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, November 30, 2017

MR. PUSSYKINS

"You will do as I tell you and transport both of them in their car to New Orleans.  Am I clear, you stupid sonuvabitch?" came the bellow from my boss Riff.

"I get it, but I don't understand."

"Don't try!  Don't strain your brain!  Just do as you're told."  Riff hung up first for a change, and I pondered his instruction.  He had told me to pick up an SUV and drive it and the lady who owned it to Louisiana from New Hampshire.  And she would be bringing her cat.  I love dogs, but I don't have the same loving relationship with cats.   Over the years, I have been bitten and scratched deeply by many of my friend's cats, and they can seem content being petted, then spin and surprise you with all claws and teeth.  The thing of it is, Drivers of America is not licensed to carry passengers.  Riff was getting a very good paycheck for this, and I was sure I wouldn't see any of it.  Nothing but the 40 cents per mile he normally paid me.

When I arrived at her house in New Hampshire on the day after Thanksgiving, she came out the front door and seemed very much in distress.  "Are you Bill?  You are late, we need to get going."

I checked the time.  "My boss told me to be here by noon.  It's ten till now."

"Don't be ridiculous, you're wasting time."  I followed her into the house.  "I am Doris Ooglerupe, and I will thank you to call me by my name."  She had a shock of red hair and a deeply wrinkled face.

"OK, Mrs. Ooglerupe."

She spun around and her eyes narrowed.  "That's MISS.  I earned that right by outliving my husband, the dirty bastard."  As I walked through her home, I saw huge piles of magazines nearly as tall as me everywhere.  There was also a very strange smell, and it wasn't a good one.  "You may notice that I save a lot of stuff, and some might be tempted to call me a hoarder.  But I hate those people.  Now I'm going to pack, why don't you go wash the dishes in the kitchen so we can get going."

"You haven't packed yet?" I asked, fearing it would heavily delay our departure.

"Don't be so nosey, and get yourself into the kitchen, those dishes won't wash themselves."  I went into the kitchen and saw dirty dishes stacked high in the sink, on the counter, everywhere.  I rolled up my sleeves and got started, because it would be better than sitting and twiddling my thumbs.  An hour later, I was just getting finished when Doris came in and told me it was time to pack the car.  I began the process, having no idea that she would have so much stuff.  After all of the bags and boxes had been loaded, she handed me a pet carrier with her precious cat inside.  "Your boss said he insists that Mr. Pussykins must stay in her cage while the car is moving.  Which is just silly and ridiculous, she does what she wants when she wants."

As we began our long journey, Doris began to poke me in the shoulder peridodically, sometimes saying "Slow down" and other times saying "Speed up."  I did not enjoy the poking one bit, but when I tried to politely tell her she began telling me stories about her years as a nurse in Viet Nam, and all the men she helped to save, and all the intestines she saw falling out onto the floor, and having to saw someone's arm off when they were out of anesthesia.  They were truly horrifying stories, full of blood and gore and human suffering, but she had a way of telling them that made them even more disturbing.

Doris began fiddling around in the back seat, and I thought that she was getting something out of a suitcase.  Then I looked over and saw she was holding her cat.  "Hey listen--" I tried to say.

"Somebody was lonely and wanted to come out to play."  She spoke in a nauseating baby talk.  "Mr. Pussykins wants to join the party.  She likes to have fun, too.  Let's have some music, shall we?"  She turned off the radio and began singing the cat food jingle  "Meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow."  The cat moved her head.  "Oh look, Mr. Pussykins is dancing.  She loves to dance."  Doris picked up the cat and began to make it dance.

I did my best to ignore them both, which was easier to do as we drove by New York City and down the Jersey turnpike, both swamped with traffic.  The cat crawled into my lap and put its paws on the steering wheel.  "Hey, this is dangerous" I protested.

Once again, baby talk from Doris.  "Oh look.  Mr. Pussykins thinks she can drive.  Isn't that just the most adorable thing you've ever seen in your life?"

"The cat must be put away," I said firmly.

"But Mr. Pussykins thinks she's a person, she wants to be out with us.  And I think we have to afford her all the rights and privileges of every other human being."

"But she is not human."

