The 411 Cabbie

The 411 Cabbie

A Story by Eleah Ruffin
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This is a short story I wrote for my Creative Writing class. It was inspired from a prompt I had found when trying to find an idea. Our stories could be about anything and there were no guidelines.

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I moved here to New York City about a year ago. The Big Apple! Everyone’s dream, as far as I know. A part of me is regretting the decision to leave my family and live here, in the city that never sleeps. There’s a lot of opportunity for me though. It seemed worth it at the time, but as time goes by, I’m not so sure anymore. It’s been about 365 days of reflection and asking myself whether this is what I want to be doing with my life. Asking myself why it feels like something is missing, but I’m never sure what that something is. Every time I think about it, it always gave me a headache, so I just put it off.

I work as an assistant manager for S&P Global. I deal heavily in business management in an average trade. It’s decent work and it pays well, enough to pay rent for my apartment. I live in a simple, modern place with all the necessities. It’s sad looking, to be honest. A sleek, modern kitchen off to the left with stainless steel appliances and a wooden table next to it. It connects to a simple living room, with a large navy rug underneath a coffee table that covers the hardwood floor. I sit on my grey couch, entertained by the political rants on Fox News. There aren’t any paintings or accessories whatsoever. There’s a hallway that extends past the living room, containing a bathroom and two bedrooms, one of which is mine. My bedroom holds two snowy nightstands, a small TV, a shelf and my black and white bedspread. I don’t have any vases or paintings or anything. None of the dreary grey walls are decorated or glittered with anything aesthetically pleasing to the eye. A lot of my colleagues and neighbors tell me that I need to spice it up a little, add a certain something to it. A young graduate student studying art lives right next to me. She’s very passionate about it. Every day, she pesters me about the matter, to which I reply, “No thanks Carol.”

Redecorating my apartment would require moving things around, and a whole lot of effort. I don’t have the time for that, what with work and all. I live alone, so I would be doing the bulk of it on my own anyways. Though I feel that Carol would be more than willing to help, I can’t take her constant enthusiasm for too long. Besides, everything has a place and I know where it all is. And it was going to stay that way.

I glance at my watch. 7:50. I should get going soon. I swiftly stand up, tossing my banana into the trash as I briskly exit my apartment. Even though I’ve been in New York for one year, I still have a lot to learn. I’ve finally learned my way around, and now I don’t bother driving to work anymore. Trying to drive in New York City is absolute hell and the subway is no better either. The only alternative left is walking, though it’s a bit tiring. As I push open the cold metal door facing the sidewalk, a crisp breeze kisses my cheeks. November has just begun, and the temperatures were already beginning to drop. 

I pivot on my heel towards the right, and swiftly make my way towards work. It’s a 25-minute walk, when it’s not too crowded, and that’s not too bad. Thank God I’m in decent shape. The day’s gloomy with gray clouds blanketing the vast sky. Birds were chirping somewhere overhead, zipping about the trees speckled evenly on each side of the walkway. The roars of engines and honks fade into a vague echo as I maneuver and weave through the crowds. Other fellow workers, dressed like me in crisp business attire, shout orders or information over their cell phones. I keep my head down and continue to move forward.

There’s a lot of pushing and shoving until I finally arrive at the double doors, struggling through the horde crowding the door. I briefly glance at my watch. 8:15. I had 15 minutes left. Better than last time. I march up to our receptionist, Janet. She was a petite woman, barely in her 20s. She smiles gently. “Why, hello Victor.” 

“Hey Janet”. She hands me the attendance book as I flash a smile while signing my name.

As I make way to my office, I spot a few of my coworkers crowded amongst themselves, chattering about. I saunter up to them. “Good morning gentleman. What’s it gonna be today?” 

“Hey Vicky, don’t ya know?” Everyone here calls me Vicky. They all think it’s cute.

“What?” 

“That new ‘taxi’ service. Ya know, the famous one. People callin’ it ‘The 411’ Cabbie.” 

“Why’s that? Does it give you information?” 

“No, but get this: it gives ya the 411, ya know? Like, it takes ya where ya need to be.” 

I roll my eyes and sigh. “So, a regular taxi service?” 

“No, not just any. It takes you where you don’t even think you need to be. That’s the crazy part.” We exchange rumors and stories. Apparently, this has been going on for a couple weeks now. How have I not heard of it? One of the guys in the office had decided to try it out and called the number. Turns out, he was reunited with his sister after being separated for over 10 years. Another woman reconciled with her almost ex-husband. Even Rick, who’s usually a skeptic, tried it out and ended up finally seeing his doctor about his weak knee and is on the road to recovery. 

This is definitely a joke. How could a taxi service possibly know where these people needed to go? What does that even mean? How do you even know what you need? Half the time you don’t know how you feel. Your inner emotions and thoughts are buried deep within yourself and you don’t even realize that they’re there. But even then, you keep acting unconsciously on them because some part of you knows they’re there. We’re always changing every minute of our lives. So how could a regular, everyday taxi driver, know more about you than… well, than you?

