Journey by Night (Undine Giuseppi)
He stood alone, leaning against a post, and shifting his weight from one foot to the other. It was late, and the taxi-stand was empty. The street was silent. He looked up and down, hoping that some vehicle would come in sight, for he wanted to get home. But none came.
The silence began to pall. He started to whistle, but there was no mirth in it, and he soon stopped. Midnight, ten miles away from home! What was he to do? To begin to walk that distance was out of the question.
A dark cloud passed across the sky, hiding the few pale stars that had been there. The noise of a falling dust-bin reached his ear. Some dog must have been scattering its contents.
Instinctively his hand felt for his wallet. Yes, it was still there. If only he had a stick! But he had nothing with which he might protect himself. He began to walk up and down, up and down.
What was that in the distance? At last two headlights were drawing near. He stepped into the middle of the street and held up his hand, and the car stopped.
“Taxi?” he asked. “Valencia?”
“Get in,” said the driver, opening the door.
He sat beside the driver, glad to be on his way home at last. He hd felt so lonely while he had been waiting. If only someone would say something! In the semi-darkness of the car he turned to look at the other passengers, but no one else was there.
The driver said nothing to him as the car sped along.
No, he mustn’t allow himself to think of that. He glanced at the driver, and again his hand went to his wallet. He had heard of passengers being attacked at night and robbed. But surely... No, that couldn’t happen to him.
If only he could see the other man’s face clearly! But he had no idea who the driver was. He kept his eye intently on him during the seemingly interminable journey.
Now they were approaching a spot where the road branched off in another direction. There were tall, dark bushes around. The car slowed down, and the driver was looking at him. Then the driver took something short and black from the side-pocket of the car. It looked like an iron tool. Would the driver attack him with that?
“Stop!” he heard himself screaming, and his heart beat so fast with fear that he could hardly breathe.
But the car did not stop. Faster and faster instead it went. Now they were nearing his destination. Did the driver intend to take to take him past and then...
“Put me down here, “ he cried out.
Still with his eyes on the driver, he quickly stepped from the car as it came to a standstill. He fumbled in his wallet for his fare, but the taxi was no longer there.
“No night passengers for me again, “ exclaimed the driver, as with a sigh of relief he hurriedly moved off. And his hand tenderly caressed the heavy spanner with which he had meant to defend himself had that queer passenger attacked him.