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.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


I was feeling the pinch of my new pointy cowboy boots as I walked down the sidewalk in a very nice neighborhood.  It was a cold December day in Fort Worth, Texas and I had just dropped off a car to a ritzy house in this affluent neighborhood and had a two mile walk ahead to get to the city bus stop.  The boots had looked really nice in the store, and I'd always wanted a pair.  But I was so used to wearing my New Balance tennis shoes that the boots were taking some getting used to.

I saw a man picking up a big box on the front porch of another nice house and walking away.  He appeared to be of middle eastern descent, but he was dressed like a thug from the hood.  I'm not a judgemental guy or into profiling, but this fellow did not look like he belonged in this area.  Just as I was mentally scolding myself for being so quick to judge a book by its cover, I saw him go up onto another porch and grab two boxes.  I remembered a TV news report I had seen recently about people stealing packages with Christmas presents inside right off of people's front porches.  And that seemed to be exactly what I was witnessing here.

"Excuse me?" I called out.  The man quickened his pace, and yet he headed for yet another front door with a stack of packages outside of it.  "Hello, sir."  I caught up with him, and the guy spun around.

"Get the hell away from me," he snarled with a thick accent.

"What are you doing?'

"Mind your own damn business, I don't have to explain myself to you."

"I was just a little concerned that you might be stealing from people, and that's a really horrible thing to do at Christmas time."

"Oh really, you think so?  Well stealing is how I make a living, whether it's Christmas or Easter or the fourth of July.  You need to piss off or we're gonna have a big problem."

"I think we already do."

"Really?"  Quick as a flash, he sucker punched me in the jaw and I went down hard.  I laid on my back feeling dizzy and wondering how fast I could get back to my feet.  He pulled a blackjack out of his back pocket and said,  "I hate people like you, trying to do the right thing.  I am gonna make you so sorry you got out of bed this morning."

I looked up and saw my opportunity.  I kicked him with the point of my boot right in the jingle bells, and he yelped and fell to his knees.  I climbed to my feet and gave him a knee to the chin for good measure.  The boxes fell to the ground all around him as he came down, and I saw a couple of men running towards us.

"Are you OK?" asked the first man.

"I will be.  This guy was stealing boxes from people's front porches."

"We know, it's been going on for a week now.  I'm Jerry Baxter, and this is my brother Rich.  We're in the neighborhood watch group, and you just did us a big favor."

"Believe me, it's my pleasure."

Rich got on the phone and called the police.

"Do you live nearby?" asked Jerry.

"No sir, I'm Bill Thomas and I just delivered a car to Scott Montilla."

"I know Scott.  Where are you headed?"

"I was walking to the bus stop, then making my way to the train station."

"Please let me take you to the train station."

I smiled.  "That's awfully nice of you, but I don't want to put you out."

He waved his hand.  "You just did us all a service.so this is the neighborhood saying thank you.  And Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas to you," I said, feeling warm all over.

As Jerry drove me to the Amtrak station, I began to think that even with the initial discomfort, these boots were a good idea after all.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I had just delivered a car in Nashville on a chilly Thanksgiving morning.  I was taking a long walk to catch a bus and then a shuttle to get me to the airport.  From there I would rent a car and drive to Cincinnati where my next car awaited.  It was cold enough that I had just bought a nice warm hoodie and was snug and comfortable in it.

As I was walking past what looked like a deep and foreboding forest, I heard some noise that made me wary.  I heard a voice say.  "Hey.  Hey you, come here."

I was hesitant.  "Who are you?" I asked.

There was a cackling laughter and he wheezed as he said,  "I ain't no one to be concerned about.  Come on in through the trees, and don't be afraid.  I don't bite.  Well, not lately."  He began to laugh heartily once more, and I made my way slowly towards him.

"Happy Thanksgiving.  My name is Bill Thomas."

"OK William, welcome to my palace.  They call me Jasper."  I looked around but all I saw was junk and ragged clothes strewn about.  Oh, and there was a big grocery cart packed beyond full with his worldly possessions.  The man who owned them was wearing a T-shirt and torn jeans, and he trembled as if he were freezing.  "Oh my goodness, it is Thanksgiving today isn't it?  Good thing I just happened to be making a turkey dinner with all the trimmings."

I glanced over at the fire pit, and it was full of ash.  Lots of ash.  But I didn't see any food anywhere.  "I'm not really hungry."

"Not hungry?" he gasped.  "You gotta eat turkey for Thanksgiving.  To do otherwise would be sacreligious and unpatriotic."

I nodded.  "I guess I could eat.  Thanks Jasper."

"Willy, your taste buds are about to dance!"  He pulled an empty microwave container out of his grocery cart.  If you've ever eaten a frozen Stouffers dinner Family Size then you know the black plastic container I'm speaking of here.  He carried it over and sat next to me, holding it like he was balancing a heavy turkey on it.  "Time to carve the turkey.  Would you care to do the honors?"

I stared at the invisible turkey.  Then I looked at the man and said "I firmly believe that the host should have the honor."

He smiled and nodded.  "Wise choice, good idea."  Jasper began the process of slowly carving the turkey.  I was impressed, it was as if he were creating a piece of art.  Although there was no art, and no turkey.  "Dark meat or white meat?" he asked me.

