About Me

I feel the wanderlust and the call of the open highway. Which is good, because I drive cars for a living. But I'm a writer, and someday hope to once again make my living using my writing skills.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

IMPEACH TRUMP FOR CHRISTMAS?

After a particularly difficult delivery in Virginia, I rented a car and headed for South Carolina to pick up my next car.  I pulled off at a truck stop in Emporia, and just wanted some quiet time and to collect my thoughts.  I have delivered cars all over the USA, but the holiday season brings huge traffic jams that I have to navigate with no pleasure.

While I was pumping gas into my rental car, I heard a voice say to me  "What did you think of the hearings?"

"Excuse me?"  I looked around to the other side of the pump, and a tall, skinny man was putting gas into his pickup truck.

"The Trump hearings.  You think they'll impeach?  Wait now, where are my manners?  My name is Jed, what's yours?"

"Bill Thomas," I said with a smile.

"I like your smile, Bill Thomas, it almost looks sincere."

"It is."

"You know who's not sincere?  Those crazy guys and gals in Congress.  What in heck do they think they are doing?  You don't mess with the President.  And those Republicans are really after Trump, the Democrats keep on trying to defend him."

I decided not to correct him.  "I don't like talking politics."

"Oh you don't, do you?  Well you had better start paying attention bud, because a new civil war can't be far behind."

"Far behind what?"

"Exactly.  Why do they hate the President so much?"

"Who is they?" I asked.

"The ones who hate the President. Pull your head up out of the sand.  Are you even listening to me?"

"Yes."

"I don't think you are.  Do you know that the root word of impeachment is peach?  How could something so ripe and delicious and juicy also be so evil?"

"An evil peach?"

"No, an evil faction trying to bring down our President."

I shrugged.  "I guess a lot of people don't like him."

"Well that's just too bad, he is the President and that's that.  He is honest and sincere and compassionate. Congress is on a witch hunt trying to bring him down just cuz."

"Just cuz why?"

"Just cuz cuz.  There is no reason for it, no quid pro quo, no read my lips.  But you don't seem to care."

"I do care."

"Then stop your silence and speak your opinion.  Free speech is a promise to you from the Declaration of Independence, and my motto is give me liberty or give me a gun."

I finished filling up with gas, and hung the nozzle back onto the pump.  "I guess you have to stand up for whoever you voted for."

"What's that supposed to mean?"  Jed seemed pretty upset with me all of the sudden.

"You are clearly a Trump supporter, so you--"

"Trump?  Are you kidding me?  I voted for Bernie Sanders.  Free school for everyone forever!"

I climbed into my car and left without saying goodbye.  Politics make strange bedfellows, and inspire strange people at a gas pump at a truck stop.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

PLEASE PASS THE GRAVY

After dropping off a Ford Flex near San Antonio, I got a call from my anything but cordial boss Riff.  :"What's going on, loser?"

"Happy Thanksgiving to you, Riff."

"What did you just call me?"

"Nothing, I was wishing you a happy turkey day."

"Well it ain't today."

"No, it's tomorrow, I'm a day early."

"Can you just shut up and listen to me?" he growled.

"Sure, what do you need?"

"It's the customer who needs you to pick up a car in Las Cruces, New Mexico then drive it to Malibu beach."

"Oh, California."

"No, Malibu in Japan!  Got another driver headed to Phoenix, he's gonna stop and pick you up then drop you in Las Cruces."

"Who is the driver?" I asked.

"Andy, my most reliable driver."  I had engaged with Andy in the past and he was anything but reliable.  He was a paranoid pill-popping maniac who refused to shower as long as he was on the road.

"Oh please not Andy."

"You should follow his example, he's an excellent driver."  I gave him your drop off address, he should be there soon."  I heard a horn honking and turned to see a car coming fast directly towards me.  It jumped the curb and I dove over a hedge to avoid getting hit.

