‘He’s changed lanes!’
‘It’s okay. Trust me. I’m all over it. If he takes the filter to the airport then so can we. Once we get through this tunnel.’
‘Don’t lose him.’
‘Take it easy. I won’t lose him. I’ve got this under control. Just relax.’
Looking in the rear view mirror I don’t like what I see. He’s sweating. Dabbing his forehead with his handkerchief. He’s panting. His eyes are bulging. Bloodshot. Maybe I should’ve heeded to my instinct after all. I had a bad feeling as soon as he banged on the window, with his “follow that car … the black one,” waving two hundred dollar bills at my face “whatever it costs … but go now!” Pointing at the black car waiting for the lights, fifty yards up the road. Pulling on the back passenger seat door handle that I’d locked against all the Brooklyn crazies.
You get a sixth sense in this job. I’m sure it’s the same in other lines of work. But for me it’s a feeling in the back of my neck. Like some kind of danger barometer. When I wound down the window to this guy the needle began to jump. It wasn’t just his body language: the agitation, the high anxiety. Or the pitch, tone and tempo of his voice. Something else altogether. What the hell I thought. It’d been a bad week. The fuel pump had finally blown, so I’d had no work Wednesday and a two-hundred-and-eighty dollar garage bill. Today I’d waited two hours at JFK for a thirteen dollar job. The luck of the draw they say; but that made three unlucky airport draws in a row. To top it off I get a call from Maxine while I’m waiting at the taxi-rank telling me if I miss another childcare payment I’d be hearing from her lawyer. My ear was still buzzing from her abuse when I get the bang on the window.
Driving along I keep a careful eye on him. And a third eye on the black car. And another eye on the road. But I figure he needs me and so long as the black car stays on the Van Wyck Expressway it’ll work out okay. There’s an old hymn on the radio. One I recognize from church days. Then the preacher comes on. He talks about life’s journey. The stresses of the modern world. “Each one of us has a unique pathway,” he says. “Look to the scriptures. Proverbs 3:6.”
A hundred yards ahead, the black car takes a sudden left off the freeway, before the airport, onto an unlit slip-road towards the cargo warehouses.
He’s leaning over the front seat. His breath steaming in my ear. In the mirror his face is huge and red, veins bulging in his neck, and eyes looking like something from the devil.
‘Follow that car! You! … Turn! Don’t mess with me!’
“… Seek God’s will in all you do and he will show you the path to take.”