"Surprise me."

"Yes sir, that's just what I will do."  He carefully dished out some of the invisible turkey onto a slightly used paper plate and handed me a fork.  "Dig in, Willy boy."

I carefully pantomimed eating bites of the non-existent bird, and Jasper seemed delighted.  "Really good, thank you."

"No sir, thank you.  It's been a lonely year for me.  Worst thing isn't just being alone, its when I'm cold and alone.  But I have something on the inside that keeps me warm."

For some reason I felt a little nervous, not sure where this was leading.  "What's that?"

"God.  He lives inside of me.  And so no matter what I face in the world everyday, inside I am at peace.  Cuz he loved me enough to give his Son, and now I am saved.  We can all be.  Now what do you think about that?"

I was a tiny bit stunned.  What this man was saying was profound and somehow I just didn't expect to be witnessed to by this man.  "I think what you said is pretty terrific."

He squinted at me and turned his head sideways.  "Oh yeah?"

I nodded positively.  "Most definitely."

He looked down at my plate and said, "I see you cleaned up every morsel.  Good stuff, good stuff.  I told you it was gonna make your tastebuds dance.  You're asking me to dance?  Well I would love to!"  He set an empty tin can on the ground and got up and just went wild.  An energetic blend of hip hop moves, the robot, the hustle, the swim, and tap dancing was awkward but impressive.  I dug onto my pocket to find a lot of change and a few dollars bills.  I got it all and stuffed it into the can.

When Jasper was done, I started to speak.  "Hey that was just--"

He hushed me and said, "Hang on a sec till I turn this music down."  He walked over to a stereo I could not see and turned down the volume.  "Sorry, now what were you saying?"

"That dance was great.  I'm very impressed."

"If you liked it, I'm happy.  But I'm getting very tired all of the sudden, do you mind if I call it a night?"  It was still before noon, but who am I to argue.

"Not at all.  You have a happy day all day long."  I turned and walked away as Jasper laid down on the ground and wrapped himself in a little ball.  I didn't get far before I came back to him.  I'm not in the habit of giving away new clothes, but I took my hoodie off, spreading it over him like a blanket.  "Stay warm, my friend.  And God bless."

He looked up at me and smiled. "God blesses me in every way every single day."

I continued my walk but felt a spring in my step that wasn't there earlier.  I guess it was just a big moment for me when this odd homeless man seemed out of it, and yet had perfect clarity when speaking about his Heavenly Father.  God most certainly does work in mysterious ways.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


I was driving this evening to deliver a car in St. Louis, Missouri.  My cell phone rang as I neared my destination.  "This is Bill."

"Trick or treat you stupid bastard."

I immediately recognized the drunken voice of my crusty boss Riff.  "I'm almost there, ready to drop off the car."

"Well who do you think you are?  You and the horse you rode in on, thats what!"

"I will call once I've delivered, Riff."

"But why in hell are you delivering a car on Halloween night?"

"You tell me.  You assigned me the car and told me to get it there by 8pm tonight."

"Oh... who is this?"

"Gotta go."  I drove into town and out to the suburb where I was to deliver the car.  I had no trouble finding the neighborhood, less trouble finding the house which was all decked out like the Addams Family mansion.  Very cool.

I parked in the driveway at dusk and walked up to the front door.  Something popped out of a hidden box unexpectedly and then a zombie came from behind me and yelled, "Boo!"  Now I don't get scared too easily, but I jumped out of my skin and back in again.

"I'm looking for Mr. Berkshire."

"Hi, that's me.  Did I scare ya?"

"Oh yes definitely."

"Good, good. Come on inside, creepy things are happening."

"Would you like to look over your new car first?"

"No, no, that can wait.  First things first."  He enthusiastically led me inside, and there were a lot of familiar things from when I was a kid and you went into a cheap fun house.  Brains, eyeballs, all kinds of squishy things to feel.  He turned a corner quickly and I lost sight of him for a brief moment.  When I turned the corner he jumped at me and yelled, "Boo!"

This time I wasn't startled, and almost found the attempt to scare me amusing.  "Good one," I said clumsily.

A very short chubby woman came out and said to her husband, "Dear, I've just taken the cookies out of the oven and they're cooling."

"Good to hear."

"Did I do good?  Did I do good, Boo?"

He nodded sullenly.  "Yes, yes." He pointed at me.  "Now what's your name again?"

"Bill Thomas."

"Bill, this is my lovely ball and chain Gertie."

She smiled sweetly and said,  "Oh, I see we have our first little trick or treater.  Welcome Billy."

"Thanks ma'am, nice to meet you."

"Lets see what I've got for you."  She picked up a huge bowl of candy and sorted through it.

"Oh no thank you, I don't need anything."

"Where's your little bag?" she asked.

"Your candy collecting bag," Mr. Berkshire said for clarification.

"I don't have one."

"Oh you poor thing," she cooed.  She hurried to the kitchen and came back with a plastic grocery bag.  "Here you are.  Its not much, but its a start."  She began filling it with handfuls of candy.

"Oh that's plenty."

"You sure?"