Doris looked thunderstruck.  "How dare you!  What a terrible thing to say."  She hugged the cat for a while and remained very quiet.  I was relishing this quiet time, and wondered just how long it could possibly last.  After an hour, Doris poked me in the shoulder and said,  "Mr. Pussykins has decided to forgive you.  You hurt her, but she has a sweet and forgiving disposition... lucky for you!"  The cat began to crawl all over the car, then got up on the dash and dropped some kitty crap.  Doris got very excited.  "Oh look, Mr. Pussykins brought you a very special present that she made all by herself.  She loves you!"

"Can you please clean that off the dash?"

"What's your rush?  Don't you want to appreciate your gift?"

"No, not at all, not for one more second."

"Somebody is a grumpy gus, isn't he, Mr. Pussykins.  Say, did I ever tell you that I was originally going to name my cat Morris, like the cat on the TV commercials.  But since my cat is a girl, Morris seemed like a silly name.  It's all wrong, it's a boy's name."   She suddenly stopped speaking and closed her eyes. I didn't know if she was just so tired she passed out, or if she was doing some type of meditation.  Either way, I was just glad for some peace for a while.

Two hours later, she sprang to life shouting "Mr. Pussykins!"  She didn't have to look far, the cat was in her lap kneading her woolen pantsuit.  It was scratched up beyond repair, but that was between Doris and her cat.  "Oh, Mr. Pussykins, I just had the worst dream about you.  We were surrounded by at least one hundred rabid dogs, and they were hungry for cat, but I wasn't going to let them take you.  I began to fight, and then Underdog and Mighty Mouse flew in and helped me, and we saved you my sweet little Pussykins."

"Are you OK?" I hesitantly asked Doris.

"Fit as a fiddle.  Did I ever tell you about my husband Horatio?  He was quite a character, and he hated cats.   None moreso than Mr. Pussykins.  He hated that cat since she was just a kitten, and he'd kick her out of the way and never ever pet her when she climbed up into his lap.  I kept on telling him that people who treat cats wrong sometimes wind up with poison in their apple pie.  He argued that he only liked peach pie, so I made him a peach pie."  She got a strange smile on her face.  "God rest his soul."

"What did he die from?"

"Undetermined.  Let's change the subject and talk about something merrier.  Like when Mr. Pussykins got pregnant and had to have an abortion."  That is when I stopped listening, and continued being tuned out all the way to New Orleans.  She kept right on talking, but I wasn't listening.

When we got to her place in New Orleans, she wanted me to unload the SUV that I had just loaded two days before in New Hampshire.  I did the work, and then walked far enough into her house to see it was just like the house up north.  Sky high stacks of magazines everywhere, newspapers from twenty years before, all matter of junk and paraphenalia.  A hoarders paradise.

Once I was done, Doris told me it was time to clean the kitchen and the bathroom.  "No," I said.

"No?"

"No ma'am, its not my job.  I did it in New Hampshire, but now the job is done."  I turned and walked out the front door..  I could hear Doris shrieking for me to wait, wait, please wait.

She came out the front door holding the cat in what looked like an uncomfortable position.  "Mr. Pussykins wants her kiss goodbye."  I held my hand up and waved as I continued heading for the sidewalk, where I'd make my way into downtown New Orleans and pick up my next car.  But as hard as I try, I still can't get that cat jingle out of my head...  "Meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

HALLOWEEN ROAD TERROR

Halloween 2017.  I just picked up a car in Plano, TX, on the northern outskirts of Dallas.  It was getting close to rush hour, and the customer strongly suggested that I stay off Central Expressway (75) if I was heading downtown.  He said that Hillcrest would be a much better path for me, so as not to sit in bumper to bumper traffic.

I started thinking about trick or treating as a kid, and how excited I was each year to dress up in a new costume.  Then I remembered my old friend Tony Vitale, a detective with the Tampa Police who I had known for years.  He said that Halloween looks fun from the outside, but there is truly a whole lot of crimes that go down on this scary night.  He always said stay home and stay safe.

Perhaps I was too deep in thought, because I pulled up to a light and noticed that the outside lane I had been traveling in was a right turn only lane now.  I slowly crawled the last fifty feet to the red light, and then it turned green so I hit the gas and shot over one lane to the left as I sped through the intersection.  I wasn't proud of this move, but I had left myself little choice.  I hated it when I saw other people do this move, but it was done and over.  Or so I thought.

