl as he pulled his cab in front of the library. She couldn’t have been more than thirteen, but he lost he lost his ability to judge anyone under twenty ages ago. As she crossed in front of him, she was looking up the block for something…or someone.” (52 words)

      I tried to keep most of your wording, which is quite good, the same. General rule is that numbers a hundred and below are spelled out. I decided on an age, because when cutting, the choice wasn’t necessary. Mine could have been reduced even more, and all the elements would still be there.

      “Jack saw the girl, no more than thirteen, as he pulled in front of the library. He quit judging ages under twenty years ago. She crossed in front of his cab looking up the block for something…or someone.” (39 words)

      Yeah…sometimes the revisions aren’t as elegant or poetic, but as you can see, can be done without a great loss to your excellent piece of work. I loved the story, and like I said, feel right there with you in the editing department. And most times, the less verbose, the better.

      I look forward to reading more great things from you!

      1. jincomt

        Very nice writing and descriptions. I can see why it felt like amputation to cut! Ishmael makes some great suggestions. I think all our stories suffer for the cutting, but I think it’s a good exercise for our writing skills to learn to identify the essentials…when I do it well I’ll let you know.;) if you start the blog,let us know.

    2. JR MacBeth

      Might be the first time I’ve read one of yours EdwardPaul, but I’ll look for more in the future. Some brilliant work here, drawing the reader in from the first line. No doubt this should be a much larger story, I agree with some of the other comments, I would have kept reading, but it’s important to stick to the guidelines of course. Oh well!

  27. Amy

    This one’s a continuation of the “Owing your bookie” prompt from 6/19. I hope you enjoy it!
    I’ve written it in second person to keep up the flow of the original story. Thanks for reading!

    You have escaped.

    Home is now a tiny, one-light border town. New name, new face.

    You are brand new.

    You have no money. Villages on the border aren’t known for employment opportunities. Your best hope is to become a cliché and run drugs.

    No dice. You buy an old, beat-up sedan and a neon TAXI sign and combine the two.

    You are in business. All that’s needed is a fare or two or three.

    Life is lazy. Day in, day out, sitting in your car. On a street corner, in the town square, under the shade of the town’s only tree. Dust swirls in random breaths of air. The soil is parched and cracked. Nothing green lives here.

    You wait.

    Something vibrates against your thigh, and every hair stands on end. You are scared. You realize it’s your phone and try to still your racing heart.

    “Cappie’s taxi,” you answer, enjoying your little secret play-on-words. You’re hiding from the mob.
    “Pick me up at the library,” a small, high-pitched voice demands.

    You wipe the sweat from your brow and crank the car. The library’s across the square, a small, adobe building surrounded by a deep veranda.

    From the shadows steps your fare. She is young, pre-pubescent and slim, with long blonde curls and blue eyes. She is familiar and yet unfamiliar. You thought you knew everyone who lived here.

    She slides into the back seat. “See the cantina across the street? A man will be coming out soon. I want you to follow him.” She settles herself into the seat, arms crossed defensively across her chest, blocking further conversation.

    You both watch the cantina.

    A man emerges. He’s not from here, and your heart’s in your throat, your mind racing with the possibilities. He’s wearing a pinstripe suit and polished Ferragamo loafers. He looks like your worst nightmare.

    You watch as he gets into a Lamborghini. You know he will lose you.

    He allows you to follow him.

    Dust obscures the view, but when it settles, he is always there, right in front of you, leading you on.

    You furtively study the girl. Where have you seen her? The memories she stirs aren’t recent ones.

    “What’s your name?” you ask her, not expecting an answer.

    “Tiffany,” is the short reply.

    You grip the steering wheel so tightly your fingers go numb.

    “Why you followin’ this guy, anyway?”

    “I think he’s my father.”

    A sudden hairpin curve requires your full attention. The dust makes your visibility zero. The car begins to slide.

    The Lamborghini has stopped and so must you, just inches away from a fender-bender.

    As the dust settles, you see everything clearly.

    Freeze-frame. The suit in the fancy car gets out, armed with an Ak-47. Bullets kick up more dust.

    You are prepared.

    “Stay down,” you yell to the girl. Using the door as a shield, you take careful aim.

    Suit goes down, kill shot.

    Tiffany jumps out, runs to the stranger.

    “You killed my father!”

    “No, I didn’t. I’m your father,” is your reply.

