Paris by Taxi

It was summer and it was Paris, a city where romance is more natural than the night stars and where every wind-blown shish of a woman's skirt excites the fantasies of those young men who by fate or calculation find themselves in this all consuming environment. Nor, or course, are the women blameless for the moral behaviour of their biological counterparts, for on every side street abide the most notable of Paris's citizenry, without whom, the Third Reich would soon have lost all interest.

But for Bernice, the city was filled with the ring of true love and, as she stepped from the plane, her head was swimming with the thoughts of Jean. She had never been to Paris, in fact, she had rarely ever left the Bronx. It was on one of those rate excursions into Manhattan that she met Jean, a handsome and smooth talking foreign exchange student. Their affair had been fast and heated; and now that vacation was here, he called across the ocean to join him, perhaps to marry. Despite her fears, her reaction was immediate and within the week she arrived all delicate and quivering to be touched by that one man.

He would not -- could not -- meet her at the airport but later at the hotel. He assured her that she would have no problem finding a taxi and that all Parisian taxi drivers would know the location of her destination and while navigating the crowds at the airport was not easy, Bernice managed with her luggage to get to the taxi stand. She entered a taxi and jingled the name of her destination but, she confessed, she had no idea where she was going. To her relief, the taxi driver grunted a yes in accented English and, as dusk approached, they sped away from the roar of the airport.

They traversed many small dark streets and, on one of these, the taxi driver stopped, calmly stepped out and in a blurred instant was in the back seat, grabbing at her clothes, pounding with his fists, ripping and cursing until his prey had been subdued. It was an endless nightmare but, finally, it was over.

Somehow, she manged to get to her hotel with the taxi driver's last words ringing in her ears, "If you tell anyone, I will find you and kill you".

She sat disheveled in her room, wrapped in a ball, biting at her hands, staring at a blank wall, thinking of the taxi driver and of Jean. There was no notice of the passage of time, there was only thinking in one endless circle. There must be Jean, I will tell him, he will make it right she thought; but there was no word. She grew anxious, realizing now that he should have come some time ago. The phone ringing brought her to her feet and into reality. It was the desk clerk, a man was wishing to see her, should he send him up?

"Yes," she cried, her voice cracking with joy. "Yes," send him right up. Her mood brightened as she quickly threw the shawl around her shoulders, the one Jean loved so much. At last he had come. The air seemed much lighter as a soft knocking could be heard at the door. She devoured the steps to the door and threw it open wide to greet the hungry form of the taxi driver.