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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pay It Forward

Read this story in an email this morning. I've seen this one before, couple of times over the years I'm sure. Whether or not it's true doesn't matter. Normally I'd read these touching Pay It Forward type of emails, get a warm and fuzzy, then delete them. I never forward them, and never read the end where they always tell you to pass it on or you'll never get into heaven or something. This one didn't say that, just told the story, and people pass it on if they want. Anyway, seemed an appropriate message overall, considering some things that have happened in the past week in my own life, and I know we all can use a little life lesson now and then. So, anyway, here it is, take it for whatever it is.


The Cab Ride
 

I arrived at the address and honked the horn.
After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked.. 

'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something
being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in
her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a
print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned
on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had
lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils
on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase
to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I
told her.. 'I just try to treat my passengers
the way I would want my mother to be treated.'

'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave
me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry I'm on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have
any family left,' she continued in a soft voice.. 'The doctor says I don't have very
long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me
the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived
when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse
that had once
been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and
would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm
tired. Let's go now'.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building,
like a small convalescent home,
with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were
Solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to
the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She
held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said.
'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning
light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove
aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.
What if that woman had
gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient
to end his shift?   

What       if I had refused to take the run, or had honked
once, then driven away? On a quick   
review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve
around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully
wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

People may not remember exactly
What you did, or what you said, BUT they will
Always remember how you made them
Feel.

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