not your usual halloween tale

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Fiction
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I was born on Halloween night during a rainstorm of historic proportions in a taxi speeding the wrong way down a side street driven by a one-eyed man suffering from insomnia convinced he was being chased by a jeep filled with machine gun toting rebel Cuban guerillas.

The rains began on October 24th, a week before my birth. Once started they didn’t stop. Within four days the river had crested to record levels and flood waters spread across low lying areas like mercury escaping from a thermometer. My parents had recently moved to town, buying an old Cape Cod style house, a fixer-upper in realtor-speak. Local legend alleged the house was haunted since six separate incidents ended with the coroner removing dead bodies from the property over its colorful 114 year old history. The old biddies in town claimed spirits in the house drove the inhabitants to murder, although nothing was ever proven and no one was ever prosecuted. When my parents bought the house they were well aware of its history. Neither were concerned. My mother said it added, “a real sense of character to this dilapidated pile of bricks” while my father realized such an infamous history would allow him to negotiate a buying price which was more criminal than any of the alleged crimes which took place there.

On Halloween the rain was ferocious, often blowing sideways. Still, chores were pressing and a storm would not stop my parents. My mother’s water broke as she worked on the roof patching leaks which were turning the kitchen into a tropical jungle. She was completely soaked from the driving rain and unaware her water had broken. She pounded a few more nails into the replacement shingles before realizing what had happened. She yelled to my father who was busy building a makeshift seawall of consisting of sandbags, firewood, threaded rags and three old sofas he had saved for such an occasion. At first he didn’t understand what she was saying, but when she threw her hammer at him with the accuracy of Thor, he got the message.

With my mother off the roof and my father pulled from his great engineering project they piled into their Ford Falcon. The engine failed to turn over and they remembered the car was out of commission due to a temperamental starter and my father’s misjudging the placement of a telephone pole outside of McGarrity’s Bar and Grill two nights prior. Always resourceful they called the only taxi in town. When the dispatcher (who was also the owner, driver, bookkeeper and mechanic) said the weather was too treacherous to drive my father used his impressive skills of diplomacy and persuasion which included something about an inverted crank shaft and double-barrel shotgun to change his mind.

The taxi arrived 45 minutes later. Tom, the dispatcher who now assumed his role as the driver, sported an eye-patch since he only had one eye. He was an insomniac, a fact unknown to my parents at the time. His lack of sleep would often result in hallucinations. Rumor has it he lost his eye years earlier during one of these hallucinogenic episodes. The details remained sketchy. When he picked up my parents he hadn’t slept in 33 hours and was having visions which would’ve made Lewis Carroll jealous.

Tom said many of the roads in town were washed away or impassable. My father always considered himself somewhat of a modern day Teddy Roosevelt and bellowed, “Bully to that, sir! Drive with haste for we have a child straining to enter this world and nothing’s going to stop that! Now onward and upward!” My mother was more succinct. “Get me to the hospital if you ever want to have kids of your own.”

Tom quickly swung out of the driveway and headed towards the hospital. Fallen tree branches littered the road and he avoided most of them, impressive considering his compromised depth of field. However, the storm had also given birth to a number of new divots which were unavoidable. Every time he swerved to miss a branch he hit a pothole. Apparently this made me more determined to make my entrance evidenced by my mother’s “this baby’s coming faster than Nelly Jones spreads rumors.” (Nelly Jones, as you may have guessed, was the town’s main source of tawdry gossip.)

About a mile from the hospital the main road was flooded. They stopped. While debating what to do Tom suddenly threw the taxi into reverse and floored it, executing a spin turn that would’ve made any professional stunt driver envious. “Good lord, man! What in the name of Sam Hill are you doing,” my father roared. “It’s the Cuban rebels,” Tom tersely replied as he looked out the rear window with his one good eye. “They’re after us. And they have guns.”

My father turned to see what Tom was talking about. “I don’t see any bloody Cubans!”

“Of course you don’t. They’re in camouflage.” With that Tom sped away in the opposite direction from the hospital.

My mother joined in. “I don’t know what you fellas are going on about, but I think I’m about to have a baby.” With that she began the age-old instinctive breathing routine. My father forgot about the Cubans. Determined, Tom planned an alternate route to the hospital. He made a sharp left on Humphrey Street figuring he could swing around the rear of the hospital to the service entrance. Again he stared out the back. “They’re good, but they’re not that good,” he cackled to no one in particular. When he returned his attention to the road he saw a large panel truck headed directly towards them.

“Oh, shit!” he shouted, maneuvering onto the sidewalk and taking out half a dozen metal garbage cans, a newspaper dispenser and a bench in the process.

“Oh lordy!” my mother screamed, giving one final push.

“It’s a boy!” my father thundered before passing out.

Much to Tom’s eternal credit they arrived at the hospital moments later. The nurses took care of my mother and me, an intern repeatedly slapped my father until he woke up and Tom leaned against his taxi under the hospital’s awning, lit a Tareyton and smiled. When one of the orderlies said he should be smiling since he did such a fantastic job getting this woman and her newborn son to the hospital despite the horrible conditions Tom replied, “It’ll be a cold day in Havana before those bastards get me.”

  1. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Thank you very much!


  2. whiteladyinthehood says: was very entertaining! I just thought it was really your b-d and you were really exaggerating!!! (I’m a Scorpio..)


    • John says:

      That means your birthday is very near. If it’s already passed, hope you had a happy one! If it hasn’t passed, you’ll get your wishes when it comes around!


  3. pithypants says:

    Happy Belated birthday, fellow Scorpio. I’ve always loved having Devil’s Night as my birthday. Awesome party possibilities around Halloween!


  4. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Dear Lord – Mr.John! The cabbie saying of course you couldnt see the Cubans – their in camouflage made me laugh too hard..surely, you jest about this story? Am I gonna feel like an idiot if I say ..happy birthday?!


  5. Awesome! I think Tom is an awesome character!


  6. *snort* Coffee / Trask Avenue . . . bad combination. Regardless, I think this is one of my favorties.


  7. H.E. ELLIS says:

    You had me at “machine gun toting rebel Cuban guerillas”.


Whatcha got to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s