by Edward Wilkinson Latham

Outpost Magazine

A huge, head of Jesus looked at me, laminated to the back windscreen of the taxicab and illuminated by a single yellow streetlight, bleeding into the cool blue dawn. His left eyeball had been crudely, almost violently, coloured in with a red ballpoint pen. Even Jesus can have red-eye the next morning. My fatigued carcass lay back on the shiny blood-coloured seats that had cushioned so many behinds before me, so many in fact that it was difficult not to slide off the polished surface, Three hours previously I had been propped up against a cantina bar, partaking in a competition of drunken machismo. In each hand I gripped a metal rod, connected by wires to an old wooden box with a black dial. Slowly I felt the surge of electricity liquefying through my veins, as I asked for more through my buzzing teeth. Pulling an array of faces that I would never be able to repeat and rearing up on my toes, I babbled drunken nonsense, which seemed to entertain the guys. I didn't come close to the champ though, who proudly illustrated his grounding ability with one rod in his mouth and the other in his hand to the mark of 15 on the dial. I had managed seven and was recovering. He was getting another drink.

The driver of the taxicab had been drinking in the same cantina, and was still enjoying the effects. I guess he stayed longer than I did. He laughed and reared up in his seat, mimicking one of the faces I pulled in the cantina. Tears almost came to his eyes as he told me he would never forget it, After calming down, he fumbled around under his sear for quite some time, pulling out forgotten objects. A half-eaten burrito, papers, a single red shoe and a glow- in the-dark Virgin Mary were decanted onto the floor of the passenger side. Not finding what he was looking for under the seat, he started exploring the glove compartment. Just as I was about to remind him that my train left in 10 minutes, he ceased his searching, showing me cassettes that looked as though they had seen happier days.

"You like the Beatles?"

"Yeah, I like a few songs," I replied.

"Good, I play 'Lady Bee' for you."

"Lady Bee,' I think I missed that one," I mumbled.

The sorry-looking cassette was forced into the jaws of the tape deck, and as he turned the switch, an ear-piercing crackle came out of the rear speakers flanking my head. With a shock, I awoke from the glaze of having mixed homemade mescal with electricity. My body felt emotional at the prospect of more of anything. After some slapping to the side of the tape deck, some rewinding and some forward winding, he found it. I heard Paul's voice, slightly slower than I remembered, and after a few bars replied,

"Let it be."

"Yeah, 'Lady Bee."

Edward Wilkinson-Latham © 2002