Larry & Wifey

{excerpt from UBER NIGHTS}


I only drive for Uber late at night. For myriad reasons, I hate daytime rideshare driving.


First, I’m not interested in driving elderly people to proctology appointments—there’s only so much information I can intake about a total stranger’s anal cell clumps.


Second, this town’s as hot as cow balls on a cattle drive skillet. The combination of death ray sunbeams and drenching humidity is twisted, meteorological evil. One can hardly breathe in a car until two hours after sunset.


Finally, there are far too many sober passengers during the day. Roughly half of late-night riders are somewhere between finely buzzed and three sheets to the wind—which I’m fine with. But once you start in on that fourth sheet, and the smell of vomit is detectable in the air, your presence in my vehicle is verboten. By the way, there is nothing more enjoyable than arguing with a super intoxicated would-be passenger who I refuse to let in the Maroon Rocinante.


Ah, ye ole drunkard, knees wobbling and spittle dribbling down the corners of his or her mouth: “But it’s the law! You have to take me!”


“Well, why don’t we call an officer of the law?” I offer. “You make your case while stumbling drunk in public on that side of the door, and I’ll make mine from over here in the driver seat.”


That said, I tend to prefer conversations with folks who have knocked back a few. They’re relaxed, usually in a good mood, and headed home to bed—and if they’re going to say something about colon polyps, it tends to come with an comedic, hemorrhoidal twist.


That said, about five percent of the drinking public should never drink. And I mean never. Case in point…


I pull up to a popular microbrewery over the river in Cayce. My passengers are a couple in their mid-40s. Everything about them screams cracker, bottom of the education totem pole—plus, probably in need of a marriage counseling tune-up. He’s sporting blue jeans and a Peterbilt ballcap. She’s trying to impress a bit more: all-white, cleavage showing. Someone’s making an effort on weekly date night; someone isn’t. Both have tossed back enough beers to make a walk across the gravel parking lot entertaining.


We pull away, and after about a block, the fun begins. His name is Larry. Her name never does come up. Let’s call her Wifey.


LARRY: You’re a pretty big guy.


WIFEY: Larry.


LARRY: No, I mean it. Look at the guy—he’s huge.


WIFEY: (to me) I’m sorry.


ME: Don’t worry about it.


LARRY: Big guy like that…hey, how much can you bench?


I drive in silence. I punch up Paul Simon’s “Can’t Run But” on the stereo.


LARRY: No, I mean it. How much?


ME: About 320.


LARRY: You hear that? Dude can bench 320? Bullshit.


WIFEY: Larry, please.


LARRY: Seriously, I call bullshit. No way you can bench 320.


WIFEY: Larry. … I mean, look at his arms.


LARRY: Look at his arms? Shit.


ME: (ready to nip things in the bud) And I can leg press over 500 pounds.


LARRY: Yeah, let’s see. (Larry leans over into the front seat and stares at my shorts.) Jesus, look at those calves. Okay. Yeah, okay.


We drive several blocks in silence. I’m hoping Paul Simon’s Brazilian phase will have a calming effect.


LARRY: Fuck it. I’m going to punch him.


WIFEY: Larry!


LARRY: Seriously, I’m going to punch the guy. Would you like that? Big ol’ fucking strong dude with a beard. Motherfucker. When we get to our place, I’m going to punch you good.


WIFEY: (to me) I’m so sorry. Ignore him. He gets like this.


LARRY: Fuck it. I’m going to kill that motherfucker. One big punch ought to do him some good.


For the first time, I size up Larry in the rear-view mirror.


WIFEY: So sorry.


LARRY: Guy probably needs a good punch. And I’m going to nail him. Who does he think I am? Some fucking small guy he can just push around? Is that what you think I am? A small guy? Think you can take me?


ME: Excuse me, ma’am.


LARRY: No, you can talk to me is who you can talk to.


ME: Ma’am, did you put this Uber on your phone?


WIFEY: I’m so sorry. Yes, I did.


ME: I’m going to need you to add a stop.


A beat goes by.




ME: I’m going to need you to add a stop. The emergency room at Baptist Hospital.




ME: When we get to your house, your husband—hey, Larry—he can punch me. That’s fine. And then after that, I’m going to beat the holy fucking shit out of him. And then, whatever’s left, we’ll drop off that sorry sack of skin and bones at the ER. How does that sound?


Absolute silence—other than Paul Simon.


ME: Sounds like we’re good then. Larry, are we good?


LARRY: Yeah, we’re good.


WIFEY: I am so, so sorry.


ME: Larry, now you say you’re sorry.




ME: Larry.


LARRY: Sorry.


Paul Simon: ♬  Oo-we Oo-we ♬




Excerpt from UBER NIGHTS, Arik Bjorn’s ninth book, published August 15, 2022. UBER NIGHTS, is about Arik’s late-night rideshare misadventures in the Deep South. In South Carolina, you never know if your next passenger will be a naked lady with a toothbrush, a banana spider, or a punch-drunk redneck.


UBER NIGHTS is available at Amazon.



Clip to Evernote

You must be logged in to post a comment.