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, June 18, 2017

BIRTHDAY TO REMEMBER

As I travel, I have had many memorable experiences, and some top notch birthdays on the road.  This year found me in Columbus, Ohio where my friend Smokey had just passed away.  He'd been fighting the cancer, but he went down fast at the end.  I got a car headed nearby a few days before his funeral.  I began talking to his Dad, who I had become very close with over the years.

After the funeral, I actually had a car I needed to deliver, and Smokey's father offered to follow me in his car and then to drive me back to his house to stay the night.  We both pulled our cars into the woman's driveway and it looked very much like no one was home.

I climbed out of the car and called the woman, and she answered her cell phone with a curt, "What?"

"Hi, this is Bill Thomas, I'm at your home right on time to deliver your car."

"Well I'm not there yet, so you'll just have to wait."

"Yes ma'am."  I hung up, and Smokey's father Ralph reached his hand out for the paperwork I was carrying.

"Can I take a look?  I've always been curious about what you do, how it all works." He took a long look over the paperwork and then "Hmmm'ed" to himself.

"What is it?"

"Well the name is unusual, not common.  Mackankowski."

"Not that unusual," I said.

"But far from common.  I used to have a man who worked for me by that name.  It's just a coincidence."

"I'm sure that's just what it is."  So we had a conversation about how Ralph started his company 45 years ago and had grown it into a mini-empire. We waited for 20 minutes and the woman finally pulled up into the driveway.  From the moment she jumped out of the car, it was clear that she was a nervous wreck, a stressed mess.

"Look I know I'm late but it couldn't be helped so just deal with it."

I shrugged.  "No problem here, just want you to look over the car and sign the paperwork and we'll be on our way."

"Oh, you have a ride out of here?  We are way out in the country..."  Just then, she looked at Ralph for the first time and said, "It's you!"

Ralph nodded.  "Hello, Martha."

"Don't you hello me, you cocky bastard.  You caused me so much trouble I don't even know where to begin."

"Calm down."

"I will not calm down!  You fired my husband for sleeping with his secretary, and it ruined my life.  I forgave him for adultery, why couldn't you?"

"His many affairs had nothing to do with his dismissal."

"Many?  He only had one."

Ralph nodded.  "Allright."

"So you fired him just because he was late two or three days every week?  And he missed days when he wasn't feeling well?"

"That's not why."

"Then why?  Why did you fire him?  What possible good reason could you have had for getting rid of him leading to us losing our home, then him hitting the bottle, and finally running out on me and my kid?"

"He embezzled over a million dollars."

"He did not!"

"He absolutely did, we caught him red handed with a paper trail."

She was quiet for a moment, and then said  "Why didn't I see any of that money?"

Ralph shook his head. "I couldn't tell you that, I just know that it was ill gotten gains and no one should have benefited."

"Says you!"

I held up the paperwork.  "So, if you could just sign here, I can go enjoy a birthday dinner with my friend Ralph."

She glared at me.  "Ask me if I care that it's your birthday."  She scribbled her signature and snatched the keys from me.  "Both of you get off my property before I call the law."

We got into Ralph's car and went out for a real nice dinner.  I've never had a customer and a friend crossover before, but it was a memorable birthday for sure.

Friday, May 26, 2017

SCRATCHING AN ITCH

I was driving across the Florida panhandle on Memorial Day weekend, and feeling extremely fatigued.  It had been a very long day, and the sun was beginning to go down.  I can drive long distances all day every day, but when the sun goes down so do my eyelids.  So I got off Interstate 10 when I saw a Love's truck stop.

One step out of the car and I could tell my left leg had fallen asleep.  I stomped on it to try to wake it up, and then I half limped over to the gas pump so I could fill the tank of this gas guzzling SUV.  Once I had topped it off completely, I went inside to answer the call of nature.  And that is when I realized I had a pounding headache starting, and it was a doozy.

There were very few people in the truck stop at this point of the evening, and I walked around freely without bumping into anyone.  I had a little bit of trouble finding the medication aisle, and when I finally discovered the BC headache powders they were in a remote corner of the store.  I stood alone and looked for the BC pack I wanted, and my butt itched so without even thinking I reached back and scratched it -- with my hands on the outside of my pants, naturally.

"How dare you!" screamed a woman, and I spun around quite startled to see this woman who seemingly came out of nowhere.

"I beg your pardon?"

"What you need to be begging for is my forgiveness.  How could you be so crass and crude?  Just because you had to itch that scratch on your big fat buns like a redneck neanderthal caveman."