    1. Ishmael

      Amy, I loved the cadence of this, and the (continued) mastering of the second person. Honestly, your phrasing was mind-watering…every sentence was a treat. I’m not just being nice. I’m pretty straight forward. I truly sucked the marrow out of every line. They were written very well, and the plot was great. Familiar, yet still wonderful way to end. Neat take! Thanks for a great read!

    2. MCKEVIN

      I like the pace of this very much. I swear I heard the Pink Panther song in my head as I started reading. Good job… I assume the 2nd chapter will explain the fear of the mob and the reason he didn’t let on earlier that he was his passenger’s father. Again, great job.

    3. radioPanic

      2nd person seems to have a big brass “DO NOT TOUCH” plaque bolted to it. Thanks for breaking that thing off with the butt of your gun and tossing it in the ditch.

      I’ve heard people say they don’t like 2nd person because they don’t like being told what they’re doing. I think that attitude just keeps them from fully getting lost in a story.

      Speaking of which, the mood, the voice, the feel, the pace of this are spot on. And great visuals. To really draw us into the setting in a piece this short is a work of art.

      Really liked “As the dust settles, you see everything clearly.” Several different levels to this line.

      The only line that made me pause was the “Cappies Taxi” paragraph. “You are hiding from the mob” seemed like it might have been added to refer to your earlier mob boss piece. If you want to do that, it might be better to cut this line, and maybe mention Capone by name in passing somewhere. If you’re gonna join the pieces together, the line’s probably not necessary at all. And for those who haven’t read the first story, it doesn’t really explain anything that you didn’t show us in the first few lines here.

      As usual, I could be wrong about anything. Enjoyed, and looking forward to more!

      1. Amy

        Thanks for the valuable input radioPanic. I’m starting to like writing in 2nd person alot more. It seems well suited for stories like this one. It’s the most intimate POV since the reader ‘becomes’ the character. Again, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts…it is appreciated greatly!

    4. DMelde

      You really did a great job Amy! Great cadence, masterfully done. I liked the phrases, the descriptions, the story. I want to know what happens next!

    5. Naomi

      Wow, Amy. Very well done! I agree that the cadence in the story held me tight, while your descriptions painted an excellent picture in my mind. Tying this story to the other prompt is wonderful. I hope the story continues in future prompts. I look forward to reading more of your writing!

  28. Jeanie Y

    Something about her seemed familiar, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. The crooked smile? The beautiful monarch butterfly tattoo on the back of her neck? The deep blue eyes that just seem to see right into you? She was not like any cabbie that I had ever come across, but then again, riding in cabs really wasn’t my thing.

    The dream catcher hanging from the domelight was swinging back and forth like a pendulum. “Do I know you?” I asked, as I settled myself in the back seat.

    “Don’t we all know each other on some level?” she said, her eyes lighting up as her laugh filled the cab. “Time to take matters into your own hands?”

    “Huh?” I asked.

    “No worries, Angel. Where are you off to?” she said.

    “How do you know my name?”

    “Oh, I call everyone that. Now where to, sugar?” she asked, her eyes boring into mine like a laser.

    What was I supposed to say? My mom had her hands full with dad; peg-legged and screaming at night. My sister enlisting to “fix the bastards” that did this. And now Billy. He’d never been the smartest of us Miller kids, but he was far from stupid, he just wasn’t proving that lately. But at this point, he was in over his head, and I knew it. Now the cabbie knew it too. Weird, I never talk with my counselor, but the cabbie got it all within five minutes, which was all I had before Billy came out of the Fresh Mex.

    “Well, let’s see what we can do,” the cabbie said as she reached down underneath her seat, pulling out a short, metal pipe and placing it on the seat next to her, her eyes dancing.

    “I just came out to follow him so that I can take pictures to send to the police. Then they have to leave Billy alone. Right?”

    “Good idea, but I have a better one,” she said. “Just follow my lead.”

    And I did.

    We followed Billy to the warehouse. He lifted up a piece of the metal siding and scurried in underneath. I was ready to follow, but a quick hand signal told me to stay put. “Billy knows how to drive, right?” she asked.

    “Yes,” I whispered.

    “Okay. Listen up. Climb into the front now. Billy will be out very shortly and you two get the hell out of here. I can take care of myself.”

    I started to ask whether we should call for help, but she was out of the car and into that warehouse, quick as a cat and silent as a ghost.