"Yes thank you."

She looked at her husband with pleading eyes.  "I was doing my best to be a good hostess to our guest.  Did I do good, Boo?"

He rubbed his temples slowly and said, "Yes, yes, yes."

There was a long awkward silence as I rocked back and forth on my feet.  "Well would you like to look at the car now?"

He looked surprised.  "But Bill, you just got here.  Boo!"  I smiled and chuckled politely.  "Oh darn, I thought I'd get you again."

"Almost," I said.  We went outside and looked at the car while he told me a lot of very old corny jokes.  I got him to sign and said "Thank you."

"How are you getting out of here?"

"Uber is on the way, then off to the airport."

"I have to warn you, Uber is evil.  Their drivers are forged in the pits of hell."  Mercifully, the Uber car came up at that moment.  To my amazement, Mr. Berkshire ran quickly around to the driver's side window and raised his hands in the air and yelled "Boo!"  The driver just stared at him blankly.  I jumped into the car.

"Please get me to the airport as fast as legally possible."

And I hope your Halloween was a happy one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


As I drove into Raleigh, North Carolina, my cell phone rang and my boss Riff purred at me with a sarcastic tone.  "Is this Bill?"

"Yes Riff, it's me."

"Is this Bill Thomas?"

"What can I do for you, Riff," I asked with just a twinge of impatience.

"The Bill Thomas who drives cars badly and pisses of our clients wherever you go?"

"What does that mean?"

"It means I got a complaint about you, butterball.  You asked that guy in Memphis to use his bathroom."

"Now wait a minute Riff, that guy said to be there at 10am sharp and he didn't show up until 11am.
I was waiting in an office and asked the receptionist politely if I could use the facilities."

"Oh, I get it now.  You're a complete moron and can't help yourself.  Haven't you ever heard of the rule where you never, ever ask to use the bathroom at a customer's office."

"No I do not know that rule.  And I was waiting for an hour."

"Dammit, I don't care if you're waiting for ten hours.  If you have to go, just squeeze your butt cheeks together and hold it."

"Not possible when I have to go."

"Then go out to the freakin' bushes or behind a tree, but don't you ever go to the bathroom again."  He hung up on me, and I wondered if he had meant EVER... for the rest of my life?

I was driving a mobile TV studio installed in the back of a big van.  It had a sattellite dish on top that extended up high for remote broadcasts.  I found the studio I was to deliver to in Raleigh and jumped out of the van.  I walked into a side door marked for delivery.  A big, blustery man with a bright red face and a shock of white hair came marching up to me and said,  "Did you bring the donuts?"

I was confused, and assumed this was a case of mistaken identity.  "No, no donuts."

He looked flustered and shook his head with an air of disappointment.  "That's a bad start to your first day.  Take care of it."  He walked away, fairly exasperated.  I turned around to see a frantic woman running towards me carrying a large box.  She shoved it into my arms.  I was baffled.

"Get these to editing room eight right now!" she shouted at me.

"But I'm--"

"For God's sake, we are on the air in ten minutes!  Hurry, go, now, now, now!!"

I ran off in search of editing bay eight, and when I found it a guy opened the door and grabbed the box from me.  "Took you long enough!" he said, without one ounce of gratitude.

Then I heard a herd of people coming towards me, led by an aggressively nervous man who was barking orders at those following him.  "Second bank robbery this week in downtown Durham.  Get over there, get interviews, talk to the cops, you know the drill."  He stopped right in front of me and pointed a finger in my face.  "You!"

I demured.  "Me?"

"Yes you.  I need you to drive the crew over in the news van.  We just got a new one in out back."

"Yes sir, but you should know--"

He quickly interrupted.  "All I need to know is that you are on your way to take my crew to cover the bank robbery.  Go, go, go!"

I didn't have anywhere to be, and thought maybe this could be an adventure.  Heck, nearly every day on my job is one big adventure.  I got back into the van I had delivered, and the crew climbed in the back.  I followed the GPS directions to downtown Durham, where it wasn't hard to find the bank with all the cop cars and emergency vehicles all over the place.  I watched with fascination while the beautiful lady reporter interviewed cops, victims, eyewitnesses. And for me personally, it was cool to watch the technicians in the back of the van running the machinery that made it all work.

When we finally got back to the station, I was greeted at the door by the station manager.  In my absence, he had figured out who I was and what had happened.  He was extremely nice to me and full of apologies.  I explained that it was an interesting experience and that I only hoped I would not get in trouble for it.  He said that he'd rather it just stay our little secret, and I was happy to agree to that.  He gave me a station jacket, then said he'd have to go.  But he encouraged me to watch the bank robbery report on the news.

I nodded and chuckled.  "Film at 11?"

He looked at me gravely serious and said,  "No, no, this will be on the noon news."

Then I saw the red faced man who had been searching for donuts earlier headed my way, and decided to make a quick departure.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


As I was driving into Arlington, Texas this morning, my boss called me on my cell phone.  "You damn sure better have delivered that car by now," he bellowed.

"Riff, I'm almost there and I'm an hour early."

"You're going to a very posh country club community.  Try to be professional."

"Of course I will."

"Don't screw things up like usual."

