The cab was small, dark, and musty smelling. It was a Yellow Cab, which I found amusing since it was, in fact, orange. The driver hadn’t said anything to me in the twenty minutes that we had been driving together. He was an aging man, dark skin, hair that was just starting to gray out. The ashtray under the radio was overflowing with dried out butts and ash, and he had Britney Spears club mixes blasting through the cabin at a volume well past the point of being comfortable.
My knees were bunched up on the divider, my head was pounding, and I was soaking wet; on top of which the blood on my hands was starting to run and stain the cuffs of my shirt. The driver didn’t ask me why I was covered in blood, and he didn’t say anything when I dropped the nine-millimeter with an absurdly long suppressor on it on the seat next to me. He just eyed me in the rear view mirror, put the car in drive, and nodded when I told him to take me to Untitled.
Untitled was a basement bar on Kinzie street in Chicago. It looked like a nineteen thirties era speakeasy on acid. It was a caricature of itself. Every feature exaggerated to pound the senses into acceptance. The clientele consisted of over privileged twenty-somethings that treated the place like a permanent costume party, showing up in zoot suits, flapper dresses, and other old-timey clothes that didn’t necessarily correspond to the era the bar was trying to mimic; and guys in their mid forties there, presumably, mostly to try and pick up a twenty-something flapper girl.
For me it was camouflage. It was dark, loud, busy, and full of flash. The mardi gras of it all was enough to draw attention away from the weird guy sitting alone in the corner booth. I paid the owner a monthly fee and in return I got a private booth in the back, an endless supply of cheap scotch, and no questions. Management let me smoke in there too, but after one night, I found that that attracted more attention than the environment could disguise, so I stopped.
The cab driver let me smoke in his cab too, or at least he didn’t say anything when I lit up. He was a quiet fellow. I don’t think I would have been able to stay so quiet if I were in his shoes. Pick up a fare and he climbs in soaking wet, covered in blood, and carrying a weapon and you just nod your head and drive? I had to hand it to him; he was cool. I rolled the window down and blew the smoke outside.
The driver pulled up a half a block away and on the wrong side of the street from the club. He didn’t say anything, just pulled to the curb and put the car in park. I hadn’t asked him to drop me so far from the door, but it occurred to me that it was a good idea. I was wet and bloody and didn’t have a good place to hide my piece. Getting out of a cab in this state right in front of the doors to the club would certainly attract more attention then I wanted. If I got out here, on the side of the road I could roll my sleeves, stash the gun and walk the half block to the club casually. Smart man. I was beginning to really like this guy.
I flicked my cigarette out the window and cranked it back up. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out a roll of cash. The meter in the front said thirty-four fifty, I peeled off eighty and handed it to the driver through the opening in the bulletproof glass.
“I’m usually here.” I said. “Most nights, I’m usually here.”
“So, I mean, this is where I usually go.”
He nodded again.
“Okay then.” I said.
He stared out the windshield like he was waiting for a traffic light to change.
“Alright.” I said.
I opened the door and got out on the sidewalk side of the car. I grabbed the gun and set it on top of the cab while I rolled up my sleeves, then I gave the silencer a quarter turn and popped it off the front of the piece and slid them both in my pocket. I shut the door to the cab and took a step back. The car pulled away from the curb and turned at the corner. It was an erie sense, but I shook it off, crossed the street and walked to the club.
As I stepped through the doors the doorman smiled at me and said “Good evening Mr. Gayle.”