For the first time ever, I flip the panic switch. The guy behind me is yelling and threatening violence as I whip down an empty Sunset Highway at 70 miles an hour, and while the threads have all been directed at his friend thus far, my spider sense is raising an awful ruckus at the base of my neck.

His friend isn't helping matters. An ex-cabbie from Phoenix, he's been the chill and sane one so far. But after being called "a stupid fucking idiot" for about the fiftieth time, he's now also threatening violence in a low and serious tone.

I picked the two of them up (piss-drunk, if you haven't already guessed) at a generic chain restaurant in Hillsboro. They wanted to go to Stars in Beaverton, but once we got there the first guy flew into a rage that the ex-cabbie didn't have enough money to pay the $22 fare.

Waving around a fistful of dollars, he had me turn around and take them back to their hotel in Hillsboro, all the while insulting his friend as an idiotic spendthrift in such persistent and brutal a fashion that I suspect I'm witnessing the end of said friendship.

As I take the exit for 185th, the first guy is yelling that he's not going to pay for more than half of the fare. The other guy's yelling that's fine, then he'll just run away and his friend can deal with me and the cops. I hit the locks.