I shook my head, confused.  "Itch that scratch?  I'm sorry ma'am, I didn't know anyone was around."

"And that's your excuse?  No one was watching so it's OK to display disgusting, nauseating behavior that would make a child scream with terror?"

I looked all around.  "What child?"

"Don't change the subject.  You have defiled my sense of morality, and I feel abused and traumatized.  So I hope you are proud of yourself."

"I assure you I am not."

"Well you shouldn't be.  I mean, why didn't you just pull down your pants so everyone could see your birthday suit while you were scratching?  Why didn't you just walk around swinging your weiner like a helicopter propeller?"

"I...I..."  Truth is, I didn't know what to say.

"You are a nasty, filthy man.  I advise you go home tonight and drop to your knees and pray that the good Lord will forgive you-- though I seriously doubt that He will."  She stormed off still spitting out hateful things, and I really didn't know how to feel.  I try to be nice to everyone and never wish to offend anyone.  But this woman seemed just a tad extreme.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

AN EASTER LIVING WAKE

I had been given a car to drive from Richmond, Virginia to Hays, Kansas.  I would be going right through Ohio on my way, so decided to call my friend Smokey.  I had been thinking about him a lot since I learned he had terminal, inoperable cancer, and was determined to get to Columbus one more time to see him.  But I couldn't get him on the phone, it had been very difficult to reach him for the past five months.

I called Smokey's best friend Dennis as I drove through West Virginia, and he sounded very happy to hear from me.  "Dude" he drawled.  "You picked the perfect time to come.  We are having a living wake for Smokey on Easter day."

"So tomorrow?"

"Is tomorrow Easter?  Damn you're right, seems like Christmas was just yesterday!  Anyhow, Smokey said he'd like to enjoy his wake while he is still alive."

"Sounds like a good idea."

Dennis went on to give me all the details, and when we were done I pulled into a Rest Area and stretched out in my seat to get some sleep.

I slept for seven hours, then I got out and used the restroom, then stretched my legs, and continued for Columbus.  I showed up at the bar Dennis had given me the info for, which just happened to be Smokey's all time favorite watering hole.  All of Smokey's friends were there, each one of them wanting to buy him a drink.  I walked up and gave him a big hug.

"Oh my stars," said Smokey, "Spanky is my special surprise guest star today."

I was surprised by how gaunt he looked since the last time I saw him.  We talked and caught up, but were constantly interrupted by friends insisting on buying him a cocktail.  I excused myself and went into the restroom.  When I came out, I nearly ran into an odd looking woman.  She was a brunette, and her hair was crazy frizzy as if she had stuck her finger into a light socket.  She had a patch over one eye and a large green parrot on her shoulder.  "Hey you!" she barked at me with a twang.

"Me?" I asked.

"No I meant you.  Have you seen my pirate hat?  Someone stole my damn pirate hat."

"No, sorry, I haven't seen it."  I began to walk away, but she grabbed me by the shoulder.

"Wait just a second.  You tell me you haven't seen my hat then you just walk away?"  The bird pooped and it hit the floor.  "You haven't even met my bird Thor yet."

"I think Thor needs to go potty."

She pointed to the floor.  "Are ya blind?  He already did take a crap."

"Take a crap, take a crap," said Thor.

"I'm looking for my soulmate, have you seen him?"

"I don't know who he is," I said.

"Neither do I," she said sullenly, and walked away.  Thor dropped another load. I went and found Dennis and the other boys in the band and told them about her.  I wondered if she knew any of the gang, and they all confirmed they had never seen her.  They did question the wisdom of bringing Thor into a bar.

I started back to the bar to speak to Smokey, and she stepped in my path again.  "By the way, I never introduced myself.  What's your name?"

"I'm Bill Thomas."

She nodded and jerked her thumb towards her bird.  "This is Thor."

I nodded.  She walked away, and Thor dropped another load.  I walked up to Smokey and he said to me "Just in time for shots.  Where have you been, off spanking the monkey somewhere?"

"No sir."

"Yeah, I'll just bet."

I saw her step up to the bar and she yelled far too loudly.  She could be heard over the music playing and over all the conversations in the place.  "What should I drink for an infection?"

The Bartender regarded her with trepidation, and asked what he could get for her.

"I want a drink, something to kill the infection," she shouted.  "I got a cyst in my vaj."

The Bartender clearly couldn't believe what he'd just heard.  "You're a who?"

"You heard me, I got a cyst in my vaj.  You know, my flower?  My special lady parts?  I want to drink something strong that will kill the infection."