"I usually don't."

"Listen doughnut, I don't appreciate your lip.  You got a lip on you."

I let out a sigh and said, "I'll call you once I've delivered, Riff."  Then I clicked off.

It took me another half hour to get to the huge country club. The man I was to deliver to had told me on the phone how to navigate the streets around the golf course to his house.  And he made it very clear that I could not wait anywhere near his house for my cab to come get me.  He suggested I make my way to the Country Club clubhouse and wait there.  But as I measured it on my odometer, I found it to be three miles.

I pulled into the driveway and the man came marching out towards me.  As I stepped out the car, he said, "Let's make this quick, I don't have all day to waste on you."

"No problem, just look over the car and sign the papers."

He grabbed my paperwork.  "Oh I will."  He signed the papers without even looking at the car. "So you can get on your way before my neighbors see you."

I was confused, for I was in casual dress clothing as usual.  This man just seemed like he had way too much starch in his underwear.  "Yes sir, I will go the clubhouse as you suggested."

"And as quickly as possible please."

I gave him his copy, picked up my bag, and started the three mile walk.  It was a hot and balmy morning, and I was dreading the distance with each step.  Plus my bag can get a bit heavy at times. As I made the first curve, I noticed a clear lot between two houses.  Behind the lot was the golf course, and a straight line towards the clubhouse.  It looked to be just over a mile, but that sure sounded better to me than three miles.  I really don't mind a long walk, but I will always take a shortcut when available.

I turned and strode towards the course and found the grass to be very comfortable under my feet.  I have never played golf, other than mini golf, so I'm not much familiar with the rules.  But I heard that my father was a very good player, so maybe I inherited some of his talent.  And that's the moment a ball whizzed past my ear.  I heard a man in the distance yelling at me but couldn't make out what he was saying.  I quickened my pace.

One hundred yards later, a golf cart rode up alongside me, and an elderly British man addressed me.  He was very stuffy and puffy.  "Hello, old fellow.  Nice of you to be out here on foot in this heat to wait on us.  Well, let's have a Bombay sapphire martini, very dry, pearl onion.  Be on your way, and godspeed."  And then he drove away.  I kept up the walk, and soon I saw several men off in the distance walking in my direction very fast.

When the two men were close enough that I could understand them, the more agitated one said "What in the name of heaven do you think you're doing?"

"Trying to get to the clubhouse."

"Are you playing here today?"

"No sir."

"Are you a member of this club?"


"Then you have no business here and are trespassing.  You better start coming up with some good answers."

I paused.  "So are you in charge here?"

"No, but I am a charter member."

"OK, I see.  Well sir, I was trying to take a short cut and I am on business.  I'm sorry if I offended you, but I don't owe anyone any further explanations."  And I continued my walk, as the man continued to call me names but not follow me further.

I got to the clubhouse and called the taxi to come get me.  The people that worked in the clubhouse were very nice to me.  And it was kind of a fun memory about the ball whizzing by my ear.  Call it golf dodgeball.  As I waited out front for my taxi, the elderly British man came rolling up again in his golf cart.  "Well young man, I must say I'm disappointed.  When I want a libation I want it now, not later.   You seemed to have forgotten all about my order."  And then he drove away.  And then my yellow cab pulled up.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


I found myself in Santa Clarita, California the other day.  Just having delivered a car, I hung up from a long call with my angry boss Riff and started the hike for the nearest city bus stop.  I would take the bus to the train station, and then head for San Jose where my next car was waiting.

As I neared the bus stop on the street carrying my heavy bag, I saw the bus come and go.  I knew it would be another hour until the next bus came, and wondered what I could do to kill the time.  That's when the sky opened up and the hard rain fell.  I ran for a nearby shopping center and stood in front of a store.

An odd looking gent stared at me and said  "What do you think?"

Oh no, I thought, it's another one of "Bill's people", my name for the strange people who find me wherever I go.  "About what?" I asked.

"What do you think?  Vape vs. smoke?"

"I beg your pardon?"

Another man walked out of the store, and he was asked the same question by the nervous man.  "What about you, sir?  Vape or smoke?"

"Definitely vape."

"Why?  Can you explain it to me?"

"Sure, easy.  Vape has less chemicals, its less harmful to your lungs, less harmful to your body.  You can get it with or without nicotine.  You can get tobacco flavored or pineapple or Cinnabon or any number of delcious flavors."

"But what are the benefits?  Explain it to me."

"I believe I just did," said the more rational man.

"You explained nothing."

The calm man let out a sigh.  "You seem agitated."

"You are damn right I am, I am a lifelong smoker and I want to know what all this vaping
nonsense is all about.  I refuse to give up my nasty habit."

"If it makes any difference to you, I used to smoke and got very winded when I climbed a lot of stairs."

The odd man was taken aback.  "Me too.  That's a coincidence."

"It's no coincidence at all."

"Look, I don't care what you say, I will always be a smoker, and that's not gonna change.  That is one constitutional right that no government is going to take away from me.  I will smoke till I die."

The other man nodded.  "And you will die a lot sooner if you continue to smoke.  If you vape you will live longer, feel better, have more energy, be less tired.  And so many wonderful flavors."

