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Chapter 12

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Chapter Twelve
-- by Deb Moran --

Hope Floats: Cabbies Don’t

“I want Uncle David!” Allie bellowed as D.K. shoved her into the backseat of No.118 still parked by the curb.

“Listen, kid.  I’m D.K., and I’m a friend of your uncle.  Just shud up and we’ll get along real good.”  Neither Stray nor Willow was anywhere in sight, but D.K. didn’t much care.  He couldn’t wait for them.  He had to do something with little Miss Bazooka Bubble.  D.K. turned over the engine, Eddie Chang’s his desired destination.  He’d get his cut of the take and leave the kid with Eddie, or better yet, paw-n her back on the Cat.  In fact, he’d demand a bigger share since he’d probably have to spend time and money cleaning gum off his backseat the way the little codger was expelling the pink stuff!

Down Lombard, across Mission, the pagoda-styled rooftops of Chinatown not yet quite visible in the dark distance.  Fear forgotten in the excitement of a taxi ride, Allie purr-veyed the sights and sounds of nighttime San Francisco.  They drove down the fabled hills, and she giggled as she did when sledding down the snowy hills of Concord Park back in Connecticut.  They drove past cable cars clanging their bells, and Allie clapped in delight.  They traveled by the fish market, and she held her nose.  But as often happens with youngsters on automobile trips, wonderment quickly turns to boredom or motion sickness.  Luckily for D.K., it was the former.

Allie tried talking to D.K., but he ignored her.  She recited Kipling’s “The Cat that Walked by Himself” but this agitated D.K. so he begged her to stop.  She sang, but D.K. drowned out with the radio her enthusiastic, albeit off-key, version of “Three Blind Mice.”  So to amuse herself, Allie began tossing into the air the pretty, shiny rock she’d found in Uncle David’s pocket.  The diamond sparkled under the glow from the moonlight and streetlamps, the crystalline faces creating a dazzling spectacle on the inside of the cab, much like a mirrored ball at a dance hall.  The snowflake-like sparkles reflected in the rearview mirror.

D.K. had just uttered “Hey, kid, watcha got?”  when realization shot through him like a thunderbolt to a redwood.

“Hey, gimme dat.  How’d youse get dat?  It ain’t yours, you little thief.”  He reached back over the front seat, trying to grab the jewel in mid-air.

Allie enjoyed her little game of keep away.  “It’s mine, and you can’t have it.  Finders keepers, losers weepers,”  she squealed with glee.

The child’s taunts merely served to fuel D.K.’s already ignited anger. He violently reached back to the seat behind him.

In the  midst of it all, D.K. missed the turnoff to Pine Street and instead was headed over the famed Golden Gate Bridge.   Furious and weary of Allie’s game, he pulled over into the right hand emergency lane and put the cab in park.  Allie watched nervously as D.K. alighted from the taxi, came around the hood to the passenger side and jerked open the rear door closest to where Allie sat uneasily.  She had thought her little game with him was fun, but the look on Uncle David’s friend was no longer friendly.

“Gimme it,” D.K. menacingly ordered as he dragged her out of the car.

“No!” said Allie with more conviction than she really felt, and in a sudden flash of defiance,  Allie raised her diamond-clutched fist and hurled the “toy” past D.K.’s shoulder, where it sailed beyond the guard rail, plummeting into the dark waters of the San Francisco Bay.

“Can’t have it,” the cheeky child pronounced with little hands on hips.  And to finish it off, “Go soak your head, you smelly piece of fromage!”  D.K. didn’t hear this last insulting snippet because, throwing caution to the wind (literally), he blindly flung himself over the rail after the jewel.

Two hundred twenty feet later, D.K. plunged with a grand splash towards a watery demise.

The diamond sliced effortlessly and swiftly through the current,  landing with grace on the murky bottom in less than a minute.  D.K. coursed through the water with much less aplomb, but just as permanently.

Allie, alone, stood peering over the railing, translucent pink bubbles periodically escaping from her lips.  She was blissfully unaware of what had just transpired.   She giggled to herself:  ”He really did go soak his head,” she thought proudly.

Too bad cabbies, much as cats, don’t take well to water.

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