I pulled up to her and rolled down my window hoping for my luck to change.
"Are you my cab?" She asked.
"Did you call for a cab?" No. She may be assigned to someone and I will still be empty.
"Yes. I called Yellow Checker. But they said it would take half an hour or more to get to me." Ok. I can still make money, Yellow Checker is our arch enemy and one of their drivers stole a ten mile run from me the other day.
"Where are you going?"
"That'll run you about $70 or so, that okay, ma'am?"
"Yes. So, are you my cab?" She said with a grin.
"I am now,"
"But sir," she said with a mock southern accent as she got in,"I do not think you are the gentleman from yellow checker."
"I'm your huckleberry," I said as I put it in drive and headed out.
"Hey!" She said,"I was going for some Maverick banter and you go right for Tombstone?"
"Those words were never said in Maverick, how was I supposed to know?" I said.
"That was a perfect Jodie Foster." She said.
"So did you have a good time tonight?" I asked.
"No," she replied, "but my roommate is still in there flirting and losing."
"Is that better that flirting with losers?" I asked.
"She's doing that too. This was her idea, get dressed up, meet hot men, play some games. I have to go to work so I just figured I'd call a cab and go home. I don't know how to gamble and I was not meeting men."
"Are you kidding me?" I am normally more reserved, it just kinda slipped out.
"You think I look good?"
"Why thank you. Do you like westerns? Or just the recent ones?
From there we got into an animated conversation about westerns while we headed on to the expressway. Like Jazz, it is a rare genre to find someone who is an enthusiast. Like the old cowboy I met earlier, she knew her stuff.
When you get into an animated conversation, eye contact is conducted with the rear view mirror. That was when I saw something she was not aware of. Some of her teeth had come loose. She was about ten years younger than me. I wanted her to be aware of it because it was obvious she was not. By this time we were on a first name basis.
"Uh Jenny," I said. She looked in the mirror and I motioned towards my teeth.
"Oh no...oh god." She put her hands to her mouth and adjusted. "Thats so embarrassing."
"Nothing to be embarrassed about," I said.
"The teeth are complements of my ex husband." She said with a sigh.
"Me too, Patrick. It's why being told I'm pretty means so much. I've had reconstructive surgery on my cheekbones and a few screws in my bones here and there."
"Jesus," I said,"any kids?"
"14 year old, he never hit our son, but he abused him. Abuse isn't just physical."
"I know." I said. "Took courage to get out."
"Well," she started as she lit a cigarette, "It is not the first time I left, this was just the first time I stayed out and filed for divorce. That was so scary at the time."
"How long have you and your boy been out?" I asked.
"Three years. Almost four. When he crushed my face my options became limited. I had crossed the point of no return and there was no choice but to get out. Even that fucking church could not ignore who he was."
"Church? Did they enable?" I already knew the answer.
"Yeah. We lived in Sacto...Sacramento. Big church. Popular music. He was on the board, men's group, worship team and all that. He was loved. A pillar of the church. A saint. He could not have done these things and if he did speak cruel sometimes, well, I just had to be a better wife and win his heart to warmth instead of cold. I was the problem. Not him. You know what's messed up?"
"I believed him and I believed them. How could I not. The system was more rigged there than it is in that casino." She said.
"How so?" I was curious now.
"You know as well as I do that the house wins. If someone is getting ahead, they charm them to stay until the house gets the money back. And if someone does continue to win, they will shame the winner, accuse them of cheating and ban them. They upset the system. They need to go away."
"Yeah," I said. "I have picked up a few people and heard stories."
"Church. You have a book where women are property and we are the bride of Christ. The whole goal is about pleasing god, your groom and ultimately, avoiding the consequences of a life without him. Know what those consequences are?" She asked.
"At the least, a sad life without joy and enlightenment and at the worst, eternal torment with everyone else who rejected his love." I replied.
"Ah, you have been to church. Yeah. The jealous and all loving God in a church environment that fosters co dependency and favors the charming man with deep pockets who could not possibly have any flaws. I am the woman. I do not understand the enlightenment and purity of the love." Her animated nature turned a little dark.
"So this was a conservative evangelical church?" I asked.
"Liberal," she said.
"You sound mad at church." I said.
"My husband was cruel and he was the one that hurt us. He's sick and has an addiction. It doesn't change that he did it. But them? They are the spiritually enlightened acting in the name of love. When I finally got the help I needed, of all people it was a charismatic surgical nurse that helped me find resources to get out." She replied.
"No shit?" I asked.
"Yep. She told me her story, she's a survivor too. Good woman. Saved my life. I had heard the speeches before, but something about her story struck me." She said.
"So," I said as we got closer to her apartment building,"still believe in God?"
"I don't know if I believe in god or even like him. The god in the Bible is a lot like my husband and nothing like my dad was. I don't believe in church. I still pray sometimes, but then I go to support group for coda and hear women talk about their god and it is so controlling and I get sick and want to scream. This bible is not for the twenty first century and it certainly ain't for women."
"Well, here we are." I said as we pulled up,"It's seventy five dollars."
"Here's a hundred, Patrick. Thanks for listening."
"Thanks for telling me your story, Jenny."
"You're welcome, cowboy." With that, she winked at me and walked to her apartment. I waited until I saw her disappear into the doorway before driving off.