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.

Monday, May 30, 2011


There was a scene in one of my favorite movies, STRIPES, where Bill Murray asks his platoon who cried when Old Yeller died. No one will admit to it, but Bill presses them until they all raise their hands.

I still remember seeing OLD YELLER when I was a kid. I cried my eyes out when the boy had to shoot his dog. It seemed so unfair and horribly wrong. Couldn't the vet fix him up, I wondered? That movie was just one of the building blocks that was at the very foundation of my love for dogs.

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped off and saw my friends Tom and Jenny Forrest at their ranch in Texas. Jenny takes in any dogs that have been lost or abandoned and does her best to find homes for them. And she is very good at it, she has a high success rate.

When I arrived at the ranch, she ran out the door followed by a big bunch of dogs (as usual) and threw her arms around me. I love hugs, and she is a great hugger. But when I was ready to let go, she pulled me in tighter. I was touched and felt so loved. "How you doing, Bill-doggie."

"Is that my new nickname?"

"I've been calling you that for a while, you just haven't been paying attention."

"Oh, is that it?"

"Yeah, that's it. Tom caught a bunch of catfish, I am cooking them up for dinner tonight. It's going to be a feast."


"You look like you've lost a few pounds."

"Maybe just a few, but that's all."

"Come on inside and tell me all your latest stories from the road."

We went in, and I could not find a place to sit down. They have plenty of chairs and two couches, but all of the dogs had laid claim on every one of them. "So how many dogs do you have now?"

"20 in the house, 15 outside in the pens. And they are a handful."

"But you love it."

"I do. How can I not?"

"You have such a big heart."

"So do you. That's why I love you."

The front door burst open and Tom rushed in. "Jenny, where's my shotgun."

"What? Why do you need your shotgun?"

Tom was hurrying around looking in the closets, the pantry, anywhere and everywhere. "It's those neighbors, they're at it again. They are trying to take my business away."

Jenny stood in Tom's path and grabbed him by the arms. "Hey! Hey! Look at me. Calm the hell down! This isn't the way."

"No more pacifism, its time to get down to business."

"Tom, listen to me! You have to chill out. Let me roll us a doobie and we'll sit and figure out a strategy." Tom seemed to calm down slightly. "You haven't even said hello to Bill yet."

Tom seemed to notice me for the first time. "Oh, hey there Bill. I'm sorry, I'm just so pissed off right now I can't see straight."

"I can see that. Anything I can do?"

"Will you go shoot them for me?"

Jenny laughed. "You don't want to shoot anyone."

Tom laughed back. "Well, I really would like to, but we both know I'm not gonna."

We sat and talked, and I told them a few tales of my adventures which seemed to effectively distract Tom. Before long, Jenny made supper, and it was purely delicious. I've heard that fish is brain food. I can only say for sure that its GOOD food.

They have a little room upstairs where I stay when I visit. It's kind of a loft, separated from their living quarters, and with its own entrance. I was up there after supper mapping out my trip for the next day, when Jenny walked in with a small dog in her arms. "Hey Bill-doggie, you got a minute."

"Of course."

"Got someone I want you to meet. This is Mr. Tom Hanks."

"Like the movie star?"

"Yes, but I think the actor was named after this little guy."

"I see."

"He's about a year old, and he's an adventurer. He's decided he wants to hit the road, and asked me if he could be yours." She put Tom Hanks into my lap. The little pooch began to lick my face and my heart began to melt. I instantly fell in love with this dog.

"I would love nothing more than to have a dog."

"Well that's good, because now you have one. I've been looking for the perfect dog for you, and now I've found him. Bill Thomas and Tom Hanks, riding around the USA together, getting into all kinds of adventures.

My heart sunk. Because as much as I wanted this dog, I knew it could never work. "Jenny, I love you so much for offering me."

"Nope, this isn't an offer, it's a done deal. He's yours and you are his. Period, end of story."

I let out a long sigh. "I can't."