"I'm looking for Bill," I heard a voice say.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I rose up to look over the hedge and saw Andy in a late model Ford Thunderbird.  "It's me, I'm Bill.  You know me, Andy."

"Well I don't know you, but you'd better hop in the train is leaving for New Mexico.  Get in the back seat, the front seats are my office."  I was happy to oblige, so I got in with my backpack and before I could close the door behind me he burned rubber taking off.

I could smell his rancid body odor permeated the car's interior.  "Ya know, Interstate 10 is a breeze from San Antonio to El Paso.  It's so remote that the speed limit is 85mph."

Andy stared at me in the rear view mirror.  "Are you a new driver?"

This surprised me.  "Andy, it's me, Bill Thomas."

"Is that supposed to mean something to me?"  He lit a cigarette.

"We have worked together four times.  Uh, I don't think we're supposed to smoke in client's cars."

Andy turned his head and shot me a warning glance.  "I don't know you, pal, but I need to smoke when I'm taking speed.  They just go hand in hand."

"You're taking speed?"

"None of your damn business."  Andy pulled onto Interstate 10 and put the gas pedal to the floor.  "You know why I get all the best delivery runs?  Because I don't stop to sleep or shower.  It's a big waste of time.  You look like the kind of pansy who showers every day."

"I do."

Andy cackled.  "Sucker!  Hey I just realized that its Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I sure do like gravy all over everything.   My Aunt Bessie made the best biscuits and gravy, bet you didn't know that."

"I did know that because you've told me before several times."

"Don't believe we've ever met."

I scooted over to the left side of the back seat and leaned my head against the window.  Andy kept on talking, but I was so tired I went right to sleep.  I must have slept for several hours.

I woke up very groggy and looked out my window.  There was a car next to us, and the passengers were screaming and pointing frantically.  Feeling disoriented, I looked to the front and saw that Andy had moved to the passenger seat and was napping.  No one was in the driver's seat.

Wait, what??

I understood immediately why the car next to us was full of people waving at us and shouting.  I slid over in my seat to the right and could see that Andy's left hand was discreetly on the bottom of the steering wheel, and his left leg straddled over the center console and his foot rested near the brake pedal.

"Andy!" I yelled.

"Shh!"  He replied.  "I'm playing possum."

"But why?"

"Shh, you're gonna blow it."  I looked over at the car on our left, and the look of desperation on the faces of those in the car.  Without warning, Andy suddenly veered to the right onto an exit ramp and left the car full of worried people behind.  He pulled into a big truck stop, and got out of the car laughing.

I was furious as I climbed out of the car and grabbed my backpack.  "You think this is funny?"

"You have to admit, that was hilarious."  He lit another cigarette.

"Are you nuts?"  That's wasn't funny at all!"

"Did you see the look on those faces?  That was dope!"

"They were terrified."

Andy wheezed as he laughed.  "I just love screwing with people.  Don't you?"

"No sir," I said, taking my backpack and heading inside.

"Where are you going, fat boy?"

"Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving, hope you live to see it."

"Don't be mad, you should be shaking while you laugh like a bowl full of jelly."

"I will find another ride to Las Cruces."

Once inside, I discovered that the Greyhound bus would stop here in 8 hours and take me where I was going.  I hated to wait and I hate riding Greyhound, but anything was a better alternative than riding with a lunatic.

On Thanksgiving this year, I am thankful that I did not die in the car.with Andy.  I said a prayer that he would be safe, but also prayed for all the potential victims that shared the highway with crazy Andy.








Tuesday, October 22, 2019

RAINBOW BRIDGE

It was a beautiful day in Miami when I delivered a Ford Expedition to a man at his office downtown.  My old friend John Hazzard had invite me to meet him for lunch.  He said to come to the courthouse downtown and if I arrived early enough I could come into the court and watch him in action.

I got to the courthouse and had to find the room where John was trying his case.  I entered quietly and sat in the back row.  An elderly bald man sat in the witness box, and John was cross examining him.