I could see a car in my rearview mirror maneuvering wildly to catch up with me.  Apparently I had pissed him off with my unorthodox move, and I have discovered that often people who don't like your driving will chase you down to chew you out with a good tongue lashing.  I kept driving along steadily, and said a little prayer that God would send this person peacefully on their way.

When the other driver caught up and was right beside me, he swung his car over at mine, and I had to react quickly to swerve out of his way.  The car swerved at me again, and I had to go so far to the right that my tires skidded against the curb.  I started to speed up, and the guy quickly got in front of me and slammed on his brakes.  I turned my wheel hard left and went two lanes over to the left, confusing and no doubt frustrating this man who seemed to be trying to teach me a lesson.  He came after me, continuing to swing his car over at me.  I was convinced that if I didn't swerve out of his way each time, he would have happily smacked into me.

I'm no stranger to road rage, but this man seemed diligent and determined.  An old tactic I've used before is to go real slow, then the angry driver simply gets bored because you won't play with him.  Not this fellow, he sat right on my back bumper, and then he zoomed around in front of me and kept on tapping my brakes to irritate me.  Frankly, I was a lot more concerned than I was irritated.  This was getting interesting.

It seemed like this gentleman was going to get payback one way or the other.  But payback for what?  I hadn't been anywhere near him when I cut through the intersection, he had to catch up with me to start this misbegotten chase.  I sped up, and so did he, and then I could see through peripheral vision that he was leaning out his window, yelling and waving his arm.  I tried to ignore him, pretend I didn't notice him, but he wouldn't stop.  As much as I've learned to avoid eye contact with road ragers, I was so curious I just had to look over.  And that's when I saw him holding up a police badge. 

Suddenly I felt a sense of dread fill me up inside, and I felt like I was in big trouble.  I wondered why the guy wasn't in uniform and wasn't in a cop car.  I know there are unmarked undercover vehicles, but this looked like a 1990's model Pontiac which had not been taken care of, and that gave me further doubts.  I have heard lots of stories about innocent people being pulled over by a car carrying a badge or blue lights, only to discover that it wasn't a real police officer.  People have been robbed, raped, and killed in these situations.  Unless maybe this was an off-duty cop. 

It was time to take action and end this situation before it got worse, one way or the other.  As we got near the LBJ freeway, I hit the brakes hard and made a right turn on the feeder road and the other car flew by me.  Then the crazy driver made a U-turn and came back towards oncoming traffic so that he could follow me on the feeder road.  I saw in my mirror that he nearly slammed into two cars in an effort to catch up with me. 

"This guy wants me bad," I murmured to myself.

As I saw the Valley View mall on my right, I saw a big intersection at the entrance.  And then I saw
a boomerang lane, and I had my escape plan.  I call the boomerang lane and special lane to the far left where you can make a U-turn at freeway interchanges from the feeder road on one side to the feeder road on the other side of LBJ freeway.  There were three lanes as we approached, I got into the middle one and my pursuer was in the far right.  As we neared the intersection, at the last possible second I shot over two lanes into the boomerang lane, which is separated from the other lanes by a large concrete divider.  I looked in the mirror and saw the maniac climb on top of his car, waving his arms and screaming.  He looked like he was about to have a seizure. 

Once I got calmed down, I called my old buddy Detective Tony Vitale and told him about what happened.  He laughed and asked,  "What are you so upset about?  You got away didn't you?"

"Well, yes."

"He doesn't sound like a cop to me, and I know what I'm talking about."

"But what if he was by any chance?"

"Off duty means off duty.  A cop can't engage you in a high speed chase because he saw you do something he doesn't approve of when he's off the clock."

I found a party downtown and am about to go in and enjoy myself.  Happy Halloween!



Monday, September 25, 2017

LITTLE SHOP OF PORNO

I was driving, tired and dangerously distracted by my boss Riff yelling in my ear for so long.  "And another thing, pudgeball.  Why don't you ever get me a gift?"

"A gift?"

"What's wrong with a gift?"

