Sucker for a Redhead

Don Glass is a sucker for a redhead. Who isn't? Get in line, pal.

The difference here lies in the kind of redhead we're talking about. Just another pretty face? Or out for blood? In the Gutter, most of the times it's both....

Sucker for a Redhead by Donald Glass

I knew she was trouble the second she got into my cab.

First off she looked “normal,” all-American girl next door normal. You never get normal this time of night. She had on a short blue jean skirt and a John Lennon “Give Peace a Chance” T-shirt. With shoulder length red hair, creamy skin and green eyes, she looked wholesome. The kind of girl you might see between classes over at the campus. The kind of girl a guy like me could never get.

Second was the address she gave me, down on the South Side. I rarely get a fare to South Side, and when I do they are usually a certain type. Unsavory, you might call them; I call them scumbags. I couldn’t imagine why she would want to go to that neighborhood. It’s in the worst part of this shitty town.

Third … well let’s just say I had a bad feeling.

“You sure you wanna go there?” I asked, turning around to face her, more to get a better look at her than anything else.

“Why? Is something wrong?” she asked pleasantly.

“No, it’s just … well, it’s not the kind of place a girl like you should be.”

“A girl like me?” she asked.

“It’s a shitty part of town and you look like a nice girl.”

“Nice girl?” She laughed, blushing. “Yeah, I wanna go.”

I shifted into gear and pulled out. As I drove through the streets neither of us spoke for a while. I know it’s a cliché but I just had to ask.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Why you ask” she leaned forward to read the name on my license “Jake?”

“No one from around here wants to go to the South Side. It’s the kind of place people try to get out of.”

“I know what kind of place it is,” she said as a smile crept upon her face.

“Then why do you wanna go there? It’s almost 3 a.m.”

“You ask a lot of questions, Jake.”

“Sorry, just making conversation. It’s a bad part of town. I thought I’d warn you.”

“I know it’s a rough neighborhood. I grew up there. When I was thirteen there was an … incident. A girl on my block was gang raped by four guys. Right after that my mom packed me up and we moved.”

“Assholes like that should be strung up by their balls,” I said. “Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, at least you got out. Some people never do.”

“I guess I should thank them for that,” she said quietly, more to herself than to me.

We drove the rest of the way in silence. Every time I glanced in the mirror I saw her eyes staring back at me. I could feel them the entire trip, as if sizing me up. When I pulled up to the apartment building she paid her fare and got out. She leaned down into the passenger window, purse slung over one shoulder.

“There’s twenty bucks in this for you if you wait for me. I shouldn’t be long, fifteen, twenty minutes tops.”

“Sure,” I replied. I didn’t want to leave her off here in the first place. I’d have waited for nothing. Shit I’d have walked her up and stood by her side if she asked.

“What apartment are you going to?” I said. “If you’re not down in fifteen I’ll come up for you....”

“That’s sweet, but don’t worry, there won’t be any trouble,” she said soberly.

Ten minutes passed and I started to get that bad feeling again. Right at fifteen I heard a muffled POP. It sounded like a car backfiring, but it came from the apartment building. I leaned forward and peered up through the windshield. There were two more POPs and I saw flashes in a second story window. Gunshots. Shit, this is bad. I got out of the car and started around it when she came strolling out the front door.

“Were you coming to rescue me? How chivalrous.” She smiled. “Let’s go.”

We got into the cab and drove off. She didn’t say a word.

“You wanna tell me what happened back there?” I finally asked, after we drove a few blocks.

“Business … a personal matter.”

“Fair enough.” I’ve been driving in this city long enough to know when to mind my own business.

“I’m only in town for tonight,” she said from the back. “I have three more stops I need to make. There’s a hundred bucks in it for you if you’ll drive me.”

I looked in the mirror and saw determination in her eyes. I knew she’d make those stops, with or without me. I didn’t have to think about it at all; a hundred bucks is more than I make in a weeks’ worth of tips. So much for that bad feeling.

“Where to next?” I asked.

This is Donald Glass's first published story. He lives in Altoona, PA. He has another piece coming out with Shotgun Honey soon.