Dodi is one of our cab drivers. Her face has more wrinkles than a crack-head’s last dollar bill but her legs are slim and tight and she has alluring feet with painted toes like pink little Tums. She has a detonation of naturally blond foliage on her head, unruly enough to camouflage her face. Her hair goes well with her fake boobs which, 15 years ago, were her 34th birthday present to herself. Dodi once went to the 4 Corners up in Utah and she stood in Utah but her boobs were in the other 3 states.
I like Dodi. Dodi spends a lot of time sitting in her cab wondering how she ended up there. Sometimes we meet in the university area. We sit with one cab facing one way, one the other, our windows open to each other.
“I’m better than this,” she says. “What are we doing with our lives, Mike?”
“I don’t know, Dodi,” I say, staring at a couple of young female coeds. Dodi turns and gives them the stink-eye.
Dodi’s been short on cash lately. She’s a real human being and she doesn’t like getting old. She has a daughter who’s military and she’s always bragging about her baby in the Navy, but it was common knowledge that Dodi hadn't seen her daughter in years.
So many people look sad when you see them sitting in their cars alone at a red light. Dodi’s not the only one.
Dodi likes sex and she figured, why not get paid for it? She signed up at an escort agency, Touch of Paradise. The first night she was sitting in her taxi when her phone rang.
“Susanna?” a woman’s voice said. That was her stage name, “Susanna”.
“We’ve got someone for you,” the voice said, “over at The Quail.” The Quail was a cheap hotel on Miracle Mile.
“Room 212,” the voice said, and hung up.
Dodi went into the bathroom of the Chevron gas station and primped her big blond hair in the mirror. She looked at herself and didn’t like her face. She squirted perfume on her neck and walked back out.
She pulled her taxi into the parking lot of The Quail, which was seedy and getting seedier. A couple of young toughs leaned against the hotel’s office door. She found room 212 and walked her high heels up the stairs. She had on a very short blue skirt and a tight white sleeveless shirt. She always dressed like this, even before deciding to become a part-time hooker.
“Hi,” Dodi said. “I’m Susanna.”
“Bill,” he said, shaking her hand. “You look great.”
“Thanks,” Susanna said.
There was a moment of silence as they both stood there looking around. The room was barely disturbed. There was a suitcase on the chair and the bathroom door was open with the light coming out. The place was slightly steamy because of a recent shower. Bill’s hair was wet.
"So,” Susanna said, “I guess I should ask you if you’re a cop.”
“Ok,” Bill said.
She looked at him and waited.
“Well,” she said, “are you a cop?”
“No,” Bill said, smiling. “I came to town for the football game, you know, tomorrow night. USC is playing the Wildcats.”
“You’re from California?” she said.
“I’m moving to L.A. in a year or so,” she said.
“The more the merrier,” he said.
She sat down on the bed and crossed her legs and waved a foot at him. She dropped her purse gently and seductively to the floor.
“It’s 200 an hour,” she said. “And I need the money up front.”
Bill went to the dresser and got his wallet. He walked over and opened it.
“You’re under arrest, Susanna,” he said, showing her the badge.
They took her downtown and she called Jule, our boss at the cab company. Jule went down and bailed her out. She was driving her taxi again the next night.
“I can’t do anything right,” Dodi said to me.
We were sitting in our cabs in the university area, facing in opposite directions. A good looking college girl walked by, laughing into her cellphone. She walked in front of Dodi's cab and Dodi gave the horn a quick punch. The college girl jumped and dropped her cellphone. She scowled at Dodi, bent down and picked up the phone and hurried away. Dodi and I laughed. Then we were quiet and just sat there waiting for fares.
Mather Schneider lives in Tucson, Arizona and is, in fact, a former cab driver. He has poems on and forthcoming on Right Hand Pointing.