October 2, 2016

SUN STORY SUNDAYS | The Easy Rider Cab

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Sundays are work days at Cornell. You arise from the chaos of Saturday night and prepare to do battle with the demons of prelims and term papers, striding into Olin or Uris or Mann, tenacious grin and latte in hand.

But let’s be real. You sit down, crack open your laptop and sip to the tune of the Netflix opening jingle. Procrastination is as apart of your Sunday workday routine as anything else.

So how about this? Instead of burning those hours away watching reruns, stalking exes and numbing your brain in the dark corners of Youtube, why not read a story? And not just any story; a piece of fiction written by a friend of yours. One written by an ex-friend of yours, maybe. One written by your old roommate from freshman year who you swear transferred. Well, he didn’t. And guess what? He wrote a story about that night.

The stories published here on Sun Story Sundays all burst from the pens of Cornell undergraduates hoping to follow in the footsteps of the literary giants who once stalked the Arts Quad. They will appear every two weeks under a monthly theme. They will be sad and happy, spiteful and gleeful, menacing and pleasing. They will run the emotional, thematic and geographic gamut. But most importantly, they will come from you.

Open your skull; reverse lobotomies are on the house.

The audio component for this story can be found here.

HAVE A STORY? SEND SUBMISSIONS TO ANDRES VAAMONDE, alv49@cornell.edu

The Easy Rider Cab

Ricky’s hand was bleeding when he got in the car. He didn’t say anything off the bat. He opened the door and had a real no nonsense grip when he smashed it shut as he sat down. He’d called me saying I had to come quick and check out the scene. When I rolled up there wasn’t anything but him in the middle of the street looking up at the sky. The moon was hanging low and its light made Ricky a shadow.

I was riding high on a bender fueled by a blood flow of coffee and powder with minutes of shuteye being few and far between. Times like these just happened — they lit up like a match and burnt out randomly. Sometimes a wind blows the flame away; other times it burns down the stem, turning the wood to ash — makes everything crumble. That night was one long burning flame. I didn’t know what day it was, and everything felt like one dreamless moment. On these nights, the only thing keeping me from slaughtering myself was driving. I’d drive with nowhere in mind and let my subconscious take the wheel. If someone called me they’d know I’d go and get them. I’d gained a reputation by that point of being the kid with the ride for the down low. People knew all I asked of them was enough gas money for the car or substances to keep me driving. They called it the easy rider cab. It was a no hustle, no bullshit, no questions kind of operation that I didn’t even consider an operation in the first place. All this was a way to help dull the static in my head until there was nothing left to do but press the reset button.

When I saw Ricky’s hand I hoped it wasn’t blood and hoped even harder that we wouldn’t have to talk about it. It looked like it was covered in ink smeared from a pen that could’ve exploded on his knuckle. I didn’t ask any questions, but Ricky broke the silence.

“Bet you’re wondering what happened here,” he said holding up his palm. I told him I hadn’t noticed.

“Take a look at it,” he placed it on the dashboard.

“I’m driving. I can’t.”

“Sure as shit you can’t.”

I looked over at him. He was smiling like a monkey and his eyes were wide. There was something on fire behind them.

“Stop the car man you gotta take a look at this,” He repeated.

I hit the brakes. The wheels screeched and sent a shockwave through my head that stayed there as Ricky snapped his fingers in applause.

“What do you think?”

He was showing off the back of his hand like a jewelry model. The blood was painting streaks down his forearm. I saw shining specks of light poking out against the deep red coming from a gash around his knuckle. All I said to him was that it looked pretty bad.

“Damn right it’s bad. I got little shards of glass stuck all around my fist. Look!”

He held it up to the moonlight that was streaming through the car. It danced around those little gems in the flesh of his fingers.

“Does it hurt?”

“Yeah but who cares? I don’t have time for that. I’ve got places to be my man.”

“Where are you going?”

“You know any girls working tonight?”

“I don’t do that kind of stuff.”

“Yeah, but do you know any girls working tonight?”

“Last time I saw you, you had a girlfriend.”

Ricky showed me his hand, “Not anymore.”

I could feel my heart pushing up against the inside of my shirt.

“So are you gonna take me?”

“What?”

“Are you gonna take me somewhere?”

“I don’t really know any places I could—”

“Jesus what did I call you for?” Ricky shifted himself and looked up at the moon. He sat there staring while the engine hummed and my head screamed. He turned back towards me and said, “You know on average more murders happen on full moons?”

“That’s something.”

“It’s a wild fact of life man.” He looked back down at his hand. “I think I’m gonna keep this. Too damn pretty to wash it all away.”

He looked at me, “There’s a spot you’re gonna take me. I’ll give you the directions one by one. Sound good, Easy Rider?” I nodded. He slapped the dashboard and turned on the radio.

I didn’t say anything while driving, and Ricky didn’t seem to care — he just howled along to the radio and slapped his hand against the window. I followed his directions and when he finally said stop we were at the entrance to some storage unit. Ricky hopped out the car and told me to get out. I told him this was the end of line.

“I’m gonna need your help on this one kid”

“I don’t do that.”

“C’mon I’m asking as a friend.”

I shook my head. He took out a knife.

“You wanna get paid Easy Rider?”

“Sure.”

“Well your payment is in there.”

“I’m not going to steal anything.”

“You got it all wrong. This ain’t that kind of operation. It’s more surgical.”

“I’m good.”

“I ain’t asking anymore, Easy Rider.”

I got out the car and felt all the blood thunder in my head. I followed Ricky into the dark.

***

When I got back to the car Ricky wasn’t with me. I was holding my jacket underneath my arm. It was wrapped around what Ricky told me to keep as payment. It was easy for me to forget what happened in there. All I remember from it was a feeling like I was sawing through a sappy tree. The night was cold, the car was a blanket, and I felt burnt out. I drove until I found a space that felt like nowhere. I slept until morning with Ricky’s hand as a pillow.

A.J. Rodríguez is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Comments may be sent to associate-editor@cornellsun.com. Sun Story Sundays appears alternating Sundays this semester.

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