"We don't have that kind of friendship.  I've never met you.  What would I get you besides Jack Daniels?"

"Are you insinusinuation that I drink a lot?" he slurred.

"I'm in Georgia on my way to Atlanta, and--"

"Lesbian erotica."

"Beg your pardon?"

"Books with stories about lesbians.  No pictures, just stories, so I can read them with my lunch.  Tell 'em that Riff sent ya."

"I'll call you when I deliver in Atlanta."  I hung up and put in a George Strait CD to listen to.  I had noticed a lot of the newer cars don't have CD players, so I guess my collection will become obsolete.  One half hour later, I felt the pressing need to find a bathroom, and began searching for an exit.  There were none, and I tried to recall on I 75 where the next one would be.  When things became more urget I saw an exit with one large establishment. I pulled off and pulled in, and saw the sign ADAM & STEVE ADULT ENTERTAINMENT.

I quickly jumped out of the car and walked in.  When I stop someplace just to use the restroom, I normally spend a little time looking around to be polite.  Or often buy a little something, though I had no idea what that would be here.  A very short man with a club foot came aggressively toward me.  "Hello hello, welcome to the Adult store, I'm Eddie, short for Edward, some call me Ed, and the ladies' choice is Eduardo."

"Hi, Ed."

"I prefer Eddie.  Now what can I get for you today?"

I saw the restroom in the back corner of this huge warehouse size store, and began to slowly move in that direction.  Eddie was right beside me.  "What city is this?  Just curious."

"We're not really a city here, just a dot on the county map.  In fact, we just opened up this store."

"It's your store?"

"Oh no, no, I just work here.  If it was my store it wouldn't be called Adam and Steve!  Sounds a little too homosexual to me, if you know what I mean."

"There's a chain called Adam and Eve, so maybe this is just a play on that."

"Yep, but I don't like gay play.  Or homo hijinks.  None of that!"

"So you don't sell gay material?"

Eddie shoved his hands deep into his pockets and sighed.  "Yessir, we do, but I don't like to talk about it."  My tummy started to rumble and I knew I needed to get to that restroom real soon.  The phone at the front desk rang, and Eddie began to rush for it.  "You just look around, I'll be back with you in a minute."  I walked quickly to the restroom, went inside, and took care of business.

I came out with a plan.  I was going to buy Riff the book he wanted and mail it to him, just to shock him.  He wouldn't be expecting that.  Or should I be buying porn?  Supporting the smutty industry?  Eddie came running up behind me as I came upon a wall full of magazines.  "Hey Eddie, there you are."

"Here I am, ready to serve."

"I wonder if you have any books about lesbians.  Oh, and I hope that doesn't offend."

"Offend?  Me?  I love lesbians.  I don't like those homo men, I don't trust them to stand behind me.  But lady lesbians, mmmm-mmmm!"

"Great."

"So you want a picture book?"

"No."

"Picture magazine?"

"No, a book, just writing, with a story."

Eddie rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  "No, nothing like that.  But if you like lesbians--

"It's for a friend."

Eddie winked at me.  "Yeah, right, so if your friend likes lesbians, you should get him a couple of these blow up girl dolls.  Then he can make them play and do whatever they want to each other."  Eddie's ears perked up, like a dog hearing a siren in the distance.  "I think I hear the toilet running."  He ran to the restroom and came out pointing a finger at me. shouting, "You used the restroom, didn't you!" It wasn't a question.

"Yes."

"You even admit it!  It is against Georgia state law to use a restroom in a porn establishment."

"I used one at the Lions Den up the road once before.  It was no problem."

"That's another part of Georgia.  Down here its a city ordinance."

"You said this isn't a city."

"County law, its county law!  All I know is you broke the law and I'm calling the cops!"  Eddie ran for the front desk, and I rushed out the door and got in the car.  I hated to seem like a getaway driver from a crime, all I wanted to do was use the restroom.

Friday, September 8, 2017

HARVEY, IRMA AND ME

Hurricane Harvey had hit Houston very hard, and the long journey to getting back to normal has just begun.  Then I started hearing about Irma as I delivered a car to Florida, and was eager to get out of the state just as soon as possible.