"Why? You are all alone on the road. Now you'd have a co-pilot and a constant companion. And no one will give you the kind of unconditional love that this little guy will."

"No doubt."

"Well then, I'd say you've run out of excuses."

"The thing is, when I'm in between cars to drive, I'm running around on planes, trains, and rental automobiles. I couldn't take a dog along. It wouldn't be fair to him even if I could." Tom Hanks whimpered and licked my face. I felt a huge lump in my throat.

Jenny looked sad, but said that she understood. "One of these days, we're going to get you off the road for good. And then you will have a dog."

"Or two."

"Or three."

"You got it, sister."

"Amen, brother." Jenny leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

The next day as I drove off from the ranch, I felt that tug at my heart like when I first saw OLD YELLER. My situation makes it next to impossible to have a dog right now. But there are a whole lot of them that need homes, so if you would like a new best friend, my friend Jenny Forrest will be happy to help you out.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I was going to deliver a car the other morning to Clearwater, Florida. Then I had another one to pick up that night in St. Petersburg, but not until after 9 pm. My old friend Pastor Rex agreed to pick me up at the dropoff point in Clearwater, near his home, as long as I didn't mind running some errands with him.

When Pastor Rex arrived in his old but sturdy truck, I saw that there was a young man in the front seat. "Get in back," he said to me, "I've got shotgun."

As I squeezed into the back of the truck's cab, Rex said to me, "This is my nephew Rick, he's here for a visit. He's my sister's son."

"Nice to meet you, Rick, I'm Bill."

"If you say so," he replied, with a healthy helping of attitude in his voice.

Rex chuckled. "Rick thinks he's a bad boy, but we both know he has a heart of gold. Don't we, Rick?"

"Shut up, Uncle Rex."

Rex looked back over his shoulder at me and winked. "He's a pistol!"

"I'm bored, when are we gonna do something?" asked Rick.

"Well guys, I'm afraid I'm going to have to drag you along on a church errand. I have to stop by the hospital and perform an exorcism," Rex explained.

Rick came to life. "Really? Cool, I want to see this."

"Sorry Rick, you're not invited."

"Hell with that, just try to stop me. I love that satanic shit."

"Watch your language, Rick."

"You watch your own language, I'm 23 and do what the hell I want to do. Got me? Ha ha, don't take me too seriously."

Rex smiled and shook his head. "You are one little son of a gun."

"Um, Rex, I thought exorcisms were a Catholic thing," I said, pondering.

"They are."

"But you are Baptist, they didn't teach you about this in the seminary did they?"

"They certainly did not."

"Then how will you proceed?"

"I've seen that movie THE EXORCIST at least a dozen times, I think I can approximate it." Rex let go with a snort.

I shrugged. "I still don't understand."

"Look, the woman in the hospital is dying. She has a brain tumor that is making her act strangely and say bizarre things. Her grandparents are convinced that she has been possessed by Satan. Basically, I'm just trying to do something which will give them some peace."

"Lame!" sneered Rick.

"There's nothing lame about it, Rick, I try to bring comfort to my church members."

"OK, whatever."

Rex looked over his shoulder at me and winked, motioning towards Rick. "He's a rascal."

We turned into the hospital, and as Rex angled for a parking spot someone cut in front of him. Rick went off, spewing a long string of cuss words and pounding his window with his fist, displaying deep anger at the other driver.

"Calm down, nephew."

"You just gonna let them get away with that crap? No way, there has to be some payback."

"Have you ever heard the expression 'turn the other cheek'?"

"Screw that!"

Pastor Rex parked and started to climb out of the truck. Rick opened his door. "No Rick, you stay here."

"Hell with that, I'm coming in."

"Rick, I'm going to have to insist, you stay in the truck with Bill."

"Dammit!" Rick shouted. Rex grabbed his Bible, shut the door and went on into the hospital. Rick spun around to face me. "Uncle Rex is a good, kind man."

