P’s and Q’s

What he sees, what forms the basis of his first impression as his yellow Checker cab approaches the curb is a modish young woman in a lime green mini dress and white go-go boots, right arm arced upward, left toe pointed slightly behind as she leans into the street, hailing him.  Graceful, poised. Not unlike one of Rodin’s dancers. 

He shifts his foot onto the brake, his mind in limbo wondering if he should get out and open the door for her, or let her open it herself, but she beats him to it, her fingers competently minding the hem of her low-waisted Mary Quant knockoff as she climbs inside black leather upholstery. Her voice wears a detached self-assurance.

9th and Van Buren, please.

What he doesn’t see is how she awkwardly bangs her knee on one of the fold-down jump seats, and that her matte pink Yardley lipstick covers up a chewed lip I-feel-like-a-failure funk.


This doesn’t look right…

She pulls a scrap of paper from her orange vinyl purse, the cab idling in front of an empty lot.

Oh dear, I’ve gotten the address wrong!

The darkening bruise on her knee hurting, her charade of confidence dissolving, tears smudge her black liner-rimmed eyes.

There, there, now! 

His instant reflex of concern softens the big-city set of his burly face. 

We’ll get it sorted, Luv.

He is searching for his handkerchief-a red bandana-when the recoil of his impropriety slaps him.

Pardon me!  I didn’t mean…

She manages to laugh her tears into a smile. 

That’s ok-I don’t mind. For a moment you reminded me of my dad.

Well to tell you the truth, you remind me of my daughter.  Moved clear out to Seattle, she did, and I can barely stand it.

The floodgates open.

She reaches into her purse, pulls out a blue flowered hankie and hands it to him through the partly open partitioned window, feeling like it’s the first thing in days she’s gotten right.



22 thoughts on “P’s and Q’s

  1. What a sweet story, Val! Nailed the sixties, and the false confidence. Loved this!
    btw, I just relearned where mind your p’s & q’s comes from!

  2. Crisp is just the right description for your writing in this lovely piece. You’ve got the details, the reveal, the true emotion of the scene pitch perfect. I always love the rolling lilt to your writing and how you are able to provide such nuanced information without it being overwrought.

    Wonderful, dear Valerie! :))

  3. Awww, what a great ending. I love the detail of the two handkerchiefs, his bandanna and her blue-flowered one. What a great way to reveal their characters. Just the ‘write’ amount of info versus sentimentality. Nicely written as we have come to expect, my friend! 🙂

  4. You’ve done it again!
    This: lime green mini dress and white go-go boots, right arm arced upward, left toe pointed slightly behind as she leans into the street, hailing him.
    And the circular route, the exchange of places, this is a piece that will remain with me all day, as I head out with the dogs, watching for taxi drivers and girls in lime mini dresses and go-go boots.

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  6. I agree completely with what Jo-Anne said (which is a common experience for me!) With all the description of her outfit (which is excellent!) I love this phrase: Her voice wears a detached self-assurance. Great work, dear Valerie.

  7. Again, I love how you word-paint your scenes so delicate yet vibrant. You play with words in a way very similar to how Douglas Adams did – they’re a joy to read several times.

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