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Rear View Mirror: Rag Doll

Taxi driver Tony Schumacher encounters the toughest of loves on the streets of Liverpool after dark

Published on October 18th 2010.

Rear View Mirror: Rag Doll

I WAS tired, it was raining. Town was packed and I’d just had an argument at a set of traffic lights with a loon who had been banging on my window demanding he be allowed entrance.

It would be fair to say I wasn’t in the best of moods.

'I’m not drunk... honest.' The rag doll raised her head, pale faced, blue lipped and red eyed. Her long black hair in rats tails, sticking to wet cheeks

So when I pulled up at the club and an Amy Winehouse wannabe scampered over I didn’t exactly perk up.

“Is it fer Rachaellllllll?” she squawked, her massive flower hairclip waving like some sort of nylon floral satellite dish, catching my eye; I guessed it was the only flower that smelt of chip fat. No wonder the bees are disappearing, I thought.

“It is,” I replied.

But maybe things were looking up, correct name inside of one minute, I could always turn up the radio if her squawking got too loud.

“I’ll get ‘err, she’s in the bog.” Hmm, maybe things weren’t looking up after all.

I put my window back up and tried not to catch the eye of any of the stumbling, shouting, smoking and shambolic throngs that congregate outside a number city centre nightspots at 3.30am.

A few tapped and shouted but I waved them away and stared, longingly, like a dog waiting at a petrol station, towards the door of the club.

I finally gave in, glanced around, and watched a couple of bouncers demonstrate their best fight moves to each other. Dressed all in black, like slightly overweight, bald ninjas, they threw imaginary overhand rights, followed by lethal kicks to invisible heads and then rubbed their fists together and winked at the Winehouses who flirted behind menthol superkings and false nails.

Maybe it was time to go home.

Maybe it was time to get a new job.

I glanced back to the club door just in time to see it burst open and watch Amy emerge, like a firefighter, supporting a limp, bedraggled, stick like, rag doll of a friend towards the cab.

“Great,” I said out loud to the air freshener.

I opened the window a couple of inches, the way you do at a hot day in a safari park, not too far, in case the baboons can reach in.

“She’s ‘ere...”

“Are you sure? What’s up with her?”

“She’s upset.”

“She’s not the only one.”

Amy pulled the door. It was locked.

“Open the door.”

“Is she pissed?”

“No! She’s just upset!”

“I’m not drunk... honest.” The rag doll raised her head, pale faced, blue lipped and red eyed. Her long black hair in rats tails, sticking to wet cheeks.

“Please! She’s not drunk, honest!”

I relented; the rag doll looked like she could do with a break. I popped the locks and she fell onto the back seat and quickly pulled the door closed behind her.

“She’s going to Widnes,” shouted Amy. “Make sure she gets home.”

“I’m hardly likely to dump her at the side of the road, am I?”

“Text me when you get there.”

“I haven’t got your number.”

“Not you. Her!”

Rag Doll nodded - at least she’d stopped crying. She wiped her eyes and blew into a tightly packed wad of tissue and we pulled away.

“If you feel sick will you tell me? I don’t mind stopping,” I said as I passed a fresh McDonald's napkin over my shoulder (yes, I need to get down the gym).

“Honest, I’m not drunk; I’ve really had a terrible night. Someone just spat right in my face. Then they pushed me over in the toilets. They said I was a slag.”

“Not the best of nights?”

Rag Doll started to cry again, proper tears with industrial sobs and sniffs squeezing out from behind a damp napkin.

“Hey! You’ll be okay! You’ll be home soon, nice milky tea then bed. In the morning you’ll laugh about this.”

More tears, this time the sobs drowned out Radio 2. I watched her shoulders jerk up and down; her head bouncing like a Chinese lantern on a rope.

“I’m not really helping here am I?”

Rag Doll shook her head, sniffed.

“I’m sorry, I don’t go out much, first time in ages and all this happens.”

“Why don’t you go out much?”

“I can’t get a baby sitter.”

“You’ve got a baby?” I was shocked; she looked like she would need ID to go into Mothercare.

“She’s not a baby, she’s almost three.”

“Three! How old are you?”

“Eighteen, I made a mistake when I was young”“What do you mean 'when'? You still are.”Rag Doll smiled. Just a bit.

“It’s the first time I’ve been out in over a year and this had to happen... (sniff) “I didn’t think his sister would be there.”

“Your fella?”

“Me ex-fella, he’s in prison.”

Never rains but it pours.

“He got eighteen months for slashing some lad,” she volunteered.

“Why has his sister got a problem with you?”

She snorted. “His family said I was a slag, said I tricked him into getting me pregnant!”

“I bet the christening was a laugh.”

“I didn’t have one, there was no one to go. My relatives don’t have anything to do with me either, I moved to Widnes to get away from them all.”“Why Widnes?”

“None of them will travel that far.”

I wondered what kind of grandmother thought 13 miles was too far to travel, 13... unlucky for some.

“My ex is out soon, he texted me asking could he move in.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I said I’d think about it, he used to batter me when we lived together.”

“I hope you remember that, when you tell him he can’t move in.”

“He’s not that bad, he was very sorry, he does coke and it makes him mad.”

“He sounds a real catch.”

Rag Doll looked at me with sad eyes, lights flicked across her face as we travelled down the motorway, but it didn’t brighten her up.

“So how d'you cope on your own? You got a job?”

“No. I’m thinking of going to college, but I don’t know what to do, I dropped out of school when I was pregnant, so I’ve got no exams or nothing.”

I decided that correcting the double negative wouldn’t be the best thing to do considering her predicament.

“How have you managed to get out tonight?”

“I’ve saved up for a month, it was my mate’s birthday, and the woman next door is minding Nancy.”

Hearing Nancy’s name for the first time made me sad, I thought of Nancy in Oliver Twist, corrupted in her youth by her circumstances.

“Nancy is a lovely name, what made you choose that?”

“It was my nana’s name; she died when I was little,” she replied.

“Reminds me of Oliver Twist.”

“That the film?”

I smiled.

“Yeah the film, there was a character in that called Nancy, I remember watching it in my Nan’s when I was a kid, one Saturday afternoon. Sitting on the couch with chocolate pudding out of a can.” I decided it was best not to tell her what happened to dear old Nancy.

“I saw that Saw 2 the other day. Have you seen it yet?”

“No, bit violent for me.”

“I like horror.”

“Just as well,” I thought, as we drove on into the darkness.

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Albert17566October 13th 2010.

A sad but all-too-common tale.

Why does our culture encourage women, particularly young women, to throw themselves away on needy, self-pitying, violent ne'er-do-wells?

Are they brainwashed by such trash as 'East Enders' into thinking this is normal life?

Amy WinebarOctober 13th 2010.

Another atmospheric piece from taxi Tony.

Can we have a proper picture of him please and exactly which cab company he works for, so we readers may keep our traps shut and therefore avoid our life stories tumbling out on these pages, lest we happen to stumble across the bosom of his warm leatherette one sad night.

The NormalOctober 13th 2010.

"Warm Leatherette"

BendyGirlOctober 15th 2010.

I'm going to send you my tissue bill Tony, you keep making me cry!

Terry MOctober 15th 2010.

It's not that bad.

Professor ChucklebuttyOctober 16th 2010.

It's a bloody good job you don't drive a bus.

Erik DerojaOctober 20th 2010.

A thought provoking piece Tony.
That's a good point by Albert. Do young women think that this is normal life and accept that is how women are treated? This girl lost her family and education just when she needed it most.

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