Even in the middle of my shift, I keep thinking about it. I can’t shake it off. If that taxi knew what they needed, would it know what I need? The thought terrifies me, to be honest. What if it was something I don’t want to face? Something I’ve been dreading and I don’t even realize I’m dreading? Something I don’t think I’d need? What if it’s a joke? But how can it be a joke? Do I want to know? I’m not sure, but the next thing I know I’m asking Jimmy for the number to ‘The 411’ Cabbie. He scribbles it down crudely and hands it to me: 718-891-0411. What am I in for? I have no idea.

The day finishes quickly. Soon enough, everyone’s clocking out and saying goodbye. A few head out to grab a meal or get together. I stand outside the company building. I glance at the piece of paper and take a deep breath. Now or never Victor. I dial in the number and waited. “411 Cabbie, whatcha need?” 

“Uh, I need a ride.” 

“Where ya at?” 

“S&P Global.” 

“Be right there.” He hangs up. Five minutes pass when he finally arrives. The taxi was like any other, with its yellow pain and black stripes. The driver was your average man, tan skin with a thick dark mustache and bushy eyebrows to complement. “Hop in.” We drove off. “How ya been my man?” 

“Eh, I’m alright.” 

“Not good? Not even great?” 

“It’s just alright, thanks.” I refrained from mentioning the taxi’s reputation to the man. I just want to let things flow, and see how it all ends. 

We drive in silence for a while. My mind wanders to a million different places, asking thousands of questions. What if this is a scam? What if I just made the stupidest mistake of my life? And believe me, I’ve made plenty of stupid mistakes, but this would top everything else in my life. I glance at my watch. 4:45. I didn’t have anything left on my schedule, except dinner. Honestly, it’s a little sad. I could’ve gone with some of the guys to grab a meal. Instead, I’m sitting in this cab, probably being dragged off to my death.

I usually keep to myself. I still engage with other people and try to get to know them. But I’ve always been the quiet guy. Socialization is stressful for me. I never know what to say or how to say it. I always worry I’ll say something stupid. Besides, it’s not like I’m really that interesting. I don’t do anything worthwhile. I’m not witty or sarcastic or spontaneous or anything. I’m not creative, a genius, free flowing or anything like that. I don’t stand out. I’m just your average Joe.

I stare out the window as the world around me fades away. New York City. Since moving here, there’s something I’ve noticed: everyone has that something. Whether they’re ridiculously charismatic or intelligent, witty or sarcastic, down-to-earth or even critical as hell. Everyone has something that makes them stand out. Even Carol, she stands out like a sore thumb. Me? I don’t have anything. My mom would always tell me, everyone has something that makes them special sweetheart. Otherwise, why would we all be here? That may be true, but what about me? Why am I like this then? Why don’t I stand out? 

My mom has always done her best to encourage me, build me up, guide me. She very well knows how quiet I can be, how uptight I can get. I can’t help it though. Maybe that’s just how I am. Maybe I’m just the awkward, average Joe that isn’t worth the money in your pocket. My hands ball in frustration as I grit my teeth. What am I doing with my life?

“What are you doing?”

I jolt out of my thoughts. I almost forgot where I am. I’m still in the taxi, being driven to an unknown location. Although, by the looks of it, we had already left the city all together. Where in the world are we going?

“Maybe you need some more guidance.”

I furrow my brow in confusion. “Excuse me?”

“It’s okay not to know where you’re going, and to doubt. Happens to everyone, believe me kiddo. Everyone compares themselves. That’s just human nature, we always think we can do better, and that everyone around us is ‘better’ than we’ll ever be. But we always manage to find our own way.” 

What the hell? I really have made the biggest mistake. I can’t think of anything to say, so I just sit back and reflect. Is this what I need? My mind is pounding with so many thoughts. It’s exhausting, and the endless ride lulling me to sleep isn’t helping. Might as I try to fight it, my eyelids grow heavy and I soon fall asleep. 

* * * * * * *

“Sir! We’re here.” 

“Huh?” I snap at the shout of a voice. I look around, trying to catch my bearings. The driver had parked on the curb. I glance to the right, my breath caught. “What the hell?” I exit the car in disbelief, bag strapped to my shoulder. That faded lilac paint with white accessories and flowers glittering the front yard, a paved walkway leading up to an open porch with rocking chairs, and an old leather book on the glass table. The barks of the golden retriever as he tried desperately to jump the back fence. I ascend the stairs in a daze, feet shuffling on the wooden porch. I ring the doorbell, still not sure if what I was seeing was real. The door opens slowly, the gentle curls of a woman’s honey golden hair softening. Her subtle, wrinkled eyes light up as she opens the screen door, quite hurriedly. “Victor?”

I grin, chuckling to myself. “Hi mom.”


© 2017 Eleah Ruffin



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Added on February 12, 2017
Last Updated on April 27, 2017
Tags: Short Story, City, Prompt

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Eleah Ruffin
Eleah Ruffin

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My name's Eleah. I'm a college student and a potential Psychology major and currently unknown minor. I have loved writing since I was in middle school. Though I unfortunately don't have much time for .. more..

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