Out of Jail
Paul McLaughlin

She was all Parkdale Ave.--
hard clothes, hard voice
and hard, hard, deadly eyes.
"Barton jail," she exhaled
with a cloud of cigarette smoke
as she got in my cab.

I waited while she got her boyfriend
and we headed back to Parkdale.
I picked up that he had just done
three months a bar fight;
then they started getting lovey,
so I concentrated on the driving.

When I turned around for the fare,
her head was buried under a jacket
in his lap and his eyes were rolling
back up into his head. "Drive!" he croaked.

So I drove:
down Parkdale as fast as I could,
east on Burlington Street--
there was an angry "Hey, be careful!"
as we bounced over the railway tracks--
then out onto the Queen E. heading for Niagara Falls.
The speedometer needle climbed past ninety
and the click of the meter settled into a satisfying hum.

We were through the Stoney Creek Traffic Circle
when she came up for air.
It was eight miles to the next intersection.

The meter had hummed all the way up to $14.85
by the time we got back to Parkdale.
"That'll be $25.00," I said.
"That's not what the meter says."
"The rest is for the accommodations."
"Shit!" he said as he counted out the cash.
"But I'll tell you, man, after three months inside, it was worth it!"
"Well," I said as I stashed the bills in my shirt,
"It was good for me too!"

November, 2000