This is just me wondering what Vincent was thinking when he met Max, and yeah. I don't own Collateral.

He was just sitting there, just staring at a business card. Vincent cleared his throat and leaned toward the yellow cabs window.


The African American man glanced back ward adjusting his glasses."Uh, yeah... "

"Let's go to... " The man wasn't paying attention, Vincent bobbed his head," You free? Or... "

The man didn't reply, Vincent tightened his hold on his briefcase and headed to a cab that was pulling up to the curb. If that man was too busy for Vincent he didn't honestly care. All he needed was a taxi and the driver to go with it. As soon as he finished the job the sooner he was out of L.A. The cabbie called him back.

"Yeah, yeah, sorry... "Vincent took a step backward and climbed into the cab. If this man proved to be as inattentive as before for the duration of Vincent's stay he would have to get a new cab. He didn't appreciate mindless, incompetent workmanship in any aspect of the modern work force.

"Where to?"

Vincent relayed the memorized street like a small child recited their home address. As soon as he uttered the street it could be oblitered in his mind as useless information. He had a one time appointment at the place. "452 South Union Street. "

He had several hits, asking more himself then the cabbie he said out loud," How long you think this'll take?" Checking his watch Vincent was startled to receive a reply.

"Fourteen minutes. " Wow, that was rather precise.

Amused Vincent asked," Fourteen? Not fifteen? Not thirteen?"

The man shook his head as he turned a corner, "Two minutes to get onto the 101. Transition to the 110 to the 10 and exit on Normandie is four minutes. North on Normandie is five minutes. Two minutes to South Union 'cause there's roadwork. Thirteen plus one for "shit happens."

Vincent checked his watch again, he'd pegged this man down as something else entirely but perhaps he'd been wrong," Mind if I time you?"

The cabbie shrugged nonchalant, and Vincent pushed his luck," What do I get if you're wrong? A free ride? "

The man grew stiff as he headed onto a ramp. Vincent had a feeling the man could navigate his way in L.A. with his eyes closed. At last the cabbie uttered," An apology...I already offered up the free ride today. "

A woman perhaps, what he wasn't attractive enough? Vincent asked," To whom?"

"...some girl." Bingo, causally Vincent replied," Did you ask her out?"

The man's pained expression in the rear view mirror said it all. No he didn't. Vincent's mind flashed back to the business card, that woman, she must have been a full fledged professional business woman, way above a mere cabbie. Vincent's gaze didn't soften as the cabbie stuffed the card under a rubber band on the visor.

As the cabbie drove out to downtown the man changed the subject as he drove, "First time in LA? "

Vincent shook his head, "No. To tell the truth, whenever I'm here, I can't wait to leave. Too sprawled-out. Disconnected. You know...? But that's me. You like it here? "He added.

"Its home," The man replied.

"17 million people. This was a country; it would be the fifth biggest economy in the world. But nobody knows each other. Too impersonal. But that's just know... I read about this guy. Gets on the MTA, here, and dies. Six hours he's riding the subway before anybody notices. This corpse doing laps around LA, people on and off, sitting next to him, nobody notices. "

Vincent paused after his little speech. Maybe he disliked L.A. because it reminded him forcefully of the negative aspects of his work; he knew so few people and those he did know could care less about him. L.A. only made Vincent discern this even more then ever.

The man didn't seem to know what to say, "I see your point. Yeah... "

Sensing he'd made the man uncomfortable Vincent chose to change the subject. Glancing around he asked," Cleanest cab I've ever been in. Your regular ride? "

"Yeah. I share it with the dayshift guy." The driver said tonelessly.

Vincent glanced out at the L.A. night, so different from the day; it created a whole new world. "Prefer nights? "

Nodding the man said," People are more relaxed, you know? Less stress, less traffic, better tips. "

It felt like he was at a company party or something, "You get benefits? " Puzzled the driver said,"Like sick leave?"

"Retirement? Health and welfare?"

"It's not that kind of job. "

Half joking half serious Vincent said," Start a union. " The driver seemed like an able man.

"Me, specifically?"

"Why not?"

"Last thing I need is a reason to keep driving a cab. It's temporary. I'm fillin' in, you know, while this
other thing I'm putting together is shaping up... "

Sensing a lie Vincent dug a little further," How long you been driving? "

"Twelve years." Did putting things together encompass the nerve to actually go off and start his own little thing? Eh, Vincent wouldn't be having this cabbie for much longer so it didn't matter.

"Hardly temporary... "He said dryly," Really? What else are you putting together? "

The man hesitated," I don't talk about it. No offense, but... "

Vincent smiled, at this point he didn't honestly care," None taken. Talkers and doers. Like you, I like doers. "

They were pulling up to South Union Street apartments. It was a rundown part of L.A., partially deserted and quiet. Various lights and the darkness combined to change the whole atmosphere. Time to get down to his job. Closing his briefcase Vincent checked his watch.

"Fourteen minutes. Man, you're good... "The man had been exactly right. Precise, he liked that. If he could keep this cabbie for the night it would make things a whole lot smoother.

The man pretended modesty. "Lucky with the lights."

Grinning Vincent said,"Yeah, sure. You probably know the light schedules, too."

He had to do this right or the cabbie would be too noble to accept. "Listen...I'm in town on a real estate deal. A closing. One night. I got five stops to make, collect signatures. See some friends. Then I
got a six a.m. out of LAX. Why don't you hang with me for the night...? "

Yeah the man had standards," I'm not a hire car. It's against regs..."

Vincent scoffed. Pulling out his wallet he said," Regulations? These guys don't pay you sick leave. How much you pull down a shift?"

