Cash Cab III



Scene run by Abby.

Scene Title Cash Cab III
Synopsis Turns out even flashing lights can't really ruin Graeme's good mood.
Date February 22, 2011

Taxi Cab in the Financial District

Graeme's got a shopping bag from the mall in one hand, his skateboard kicked up to be held in the other, and this sort of silly smile on his face this morning. The sun's out, if barely, and then for a moment, Graeme's distant, thinking of something else, before he sets about hailing a cab.

Or attempting to hail a cab. Several tries go, and Graeme sets his skateboard down, keeping hold of it with one foot in order to try more effectively. The van pulls up, and Graeme picks up his skateboard again, shuffling the shopping bag a bit awkwardly in order to dig into his pocket for his registration card and his cab fare. Both are out by the time that he ducks into the taxi, skateboard set carefully across his lap, wheels up.

It looks like any other cab, not different on the outside or the inside that can be seen to the naked eye. The driver hunched over the wheel, a Brooklyn accent clean and clear as the door is closed by Graeme and the light above the cab goes out indicating that it is taken. "Where ya goin'?" He doesn't bother to turn, looking at Graeme in the rearview mirror for the answer. Baseball cap on, sweater with sleeves pushed up to his elbows, he waits with hands at ten and two.

"Chelsea, if you go that far," Graeme responds. "Or as far as you'll go towards Chelsea, I suppose." He sounds like he's well used to cabs not wanting to go as far as he's going in one trip, same as anyone these days. There's a faint, probably southwestern, tinge of a drawl to his voice, a drawl that goes with skin that has more of a tan than anyone can get in New York without a tanning salon. And Graeme's got that bit of a happy, self-satisfied smile again.

"Chelsea." Isn't too far from the Financial District and the driver just bobs his head. He reaches for the automatic gear shift before suddenly, without warning, multiple little squares of yellow, white, green, pink and pale blue erupts all over the ceiling. Buzzers and ringing in the air within the cab and outside, those idling honk their horns when they see the commotion inside the van.

Graeme purses his lips. That silly smile falls off of his face, and it takes him a minute. He's not particularly sure what's going on, and there's definite uncertainty. Fingers drum across the neon colours that decorate the underside of the skateboard, no particular pattern, and he squints a bit from the flashing colours.

"Congratulations." The Brooklyn accent is gone, the driver is no longer hunched over his seat and has turned in it instead, taking off the cap and offering his hand. "I'm Ben Bailey and you've stepped into the Cash Cab. It's a Tee vee game show that takes place right here in my taxi." He's grinning at Graeme, short shorn hair making him seem mostly bald.

"I take it you haven't watched before?"

There's a slight drop to Graeme's jaw. "Nope. I don't watch television much." This not watching television is starting to be a recurring theme as far as events, he observes. And a bit of an amusing recurring theme, at that. "Know the premise, however. 've got a few students who gab on about you." It just took him a little bit to put two and two together.

"Well, then let me enlighten you. I'm going to ask you general knowledge questions. For each one that you get right, you get money. Questions start at twenty-five dollars and go up. You'll have three strikes, one strike for each wrong answer. If you get all three strikes, the ride is over and you loose any of the money that you've won. But if you make it to your destination, before those three strikes are used, you get to keep your money. To help you if you're in a bind."

There's someone else getting into the van, a man with a headset, clipboard and a little 'producer' nametag on his jacket. There to handle the noises and lights while Ben drives. "You'll have two shout outs. The street shout out where we'll pull over and you can ask someone on the street if you're stuck, or the mobile shout out, sponsored by our friends at AT&T. This allows you to call anyone, and ask them for help. You game? Ready to win some cash?"

"Sure." Graeme gives it a bit of a shrug, and then there's that silly smile on his face again. Some game show interrupting his day is not going to take away from his overall good mood. He leans back a bit, crossing his leg over, readjusting his skateboard. His hands merely trace the lines of the design, as if by memory. No more nervous tapping, though there's still a bit of a squint from the lights.

How could it interrupt anyone's mood? You're already going to be in the car and taking the trip, the bonus is that there's the possibility for money in it and a little good natured fun. "Great, what's your name?" And when the name is given, the address inputted, the meter is set. Not for the cost of the trip but what Graeme has earned. Once out in the street, the number of blocks listed off, the questions starts.

"For twenty five dollars… What Heavyweight Champ and outspoken nation of Islam convert did Time Magazine nickname the 'Gaseous Cassius' in 1967?"

