She had blue hair and reeked of weed when I picked her up at the Silver Lake gas station.
not old lady blue hair, punk rock blue, but she wasn’t punk. More like homeless-y but something different. Some people you can’t put in boxes.
I had fucked up and this ride was going to West LA, way further than I had thought when I accepted the trip for $17. But I’ve learned sometimes the best rides are the ones I wanted to cancel before I got there or the ones I accidentally clicked.
She was going to be one of those, I realized almost right away.
First she told me that her former fiance had died in a head-on collision a few years ago. Then she told me *she* got hit by a car and won a half million dollar settlement.
Then she told me she was newly engaged to a saudi businessman whose assets had been frozen.
As you may know, I’m pretty good with tall tales, and I suspected perhaps the skunky aroma in my vehicle was not satan’s sassafras, but the shit from a bull. Since it would be 27 minutes until her destination, I decided to challenge all of her statements.
Weirdly, she had pretty good answers for all of them.
Q: why did you get $500k for getting hit by the car?
A: he had good insurance and my back was fucked for a year.
Q: why didn’t you buy a car with the money?
A: i hate driving.
Q: do people who win huge sums tip outrageous amounts?
A: i can’t tip at all, my lawyer controls my Uber account.
that fact, tragically, checked out. Sometimes with very old people or car dealerships or pimps, drivers will get an automatic message when we approach the pickup that says “please call the passenger when you arrive at the location.”
that message popped up as i got near the gas station.
just my lucky, crazy stoned nouveau rich punk homeless person can’t tip me a dime. fine.
we had to go east on the 101 to get to the 110 south in order to take the 10 west, an excruciatingly long roundabout in the afternoon but at least she was entertaining. so i asked her more questions.
q: how did you meet your new man?
a: a friend introduced us through Whatsapp. he likes white girls but wasn’t having any luck.
q: white girls don’t like rich guys?
a: who said he was rich?
q: you’re engaged to the only poor saudi businessman?
a: he’s rich. his money is just tied up. thats why i have to go to the credit union, then western union and wire him some money.
q: wire him money? is he in jail?
a: no, hawaii.
at this point i said to myself, “i hate my life.”
“why?” she asked.
whoops turned out i said it out loud.
“you don’t think you’re being scammed?” i asked. “the only way this rich dude in Hawaii can make due is from your nest egg?”
she was a fast talker. nearly as fast as me. we were like two expert typists just rattling off sentences but verbally. it was ping pong. and we were both olympians.
“my credit union has to obey the court, and the court says i can only have a grand a week for now. i give him half and he’ll pay me back when he can get at his money,” she explained casually. zero concern.
“wanna know why i like you?” i asked, doing my best to make things weirder. hell if i was gonna let her outweird me.
“i like you because, like me, you’re a true romantic,” i stated as we finally got on the 10 west.
“im not a romantic,” she said. “i just like fucking and he has a huge hog.”
i looked in my mirror and noticed her eyebrows were tattoos of eyebrows. was she punk rock? who. was. this. woman?
i looked down at the app to read her name: mallory.
“is your name really mallory or is that the court or the bank or the credit union?” i asked.
“thats my lawyer. my name is Rainbow.”
the 10 was moving along way better than the 101 and 110 were. i barely noticed her weed stench any more. but i was concerned the next passenger might think it was me who was responsible for it, so i cracked the sunroof to let some of our unseasonably crisp air in.
“i was a romantic until darryl was killed in that crash, but then my heart broke. i cried all the time. we had just moved in together and he had decorated the place with all his black light posters and tapestries and then all of a sudden i was staring at them every day thinking about him. then it got creepy. like i was in his tomb. i had to get out, so i packed up my car and drove down from Oregon. have you ever heard of Weed, California?”
as a matter of fact, yes, yes I had heard of it, I said.
“in Weed i was at a starbucks and i just started crying uncontrollably. sobbing. and this woman made friends with me. i told her about darryl and she said she knew a guy nearby who, he isn’t Jesus, but he looks like Jesus and can heal people,” Rainbow said.
“so i went to him and he took all of that pain and grief right out of my heart.”
i felt like a sucker for believing her, but i *did* believe her. her stories were just too wild. if anyone was gonna meet quasi Jesus in Weed it would be Rainbow.
“were you two sitting across from each other? did he put you in a trance? did he touch you?” i asked. i couldn’t stop asking now. and she was way into it.
“he didn’t touch me,” she said, “he just…” and then she touched my back “put his hand near my heart and yanked the air away and i could feel it all leave my body.”
“what left you?”
“the pain. the sadness. all the dark crap left behind from darryl,” she said.
“did you cry out of happiness?” i asked.
“no, i laughed SO LOUD. I WAS HAPPY AGAIN!”
as we got near the credit union she did a little back seat driving, overruling the Waze and when we got there she said, “you are a great listener.”
$0 tip, as promised.