Taxi Driver Diaries I
"You have your license, yes?"
"No," Tommy Vercetti, having anticipated the question, recalls his rehearsed explanation. "I let it lapse. That won't be a problem, I hope?"
"For some, it might be," the man behind the desk, early thirties, knits fat fingers together and reclines in his chair, "But Roman Bellic believes in the land of opportunity. " An easy smile, leaning forward: "You have driven before, yes?"
"Nights, New York," Truth. Tommy's done this before. He sighs: "A long time ago."
"Ah! New York, New York, big city of dreams!" The easy smile becomes a big grin. Roman stands and begins to pace his office as though he's just been energised. A love of Capitalist junk food has given him the expansive gut that wobbles with his walk. "You know, ever since I am a child, I dream of coming to America."
He gives a deep, accomplished breath and proudly overlooks his depot. There are two three-wheeled LX LTD's on jacks, dog-eared centrefolds and a noticeable lack of activity. Everything is a handed down hand-me-down. The smell of oil permeates the air.
"But enough about me. Why do you want to drive taxi-cab, Mr...?
"Vercetti. I just hit town, I like to know the streets," confirming this by directing his eyes upon the large, framed map of the city of Miami behind his prospective employer, "I want to ride around, I might as well get paid for it."
As good a reason as any, Roman thinks. "And what are you currently doing?"
"Volunteer firefighter, Miami Beach," He's enlisted a couple of days after hitting town. "And I'm looking for something."
Roman laughs, affectionately slaps Tommy's elbow. He's known him a lifetime in fifteen minutes. "I have someone you should meet. Actually, as you will be hanging around, I am sure the two of you will meet."
Understanding he's got the job, Tommy's thoughts drift into the uses he could find for someone working a gypsy cab firm. Experience tells him drivers are the white pages of the underworld.
"Physical, Mr. Vercetti?"
"Two-ten," He announces matter of factly; he keeps it in check. "I run five miles each morning."
"And your criminal record?"
"Fresh," he deadpans, "Like my attitude."
Roman finds a grin automatically spreading across his face, but for a split second, considers the man and finds it possible that his quip isn't far from the truth. "You are a funny guy," and then getting down to business, "You will work Overtown, Little Havana, Lemon City?"
Immaterial: "Any time, any place."
"You know there's a gang war going on between the Haitians and the Cubans, yes?"
News to Tommy. He smiles; this is the stream of information he's been looking for and it reaffirms his decision to bring himself to the depot. "Any time, any place," he repeats.
Roman slides a form across his desk. "Your signature, Mr. Vercetti."
He commits his name upon the dotted line.
"You are now a proud employee of Roman Bellic's Express Car Service!" he pushes forth a hand that Tommy finds weak and slippery to his clasp, "Please, collect a cab and settle yourself into Miami."
Nods, ready to work: "I'll do that."
Wandering into the depot, Tommy passes by an incoming driver, noting their conflicted brown eyes and heavily scarred brow. Perhaps this is his special someone? He and the stranger nod politely before he climbs into a battered Checker cab.
"Roman," the stranger, entering the office, switches his mother tongue to Serbian: "Who is Mafia thug?" He sharply reverts back to English, "Are you gambling again?"
Roman, flirting with Serbian himself for a moment, "It is new driver, cousin." Waving his hands, "Why must you always be so pessimistic?"
Niko Bellic settles onto the velour couch and rests his head in his hands, "This place is starting to get to me."