    Billy couldn’t talk for most of the ride home and his hands were shaking so badly. We left the cab at the library and walked the rest of the way home. He kept repeating “I don’t believe it,” over and over again. I think they call this shock. We snuck into the house and I put him to bed. He seemed to disappear into the white sheets.

    Mom made scrambled eggs that morning and my stomach told me that I had better report to the kitchen pronto. The news was on and my mom quickly turned it off as I entered the kitchen. “Oh, just another drug deal. Can’t stand hearing about these since your Aunt Sarah was killed. Best cop on the force. You were only three, but Billy should remember her. He loved her butterfly tattoo.”

    1. Ishmael

      Jeanie –

      “The Girl With The Monarch Butterfly Tattoo!”

      Of course I’ve grown to really appreciate your style and work! Something lost me around the middle of the story, and so I did a re-read. I didn’t understand how pictures would clear Billy with the police. And from that point on…well, I’m not sure what happened. Something happened in the warehouse. A drug deal that the ghost of Aunt Sarah took care of?

      Your writing was terrific! I was going to suggest “quick as a cat and silent as a mouse” for a more congruent comparison, but I think you went with “ghost” as a subtle hint. Is that also the reason for the “white sheets” line? If so…you’re really working your story wonderfully.

      1. Amy

        The word limit’s a bugger isn’t it?! I really enjoyed the story. I hope you get the chance to expand and “explain” the middle. Maybe another prompt will offer the opportunity! Good job as always Jeanie.

    2. Jeanie Y

      Hi Ishmael, Thanks for your cyber-cheerleader entries! :) The original story was 1200+ and I lost a lot paring it down. Sorry it took a re-read. Yes, drug deal which deceased Aunt Sarah came back to take care of, and save her niece and nephew in the process. Angel thought if she took the drug dealer’s pictures that the police could find them and arrest them (kid thinking). Billy was as white as a sheet, therefore he blended right in. Ghost just worked.

      Maybe I am too cryptic and I make the reader think too much? I did take liberty with the prompt as I wanted to write from the POV of the 13-ish year old.

      Thanks again for your encouraging words!

      Thank you too, Amy! I hope the opportunity arises! :)

      1. Ishmael

        Well I’m proud of you that you got it down! It’s a bear, isn’t it? Man, I had trouble going from 747 to 551 before finally giving up and throwing in the towel, and I feel like I only had bare bones left – didn’t want to go cutting off phalanges. Lots of ‘splaining ended up on the cutting room floor, and I had to revise my…tail off.

        I’ve learned that if I make a story too big with too many details that contribute to making the story work, it’s…well, tough (I don’t want to say impossible) to cut it down and still have it come through as initially intended. I had to cut a 950 story once, and the whole story ended up changing directions. Funny how the writing process works sometimes!
        :)

      2. Naomi

        Jeanie, your story is well crafted, and a truly wonderful read. Excellent! Yours is one of my favorites for this prompt. I love the flow, and the details. That you edited a 1200+ word story, and still ended with a rich, entertaining story is amazing. Kudos!

        There are only two lines that confused me, but not enough to impact my enjoyment of the story.

        ” … she reached down underneath her seat, pulling out a short, metal pipe and placing it on the seat next to her … ” I’m not clear on the purpose of the pipe.

        ” … so that I can take pictures to send to the police. Then they have to leave Billy alone. Right?” By the end of the story, I gleaned enough information to guess at the girl’s rationale for taking pictures, however at this point in the story I did not understand the meaning behind the sentence. Again, minor points that do not impact my enjoyment of your story. Great writing, Jeanie.

  29. hillsworth

    Sitting at the only light in town, I watched her struggle with the overloaded backpack, more dragging than carrying it to the curb. When the light turned green, I stepped on the gas and ‘Bertha’ responded with her faithful backfire fart, which startled the girl into a stutter-step. As I neared, I noticed the apprehension in her eyes. The mental anguish of being at that peculiar age where you wouldn’t be caught dead getting into an aging, repulsive taxi, yet knowing I was probably her only ride. Hesitantly, her arm stretched out and hailed me to the side of the road.

    I wheeled over and came to a grinding halt. “Where you headed, little lady?” She could only have been thirteen. Fourteen at most.

    “To the train station,” she said with a wavering voice. “But I need to make a side trip first.” She could hardly meet my eyes.

    “You got money for the fare?” I asked, assuming she did from the Aeropostale shirt and the faded looking jeans with the factory ripped holes she was wearing.

