Tuesday, May 31, 2005

ghost cab

The first time I drove cabs, back in the 1980s, there was a live radio network, since replaced by computers. Some nights, a chilling voice would come onto this live network. It was low, male, guttural, almost unintelligible and its discourse consisted entirely of threats and obscenities. Perhaps some of these vocal qualities arose out of a desire to alter or disguise the voice - I don't know. There was a sinister chuckle in it that always raised the hackles on my neck. This guy, whoever he was, could not have been an on-the-job cabbie, because the network operators would have found him and thrown him off. He must either have been a disgruntled former driver or a working cabbie on downtime with grievances who, using some kind of CB set-up, had found a way to access the network. His intention was to drive the operators crazy and in this he was entirely successful. They used to become apoplectic when he showed up on the airwaves. I remembered about this guy the other night because of the legend of the ghost cab. The ghost cab is a rogue cab, out there somewhere in the darkness, picking up people who never arrive at their destination. Who is the driver? He's a man without a face and a voice borrowed from hell. There's a black hole in his back seat. He charges everything and gives no change. The number of his cab is 666. And so on ... well, there I was on the Bondi Junction rank, vaguely entertaining these gothic notions, when I looked up and saw a cab hurry past the line of us waiting. Number T666. It was an ordinary white Falcon with the yellow and black livery of Combined Services, which is the company I drive for. High-tailing up the hill with that peculiar kick-up-the-heels look of a taxi in a hurry. All I could see of the guy behind the wheel was a shadow hunched under a cap. He was Vacant. I nearly pulled out of the line and followed him ... & then decided, no. Some things are better left alone.