This story, published in 1998, uses language that Granta would not publish today. We are committed to making sure all previous issues of the magazine remain accessible to our subscribers in order to engage in a critical way with our history.
As the cab pulled off FDR Drive, somewhere in the early Hundreds, a low-slung Tomahawk full of black guys came sharking out of lane, sliding off to the right across our bows. The cab swerved and hit a deep crater in the road: to the sound of a rifle-shot the roof dropped down and smacked me on the core of my head. I really didn’t need that, with my head and face hurting a lot all the time anyway, and still drunk and crazy from the plane.
‘Oh, man,’ I said.
‘Yeah,’ said the cabbie from behind his screen. He was fortyish – balding, but what a rug he had falling straight and damp over his shoulders. I couldn’t see that much of his face. The back of his neck was mottled and pocked, with traces of adolescent virulence – ‘of fire, of flame’ – in the crimson underhang of the ears.