I love the state of South Carolina. It is very beautiful, and the people are all very friendly there. Also, if you head north up I-95, you will see billboards every few miles for South Of The Border, a cheap little amusement park just a few feet south of the North Carolina border.
When I recently delivered a car to Bluffton, SC, near Hilton Head, Riff called to tell me there was a car to pick up in Savannah, GA. "Get the car in Savannah and take it to Detroit. Think you can handle that, Sunshine?"
"Try to do a respectable job, if that's even possible for you."
"You better!" The line went dead, and it sounded like Riff had slammed down the phone. Now I had to find a way to get from Bluffton to Savannah, whereas before I only had to get myself into Hilton Head. As I drove to Bluffton, I called various cab companies and all of them refused to take me. The issue was that they would be crossing state lines, although the total distance was less than 40 miles.
Finally I happened onto an ad that said "SKYDANCER-- we'll take you anywhere." I called and the phone rang for a long time.
"Hello," a voice growled on the tenth ring. "Hello, who is this?"
"Is this Skydancer?"
"Nope, this is Clay."
"Sorry," I said, "I must have the wrong number."
"You looking for Skydancer Taxi?"
"Yes I am."
"You got it, this is Clay. Who am I speaking to?"
"Hello Billy, how can I help you today?"
"Can you get me from Bluffton to Savannah?"
"Ah, good old Bluffton. I know it well, been there many times. Where are
"Savannah, Georgia? What a beautiful place. It's just down the road a piece. Yep, we can get you there, if that's what you really want."
"Um, yes, it is."
"Good, good, give me the address and I'll be right over."
"I'm not there just yet, I should arrive in an hour."
"OK, why don't you call us when you get there. Then we'll get right over there." Clay hung up abruptly.
After I'd made the delivery, I walked up the block to a Diner in Bluffton and called Clay at Skydancer. He said he'd be right over. And just over an hour later, he showed up. He was in an 1960 Chevrolet Bel Air. Clay was in the Driver's seat, and next to him in the passenger seat was a golden retriever. "Welcome to our taxi," said Clay as I climbed in the back.
I reached up to pet the dog. I can't resist, I really do love dogs. "Hi boy, how are you?"
"Don't touch him!" Clay quickly warned me. "Oh Lord no, do not touch that dog. He can't stand to be touched."
I settled back into my seat. "Sorry, I had no idea."
"Well now you know. Where are we headed?"
"Still headed to Savannah."
"Savannah, Georgia? That's in a whole 'nuther state." Clay began to laugh heartily. "Pardon my pun. But don't you worry, we will get you there. Sit back and enjoy Skydancer Taxi." The dog began to growl. Clay looked over at him and said, "Really? No I don't get that feeling about this guy at all." The dog whined, then sneezed. "You are correct, he isn't much to look at. But he's a human being, so we need to treat him with a certain amount of respect. Right?" The dog barked, and Clay said, "It's just like you to say something like that."
I sat in the back seat riding and wondering about their conversation. "So does your dog like riding in the cab with you?"
Clay turned and looked over his shoulder at me. "Now that has to be one of the dumbest questions I have ever been asked. I started this one man operation when Skydancer my dog suggested it. He told me that we needed to create a business together, as partners. He would be the brains of the operation, and I would do the driving. So far, its worked out pretty good. Skydancer had the best idea that ever entered my life."
I leaned forward to the dog. "Hello, Skydancer."
Clay slowly turned and glared at me with contempt. "What did you just say?"
"I was saying hello to Skydancer."
"Why in the name of all that's holy would you call him that?"
"Isn't that his name?"
"Skydancer was my dog for 15 years, he helped me establish this company. He died a respectable death. This is his son."
I felt badly. "Listen, I meant no offense. What's his son's name?"
I sat silently for a moment absorbing this. Skydancer 2 turned and looked at me, and then let out a big yawn.
"Oh, somebody is tired today," Clay said to the dog. "Did someone stay out all night last night partying again? Chasing all the bitches in heat in the neighborhood? Yeah, I know about you, you old dog." Skydancer 2 whimpered. "Well you have no one to blame but yourself for burning the candle at both ends. That's how a fella gets worms."
"Excuse me Clay, how long will it take us to get to Savannah?"
"Why, you in a hurry?"
"What? No, I was just curious."
"Curiosity killed the cat." The dog uttered a deep growl, and Clay smiled at him. "Yes sir, I know exactly how you feel about cats. You've brought enough of them home ripped to pieces. Yes you have. Yes you have."
"I never asked how much it would cost for the ride to Savannah."
Clay shook his head. "That's an awfully personal question. I just met you, Billy."
"I think its a reasonable question."
"You would." Skydancer 2 barked very lightly, with a hushed tone. "You're so right, he is one for the books. I don't know how we get so many crazies riding in this taxi. What are your thoughts?" The dog just panted with his tongue hanging out. "You can say that again." Woof-woof. "OK, OK, we can stop for ice cream after we drop off old Mr. Sad Sack here in the back seat. You want hand dipped or soft serve?" Ruff-ruff. Clay giggled like a child. "I might have known you'd say that."
When we got to Savannah, Clay found the address and dropped me off. "Thanks so much for the ride, I really enjoyed it."
"Please don't say that if you don't mean it, Billy."
"I do, Clay. How much do I owe you?"
"Well, I've been talking to my partner about it, and we decided to charge you one dollar per mile. So how about 40 bucks?"
"That's a deal."
"Not so fast... you also have to buy us both ice cream."
I nodded. "Sure, no problem, I'll give you a big enough tip that you can both get double dip cones."
"Skydancer 2 prefers a hot fudge sundae."
"No problem, but I don't think dogs should eat chocolate."
"Mind your own business. To be honest, I didn't think much of you when you climbed in. But Skydancer 2 really stood up for you, he made a case for what a great guy you are. You must have a way with dogs."
I paid them, got my bag, and walked towards the house to pick up my next car. I love all dogs, and meeting Skydancer 2 was a treat. Maybe next time through, Clay will let me pet him.