"No," he says again. "I've seen your face somewhere."
Finally, exasperated, I ask, trying to appear casual, "You have? Really? Interesting. Just watch the road, Abdullah."
There's a long, scary pause while he stares at me in the rearview mirror and the grim smile fades. His face is blank. He says, "I know. Man, I know who you are," and he's nodding, his mouth drawn tight. The radio that was tuned into the news is shut off.
Buildings pass by in a gray-red blur, the cab passes other cabs, the sky changes color from blue to purple to black back to blue. At another light - a red one he races straight through - we pass, on the other side of the West Side Highway, a new D'Agostino's on the corner where Mars used to be and it moves me to tears, almost, because it's something that's identifiable and I get as nostalgic for the market (even though it's not one I will ever shop at) as I have about anything and I almost interrupt the driver, tell him to pull over, have him let me out, let him keep the change from a ten - no, a twenty - but I can't move because he's driving too fast and something intervenes, something unthinkable and ludicrous, and I hear him say it, maybe. "You're the guy who kill Solly." His face is locked into a determined grimace. As with everything else, the following happens very quickly, though it feels like an endurance test.
I swallow, lower my sunglasses and tell him to slow down before asking, "Who, may I ask, is Sally?"
"Man, your face is on a wanted poster downtown," he says, unflinching.
"I think I would like to stop here," I manage to croak out.
"You're the guy, right?" He's looking at me like I'm some kind of viper.
Another cab, its light on, empty, cruises past ours, going at least eighty. I'm not saying anything, just shaking my head. "I am going to take" - I swallow, trembling, open my leather datebook, pull out a Mount Blanc pen from my Bottega Veneta briefcase - "your license number down..."
"You kill Solly," he says, definitely recognizing me from somewhere, cutting another denial on my part by growling, "You son-of-a-bitch."
Near the docks downtown he swerves off the highway and races the cab toward the end of a deserted parking area and it hits me somewhere, now, this moment, when he drives into and then over a dilapidated, rust-covered aluminum fence, heading toward water, that all I have to do is put the Walkman on, blot out the sound of the cabdriver, but my hands are twisted into paralyzed fists that I can't unclench, held captive in the cab as it hurtles toward a destination only the cabdriver, who is obviously deranged, knows. The windows are rolled down partially and I can feel the cool morning air drying the mousse on my scalp. I feel naked, suddenly tiny. My mouth tastes metallic, then it gets worse. My vision: a winter road. But I'm left with one comforting thought: I am rich - millions are not.
"You've, like, incorrectly identified me," I'm saying.
He stops the cab and turns around toward the backseat. He's holding a gun, the make of which I don't recognize. I'm staring at him, my quizzical expression changing into something else.
"The watch. The Rolex," he says simply.
I listen, silent, squirming in my seat.
He repeats, "The watch."
"Is this some kind of prank?" I ask.
"Get out," he spits. "Get the f**k out of the car."
I stare past the driver's head, out the windshield, at gulls flying low over the dark, wavy water, and opening the door I step out of the cab, cautiously, no sudden moves. It's a cold day. My breath steams, wind picks it up, swirls it around.
"The watch, you scumbag," he says, leaning out the window, the gun aimed at my head.
"Listen, I don't know what you think you're doing or what you're exactly trying to accomplish or what it is youthink you're going to be able to do. I've never been fingerprinted, I have alibis - "
"Shut up," Abdullah growls, cutting me off. "Just shut your f**king mouth."
"I am innocent," I shout with utter conviction.
"The watch." He cocks the gun.
I unhook the Rolex and, sliding it off my wrist, hand it to him.
"Wallet." He motions with his gun. "Just the cash."
Helplessly I take out my new gazelleskin wallet and quickly, my fingers freezing, numb, hand him the cash, which amounts to only three hundred dollars since I didn't have time to stop at an automated teller before the power breakfast. Solly, I'm guessing, was the cabdriver I killed during the chase scene last fall, even though that guy was Armenian. I suppose I could have killed another one and I am just not recalling this particular incident.