Fiction Drama

Just four minutes shy of ending my shift, a fare slides into the backseat of my cab, slams the door shut, and says, “Follow that car.” 

A rapid flood of emotions and thoughts cascade through my brain at lightning speed. Most of them are positive because this is my favorite kind of fare. No matter what happens, I enjoy myself and still make some money. 

Being a cabbie means dealing with all kinds of people in different parts of their day, in a full spectrum of moods, and wearing various levels of deodorant and perfume from non-existent to permeating, which leads to a variable rainbow of messes to clean, bitching to listen to, and private conversations to pretend to ignore.  

But, predictable fares like this make my day because they are just too damn fun. 

In the ten seconds since my fare entered my cab and made his request, I’ve said and done nothing. I haven’t even raised my head to see which car he’s referring to or look at the man in my backseat. 

These seconds of silence are fun. This is truly the only part of my standard weekend late-night fares that is up for grabs. What happens next is dependent on the customer and his tenacity. He either doesn’t like confrontation and is able to “read a room” and silently exits my cab or he’s had enough “liquid courage” at one or more of the bars on Fremont Avenue to repeat his demand. At which point, the games begin. Either way, it’s an enjoyable end to my shift.

I close my eyes and wait for it. 

“Hey, asshole! That red Toyota Camry up ahead that’s stuck at the light. Follow it. Now.”

I pull out my fare clipboard and pretend to jot down some notes as I respond, “No.” 

Three seconds of dead air follow as the fare tries to comprehend my response.  

“What do you mean ‘no’?”

“As in the opposite of yes. As in I am not following a red Toyota Camry or any other vehicle for you. So, get out of my cab. Now.”

I hear him scoff. “What is your problem?”

I make an over-exaggerated sigh, even hanging my head in the process. 

“Assholes like you are my problem. I’m here every weekend taking pathetic drunks like yourself home. I have no problem with that. It’s much better than you driving while blitzed and killing some family on their way home from the movies or making some poor kid an orphan because you killed their parents on date night. And it puts money in my pocket. I am fine with that.  

“But, I’m not going to follow some poor girl who’s had the good sense to leave the bar without giving you her number. Or she’s left before you were able to roofie her drink. So get your punk ass outta my cab before I drag you out and beat your brainless head in.”

He seems to choke on his contempt, causing a combination of a snort and laugh to come out before he speaks. “Yeah, well, you can try, old man. I’m not asking you to follow that car because I’m stalking some chick. She stole my wallet and she took off in that red Camry that is still at the light.”

I finally turn and take my first look at this fare. He is exactly as I knew he would be. Young, white, thick dark hair, with about four days of stubble, and wearing brand name clothes to impress as many young girls as possible. 

“If she took your wallet, how do you expect to pay me?”

He rolls his eyes and hikes up a leg of his three hundred dollar jeans and pulls several hundred dollar bills out of his sock. 

“I never keep my money in one place, especially in bars like that. Now, floor it after that Camry.” He takes a look at me and adds with a voice just above a whisper, “Uh, please, uh, sir.”

A short, harsh laugh escapes from me. That was probably the first time this punk has used the word please in months. As I pull away from the curb, my CB squawks. “Bobby, what’s your status?”

“Leaving The Inferno now with a final Amber Alert.”

I hear Janice’s two-pack-a-day raspy chuckle/cough. “Copy. Follow protocol.”

“Roger that.”

My fare gasps as he throws his weight back into the seat. “What the hell do you mean by ‘Amber Alert’?” I haven’t kidnapped any kid. Stop the car. Now.”

Seeing his wide-eyed panic in my rearview mirror causes me to chuckle again. “Slow your roll, Trump, Junior, just relax. It’s just a code we use for saps like you. Don’t get your boxer briefs in a wad. You don’t need to call Daddy’s lawyer just yet.”

I look in the rearview again and see his breathing slow down. He shakes his head and rolls his eyes. A second later, a look of puzzlement furrows his brow.

“What did you mean by ‘saps like me’?”

I sigh and answer for the fourth time this weekend. “This happens all the time, especially in the spring and summer. Saps like you get their wallets lifted by some of our local ladies.”

“Why’d you call it an Amber Alert, then? You spooked the shit out of me.”

“Because the girl who scammed you said her name was Amber, right? Let me guess. You were sitting on stools at the bar. After several drinks and way-too-successful flirting by you, she squeezes your knee and whispers in your ear that she’s using the restroom. It takes a few minutes until you realize she’s not coming back and your wallet is gone. Though, I’m guessing you discovered it sooner than most since you saw what car she got into.”

His brown eyes grow almost as wide as his mouth, causing me to laugh again. “Happens every season. The handlers choose a name and all the girls use it until they’re told to change it. Last time, it was Katie. That one never seems to die out. In the nineties, I swear they cycled between the same three names. Every damn time it was either Michelle, Jennifer, or Lisa.”

“Ah, I get it. The boss guy chooses a name that a lot of girls have so it makes it harder to find them later.”


“So, right now, every one of these slut-thieves, is using the name Amber right now. Un-fucking-believable.”

