SHE SAID SHE’D MARRIED HER AN ARCHITECT

“Sixteen Parkside Lane.”

 

Harry squinted into the rearview mirror at the woman now seated in his cab.  Familiar.  Mid-forties, perfect hair dyed the perfect shade of auburn, sharp business suit, and the lines around the eyes women get when they worry. 

 

“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” he asked.

 

“I’m sure you’re mistaken,” the woman said, pulling a folder out of her briefcase.

 

High school memories flooded through Harry as he drove through the darkening evening towards the rich side of town. When the woman glanced up from her papers she met his eyes in the mirror, then dropped them to the name on his license.

 

“How are you, Harry?”

 

“How are you, Sue?”

 

She took a deep breath.  “You want to know how I am?  I’m in trouble so deep you couldn’t shovel me out with a backhoe.  I’ve got a stash of money in a suitcase in my bedroom closet, and it isn’t mine.  If I don’t get it into the right hands by Friday, I may turn up dead by Saturday.  No problem, right?  Just hand it over, right?  Sure, except that I don’t know which hands are supposed to get it.  There are three, THREE outfits who all have a claim on it.  They’ve all tried to convince me the money is theirs.  Who is telling the truth?  I don’t know.  God help me, Harry, I don’t know.  And if I give it to the wrong guys, the right guys will kill me.  And here’s the hell of it…if I give it to the right guys, the wrong guys might kill me too.  So that’s how I am.”

 

Harry whistled.  “That’s quite a story.  How’d you ever get tangled up in a mess like that?”

 

Sue slumped against the door.  “That’s a good question.  You know, I was going to be an actress…”

 

“I know, I remember.  What happened?”  Harry turned off the main thoroughfare and headed up towards Pacific Heights. 

 

“It started out like any other job, just to feed me while I auditioned around town,” she sighed.  “And I was good at it, Harry, so good.  Those acting skills, you know, they’re good for many things.  So I played the part and they moved me along.  With every promotion, you know, more money, more prestige.  You get hooked.”

 

“Hooked on money?”  Harry snorted.  “I wouldn’t know,” he gestured around the threadbare gray interior of his cab.

 

“Well, take my word for it.  Once you’ve had a taste you can’t just go back to being a starving artist.  And before long I looked more like Mrs. Robinson than the ingénue after her first big role.”

 

“You look good to me,” Harry grinned.

 

“You can’t see me, Harry.  You’re looking at my costume.  You can’t see me!”

 

Harry pulled into the driveway, past the gate and the fine trimmed lawns.  He idled while Sue fumbled in her purse. 

 

She handed him a twenty.  “Harry, keep the change.”

 

“Sue,” he called after her as she walked away, “do you, I mean, we can, do you want me to…”

 

She turned and looked at him, then turned away.  On the bottom step leading up to a grand colonnaded front porch, she turned again.

 

“Wait there, Harry,” she said.

 

Ten minutes later Sue emerged from the handsome home dragging a gorilla-sized Samsonite.   She hefted the heavy bag into the trunk and got back in the cab.

 

“Take me to the airport, Harry,” she said.

 

“My pleasure, Ms. Ackerman,” Harry replied.  “I always wanted to learn to fly.”

 

 

 

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