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.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Riff called me the other morning, very early.  “Where in the hell are you, you stupid sonuvabitch?”

“Los Angeles, Riff.”

“What?  Why in the name of all that’s holy are you there?”

“I told you about this, Riff.  I’m out here with my buddy taking meetings to pitch A DRIVING FOOL to studios and production companies.”

“OK, I remember now, and I still think that is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.  Who cares about you delivering cars?  In the meantime, I have a lot of cars that need moving, so get your ass back to the East coast pronto before I—“  That’s the moment when I hung up.

My old friend John Hazzard in Miami had proposed that we join forces and go to L.A. together to pitch my project.  And also to pitch an idea he came up with, a reality series about me pitching A DRIVING FOOL.  This guy is very smart and has a good head for business, so I decided to put my faith in him and off we went to the West coast.  And now here we were.

It was a Sunday morning, and John wanted us to go to church.  He had a friend who was an ex-Hollywood agent, and thought she might be of help to us.  She invited us to meet her at her church, which was called the Church of Celestial Rings of Fire.  As we drove over, I kept on singing  “And it burns, burns, burns, that ring of fire!”

John looked over at me from behind the wheel.  “Jeez Bill, you need to be respectful of her religion.”

“What kind of religion is it?”

“It’s about the mind’s eye.  About how if you visualize something that you want or need, it will come into being.”

“Not much like my own religion.”

“Or Pastor Rex’s?”

“Absolutely not.”  We both chuckled.  “I think he would have a heart attack if he knew I was going to this place.”

“We need Sherry’s help, so please keep your cool and mind your tongue.”

“Can do,” I said.

We arrived at the church and went inside.  The smell of incense permeated the halls of this huge place.  A woman walked up to us with her arms spread wide.  “Gentlemen, welcome!  You have entered the hallowed halls of the universal sanctuary of love and well-being.  Bless you both, and go find a seat in the auditorium please.”

“Thank you,” said John.

“No, no, no, thank you.  And love yourself, for goodness sake.”

We went in and sat down.  We didn’t see his friend Sherry anywhere, but we did see an odd assortment of people coming in and acting somewhat strangely.  There was a woman sitting next to John changing the diaper on her baby doll.  I think it was one of those Cabbage Patch dolls, though I haven’t seen one of them in years.  A middle-aged man sitting directly in front of me was sucking the thumb on his right hand, and using his left hand to pump upwards towards… well, Heaven I assume.  Though I noticed out in the hallway there were no pictures of God or Jesus or the Virgin Mary.  Just pictures of unusual men in white robes with very wide eyes, almost like they were stoned.

Just as the service began, I felt nature call and had to excuse myself to the bathroom.  Just as I got situated in the bathroom stall, there was a rapid knock on the stall door.  “Let me in, let me in, oh hallelujah, I gotta go!”

“Occupied,” I said.

“Hurry, please hurry, oh man I gotta go, hallelujah.”  What was it about me and bathrooms?  This was the second time in recent memory when someone was rattling my stall door and asking me to hurry so they could come in.  Can't a man be alone with his thoughts in peace?

“I just got in here.”

“Well then get your business done and move along, oh holy hell I gotta go, hallelujah.  Oh, I can’t wait.  I'm headed outside for the Azalea bushes!”  I heard his feet running out the door. 

I finished my task and then went back to enter the auditorium.  A small woman with long gray dreadlocks stepped into my path.  “You cannot go in, we’re holding the doors.”

“Holding the doors?”

“No one goes in, we don’t wish to interrupt the flow of the carmeenia.”

“The what?” I asked.

“I believe you heard me right.”  She reached over to the wall and flipped on a switch, which activated a PA so we could hear what was happening in the auditorium.  I heard them announcing weekly events at the church.  “We don’t want to interrupt when they are making announcements.   That would be sacrilege.”

Several other people came up and were also told to wait.  And then a very aggressive tall man came up and said  “Move out of my way, I got to get in there, hallelujah.”  I immediately recognized the voice as the man from the bathroom.

“You ain’t going in there, and that’s for sure,” said the small but determined woman.

“Oh yes I am, yes I am, you just watch and see.”

“I will watch and see you not going in there, I promise you that.”

“And I want to promise you that I will be walking right past you and going into the auditorium, woman!”

She threw herself against the door.  “You will only get into the holy auditorium over me!”

And then the announcements ended, and the voice on the PA said,  “Open the doors and let our people in now.”  And so the small woman complied, only she glared at the man who dared defy her.

I went back to my seat, and John leaned over and said,  “Where have you been?  I thought you abandoned me.”