The Bartender stared at her and didn't know what to say.  "We don't serve penicillin here.  And we don't serve birds, either."

"Don't be an idiot," she screamed.  "He's not a bird, he's Thor."  She turned and looked at me, and made a beeline for the end of the bar where Smokey and I were standing.  She marched right up to him and put her hands on her hips.  "Hello Thor, meet Thor!"

Smokey stared at her.  "Excuse me?"

"My friend riding on my shoulder is named Thor.  But you ought to be Thor, and I'm betting that just happens to be your God-given name.  Cuz you look just like him, tall and rugged and long flowing blonde hair.  You could be a demi-god."

Smokey shrugged.  "I've never been called that particular name."

She wagged her finger in his face.  "You had better get used to it if you're going to hang out with me.  I'm looking for a soulmate, are you interested in the job?"

Smokey smiled.  "Uh, no thanks."

"But how can you say that, you don't even know me?  You think I'm some kind of batshit crazy?"

"Batshit crazy" echoed Thor.

"I've taken enough abused since I arrived here.  My pirate hat was stolen, people keep on complaining because Thor is pooping everywhere.  Uh, hello, it's natures way.  When you gotta go, you gotta go.  I mean, when you have to do number two, do you clench your butt cheeks?  No sir, you find the nearest pot you can piss in and sit right down.  Am I right?"

Smokey shook his head, confused.  "Well, I--"

"Am I right?"

Thor dropped another load.  He must have had a very big breakfast.  The Bartender pointed at the lady and said, "You're going to have to take that bird outside now, he's making a mess everywhere."

"That bird has a name, he is Thor, the god of lightning and thunder and rain and sunshine.  You don't mess with Thor."  She was working herself into a frightening frenzy.

Smokey put his hand on her shoulder.  "Take it easy."

Then she completely flipped out, eyes bulging out and shouting at the top of her lungs.  "No, that's it!  I will not be treated this way!  I'm down and I'm thorough."

"Down and thorough?" asked Smokey, just as Dennis stepped up.

"Yes it's over, and I mean it this time!  I am down and thorough," she shrieked.

Dennis scratched his chin.  "I think she means done and through."

She turned on Dennis and seemed horribly mad at him.  "Don't you tell me what I mean, I mean exactly what I mean, and you do not want to see me when I'm mean!"

As she stormed out, Thor said "Crazy bitch.  Crazy bitch," and he dropped one last load.

Dennis held his bottle of beer high.  "OK folks, let's raise a glass to our friend Smokey, who has touched all our lives one way or the other.  And mostly for the good."

Smokey laughed at that one, as did most of the crowd.  Dennis had a way with humor and public speaking.  He would have made a good stand up comic, but chose instead a path of rock and roll.  I took a good long look at Smokey and wondered if I would ever see my friend again.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

SUNRISE DOG CHASE

I got the chance to deliver a car in Birmingham, my old home town.  It was great to be back, and my boss Riff had called to say there was another car to pick up headed for Boston.  So my long time buddy Frank picked me up when I dropped one car off and took me to get the Boston car, and then I went to his place to spend the night.  He cooked out on the grill, we had his world famous cocktails, and then I crashed on the couch because I had to get an early start.

I got up at 5am the next morning and showered and ate a bran muffin.  I was dressed and out the door at 6, and the first thing I noticed was a beautiful sunrise and the mist in the air.  Frank lives up on a hill, and it is a steep grade down to the street.  I was hurrying down on the grass, which was covered with dew and quite slippery.  Then I hit a super slick spot and had to run to keep from falling on my face.  Momentum always seems to keep me on my feet in those situations.

As I neared the car by the curb, I heard something from behind rushing towards me.  It was two large Rottweiler dogs, and they were open for business.  They were growling, snarling, and rushing towards me at alarming speed.  I absolutely love dogs, but when they look a tad vicious and are rushing me, I can get a bit nervous.  I jumped on top of the car, and they both jumped on the car, their claws scratching the paint pretty thoroughly.  The dogs' owner came ambling down the hill from the house next door.

"What the hell is going on here?" he demanded.

"I think your dogs are upset."

He grabbed both of them by the collars and yanked them back.  They fought him and still lunged for me, whining as they did so.  "Can you blame them?"

"I didn't do anything."

"Didn't do anything?  Bubba, let me give you a slice of advice for the future.  For one thing, next time you are getting up to leave, wait another hour before you come outside."

"I've got a long trip ahead and need to leave now."

"Well, I don't think waiting till 7am is gonna make that much a difference.  This is the dog's time of day, time that they can come outside and roam free in the neighborhood and do as they please without worrying about human people.  See what I mean?"

