Sunday, July 4, 2010
Hold Your Hand
Five AM is a time where there is a unholy mixing of the the night people and the early risers. Sid Bencroft, 58, has become an early riser. As people get older, as a rule, they become early risers. Whether this is due to melatonin or sex hormones or the need to pee is not clear. On this Sunday morning, Sid set out to pick up a coffee and a paper at the Wawa. As he pulled his Cherokee into an open space, Sid couldn't help but notice the Yellow Cab in the almost empty parking lot with the rear doors doors wide open.
It was the summer in Margate, NJ. Incorporated in 1885 as South Atlantic City, the city was reincorporated as Margate City in 1909. The name, Margate, was adopted from a seaside city in East Kent, UK. While the current population of the New Jersey town is about 9,000, its British counterpart is substantially larger with 40,000 inhabitants. Margate, East Kent was established in 1264.
At five AM, the night crawlers can be found in diners or convenience stores or on the street. Some are sitting on bus stop benches and some are leaning here and there. They all look the same with their going out club and party clothes over worn and askew. The same outfits, which looked good six hours ago, now look silly. Most are in a state of alcohol or pharmaceutical down sloping. A few are still acutely drunk or drugged. As Sid parked, a thin waisted caballero was standing outside of but leaning on cab 563. He was arguing with a blubbery man, who seemed like the cab driver. His name was Martine Bourbeou and Sid would soon learn that Martine was indeed the driver.
Sidney Aaron Bencroft recently retired from his dental practice. Having always been a decent, but timid man, he stayed out of trouble. He was non confrontational and passive. If the walls in a room were green, Sid was green. As he dismounted the Jeep he furtively looked over at the Crown Vic with the optional Police Package. Lots of cabs are retired cop cars. There, in the back seat, he could see the foreshortened calf muscles of two legs wearing a set of four inch pumps. The woman, who owned those gambe, was leaning back in the rear seat too far for the dentist to see her face. Sid could feel himself engorge, just a little. He avoided eye contact with the thin man and with the butter ball. Walking into the store, he pushed the lock button on his key fob. Sid was a cautious man.
The Sunday Press was already piled high. The smell of newsprint was something Sid loved. The combination of the ink and the paper pulp reminded the tooth puller of his father, Isidore Irving Bencroft. EyeEye, as luck would have it, was a retired optician. He inculcated a love of newspapers in his only son. To this day, EyeEye and Sid talk about the news like two high school girls on a gossip rant. EyeEye and Tovah Bencroft live in over fifty five community in Venice, Florida. They are both eighty-six. To no one's surprise, Tovah gets Viagra for EyeEye. Thrifty even as an octogenarian, she orders from an Indian pharmacy. Sid's parents make him feel young.
The bulk of the Press is half advertising flyers. Sid guts the paper, separating the flyers from the real newsprint. He trashes the colorful ad print at the coffee kiosk trash can. Home Depot, Target, Rite Aid, Michael's, et al all go to swim with the fishes. Methodically, he chooses the best pot of regular coffee. He likes his coffee hot and fresh. Once he makes his selection, he fills a twenty ounce cup 3/4 to the top. Half and half is then gently poured to complete the filling of the cup. He then stirs the mixture four times clockwise and then three times counter clockwise. Sid always uses a black bubble top, the kind with the small rectangle, which the drinker can use to control spillage. The WaWa offers an alternative white flat top, but the drainage hole is too large, especially for a Jeep user. Jeeps ride roughly.
Once Sid, the compulsive, finishes this ceremony he looks up. Uh Oh. The skinny guy is staring at him like a coyote might look at a toy poodle. In a flash, the guy smiles. As is Sid's wont, he checks out the Latino's teeth. Good color and proportion. Alignment near perfect, left central upper inciser outward rotated about seven degrees. Definitely had orthodontia, but stopped using his retainer. "Mornin" Sid offers. Johnny Esperanza widens the grin as if he is about to sell the dentist a used Caddy and says with elocution, "It's a fine day to be alive." The drill man hurries off to the cashier.
