As far as car chases go, I prefer not to be in them.
In fact, if you give me the choice between sitting safely at home and yelling “Pull over! Pull over! Seriously! Let me out!” as the taxi I’m in speeds madly down Jan Jonker Road, I’ll invariably choose the former.
As luck would have it, however, I’m about to be over.
My heart is in my mouth, my prayers are halfway to heaven and I’m yelling “If I die, I’m going to kill you!” as the taxi driver lets out a deranged chuckle then turns bright blue then red then blue again.
That’s how close the traffic cops are behind us.
Enough to turn the interior of a taxi I should never have taken into a sick two-toned disco that ends with a big reveal…
“Surprise! You’re dead!”
Let’s rewind five minutes and call the taxi driver *Chester.
He’s a familiar face at 18h00 on a Wednesday evening at Maerua Mall and because getting into strangers’ cars every day isn’t the sagest of life choices, I nod when he chucks his chin, jiggles his keys and says “Eros?”
Eros it is so I start walking over.
He’s parked in that danger zone in between the actual taxi rank and pure street and that’s when I notice the taxi drivers start running. Making a beeline for their illegally parked cars, shutting their doors, zooming off and leaving people halfway through their exhausted queries of “Khomasdal? Locky? Grysblok?”
Chester sees the traffic cops down the street a little too late and before I do but he’s not the kind to flake on a challenge.
Me? I’m the kind who’ll listen to precisely what a taxi driver says because some are low-key Svengali.
So when Chester laughs and says “Hurry!” I hurry.
Enough to outrun the big, burly traffic cop who finally pulls up, gets out, points at Chester purposefully then watches Chester, grin, hop into his taxi and drive right past his police car.
And that’s when I start screaming.
“What the hell are you doing? Are you crazy? Let me out!”
It’s not a good idea but I punctuate my probes into Chester’s sanity with hard thumps to his shoulder so I can add physical abuse to a rap sheet that will already say “evading the law”.
My punches seem to cut through his bravado and he hesitates for a second, eyes frantically darting for somewhere to let me tuck and roll.
The moment is over in an instant because the taxi gods are working overtime and Chester is a man of faith.
He gets a green light. A silver Peugeot cuts the cops off and we scream down the street as I sit there I wondering when exactly I became this guy’s Ride-or-Die. The Bonnie to his Clyde.
Colour me hard-to-get but it seems we skipped a few steps in this Wednesday night dance with death.
The courting, the kissing, the bank robberies but most certainly the part where I tell him it isn’t going to work out.
But here we are.
Running. Driving like our lives depend on it.
Chester turning blue then red then blue again.
Me with my heart in my mouth, my prayers halfway to heaven, yelling “If I die, I’m going to kill you!”
It’s a short, wild and demented ride but ultimately the traffic cop pulls up on the right and the woman officer next to him tells Chester to pull over with a smile.
We’re caught and she knows it.
We’re nabbed and Chester denies it by flooring the gas in one last act of defiance before coming to a halt a few metres before the Engen.
He parks, apologizes and gives me a weak smile made monstrous by the flashing lights.
He’s young, dumb, deserving and about to be N$1000 lighter if not locked up for the trouble and there’s something about seeing him defeated that leaks the fury right out of me.
“Sorry, man. Good luck,” I say before stepping out into the street.
The traffic cops are walking towards the car but I’m making a run for it.
I have some vague idea about my rights and how this is about five tons of none of my business so I turn my back and just keep walking down the road.
Towards Snyman’s Circle, past the post boxes where someone in the dark behind me says “Martha?” and I think “This is it! I’m going to jail!” only to turn around to a night stranger giving me a satisfied smile and thumbs up before pushing on.
I suppose it’s only because he recalls my face from the paper but I pretend it’s because he thinks I’m a badass.
The kind of Bonnie to a Clyde who leaves the scene of a crime, slips into the night and whistles down the road as Chester turns blue then red then blue again.