I was in Fort Lauderdale, headed upstairs in a building to pick up the keys to the car going to Chicago.  As I stepped off the elevator, my cell phone rang, and I answered only to hear the voice of my eternally grumpy boss Riff.  "Where are you, loser?"

"In Fort Lauderdale, at the pharmaceutical company, about to pick up the car headed to Chicago."

"About to, you say?  Which means you haven't done it yet."

"I'm going to get it right now."

"I am so tired of your shoddy showmanship."

"Showmanship?"

"You heard me, cupcake.  You may fool other people with your rich creamy filling, but I know you for the scallywag that you are."  A woman stepped up to me all dressed in white and seemed eager to talk to me.  She inched closer and closer to me, anxious for my full attention, but I was still talking to Riff.  "Are you still there, you ignorant sumbitch?"

"Riff, I have to go."

"Why, I'm not through talking yet."

"Because the woman is standing right in front of me."  She tapped a finger on her watch indicating that I should hurry.

"Who's more important to you, your sweet savvy boss or some slut you've never met."  That was the moment I chose to hang up.

"You are late, now come on."  The woman grabbed me by the shoulder and led me back into her huge office space and then down a long hallway.  This woman reminded me a lot of actress Jane Lynch, who played the coach on GLEE among other things.  "I appreciate you being here, but I abhor tardiness."

"I thought I was early," I said, looking at my watch.

"Listen, the only thing I hate worse that tardiness is lying.  Please don't add insult to injury."  She clucked her tongue disapprovingly and shook her head.

"I am genuinely sorry."

She shrugged.  "I suppose I can't expect everyone to be as on-point as I am. I'm Maggie by the way. Most people I find to be slovenly and unpredictable."  I kept on walking down the hall, and she had her hand around my upper arm guiding me.  When I started to walk past the door which was her private office, she dug her fingernails into my arm and pulled me back.  "Whoa cowboy, what's your rush?  We're in here."

Maggie led me into the office, but it really looked more like an exam room at a Doctor's office.  This did not phase me, for I have delivered cars for all kinds of people in various professions.  As a driving fool, nothing surprises me anymore.  "Do you have the keys?"

"Roll up your sleeves, please."

"Ok, what?  I need the car keys."

"I have no earthly idea what you're talking about, but we don't have any time to waste.  I need to get your blood pressure, take several blood samples, and I will need urine and stool sample from you."

"Stool?"

"Yes, right, number two.  You know, doo-doo."

"Yes ma'am, I know doo-doo.  But I--"

"No buts, you signed up for the program and its too late to back out now."

"Back out of what?"

"The drug testing program.  We have a new pharmaceutical product that has wonderful applications and benefits, but has a side effect of hallucinations.  We need to monitor these, it may be sort of like having a bad acid trip."

"I've never had an acid trip."

"Well, I'm certain you've had mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms?"

I took a few steps away from her.  "I think I'm the wrong guy in the wrong place."

Maggie got very aggressive.  "Look here, Mr. Habib, I have had just about enough.  I've tried to be patient with you, but you agreed to all this when you signed--"

"No," I interrupted.

"No to what?"

I threw my hands up.  "No to so much.  No I'm not Mr. Habib, no I'm not here for your drug tests, no I'm not late..."

"But you are late."

"How could I be late if I didn't have an appointment?"  I wasn't getting anywhere, so I pulled out my driver's license and my paperwork to pick up the car.  Maggie examined my card.

"Wait, you're not Mr. Habib."

"Correct."

"Why were you pretending to be Mr. Habib?  Something doesn't smell right."

"I'm here to pick up one of your company cars to take to Chicago."

"Chicago?  The windy city?"

"That's the one."

She seemed convinced.  "Well if you're not Mr. Habib, why have you been wasting my time?"  Before I could answer, Maggie grabbed me by the arm again and led me out and down the hall.  Another woman came towards us, and Maggie shouted, "Jillian, I think this guy is here to see you about a car. I have to find Mr. Habib."

Jillian stepped up to me and smiled as Maggie walked away briskly.  "Hello, you must be Bill Thomas."

I smiled and nodded.  "Yes, that's me.  Hope the car is all ready to go."  We walked into a lobby area where a TV was playing a news update.

"The car is ready, but don't be in too much of a hurry."

