Stephen Dixon: All Gone

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Stephen Dixon All Gone
  • Название:
    All Gone
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Dzanc Books
  • Жанр:
    Современная проза / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2013
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • Рейтинг книги:
    3 / 5
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All Gone: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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A collection of eighteen short stories by a “very skillful storyteller (whose) grasp of the life of ordinary American city dwellers is such that he can shape it dramatically to meet the demands of his far from ordinary imagination.”

Stephen Dixon: другие книги автора


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Stephen Dixon


All Gone

To Barbara Richert and Jerome Klinkowitz,

for their help and encouragement over the years

THE STUDENT

This begins more than four years ago. It was when I was driving a cab in the day and going to college at night. I was a pre-dental student. I lived in a single room. My folks were dead. I had no close relatives. I was dating someone and had a number of friends. I had little time for parties and movies though, what with my studying and job. My girlfriend, Louise, usually stayed with me weekends. We planned to get married during my third year of dental school, when she’d be graduated and teaching second grade.

One Saturday, when Louise was studying her own college work in my room, I was driving a man through the factory part of the city. I suddenly felt this cold thing on the back of my neck. I swatted it from behind. The thing came right back to the same spot. “It’s a gun,” the man said. “Make another move it doesn’t like and it’ll bite off your head.”

“I’ll do anything you say,” I said.

“That’s a smart hack.”

“You want all my money, you can have it.”

“Just stick to your driving.”

“You want me to still drive to where you asked to go?”

“Drive around this block.”

“And after that?”

“Just keep driving around this block.”

He took the gun away from my neck. In the rearview mirror I saw him sitting in the middle of the back seat. He was nicely dressed in an overcoat, suit, tie and hat. His gloved hands held the gun between his knees and kept it pointing up at me.

I drove around the block several times.

“How many times you want me to drive around the block?” I said.

“Till I say for you to stop.”

“And if I run out of gas?”

“No funny remarks.”

“That wasn’t intended to be funny. I’m low.”

“You’ll be lower if you make any more funny remarks.”

“I mean I’m very low in gas. I was going to get a few dollars’ worth right after I dropped you off.”

“You’ll be dropping off if you don’t shut up fast.”

I drove around the same block about two dozen times. The gun was still between his knees. Just the end of the barrel was visible now and still pointing at my head. Then the cab began making these bumping back and forth movements every few seconds.

“What’s that?” he said.

“That’s the gas tank going out of gas.”

“I’m serious. What is it?”

“You must have never owned a car. Take a look at the gauge.”

“Then get to a garage fast.”

I told him I knew of one right around here. It was cold outside and all the windows were up but mine, which was opened just an inch. And there was no glass partition or steel cage separating the driver from the passenger section, as all the fleet cabs in the city are forced by law to have now. Not that a thick glass or cage would have stopped any caliber bullet from coming into me from behind, if I had wanted to yell for help through my window crack or signal with my hand or lights to a policeman if I saw one nearby.

“And no funny remarks or lowering the window an inch more or getting out of the cab,” the man said, putting the gun in an overcoat side pocket, “or the trigger gets touched. It’s a hair trigger too.”

I wanted to ask him what exactly a hair trigger was, something I read of in newspapers and heard said about in movies and never looked up, but I knew he would think that a funny remark. Or maybe I wasn’t as calm as all that and only imagined I wanted to ask him that question. Later on though, I told people I had asked him what a hairpin trigger was and that he said “It’s a trigger that releases the hammer that strikes the cartridge primer that sends the bullet up through the back of a cabby’s head and out of his hair like a pin.”

I drove the few blocks to the gas station and pulled up beside the gas pumps.

“Seven dollars of the cheaper grade,” I told the attendant, “and a receipt.”

“Why’d you ask for a receipt?” the man said when the attendant began putting in gas.

“I always get a receipt when I don’t fill up at the taxi garage.”

“No receipt,” he said.

“But I need a receipt to get my seven dollars back. I’ve dealt with this guy. He knows that.”

“I don’t want you passing anything to him.”

“What could I pass? He’ll be the one passing me the receipt.”

“No.”

“That’s seven dollars,” the attendant said.

I gave him a ten.

“I’ll get your change and receipt.”

“No receipt,” the man said to me.

“No receipt,” I yelled to the attendant as he headed for the station office.

“It’s no trouble,” he said. “No thanks.”

“No three dollars either,” the man said.

“I shouldn’t wait for my three dollars?” I said.

“Get going.”

“Forget the three dollars also,” I yelled to the attendant as he left the office.

“But I got it right here.”

“We’re in a rush. Sorry.”

“Sorry for what? Are you kidding?”

“Why’d you tell him we’re in a rush?” the man said.

“I said what came into my head.”

“Stupid.”

“Really,” the attendant said. “Three bucks tip is crazy,” and he held the three dollars through the window space.

“Should I take it?” I said to the man in back.

“Why you asking me?”

“Is it yours?” the attendant said to him, his mouth at my window and waving the money through the space to the man. “Well really thanks, mister, but three dollars is a pretty large tip.”

“Will you please take your change?” the man said. “Because I am in a rush.”

“I’ll take it,” I said to the attendant.

“I shouldn’t have said anything,” he said. “Three dollars would have done me fine.”

“Now please get moving,” the man said, pointing to his watch.

“See you,” I said to the attendant and drove out of the station. “Where you want to go now?”

“Around this block,” the man said.

“This block?”

“You see another block?”

“There are lots of blocks around here. This, that and all the other blocks including the factory one we must have driven around a hundred times. It’s a big neighborhood. An even bigger city.”

“Shut your mouth and drive.” He took the gun from his pocket and held it between his knees.

I drove around the block that had the gas station on the corner of it. The first time the attendant saw me he waved. He waved the second time also and then scratched his head when he saw me coming a third and fourth time. The fifth time he saw me he yelled “Hey, you’re driving in circles.” I shrugged. The man in the back said “Don’t shrug. Don’t make faces. Behave like your driving is perfectly normal.” The next time the attendant saw me he yelled “You’re getting me dizzy with your driving — you know that?” The time after that, he was pointing out my cab to a driver of another car in the gas station and yelling “What’s your cab — locked to hidden street rails we don’t know about?” Then he gave up on saying anything to me and only made the crazy sign with his finger screwing away at his temple, and the times after that he mostly wouldn’t even look up.

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