    “I got money.”

    She bent down to pick her pack off the sidewalk when I said, “Jump in the back, I’ll get that.” With a squeak, I opened the door, stepped out, turned and opened the rear door for her.

    “Thanks.”

    She slid to the other side and I heaved her pack in beside her, slammed the door to make sure it shut, jumped back in behind the wheel and thumbed the meter, resetting it to zero.

    “Where to first, Missy?”

    “You know that Mexican restaurant over by the strip mall?”

    “Sure.” I put Bertha in gear, eased off the brake and wasn’t disappointed when she belched from the exhaust. I looked in the mirror to see the girl slink down a little lower in the seat and scrunch up her face in embarrassment. “You gonna get a bite to eat before you take off?”

    “No. I gotta see someone. He gets off work at three.”

    Minutes later, she directed me to a small parking lot across the road from the restaurant. I checked my watch, noticed it was only two thirty, and feeling empathy for the youngster I paused the meter box. I grabbed a section of newspaper, shook it out and started to pass the time.

    At three o’clock, the door opened and a middle aged man stepped out, lit a cigarette, and started down the sidewalk.

    “There he is.” She said. “Could you follow him?”

    I laid the paper aside, turned the meter back on and pulled out of the lot, making an obnoxious racket.

    The man turned toward the commotion, saw the girl in the rear of my cab and stopped. “Lucy?” he yelled.

    “Go.” She directed. I tromped down on the gas and as I sped past the man, I looked in the mirror. The girls forehead and hand was against the window and tears were rolling down her cheeks. I heard her whisper “Goodbye, Daddy. I love you.”

        1. hillsworth

          Thank you, H2H. I also enjoyed your post and congrats on being the first for this weeks prompt. It is a small accomplishment, but it gives a great joy knowing that all posters on this site will be reading yours first. Keep up the good work.

    1. Mr.Es

      I liked the flow of the writing, and your use of imagery. Using the backfire from the cab was excellent. It feels unfinished and I’m left unsatisfied. Why is she leaving her father? I would continue reading if you were to able to extended the story.

        1. hillsworth

          I am glad to hear that you would read more if I were to extend it, and I can only say this about that: 500 word limit, I wish it were more at times. I could have written more on this (actually did, but had to cut) given a higher limit, which would have clarified more of her actions. I was meaning for her to be running away for some serious reason, but wanted to see her daddy one last time.

          1. Mr.Es

            Yes, I know. Others seemed to have agreed, and feel the same. Some have even stated they enjoyed the ending as is. I am selfish at times, and I can only apologize. :)

    2. Ishmael

      I really like your descriptions. Backfire fart. Liked. Not because of any toilet humor, but it described it so well and in an unusual way.

      Was she running away? I didn’t get why she was leaving (especially so tearfully). You left that up to the reader to imagine. Could be a number of things. Got me thinking.

      I like your work, Hillsworth.

    3. jincomt

      Nice writing. The story flowed and your descriptions of the cab, as people have mentioned, were wonderful. (I used to have an old early 1980s station wagon we named “Bessie”, rest her rusted soul.) The story was good too. I think the fact that so many felt it was unfinished is a statement of how well you lead the reader up to the end. I read somewhere that a short story is light on plot and character development, but is more like a snapshot. Not sure I have a clue how to implement that, but it’s a good thought. 😉

      1. hillsworth

        A very good thought. With the tight limit, it’s so hard to pack a left or right hook, let alone a knockout punch, which many have done here. The editing rapes so much from each of us, but it truly does make us better writers. When I read over some of my earlier stuff, posted and unposted, I think of how juvenile I was and how far I have come. May I never become complacent with my style, for I shall always strive to become better. Thank you for the kind compliment.

      2. hillsworth

        A very good thought. With the tight limit, it’s so hard to pack a left or right hook, let alone a knockout punch, which many have done here. The editing rapes so much from each of us, but it truly does make us better writers. When I read over some of my earlier stuff, posted and unposted, I think of how juvenile I was and how far I have come. May I never become complacent with my style, for I shall always strive to become better. Thank you for the kind compliment.

