"Oi, I don't pay attention to such things. My boyfriend usually drives me. But he's out of town now," she giggled.
It was the trip out to Kolominskaya that broke me. I popped a double-dose of my time-release ADHD meds, but they didn't seem to help. I was awake, but my mind started wandering. I somehow managed to drive all the way out to Moscow's edge, to the MKAD, and back...twice! I lost track of time, and couldn't even make coherent notes on my tape recorder. My bladder problems steadily worsened. The need to piss came a few times an hour. I considered stopping over at an apteka and buying a pack of Depends adult diapers.
Finally I gathered myself up, and drove back at Opera. As I pulled up, two chicks--a cute girl in her early twenties and her ugly sidekick--were crossing the street to catch a car. It was an easy 150-ruble fare; they had gotten faced at Opera and wanted to try their luck at 2nd-tier Fabrique.
As I pulled away with the girls, a Jaguar with tinted windows raced up behind me, honking its horn and flashing its high beams. I let it pass and pulled in behind it at a red light. The Jag's window rolled down and someone inside started throwing what looked like napkins and food scraps at a Lexus SUV standing next to it. I never understood what happened, as we went different directions.
I dropped the two girls off and decided to stick around Fabrique's exit to catch people leaving the club. A while back, I talked to a gypsy cabbie about spots controlled by local gypsy cab mafias. Most well trafficked metro stops have their own little mafia territories and, according to this cabbie, Fabrique is one such place. Randomly picking up fares as you drive by is allowed, but parking or systematically dropping in for business is forbidden under threat of bodily harm--possibly even death.
I decided to test this theory and double-parked in the taxi queue. Soon my bladder got in the way again. I had to leave in search of another place to pee as soon as I arrived. I drove around aimlessly, occasionally stopping to relieve myself.
By 4:30 am, I needed a break. I stopped at a kiosk at Chistye Prudy and got a Coke and Snickers bar. Then I spotted a lone girl not far away, who was holding out her hand. Four gypsy cabs had already lined up to give her a ride, but all of them rudely sped away without her. It turned out she only had 200 rubles and she needed to get to Vykhino, the last stop on the southeast purple line. It normally costs at least 400, but I agreed to take her.
"There is one thing, though. I'm with a boy," she said, pointing to a Kroshka Kartoshka [Baked Potato] kiosk behind her. Sure enough, a scrawny kid was making his way towards the car with a bag of salted spuds. The way she said it, it was obvious she expected me to throw her out of the car. Not only that, she'd have understood me if I did. As if it was obvious that I was only agreeing to give her a discount because of her miniskirt, young age, and high-rapeability factor.
Her name was also Tanya. She and her boyfriend had just been in a club called 13, located not far from the KGB's old headquarters at Lubyanka. She was 16, studied at a business institute, and has relatives living in the infamous gangster district of Brateevo.
"This is a nice car," she said as she munched on her greasy potato spud. "Why do you have to work right now? I mean, you own a car, and not just any car but a Nissan. You shouldn't have to work if you own such a car."
Supposedly Tanya was majoring in accounting, but her understanding of money obviously didn't include concepts such as maintenance and gas. To her, getting a non-Soviet car was like winning the lottery. You were set for life.
We dropped off Tanya's friend off first. "Aren't you afraid to drive with strange men at night like this?" I asked her.