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This article is taken from PN Review 55, Volume 13 Number 5, May - June 1987.

The Etiquette of Taxi Rides John Ash
 
Above New York a sky full of buxom clouds and brilliant shafts of sunlight suggested a depopulated Tiepolo.

Far below, Mr Gondophares' flecked, grey eyes flitted to the meter as another luminous digit flashed into place. 'A couple of thousand dollars more and we'll be there,' he indifferently mused. In many ways the dullest, and therefore, in the eyes of public, the most enigmatic of New York's colony of the Very Rich, Mr Gondophares spent the greater part of his waking hours travelling the city's congested avenues in taxis. He could have used any of a fleet of a dozen or so automobiles haphazardly acquired over the years, but chose not to do so, and as a consequence had become accustomed to reckoning the time according to the figures clocked up above the cab-driver's seat. His belated appearances at the few social functions he still attended caused no offence but rather confirmed him in the eyes of Society as one of those whose fabulous wealth leant their every whim and waywardness the inarguable rightness of a natural law. The sheepish grin that became fixed on his face whenever he found himself confronted by a large and glittering social throng was generally considered a sign of his great cunning. In truth it represented something approaching terror.

Mr Gondophares was not a man who would knowingly upset expectations. His unconventionality was entirely conventional. He knew that his numerous employees would have been scandalized if they had discovered ...


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