"Well, I just want to get on the road before major evacuations begin."

Jillian smiled sadly and pointed at the TV on the wall.  I looked and saw traffic cams showing both Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike.  Both looked like parking lots, full of cars that were not moving.  "Looks like Irma may slow you down a bit."

"Or a lot.  No worries, that's my job.  I'm a driving fool."

I am actually writing this blog entry as I sit on the Florida Turnpike.  I've moved 5 miles in the past two hours, and so I wanted to share this story via talk to text.  Think a good thought for me and wish me luck!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

RHINESTONE COWBOY RIDES AWAY

It had been a pretty rough day driving.  I ran into a lot more traffic than usual as I drove through Tennessee, and my boss Riff kept on calling to chew me out about absolutely nothing.  Sweet old Mrs. Sherman had called me multiple times asking for the recipe for homemade ice cream.  And my counterpart driver Andy was making threatening calls to me, once again angry about the fact I pulled him from a burning vehicle and probably saved his life.  Andy is an odd duck.

Then I heard the news on the radio-- Glen Campbell had died.  My mind immediately went to my old high school buddy Steve, who loved the music of Glen since forever, maybe even more than I love George Strait songs.  I decided to sidetrack over to Kentucky because I thought for sure he could use a good friend right about then.

Two hours later, I walked into his little General Store, and when he saw me come in he broke down in tears.  I sang, "I've been walking these streets so long, singing the same old song."   Steve rushed over to give me a bear hug, and I said "I heard about Glen, and my car sort of headed in this direction."

"Thank you so much, buddy.  I can't believe you're here."

"Believe it.  Accept it.  And then move on."

He put his massive hand on top of my head and tousled my hair vigorously.  "Glen is gone, Bill."

"Yep."  He led me into the back room so we could sit down and talk.

"I feel like I've lost a member of my family."

"I completely understand."

"Do you remember on my 18th birthday when I came to your Mom's house, and you took me back to your room and played RHINESTONE COWBOY for me?"

"And then I gave you the cassette tape so you could wear it out in your car listening to it over and over."

Steve laughed.  "Yes, and I did wear it out completely.  I keep on thinking about all the milestones in my life that somehow were connected to Glen Campbell."

"You also wore out the LIVE FROM LONDON cassette tape I got you."

Steve had a faraway look in his eyes.  "I miss cassette tapes."

"I did too, but I got used to CDs."

"Yeah, but I read they are soon to be obsolete because of streaming and such."

"Is that right?"

Steve shrugged.  "That's what I read."

"Do you remember the prilgrimage we made together to Galveston when we were in college?"

"Yes, you knew how much I loved that song and you suggested late one night that we drive there.  We left home just before midnight and drove all night."

"I remember.  And I will never forget when you kept on hitting rewind, play, rewind, play on my cassette player and chewed up Glen's tape.  It was a goner."

Steve beamed and laughed out loud.  "Yep, and you buried him at sea."

"We were on that long bridge that goes for miles over Mobile bay, and I just tossed it ceremoniously out the window."

"And I screamed Gleeeeeeen!"  We both chuckled at the memory.  "Gosh, its good to see you, brother.  You're my only friend in the world who would drive to Kentucky to see me because you knew I'd be hurting."

"Well stop hurting, we shouldn't mourn Glen, we should listen to his music all night and sing along."  Just then the front door open, and the bright setting sun shining through made the man standing there nothing but a sillouhette.  But he was built exactly like Mr. Campbell, and he was wearing a cowboy hat that sparkled in the sunlight.  Rhinestones, perhaps?

Steve stared and his jaw dropped.  "Glen?"

"Yes?" came the voice of the man we still could not see.

Steve got very emotional.  "Glen?"

"Yeah, what?" said the man impatiently, walking inside so we could see him.  He looked nothing like Glen Campbell.  "I'm Glen Perry, have we met?"

Steve shook his head.  "No sir, my mistake.  How can I help you today?"  Steve finished with the customer and then we put on some Glen and sang our hearts out.  It's really good to have such good friends in the world to share the good times and the rough times.


