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The window, automatic, wound down and a Peruvian man with a round face stared at me.
He nodded and got out of the taxi. He brushed past me. The contact threw me off balance.
He picked my Karrimor backpack off the floor and in one graceful movement dumped it in the boot of the taxi, showcasing an impressive feat of strength. Opening the front passenger door I saw a grey Nike sports holdall had shotgunned me and got in the back.
The leather smelt fresh. I slid in.
We were soon out on the motorway.
“Is it far?”
He turned his head to look at me and not the road ahead as a succession of traffic signs blurred past the window.
“30 minutes.” He said.
I buckled up.
I looked out of the window to see a full moon shine bright above me, giving the cirrus clouds the appearance of a see through negligee. The moonlight seemed brighter, more beautiful on this side of the world, and its scars more granular. Who’s life is redundant now Trevor Grammer? Me, seated in a taxi, soon to see the Pacific Ocean, and the world thereafter or you, staring at a long list of unread emails with your only source of excitement the thought of which sandwich you’d choose from Pret A Manger? I allowed myself a smile.
As the taxi pulled off the motorway and onto a narrow street paved with small shop fronts I asked the driver.
“Where’s the Pacific Ocean?”
I closed my eyes and visualised. The Google map of Lima appeared. I’d studied the map a dozen times after booking my chosen hostel, and there was a single road that went directly from the airport to Miraflores. Alongside it a view of the Pacific Ocean. My right finger teased the silver chain around my neck, which felt tighter than it had done when Dad had brought it for my 16th birthday.
“Can I smoke?”
On the outside I smoked a cigarette and smiled. Inside, I thought is this guy taking me the long way to rip me off? That was the good scenario. The taxi hit a bump in the road shifting the cogs in my brain, to go faster and faster, to the bad scenario.
The seatbelt torqued, snapping tight. Wheels screeched to a halt.
“Hey man this is fine. I’ll get out here.”
The taxi driver didn’t say a word. The lights turned green. He continued to drive. He came to another set of traffic lights.
“This will do. Let me out.” I said simultaneously trying the plastic door lock with my hand when it shattered. The noise boomed around the radio less taxi. His head turned.
“Yeah of course. How much?”
“All of it.”
“Give me your fucking money!”
The horn behind us sounded again and then again. Sweat started dripping and my heart pounded from the familiar energy of fear I had felt when Trevor Grammer had tapped me on the shoulder December 15th, Friday, requesting me to join him in his office. His foot hit the accelerator, hard.
“OK, be reasonable, how much do you want?” I said.
“All of it gringo.”
He started laughing before continuing to drive.