# 54 – Not a Taxi

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Bruce marched along on the other side of the street. He was looking down, but he would see her if he turned his head. She needed to get out of the middle of the street. Liza’s mind had stopped functioning, but her body was working again. A van drove past and she took the opportunity to bolt back to her side of the street. She crouched behind a taxi that was parked at the curb and tried to see Bruce through the windows. He was still walking. Thank God.

She didn’t want to talk to him. Nothing good could come out of that conversation. Plus, talking to him would delay the whole process of forgetting that he existed. They hadn’t spoken since the day he was released from the hospital in the summer. When she found out from his assistant that he had returned to campus and hadn’t contacted her, she realized that they were finished. Whatever. He didn’t owe her anything. An explanation would have been nice, but she wasn’t going to chase him down to get it.

27-15,” a loud, garbled voice blared from above her. Liza hopped back from the car, and crashed into a pair of legs. As she was flying backwards, she noticed that the taxi she had been hiding behind was a cop car. Its owner was standing above her looking really pissed off as he tried to stay on his feet. Splatters of coffee flew out of the cup in his hand. They slopped over his fingers and rained down on Liza’s hair. Dread spread through her. It was the same feeling you would get when you were sent to the principal’s office or one of your parents called you by your full name.

The cop steadied himself and flicked his fingers, sending more coffee drops into Liza’s hair. He pushed a button on the side of a radio mic that was attached to his coat. “27-15, go ahead.”

27-15, check for a fight on the highway at 32nd and Arch. Possibly one person down.” The voice sounded like the teacher from the Charlie Brown movies.

“27-15, ok,” said the cop. He bent down and yanked Liza to her feet. She squatted half way back down, aware that Bruce was still marching along somewhere behind her. “Are you looking for me?”

“No, I’m sorry. I’m hiding from someone. I didn’t realize this was a cop car,” said Liza.

“You were hiding. And you didn’t know this was a cop car… Is someone chasing you?”

“No,” said Liza. He stared at her like he was trying to decide if she was lying, crazy, or dumb. He must have decided that she was just dumb.

“All right, have a good night. Stay out of trouble,” said the cop. He hopped in his car and drove off toward Arch.

Jake materialized out of nowhere. “There’s seriously something wrong with you,” he said, shaking his head. But he was smiling.

“Where’d you disappear to?” asked Liza.

“I didn’t disappear to anywhere. What, was I supposed to lay all over the cop car too?”

“I wasn’t lying on the car. I just touched it.”

“And then you ran into…”

“Fell into.”

“Sorry, fell into a cop. I didn’t realize that you meant for me to do all those things too. Now I know for next time.”

Liza smacked him on the arm. “All right, all right.”

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# 37 – These Situations

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Bruce was still on his knees; in too much pain to get up and too stubborn to collapse completely.  A nasty bruise was forming on the outside of his left forearm.  Other than that, it looked like most of the damage was to his head and face.  Liza crouched next to him to get a better look.  There was a deep gash on the side of his head.  One eye was swollen shut, his nose didn’t look right, and blood was smeared everywhere.  Liza started to feel queasy so she looked away.  She noticed that some of the residents were peeking out from their tents and blanket piles.  A few were edging their way toward Liza and Bruce.  She took a deep breath and stood quickly.  Liza stared back at them as she retrieved the butterfly knife from the ground.  She opened it and tucked it into the side pocket of her work pants.  The blade sliced through the bottom but stayed.  Liza had visions of severing an artery and dying in a pool of her own blood back here.  What would the homeless people do?  Liza imagined them wrapping her in liquor-soaked newspapers and setting her adrift in the river on top of an old car hood.  They would flick cigarette butts on her until she ignited.  At least her funeral would be unique.

She moved back to Bruce, who was trying to push himself to his feet.  “Are you going to be able to walk?”  He nodded slightly.  “Ok.”  Liza helped him get to his feet.  He was shaky.  She ducked under his right arm and wrapped her left arm around his waist.  She wasn’t so much holding him up as letting him use her as a human crutch.  She got him into her car and gave him her blazer to use to try to stem some of the bleeding.  He buried his face in it and flopped back against the seat.  Liza pulled her knife out as she walked around to the driver’s side and got in the car.  She could see them watching from beneath the underpass, but no one approached.

Liza sped up the access road.  They were almost back at the intersection when a cop car turned down the road.  She thought about flagging him down, but she didn’t know everything that had happened.  Why had Bruce gone there?  Why were those homeless people beating him up?  Liza slowed to a more moderate speed and hit the recline button on Bruce’s seat.  She looked straight ahead and pretended to fiddle with the radio as they passed each other.  Yep, don’t mind me.  I always drive down this abandoned dead-end road on my way to work.  The cop slowed down as they passed each other, but he didn’t stop her.  Liza took off as soon as she was back on the main street.