Makes You Sick

by Ruth Heritage

First job in this morning, half past six, and I takes Shelly from the Derwent Water flats her to the offices so’s she can clean. That insurance place in town, Guild Hall Street, the block they did up ten year since. She’s been there since it opened. I only take her when she’s running late, about once a month. Works evenings too, a real grafter. Needs to, though, he doesn’t do anything, sits on his arse on disability while the kids are out spending her money from what she says. Said. Lives round the corner but stands outside the flats so’s I don’t wake them up driving around at that time. I’ve known her for years, she were a good ‘un when she were young, we used to knock about a bit, nothing serious, y’know. She has a hard time. I can’t think of it. Then nothing ‘til I’d had my breakfast, bacon and egg on toast with brown sauce from Brenda’s Barms on Friargate. Nothing ‘til I’d ate my barm, then –

Some geezer flags me down. Still last night for ‘im. Just by the roundabout on the ringroad, just off Guild Hall Street, by the multistorey. He was well oiled. Says we’re the only firm he can remember goes up this way, said he goes down the social club on the estate. Got a tip, two quid. Don’t get that many tips round our way. Seven forty in the morning. His shoes was mucky, looked like mud and cabbage leaves. From the market I thought. I had to clean out before –

I takes my usual fare, Simon and Tara, from number 187 the big house on the corner of the Avenue and up to the Priory School. About quarter past eight I picks up and half eight I drop off. Violins and gym today. Nice kids but he’s a bit of a know it all and she’s bossy, not their fault, parents too busy to bother with them.

A woman going to work, don’t know her name, but she gives me a call every so often. Main road, 164, the red brick house with its back to the road, broken gate. Pregnant last year. I takes her to the station, and on the way back –

I gets a call to pick up my wife’s niece and her son. Coniston Place, flat 12b. Late for school they was. Got in the car half dressed, she’s telling him to brush his teeth when he gets in, tying his tie, she’s forgotten his reading book. Always something. They’re like that. Happens once a week, at least. Dunno what she does if she doesn’t need to sign on. Walks and let him be late I expect. This was half nine. No, quarter-past. Well it was the kid who seen it first, silver under the black mat. I can’t understand it, all them people in the back, kids and all. Dangerous things, knives. And I’d been under the seat hoovering and picking up before, like I told you. And his mam must’ve rang you before I managed to, ‘cos straight after that I gets another job, no time to phone –

This time from Mrs Andrews, from the sheltered housing on Rydal Way, gets me to taxi for her pension every Monday. I always knock a pound off. Then –

Then you got to me at the post office. I would have rung after that, I don’t know what it was doing there, I’d not seen it. And you say she was found at 8.45? Poor Shelley. Makes you sick, violence like that, I can’t think of her bleeding. That man did look a bit dodgy. Dropped him off at Grasmere. Outside the flats. No, sorry, I don’t know what number. No name either. Yes, I do know I’m unlicenced for pickups but it was first thing in the morning. No, the depot can’t vouch that I called in. I thought I might as well make a bit of extra cash, y’know, I was going back up that way. I realise how it seems, I understand. But what can I do? I was only trying to work, mate, I was. Poor Shelly.

Ruth Heritage lives and works in Preston, and loves her local cab firm.

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