The man glanced away and uttered," Two-fifty, four hundred. "

"I'll make it six hundred. Plus an extra hundred if you get me to LAX and I don't have to run for the plane."

Vincent drew several crisp hundred dollar bills from his briefcase. Fanning them in the air like a magic trick he watched Max's expression. Who could resist crisp money? Besides Vincent thought, it was the middle of the night no one would honestly care what the cabbie did in this world of darkness.

"...take a chance."

The man hesitated again," Man, I don't know." That was nonsense he either said yes or no and far as Vincent was concerned he'd as good as said yes. "Yes, you do."

Thoughts paraded across the cabbie's face, finally he succumb. "Yeah. Okay."

Grinning Vincent offered his hand. They shook hands firmly. "Cool. We got a deal. Here's three hundred down. What's your name?"


Vincent said it out loud; it was a memory trick to make it easier to remember a name, "Max? I'm Vincent." Climbing out of the cab Vincent was surprised when Max called after him. "I can't double park here... "

Oh, that. "I'll meet you in the alley behind the building."

Walking steadily to the building foyer Vincent glanced around at the sad pathetic existence the people that lived there led. Really, they had no purpose no true drive; they just lived on the day to day. They didn't even know each other. Of course it was L.A.

Slowly Vincent ascended the stairs, the view of palm trees and downtown L.A. rising into view with each step he took. Here Vincent was the bringer of death in the black night lined with artificial light.

The man had known what Vincent had come for the moment he opened the door. And for some odd reason he'd stumbled to the back of the apartment. When Vincent shot him the man fell clean out the window.

It had been easy enough. Heading back out Vincent suddenly realized that the cabbie Max had parked out back. Entering the alley way he knew he had only choice…

Stopping dead in his tracks Vincent assessed the situation. The man had fallen directly on the car; consequently Max was standing outside the cab looking mortified. His gaze turned to Max and it was clear he feared that Vincent thought he'd killed the man. But that was nonsense man had fallen on top of the cab.

"e - He fell on my cab...!" Max yelled pointing at the body on his cab.

Vincent remained where he was. "You always stutter?"

The man seemed puzzled by his honest question, once again pointing he exclaimed," Well, yeah. Yeah. Guy fell on my mother fucking cab from up there...! "

Vincent didn't look at the body but continued to watch Max his thoughts in a whirlwind. "I think he's dead. "

Almost muttering Vincent said," two .45s and did a high dive onto his head. It's a good guess."

Max returned Vincent's stare while Vincent tried to make a decision. Firstly he needed to clean the body up; it would be a shame to have to kill Max. The man was so professional and assiduous, much like himself. Perhaps he could talk some sense into the man.

"You - you killed him?" Max asked at long last.

Vincent raised his eyebrows," I shot him. The bullets and the fall killed him."

Everything paused a beat, so Max had finally figured it out. A look of terror came across Max's features as he began to comprehend what was happening. Backing away Vincent pulled out his 5 H+K

"Red-light-green-light? Light's red." Vincent said as Max froze. "You can run, but you'll die tired." Max nodded and raised his hands into the air. Vincent resisted the urge to roll his eyes, "Put down your hands. Are you cool? Say "I am cool."

"You are cool." Vincent shook his head." No. You say you are cool."

He seemed puzzled by this but he said it anyway,"I am...I'm cool." Vincent made his decision, placing his gun back in his pants waist he said," Okay. Help me out here"

"With what?"

Vincent gestured to the body with a sweep of his hand. Approaching the car he spoke to Max," El gordo decided to get some air and not take the stairs. So we go to plan B. Pop the trunk. "

Max was still looking blank." My trunk?"

Was it not self evident?" I can't leave him here. So unless you want him riding up front with you...and given the hygiene...and his sphincters let go... "Vincent said with a sniff. Max popped the trunk and circled to the front of the car. In one swoop Vincent grabbed the corpse by his bathrobe lapels and heaved the body into a sitting position."Gonna roll him off the hood. Always lift with your legs... "

Max was looking sick. He made a shaky move to the car. Vincent waited for him. "I don't think I can do this."

"He's only a dead guy. On three. Uno. Dos. Three." Rolling the corpse off the hood Vincent took hold of the legs. Max with a grimace and groan took a firm hold on the arms. "Got it?"

Max seemed replussed,"Yeah." With slow progression they moved to the trunk. Vincent was beginning to think Max was taking this better then he thought when Max let out a yelp and dropped his end." What?" Demanded Vincent. Replied Max,"His hand moved! His goddamn hand twitched!"

That was it?" It's a spasm! Jesus, don't be such a girl... "

Having dumped the body within the trunk each man paused to catch their breath. Looking down into the interior Vincent asked," Never heard of a treadmill? "Shutting the trunk he took to using Max's water bottle to clean off the top of the hood. Max remained frozen where he stood.

Vincent continued to mutter to himself," Six liters of blood in the average Angeleno, he's gotta dump all his...on your cab." With one last dousing he was satisified,"Okay, that's good enough."

Vincent headed to climb back into the cab then noticed Max was still just standing there. "Uh, look...why don't you, like, take the cab... "

Slowly Vincent said,"Take the cab..."

Max grew a little more confident. "Yeah. I - I'll chill. You know. And...they don't check. You know? They don't. They don't know who's driving these things. You, me..."

Vincent tilted his head to the side and pretended to accept Max's offer," And you promise you will never tell anybody? Right?"

Max nodded his head vehemently but Vincent wasn't amused," get in the fucking car."

They would have to stick together. Besides Vincent was impressed with Max. The man could handle himself but he was also docile enough for Vincent to handle them. Vincent needed a good cabbie who he could control, Max was it. And it was just for one night.