Re "New York Taxi," this was done some time ago, but I'm afraid to send it out to snarly editors. You tell me if it's just a setup for the reveal or not. Jill can verify it took 30 minutes to write.
Nun on the Run
Sidney Berger was exhausted and still had two hours to drive the fleet cab before his shift ended. The container of coffee on the dashboard wasn’t keeping him awake, but he shook off the fatigue when he saw the nun flag his cab from the corner of Perry and Charles Street in Greenwich Village. Finally a fare. Probably a lousy tip coming up, but something indefinable excited him. She could have been Darcy McFarquhar—Darcy who graduated high school with him, went on to become a novitiate in the orders of Saint Somebody, and took his soul with her.
He wheeled the car to the curb.
“Where to, Sister?”
“West Eighty-Eighth Street, please. I’ll tell you the building number when we get there.” She slid in, tucked her habit safely inside the cab and closed the door carefully.
Berger couldn’t stop gazing at her in his rearview mirror as they cruised up Eighth Avenue. She had fair skin, from what he could see, and displayed an air of serenity that was missing from his life. What did Sidney have now but an equally tired wife, three squawling kids, rent receipts, a pain-in-the-ass brother-in-law.
“How long have you been in the service of the church?” he asked, hoping to start a conversation. The fantasy he had buried was coming to the surface. His palms were becoming sweaty.
“You’ve been staring at me,” she said in a throaty voice. “I know you have questions. Most people do. My name is Monique Arielle Johnson and I took the orders twelve years ago and it was for two reasons—God’s calling and the fact that my mother hated me. You can call me Sister Anne—or just Monique if that’s more comfortable.”
The cabbie was silent for a minute. Those were, generally, the questions he was going to ask. They crossed Forty-Second Street before he spoke again.
“I have another question, Sister, but I don’t want to offend you.” It was now or never, he thought.
The nun smiled. “My son, you can’t offend me. When you’ve been a nun as long as I have, you’ve seen and heard just about everything. I’m sure that there’s nothing you could say or ask that would surprise me.”
He paused, and then burst out. “Well, I’ve always had a fantasy of kissing a nun. It’s not perverted, just a kind of…of blesssing I’m looking for. Whaddya call it, closure.”
“I’m afraid I’ve never heard that problem.” The nun gave what might have been a laugh. “I’ll allow one kiss, but only if you’re single…and you must be Catholic.”
Berger felt his pulse raging and the blood pounding in his head. “Oh, yes,” he blurted, “I’m single; and I’m Catholic too.”
“All right,” Monique said with a small smile. “Pull over to the side of the avenue and I’ll give you a kiss.”
Sidney parked the car, got out and came around to the passenger side. Monique opened her door, stood up and put her arms around Berger’s neck. Their kiss was deep and exploratory and seemed to go forever. His heart pounded and he felt a release from the fantasies he’d had. Silently, his lips formed the word Darcy.
Stepping back onto the sidewalk, Berger felt a wave of gratitude. The wish he’d had since he lost Darcy, the daydream that never went away, had been fulfilled. He got behind the wheel and turned into traffic. As they drove north along the silent streets, a tear started to form behind his eyes, and then escaped down his cheek. Who was he kidding? Darcy was never coming back. In the back seat, the nun noticed as he snuffled and wiped his nose with his sleeve.
“My child,” she said, touching the Lucite partition that separated them. “Why are you crying?”
“Forgive me, Monique—Sister—, but I sinned. I lied to you. I have to confess. I’m married and I’m Jewish. I made believe you were a girl I once knew.” In the mirror, he watched a slow smile cross Sister Anne’s face.
“That’s all right, I knew it. I saw your name on the hack license.”
“You forgive me?”
“Not a problem, Sidney. I lied too. My name is Kevin and I’m on my way to a Halloween party. Except that my mother still hates me, and that’s the truth.”
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