I nodded.  I also noticed that from this angle, I could see for the first time their yard was strewn with junk.  It would make any junkyard envious.

"Now here's the other advice for you.  Whatever you do, don't run outside.  It inflames the dogs."

"The grass was real slippery, and I was running to avoid falling on my face."

"Much better to fall on your face than to piss off these dogs.  Now go on, get, and remember the lessons I taught you.  And you are welcome."

I got into the car and left as quickly as possible.  Later that day when Frank called to see how far I'd gotten, I told him about the incident.

"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Frank told me.

"I'm telling you the honest truth."

"Oh, I have no trouble believing it.  That guy has been a thorn in my butt since we first moved in here.  Did you see all the junk laying in his yard?"

"Not until this morning.  I couldn't see it from your house because of that new wooden fence you put up next to the driveway."

"And why do you think I put the fence up?  To block the ugliness when I walk out my back door or look out my kitchen window.  And it still isn't high enough.  I wish that fence could be so high that I could only see his yard using Google Earth."

I chuckled.  "Well, he sure did think he was giving me good advice."

"Oh wonderful.  The junkyard hillbilly neighbor is dispensing wisdom.  That guy has some nerve to let those dogs run free and tell you that you shouldn't come outside when they do."

"I don't blame the dogs at all.  I think this is bad judgement on the part of the owner."

"Bill, I couldn't agree more."

And I continued my long drive to Boston.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

WALKING DEAD FOOL

I was driving into New Haven, Connecticut to deliver a car.  My cell phone rang and caller ID told me it was my never cheerful boss Riff.  "This is Bill," I answered.

"That's your opinion," he grumbled.

"How can I help you?"

"Did you deliver the car to Seattle yet?"

"I'm in Connecticut."

"What?  That's the whole other side of the country."

"I'm not taking the Seattle car.  Remember?  You reassigned it.  I'm delivering to the man who has been on vacation for two weeks."

"Maybe you're right.  But still..."

"Still what?" I asked.

"Still birth, that's what your Mom should have done when she had you."

"What does that even mean, Riff?"

"It means get the car delivered, my little jelly filled donut."

I hung up and consulted my GPS.  I knew that I was getting close, and I had a genuine concern.  I had spoken to Mr. Clarkson the day before and told him that I would be delivering today.   But I had called as promised today to give him 30 minutes notice and he didn't answer or return my call.

I found the house and pulled into the driveway.  I saw that the man was hard at work in his yard, being industrious and building.  I parked and jumped out of the car.  "Hi sir, I'm Bill Thomas.  I tried to call but you didn't answer."

He didn't even look at me, but kept hard at work.  "Can't you see I am busy?  Been busy all morning getting ready."

I took a good look around, and noticed that what he had completed thus far looked like a strong fortification of security.  There were sharpened spikes jutting out at a deadly angle all the way around the front yard.  And there were booby traps and snares galore.  "Ready for what, sir?"

As I stepped forward, he yelled  "Stop!  Do not move another inch."

I froze, scared and unsure why it was so imperative that I stop.  He tiptoed over to a large pile of leaves spread out in front of me and kicked a few back, revealing a pit he had dug deeply.  The leaves provided cover that hid it well.  "Thanks."

"Watch yourself," he warned.

"Are you expecting company?"

"We all are."

"We are?  Who?"

"Zombies.  Walkers.  The living dead."

I chuckled, but the man looked at me contemptuously.  "Don't laugh.  Don't you dare to laugh."

"I'm sorry, were you serious?"

"As a freakin' heart attack.  The apocalypse is upon us, and most people will die or be converted into zombies themselves.  But I will be prepared and I will survive."

"How?"

"Preparedness.  Ready to do whatever it takes, whatever is necessary.  Get it?"

"Sure."

"No sir, they won't be eating my brains anytime soon.  The traps I'm setting will help, but eventually I will be trapped inside my house.  I'm convinced that I can hold out indefinitely on the second story of my house."

"How will you do that?"

"As you well know, zombies can't climb.  That's a given.  So I just sit up there with my rifle and pick them off one at a time."

"Don't you think that the gunshots would attract the other zombies and then your house would be surrounded by hundreds of zombies making escape impossible?"

"Bring it on!" he bellowed.  "Clearly you know nothing about the walking dead.  You should watch THE WALKING DEAD."

"The TV show?"

"More like a documentary to prepare us for the inevitable."

"The inevitable zombie apocalypse?"

