Depending on how you look at it, Saul Horowitz's parents had either chosen a very apt name for their son, or one that resulted in their son being the blunt of a cruel cosmic joke. Mehira and Aaron Horowitz were part of the group that are often referred to as "New York Jews." Wealthy and well educated, they had put a lot of thought into what to name their son. They had settled on Saul because interpretation of the biblical king's story was conflicted.
Some schools of rabbinical scholars believe the king to be a massive failure, whose life was fraught with mistakes and inadequacies. Others believe him to be a virtuous man who could be looked at as an example. By Mehira and Aaron's thinking, if their son grew up to be virtuous, he could remember his namesake's story and make sure not to fall into the more negative side of things. Of course, if he wasn't a successful man, he could always use his biblical counterpart as a role model. Unfortunately for Saul, his life choices had put him on the side of forever striving for (and never reaching..) kingly success.
From the time he was a child, Saul had just missed everything he tried for. He was a B average student and only mildly successful as an athlete. In high school, he had not dated anyone and had focused mainly on blending in with the walls. He fell in love with a nice Jewish girl named Tarah in college, but the engagement had dissolved when Saul left college.
He'd ended up landing a job as a taxi driver in Jersey, hauling drunkards and snotty coasties to and from 'glamorous' parties and trashy bars. Every person who got in his cab thought they were the most fascinating person in the world... but really very few of them piqued Saul's interest. There were, of course, a few stories of celebrities and foul smelling customers. Well, and that memorable night when a woman gave birth in the back seat. That was a night Saul felt he had redeemed himself a bit. The young couple had, as a token of thanks and apology for making a mess, asked him to help name their young daughter. He'd given them his mother's name, and they'd chosen to make it the baby's middle name – Lauren Mehira Fernandez. Though he had once again failed to get front status, Saul felt that at least he'd passed on something of his family.
But that had been over 16 years ago. He'd never seen the couple again and had filed the experience away as a mildly entertaining story to tell passengers who wanted to chat. Thousands of unremarkable miles later Saul maintained his bachelor status. Not that he really minded – it suited his lifestyle quite well. He liked being able to choose when and where he'd go and found that by following his instincts he'd managed to land some good fares.
However this was not one of those times.
Saul woke up in a funk that afternoon. After so many years in the cab his back did some interesting things and it had decided to make its presence known. He grabbed his usual cup of black coffee and Marlboros and headed out.
After several hours driving fares up and down the Jersey turnpike Saul got a call to pick some girl up at a restaurant in a residential area. Prolly some drunk chick who called mommy and daddy to get a taxi to take her home. Oh well, drunk girls needed to get home too, and so long as she didn't puke in the back seat her fare was as good as another.
Saul arrived at the restaurant at the requested time and switched on the meter. NPR was airing an interview of some atheist writer with some very strong views. Something about how it was cruel to teach children about religion because it would ultimately end up alienating them from their peers. Dawkins, yeah that was it. "The God of the old testament himself is probably the most unpleasant character in all fiction," alleged Dawkins' voice. Damn straight, Saul thought, switching the radio to a more passenger-friendly music station.
As he watched for the girl, Saul reflected on growing up with the name he had. The irony of it had not been lost on either his teachers or his classmates, and they never let him forget it. Neither had his family, for that matter. Depending on which way they read the story, it was always either, "Saul! You're really not living up to your name!" or, "Ohh poor Saul, why did his parents have to name him that? They doomed him!" Either way, there was one part everyone got the same. If you don't follow the Law, you will feel His wrath and it won't be pleasant. When he was very young, Saul thought he might go to hell for the sins of his namesake. Unpleasant is an understatement.
The door slammed as an angry looking young girl slumped into the backseat. Saul tried several times to get her to talk a bit, but was only able to discover that she'd been dumped and that her name was Lauren. Funny, he'd just been thinking about that baby that was born in his cab… But this girl was decidedly obnoxious. He wouldn't let himself make a connection between this girl and someone named after his mother. It would be the way things go though, wouldn't it? After a couple more rude comments the girl stalked out of his cab up to the front door of her parents' place.
Figures.. She didn't even have being drunk to use as an excuse for that behavior! People really need to teach their kids to be more polite. With that, Saul switched the radio back to his beloved NPR and drove off. Another night, another snotty kid.