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“I understand,” she said. “Might I ever hear some of your music somewhere? Do you have any recordings?”
“No,” he said. “But I’ll be in a little concert in a small club Sunday night.”
“I’d like to see it,” she said. “Have you any tickets?”
“You don’t need tickets. It’s just a club. Buy a drink and tip the host and waitresses and that’s it.”
Clay knew she’d never show up at the Club Starlight, and as the day grew busier he forgot the conversation completely. He paused for a quick hamburger at a fast food drive-through window and continued to work through the evening, taking a double shift because he had nothing better to do, and money was always in short supply. At about seven-thirty in the evening Clayton took a call from Herbie for a rush pickup at a luxurious, mid-town condominium building. He arrived at the fare’s address just as the fare, a mature, slightly stout, very rushed woman hurried through the glass doors that were held open by a uniformed doorman. The woman was carrying an alligator briefcase and a small wheeled travelling bag and a very expensive purse. Clay stepped out of the car and opened the rear door for the woman. He held out his hands to take her bag but she rushed past him and tossed everything into the back seat and slid into the seat. She looked up at Clay, and he noticed that she was very beautiful, and only slightly overweight, which was to be expected. He guessed that she must be about fifty-five years old.
“I’m late for a flight at nine o’clock,” she said. “There will be a big tip for you if you get me to the airport on time.”
“I’ll do my best,” Clay said as he closed her door and slid behind the wheel to pull out of the circular driveway and speed up the street while the woman groped around in her purse.
“Oh my God!” she said.
“Problem?” Clay said, looking in the rear-view mirror.
“I’ve forgotten my reading glasses,” she said. “I can’t make this presentation without them. You’d best go back, and I’ll try to catch the next flight.” Clayton checked his watch.
“I don’t think that will be necessary,” he said. “I believe I can get you there even if we return for your glasses.” The woman punched a number into her cellular phone and after a few seconds spoke into it.
“Ruth, I’m coming back for my glasses. Please fetch them from my study and bring them down to George at the door,” she said. “Thank you.” Clayton very quickly pulled into the circular driveway again just in time to see a young black woman in a maid’s uniform walking up to the doorman with a glasses case. Clay jumped out of the car and met the doorman at the top of the steps, took the glasses and quickly returned behind the wheel of the cab. He held the case back over her shoulder for his fare to take it.
“Thank you,” she said. “Now, if you get me to my flight on time, I’ll know you’re the best cabby in the city.” Throughout the drive to the airport, Clay used every trick and backstreet shortcut he knew while the woman in the back seat studied papers from her briefcase. She looked up only when Clay drove into the airport grounds and up the ramp to the departure area. She hurriedly checked her watch and began putting her papers away and closed her briefcase.
“It seems I’ll make it,” she said. “You’re a Hell of a driver.”
“Thank you,” Clay said as he pulled up at the drop-off space. He stepped out of the car and went around to open the door for her. She rose from the car and fished around in her purse while Clay leaned in and brought out her bag and briefcase for her. She handed Clay a fifty-dollar bill.