Monday, July 31, 2017

DETOUR TO DANGER

It was Tuesday when I arrived in Idaho, and I was having a lot of trouble finding the delivery location.  It wasn't in a city, but way out in the country.  I had used Mapquest and my GPS, and neither one of them was precise or conclusive.  The customer had tried to explain to me on the phone, but I kept on hitting dead cell zones and could not keep a connection long enough to understand.

When I was at least confident I was getting close, I thought perhaps I could find someplace nearby to ask for specific and exact directions to the house.  It was frustrating not to be able to find any gas stations or stores or even a Cafe.  Then I turned a corner on the little two lane highway and saw the entrance to... something.  I could see a whole lot of warehouses on the property, each one rusty and in a bad state of disrepair.  At the entrance to the property, there was an empty guard shack and a truck idling on the right side of it.  I drove in on the left side of the shack, as there were no gates and nothing barring my entry.

I parked and got out and walked over towards the guard shack.  I could see that a man on foot was outside of the shack talking to the driver of the truck.  It seemed logical that the man was the guard, although he certainly was not dressed like one.  He was wearing camo pants, worn out hiking boots, a train engineer cap, and a T-shirt so small for him that his belly hung out of the bottom.

When he turned and saw me, he said,  "Whoa, whoa, no sir, you stop right where you are!"

I stopped.  "Hello sir, I just wanted to ask directions."

"Directions?  Are you kidding me?  Do you know where you are, ya stupid moron?"

"I know I'm in Idaho, but other than that I'm pretty lost."

"Ha ha, no one likes a smart aleck ass."

I shook my head.  "I wasn't meaning to be--"

"You are breaking the law, and you better get out of here now.  This is a government military facility."

"It is?"

"You know damn well it is.  Didn't you see the gates and the DO NOT ENTER signs?"

"No, no signs.  And there was no gate at all where I drove in."

"Gates are down for repair, but you just have to keep on picking at the scab, looking for some way to try to make a fool of me."

I was very confused.  "No, I promise."

"Promises mean nothing from a liar.  You could easily be a traitor or an Asian spy.  Now get out of here before I have you shot."

"OK, but if you wouldn't mind just pointing me in the right direction first?"

"Boy, you are pressing your luck, big time!"  He started to trot over towards me, but stepped into a small pothole and tripped and hit the asphalt face down.  I turned and made haste for my car.  "Look what you did to me.  If I had a gun I'd--"

But I was in the car and quickly leaving the property.  Ten minutes later, I passed a mailbox and a woman came running out from a grove of trees waving both arms at me.  After the recent events, I was a little bit wary of pulling over, but I decided to roll down the window.

"Are you Bill Thomas?" she asked me.

"Yes, I am."

"Oh good, I've been watching for you since we got disconnected for the dozenth time.  I was worried."

I pulled into the driveway and parked.  As I got out, I said, "I stopped to get directions at some top secret government facility down the road and nearly got into serious trouble."

"Government facility?"  I tried to describe the location, and she looked upset.  "Oh, that was not a government facility.  Years ago it was a factory, and then it closed down for good, and the the militia moved in there."

"The militia?"

"Private warriors, a bunch of crazies who feel like they will be in charge when the USA falls apart."

"I didn't know we were going to fall apart."

"Talk to them, they'd tell you all about it."

"No, I don't think so.  I got a bad first impression."

She snickered.  "Just imagine having them down the road as neighbors."  She looked over the car and signed for it, and then offered to take me to the nearest town as she had some shopping to do.  As we drove by the facility again, I saw the guard limping badly around the shack, and I found myself sliding down low in my seat.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

CARPORT OF THE APES

After delivering a car to Miami, my old chum John Hazzard offered me a ride to my next car.  He had an appointment in Apopka, Florida just outside of Orlando and said he would welcome the company on the ride up.  As for me, I was thrilled to get a ride with a friend rather than renting a car or taking the bus or Amtrak.  And John was always good company.

"This is a new kind of case for me, Bill," he explained as he drove north up the Florida Turnpike.  "A very poor family won the big lottery last week, and now they want to invest in property.  I'm supposed to offer them options, but frankly I don't know if they have the brain power to understand the most simple concepts."

"Really?"

"Sadly, yes.  I was talking about savings, and they thought I meant wood shavings.  I mentioned annuities and they thought I meant passing gas."

