He's holding them up with one hand
that's why his one-arm-flinging gesture looked so strange. And I don't
suppose there's a person in the world who wouldn't have noticed this detail:
his entire pubic region is exposed. As he slumps down onto my back seat I
catch a whiff of alcohol.
I'VE SEEN PLENTY of him already, but before we get started I say, "I'm
going to have to see your money."
"I got money," he says. He starts grabbing at his right front pocket,
and outlined inside the cloth I can see something that might in fact be a wad
of bills. But, these pants being on inside out, he's having all sorts of trouble
getting at it. While he's writhing around, I roll a couple of blocks and come
to a stop in front of the police station on Valencia. I slip the cab into park
and turn around to give the guy my full attention. He looks up from his
backseat yoga session and notices all the police cruisers parked in front of
the station. I see it register on his face not as fright, just one more indignity
to deal with. He starts scratching harder at his pocket.
"Why don't you stick your hand inside your pants?" it occurs to me
I've never before strung together these particular words.
"I got money," he says again, and now he grabs the whole inside-out
pocket and starts to yank it right off the trousers. I hear stitches ripping
"Hey!" I say. "You don't have to do that!"
"It's O.K....," he says, yanking even harder at the pocket, grimacing
now, and I can hear more stitches shredding. Before the pocket gives up and
comes off in his hand with a loud tearing sound; before he digs a ten-dollar
bill out of the mutilated cloth and hands it to me; and before I drive him
home, a huge smile on my face the whole way, he says something I've never
heard from a passenger before, or from anybody, something I did not ask
him to explain. Some stories you really don't want to hear.
He's still torturing his pocket, still grimacing, so the words come out
strained, one at a time. "It's O.K.," he says. "These ... are ... not ... my ... pants."
San Francisco Chronicle,
August 22, 2000