Taxi, and Crow
August 13–September 5, 2015
My grandfather was a cab driver. He grew up just outside of the city in New Jersey, a town called Keansburg. His home was made of salt glazed bricks. The summer heat forced them to glisten. They’d sweat. He began driving when he was 23, practicing to get the hang of it.
His finger was smashed while he worked at a metal fabrication company in Paterson, where they produced ball bearings used in forklifts. He bought the cab with his compensation from the motionless finger. The cab had AC. It never cooled past 75°, making the vinyl stick to my thighs. The nub of his finger didn’t effect his driving. The nub was tough. The callous grew slowly, a ghost of what it once was.
His cab career was sustainable for seven, maybe eight years. The work wore his body down. His skin ran limp. His back began to hunch. Sitting day and night, the caffeine and stimulant intake took a toll. His stability wavered.
This was all told to me. I never met him. What I remember is the look on his face staring down into me. It was tiring.
His tires screeched, and his cab was ruined. The door ripped the tender asphalt. It was 3 AM. No rain. No strange weather. The day was long.
Starting at 9 in the morning. Three paper cups of coffee. Light whole milk—never half-and-half—too buttery. He felt the grit of the coffee grounds run through the gaps between his teeth. The black sand bounced off the lubricated walls of this mouth. It leapt down his throat. He could handle the hot liquid. I can’t.
Leaving his home in Keyport, the taxi crept backwards to the left, out the rock-lined driveway. Tires licked the ground.
Crown Vic putters into first gear, moving forwards. His four-fingered hand twisted the wheel to the left. The maroon nylon belt restrained only his waist because the belt would cut deep into his neck.
The callous flickered. The day was clear. No rain. It had poured extremely hard during the night. The sky over the city was clean. The blur of the Queensboro Bridge was back-dropped by a crisp blue sky. As I sped through, the shadows flashed. I winced. Blinded.
His middle finger adjusted the radio to the women in the back of his cab. He asked them how they enjoyed their day. They spoke, but he didn't listen. He was thinking of the black structure whipping through the immaculate sky, and of his lost finger. He drifted into the gray rusted guardrail. Light flushed his eyes. The car rolled three times. The meter ran. Rain fell.
My grandfather’s face smashed into the top of the steering wheel. He didn’t remember them.
Rory Rosenberg (b. North Cape May, NJ) is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work has been exhibited in select group shows at David Lewis Gallery (NYC), 99¢ Plus Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Space .88 (Richmond, VA), 321 Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), AMO Studios (NYC), and included in pop-up shows such as I Just Finished Eating a Hamburger, temporarily on view at a McDonald’s in NYC. He works collaboratively as the artist “Taylor,” and organizes site-specific shows under the pseudonym Tip Top III. Rosenberg attended the Yale Norfolk School of Art Program and graduated with a BFA in Painting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutger’s University.