He glared at me.  "You scoff, I can tell you're a scoffer.  But you'll be laughing out the other side of your ass when they start munching on your brain.  You are incredibly naive, I got no more time for you."  He marched off down the street.

"But sir, what about your car?"  I stood and watched him walk away from me.  I guess I had said something wrong, but I didn't know whether to let him walk and have his personal space or if I should follow him.  While I was waiting to decide, a minivan pulled into the driveway.  A large man climbed out and stared at the yard.

"What the hell..." he mumbled.  "Who are you?" he asked.

"Bill Thomas, I'm here to deliver a car to Mr. Clarkson."

"I"m Tim Clarkson, we spoke on the phone."

I was very confused.  "You're Mr. Clarkson?"

"Yes I am, and I know exactly who did this to my yard.  Ralph Edison, my neighbor behind me.  He has been bugging me for months to fortify my house along with him for some zombie apocalypse.  Then he waits for me to go out of town and does it himself?"

I shrugged.  "I just came to deliver your new car, and I can tell you its a nice one."

"Did Ralph bother you?"

"No, he was somewhat informative."

"Yes, in a very insane way.  You got paperwork for me to sign?"  I handed it to him and he signed.  "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go have a conversation with Ralph."  He started to march across his yard, and I shouted a warning before he stepped on the leaves covering the pit.  He shook his head in disgust.  "This is just crazy!"

I felt the same way as I picked up my bag and walked away.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

POLAR POP NEW YEAR

I was getting tired as I neared Tallahassee, Florida on Interstate 10. I had driven all the way from Dallas, Texas and was feeling burned out.  I still had 200 miles to go, and decided I need some refreshment.  So I got off at the Thomasville Road exit and soon found a Circle K mini mart.

I parked and got out of the car, stretching my legs and doing some squats, and hearing some cracking noises in my body as I did so.  I walked inside and could immediately see the massive soda pop station, with a wide variety of choices of sugary drinks.  Filled my styrofoam cup with crushed ice and Dr. Pepper, then headed for the counter to pay for it.

The Cashier was a bright and cheerful little spark plug of a woman.  "Hi, how are you this evening?"

I smiled.  "Just fine, thanks.  And you?"

"Can't complain, can't complain.  Well, I could, but nobody would listen."  She howled with laughter.  "Carol's the name, and Circle K is my game."

"OK Carol, just let me buy this large Dr. Pepper and I'll be out of your hair."

She waved me off.  "You're not in my hair, and you're not a bother.  But what does bother me is that you got a Polar Pop."

I looked down at my cup, confused.  "Why?"

"Because there is nothing in that cup that's good for you.  Sugar and chemicals and God only knows what else."

"I'm tired, and I can use a boost."

She put both of her hands palms down on the counter and leaned towards me.  "A temporary boost!  An artificial boost!  And then you will come crashing down."  She picked up two handfuls of M&M bags and threw them down hard on the counter to demonstrate a crash.  "Do you want that?"

"I don't know," I said, unsure what was coming next.

She looked at me knowingly and smiled.  "How about a banana instead?"

"No thank you."

She pointed to the basket with several fruits just to the left of her counter.  "Fresh fruit, it's God's natural laxative."

"Nope, not today."

"How about an apple?"

"No, no apples."

"You don't like apples?'

"I love apples."

She grinned.  "You ever had an apple fritter?"

"I sure have, they are delicious."

"But have you actually tasted one?"

"Yes Carol, and that is how I know they are delicious."

"I'm not kidding you, they are so good.  Try a bite."  She reached below the counter and pulled out an apple fritter with a large bite taken out of it.  "Come on, try some."

"No, none for me."

"Don't be shy, have a big old bite."

"Not really hungry right now."

"Don't be silly, it's not like I have some horrible STD or something."  She looked at me very slyly.  "We hope."  She winked broadly at me.

"I'll pass."

"What is your name, sir?"

"Bill."

"Your momma didn't give you a last name?"

"Thomas.  Bill Thomas."

"Well Bill, you are being ridiculous and missing out on a real treat.  This might have been your one chance to find out what an apple fritter tastes like.  And you blew it."

"I didn't mean --"

"You blew it.   You'd rather pour poison soda pop down your throat than eat a healthy and nutritious apple fritter.  All I can say to you is please pay and get out of here."

The drink was 79 cents, so I put a dollar down and started to walk out of the store.  I figured she could keep the change.

As I reached for the door to go out, I heard her say  "The kind of guy who thinks he can just put his money down and walk out the door.  The kind of guy who thinks I want his charity.  Low down bastard."

And that's the life of A Driving Fool in 2017.