The doorman at the Mirage blew his whistle and I pulled up the 25 feet or so to find him waiting to open the door for a young and attractive brunette wearing a formal black dress and high heeled shoes. She held her sequence laden purse with both hands. Our eyes met before I even came to a stop and it was clear to me that there was something wrong. I brought the cab to a stop and the doorman grabbed the handle of the rear door to assist the young lady in. Just as she was about to place her left foot in the cab and begin to climb in she asked the whistle toting man:
Actually, is it ok if I sit in the front?
The doorman asked me if it was and of course, I have no problems with that. Not for of any ulterior reason. Just the simple truth that, I have no problems with that. In fact with my depleted hearing these days, I find conversing much easier when you're sitting right next to me anyway. The doorman opened the other door and I threw my carry on bag that usually rests on the seat in the back and pulled the other arm rest down.
She sat down and told me her destination as the doorman closed the door. I jotted the information on my tripsheet, engaged the meter and we began our way off the Mirage property to head Southbound on the BLVD. We sat at the light exiting the Mirage, patiently waiting for the light to change and the pedestrians to clear the way. As easy as it would have been to start things with small talk, for some reason or another I had yet to say a single word to the girl. Her only words to me were "Luxor please". Anything more just didn't seem right at the time.
Finally making our way onto the crowded strip, I decided it was time to break the silence. Or perhaps it just took me that long to find the words.
Do you want to talk about it?
I said as I looked at her. She returned the glance but contradicted her face with her reply:
I suppose if the tides were turned, I wouldn't want to talk to me about it either. Whatever in the world it was. Her one word reply as she turned her eyes away and returned them to the ground was a good enough clue to deduct that trying to form any kind of false conversation thereafter would have been as pointless as it was classless. So I chose another method. I decided to break the silence by turning up just a little, the James Taylor Greatest Hits CD that I had brought along with me that evening. I've found that I like something mellow every now and again. A minute or so passed and from her continued silence, I concluded that I had made the right decision.
We finally made it to the stoplight at Flamingo at about the same time Country Road filled our ears. That was when I felt her hand on top of mine. To reserved, nervous or anxious to open her mouth, she made moving her left hand over from her armrest to mine seem effortless.
Startled is the right word but thankfully that lasted for just an instant. I turned to look at her. Her head pulled up slightly and after her eyes slowly made their way to mine, they asked for my permission. We looked at each other. I pulled my hand and my eyes away, but just long enough to push my arm underneath hers and interlock my right fingers with her left ones firmly. I looked at her again. This is ok.
The Flamingo light changed to green and the brunette and I held hands the rest of the way. I only removed my hand from hers twice briefly simply to ensure that we heard my two favorite James Taylor songs along the way, Walking Man & There's Something In The Way She Moves. They seemed alright. It seemed alright too.
We pulled up the front door of the Luxor, still having said basically nothing to one another. She reached in her purse, found a twenty dollar bill and placed it on my dashboard. She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek and whispered after a lips pressed, forced grin:
She left me and I watched her every step toward the front door of the hotel. She never turned back. You Can Close Your Eyes played on the radio, and it filled my depleted ears.