"So tell us about that morning, Mr. Roosevelt."

The man scratched his head.  "It was a sunny morning, hot and humid at 7am already.  The sky was blue and--"

John interrupted.  "I was referring to what happened between you and Mr. Jackson."

"Well now, Bojangles Jackson is my dog, just a tiny little Sitt-choo.  You must be talkin' 'bout Shorty Jackson, my ex-best friend."

"What occurred between you and Mr. Jackson?"

"Shorty or Bojangles?"

"Let's stick to humans.  Shorty in this case."

"It was a warm Saturday morning, and he came by to go fishing like always.  I was cooking bacon in the frying pan, just like always.  You got to cook the bacon first so you can cook the eggs after in the bacon grease."

"How long were you cooking bacon?" asked John.

"Shoot, I been cooking bacon for 65 years, since I was 10 years old."

The opposing counsel stood up.  "Your honor, can we please stick to the facts?"

But the witness cut him off.  "Oh no you don't, that question is an elephant."

The Judge let out a slightly bemused sigh.  "Mr. Roosevelt, I think you mean irrelevant, but it is not, and you don't get to say that."

Mr. Roosevelt looked outraged.  "I'm a citizen of North America.  The Decoration of Invocation gives me the right to free speech."

John jumped in to keep things rolling.  "You were having a peaceful morning, and then what went wrong?"

"Shorty took a bite of my bacon and said it was undercooked.  He's been disrespecting my bacon for many, many years.  So I did the only thing I could, I smacked him upside the head with my iron skillet.  Shorty fell off the chair, and there was Bojangles underneath him."

"But what do you know about the stab wound in his chest?"

"That had nothing to do with the bacon," explained Mr. Roosevelt.  "I stabbed him in the chest for sending Bojangles to the rainbow bridge."

"Rainbow bridge?" asked John.

"You don't know the rainbow bridge?  It's where dogs go when..."  He drifted.

"When what?"

"I don't want to say."

The Judge leaned over and said, "Sir, the court can compel you to answer the question."

"Ain't no compelling to it.  Shorty is a big man, way over 350 pounds.  When he sat on little ole Bojangles, why he sent him to the rainbow bridge.  So naturally, I stabbed Shorty in the chest with my sharpest chopping knife."

"So it was a sharp knife?" asked John for emphasis.

The witness looked confused.  "I didn't believe a dull knife would do the job.  And I wanted Shorty Jackson dead at that point."

"And so Shorty joined Bojangles on the rainbow bridge?"

Mr. Roosevelt stared at John like he was talking crazy.  "A man don't go to the rainbow bridge, it's just for dogs."

The Judge smiled. "And cats?"

"I object to that!" shouted the witness.

With great patience the Judge told him, "You don't get to do that, sir."

"I know where Shorty Jackson is, he's dancing a jig with the Devil around a lake of fire."

"Because you killed him?" asked John.

He shrugged.  "Guess so.  If the iron skillet didn't do it, I'm sure the knife in his chest did the trick.  But it was self-defense."

"How was it self-defense?"

"Shorty murdered Bojangles, so I had to kill Shorty.  That's called self-defense."

John was finished and the Judge called for a lunch recess with closing arguments that afternoon.  John greeted me, cheerfully as usual.  "What did you think of my case?"

"Interesting," I said.  "But are you acting as prosecutor?"

"No Bill, this is a civil trial not criminal.  That will be a separate trial with another lawyer.  This is all about insurance, property and money."

"And the rainbow bridge, I guess that's where dogs go when they die?"

"My reply to that is what any good attorney would say -- who cares?"

Monday, September 23, 2019

CLICHED IDIOMS

The summer of 2019 has been a brutal one.  The heat has been oppressive and most folks are pretty miserable.  Now being from Alabama, I'm no stranger to heat and humidity.  But I drive cars to locations all over the lower 48, and even northern states have been unseasonably hot.

