Sometimes I feel compelled to write. Recently, I woke up at three in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I had a dream and started composing a story about it. I worked at it, in my head, for about an hour before drifting back to sleep. I knew it was a good story, but the next morning I couldn't remember much of it. I tried to recreate it and I see some potential but it simply doesn't work.
It's intended to be a parable and, as such, it's deliberately sparse. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to communicate it. I'll put it here in case I ever want to return to it, but some ideas just don't work. I should stick to technical writing.
Three years ago, Cab lost his name. This annoys him. As far as things go, losing a name is not the worst thing, he supposes. You can still pay your rent and still pony up your license when it's time to buy drinks, but having lost your identity is a frustrating thing. Cab ponders this while he idly stirs his Bloody Mary. He glances at his cocktail napkin and sees another a quick sketch of a Yellow Cab.
He reaches his office as his lunch hour is over. He's good at his job, but not great. No one questions his lunches or the "not quite alcohol" smell on his breath. He is efficient. He knows the account numbers by heart. He doesn't make many mistakes.
He sees that the manager in payroll is requesting more money for software again. Cab suspects that someone in payroll must know his name (it's on his paystubs, after all), but even his last evaluation had "Cab Montgomery" scrawled across the top. He gets handed more paperwork, he completes it and shuffles it off to the next cube that has to deal with it.
In the next cube, a man who looks somewhat like Cab, but who has only been with the company for three years, picks up the paperwork and double checks Cab's numbers. He sees the perfect rendition of a taxi drawn in a margin. He thinks nothing of it. That's just what Cab does. That's what Cab has done ever since the man has worked next to him.
Cab tears off a page of his calendar. Tomorrow, after lunch, he has a meeting. It's not important and no one will even know he's there, but he must. He flips the page over and jots a few notes about the meeting. He looks up and thinks for a bit and goes back to his notes. He see, without surprise, that he has drawn the right rear fender of a taxi. Cab can't draw, but his taxis are perfect. A mechanic could tell the make and model of the cab just by looking at Cab's impression of the fender. A competent body-shop man might even recognize the dent that he pulled out of that fender, perfectly drawn down to the rust spots.
"Hey Cab? Wanna join us for drinks after work?"
Cab looks up. Brian, employee number 99832, the man from the next cube is standing there. Cab is surprised. He gets along with everyone but is rarely asked to join them.
The bar is getting full. Cab, Brian, and a few others sit around a table and tell jokes, grouse about their jobs and slowly get drunk. Someone tells a crude joke about a man, a woman, and a blind taxicab driver. Everyone laughs and then someone looks at Cab.
"Why do they call you Cab?"
Brian is astonished? "That's not your name?"
Before Cab can respond, another pipes up "No, it's not. It's because of all of those cabs he draws on everything."
No one bothers to ask what his name really is.
It's lunchtime again. Cab grabs his coat and hat and heads out into the rain. He walks to the bar and notices it's closed. He's been going there ever since he met Bridget there for lunch, over three years ago. It's never been closed. Cab is surprised. He doesn't know what to do. Maybe he should skip lunch today.
As he walks, his mind wanders. He thinks about his work and realizes that he needs more information about the cost control meeting this afternoon. He should probably go back and start looking at the payroll department requests. They, of all people, should know the importance of watching costs. He turns and starts marching back to the office, but realizes that he doesn't know where he is. What is this street? Where did he turn? He looks for the street signs on the corner and notices a bar. It has black and yellow checked squares on the window and it's named "Cab's". Cab laughs. Fuck payroll. Cab is going to have a drink in His Bar.
He pushes open the door and sees the bar is brightly lit but has a musty smell, like it's been packed up for years. No other customers are there. The bartender has a familiar look, but Cab can't place him. He walks up, shakes the water from his hat and orders a Bloody Mary. It's what Bridget drank.
Bridget had Brian's job. She was plain looking, but always smiled. Sometimes, she would go to lunch with Cab. They would walk to the bar that Cab has been going to every work day for the past three years and she would order a Bloody Mary with lunch. She would laugh off Cab's protests about drinking during lunch. She did her job.
On her last day of work, they had lunch at the bar. Cab ordered a Bloody Mary.
"Why Lewis, I'm shocked!"
Cab looked at Bridget and realized that she was joking. "I figured it was only appropriate to give you a proper sendoff. I'm going to miss you, Bridget."
She smiled. "Thank you. I'll miss you too, Lewis."
At five o'clock, Cab walked out with her. Bridget gave him a hug and kissed his cheek. "Take care. You were a bright spot in my job."
She started crossing the street and Cab realized he loved her and she was leaving. He rushed forward when a taxi with a dent in the right rear fender cut him off, splashing mud over his clothes. Cab looked down. He couldn't ask her to dinner looking like this. For three years, this cab has been splashing mud on him and he never invited her to dinner.
Cab didn't care. He was tired of being meek. He was tired of being embarrassed. The cab drove on and Cab rushed across the street.
She turned and saw the mud. "Oh my goodness! What happened?"
Cab stammered. He tried, and finally the words came forth. "Nothing. It doesn't matter. I just wanted to know if you'd like to have dinner with me tonight?"
Her smile disappeared. "Lewis, I'm sorry. I thought you knew I was married."
Time froze. Cab stared at her and his guts twisted inside of him. He felt a burning in his chest. He hadn't known.
Bridget walked forward and hugged him, oblivious to the mud she was getting on her clothes. She kissed him gently on the lips, turned, and walked away. Cab never saw her again.
Cab felt a hand shaking his shoulder. "Hey guy! Wake up!"
Cab looks at the bartender and realized he's been sleeping. He's late. He rushes back to the office and gathers his notes. He's never late to a meeting.
He walks in and everyone stares at him.
"Hey, Lewis? What happened? You look like you've been wallowing in mud!"