  30. sagarica

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    I look back at this girl, too tall for her age with shoulders that slump and braces shining in between her lips. She shifts back into her seat and pushes her arms against the seat. Her knuckles are white now.
    I turn off the car and wait. Fifty dollars is now sitting comfortably in my pocket and I am in no mood to talk. But the girl starts gabbing anyway.
    “He’s my dad. Or at least, I think he is.” I don’t respond and for a moment the silence sits in the air like a knife balancing on the edge of a table. The girl’s voice tears through the air as the knife clatters noisily to the floor.
    “His time’s about to run out on the meter. That blue Corolla across the street. He’ll probably leave when the time’s out, right?”
    I look back at the girl again. Her hands are in her lap now, but she’s squeezing her wrist as if it might pop out candy if she squeezes it hard enough.
    “Look girl,” I hear myself say. “Not everybody remembers to feed the meter.” She looks at me, her eyes as big as disks and I can see her lip tremble a little.
    “He has to come out sometime.”
    The girl looks at me hopefully and I just shrug and turn around. I look over at the restaurant and see a line out the door of people waiting to get into the restaurant. A few people walk out of the restaurant and amongst them is a tall man with a grey jacket and what looks like suede boots from where I’m sitting. He’s laughing, obviously engaged in some story his friend, a pretty little lady, is telling. The girl sits up and jabs her finger excitedly at the window.
    “I think that’s him!” I turn on the car and watch as the guy walks toward the blue Corolla. I can hear the girl behind me, breathing in short rasps, almost as if she is gagging on her own breath.
    The man stops in the middle of the street, holding the lady protectively as a car rushes past. They continue walking forward when the way is clear. The girl is now sitting up straight and is gripping the shoulders of the passenger seat. She leans forward as the man gets closer to the blue Corolla.
    Suddenly I hear her gasp. The man has walked past the Corolla and is disappearing into the streets behind. Instead, an elderly lady has stopped in front of the car and is now fumbling through her purse for a set of keys.
    “You sure that’s him?” I ask, unwilling to chase a stranger.
    “No,” she says. “I don’t know what he looks like.” She is staring blankly into the rearview mirror and when I catch her glance she turns away. Maybe it’s just the light reflecting in her eyes, but for a moment I think I see tears.
    “Can you just take me home?” she asks.
    “Where to?” I ask her.
    “Sunnyside Orphanage.” I pull slowly out of my parking space and start to drive away.

    1. MCKEVIN

      I liked it. You like so many others here, offer a different take on the prompt. One suggestion:You stated “Blue Corolla” several times. As your reader, I got that the Corolla was Blue when you first said it. If you reread it where you repeated, you will find that you had more words to use to expand your story. Good job. Please continue to write because I think you have soemthing to say. McKevin.

  31. radioPanic

    Cross is somethin’, ain’t it? Yeah? Alright, I’ll make it quick.

    So this tweenie gets in at th’ library, like five hours ‘fore they even open. She points, says this guy’s gonna be leavin’ Lula’s in five minutes. Follow ‘im.

    I tell Chica, sorry, need a destination. Regulations. An’ she gives me this look, paler ‘n the moon, says when’s your break?

    ‘Bout an hour, I say, an’ she says call in, take it now.

    Now these gangbangers get recruitin’ younger every day, but Chica weren’t no gangbanger. Somethin’ ‘bout th’ way th’ moon hit her face, like a old picture from my Gramma’s day.

    So I’m like, sorry, can’t be givin’ rides on my break. Regulations. So Chica pulls out a stack o’ Benjamins thick as my thumb! Didn’t swipe ‘em with my pen, I could just tell, y’know?

    So I call in, switch off th’ meter, an’ wait. Sure enough, her guy comes out dressed like she is, black, head to toe in July, and peels out onna crotch-rocket.

    Follow him! she says. Ain’t no traffic, so I do. I can see ‘is taillight, an’ he jus’ keeps to th’ highway.

    So Chica says to me, you might wanna hurry. An’ I do, man, ‘cos th’ way she says it, mouth barely cracked to let th’ words out, an’ a voice like th’ world’s onna precipice.

    So I step on it. ‘Ventually, her guy hangs left.

    Lights off! says Chica, and I don’t argue. Moon’s out pretty big, though, an’ we follow up to Madre Cemetery. Chica says cut the engine, says Wait. I don’ come back? Vamoose! Then she grabs somethin’ from her bag and is out th’ door. I see her runnin’ for a second, then nothin’.

    All’s I hear is crickets, an’ I’m drummin’ fingers on th’ wheel, thinkin’ whadda I do? Whadda I do?

