Sidney Takes Leicester Square - Part 1 - A Craven Danger Mystery
The talkative taxi driver cruised through Times Square. It was a Saturday night. A good night for fares. People were drunk and care-free. Drunk with the joy of having gotten through another work-week. And soon to be drunk on whatever else came along.
“Pretty sweet out there, ain’t it FDR?” said Sidney. “Look at all those sweethearts. Dressed to the nines and walking around like they mean business. I'd give just about anything to have the last ten years back. I’d be out there with them. But come to think of it, ten years back I was driving a taxi and saying I couldn't wait till I was older and not driving a cab no more. I was one fickled fella back then, FDR. What was it I was thinkin' of bein' in those days? Oh, yeah. I wanted to be a Merchant Marine. It sounded so romantic. Sailin’ the seven seas. One exotic adventure after another, is what a buddy of mine told me. ‘You’ll be sweatin’ money,’ he said.
"Then one day, on my way to Staten Island to meet a fella that was gonna hook me up with the Merchants, I got seasick on the ferry ride over. It was the first time I was ever on a boat. I never made it off the ferry. I went right back home to Brooklyn and decided to keep my feet planted on good ‘ol terra firma. That is, until World War II came along.
“When the war broke out I thought I’d play it safe by joinin’ the army. You sailor boys can keep your boats, I said. No seasickness for me. Only I didn't know at the time the army’d be shippin' me overseas on the biggest boat they had. And for the next two years, the only thing I was sweatin' - and duckin' - was Nazi bullets."
The old German Shepard drew closer to Sidney and stuck his nose in his shirt pocket.
“No more jerky, buddy. You cleaned me out. How about we stop for a pretzel? Only no mustard this time. The last time you got it all over the upholstery.”
Sidney pulled his cab up to the curb and signaled to the pretzel vendor.
“I’ll take two!” he yelled out the window. “And make sure they’re soft and hot this time! The last time they were about as fresh as week-old biscuits!”
Sidney broke FDR’s pretzel into bite-size pieces and placed them in the dog dish he kept on the front seat.
“Bone appetit, ‘ol boy. That’s a little joke of mine, FDR. I threw In the bone part just for you. But you probably don’t get it. You bein’ German and all. You probably don’t know much French. Me? I know a little. That’s where I ended up after first bein’ stationed in England. I spent a couple of weeks in London before we moved south and then into France for the clean-up after D-Day.
“But I’ll tell ya about London first. That was the fun part of the war. The rest I’d rather not talk about. Leicester Square. Now that’s something to talk about! Yowza! What a time we had!”