“They wouldn’t let me back in.  But the bigger question is where is your friend Sherry?”

“Heaven only knows.”

“I don’t think Heaven has anything to do with this place, buddy.  She's not coming, is she?”

"It certainly looks that way.  Although I had every reason to believe she would be here.

Just then, a family came in.  A chubby man who looked to be in his 50’s was wearing a bicycle crash helmet and sat with them.  We sat and listened to a man sing a Sam Cooke song, a group of kids rapping about how man created God in his own image, and a plea from a woman to give more money to the church.  And then the minister who was to deliver the sermon got up and began to speak.  It was all about finding your true potential, being better than your best, helping others but only after you help yourself.  It all sounded like a lot of mumbo jumbo to me, and frankly the behavior of some of the people there made me feel like I had stumbled into a Cult of some kind.

The minister had spoken for an hour, and suddenly his soft cadences turned into something akin to fire and brimstone.  And just as suddenly, the man with the bike helmet got up and began running and ramming his head into the wall.  Again and again he did this, as if in direct response to what the minister was saying.  The strangest thing was that no one sitting around us even seemed to notice.  It was just business as usual.

At the end of the service, they invited the entire congregation to come to the Hall of Earthly Pleasures for some refreshing Kool Aid.  John and I decided to pass on that.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I just celebrated a birthday.  When I was a kid, I always looked forward to them.  But as an adult, each year that passes just means I'm getting older, and I don't need any reminders of that.  Plus being on the road can be very lonely, and so hoping for a Happy Birthday is usually setting up for disappointment.

My Cousin Chris called me and asked where I was on the day before my birthday.  I told him that I would be arriving in downtown Charleston the next day, and he said he wanted me to know that he'd be thinking of me.  Chris and I grew up together, and in many ways I was always closer to him than I was to my own brother.  We shared a special connection, and I would do anything for this guy.  He's just the best person I know.

On my birthday, I delivered the car on the coast of South Carolina.  When I walked out the door of the office building where I had delivered, a limo pulled up in front of me and the back window rolled down.  "Hello, cuz," said my Cousin Chris, who was in the back of the limo.

After I picked up my jaw off the pavement, I began to stammer.  "How did you... how are you... where did you come from?"

"I flew into town on the corporate jet."  Chris is the CEO of a huge international corporation, and his job involves a lot of travel all over the world.  "Thought I'd come and spend your birthday with you."

"Seriously?  But I don't understand, how did you find me?"

"You told me that you were delivering in Charleston."

"Yes, but it is a big city.  I didn't tell you the address I was delivering the car to."

"I have my ways.  But like a good magician, I'm not going to reveal the magic behind my tricks."

"Then we'll just leave it at that.  Get out of that car."

"Why don't you get in?" he asked.

"First you get out."  He obliged, and I grabbed him and gave him a big hug.  "Thank you so much, I am so glad to see you."

"Likewise.  Now can we get in the car?"

"Yep," I answered, as we both climbed in.  "Where are we going?"

"Wherever you want, it is your day and you get to decide.  My first thought was that we'd go to the beach."

"Well then, let's go!"  And off we went to the nearest public beach.  He had towels and an ice chest full of drinks.  When we got there and settled down on our beach towels, I must have told him several more times how delighted I was to see him.  "We only get together maybe once a year for dinner."


"So this is a real treat, I've got you to myself for the day."


I got a little choked up.  "I'm just trying to figure out what I did to deserve this."

"I think you deserve it because you are you.  To me, you are special, and you maybe need someone to remind you how much you are cared about.  I read all the blogs, you know."

"No you don't."

"I sure do.  Why would you doubt that?"

"Because you are a busy guy.  Because you run a huge company and have a wife and kids to tend to."

"I always have time for you.  And I love the funny stories about people you meet, but I especially like the ones where you help people.  Where you show kindness to others.  You are a good man."

I shook my head.  "I ain't no saint."

"I never said that you were.  But come on, when you helped that young woman in Mississippi when you got trapped in her town for 24 hours.  Or when you gave your motel room to the homeless family on a cold night.  Or how about spending your weekend off working in a soup kitchen feeding poor folks?"

"If you read that story, you know that I got fringe benefits for that one.  I spent the weekend in the bed of a beautiful girl."

"OK, well I say good for you.  You earned that one."

I shrugged.  "Sometimes I'm just not sure what I'm supposed to be doing.  I drive all over the country, but I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere.  I feel a bit lost and listless."

"Easy answer:  you lack any real stability.  At some point you are going to have to get off the road and get a steady job with benefits.  But I don't think you're at that point just yet."

