ME: black t-shirt with a composite picture of a skull made of the letters P, A and M, 4 white leather bangles, flat-fronted grey pants (part of suit), big square Cutler & Gross sunglasses, dirty black Converse sneakers, olive green army issue shoulder bag, slick Cary Grant hair.
A: wooden worry beads worn as bracelet, white moslem skull cap, blue Express-issued short-sleeve shirt, faded, bleached blue denim jeans, 2 long little fingernails, wispy strands of hair on his chin.
The interior of a taxi: grey vinyl seats, Koranic verses on the dashboard and the speedometer, I sit at the back, to the left of the driver.
A: Do you like Arabic music brother?
A: I’ll just play it yeah brother and if you don’t like it just yell Hey! I hate this shit! Play something else! OK brother?
ME: OK, maybe I’ll ask for some death metal later.
A: Can you tell me which way to go I don’t often drive this taxi.
ME: O ya? What do you do then?
A: Taekwondo I just finished a tournament yesterday.
ME: Did you get injured?
A: No Alhamdulillaaah I injured people.
ME: Oh. You’re pretty good then.
A: Pretty good! I won a gold medal at the SEA GAMES!
ME: I don’t believe you.
A: It’s true brother! Come to my place if you don’t believe me! You wanna buy my trophies? I don’t need trophies I need money.
ME: I don’t need trophies either.
A: I give private lessons.
A: Yes what else in Simpruk the students just want to touch me up.
A: Girls and boys.
A: The other day in Senayan I got this passenger a guy his hair was dyed blonde I knew it he must be gay.
A: I thought man I don’t need this not when I’m driving maybe when I’m high when I’m using when I feel like it but when I’m driving?
A: And didn’t he feel up my legs!
A: And I was driving I don’t like it when they do it when I’m driving so what the heck I hit him man he hit me back I hit him again man his nose bled.
A: He screamed at me Who The Fuck Do You Think You Are? I’m just a man a human being just like you I said.
A: Life brother is like water put it in a ladle and it’s shaped like a ladle put it in a glass and it’s shaped like a glass but put me in a madrasah and I still won’t be able to read the Koran!
ME: Hang on, I’m sorry, but you’re into guys then?
A: Yes brother when I’m high when I feel like it I’ll do it I’ll do what I want when I feel like it.
ME: What do you get high on?
A: Shabu man crack I smoke it.
ME: Do you do it for the money or do you just like doing it, I mean, when you feel like it?
A: I have to like the guy but that’s just me they hire me for the day usually three hundred thousand a day’s gross income plus petrol money but you can’t just call me and say Ras I want you now I want to fuck you right now I hate it when they do that coz I run hot and cold I do it only when I feel like it.
ME: So, do you like boys, or girls?
A: Me brother I’m flexible.
ME: But how can people know you are flexible?
A: Like I said I’ll tell them they can hire me for the day I’ll just tell them straight out or if we get along the conversation goes well like now well you know they know I know but I’m sorry…
ME: Yes, why?
A: Brother are you gay?
ME: No, I’m not gay.
A: Like I’m not.
ME: No, seriously. My ex-boss says he likes taxi drivers and security guards. And I never believed him. Until now, maybe. Are there many like you?
A: Oh brother how many! KOSTI has the most like they say I’d rather ruin fuck myself up in bed than on the streets of Jakarta.
*published in slightly different form in my poetry collection We Are Nowhere And It’s Wow, Iris Pustaka, 2008.