"Can you believe these Shoobies?" Martine asks as the DMD as he walks outside into an already sunny morning. This is the time of the year when the days are the longest. Sid, who has seasonal affective disorder, enjoys sunlight. A Shoobie is the name given to visitors of the beach towns of Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport. These four communities make up the nine mile long barrier spit of sand called Absecon Island. Sid has no answer for Martine, but no matter. Martine goes on to tell Sid how Johnny and the girl were at a hoity-toity party in Longport. They called for a cab and Martine picked them up, planning to take them to the Hilton Casino. They were barely a half a mile into the ride when the Asian femme blew her lunch. The juice hit all over the back of the hack with some spray getting Martine's head and shoulders. The cabbie pulled into the WaWa to get the vomitus cleaned up and to rid himself of what he described as a pair of a**hole fares.
Micaela Lee, an American of Chinese descent, was still sitting in the vinyl covered rear seat. Sid noticed again that she had great legs and the rest of her looked equally good. Since Sid was standing with Martine near the driver's front door, he could see how attractive Michaela was. Michaela, who now was feeling much better since she had purged her GI tract, smiled at them both. With that, she moved towards the open left rear door, got out and she stood up. Oddly, she was taller then both the cabbie and the dentist, but neither man exceeded 5-7.
Johnny exited the store and he immediately went at Martine. "Take us to the Hilton.", he demanded.
"No way. You and your senorita violated Rule One. You don't puke the cab! You can walk for all I care."
"I should kick your a**, you, you Frenchie."
Martine ignored the insult since he didn't consider himself a Frenchman. He was proud that he spoke both French and Creole. He was born and raised on the island of Guadaloupe.
For some peculiar reason, Sid stayed on as the men moved their rooks and pawns. The truth was that he was attracted to Michaela. He liked looking at her like a kid likes to lick a chocolate ice cream cone. He couldn't keep his eyes off of her as the man bantered and postured.
"Well, I'm leaving." And with that Martine jumped into the driver's seat, started the Crown up and hit reverse. Both back doors were still open and they both recoiled as Martine hit the gas. Once he hit the street, the hacker hit the accelerator hard and the forward motion of the cab slammed both back doors shut. And he was gone.
Johnny again eyed Sid, making the dental denizen feel like hanging provolone at Rossi's Italian Provisions. Sid began to head for the Cherokee and he moved as quickly as he could.
"How about you? Drive us to the Hilton, I'll pay you twenty bucks...er, thirty."
Sid kept moving.
"I'll let you sit next to my sister. She will hold you hand. You will LIKE it. I know you like her. All the men like my sister."
The dentist hit the open button of the fob, the locks clicked and the overhead light went on. Johnny, with Michaela in tow, was in pursuit. Sometimes the 4.0 liter Jeep engine was a slow starter. Sid was sorry he failed to have his mechanic, Bud Williams, tune-up the Jeep last month. He was 3,000 miles over the 30,000 mile recommended limit. Key in, Johnny was at the driver's door window. The hedgerowed teeth were agape and he could hear,
"Fifty...fifty and my sister...c,mom old man, my sister will bring you back to liiii..."
The Cherokee ignited. Mr. DMD, like Martine, backed up in a hurry. The wheels chirped and the black two door hit the street and sped off. In his rear view mirror, he saw them both, standing there, in front of the Wawa. The angled morning sun made these creatures of the night look out of place. Sid looked at Michaela's legs again. Standing up made her calves look nothing short of magnificent.
When Sid caught the red light a block away, his heart was pounding. He knew Michaela wasn't Johnny's sister. He wondered if she was a hooker? That would have been a good guess. He wondered what it would have been like if she held his hand. He wondered whether she would have brought him back to life? Back to life, hmm, has he ever been really alive? He still wonders. Sometimes Sid hates himself for being such a weenie. Sometimes he fantasizes, but not much else. So it goes.