By Alex Brooks
Illustration by Brian Turner
11:00 P.M. $0
I have to put my whole body weight on the pedal to clip in. I step up on the right pedal and hop a little bit until I hear the loud click, feel my shoe connect with the pedal. I do the same on the left, then swing my heel out to test the release, click back in. I lean to the left as far as I can, to see if I can tip the thing over. The cab behind me doesn’t move.
Out of the garage, lights on, avoid the SUV door flung suddenly open by a spastic college kid. His buddy runs out of house barefooted, yelling.
No one’s out on Euclid or Limestone. Up the alley behind McDonalds the cab feels light behind me, my legs feel strong.
11:15 P.M. $0
Cruise downhill through the gravel construction mess of Limestone, left on Main and start getting looks from passing cars. Never seen that before, guy driving a pedicab in Lexington. Past Harveys and Hugo’s and whatever bullshit places are over there.
Ring the bell, “need a ride ladies?” They politely decline.
Passing Redmon’s I ring the bell and a guy flags me down. Big guy in a tux. He gets in with his other buddy in a tux, and the girlfriend in party dress sits on their laps. Want to go to a bar I’ve never heard of before. I pedal down the block, they are laughing, drunk, I am smiling. Right on main and left in the crosswalk, drop them off at Victorian square. He gives me two fives.
11:30 P.M. $10
Swing by the Bourbon bar again, past the hotdog stands, but nothing. Cabbie pulls up beside me with a skeptical look, yells “how’s business?” I yell back, big smile, “Don’ know yet, I just started!”
Keep ringing the bell, head north, maybe the Green Lantern.
Nice night for a ride, couple stars out, fifty degrees.
Pull up on the sidewalk at the Green Lantern, ring the bell, make the pitch. Nobody’s buying it. About to leave, dispirited, when a blond runs out of the bar, high heels, leggy. “Will you please take me home now?” she asks. “Where’s home?” I ask back and she says “out Richmond Road, by Ashland”. That’s gonna be a big tip, I say, and she gets in the back.
On third street she tells me that boys are stupid, slurring a bit. In Gratz park she tells me about her boyfriend, in Seattle, but not sure she’s in love with him anymore. She giggles and screams as we ride through the bus loading zone along Vine street. My thighs start burning on Old Vine, try to pretend I’m not breathing hard, sweat dripping off my nose, cab slowing down on this long, slow, many block incline. I flick on the electric assist.
After the roundabout she tells me again that boys are stupid. She’s on her iPhone when we get to her house.
Too tired to give her a hand down. She hands me $25. Pedal away from her house and stop at the corner, dappled streetlights, no cars, just the trees and me and night. Hot, need to take off my thermal undershirt. Sweat dripping off my forehead. Too tired to wipe it off.
12:00 A.M. $35
Phone rings. Girls voice says she needs a ride, she’s at the Green Lantern. Needs to go home, downtown Upper Street. Tell her I’ll be there in ten, start pedaling back.
Fat guy at Bar None yells at me. I stop, say I’ll take them downtown for free if they give me a tip. He says, I’ll give you a tip, never give a free ride to a fat man (or something equally unimpressive and uninteresting). His friends all laugh, I say that’s real witty, got any more? I keep pedaling.
Limestone, some Mormons carrying boxes ask me if I want any cookies or soft drinks. I take a water, ask them if they need a ride, but no.
Girl at the Green Lantern is passing out drunk, falls down twice getting in the cab, even with her bald suited boyfriend helping. Turns out her apartment is up the hill at Upper & Maxwell. The boyfriend and I chat, couple more stars are out now.
Almost lose the chain downshifting on the hill, but the chain catches, lose all my momentum, crashing of gears, the girl, crumpled head to knee, oblivious, as I slowly mash up the hill, electric assist button all the way down.
Girl refuses to get out of the cab, drunk argumentative sleeping. Boyfriend keeps trying to get her up and out. Doesn’t move till I say something, my voice snapping her out of it. I’m still out of breath when she finally rouses, me wondering how girls act when they’ve been ruffled. I seriously don’t know. He says, sorry I only have eight dollars. Too tired to care, as I pedal away someone yells at me from a third story balcony party.
12:30 A.M. $43
Outside the Sidebar, “free ride if you give me a tip.” Guy yells, hat turned backwards: “I aint gonna give you no tip, suck my dick!”
Three girls hop in the back, short skirts all around, ask me how old I am. “29.”
“REALLY, WE’RE ALL IN OUR TWENTIES!!!! SHE JUST TURNED 30!!!!”
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” I reply.
Giggling uproarious, they tell me I’ve got a nice ass, I say thanks, pull up on the sidewalk in front of that swank place above Chase Bank, ringing the bell to clear a path through the crowd. They tell me to just keep ringin’ that bell! They all push handfulls of $1 bills at me.
Guy wants to give me a $2 tip for nothing. I insist on taking him and his buddy around the block at least, catch all the lights, leaning into the corners. They never stop laughing. Then I take their girlfriends around the block.
Thighs feel like hollow logs. Start telling people I’ll take them anywhere downtown, but not up the hill.
1:00 A.M. $65
Decide to call it a night, start back to the garage. Transvestite and her girlfriend, coming from the Sound Bar, want to beat their friends to The Bar. Down Water Street I’m pedaling as hard as I can, coming up fast on their friends. One jumps in front of the cab, squealing brakes. The couple jump onto either side, on the canopy bars, pole dancing as I pedal. Tell me they’ll give me twenty bucks, drive them around to the back of The Bar. They end up giving me $9.
J-Crew model at The Bar wants to go Pulse but tells me to drive him around extra so he can look at my ass. Asks why I’m straight and I say,” it’s not a choice right?” He tries to convince me but doesn’t get anywhere, says, “you’re a small guy, I’m usually into big guys, probably have a small penis too.” Coming down the alley he asks if I’ve ever thought about having sex with a man. I ask him if he’s ever thought about having sex with a woman. He giggles. Drop him off at his Audi SUV. He says, “I’ve got a lot of straight friends and you’re awesome,” shakes my hand and gives me $6.
Three 20 year old girls from Frankfort, didn’t know where their car was, somewhere by the courthouse, gave them directions back to Frankfort. $5.
Up the MLK overpass, thighs don’t work.
Maxwell, cruising, a SUV pulls up behind me, someone chants “Fuck you, Fuck you, Fuck you….” I turn around and yell, “There’s a whole other lane over there for you to pass in!” As they pass, a drunken frat boy, looking all of 13 years old, leans out the window and screams “WAVE BYE TO MEEEEE!!!!” They turn into the Sorority house parking lot.
Half a block from the garage, two college kids, sweethearts, going to Qdoba. $2.
2:00 A.M. $88
Lock up the cab in the garage, change shoes, get out my bike. Need some water. Legs feel like nothing, desperately need a beer. Head towards Al’s.
With warm weather here, flag down a Sprocket Jockeys pedicab–or call them up at 859-913-PED1 (7331).