Drunky Taxis

Danny was drunk for the third time this week at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. The barman was considering giving him a one week ban, but then he thought, where else would he go? The guy was already lost in life; why steal away one of his few remaining anchors?

He’d had one too many though, and was annoying customers; Donna in particular. It was a wonder that she put up with his persistent propositions and bullshit without calling him out. A guy would have decked him along ago. Maybe women were just nicer.

“Time to go home, my friend,” the barman said to Danny. “Better make sure you’ve got your keys. You don’t want to be locked out do you?” When Danny drew his keys out of his pocket to check, the barman swiped them. This worked every time with drunks. The barman pulled out Danny’s car keys, put them in a tin behind the bar, and returned the rest of the bunch to its owner. “Time to go home, my friend.”

Danny didn’t protest; he knew where he stood here. He was a hopeless drunk and his opponent was the king of this joint. The barman said, “I’ve called you a taxi. It will be here in five minutes. You can wait outside.”

Danny got into the taxi and asked how much it would be to Kalash, the subdivision beyond the Golden turnoff, way up the Lucerne Valley Road. The taxi driver said, “That will be fifty bucks, pal.”

Danny laughed heartily. “That’s a good one, buddy. How much really?”

“It’s fifty bucks, my friend. I’m giving you a break already. It’s thirty kilometres at two bucks per click, that’s sixty bucks, and at this time I could charge you half-rate for the return trip. But I won’t do that.”

“Fifty bucks!” said Danny, his head in hands. “Fifty bucks!” He started sobbing, then opened the door, cursed the driver and got out. “F***ing drunky taxis! Fifty bucks! Stuff it up your ass!”

The driver radioed his base to report an abusive passenger and drove away. Danny re-entered the bar. The barman called out, “Hey there, I told you already, time to go home.”

Danny told the barman that the taxi had refused to take him as far as Kalash. The barman shook his head and called one from the other company in town.

Danny tried his negotiation skills again, but the driver stuck to the standard rate of sixty bucks, and also wanted half-rate return, so it would now cost ninety bucks. “Ninety bucks!” wailed Danny. “Ninety bucks! The other driver was charging me fifty!”

The driver said, “Well you should have gone with him then, pal.”

Danny asked the barman to order him another cab, but he refused. Danny called both companies himself, but they declined to transport him.

“How much money to stay here?” he asked the barman. “Upstairs in the rooms?”

“It’s sixty bucks a night, my friend.”

“Sixty bucks!” he cried. “Sixty bucks!” He winked at Donna along the bar, nudged up and smiled at her. “How about sharing a room here, honey? Only thirty bucks each.”

The barman was stunned when she agreed to the proposal and led him off to bed. The barman didn’t know that in the real world, Danny had been a real gentleman. Donna had been a troubled woman, who Danny had helped, expecting nothing in return. She had later almost died from a drugs overdose, and his permanent vegetative state was the result of a stroke.

They were both now living their lives via virtual retinal projections. Some people coped with this change better than others. Donna knew that Danny wasn’t doing so well, and needed a hand now.

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