That was true on this day in late August, when I drove a Ford Focus into Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The customer had asked me to deliver to him at a movie theatre near his home.  His name was Sam Peterson, and I drove to the front of the theatre where I saw a man waving eagerly at me.  I parked and got out of the car.  "Hi, I'm Bill Thomas.  Are you Mr. Peterson?"

"Yes, that's me, sure as I'm sitting here."  He was standing and very enthusiastic.  "Just enjoying this beautiful day.  It's the quiet before the calm."

"I have your new company car here."

"For me?"  He seemed to be overreacting more than a little bit.

"Yes sir, you're going to love it."

"Now don't jump the rifle, boy.  I'll have to drive it a while before I love it.  Only time will lie."

"I assure you it's a good car."

"Company cars are a quarter a dozen."

"So you don't like them?"

He shrugged.  "Eight one way, half dozen the other."

"Do you enjoy driving at all?"

"Once in a green moon."

"Green?"

"Now a green car would have been great," he told me.  I looked sadly at his red car.  "Let's not beat around the proverbial Mulberry tree.  Just be a man, bang the bullet, and tell me what you have to say."

I was confused.  "About what?"

He patted his ample beer gut with open palm and said, "I'm ready for anything, I'm fit as a cello and ready for fun."

"I'm not sure I follow you."

"All you have to do is follow, and I will lead you on a wonderful adventure.  It's a story as old as the valleys."

"Valleys?"

"Valley of the happy green giant.  But don't fret Bill, every cloud has a creamy center."

"I just need you to sign this paperwork--"

He quickly interrupted.  "What?  No!  Why?"  He was quite agitated.

"Mr. Peterson, I just need --"

"I'm Sam Peterson," came another voice from behind me.  I turned and saw a younger, well-dressed man walking towards me.

"You are Mr. Peterson?" I asked.

The man who was not Sam Peterson said, "Well, speak of the angel, and an angel appears."

"Excuse me?" asked a baffled Sam.

"Hi sir, I'm Bill Thomas and this is your car."

The mystery man who was not Sam said, "Wait, you gave me the car and now you're taking it away?  There's a name for people like you, but I can't recall it."  He reached out his hand to shake Sam's.  "Hello stranger, how in the world have you been?"

Sam's eyes pleaded with me for context within the confusion.  "What is happening, Bill?  Who is this guy?"

Mystery guy grinned and said, "Sam Peterson, good to meet you."

Sam flinched.  "But I'm Sam Peterson."

Mystery guy took off a shoe and banged it on the car bumper.  Sam and I both yelled "Hey!" at the same time.

"That's it!  Mystery guy shouted.  "That's the straw that broke the Arabian knights!"  He began giggling in a very odd way.  "Oh well, when things go wrong, just start over.  Back to the old Etch-a-Sketch.  This morning I was talking to my psychiatrist in the mental ward, then I climbed out a window, and then a guy tries to give me a car but takes it back.  Just like in The Lion King, it's the circle of squares."

"The what?" asked Sam.

I tried to ignore the mystery guy and tend to my customer.  But Mr. Mystery had one more comment to make.  "What's my name, you ask?"

"No one asked," said Sam.

"From one Sam to another, I strongly suggest you take everything this man says with a pound of salt."  He was pointing directly at me.  "Now if you gents will excuse me, I have a lunch date with a duck."  He turned on his heel and sashayed away.

Sam stared at me.  "Who was that?"

"No idea," I said.  "I categorize folks like that as Bill's people."

"Bill's people?  You're Bill."

"Yes, and Bill's people are God's own oddballs who always find me anywhere, everywhere."

Sam smiled.  Lucky you."  He signed the paperwork   I left and headed for the nearby Avis location to rent a car to my next pick up in Louisville, Kentucky.  I thought a lot about Mr. Mystery, and hoped he would make it back to the hospital before dark.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

DEATH IN EL PASO

It is Saturday, August 3 and I was driving a Cadillac to El Paso just this morning.  I was looking forward to seeing my good friend Pete who I had known for 20 years but had not seen in 5.  He is quite simply one of the best guys I have ever known.