The strange man pondered this for a few seconds.  "OK I'm sold!  No more smoking for me, I'm a
reformed man.  Only vaping for me from now on.  Where can I get started?"

"Right here at Awesometown Vapors."  He pointed at the sign above the door, and sure enough I realized I had been standing in front of a store selling vaping products.

"OK, well I think I may have found a new friend, and I'd like to reward you.  Buddy butt slap?" He tried to spank the other man, who quickly jumped out of the way.

"No thank you," said the other guy.

"Knuckle balls?" the odd fellow said as he tried to pop his new friend in the crotch with his knuckles.

Again, the other guy side stepped him and said  "No, no."

Then the quirky man jumped behind the other guy and did something I've never seen.  In the blink of an eye, he slid the tips of all fingers on one hand up and through the other man's butt crack and yelled "Credit card."

The new friend suddenly smiled and said  "I'll accept that transaction.  But Mastercard and Visa only, you're not going to discover anything up there with a Discover card."  They both laughed, but I felt a little queasy.

"Can I buy you a Coke or a cup of coffee?"

The other guy got a warm glow about him.  "Why I think that would be lovely."  They walked away together.  And I went inside Awesometown Vapors and had a wonderful time.  I was educated all about vaping and even sampled the Cinnabon flavor at the Juice bar.  If you happen to go anywhere near Santa Clarita, California, stop in and say hello to the owners, Guy Casablanca and his charming wife Karen.  They will make you feel right at home.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


It was my birthday last week, and as I drove through the great state of Texas I thought about birthdays the past several years.  Like when I got invited to stay with a great Mexican family in Indianapolis on my birthday, very last minute and improptu.  And my birthday where my cousin showed up in his private jet to surprise me.

This year I was headed to Tom and Jenny's ranch in Texas.  It was always a good time with them, and I knew they would be excited to see me.

As I drove up the driveway, I could see that there were many more dogs there than the last time I came.  I parked and got out of the car, and a frisbee bounced off the back of my head.  I spun around to see Jenny laughing.  "Guess it got away from me," she giggled.

"Yeah, sure it did."  I smiled and went to hug her.  She squeezed me tight, Jenny was always good for hugs.

"Happy Birthday, Bill-dog.  I'm so glad you're here."

"Me too.  Thanks for having me."

"Well thanks for being had."  We both laughed.

I walked to the trunk of my car and popped it open.  "I have gifts for you all."

"What?  No, this is your birthday."

"Yep, it is.  But don't forget my tradition of picking the people I'm truly closest to and bringing them gifts."

"You have some nutty policies, my friend."

Just then, Tom walked out the door.  "Who's got nuts?"

"Hey Tom, how are you buddy?"

"I'm OK, the question is how are you?"

"Celebrating my birthday by getting gifts for my closest friends."  I handed Tom a case of Bud Light.  "I sure do hope I got the size that fits you."

He smiled and nodded.  "Perfect size, and its my favorite color too-- Bud Light Blue."

I looked around the yard.  "Looks like you have even more dogs now."

"One hundred to be exact," Tom exclaimed.

"Quit exxagerating," scolded Jenny.  "We have 99 dogs, no more and no less.

We all went into the house where their three foster daughters were playing.  I handed each one of them a gift bag which had toys and dolls and such inside.  The girls were tickled pink.  Then I handed Jenny a check for $30.  "This is for your Dog adoption fund.  Its not much, but its--"  I was quickly interrupted by Jenny giving me a kiss on the lips.  There was no romance, just deep gratitude in those lips.

I excused myself and walked back outside to the trunk of my car.  I reached inside and grabbed the first of three big bags full of dog food. And a couple of boxes of dog treats.  I took it all inside and said, "Well, I don't know how far this will stretch, but maybe it will help."

"Bill-dog, every single thing helps.  And much more than you know.  I thank you so much, but I still don't understand why you're doing stuff for us on your birthday."

"Because I love you guys.  Because you mean a whole, whole lot to me.  And because I still believe in the Golden rule, even if most people don't.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  And its better to give than to receive.  Know what I mean?"

Jenny smiled and nodded her head.  It turned out to be a really wonderful birthday for me.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Last Sunday was Mother's day, and I may have mentioned its a bad day for me.  Ever since my Mom and brother died on the same day in a car accident.  But this year instead of mourning, I was on a mission which I hoped would distract me from my own personal woes.

My childhood buddy Pete had died one year ago today.  He was killed by a drunk driver, and it broke my heart to pieces when I got the news from his mother Connie.  Growing up on the same street as Pete, I was constantly running over to his house to play.  Connie was very good to me, she took a fancy to me and loved to feed me.  So often I ate two suppers with my Mom none the wiser.  Connie was also a kind and compassionate woman that I was able to go to and talk about personal matters that my Mom would never have been comfortable with.

I knew that Connie was grieving.  No less than I was over the loss that made me begin to feel alone in the world.  I know that sounds dumb, because in fact I have friends all over the USA who care about me deeply and frequently play host to me in their homes.  And there's always my cousins.  But never meeting your Dad and losing your Mom can be hard on any guy.