"Well that doesn't make any sense at all."

John smiled and nodded.  "And that's what we're in for in Apopka.  Do you want me to drop you off in Orlando first?"

"No, I would really like to come to Apopka and see what happens."

"Who knows, you may get another story from this."

"There's always another story."

When we arrived at the house in Apopka two hours later, we found it to be in very bad condition.  There was a very large yard strewn with garbage, and an elderly woman was running around in circles holding a BB rifle and shouting.  We both got out of the car in a hurry and rushed over to see what was wrong.

"They're here!  They're here and they're taking over!"

John tried to calm her.  "Miss Stalvey, please calm down."

"Did you hear what I said?  They've taken over and we are all in big trouble!"

"Who?" asked John.

"The apes!  There are apes in my carport, and they are big and mean and nasty.  They got them fangs."

A gentleman who appeared to be a few years older than Miss Stalvey came out wearing faded overalls but no shirt.  "Monkeys.  Um, they the rhesus macinow or something or other."

Miss Stalvey wouldn't calm down, she seemed incapable of anything but stress and screaming.  "They have taken over the carport.  What's next?"

The old gent held his hand out towards John and said, "I'm Henry, you must be the lawyer fella."

John smiled and shook his hand.  "Jonathan Hazzard, it's a real pleasure."

"Don't know if you heard or not, but there's been a population boom up in Silver Springs of these monkeys, and they're aggressive and not afraid of people.  Now they are migrating down our way."

Miss Stalvey pointed a finger straight at me.  "First our carport, then Orlando, and you know what will be next."  I shook my head weakly NO.  "Disney World.  Those damn dirty apes will invade the Magical Kingdom and then we are all doomed."

Henry cleared his throat.  "I think you're going overboard, honey bunch."

"Them dirty creatures aren't proper vaccinamated and can have them rabid rabies.  You ever seen their fangs?"

Henry tried to lead John away from the agitated woman.  "Let's talk some property and investing.  I was thinking I might like to buy a swimming pool.  A big one where the public can go swim, and I'll charge 'em money to swim in my pool."

John was perplexed.  "You know they have public pools where people can go swim for free."

Henry furrowed his brow.  "Now that don't seem right."

Miss Stalvey pushed between them.  "But can monkeys swim?  That's what we really need to know in case we need a fast escape.  What happens when they learn how to use knives and guns?  And what if they learn how to shoot off one of them nuccular atom bombs?  Then what?"  She heard a noise behind her and spun around and started shooting the rifle.  I felt like diving for cover, even if it was a BB gun.

Then Henry began scratching his chin.  "What if I was to buy a cemetery?  Where the people are already mostly buried.  Would that be a good investment?"

Miss Stalvey shouted, "Of course it'd be a good investment cuz a lot of humans will need burying when the apes take over.  I can see an army of apes marching down the streets and there is nothing we human folks can do about it."

"We could fight back," I heard myself say, then wondered how I could be so foolish.  The look on Henry and John's faces said that they agreed with me about the foolishness.

"We'd lose!" she yelled.  "The apes were here first, and we evolutionized ourselves out of them.  So they know what we know and they are clever and wise and thrifty."

"Thrifty?"

"Is that the word I mean?" she pondered.  "Well, all that counts is that you know what I mean.  And you damn well do."  I saw one of the monkeys race across the back of the carport but kept it to myself.

"Maybe I could buy a zoo," said Henry.

"You do and I will leave you!  No more monkeys, and I'm gonna kill me some today and make monkey stew."

She marched off defiantly.  Henry turned to John and said,  "Well, that's what I get for marrying a child bride.  She's very willful."

"Oh, how old is she?" asked Jon.

"She's 35.  I married her when she was 14."

I was stunned.  This woman looked like she was in her 70's.  I guess hard living and booze and Camels will age you prematurely.  "You're a lucky man," I said.

"Well thank you sir, I feel special to have her.  She keeps me young.  Say Mr. Hazzard, what about if I bought up some churches?  Would that get me a good return on my investments?"

I stood by as John tried patiently to explain that the best tactic was for the law firm to put together a list of good prospects and let him look it over.  But the thing I will never forget from that fateful day in Apopka was the Carport of the Apes.