I consider trying to keep my temper from flaring up. I know Janice and my boss would prefer that. But, it’s been a long weekend. Besides, I’m too old to let shit that angers me slide. 

“Why do rich, spoiled, lazy pricks like yourself, always call girls who won’t sleep with you sluts? Especially when you call the girls who do sleep with you the same fucking name?”

“Whoa, easy, Pops. I’m just angry I was robbed.”

“No, you weren’t. Your father was robbed. That’s actually his money you’re toting around in your wallet and sock, right?”

I can almost hear his spine stiffen. But, he stays silent.

“Yep. You’re what twenty-three, twenty-four? Daddy is grooming you to take over his company, but you keep coming up with excuses to stay in school because you’re enjoying the good life of going to one damn class a day and doing whatever you feel like the rest of the time too much to give it up. We both know, you’ll come up with some story to tell your dad about this and he’ll keep filling your pockets and bank account. Hell, maybe you’ll even tell him the truth since you were actually robbed. You’ll have to change a few details, of course, since you wouldn’t be able to admit that a girl got the better of you.

“By the way, calling any girl a slut in front of a working man with a wife and daughters is a stupid and dangerous thing to do. Especially when that man is a cabbie who could leave your rich, punk ass somewhere you don’t want to be left. Understood?”

Before he can stumble out some bullshit denial and threat to sue me, I park my cab along the curb. I turn around and watch him look at the police station we’re currently parked in front of. He starts to speak, but I put my hand up like a stop sign. 

“Just don’t. Trust me when I tell you that you didn’t really want me to follow that Camry. In case you didn’t notice, “Amber” was not driving. The handlers hire drivers with special talents. Think of them as bouncers behind wheels. Dealing with one of them would cause you to lose more than your wallet, like maybe a few teeth or a kidney. 

“Just walk in those double doors there and tell the desk sergeant you’ve been the victim of an Amber Alert. They’ll have you fill out some forms. You can call your dad or a roommate or whoever to come get you and take you home. Now, give me one of those hundreds, and have a good night.”

I see him look at my meter. It reads $23.75. We both know he will pay. He doesn’t argue and hands it over as he slides out. 

As soon as he’s closed my door, I leave. Over the years, I’ve learned to never delay ending a fare. A delayed ending, especially in front of a police station, will only cause more complications and paperwork. I don’t have the patience for either one. 

My radio squawks again. I smile as Janice asks her standard question at the end of every weekend shift. “How much he give you?”

“A C-Note. How did our Ambers do tonight?” 

“Good. Seven grand all total.”

I nod and smile. “Okay. I’ll be back in nine minutes. Have my cut ready. Tomorrow we’ll choose a new name for next week. You should have seen the last guy when he heard ‘Amber Alert’. It made my damn week.”

Janice gives her standard laugh/cough. “That was a fun one. See you in a few.”

“Roger that. By the way, we need to paint the Camry again.” 

January 25, 2023 04:08

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Olivia Lake
03:53 Jul 10, 2023

This was gleefully fun - I have wished that I could knock a rich jerk down a peg or two, and this story delivered on that catharsis. Love the twist ending, too. I come across articles about scams that look very simple on the surface, but actually require a lot more planning and a lot more people. This was a very enjoyable dive into how the pieces of such a scheme come together.


Steve Uppendahl
06:05 Jul 10, 2023

Thanks for reading and your kind review. Yep. I'm a big fan of rich pricks getting what's coming to them. Sadly, it seems to happen more in fiction than real life. But, it's a start. Thanks again! Write on.


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Steve Rogers
00:23 Feb 02, 2023

Hi Steve, Loved this. Sucked me in and didn't see the ending coming. Well done.


Steve Uppendahl
04:59 Feb 02, 2023

Thanks for reading and for your kind review. Always good to hear from a fellow Steve. :)


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John Jenkins
18:33 Feb 02, 2023

I don't think I've every written a story in the first person. I just don't think I could do it well. You handled the same prompt as me, but in a different way. It's interesting how the cabbie is so focused on one outcome, but then there is a wrinkle. Great writing.


Steve Uppendahl
18:45 Feb 02, 2023

Thanks for your kind review! Writing in the first person can be very fun and freeing because you can be someone totally different from yourself who can do and say things you can't or won't. It can also help get the reader more invested in the plot if they are concerned for the narrator. It's also more limiting than writing in the third person. That can be frustrating because using a first-person narrator means he/she can't know what other characters are thinking, doing, or what's happening somewhere else. Writing is just like anything else...


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Tommy Goround
17:11 Jan 30, 2023

This story is immersive. I didn't even need the twist ending. It was very good without it. I couldn't quite clarify if the Amber was his actual daughter or just someone in the age group. Not much to analyze. It just all worked. Clapping


Steve Uppendahl
18:36 Jan 30, 2023

Thanks for your kind words and thoughtful review! I appreciate it. I didn't think of Amber being the narrator's daughter. It's just the name the character chose for the various girls to use who scam/rob the men in the bars for that week. Very good question, though. Thanks again for reading and commenting. Write on!


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