“Sorry I’m late! Something came up.” I say whilst getting inside the backseat of the taxi, right behind the driver.
“No worries. I’ve had passengers not come at all.” He replies.
I’m somewhat stunned by the baritone of this guy’s voice. You know how people say that voices sometimes don’t match their body or physique? Well if the description is true about his seven foot stature then yeah, his voice really does match his physique… I wonder if he’s really buff too… Eh, not my problem.
“Just to be sure… Joseph, right?” He asks.
He adjusts his rear view mirror to get sight of me. His tiger-like eyes lock with my sharp and ‘heroic’ ones. Part of his dark brown mullet manages to slip through the gaps of his headrest. Hell, this guy may as well be a lion with that mullet acting as his mane.
He continues to stare, as if he’s grabbing me through some ethereal technique… what is this pressure?
“Uhh- yeah, Joseph. That’s me.” I confirm.
“Cool, just checking.” He says, readjusting the mirror back to its original position.
He lets go of his grasp and looks back onto the road. Soon after, the pressure begins to lift. Did that guy just seriously death stare as soon as I got in his vehicle? Well- this is going to be one intense taxi ride. Dante, was it? I don’t know why but you seem like an interesting guy…
The taxi begins to accelerate and in a matter of seconds we make it on the main road. As expected, the cars are still jeering at each other with their horns, stripping away my relaxation that I had planned. However, the lights inside and outside the buildings are now emitting their glow, giving me some piece of tranquility after all. As I try to drift myself to slumber and place my hands on my lap, my palms land on something not familiar. I snap myself awake and immediately react.
It’s… the sword… the ones that I took from the Prodigal Blades! Shit! How’d I not manage to let go of this thing once I got in the taxi?! Is that why this Dante guy was eyeing me earlier? *Sigh* Great… I just added more problems to my plate…
“Hmph. Nifty Blade, kid. Where’d you get it?” He asks.
Crap, I’m made…
“Just something I managed to receive from my favourite sword team, The Prodigal Blades.” I lie… badly.
“Oh yeah? You’re into swordfighting? Like what? Fencing?”
I think my style is much more fancier than fencing, Dante sir but see it as you wish. Also, does this look like an epee, sabre or foil to you? Ah, forget it. I’m still kinda surprised that he hasn’t forcefully dropped me off or called the police on me yet for carrying an illegal weapon… assuming that he knows that it’s real anyway.
“Nah, fencing is boring when it comes to swordfighting or dueling. Sure, it can be practical in the real world but when it comes to competition, it’s not as exciting. You’re just watching two people in bee suits wave at each other with an electric noodle.”
“Heh.” Dante chuckles.
I continue, “Me? I’m more of a style points type of guy. I know you only ever see it in movies and media but when the wielder spins and uses tricks to style on his opponents, it makes that fight a whole lot more interesting.”
“You say that as if you can do those spins and tricks with that blade of yours yourself.” Dante says.
“Eh, sorta. But I try my best not to get myself in such confrontations, at least not for any selfish reason anyway.” I reply.
“Well, that’s good to hear.”
“Yeah…” I finish off.
Did I seriously just do that? Go on some dumb rant on swordfighting to this guy I barely know? He’s a taxi driver for God’s sake! What was I thinking?! I should’ve just kept my mouth shut for the whole ride, like I planned.
“Well, we’re here.” Dante halts the taxi.
“Huh? Already? Has it already been thirty minutes?” I ask.
“Sure. If that’s how you see it.”
I swiftly take out my wallet from my back pocket and pay his fare.
“Cool. Off you go now.”
As soon as he says that, his wristwatch commences an ear wrenching beep. Is that an alarm?
“Oh- sorry about that. I forgot to set that to another day. It’s no big deal though, you can get outta here.”
Even after his claim, I am still a little bit skeptical to step foot outside.
“Okay, kid… What’s keeping you?” Dante confronts.
“I’m about to walk into public with an extremely long knife, and I don’t know how I’m going to conceal it.” I answer.
Dante makes an audible sigh before opening and stretching into the glovebox, where he pulls and throws out a completely untouched sword holster. How… convenient… Wait, how did the holster even fit- y’know what- nevermind…
“There. You should be able to conceal the blade now. To the others, it might as well be some prop or a souvenir.” Dante says.
“Huh. Thanks, Dante.” I say.
I slot the sword into the holster. The blade slides inside smoothly as if the inside was lubricated beforehand, fitting in perfectly with its new sheathe. Pulling this out is going to be very satisfying… If I’ll ever pull it out that is. For now, I’ll just keep it in hand.
“No worries. Take care, Joseph!”
Without further ado, I exit the taxi and make my way down the crosswalk towards my location, somewhere along the coasts.
But that Dante… My gut feeling is telling me something’s off with him. Don’t get me wrong, he seems like a nice and chill dude who’s just doing fares for an extra buck but- something’s ticking within me, as if this Dante is not the person I perceive him to be...
“Dante?” A voice muffles over the phone.
“Yeah it’s me.” Dante confirms.
“What is it?”
“Well, you said we were looking for a new member for the team since the three of us aren’t enough…”
“I think I just found our fourth member… A young boy, fifteen. Black long hair and sharp dark eyes.”
“Uh-huh. What’s the catch?”
“He has a knack for swordfighting, he even has a sword himself. He tried to play it off as if he was a fan but I didn’t buy it.”
“Did your watch beep?”
“Yeah. It seems like he’s one of us too.”
“Where’d you drop him off?”
“He was my last passenger. I dropped him here in Long Island.”
“Long Island? The other two are already stationed for the attack. We can’t let the boy get caught in the crossfire.”
“He’s not going to get caught in the crossfire. He said that he won’t get involved in any confrontations for selfishness and pride anyway, I know that. If what he said was true, perhaps he would react to a person in distress. Maybe then we could see that heroic side of his, if he has one.”
“What’s this kid’s name anyway?”