Graeme grins a bit. Then there's a pause, as he trawls through the memory of useless facts he picked up in college, most of them utterly unrelated to his major. "That would be Cassius Clay, now known as Muhammad Ali. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, I believe."

"Float like a butterfly and sting like twenty five dollars on the clock, because Muhammad Ali is correct" Ben smiles at Graeme. "And we're off to a great start there Graeme, nice job, ready for your next question?" through traffic they are going, mid morning meaning that most folks are in work and there's no traffic congestion like they are used to. Helps that most of the city is focused on the dome and helping there.

"Your second question. In the wake of the Vietnam war, the U.N. met in 1980 to the use of what incendiary liquid against humans?" He keeps looking in the rearview mirror and occasionally over his shoulder to Graeme.

Graeme grins, watching out the window for a little bit. "1980, 1980 …" He's thinking, listing a few other things from the same meeting of the UN under his breath before he comes up with the answer. "Napalm."

"Is that your final answer?" Ben asks Graeme, raising his brows at the reflection in the mirror.

Graeme nods. "United Nations Convention on …" he purses his lips. "Under protocol three, I believe, and yes. Yes, it's my final answer."

"You got fifty dollars now on the board. Napalm was the correct answer. That's two answers, no strikes and both of your shout outs intact." He rattles off the distance still to go, smiling the whole way even as the producer scribbles down, resets buttons from the last round of ringing when Graeme made the right answer.

"As we all know, Cash Cab is about the Benjamins. This question is for twenty five dollars. Benjamins, is slang for what denomination of US currency?"

Tap-tap-tap. "Hundred dollar bills." There's barely a hint of a pause from Graeme before that answer is stated, the question being one that he knew easily. And a denomination of bill that he's not entirely unfamiliar with carrying, albeit that that isn't something the man's about to say.

"One hundred dolla's, twenty five of which you are now shy of, since you were right and that brings you up to seventy-five. But if you get this next question, you will have a benjamin in your pocket and not just in your front seat" Zing! Such a pun. "Next question Graeme. " There's a corner turned, brakes applied for a jaywalker. "Banned from Walmart in 2003, what racy publication is the worlds best selling men's lifestyle magazine?"

Graeme nearly giggles at that question. "Maxim." Under his breath, he adds. "But it's Walmart, so what did you expect?"

"Four for four, Maxim it is. Do you have a subscription to that Graeme? Hope you do, since you can't get it in Walmart anymore. Four questions down, more to come" There's another corner turned, out of sight is a GPS which displays how far they are, a flag at the end to denote where victory can be grasped.

"Ready for another one? These ones are worth one hundred dollars a piece. Here we go. Separating Texas and Mexico, what 'big border river' is known to Mexicans as the 'Rio Bravo del Norte'?"

This question ends up being particularly funny, and the giggle turns into laughter that makes the muscles in Graeme's arms and shoulders more apparent. "I'm from the southwest," he says. "Spent the last twelve years of my life in New Mexico. We share that border, and the river that creates that border is the Rio Grande." There's a hint of closer to correct pronunciation than many English speakers manage.

"Then you sir, should be proud because that is the right answer. The Rio Grande. Marks the boundary between Mexico and the United States from the twin cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, to the Gulf of Mexico. That's two hundred dollars, great job, Half way there, no strikes, no shout-outs used. Next questions Graeme." Ben smiles, flashing white teeth for the camera. "London's version of Time's Square, what famed intersection is home to the London Pavillion and the Criterion Theatre?"

"College turns out to be useful for something more than just having a job," Graeme comments. "Who'd have thunk." He stretches slightly. "I think the answer's Piccadilly Circus. At least, it'd damn well better be. If that's not the answer, than some teleporter's teleported the London Pavillion somewhere away from its original home!" He bites his lip, a bit, with the knowledge that the attempt at humour will probably get lost on the cutting room floor.

"I think there's some college graduates who might agree with you there and no, London Pavilion is still in Piccadilly Circus, that's three hundred dollars, still no strikes, no shout outs, you sir, are having a good run today" which means, quite likely, that Ben Baily and the Cash Cab are going to loose a chunk of money.

"Next question, still one hundred dollars… The phrase 'to boldly go where no man has gone before' commits a grammatical error called a 'split' what?"

