Her kiss was sweet in a way that it has never been before. The man smiles at the woman and gently places his thumb on her chin.
"Will you miss me?" she asks.
"I always miss you."
Behind them a limousine pulls up, for the man was a wealthy man and his payrolls control much of the city. No driver exits, but the passenger door opens anyway. This shocks the woman and she peers into the compartment, but sees no shape nor movement. The man takes no notice. He smiles again and she returns it, hesitantly. He can tell that something is wrong, but she's just a throwaway, and her emotions concern him not. He enters the vehicle without so much as a wave goodbye.
The limousine pulls away and the privacy barrier lowers slowly. As the man tastes his lips, there's hint of something obscure on them, he realizes that he does not recognize the driver.
The driver turns and winks, he looks friendly enough. "He's sick today, sir. There's something going around. How are you feeling?"
The man ignores the question, but notices his forehead burning up. He turns on the air conditioning in the compartment and shakes his head in the cool air. The driver smiles widely at him. The man hits the button to raise the barrier, but nothing happens.
"Driver," he says, "raise the barrier, if you don't mind."
"I do, actually," the driver responds, continuing to smile but returning attention to the road.
There's an attempt at rebuke, but something catches the man's throat and he loosens his tie.
"What does your wife think of your trysts, sir? She can't possibly approve."
Grunting, the man forces his voice to work. "None of your fucking business, puke. Who the fuck do you think you are? Do you know who I am?"
"Yes, sir." A mocking nod accompanies the driver's words. "But you do not know who I am."
"Whoever you are, you're an insignificant fool. I'll have your job."
"Oh, I doubt that. My job has been the same since before you were born."
A closer examination of the driver reveals the face of a man who could not be older than 35 years of age. The man takes a deep breath, noticing for the first time that he can smell whatever it is that he's been tasting.
The driver laughs. "Sure, the medium has changed, as has the mode. But I still go back and forth to the same place, carrying poor saps like you."
"Poor saps?" The man is barely able to speak. He glances in a vanity mirror: his skin is deep red and clammy.
"Yes. Many men who have crossed the river did so because of poison. You are not the first, nor will you be the last."
River? Poison? That fucking bitch! Did the harlot know he was going to leave her like he did all the rest? The man glances through watering eyes at the driver, who shakes his head as if reading the man's mind.
"Your wife left this for you."
The driver hands the man an envelope. There's something heavy inside. Through struggled breath and clenched teeth, the man opens it. It's a coin. One unlike he's ever seen.
"What is it?" asks the man.
"Just an old piece of silver," responds the driver, not turning his head.
"I see that, you fuck. What's it for?" Left arm heavies and breath continues to labor.
"Put it in your mouth." The driver turns this time. His eyes no longer human, reminiscent of fire; smile demonic. "It's my fare."
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