A Good Runner: Part Thirteen


This is the thirteenth part of a fiction serial, in 790 words.

The taxi insurance was at least twice as much as insuring the car normally, but he had to have it. Driving back from the big house after paying the man for the car, Trevor popped in to the taxi office and showed the owner his car and insurance certificate. “I can start next Monday, I have to work a week’s notice”.

His boss at the roofing company had been sad to hear he was leaving. “You’re a good worker, Trev. If this taxi stuff doesn’t work out, there’s always a job for you here”. He handed over his week’s wages, plus his week in hand. “I’ve put an extra ten pounds in there for you”.

The following weekend, Trevor drove his granny out to Oxford, to give her a ride in the new car. They stopped for tea in the city, and he asked her what she thought of the car, and told her about his new job as a private hire driver. She swallowed a big lump of scone before answering. “Fancy, I call it. Don’t you go getting above ourself now”. After tea, he bought a grey sports jacket and some new shirts and ties.

He was determined to look smart when he started picking up passengers.

Ken Millward was the owner of Witney Cars, and explained how things worked. “We find you the jobs. You are not allowed to pick anyone up off the street, under any circumstances. Here are some business cards with our phone number on them for you to hand out. When you are driving past any phone boxes, remember to place them prominently inside. We get a lot of work from phone boxes. The rates are so much a mile for cash jobs, and a bit less for account customers. I take ten percent of all cash fares and fifteen percent of account jobs. You keep any tips. Make sure to have change on you at all times, and you should buy some maps of Oxford, Cheltenham, Gloucester, and even London. We will be taking people all over”.

Trevor had never been to London, and decided not to mention that to Ken, who carried on talking.

“You will get a list of booked jobs, regular pick-ups, and parcel or school runs. When they are done, you come back to the office and wait for a walk-in, or if someone phones for a booking. If you get any runs into Oxford or Gloucester, never park on a taxi rank or pick up anyone who might hail you at a station. The taxis there are all licenced by the Councils, and there will be big trouble if they catch you doing that”.

Then he handed Trevor a large stiff card with the name Witney Cars printed on it and the phone number. “Keep this on the dashboard of your car where it can be seen. And try not to park illegally, as we don’t pay for parking tickets. There’s a kettle out the back, and tea and milk. It’s two shillings a week, and if you want sugar, bring it in. Give the two-bob to Stella, she gets the stuff, and answers the phones on the day shift”.

Walking behind the partition holding a two-shilling piece, Trevor saw Stella sitting at a desk writing things down on small cards. “Ken says I have to give you a couple of bob for the tea”. He placed the coin on the edge of the desk. “I’m Trevor, Trevor Clemence. I’m one of the new drivers”. Stella looked up at him and smiled. “I know, I’m not deaf. You were only standing behind the partition”. He smiled back at her, feeling awkward. She had nice flick-ups in her fair hair, and reminded him of Millicent Martin. He guessed she might be a bit older than him too.

“The two bob is for the tea and milk, but you make it yourself. I’m nobody’s tea lady. And wash your cup up after too”. Her tone was mock-serious, softened by a friendly grin as she spoke. “If you need the toilet, it’s halfway up the stairs, on the first landing. And don’t wee on the seat, or leave it up after. I have to sit on that you know. If you are ready to work, I have a pick-up for you in Crundel Rise, going to the air base at Brize Norton. You know where they are, I suppose?” He nodded, and left immediately with the details on a piece of paper.

Stella called after him. “It’s an account customer, but he normally tips well”.

As he was driving to Crundel Rise, Trevor couldn’t stop smiling. Stella was great, and he was on his way to his first ever taxi job.

33 thoughts on “A Good Runner: Part Thirteen

  1. Little beknownst to readers, the taxi cab crashed into a brick wall several nights later, totaling the car and sending our hero to the hospital, where he met a demon in nurse’s outfit who hung around him hoping to steal his soul from him…

    — Catxman

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  2. (1) Overheard:
    Trevor: “I can start next Monday, I have to work a week’s notice.”
    Ken: “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here.”
    (2) While driving his car, Trevor saw an old lady with a cane stumble and fall as she was crossing the street. But Trevor didn’t stop to help. He remembered what Ken had said: “You are not allowed to pick anyone up off the street, under any circumstances.”
    (3) After the fare structure had been fully explained, Trevor left the office without so much as a fare-thee-well.
    (4) Bad citation: “If you get the runs in Oxford or Gloucester, be sure to have proper change on hand for the pay toilet.”
    (5) Overheard:
    Trevor: “Ken says I have to give you a couple of bob for the tea.”
    Stella, unbuttoning her blouse: “Yes, but maybe you’d rather bob for the apples?”
    (6) If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to have some flick-ups in your hair.
    (7) Stella: “If you need the toilet, take the stairs to the thirty-first floor, and follow the hallway to the emergency exit door that gives access to the fire escape ladder. Climb down that rickety old ladder to the twenty-ninth floor casement window, and then squeeze yourself through the window into the storage room. It’s really cluttered in there, but don’t let that discourage you. The toilet is located in the far corner behind a tall stack of heavy boxes full of spare engine parts. You’ll be happy to know that we’ve installed a magazine rack for your convenience.”

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