Picked her up outside the bookies. She sat in. Smell of drink. Mid-forties. Bloodshot eyes. Greasy hands. No winnings. Could I please drop her at the off-licence before we went home?
There. She went inside. Came back out with a bottle of Teachers. She sat in. We drove on. The road the was quiet. She asked me vague questions. Did I like being a taxi driver? What did I do in college? Had I ever been to England.
That’s where she was from.
She got quiet as her house drew close.
Was I busy for the evening?
Would I like to come in?
Her fella was gone. She had no neighbours. No friends. No money.
I played non-committal. Just drove.
She gripped the top of the bottle and studied the passing trees through her crying eyes. Bit her bottom nail as the car went from third to fourth to fifth and then geared down to indicate.
The gate at her place wasn’t painted.
The lawn wasn’t cut. The evening was bright. The car purred. She looked through the windscreen – toward a dark place in her mind. Eternity maybe. The gallows at last.
There was another fare waiting. She sensed the impatience. Brown paper crackled around the bottle. Wind through the grass. A bored sun. She pulled the handle. The door opened. Her foot on the gravel.
Would I watch her as she went inside? In case there was anyone there. Waiting. To attack her. Said I would and she smiled, then cried, and pushed open the door and said: “I’m so bloody afraid.”
She walked towards the house. Went inside. Went out of view. Like she sat down. Or fell. There wasn’t another house for miles. A year later, I heard she was dead. He liver burst with the drink. Died alone. The attacker had taken his time.