She said yes once, then kept saying no. He wouldn't chase her. Then came the grocery call.
|The Dispatcher’s call was for a pickup at 109. Supermarket. Nobody answered her. No one wanted it. Some old lady. You’d have to jump out, pop your trunk, load her groceries, hold open the back passenger door while she creaked her way in and arranged herself upright with her handbag balanced on her knees, and drive her two blocks to her apartment building, where the whole operation would repeat, in reverse. It would eat a half hour, and for what – maybe a buck more than the flag drop? Or because The Dispatcher was desperate for someone to take it? Because she wanted him to? It was bad enough he was stuck with cab 217 today, that rust bucket. Forget it.
No one knew The Dispatcher’s name. Not even Streets, after that one night. Her voice was like dark syrup. Everyone wanted it on a spoon, especially after they got a look at her. He'd heard it up close just the once. He'd caught her walking out the door, just getting off shift. He never understood why she didn’t fly. She flew past everyone. They lingered. Then it was a long night together, which bewildered him. He wanted more, right away. No dice. He never told anyone. The other drivers would die if they knew, especially Kulisek.
The dispatcher tried again. “109. 109.” Silence. The Dispatcher wouldn’t beg – she never begged. But she was smart. She threw out a 601. The Holiday Inn. An airport trip. A barrage of voices blasted through. They all wanted the 601, except Streets. He wouldn’t beg. The Dispatcher gave the airport trip to 245, the new Chevy. Kulisek. Then she snuck it in again: “109. 109.” Streets yanked the mike, pressed the button. “217,” he said to her. “I’ll take the groceries at 109.”
(Word count: 299)