"I agree fully. There is no warmer, kinder, more generous man than your Uncle."

"That's not me. I am vengeful and violent and vindictive. If I were driving and that guy had cut me off, there would be hell to pay. I'm the kind of guy who would dismember you, put your parts into separate Hefty trash bags, and then throw all the bags into the Gulf of Mexico." He paused, then reached back and punched my shoulder. "Hey dude, I'm messing with you. God, don't be so serious all the time."

"Hmm. Interesting."

After a moment, Rick opened the truck door. "Screw it, I'm going in."

"But your Uncle Rex--"

"No one tells Rick what to do!" With that, Rick jumped out, slammed the door, and ran for the entrance.

An hour later, they came out to the truck again. Both very quiet and subdued. We drove back to the house, and I asked if I could go into the guest room and read for a while. I guess I fell asleep, because a few hours later Rex was waking me up. "Hey Bill, you OK?"

"Yeah, I nodded off for a while."

"You needed the rest. Listen, something has come up and I have to drive down to Naples. Would you mind if Rick gives you a ride to the pickup point in St. Pete?"

"Not at all. If he doesn't mind."

"No, he said he'd be glad to do it."

Rick's voice sang out from the hallway. "I did not say that!"

Pastor Rex shook his head and smiled. "He's a scoundrel."

A few hours later, Rick looked in my room and said, "I have to go meet some girls, you want to come along? Or are you afraid of girls?"

"Uh, no, not afraid of them. But if you want to go be with them, then come back and get me later..."

"The thing is, they are in St. Pete, so it doesn't make sense to go over there then come back later to get you to take over there."

I agreed, and a half hour later we were on our way over. Rick shared his jaded philosophies of life, and I was slightly frightened by some of his views. We arrived at a Gulf front bar at Happy Hour. I could not have a drink, as I would be driving. But Rick dove right in, and when the girls came he began to act like a gangsta rapper. "Yo, yo, yo, ladies, gangsta Rick is in the house. Yo check it, I saw me a real live exorcism today."

The girls were intrigued, and Rick began to tell a tale that had me fascinated as well. He said that Pastor Rex had beaten on the chest of the girl with his fists, screaming for the Devil to come out. And then he had smacked her in the head repeatedly with his Bible, demanding for the demon to vacate the vessel. More mayhem, more madness, and finally Rex and the girl had hit the floor, where he commanded that all evil spirits leave the place while burning a cross into her chest. It was a powerful story, and Rick told it in a way that had us all on pins and needles. He made us feel that we were there with him, witnessing this evangelical event.

"Now," Rick said, "which one of you ladies wants to get lucky and get wit me? Or shall we try a Rick sandwich. I got the meat if you got the bread, baby." He proceeded to get very drunk very fast. So I decided to take a few city buses to get where I needed to pick up my next car to deliver. As I left he shouted out a few obscenities, but I actually think he meant them in the nicest way.

The next day as I was driving, Pastor Rex called me on my cell phone. I put on the headset and spoke to him for a while. I told him how very cool it was that he had such an exciting exorcism. He asked me what Rick had told me, and I gave him a good description of the story. Rex just laughed and said, "Here's what really happened. I went in and talked to the girl for an hour. I shared my testimony, and told her about incidents where I have seen God's work in action. Where I have seen His hand at work, and that miracles really do happen. And about His greatest gift, giving us His son to die for our sins. And she accepted the Lord Jesus as her savior, then she passed away late last night. So there's a happy ending."

"Rick's version was so convincing."

"Did he get you where you were going last night?"

"No, he was getting involved with 2 pretty girls, so I left and made it there on the bus."

"He has my wife's car, and hasn't been home since you two left yesterday. She's getting upset, she wants her car back. But what are you gonna do? He's a rascal."

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I took a car to deliver to a woman in Mobile, Alabama this week. She had a rental car which she needed to drop off, so she instructed me to meet her at the rental agency rather than at her home. I was more than glad to do what was necessary to meet her needs.