    Alla sudden there’s this flash, an’ this shriek, goes on like a hunnerd boxcars gettin’ twisted in half! An’ once my eyes recover, there’s this glow, castin’ th’ stones in shadow, an’ this column of light risin’ into the sky, looks like it’s made outta birds made outta light!

    So I’m all white-knuckles on the wheel while the light fades up inna sky an’ I jus’ wait. Finally, I hit the spotlight an’ work up the cajones to head in, ‘cos if Chica gets inna situation on my watch, I’m liable, even off the meter.

    I get there an’ still there’s some glowin’ stuff driftin’ up offa gravestones, toward heaven. An’ there in the middle? Chica’s clothes… wrapped round a bare skeleton, fingers wrapped round that cross, point stuck inna backside of the guy’s clothes, an’ ain’t nothin’ left o’ him but dust.

    Can’t say, man, but I took that cross, ‘cos I thought maybe Chica did somethin’ good that night. Somethin’ good, know what I’m sayin’?

    Th’ bag? Five more stacks o’ Benjamins.

    Well… put it this way. You got plans to visit th’ casino ‘fore leavin’ town?

    Don’t.

    ____________

    (Yeah, this was an experiment in deliberately tossing a few rules out the window and seeing if what I make using what’s left would even stick together. Cut down from 789 words. Ack.)

    1. Ishmael

      I think your experiment went over fantastic! Rules be damned! You wrote the dialect well…never got confusing or laborious for the reader. I even liked the dialogue sans quotes. Wasn’t really sure if he was hispanic or southern, though.

      Good story behind the experiment, too. The combination created a fun read. Likin’ your stuff, amigo.

          1. radioPanic

            Ishmael, Amy, thank you for your comments! Yeah, dialects are a helluva thing to pull off. If you’re going to write ’em like they sound, you have to be careful, for sure. Last thing you want is to have people scratching their heads. Good to know I may still need some work in that department. Thanks!

  32. denka

    It had been a long night. Business had been slow since Big Cab moved into town. Ever since they built that new freeway through town business had been exploding; for everyone but him, that is. He couldn’t compete with their low prices, and he knew as soon as they ran him out of business they could name their price.

    Well, at least I had a customer tonight. One wasn’t going to save the business, but it was something I could tell my wife. I let out a little groan as he pulled up to the library and saw my passenger. It was a young girl, bouncing on the heels of her feet and holding the straps of her back pack.
    As I pulled up to the curb, the girl dashed to the cab and shrunk down in her seat, peering across the street out her window.

    “Hey there, sweetheart,” I said. “Glad to see some kids still care enough about school to -” “Took you long enough! I wasn’t sure you would get here in time,” she said, speaking at a rate only teenage girls could hope to achieve.
    “Not much problem there,” I said with a weary grin. “Business hasn’t exactly been-”
    “Listen,” she said, cutting me off again. “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    She hadn’t looked away from the window the whole time she had been talking, but when I didn’t respond she glanced away from the window to see if I had heard her. My eyes were closed and my head was resting on the steering wheel. I could usually deal with kids pretty well; but after this day, this week, hell, this whole damn month; I just didn’t have it in me.

    “You all right mister?” the girl asked, looking worried. “You gonna be able to drive me or should I call a Big Cab instead?”

    “Let me save you the time,” I said, getting angry at the mention of my troubles. “They don’t like their time wasted by little girls playing hide n’ seek any more than I do!”

    “Does this look like I’m joking?” she said, seemingly unperturbed by my outburst.

    I looked up to see her waving a hundred dollar bill in my face. I snatched it out of her hands in shock and inspected it.

    “There’s another one for you afterwards if you don’t lose him,” she said, looking back out the window and pointing to a man in an expensive suit, walking up to a Big Cab waiting outside the restaurant. “Besides, you’ll want to see this. If things go as planned, business might just turn around for you.”

    As I looked at her I could tell she was no normal teenage girl. She was up to something, and if the two hundred fare wasn’t enough of a reason, what she said had intrigued me.

    1. jincomt

      Good writing. I liked the description. I was a little confused by who “him” was in the first paragraph. The story seemed unfinished. Who was she– how did she get so much money– was she really a little girl– who was she following and why. Hard to answer everything in 500 words. But a bit more needed maybe for a story. Writing was good though!

      1. denka

        Had to delete a lot to make it fit, must of missed the “him.” Yea I wasn’t sure how to get more of the story into the limit. Probably should have included a little more. Thanks for the comment.

