We’d flown up from Los Angeles to spend Thanksgiving with Alyssa’s family, and as it was my first visit to Sacramento, I was itching to see the local bar scene. Holidays are some of the best times to visit a bar as generally the only people slumped over the rail are diehard regulars (respectable citizens being home with their families or traveling) and the overall vibe in the room is typically mellow and friendly. Sometimes you even get lucky and there’s a spread of once edible food sitting under a heat lamp on a folding table just in case you need a quick nosh…and aren’t all together too concerned about the cleanliness of the kitchen it came from.
We plug the juke and settle in for a whiskey and beer. Of the ten or so people in the place, the only oddity was a well-dressed man with an Indian accent drinking Jameson rocks at the end of the bar nearest the front door. He had a tremendous amount of nervous energy, giving the impression of a man who understands the dangers of remaining idle in a tight space; an ingrained fear of being cornered with no chance of escape. He would take a few sips, run outside to spend a few moments with his garish yellow Ferrari, return to order another, and repeat for the duration of our time there. I suppose we all have demons we’re attempting to outrun but I got the feeling that his were rapidly closing in.
Warmed from the inside by vodka, we saunter back out onto J Street and head towards Folsom Blvd. End goal: a nightcap at Cheaters.
This poor cab had certainly seen better days. The combined weight of two passengers in the back seat was too much for the suspension to handle. I could hear the tires rubbing on the wheel wells with every bump. The heater was blasting to fight the night chill and as a bonus was circulating an aromatic blend of exhaust, burnt rubber, scorched wiring and something that smelled oddly of charred flesh. Perhaps some small creature had cozied up under the hood recently to stay warm and was now one with the engine block. I’ve seen this happen. The cabbie, a gregarious gentleman of Middle Eastern descent, was wise enough to keep the speed under 30 to avoid shaking loose the few bolts keeping the vehicle street legal.
“I’m sorry, I have to follow her,” he says.
“No problem. Let’s go!”
As earlier mentioned, this cab is in no way race worthy. Within the first minute of the chase the interior is filled with enough noxious fumes to kill us and I was genuinely concerned that the tires didn’t stand a chance. There was a strong possibility of a blowout and roll and the busted side mirror was tapping against the window like a telltale heart.
“Get her license plate number!” the driver shouted over his shoulder.
“You bet. Get a little closer! You gotta speed up a bit. Stay on her!” I think by this point I was taken up by the excitement, had removed my seatbelt and was leaning over the front seat egging him on, cell phone in hand.
Within five minutes, we’d reached a more populated part of town with considerably more vehicles on the road. Our adversary had no problem swerving and cutting traffic to dodge us even with a couple of kids in the backseat. The cabbie, more civic-minded, pulled back and drove safely while Alyssa and I tracked her moves and called her turns to our driver. I’m fairly certain that after a few dodgy maneuvers she thought she’d shaken us and was home free but we eventually caught up with her, horn blazing.
The cabbie is literally on fire and shaking so Alyssa and I excuse ourselves, go to the minimarket for cash, some Pringles and something to drink and come back out to watch the show. Finally the cabbie asks for some help because he doesn’t know what information to take from this lady’s insurance card. I point out the pertinent information and also the fact that her insurance expired six months ago and he should probably call the cops (she mutters something under her breath), toss him some cash for the ride and give him my phone number incase he or the cab company need to reach me about this fiasco.
Oddly enough, all the twists and turns end up dropping us very near to our final destination. A lot of the time, life plays out and there’s no sense in fighting it.
The next day I receive this voicemail: