Al McGinty, “Gint” as he is known to friend and foe, does not like change. He’s driven the same cab for thirty years, eats at the same cafe every morning, can’t say a nice word about politicians or lawyers, and worships New York City. He has a unique lifestyle, one true friend, Wally, and reads the New York Times each evening with a glass of brandy and a Cuban cigar. His is the perfect world.
But that’s about to change.
Gint is the main character in my novel, “Taxi School,” and you can follow Gint’s story as his life explodes and he is forced into one of Nature’s three ultimate choices-
Adapt, migrate, or go extinct.
I’ll be publishing a new chapter each week, hope you follow along. comments, on any line, are always appreciated.
It was a dark Bronx morning, still more winter than spring, patches of mist swirling about glowing streetlights. The night’s rain glistened atop the line of vacant cars. With the exception of two figures ambling down the sidewalk, nothing moved. The four legged one lifted his leg on the chrome spoke wheel of a black SUV. The two legged guy unzipped and pissed on the passenger door.
“Damn yuppies!” he cursed, zipping up.
The two strolled towards the corner and a flashing pink neon sign. The M & M Cafe beckoned.
Slamming the door behind him, Al McGinty announced himself. Gint, as he was known to friend and foe, removed his worn driving cap, smoothed his thinning hair, and hung cap and jacket on a wall hook. Surveying the empty restaurant his eyes stopped at a lone man hunched over a counter stool.
Smiling, Gint spoke “what’s got the cops up before sunrise, O’Malley?”
The big man in the rumpled suit spun slowly on his stool, sipping his coffee before a grin appeared on his weathered face.
“Most crooks aren’t as lazy as you are, Gint, some of them even work night shift.”
“I’ll never forgive you for that parking ticket, Lieutenant,” replied Gint plopping down on the stool next to the officer.
“Mother Mary, that was thirty years ago.”
“And you were so proud of yourself.”
“Hell, yes, my first big bust.”
The kitchen door burst open and a full figured woman in a spotless uniform swept in with a steaming plate balanced on one hand. Embroidered above the left breast of her snug fitting blouse was the name “Midge.”
“Wally, baby!” Midge exclaimed, bending down to stroke the furry head of the mid size mutt sitting patiently at Gint’s side.
She continued, “how ya doing, kid?” scratching him behind the ears.
Wally bared his gleaming teeth in appreciation.
“God,” Midge said, “I wish I had those pearly whites.”
“I wish I had my breakfast,” said O’Malley.
The waitress arose and dropped O’Malley’s plate in front of him.
“Anything else?” she snapped.
“Coffee would be swell.”
Midge turned abruptly and headed for the coffee pot.
Gint, exasperated, let go, “and what about me, Midge dear?”
“Yeah,” replied Midge, not bothering to turn her curly blond head as she picked up the coffee pot, “what about you?”
“Now what are you mad about?”
“Gint, I’m always mad about you.”
“I knew it!” You’ve been in love with me since I first walked in here.”
Returning with the coffee pot, Midge retorted, “fat chance, the best offer you ever made me was a trip to Paradise, which turned out to be the Paradise Motel in Jersey.”
“You’d be better off running away with me, Gint, the lady can’t even boil an egg,” said the big bald guy who suddenly appeared besides Midge. “Mick” was written in black marker at the top of his apron, although this was hard to make out through a collage of stains and food fragments.
“Mick and me, together in paradise, that’s disgusting,” said Gint.
“It’s an oxymoron,” added O’Malley wiping up the last of his fried egg with a piece of toast.
“Too late now, boys,” said Midge, refilling O’Malley’s coffee.
“That’s right, guys,” continued Mick, wrapping a tattooed arm around his wife, “we’re selling out and going home.”
“Home? what do you call Brooklyn?” gasped Gint.
“You forget I was born in Vermont.”
“Yeah, and the smartest thing you ever did, besides marrying Midge, was leave. There’s nothing but winter and trees up there. Besides, it’s a foreign country and you don’t speak the language.”
“The kids don’t want this place, but the developers do,” said Mick, “we’re going to take the money and run.”
Midge poured a mug of coffee for Gint, adding, “besides, Gint, it’s getting old serving deadbeats like you.”
Midge winked at O”Malley, then bent down to Wally, “what’s it going to be, boy, the usual?”
Wally barked and showed his pearly whites.
Mick and Midge returned to the kitchen. Gint turned to O’Malley who had demolished his steak and eggs and was finishing off the hash browns.
“Can you believe it? What are we going to do without the M & M Cafe?”
O’Malley swallowed and took a sip of coffee, “not we, Gint, you. What are You going to do. In three months and twelve days, I’m retiring. Amy already has us a cute place in Florida near the grandkids.”
The cop got up, put a ten spot on the counter, and slapped Gint on the back. “Remember that little job you’re doing for me today.”
Gint, still stunned by the M & M’s upcoming demise, answered, “yeah, got it covered.”
“Keep him out of trouble, Wally,” the cop said to the dog, then laughed to himself, “another oxymoron.”
O’Malley picked his overcoat from a wall hook and pulled it on as Midge reappeared with two steaming plates.
“Take it easy, O’Malley,” she said, putting one plate in front of Gint, then stooping to put the other at Wally’s feet.
“You, too, Midge” and O’Malley was out the door.
Gint looked down at his breakfast and groaned, “why is it Wally gets all the love around here?”
Wally, eagerly scarfing up his bacon and eggs, did not reply, but Midge answered, “he’s cuter than you and he never makes passes at me.”
Gint, still staring at his plate of soy eggs, plain toast, and a bowl of prunes, said”couldn’t you just forget my cholesterol problem and serve me some real food for old time’s sake?”
“What are friends for?” answered Midge, watching Wally lick his plate clean, “besides, those old times have finally caught up with you.”
Yeah, thought Gint, they certainly had.
-to be continued-