June 28th 1914
June 28th 1914. The city of Sarajevo in Bosnia. A sunny day to remember but for me it was business as usual. I was working as a taxi driver, just moved back home after working in Vienna for some years. I hoped to start my own taxi company with the money I had saved. I had supported the incorporation of my home country into the empire and there were plenty like me who were of that opinion.
It had been a busy that Sunday morning, The Austrian military were in town and that meant a lot of fat tips. My firm had given me the best taxi in the fleet to pick up some really important customers. Me..well what's a uniform or a fancy hat to me? I was glad our main rivals, the Black Hand Cabs had been banned from working that day. That lot were way too political for me. I was parked outside the City Hall taking a break when a man with a handlebar mustache tapped me on the head with a long stick and shouted at me in German.
The man grimaced at me. He looked familiar and was dressed up like a prize turkey. I could tell he was a top high ranking general judging by that hat of his. Feathers and Medals. Oh, and there was his wife coming up behind him. She was wearing a huge white dress that could sail her down the Danube. They got in and sat with fixed, angry stares. I hand cranked up the car and we were away.
My earlier happy mood went sour as I listened to this. Sarajevo is no Paris but it has its attractions. For a minute or so, the couple didn't speak to each other. When this happens, I like to pipe up as it usually helps to increase the size of my tip.
Male customers always like a good rant in my cab but they lose track of time and where we are going. Women are always aware of time...funny that. Anyway, don't get me wrong. I don't take the long way round that often to increase the charge and certainly not that day. I had already picked up a tidy sum that morning and the day was still relatively young.
And so on and so on. That's why cabbies get to know so much. After a time, people forget you are there and will talk a lot about personal stuff they would never say to friends and family. If you want to know what is going on in any city or country, ask one of us. And certainly don't ask for a Black Hand Cab!! By now we were approaching the station but I was finding the chat in the back interesting so I took a 'wrong turn' and started up a side street. Of course the guy in the hat didn't notice but his wife did.
Just then, I saw a guy I recognised who drove for the Black Hand Cabs. He looked at me and then at my passengers. Shifty bloke, called Prince or Princip - something like that. I guessed he was angry about not being able to work that day. Then the woman called Sophie hit me on the head with her parasol. I don't like to be patronised but I could see these two could cause me problems at my company. So I stopped the car and turned round.
I cursed in my native Bosnian but 'Franzie' heard some of my choice words.}}
Before I could say anymore, that guy Prince or Princip fires a revolver at my passengers. The woman gets it first, she had thrown herself in front of her husband. He takes the second shot. I look at Princip - the bastard is saving a third bullet for me but then the police arrives and beats him to the ground. I have a cab with two dead occupants and no chance of collecting money for the fare. And I have got blood stains and bullet holes in the upholstery. And it had been such a good day up till then."
October 9th 1934
I had hoped to get a nice packet for my story when I discovered the true identity of my passengers but then shooting at people became a Europe-wide hobby that summer. Our cab company went out of business and I ended up on the street. My cab was taken away and stuck in a museum after the war was over.
No one wanted to employ me as a cabbie after that. I was considered a 'jinxed driver' and so moved to Marseille in France. There I got various driving jobs. Today I am at an undertaking firm. Business is good and I get to drive the big car again. I will tell you...
I drive down to Marseille docks in a big black sedan. Why, I was only using this yesterday to drive a family of mourners to a funeral. Better not mention that to my passengers. I see them waiting at the quayside and surrounded by crowds. King Alexander is standing straight and wearing a tight, buttoned up uniform. Barthou sees me.
BANG BANG BANG
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