I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I don’t know if I have mentioned this on here before but in my spare time, I sometimes drive for Lyft, which is a carshare service that is basically just Uber but with fewer felons for drivers. Sunday nights, I usually watch Game of Thrones then go out and drive for a few hours because the city is silent and there are barely any cars on the road and I can zip around the streets all crazy while blasting drum and bass pretending that I’m in the Fast and Furious movies.
Tonight, I picked up a guy from the House of Blues and dropped him off on the south side of Chicago. While the south side is generally known as where people get shot, I usually don’t keep my driver switch on mostly because I’m afraid that I’ll pick someone up and they’ll make me take them to Indiana or something way out there and it will take me hours to get back home. But tonight I figured I would leave it on and see what happened. Almost immediately I got a request from Daniel. When you get a request you have 15 seconds to accept the rider or decline. While you can decline a ride request, if your acceptance rate drops below 85% you could have your account suspended. So figured, what the hell, and tapped accept and started driving to pick him up. As I was driving, I got a phone call.
“Hey, is this Christopher, my Lyft driver?”
“Oh, okay cool.” He asked, “So how much longer is it going to be?”
I looked at my map and said, “Eh, about four minutes.”
“Okay, cool. Hey, if you can hurry up I’ll give you a big tip.”
I have worked in the service industry long enough to know that when you hear those words it is the kiss of death. Meaning, if someone tells you they’re going to give you a “big tip” it almost certainly will not be.
He finished the call by saying that he was on the corner and hung up.
Now, the pick up location was a large intersection and there are four corners to choose from but as I approached, I saw some guy frantically pacing around a gas station parking lot while yelling into his phone. That had to be him. I pull up and he hops in my front seat while still talking on phone.
“Hey, buddy.” I said, “So where are we headed?”
“Polekatz.” He says while returning back to his phone conversation.
“Oh, Polekatz the strip club?” As if I knew where that was. “Soooo do you know the address or… ?”
“Oh yeah, 7337 W. 100th Street.”
Just right off the top of his head. I have dated a handful of strippers in my life and I can tell you that not one of them could tell you the address of the club. They may have known how to get there but it takes a special kind of guy to have memorized the address to a strip club. So we begin driving and he hangs up his phone. Almost immediately he hunches forward and starts clutching his stomach.
“Dude, my stomach is killing me.”
“Are you okay?”
“Nah, man. I was shitting blood earlier.”
At this point I look at the map and realize we still have another 20 minutes left.
“Dude, can you pull over somewhere so I can shit?”
I look around and say, “Well, we’re by the airport right now and there isn’t much around here. Can you hold it for like another couple minutes? I think there is a Burger King around the corner that I could take you to.”
“Aw man. I don’t know. I really need to go.”
All I can think is, please don’t shit in my car. But if you do… I mean, it would be kind of a funny story. So I speed as fast as I can to get to the Burger King. But just as we approach, I remember that it’s midnight on a Sunday. Meaning, nothing is going to be open. Immediately, he points a finger across my face and yells, “WHITE CASTLE! GO!”
I cut across three lanes and screech to a halt next to the door and he jumps out of my car holding his ass cheeks together. I shake my head and sit and wait. Eventually he emerges looking a little more haggard than usual.
“Dude, I was shitting blood again.”
“Oh my god.” I said, “Dude, do you want me to take you to the hospital?”
“Nah, I think I’ll be fine. I have just been shitting blood all day. I think it was this bad meat I ate. My boy was making tacos and I told him I wanted my meat extra rare and I know that shit was bad. It’s making me shit blood.”
I didn’t know how to take any of this all I knew was I didn’t want him making any kind of bodily fluid mess in my car so I stepped on it and sped away.
“Dude, slow down. I don’t want to get pulled over.”
“Well, you said you were in a hurry so I’m trying to cautiously ride that line between getting you there as fast as possible and getting pulled over by the cops.”
Just as we make it through a yellow light he yells, “DUDE! Pull over in this parking lot right here!”
I slam on the brakes and pull into the parking lot of a hotel.
“Yeah, see that bar and grill right there? Pull up there.”
“But… I think it’s closed.”
“It’s cool. Just let me out for a minute.”
I pull to a stop and he hops out and disappears. He took off and didn’t go to the bar and grill.