  33. Ishmael

    Good story, but I lost something in the cut.

    Okay…as I was writing my comment, I referred back to the story and got it (then deleted my other thoughts, which was just me trying to figure it out). Large idea…must have been a booger slicing it down. But you did it. Good concept.

      1. Ishmael

        Actually, Vanleraywi, my previous comment was for another story that somehow got bumped under yours.

        Your story was written very well! A few holes…like what was the purpose of it all…but I guess it was just a cabbie’s bar story to a friend. I liked it.

  34. Vanleraywi

    I had seen Sin City the night before and was doubling up when I saw this young girl walk up to cab. I half expected a bloody Clive Owen to accompany her. As she opened the door to my cab a gush of cool air came in startling me. It had been warm all day.

    “Are you parents coming?” I asked politely, while cracking my neck.

    “No.”

    “How old are you?”

    “Seventeen.”

    I knew she was lying. I flipped through the radio for a few moments before I remembered I had a customer. I pulled a back muscle turning to address her. She was staring at me with wide eyes.

    “Where to?” I asked.

    She then rambled on about some guy leaving a Mexican joint and for me to follow him. I looked across the street at the dusty fluorescent lights, flickering. There were faint sounds coming from it but I couldn’t make anything out. I was sure that my friends were playing a joke on me by now.

    “Did Ben set this up? Tell him Sam is on to him,” I said as I laughed and turned back to the wheel.

    “This isn’t a joke. Hey do you mind if I smoke?” She asked.

    I let out an abrupt laugh. She wasn’t kidding, a large amount of tangy smoke started to fill my lungs. I coughed and rolled down the window, this made her laugh. I told her I was beer drinker and didn’t smoke but she didn’t care. I really hated having this girl in my cab and I was close to calling the authorities and telling them I had a runaway when a tall figure exited the building. The girl sat up and pointed. I turned the wheel and started to drive.

    “And that was it,” I said to Ben as we slugged back a couple of beers.

    “Did you ever see the guy or talk to him?” Ben asked.

    “We followed him for a bit and he ended up at some nice house in a nice part of town,” I said.

    Ben laughed at my Sin City reference.

    “I let her out about a block away and she walked the opposite direction…That damn smell of her perfume is still in my cab though.”

  35. keirs12

    The rain has ceased in the morning, and I was already thinking about catching the Yankees game over at Malzone’s on 54th Street. I was tired of making small talk, and recently have been frustrated with the putrid smell coming from the carpets in the back of the taxi. I share my taxi with Marquis, and sometimes I swear he sleeps in it at times.
    I was just pondering who was going to pitch at Yankee Stadium when I heard a light tap on the passenger window. One of my peeves is when they tap, and I show my frustration by ignoring their presence for a while. I rolled my window down half way.
    “What can I do for ya?”
    “I want to hire you.” She made her way to the back door and climbed in.
    She sat there silently as I waited for her order, another pet peeve of mine. With a sarcastic tone and a raise of my brow, I asked her where she wanted to go.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    “Get out of here with those games Ms, I got no time for games.” I was annoyed I would miss the beginning of the Yankees game.
    She fidgeted in her backpack and pulled out a couple hundred dollars which quickly prompted me to turn off the meter.
    “Where you get that kind of money? Five minute wait? What does he look like?” I was getting a little nervous. I could tell she was too.
    “I can’t tell you about it, just follow him.” She almost did, and I was starting to get scared.
    Five minutes had passed and out strolled an older man who was being led by his protruding belly.
    “Him.” She pointed in his direction even though he was the only man on the street.
    “Gotcha”. I waited for the man to slowly wobble around the corner before making my move which worried my client.
    “Don’t let Lou get away!”
    “He ain’t getting away, not worried about it.” His name was Lou, she knew him somehow.
    “So this Lou guy, what is his deal little girl?”
    “He owes my dad a lot of money. Oh no! I shouldn’t say anything” She fidgeted in her bag again for her money and continued to explain anyway, “Here is another hundred, don’t tell anyone about this. His name is Lou ‘Clown Nose’ Vironi and he hasn’t been good to the family.”
    “I wish you hadn’t have told me that.” I kicked myself for asking, leave it to me to get involved with the mob.
    “It’s okay, you work for us now.” She sat back in her seat as I reluctantly followed Clown Nose.

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