...You’ve arrived at the county library to pick up your passenger, a girl no older than thirteen. She says, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
* * * * * * *
I look at her with a raised brow through my rear view mirror.
"What did this guy do? Steal your lunch money?"
Her expressions changes from a concentrated look, to a sad gaze that meats mine through the mirror.
I see tears begin to formulate at the corners of her eyes. Me and my stupid mouth
"Look kid," I try to say as sensitively as possible. "Okay, bad joke. Don't cry, we'll wait... we'll wait. Just know my meter's running."
She looks down and mutters what I think is a 'Thank you'
For a moment, there is silence between us as the radio plays in the background.
I turn the radio down and try to begin idle talk with the girl to lighten the mood.
"So how's you're day going?"
Her eyes thwart in my direction, but remains silent.
"You don't look like you're from around here, are you. Dressed a little too warm for this warm weather.
Even more silence.
I resolve to shut up and not knowing what else to do, I reach out to turn the radio dial back on
"There!" She suddenly (finally) speaks. "Follow him!"
I look up and out of the restaurant comes a man in his mid 40's, dressed in a short sleeve blue plaid shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. His aviator sunglasses and ranchero hat shade the sun from his face. What the young lady would want with someone like him, I had no idea. I didn't think she would answer me even if I did ask.
The ranchero would-be drug smuggler gets into his '89 Toyota Corolla and drives off. I follow him a good distance behind, careful not to arouse suspicion and we drive a good twenty minutes outside of town to a newly developed suburban community called The Silverado.
He parks in front of a three car garage with three small children playing with the sprinkler in front of lusciously green yard. As he comes out of his car, the children run towards him.
"Papa!" they exclaim in excitement. "Papa's home"
The man with ranchero hat lights up as he sees his children. He gets out of his car and embraces their embrace.
I look at the girl sitting in the back seat. She is hunched down, as if not wanting to be seen. Her eyes peak above the window and are glued to the man and his family. Tears are falling like waterfalls down her face. I look back to the family she is watching, and back at her.
"Are you okay?" I ask.
"Papa," she responds. "Papa."
She buries her head in her hands and begins to cry.
"Don't cry kid," I try to comfort her. "Look, I don't who that guy is or what the deal is, but you don't need to cry."
She continues to cry, seemingly unaware that I had said anything.
After what seemed like forever, she looks up, her eyes red, puffed, and full of sadness.
"Can you take me back to the library?", she asks with a sniffle.
I nod and start the car. Driving back to the library, there is silence. The little girl, sullen in her sadness. Me, unknowing what to do or say, having thoughts filled over what could make this girl so sad.
We reach the library.
"Okay kid, you going to be okay?" I ask.
She nods and hands me a twenty. I look over to the meter and see the total of $35.45.
"No, keep it kid." I say.
She stares at the twenty for a long, hard second,
"Thank you," she says in a sad whisper.
Putting the twenty in her pocket, she opens the cab door and exits. I watch her as she walks away, head down, probably sulking in her tears. She walks, not towards the library, but along side Main Street. She stops at the stop sign, waiting to cross.
I drive the cab and pull up next to her
"Hey kid!" I yell.
She looks up.
"Where you going? I'll give you a lift, free of charge"
"Dallas," she replies.
Dallas, Texas!?! That was over 200 miles away! How did she get here?
"Get in," I say.
There is a bit of hesitancy in her face, but she gets in, and we drive off. To Dallas.