If you read my stories, you should know that they are true but I always change the names to protect the innocent.  Whether I'm writing about a good friend or an eccentric oddball I meet in my daily travels, I make up fictional names so no one is embarrassed or doesn't appreciate any limelight.  Pete is just such a guy, and that is not his name, but today we'll agree to call him Pete.

When he was only a boy, his family moved from Juarez, Mexico to El Paso, just across the border.  Pete became an American citizen through the proper channels, and as a teenager began volunteering at reitrement homes to assist the elderly.  He worked a full time job while in middle school and high school, but still got good grades.  In college, he found a passion for helping immigrants to legally become citizens the way things were meant to be.  He counseled and discouraged people who wanted to come illegally from Mexico because he truly hated to see friends get caught and deported.  He joined the National Guard and spent a few years in Afghanistan.

Pete also was very involved with his church, and did everything he could to help get members to Sunday service when they had no transportation.  He used to work with the Big Brother's program, and went to orphanages to entertain by telling dumb yet funny jokes and play the guitar.  He was no Eddie Van Halen, but he was gifted and sang with so much heart.

Heart is the core of this good man.  When we first met, I was at the lowest point in my life, having lost my mother and brother in a car accident.  Our meeting was by chance, but he was actually able to distract me from my woes and got me back on a positive track.  He has inspired me to try to show kindness wherever I go and try to spread smiles around.  Pete will be the first to admit he ain't no saint, he likes his football rough and his beer cold.  We all have faults, but somehow his are super easy to overlook because he is so thoughtful and generous.

Earlier today, Pete took the youth group from his church to a Wal Mart in El Paso.  A shooter came in and began killing and wounding people randomly. It was a senseless, horrible nightmare and any life taken is one too many.  I know there are millions of people just like me out there who were praying or searching for answers.  But there is no answer, this and all the other recent shootings have no rhyme or reason, there is just a lot of hatred and wickedness and uber-crazy folks out there.

I am writing this on Saturday night upstairs in Pete's guest room.  He is downstairs getting a lot of love and hugs from his family, who are so thankful he survived.  When the shooting began, Pete took charge and firmly instructed the kids to follow him.  They got out a door in the back, thank God.  I send my own personal love and hope to all of the people who were impacted by the El Paso shooting.  But I am also thankful for Pete, who got those kids out safely so they grow up and have full lives.  We really need more good, caring selfless people like Pete in the world.  God bless us all.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

SNAKES ON THE BRAIN

I drove through a thunderstorm on my way to Columbia, SC.  I was going to deliver a slightly used Ford Explorer to a woman named Miss McDougal.  She sounded very high strung on the phone, but I was hoping for a quick and simple delivery drop.

The rain was letting up as I pulled into her short driveway just past 12 noon.  I got out of the car, and a lady came running out the front door waving her hands in the air. "Miss McDougal?" I asked.

"Snakes!  Snakes!" shouted the redheaded woman.

"Snakes?"  I was puzzled.

"Snakes in my house!  Right now!"

"Did you call someone to come get it out?"

"No, I was counting on you to help me.  You are Bill Thomas?"

"Yes I am, but I'm here to deliver--"

She interrupted me by grabbing my arm and tugging me into the house with her.  "I think it may be a rattler."

I stopped short.  "A rattlesnake?"

She pulled me even harder to get me moving.  "I have complete confidence in your abilities.  Hurry now, I'm afraid that snake may kill my dog Brutus."  She led me down a hall to a room with the door open, with a doggie gate in the doorway.  I saw Brutus, a Papillon dog, bouncing around playfully with his tail wagging.  "Oh look, poor Brutus is terrified!"

"Um, where's the snake?" I asked.

"That huge monster is going to destroy Brutus."