"Split infinitive, one of the many reasons that I am glad I am only a substitute teacher." The answer is accompanied by a chuckle from Graeme. "The split infinitive is possibly a result of Norman conquest of England, actually. Because it's a grammatical construction in French that up until that time hadn't appeared in English, and then it did. But it's a correct construction, in French, unlike in English." He glances down at his hands, stretches a bit. Yes. It's a roll. And it's a roll that's continuing, at least for the moment.

"One thing we're going to split with here, is our money, if you keep this up. Which obviously means that you are correct for four hundred dollars. To boldly go where no man has gone before, the tagline for the Star Trek series. And we are boldly going to Chelsea and are only eight blocks away"

"Your last one for one hundred dollars… As demonstrated by a wrench, the force required to make an object rotate is known as what?"

There's another chuckle. "Well, I suppose that I'll walk away from this richer," Graeme says. "That would be torque." He nods, grins, and taps the tips of his fingers together.

"Five hundred dollars," Ben shakes his head, not uncommon for someone to get this far, but usually, with strikes and shout outs used. "Determined to break out bank aren't you? Next question, likely to be your last… Run by the Pequot Tribe, what Connecticut casino is the largest in the world in overall floor space?"

It would seem that Graeme Cormac has become very determined, in the time that he's been inside the cab. Fingers tap together. "Con-nect-i-cut. Con-nect-i-cut." The state in question is repeated, with a bit of a funny intonation to it as if he's not used to that particular state. "Foxwoods." He doesn't sound quite sure of himself, but after a moment, he nods. "Foxwoods Casino."

"Just pulled that one out of your hat did you? Foxwoods is right. The largest floor space in a casino, coming at 340000 square feet." Ben smiles and it looks like they have one more question before they have to pull over. "That's six hundred dollars, this one is for two hundred and fifty. In the restaurant industry, what number does the kitchen commonly assign an item that they have run out of?"

"Hmmm." Graeme's silent, but not for too long. "That'd be something that gets eighty-sixed, I believe." The man grins, widely. The amount of money he's walking out with has done more than enough to make up for the sounds and flashy lights that he doesn't particularly care for. "So, eighty-six."

"And we are eighty-sixing you out of our cab." They pull over, the destination met, the address in Chelsea where Graeme wanted to be dropped off. Pulling into park, Ben turns in his seat, taking the money that was passed over to him. "eight hundred and fifty dollars, is what you've won Graeme. There's a catch though" Ben Bailey smiles. "You can walk away now, take this money and run. Or… you can bet it all, double or nothing on a final question. That means if you win, you get seventeen hundred dollars, but if you lose, you get nothing and walk away with just a free cab ride."

Idly, Graeme spins one bright-orange wheel on his skateboard as he considers. "You know, why not?" Tap-tap-tap. He's on a roll so far. "What's life without the occasional chance?"

"My kind of man Graeme," Ben looks happy that someones taking up the challenge, and he points to a screen that's been moved into view, where it looks like a video is cue'd up. "Watch this, and listen to the question. You'll have thirty seconds to answer." And a video starts to play, a traditional mosque seen from afar, and eventually coasting up one of the spires.

"An Islamic mosque, like this one, the faithful are traditionally called to prayer five times a day from the top of towers. Meaning Lighthouse in Arabic, what is the term for this soaring spire"

"Minarets," Graeme says. He said it before the video actually even ended, but he repeats it, less than three seconds later. There's a wide grin on his face at this point. "They're called minarets." The bit of knowledge of the original meaning is tucked away in his mental filing cabinets, and Graeme raises on eyebrow at Ben. "Seventeen hundred dollars, hm?"

"Seventeen hundred dollars' Ben looks down at the eight hundred and fifty in hsi hands, like Graeme was wrong, that he can't possibly have been right before he breaks out into a smile. "Minarets it's correct. From the Arabic manarah, manarat, meaning lamp or lighthouse" Within a few moments, there's more money in the little stack handed to Graeme. "You just won 1700 dollars." The lights flash and noises commence, even as people outside are glancing towards the idling cab.

Graeme runs his fingers over the stack of bills, and it is carefully tucked into the interior pocket of his peacoat, which he shrugs on as he does so. "Thank you very much," he says. There's a grin on his face. Maybe he'll use the spare money and buy Felix a flower, or something. "Thank you." The skateboard is picked up in one hand, the shopping bag in another, and he pats his pocket to check that he'd put everything away correctly earlier.

And then, Graeme's stepped out of the taxi, skateboard tossed gently in front of him, and he's off down the street before anyone outside has a chance to truly question.

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