The cab hadn’t moved for three or four minutes, each of those minutes stretching out like a tall shadow in the late evening sun. The quiet had become more than just the absence of sound; it had become that state which begins to bully and dominate far more than noise ever could, hanging like something physical between two people determined to preserve their separateness. Time and stillness accumulate and begin to oppress silence – time kinks and frays, silence shakes and wavers – and sooner or later it all cracks. Sure enough, there came the first small sounds – a rhythm of soft vibrations from the throat – and as the driver started to hum a tune, my fingers fell into step with him almost immediately, tapping out the pattern of the notes on the dashboard in front of me. The lifting and falling of a finger, and of the one next to it, wedded to the rhythm of the guttural noises of a complete stranger. Up and down against the grey plastic. Up and down, while red and orange lights flared through the rain-soaked windshield. Dust covered the dashboard and sat in the creases of the gear box – nothing more than a covering over a surface, itself nothing more than a shell concealing a mechanism, a mechanism to be operated time and again, an action to be repeated a thousand times over. Humming and tapping. Waiting to move. Quietness and noise grinding against one another.
My fingers became still again. From his throat came the last whispered note. Another blaze of orange-red light filled the car and was gone just as quickly.
Still. Quiet. Spent.