And that is when I saw the small black snake with a yellow stripe.  Poor Brutus looked less threatened and more playful with his new snake toy.  "OK, this shouldn't be a problem."

"Pick it up, for pity's sake. Save Brutus!" she shrieked.

I realized this was going to be a problem after all.  I like snakes almost as much as Indiana Jones does.  While I felt certain that the snake posed no threat, I wasn't crazy about the idea of picking it up with my bare hands.  "Do you have a pair of tongs?"

"Tongs?  No.  Wait a minute... yes!"

"Can you get them please?"

"Yes I will, but first I want you to get rid of that snake," she said.

"I need the tongs to get the job done," I explained.

She went from distress to hilarious disbelief in two seconds flat.  "Do you intend to cook the snake?"

"No ma'am, bring me the tongs and I'll show you."

She looked upset at me and bowed to me low and deep.  "Yes, your majesty, whatever you say."  She had suddenly developed a bad attitude aimed directly at me.  After going into the kitchen, she returned carrying the tongs with an air of grandeur.  "Here are the blessed tongs you requested, my lord."

I chose to ignore her sarcasm and took the tongs so I could grab the snake and pick it up.  Brutus seemed disappointed to lose his new plaything.  I went to the front door and tossed the snake gently onto the grassy yard.  Then I turned back to Miss McDougal and asked her to sign for the car.  She did so quickly and I said "Thank you."

"Oh listen, before you leave I have a real rat problem down in my basement."  Rats are my biggest fear, because of a serious childhood traumatic event that had to do with being punished by my mom.  "I need you to go down there and catch them just like you did with the snakes."

I waved at her and said, "Goodbye Miss McDougal."  I picked up my bag and started to walk towards a nearby city bus stop.

"Don't you dare leave before your job is completed.  I want those nasty rats out of my house, pronto!"  But I was at peace as I walked down the sidewalk, for I felt I had done my job and just a little bit extra.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

TOO DRUNK TO FALL

It was a bright, sunshiny day in Colorado as I was headed to deliver a brand new Toyota Sienna minivan to just outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  There was a new skydiving school that was waiting on their new minivan, which I had driven all the way from Atlanta.

I planned to arrive early when they opened so I could accept the ride they had kindly offered me.  This driving day had started at 5am, and I was tired already as I pulled into the entrance of Skippy's Skydiving.  It was way out in the country, and I felt especially lucky that I was getting a lift to the transportation hub of Cheyenne.

There was a long driveway winding up to the hangar where the skydiving office was.  As I came around the side of the building, I saw a man, a woman and a Pastor wearing the white collar.  The man and woman stumbled about aimlessly, as the Pastor flipped through his Bible.  The man was wearing a tall Cat in the Hat red and white hat, and had no shirt on.  He wore empty ammo belts across his chest, not unlike Chewbacca in STAR WARS.  And there were Ugg boots on his feet.  The woman had on short shorts and a tube top, and her belly proclaimed her tenth month of pregnancy.  She wore fuzzy purple house slippers on her feet.  I had to wonder what they were doing here, but decided to mind my own business.

Inside the office, I was greeted with effervescent enthusiasm by the owner himself.  "Are you Skippy?" I asked him.

"Nope, Skippy is my son, I named my company after him.  My handle is Skipper," he said as he marched up and gave me a hearty handshake.  "You must be Bill Thomas."

"Yes sir, I must."

He patted me on the back.  "So, where's my minivan?"

Just at that moment, the man and woman outside opened the door forcibly and loudly and practically fell in through the doorway.  "We are here!" the man shouted.

"I see that," said Skipper with severe hesitation.

"I am Jocko, and this little lady is my one and only, Deedee.  We are here to jump out of a plane and get married."

Skipper watched them, sizing them both up.  "Yes, I got the 30 messages you left on my answer machine last night."

"Nobody would answer the damn phone so I kept on calling."