As I drove this brand new Pontiac Soltice, I kept on remembering Pete and the trouble we got into.  Not so much trouble as mischief, but I was always the ringleader.  I would suggest we go hiking into the deepest, darkest woods, or ride on a pool float on the rapids in the river.  But we were close, blood brothers, and I found myself hurting from missing him so much.

It was lucky that I had a car going to Birmingham, where Pete and I grew up.  Before delivering the car, I was going to stop in the Homewood area to see Connie.  And when I pulled into her driveway, she was sitting out on the front steps.  She was still a beauty, red hair and a curvy figure, although maybe I shouldn't say that about a friend's mother.  Well I said it, so it's out there.  But Connie is so much more than good looks, she is sweet and sharp and clever and wonderful.  And she was the pure definition of a "classy lady."

Connie walked out to the car as I got out, arms outstretched.  "Hello, darling," she cooed.

I hugged her and said  "Hi Connie, so good to see you."

She grasped my shoulders hard and said,  "Now let's get this out of the way.  Your mother and brother and my Pete all died senselessly from a drunken driver.  It's tragic but its done, and it will forever bond us even closer together."

I nodded.  "I'll always be close to you."

She cradled my cheek in her hand.  "And I will always love you, son.  Come on inside, baby.  You're home."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


When I was a younger man, I swore by Japanese cars.  Toyota and Honda were my cars of choice, because they were generally cheaper and definitely more reliable than most American made cars.  But things have changed now, and as I'm driving cars all over the country, I get a chance to drive a whole lot of different cars and see what they are like.  Ford has become my favorite new car, and I was driving a Ford Explorer from Tampa, Florida up to Rhode Island.

I thought I had delivered in all of the lower 48 states, but just realized that I'd never delivered in Rhode Island.  Been through it many times, but until yesterday never actually dropped off a car here.  With all of the bad weather in the northeast this winter, I was a little worried about coming up.  But I checked the forecast and found I would be coming at a time when it was cold but no precipitation. And being in Rhode Island, I might even bump into little Stewie Griffin.

I got off the Interstate highway and took back roads from Connecticut to Rhode Island.  When I crossed the state line, it was on a bridge going over a large frozen lake.  I found it really incredibly beautiful.

Just a few miles past the sign welcoming me to the state, I stopped for gas.  I went inside for a snack, and the cheerful woman behind the counter nodded at me.  "Morning.  Or I should say good afternoon, but you know what I mean."

"Yes I do," I said, smiling.

"Nice day, huh?  It's really warmed up here.  It's short sleeve weather."

"You must have been inside all day, its 33 degrees according to my car's thermometer."

She laughed.  "We consider that balmy here.  You're in Rhode Island now, things are a little bit different here."

I got my snack and continued on to the city of Warwick, which is where I was set to deliver.  I had made a reservation at a motel and my first stop in town was to check in.  There was a very nice man at the front desk and he said, "Welcome.  How may I help you today?"

I showed him my reservation and he checked me in.  "What is check out time?"

"Noon tomorrow, if you are only staying one night."

"I am."

"We have a delicious breakfast in the morning, all free for our guests.  Eggs and bacon and waffles and cereal and danish and bagels.  Coffee and various juices."

"That sounds wonderful."

"Well, you're in Rhode Island, we like to put out a spread and make people feel welcome."

"You sure do that well, I've gotta say."  I went to my room and put down my bags.  Then I decided to go get dinner at Cafe I saw down the block from the motel.  The waitress who was serving me seemed very upset about something.  I guess I have a sympathetic heart, because even when a perfect stranger is in distress I want to help.

"Have you decided yet?" she asked with a very serious expression on her face.

"There's so many good things on the menu, it's a tough decision."

"You from around here?"

"No, first time I've ever stopped in this state."

"Welcome to Rhode Island, you'll find it's a pretty nice place full of decent people.  We are a hearty breed."

"Yes, I can tell."

"Why don't I let you look at the menu for a few more minutes."

"Um, wait."  I looked around the Cafe and saw that there were more waitresses than customers at the moment.  "I have a request."

"Let me guess, you want to substitute mashed potatoes for spinach."

I shook my head.  "What?  No.  I wanted to ask if you could sit down and visit with me for a moment."

She looked a bit confused.  Then she looked all around her and saw that it was too slow to make a good argument.  "OK, but just for a minute."  She sat down across from me, and I could see and feel her anguish.  Something was very wrong.

"I don't mean to be too personal, but you look like you have something troubling on your mind."

She shrugged.  "Maybe I do.  But I don't know you, I'm not going to spill my guts to someone I just met."

I nodded.  "Yes, but sometimes someone you don't know is the perfect person to unload on.  No judgements, and I'll be gone tomorrow and you'll likely never see me again.  If it would help to talk, then I'm listening."

I could see in her eyes that she was carefully weighing what I had just said.  "Well... I caught my boyfriend cheating on me -- again!  Last time it happened it was another guy, and this time it was my best friend.  He says he'll never do it ever again, but for some reason I just don't trust him."

"That's very wise."


"Because he has promised you before and broke the promise.  And if he was with a guy, then he probably isn't ready for a committed relationship with a woman."

"He's not gay!"

"I didn't say he was."