The night before the delivery, she called me to be sure I would be there. "Hello Bill, this is Patty. Now I need you there at 8am sharp."

"That's no problem," I told her. "I have to catch a city bus that goes by at 8:30 and the next one doesn't come for several hours, so I'll be there waiting for you."

"I need you to be there at 8."

"Yes ma'am, I'll be there at 7:55."

"Not 7:55, I want you there at 8 sharp."

This had a familiar ring, a customer who is a stickler. "No worries, I'll be there right on time."

"8 sharp."

"Yes, absolutely."

The next morning I got up early and drove over to the rental car agency. I was an hour early, so I found a Diner nearby and went in for breakfast. A healthy bowl of oatmeal, which I find to be a great way to start my day.

I was standing outside at 7:50 looking for her to arrive. 8am sharp came and went. By 8:20 I was beginning to worry, so I called her cell phone.

"Yes, what is it?" she answered.

"Hi, it's Bill Thomas, your friendly driver. Wondering if you were still coming."

"I already told you I was going to be a half hour late."

"Last time we spoke, you said you'd be here at 8 sharp."

"That was last night, I sent you a text this morning very early telling you 8:30."

"I don't get texts."

"You... you don't get texts? How can you not get texts?"

"I'm here waiting for you, still hoping to catch that bus that comes by at 8:30am."

"Well, that can't be my problem. I am a busy working woman, and I don't have time for your nonsense. I'll be there soon." She abruptly hung up.

I stood with my fingers tightly crossed that she would show up before the bus did. When a car pulled into the lot with a woman driving, I could only hope it was Patty. I had all of the paperwork ready for her to sign so I could quickly exit stage right. Then I saw the bus go by, and I held out my hands towards it in sad acceptance.

"Looks like you missed your bus," Patty said as she climbed out of her car.

"I guess so," I said, and offered her the keys to her new car.

"I didn't understand how you could have missed the message I texted to you this morning."

"My phone isn't set up to get texts."

"How can that possibly be? How can anyone not get texts?"

"It's an old phone."

"But how do you survive without texting? For that matter, how could anyone in the modern world today go without texting? That's unthinkable!"

"My phone plan doesn't include texting."

"But how do you get text messages?"

"I don't."

"What if someone needs to reach you?"

"They can call me."

"What if they don't want to call you, no one calls anymore, everyone texts."

"Not me."

"I can't begin to fathom that. That is such an antiquated notion."

"I do OK."

"You must be some kind of dinosaur, using a phone. I mean that is as old fashioned as a Model-T car. You have to join the world the rest of us live in."

"I have the paperwork for your car here, if you can just sign for it."

She looked at the Toyota Camry I had driven. "Is it a piece of crap?"

"What? No, not at all, it's a very nice car, and in great shape."

"If you say so, but I'd rather have a Lexxus."

"This is the car they gave me to bring you."

She shook her head as she signed the papers. "I still can't get over you not texting. You're not pulling my leg, are you?"

"Nope. No texting."

"But that is so pathetic. How do you live with yourself?"

"It's fine, I promise you."

"It can't be fine. What if you need to reach someone?"

"I call them."

"What if they don't answer the phone?"

"I leave a message."

"What if they don't like to check messages?"

"Well, that's on them. At that point, I've done my due dilligence, and if they don't like to answer their phone or check their messages, I can't be responsible."

"Or, you could just learn to text like a normal human being. I literally could not survive without texting. If I'm running late driving somewhere, I can text them to say I'm late."

"You text while you drive?" I asked.

"Sure, everyone does. Don't you dare judge me."

I nodded, took the paperwork, picked up my bag, and began the very long walk to the train station. "Have a nice day," I called out.

"You need to get texting capability right away!" she shouted.

The next day, I was delivering a car in Port Charlotte, Florida. A teenage girl slammed her car into mine, ripping the entire front end of my car off, and I had to be taken to the hospital. She was texting as she drove.