Ric is about to call it a day when someone hails him. Someone always seems to sniff out the cab drivers that are about to drive home.
But it's been slow, the few rides he's had barely worth mentioning, and the guy doesn't look like he's gonna knife Dick for the few dollars he's made. In fact, he looks like the rich business types who tip well and who want nothing to do with you. The faster you get them where they want to go, the better for everyone involved.
The money that beckons him wins out in the end. Ric has a pile of bills stacking up since his most recent visit to the garage for general inspections. (He needed a new carburetor and his break lines fixed. Investing in safety sure is expensive.)
He pulls up at the curb so precisely the guy only has to take a step forward to touch the door handle. As he sits down, Ric can appreciate how tall he is. His hair brushes against the roof of the car and the diamond cut of his cheekbones and jaw suggests what hides beneath the layers of fabric is solid muscle and not pudginess as Ric's previous, unflattering thoughts might have been. Possibly has a lot of time to hit the gym during work hours.
The guy gives him an address in Avalon Heights – which is the opposite direction that Ric was headed before deciding to postpone his well-deserved rest, because that's just his luck – and takes up room in the backseat like it's his own personal limousine. (If only Ric got a chauffeur's salary.) Everything about him looks expensive: from the tailored suit to his immaculate haircut to the thick gold watch peeking out from his glossy, blood red cuffs.
Ric adjusts the rear-view mirror to keep an eye on his passenger, and the tree-shaped air freshener dangling from it jiggles. The stranger's eyes catch his; they're blue-green like a tropical sea and warm – perhaps deceptively so – in his hard face.
"Are you just gonna stare, or are you gonna drive anytime soon?" he asks in a rich, deep voice, dark like Ecuadorian chocolate.
"Just minding the traffic," Ric says, which the guy can see is bullshit. It's past rush hour in the financial district and the highrises cast long shadows over yawning streets in the dying light. It feels ghostly almost. A few degrees colder and he'd see ghosts in the mists, too.
"If you're this sluggish when the streets are empty, I'd better find myself a driver who can actually drive."
He's almost about to step out of the car again when Ric hits the gas. No way is he gonna let that dude make off with the money he owes him for protracting his evening.
"Okay, don't wanna let me go again. I get that," the guys says. There's something odd about his accent that Ric can't quite pick up on, but he can tell the guy is no local. "A lot, actually. Just make sure to floor it."
Ric should have known he would be trouble. Maybe not in the "give me your money or I slit your throat" kind of way; there are many ways a person can be trouble, after all. But no, all Ric could think of was the wad of cash that would no doubt be at the end of this if he just got him where he needed to go quickly enough.
But then he had to get distracted by that ridiculously handsome face. That he kind of wants to punch every time it opens its mouth.
"You could have run that red light," the guy remarks, gripping the edge of Ric's seat. Ric doesn't like that. He can almost feel him gripping his shoulder like that.
"Safety first," he says tersely.
The guy barks a laugh. "Screw safety. I'm paying you to go fast. You can bill me for any potential speeding ticket if it makes you feel better."
It doesn't, but Ric picks up the speed anyway. The adrenaline kick he gets from weaving in and out of the traffic that builds around Port Authority takes his mind off the annoyance he feels because of the guy.
"Where the fuck did you learn how to drive? Did you win your license in lottery?"
Ric grips the steering wheel harder as they enter the bypass. From here on out, he would have less excuse to listen to his GPS he doesn't need because it's follow the road ahead. At least that frees his head enough to imagine what he'd like to do to that arrogant jerk. He'd look pretty good with his face smushed against the backseat, a bright vermillion against the dark material, as Dick plows into him.
"Is this as fast as this jalopy can go?"
Okay, that's enough. Ric doesn't care what the guy has to say about him and his driving skills, but he draws a line at his car. He's paid good money for it and its upkeep.
He'd love to bend that prick over the hood of his cab and spear him open for the whole neighborhood to see. Bet he would love that given how adamant he is about commanding Ric's attention. When Ric plunges into his red, gaping hole he'd have everyone's attention.
The ferocity of his thoughts startles him as much as his phone announcing they've arrived at their destination. He's never wanted to humiliate someone so bad. Or at all, really.
The guy checks his watch as they come to a halt as if every millisecond counted as much as in a race. The watch probably cost more than Ric earns in a year; the fact that the guy can wear it so casually means he has enough. He doesn't have to search for excuses to skimp on Dick's tip.
"You've been checking me out all the way here," the guy says as he takes out his wallet.
Ric bites the inside of his cheek so he wouldn't admit that those were death glares.
"In case you do get any speeding tickets, here's my card. Just give me a call and I'll handle it." He hands over a business card with the money he owes Ric. "Keep the change."
Ric is too dumbstruck for a quick reply when the guy fucking smacks his cheeks with his gloved fingers. It was a light smack, something that would pass as comradely between acquaintances, but indignation inflames Ric's whole body.
"If you wanna make use of those pretty lips of yours, you can also give me a call."
Indignation and arousal.
The guy exits the car with the most self-satisfied smirk Ric has ever seen on a person. He knows the effect he has on people and makes use of it for his own amusement. Jackass.
Ric flips over the card. It's sleek and black, with elegant embossed lettering. Just a name, where he works, and a telephone number.
Ric runs his thumb over the the raised lines, then remembers to count the money, ready to leap out of the car and run after the guy. (Would he think Ric is eager to jump at his invitation?) But what do you know? The guy actually gave him twice as much as his actual fare.
Keep the change, he said. Ric is sure gonna, even though it doesn't feel quite right. He's annoyed at that, too. He swallows down an odd lump in his throat.
Letting out a sound of frustration, he throws the card and the money into his glove compartment and locks it. He doesn't know why he keeps the card; he should just throw it away. Well, he can always do so later, where people would not drag him for littering.
On his way home, his thoughts drift to his well-deserved bath again – and he wonders if he shouldn't rather take a cold shower for the swelling. In his knee, of course.