"But you implied, didn't you?  Maybe he just has a strong sex drive and I can't satisfy him."

"Maybe its time for you to move on."

"Yes, but then maybe its time for you to mind your own business.  This is Rhode Island, we are moral and made of good stock.  I'm done talking."  She got up quickly and walked off in a huff.  Another waitress came to take my order, and I guessed I went too far with the gal I was trying to comfort.  I try to help people wherever I go, but have learned that some people don't want any help.  Not unless you tell them exactly what they want to hear.

After dinner, I got up to leave and the gal I had spoken to came up to me.  "Hey, uh, I wanted to say... I mean... Just wanted to thank you for listening.  I didn't mean to be a rude bitch."

"No, you absolutely were not.  I need to keep my nose to myself."

She smiled.  "Still, you were trying to reach out and help, and I do appreciate that.  I'm just not used to it.  You're in Rhode Island, and here we know when to say Thank You."

I left and went back to my room for a good night's sleep.  It was good to be in Rhode Island.

Friday, February 20, 2015


I had delivered a car in southern Louisiana, and was looking for the Megabus stop to get me to Texas for my next pick up.  While I hate riding Greyhound with a passion, I have come to like the Megabus very much.  I stopped at a McDonalds for a chicken snack wrap, and since it was crowded inside I went out to eat at one of the tables outside.  The weather was pretty nice for a February day.

Two elderly women came outside clearly looking for a spot to sit down.  I offered them my table, and they were most grateful.  As I looked for another place where I could at least lean against a wall while I finished eating, I was approached rather suddenly by an extremely odd looking man in a costume.  Well, more like two costumes actually.  It was partially Batman, and partially Aquaman.  It was as if this person had bought two of the cheapest Halloween costumes you could possibly buy and somehow made a hybrid out of them.

"You are a very good American citizen, my friend," he said to me.

"I am?  Well thanks."

"No thanks necessary.  You gave up your seat for those old bags, and in my book that makes you a hero."

I laughed.  "Trust me, I'm no hero."

He pointed a finger at me.  "No, you trust me, you are a hero.  And I would know, because I'm a hero.  You might say I'm a superhero.  Name and designation, please?"

"Me?  I'm Bill Thomas, nice to meet you."

He nodded.  "Hello, Bill.   I'm Aqua-Bat."

"You're...?  Did you say Aqua-Bat?"

"That's right, you heard correctly.  I'm sure you've heard of me and my exploits."


"Come on now Bill, don't kid a kidder.  I'm the guy who protects the streets and the innocent and the lame."

"The lame?"

"And the innocent and the streets," he added emphatically.

"You said you are a superhero?"

He demured.  "Well, I don't like to brag."

"What are your super powers?"

"I'd call that a personal question, Bill."

"Just curious."

"I can see that you are, but there's an old expression that goes  'You don't tug on Superman's cape'."

"Oh, I'm not tugging.  I have no desire to tug."

"Then we've reached an accord.  What I can tell you is that I can call upon the mightiest fish in the sea to come to my rescue if I need back up."

"Even when you're on land?"

He winked at me.  "There's the real genius of it.  When I'm on land, the Bat part of me steps up and takes over.  While there are no super powers, I have genius ideas and tons of crazy gadgets for crime fighting.  And having a billion dollars in the bank lets me build pretty much anything I want to."

I was surprised.  "You have a billion dollars in the bank?"

"Bill, I don't like people prying into my business.  But if you must know, I'm not quite as rich as billionaire Bruce Wayne.  However I do have much more money than a homeless man living on the streets."

"Good to know."

"Now I need you to forget what I told you."  He waved his hand in front of my face and said  "Forget."

I regarded him with some consternation.  "Are you trying to pull a Jedi mind trick on me?"

"Yes.  I mean, no.  I'm Aqua-Bat, you're talking Star Wars.  Two completely different franchises."


"You don't have to get all snooty and stuffy with me."

"Nothing could be further from my mind, Aqua-Bat."

He cracked his knuckles.  "So who is the bad guy?"

"Beg pardon?"

"Who are we fighting today?  What corrupt criminal is trying to take over the world?"

"Probably someone in the middle East."

He shook his head forcefully.  "No, I can't get over there.  How about closer to home, someplace nearby."

I shrugged.  "Sorry, no idea."

"But I'm a bad ass superhero, I need to fight crime."

"And I admire you for that."

"Really?  Truly?  You give me ample reason to doubt you."

"Ample?  Like what?"

"Bill, if you want to be my sidekick you should hop into the Aqua mobile with me and help me to cruise the mean streets and rid them of scum.  My fight is for truth, justice, and... uh, I'll have to get back to you on that last one."

"Sounds like fun."

"No fun at all, its a serious business."

"OK then, where's the car?"

"In the shop."

"How about the boat?  The plane?  The motorcycle?"

For the first time this strange man laughed, and it was a deep loud laugh.  "Bill, you obviously watch too many movies.  I go green, and that means riding the city bus."

"Of course it does."  I smiled.

"Wipe that smile off your face or I'll call one of my dolphin friends to come smack it off your face with his tail fin."

