I ordered a cab and slipped outside to wait for it’s approach. It was midwinter and quiet on the streets except for the garbled sounds of water bleeding into distant shouting. The black car slid silent and electric through the dark. In a black velvet coat I felt absorbed into the soft night, invisible in the shadows, swallowed into the car’s black interior. But it was a warm, red blackness, the black of the womb, not the black of the grave. The black of a restful sleep in a familiar room, in a house owned by someone you love.
The rain had been coming down in brief sweeps but half way home it began in earnest. The car was silent except the frantic, mechanical sound of the wipers. Coloured light bounced and shimmered on all surfaces; in droplets on the window; in rivers moving through gutters; off the black, liquid road. There is a particular kind of peace that you can only achieve when in the back of a cab going home, through the rain, in a city at night. You’re safe, sheltered from the downpour. You’ve made it through another day in the world and there’s nothing left to do but surrender and let the driver take you home through a blur of water and neon lights. You’re still a participant in the theatre of the city, you’re a moving part of the road. You can make eye contact with someone on the street, but you’re in a silent, secure, air-temperature controlled bubble, observing only through speckled windows. Whoosh, whoosh….. Whoosh, whoosh, the wipers are a lullaby, a metronome for the song of your journey to bed.
We stopped at a set of lights. A trio of heavy-set teenagers in oversized bomber jackets and baseball caps lumbered across the road and through the downpour. Shoulders set against the rain in glassy-eyed resignation, they reminded me of the cows I used to pass as a child in the country lanes near my Grandparent’s house. They would endure all weather. I used to ask my nanna if I could bring them a jacket. ‘They’re fine,’ she’d say, ‘they’re used to it, don’t you worry.’ These boys looked like they could use a jacket, too. We all need some kind of protection.