Saturday, May 10, 2008

got mad butter?

It was at 50th and 7th Avenue where I picked these two up. They were both dressed real nice, one wore a white leather jacket, both had their hair cut so short it was barely there. They walked with care not to scuff their shoes. I stopped and let them in. Instantly the guy on the left started to talk with high energy, animated and throwing in the N word at least once every sentence.

"Yo N-gah, what was that?" the left said to the right, "It was like the N- was up in our face and.. where this n- come from?"

Right guy- “Yo I don't know man, I don't know," he reclined deep into the seat. "There was mad girls though-“

Left guy- "Really?"

Right guy- "Yeeaah, all these girls were all around us. They were trying to pull them off of us.”

Left- “He threw his chain on me son!" 

“What?" said the right

Left- “Does it look bad?" He motions to his face and straightens his posture.

The right guy, takes a minute, and looks at the mark on his friend's face, searches for any other marks, but doesn't take too long to frighten his friend. "Nah, nah, you'll be alright, just ice it.”

We pass 45th on Broadway; vibrant lights shout and dance around the cab, clashing with our silence.

Left guy- “My ma though, she is gonna freak.”

My eyes darted to the rear-view mirror to see what this was about. I got a little tense to say the least when they came in with their language and the talk about violence, but it was becoming clear they were just kids who'd been the victim of some shit from some jerks way worse than they were. I hoped he knew he needed to ice that thing pronto. I mean maybe he should see a doctor or something.

They went on for a bit about how the guy came out of nowhere, and questioning what brought them into the situation. We were now at the north end of Washington Square Park. I stared at the traffic light reading it like a clock. The first red light in a trip always feels the longest. The guy on the left had taken a breath between words for a bit, the guy on the right was handling the night with more reserve and so our minds raced in our moment of stillness.

Hey cab driver," said the guy on the left, "What would you do if some guy started something with you?”

Well actually I've never been in a fight before," I said.

And the figurative wall between the passengers and me was broken; he had the green light to explain his story to me.

"No offense," he said, "But these white guys came out of nowhere and just started with us, throwing names and he was all up in my friend's face, so I stood in front of my friend and he threw his chain at me. I was like, what the fuck? You know?"

I: “Did you punch him back or something?” If it was I, I wouldn’t have done a damn thing, but I had to maintain a tough guy taxi driver image for these clients.

He: “I would’ve trashed him, but I didn’t want the police coming in, ya know, shit man that’d be the last thing I need. Yo I got mad butter on me son.”

Hmmmm, and thus a title for this post, apparently butter is convictions, warrants, previous whatever, whatever builds up a police record for an individual. Who knew?

I: “Did you come from the same club as them?”

He: “No I have no idea where they came from.”

I: “You know I think that whole area is bad. Sometimes there are places where you go and bad shit just happens... often.”

My statement was ignored. Getting told to avoid a spot wasn’t in their modus operandi. He continued talking to his friend who now had some moments of reprieve from this high-energy dialogue, and to me, whoever would listen really.

“Yo I was going to fight him son but shit I got mad butters, mad mad butter, and I figured I’d keep my cool.”

Now we were at Canal and Broadway, turning to soon approach the Manhattan Bridge and take a straight line through Brooklyn and hopefully not too far. Thoughts of pride, and respect circled in his head. He took some time to gather another sentence up. I might have glanced in the mirror again, and I might have seen a hint of the scar, but I couldn’t see the whole thing because the mirror was too small. The one with the adrenaline and the scar he looked kinda young, maybe 22 years, his eyes were wide open on an automatic human instinct to be fully aware incase anything else should turn un-expected. The other mostly because of how he carried himself seemed to be 26ish, and he held a responsibility to take his good friend home safely.

He started again, more softly trying to recollect, directing eye contact with his friend, “Where did they even come from though?”

Right- “I have, no idea.” Shaking his head and speaking at low decibel.

Left- “Do you know what we could’ve been doing to instigate it?”

Right- “Not a clue man, not a clue.”

Fortunately it wasn’t too far into the borough of BK, the fare was paid by credit as we sat adjacent to a fire hydrant. It might have been five minutes maybe even more that we sat, while the two agreed scar face, would be all right. He asked me how bad it was. I twisted and looked uninhibited through the partition and was taken aback at first. Parallel to his nose a red line ran from his swollen upper lip to just above his left eyebrow. I looked longer and harder, the scar though was barely in ‘scar’ territory, it wasn’t raised from the skin so it seemed that maybe it may swell up a bit and then disappear over time. So I told him it wasn’t that bad.

So after his friend finally left, we went on. I told him I’d take three dollars off his fare, because had I known the ride was to continue I wouldn’t have shut the meter off, which ads three dollars as a surcharge at the beginning of each ride at that time, I don’t think he followed. Then he told me he’d give me directions to his house, and I was following his directions until I realized his address was in the other direction, and as is quite common, his directions were completely backwards. I traveled a whole ten blocks or more east when his place was only a little bit south of the first drop off. I then shut off the meter, which was at seven, and turned around. Oh the poor guy was groaning as the sting was setting in and the adrenaline was wearing off. He was looking all around unfamiliar with where he was for most of the ride, until we were within walking distance.

“Stop right here,” he said quickly. And so I stopped, and waited, and waited some more. I was wondering how much time I should give this guy before I give him a quizzical look.

He-“So… How much is it?”

I-“Oh, oh yeah it’s uhh, seven, whatever.”

I thought he would’ve figured that out. He walked into his apartment tower at a medium pace. As I made my way back I thought perhaps the scar had caused more damage than at first we all believed.

And the moral of the story for me is, I shouldn’t go to Times Square empty before the sun is up. For you the moral of the story is similar, don’t party near Times Square, too many assholes. I have to get back to work now. I've been on my breakfast break for just over an hour. Sorry it took me so long to finish writing this.


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