At this point, I take a screen shot of where I am on a map and text a friend saying that if they don’t hear from me that I was either abducted or murdered by a guy named Daniel who was shitting blood in this parking lot.
A few minutes later, he emerges from the darkness of the parking lot and hops back in the car.
“Sorry, man. That’s the last stop.”
I start driving towards the club when he doubles over again, clutching his stomach.
“Dude, I’m not doing well. My guts man. It was that meat. I never should have eaten that meat. I have a bad stomach. I’m a vet. I got all fucked up in Iraq.”
I felt bad. Here I was thinking he was just some tweaker and he is all sick from being in the military fighting in another country.
“Aw man. I wish there was something I could do to help. I mean, I could drive you to… ”
“WHO IS THAT FOLLOWING US?!”
I looked in my rear view mirror.
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“That car behind us! What’s their deal? Are they following us?”
“Uh, nah man.” I said, “It’s just someone probably going home.”
And just as my thoughts began to switch back to thinking he’s wigging out on something he says, “Okay, man. I have to make a confession. I have to confess something to you, dude.”
He paused to see if I was okay with his offer. And part of me almost didn’t want to know, like it was some last words thing to say in the horror movie. But then again, the weirdo in me was beyond curious.
“What do you have to confess?”
“Okay, man. I did coke a little bit ago and now I think I’m going to have a heart attack. I’m not doing well, man. I don’t know what to do. My guts are killing me, man. My guts.”
I looked at the map, we were about 10 minutes away and I was speeding as fast as I could without getting pulled over because I couldn’t imagine what would happen if a cop actually walked up to the car. This dude would probably have lost his damn mind and made a run for it or a had a heartattack, shit blood, and died right there in my front seat.
All of a sudden he starts wiping his nose with a handful of tissues. “Oh shit, my face is bleeding.”
“What?!” I say.
“My nose, it’s pouring blood.”
I take a quick look to see the white tissues are covered in blood and I start driving faster.
He picked up his phone and started making calls, “Yeah, I’ve been shitting blood all night. I did a little uncut coke but it was the meat. I’m telling you, the meat was bad!” He hung up the call. “My mom is a nurse. She’s pissed that I did coke but she’s cool.”
He dialed another number, “Yeah, I’m still shitting blood but I’m telling you it was the meat. Yeah, Christopher said only a few more minutes.” There was a bit of a pause then he said, “Yeah, of course I want the full nude dance. Of course!” Then hung up the phone.
“That was my ex lady. She told me to come up there because she would take care of me. She makes the best soup. I’m so excited for her to make me soup. She makes fucking amazing soup.”
“Ah, that sounds awesome. It’s cool you have someone in your corner.”
“Yeah, man. She keeps telling me that I’m the one. That one day we’re going to end up together because I treat her right. I don’t disrespect her or nothin, man.”
As we pulled into the parking lot, he says, “Hey, man. What are you up to right now?”
“Uhh, well I… ”
He pulls out a wad of bills from his pocket and interrupts, “Look, man. You should come in. Let me get you a dance.” He says waving the cash. “Oh, hold up. Let me show you.” He holds up his phone to her Facebook page and shows me her profile picture.
“Yeah, man.” I said, “She’s pretty hot.”
“Nah, man. Come hang with me, bro.” Still with the cash in his hand, “I’ll get you TWO dances and buy you a drink.”
“Well, you know, I normally would but… ”
“Oh man, I won’t even be that long. Two dances and a drink and we can cut out of there. You could even drive us back. My lady, she makes the best soup, I’m telling you!”
“Aw man, thanks. I appreciate it but you just go in there and take care of yourself.”
“You sure? Two dances, man. On me. Then soup!”
I chuckle to myself and thank him again and tell him to take care. He shuts the door and walks away and I look over and see a bloody wad of tissues in the door handle of my car.
I pull out of the parking lot, hop on the expressway, and start heading home. As I pull into my neighborhood, park and turn off my car, I look over and see the bloody tissues and tell myself I’ll clean them up tomorrow. I walk toward my building, tired, wondering what I’m going to write about tonight and I think, how do I turn a bloody passenger story into an article on relationships and I think, if this guy who is bleeding out of every orifice, coked out of his mind, and openly on the verge of shitting his pants can make someone fall in love with him, so can you. All you have to do is treat someone right and give them respect and they will be there for you even when you are shitting blood… with soup. Fucking amazing soup.