About that time, one of the elderly ladies I had given up my seat for got up and started inside.  I assume that since she picked up her purse she was going to the restroom.  Just as she got to the front door, a young punk ran by her and grabbed her purse.  He kept right on running, and Aqua-Bat continued our conversation.  "Hey Aqua-Bat, that lady just got her purse stolen."

"What?  Where?"  I pointed at the runner, and he spun around to rush after the crook.  Then he tripped over his own cape and fell down face first on the sidewalk.  "I'm OK, I'm OK," he stammered as he got up and began to stumble after the perpetrator.  "Aqua-Bat to the rescue!"  He tried to run, but the blow to his head was making him swerve treacherously along the road.  I almost hoped he wouldn't catch the crook, as he had no chance of overpowering the man.  But its good to know there are still people out there protecting the innocent if they can just keep on their feet.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


I had just delivered a car to Sacramento.  And I was sitting at the airport waiting for a flight to Atlanta, but I had a long wait ahead.  So I was reading a book that came out about me called A DRIVING FOOL.  Appropriate title.  It pretty much captures me, my love of cars and travel, my job delivering cars around the country, and the truly nutty people I meet every single day on the road.

It was still five hours until my flight when the airline announced that the flight had been cancelled.  I had befriended the gate agent, and he made a primary concern out of finding me another way to get to Atlanta.  He found a way, but told me that I would have to hurry.  There was a flight leaving in 30 minutes on Alaska Air that would take me up to Portland, Oregon.  After a six hour layover I could catch a flight on to Atlanta, and would arrive there ten hours past the time I was originally to get there.  Oh well, it was the holidays.  New Years Eve, in fact.

I hurried to the other terminal and got to the gate just moments before they closed the doors.  I found my seat on the plane next to the window over the wing.  And I looked out and saw something I've never seen on a plane before: propellors!  I have only been on jet planes, and this was going to be a new experience.

A very nice flight attendant named Annie welcomed me.  She was very sweet and sincere, and she pointed out that the empty aisle seat next to me would offer me room to stretch out and relax.  But once we were up in the air, I could see that relaxing was not in the cards for me.  The props were very loud, and the turbulence was unlike any I have ever felt.  And then we flew into the thunderstorm.  I began to turn into a nervous wreck very quickly.  Closing my eyes very tightly, I tried my best to think of happy thoughts.

And then Annie sat down in the seat next to me.  "You OK?" she asked.

I opened my eyes and forced a smile.  I nodded at her.  She looked to be in her early 30's, and was pretty in a natural, girl next door sort of way.  Her eyes danced with kindness and a hint of mischief.  "Thanks for asking."

"Mind if I sit here with you a while?"

"Can you do that?"

She smiled.  "Sure I can.  It's my job to make the passengers comfortable.  Everyone has their drinks, I can take a few with you."

"That'd be great."  We hit another bad patch of bumps in the air, and I tensed up.  Annie reached over and took my hand.  "I must seem like a wuss to you."

She shook her head.  "Not at all.  You seem like a real nice guy, or I wouldn't be sitting here next to you."

"Thanks, Annie."

"What's your name?"

"Oh geez, I'm sorry, I'm Bill Thomas."

"Well Bill, I'd say you just made a new friend."

"I like making new friends."

"That makes two of us."

She had to get up a few times and check on people, but for the most part she stayed with me for the rest of the flight.  After we landed, I waited for everyone to get off the plane so that I could chat with Annie.  We walked off the plane together.  "I sincerely appreciate you taking time out for me.  Thanks for making me feel better."

"To tell the truth, it makes me feel good to know I helped someone.  So what do you do, Bill."

"I drive cars all over the country, delivering them to folks everywhere in the lower 48.  And I meet the craziest people wherever I go."

Annie looked surprised.  "Wow.  That sounds so much like a book that my girlfriend just read.  It's about a guy who delivers cars, and he meets weirdos, but he also tries to help people.  It's called, um, A DRIVING FOOL."

I laughed.  "That's me.  That book is about me."

"No way."

"Yes way."


I pulled the copy of the book out of my backpack.  She looked very excited.  "You want a copy?"

"For real?"

"Of course."

"Will you sign it for me?"

"Sure, if you like."  I opened the book and signed it on the front page.

"This is so bizarre.  It's like one of your driving fool adventures."

"They happen all the time, every day."

She looked all revved up.  "I'm gonna hug you now."  And she hugged me, much to my delight.  "You know what?  I'm gonna kiss you now."  And she gave me a soft kiss on the cheek.

I looked at her expectantly.  "And?"

She smirked.  "And that's all you're gonna get."

I stuck out my bottom lip to mock a child's pout.  She giggled.  "It was so nice to meet you, Annie."

"You too, Bill."  She turned to walk away, then stopped and turned around.  "Where are you headed?"

"Atlanta.  I have a six hour layover."

"I've got a seven hour layover.  They have a room booked for me here at the airport hotel.  Want to come up and hang out with me there?"

I didn't have to think about it long.  "You bet.  We can both catch a nap before our next flights."

She smiled and walked over to me, taking me by the hand.  "I'm sure we'll find something to do."

And we stayed up talking and laughing and playing games.  It was a very Happy New Year.