Time Travel Taxi
The year was 1947.
I deposited a dime in the pay phone at Third and Jackson and dialed the numbers written in a hasty hand on the cocktail napkin and watched the rotary dial return to its starting spot with each number dialed. I hesitated before last number, feeling like a fool. I spun the dial for the last digit. The neon illuminated clock at the bank across the street showed 2:30.
I heard the connection being made, then a pause. A voice answered, “Time Travel Taxi.”
I swallowed to clear my throat and spoke, “I, uh, I need a taxi please. I’m at…” and before I could complete my sentence the car’s headlight pierced the darkness I heard a car break to a stop at the curb. I looked for the name of the cab company, a taxi light, something to identify the vehicle.
The driver pulled a toothpick from his mouth. His elbow was resting on the open window. “You call for a cab, Sir?” I approached with curious caution. In neat brush letters were the initials T.T.T. on the door just below his arm. He gave me a smile and nodded his head toward the back seat. The door opened effortlessly as though my hand pulling it open was just along for the ride.
“Where to, Sir?”
I paused. Today is my wedding day, this night my bachelor party with several high school friends and a couple ex-army buddies. The night’s entertainment had been a mystical woman, dressed in colorful translucent veils and silver bells who danced to our whistles and cheers and who read Tarot cards and palms and even ashes in an ash tray.
I let my friends enjoy her telling their futures as I sat in a corner chair sipping a bourbon and thinking about tomorrow. When I was the only one left to hear my fortune the woman held both of my hands palm up. She traced some lines on my right hand with a finger nail that was painted the brightest red color I had ever seen. As the tip of her nail followed each line like it was a road printed on a map I felt an intense heat on my open palm where her nail traced. Her other hand which held my open hand grew cold. The combination of the extremes left my hand paralyzed.
At that moment I felt as much fear as I did that June day at Normandy, perhaps more. I wanted to scream as I began to relive every pain I had experienced during my twenty-one years of life, both physical and emotional as well as those haunting pains from dreams long forgotten.
The woman released my hand which remained outstretched and posed in front of me as she reached inside her silky drawstring purse and pulled out a pencil stub, wrote something on a napkin, and wrapped the fingers of my outstretched and around it making a fist of my hand.
She leaned her mouth to my ear and whispered, “When you awake, call this number.” Her lips touched mine and I felt her exhale into my mouth. Her tongue traced the contour of my mouth, then probed its depth. I felt myself passing out. My fears were gone.
I awoke a couple hours later stretched out on the bed, fully clothed. My friends were gone. Filled ash trays and empty drink glasses cluttered the room. The room smelled of cigarettes and cigars and a curious hint of lavender. I ran the tip of my tongue across my lips and remembered her words to me and her kiss.
The cabby sat with great patience as the memories of the previous hours passed. Once again he asked, “Where to, Sir.”
“1959,” I answered, then closed my eyes. My moment of rest was interrupted by the cabby’s voice, “We’re here, Sir.”
It was now daylight. Morning I thought from the position of the sun and the freshness of the air. We sat parked in a residential street coming alive with the sounds of children on bicycles and roller skates. I watched a couple come out of a house with a young girl, perhaps age seven leading the way. The girl reached for her mother’s hand seeking comfort. The man was speaking in a raised voice. The woman averted her eyes, got into the car with her daughter and quietly closed the door. The man slid behind the steering wheel and slammed his door. The mother began to cry.
My initial indignation turned to fear as I recognized that the man was me and the woman was my fiancé. And we had a daughter who was afraid of me. “No,” I silently wept. “This can’t be me and Julie, and our daughter.”
“Her name is Angela,” offered the cabbie.
“Where to now, Sir.”
“1974,” I blurted, and closed my eyes, nubbing the tears with my hands.
“We’re here, Sir,” came the voice of the cabbie. I turned to my right as headstones and grave markers dotted the grass. To my left was a graveside service. Two caskets. A minister stood and read some words which I couldn’t hear. I squinted at the few in attendance. I recognized my parents now some twenty years older than I remembered. The other couple. Oh, no. They were Julie’s parents. I barely recognized them, so much time had passed since the day of our big argument. The fist fight. I looked for Julie and Angela. “Nooooo!” I wailed. It was their funeral. Their coffins. My stomach churned and I heaved the remnants of last night’s party out my open window.
“Please, get me out of here,” I begged the cabbie.
“Where to, Sir.”
“1992,” I said in a whispered voice.
I am sitting at metal table in a straight-back metal chair facing three men and a woman. Prison guards stand at each side of me. The woman speaks. “Parole denied.” I stand, wrists cuffed together, and we turn to the door. I begin to scream, “1947. 1947.”
I am now back in the cab. It is 1947, the day of my wedding. I watch my friends from the party gathered at the entrance of the church, sharing a smoke and a laugh or two. My parents walk up the steps to the church entrance. Mom holds dad’s arm, she dressed in a smartly-tailored suit. Dad in a rental tux. She hugs his arm and dad replies with a smile.
They are followed by Julie’s parents and her two sisters. Their smiles looked forced. They don’t care for me. Or, me for them. I try to remember why, but I can’t.
I look at the cabbie. “We’re here, sir. Your trip is over. I reach for my wallet but he waves me off. The cab doesn’t have a meter. Without reaching for the door handle, the door swings open. I step out of the cab and before I can turn to close the door it is gone.
I look toward the church longing to see my bride-to-be. I am wearing a tuxedo instead of my wrinkled party clothes. I look to my left which heads downtown. To my right, toward my home, my car, and escape.
A woman approaches from my left. She’s dressed in colorful scarves and silver jewelry. The aroma of lavender surrounds us in an invisible cloud. She smiles and takes my right hand. With her fingertips she rubs the palm of my right hand in a circular motion. She murmers words I don’t understand in a dialect I have never heard. She closes my hand into a fist. Her lips seek mine. Her tongue probes deeply. People pass by us as if we don’t exist. My eyes are closed as if in rapture.
I open my eyes and I am alone. I open my clenched fist and look at the palm of my hand. The lines are no longer there, my palm is smooth as if newly alive. I turn to the church and begin up the steps. The tinkling of silver bells follows me like a vapor.
AAGH! brake not break!
So, has every one time traveled to another dimension?
Hi Jeff. I wish I could claim to be in some alternative universe, poised on an event horizon, pondering the waxing and waning of time, but alas, such is not the case. I even thought about posting a blog challenge called, “I’m Not Writing Much” to see what popped up. Kudos to you for prompting me from time to time. I shall try to pull my stuff together for a posting later tonight. It’s ready, but odd.
Since thngs are slow at the moment here, here’s a little ditty of mine that got accepted at 101wordstory:
Jeff, I was hooked by the first sentence of TIME TRAVEL. Yeah, I’m old enough to remember rotary dials. All the visual details along with not knowing what was going on in the story at the beginning, led me to reading the story intensely, often jumping back to the beginning and re-reading as clues led me to realize what it was all about. Great story!
Hi Pat, welcome to our lil’ group. It’s usually not this little tho. Thank you for reading my Time Travel Taxi story and taking the time to comment. Hope to read something from you soon. Jeff
Looks like everyone’s involved in summer. Me, too. Enjoy.
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by Ann Linquist
Available in paperback or on Kindle