"Yeah well, you two are not jumping out of a plane."

"That sounds like a challenge to me!" shouted Jocko.

"Not a challenge, just a fact.  You are drunk and you're not going up."

"How dare you call us drunk, you don't even know me, us, me."

"I don't need to know you to know you're sloshed.  I could tell on your phone messages."

"You got no kind of good business acumenization!"

"You're wasted."

"Just what are you inseminating?  That we are too drunk to jump?"

"No, you are too drunk to fall."

"Look, I'm a grown ass man, no one body tells me what I can't and can't do."

Deedee spoke up.  "Mister, we wasn't gonna jump out alone, we was gonna hook up and skydive
tandem with your guys."

"When you are drunk, you are unpredictable, and could be a danger to my men."

Jocko was getting mad.  "You can't tell us what to do.  We had a few drinks overnight and decided we had to get married now, and we were gonna jump out of a plane first.  We got a preacher outside who is gonna marry us up as soon as we land."

"You're not jumping out of my plane."

"Make me!" screamed Jocko.  "I'd like to see you make me.  I'm a grown ass man and I do what I want to when I want to.  I pity the man who gets in my way."

Skipper walked me over to the door, and indicated for Jocko and Deedee to exit with him so he could lock up.  He was clearly the only one working there this early, but was being nice enough to close and give me a ride that would be an hour round trip for him.  As Skipper was looking over the minivan, the Pastor walked up to me.  "Hello, I'm Pastor Bob."

"Hello Pastor, I'm Bill Thomas."  We shook hands.  "I'm on the road a lot driving around the country.  You think you could throw some prayers my way?"

"Oh, gladly.  But right now, I'm a little confused as to why I'm here.  I got an emergency call during the night telling me that a couple had to get married at this address first thing in the morning.  I did not know untill I arrived that they planned to jump out of a plane first."

"I don't think that's going to happen," I said.

"No?"

Jocko walked up.  "Well, bad news Pastor Bill, we can't jump out of the plane."

"I'm Pastor Bob."

"I'm Bill," I offered.

"Who asked you?" snarled Jocko.  "So go ahead and marry us, Padre."

Pastor Bob smiled.  "OK, who has the marriage license?"

"The who?" asked Jocko.

"Marriage license.  You need it to get married."

"We can get it later, so go ahead," demanded Deedee.

"No, I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way," explained Pastor Bob.

Deedee was very angry.  "Look, I'm a grown ass woman, and if I want to get married dammit I'm gonna do it.  It's not like I haven't been married before."

"You were married and then divorced?" asked the Pastor.

"No, I didn't divorce Leroy, I just left his sorry ass."

"Then you are still married, and I can't perform the ceremony."

Jocko began walking in wide circles and cussing like a sailor.  Deedee began to plead with Pastor Bob. "I just got to get married, can't you see that?"

Pastor Bob looked sympathetic.  "I understand your situation.  When are you due?"

"Due to what?"

"To give birth?"

Deedee threw her head back and cackled.  "I ain't pregnant!  I just got a little beer belly."

Skipper motioned for me to come to the minivan, and as I stepped over to him, Jocko came up and grabbed me by the shoulder.  "Hey you!" he yelled at me.  "You've been awful quiet, I'd like to hear your opinion on all these goings ons."

"I don't have an opinion."  I turned to keep walking and Skipper walked towards me.

Jocko grabbed me again.  "Don't you turn your back on me!"  In an amazing fluid motion, Skipper used his leg to sweep Jocko's legs out from under him.  He fell hard onto his back, then began moaning,  "Baby, baby, I'm hurting."  Deedee rushed to his side.

Skipper and I climbed into the minivan.  "Thanks for the save, Skipper."

"He was getting way too aggressive so I had to put him on the ground.  Did I tell you I run a Karate school at night?"  We laughed and talked for the half hour ride into Cheyenne.  I found myself hoping that Jocko and Deedee would someday find their bliss.