"When will I be?"

"You'll know.  See those Waverunners over there for rent?"

"Sure, I see 'em."

"Want to go for a ride?"

"Yes I do!"

And so we rode two Waverunners in the Atlantic ocean for an hour.  Then we lay out on our towels til we got dry.  After that, we went bowling, and then found a place we could play miniature golf.  I had forgotten just how competitive Chris could be.  I guess that is what makes him such a great success in the corporate business world.  We topped off the day by going to a very classy restaurant and eating the best Delmonico steak I've ever tasted.  Medium rare for me.

After dinner, Chris offered to take me anywhere I wanted to go in the corporate jet.  He said he would drop me off anyplace in North America.  "I haven't been home to Birmingham in a while."

"Birmingham it is," he said as we climbed back into the limo.  I sat for a while, quietly staring at my cousin.  "What?  Why are you giving me the evil eye?"

"Oh, there is nothing evil about it.  I'm just feeling a bit overwhelmed that you cared enough to come out of your way to spend time with me."

"It's your damn birthday, so deal with it."

"I know, I know, it's just...  I'm not used to it.  Not even close."

"You are a good person, Bill.  You have a good heart, a good soul.  You love others and you show it.  And you have to remember this:  you are loved.  Got me?"

"I hear you loud and clear.  Did you know that you mean the world to me, cuz?"

"Yes, I had a general idea you felt that way."

"Same time next year?"

He laughed.  "Whoa now, I can't promise you that."

"I'm just joshing.  This birthday would be pretty hard to top."

He smiled.  "Well, that sounds like a challenge to me.  We will just have to see."

We got to the private airport and boarded his jet.  And then he told the pilot to take us to Birmingham.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I had made a pit stop in Springfield, Missouri because I was exhausted from too many hours on the road.  I found a Dunkin Donuts with free Wifi, and went inside to set up at a table and catch up on my email.  I ordered a large coffee and a muffin, then got to work.

Before I knew it, a hand slammed down on my table.  I jumped a little bit, then saw it was a man wearing torn and dirty clothing.  "You using that computer?"


"Don't mess around with me, its a sincere and honest question I'm asking you.  Are you using that computer laptop there?"  He had a strong accent, but I could not make out what region of the world he hailed from.

"Yes, it is my laptop."

"Well of course it is, who else would it belong to.  I am gonna get one of those laptop computers for myself, and then I'll be sitting right where you are, working on MY computer."

"Good for you."

"No, I mean it.  Right here, at this table.  You won't be able to work here, because I'll be at this table using my computer.  MINE!"

I nodded.  "Sounds good."

"Damn right.  You'll see."  He marched out purposefully, and I went back to work on the internet. I was in the middle of composing an email to my one true love, Karen.  I could not let this distract me very much, because it is such a regular occurrence for me.  Bill's people find me wherever I go, nearly every single day.

A few minutes later, I felt hot breath on the back of my neck.  I spun around, only to find this same man standing way too close behind me and reading over my shoulder.  "What do you want?" I asked.

"You shouldn't tell that girl Karen how you really feel."

"Please don't read my personal private emails."

"You don't want people reading them, you shouldn't display them in a pubic place."

"A pubic place?"

"You heard me.  I have a question for you.  How much did you pay for that computer?"

"I don't believe that's any of your business."

"How much?"

"Leave me alone."

"I can stand here all day.  How much?"

I sighed.  "Four hundred dollars."

"Is that with tax?"

"Before tax."

"How much tax did you pay?"

"I don't recall."

"That's OK, you can look it up later and get back to me.  How much would it have cost you if you had bought it at a Pawn shop?"

"I don't know."

He gave me a dubious glance.  "Sure you know.  Of course you know."

"No, really, I don't."

"How could you not?  Well, when I buy my computer, I'm going to a Pawn shop.  And that's what you should have done.  How much do you think it will cost me?"

"No clue."

"Best guess."

"No idea."

"I'm just asking you to guess."

"Three hundred."

"Is that with tax?"

"I don't know."


"Then yes, that includes tax."

He stroked his chin and studied me.  "No, I think you're wrong.  Dead wrong."

"OK, well then, have a nice day."

"I'm going to buy a computer.  And unlike you, I'm not going to be stupid about it.  I'm going to get it at a Pawn shop.  And you know what?  Its going to be better than yours!"  He slammed the table again.  "And hey dude, you should forget about that Karen girl.  She's obviously into chicks."

Then he was gone.  I packed up the computer and got back on the road.  I have hundreds of miles to drive and no relief in sight.