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The Concert


The taxi driver seethed, but what to do? He needed the fare. Wayne Newton in a blue-frilled shirt was slumped in the passenger seat, Salman Rushdie pressed his face against the window, and I kept telling my sidekick that no one would believe our luck. The driver pulled his baseball cap down over his eyes, crossing a bridge closed for repairs to avoid the checkpoints on our way out of the city. Wayne’s seizure began on a country road lined with birches draped in yellow leaves, and didn’t end until Salman climbed into the front seat to cradle his head. The driver sped toward the mountains, muttering, this shall be a sign for you; the singer, nestled against the novelist’s chest, crooned in reply, that I will visit you for evil. Deep in the tunnel the driver stopped to let us out at the entrance to the mine shaft, and we descended six stories to an underground stage set up for a concert to benefit the victims of the earthquake. Wayne flashed his badge at the guards, who waved us past a gaggle of reporters waiting for the president. No one will ever believe this, I said again, though by now my sidekick was nowhere to be seen.