Thomas, The Resentful Tank Engine

Recently, my wife and I were walking between stores in a shopping center and saw one of those little children’s ride machines you often see outside of stores. Instead of being shaped like a horse, a motorcycle or an airplane, this one appeared to be modeled after the main character of the children’s television series Thomas and Friends –  Thomas, The Tank Engine.

If you’re familiar with Thomas, you’ll note that this train doesn’t look as cheery as the original. In fact, I’d say that this train has some significant attitude problems. There’s no way I’d put my son on this train, and not just because he’s twenty-three years old. 

I stopped to take a picture. Mrs. Omawarisan said “you’re writing about that, aren’t you?”

No, what are YOU lookin' at buddy? I suggest you step off before I derail you (photo by me)

Unibrow. (photo by me)

Yup. I had to write to get the words “Thomas, The Resentful Tank Engine” out of my head. And you’re about to read why I don’t often do fiction…


People say I’m not myself before I get some caffeine. I knew it was a mistake to stop for coffee; I was already running late. But if there was ever a day that I needed to be myself, this was it. I took the chance, grabbed a cup and made it to the train just in time.

Looking back, I wish I’d missed that train. The doors slammed shut just after I stepped aboard and the train darted forward without warning. I wasn’t the only passenger jolted off-balance by the sudden start, but I was the only one who was wearing half of a pumpkin spice latte when he stood back up. Read the rest of this entry »

You Remember Uncle Joe. He Was The One Afraid To Cut The Cake.

Music is something that different people experience in different ways.  Some of us enjoy different styles of music. We’re all moved by the lyrics we hear; those lyrics move us to different places.

Uncle Joe. He was afraid to cut this. (image by roozita ccbysa3.0)

Lyrics are subject to being mis-heard. One of the brightest people I will ever know once believed that Jon Bon Jovi was singing “head full of lice” in the chorus of his band’s hit “Dead or Alive”. The words to other songs are confusing. For instance, what was Bob Seger talking about in his song “Fire Lake” when he sang “you remember Uncle Joe; he was the one afraid to cut the cake”?

The Uncle Joe is a mystery to so many, but like I said, people experience music in different ways. I hear “Fire Lake” and the line about Uncle Joe far differently than most of you. You see, I do remember Uncle Joe. There aren’t many left who know about my Uncle’s struggles, not just with cake, but with all baked goods. Read the rest of this entry »

Meeting That Girl

I kept looking at her. There was just something familiar about her.

Maybe it was the way she dressed. Perhaps it was the shape of, well, of her face.  The fact that she was black had a lot to do with it. She wasn’t black in the racial sense that we commonly use. She was black, like the words in a newspaper headline.

“Yes, I’m her”, she said, “didn’t anyone tell you it is impolite to stare?” She caught me. “I’m sorry. You look so familiar. I’m sure I’ve seen you before. What’s worse, I mean, besides getting caught staring, is that I can’t put my finger on why I think I’ve seen you.” Read the rest of this entry »

Traveling with Mr. Peanut

Sculpture of Mr. Peanut seated on a bench in A...

A statue of “the client” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was my first job out of college. I liked to think that it was the pay off for my work in school. The truth was that my uncle knew someone who knew someone. The PR guy in me re-phrases that into “it was the job I was born to get.”

I had a discouraging first week. Reading company policy, learning the mission statement and arranging my cubicle occupied my time. Then came Friday morning. It was the day I got my first big assignment.

The morning meeting droned on. It appeared I’d stay busy helping someone else with their projects instead of getting my own. I was wrong. A senior partner in the firm called my name.

“Michael, it is time for you to show us we hired the right man. One of our clients is traveling to New York to shoot an ad. We need him to arrive, on time. Make that happen. You and Mr. Peanut leave for the east coast on the red-eye tonight.”

I was thrilled! The boss had entrusted me with a celebrity client. It was time to make my opportunity count.

When the car service dropped him off at the airport, I was there at the curb. As Mr. Peanut got out of the car his height surprised me. I introduced myself. Mr. Peanut looked me over and adjusted his monocle. “Bags, Mike. Get my bags.”

Read the rest of this entry »

A Guy Who Looks Half Horse Half Man

So there I was, minding my own business, because that’s how things happen. Something did happen, in this case, the arrival of this guy that looked like one of those mythological half horse/half men guys. He looked just like one of those – he had a big head and one of those scraggly chin kind of beards, but no horse body.

I’m pretty sure that he was at least descended from that kind of guy. I’ll get back to him soon. First, I’m going on a short tangent. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sad Tale Of G. Allen Barber IV

GOOFUS license plate

GOOFUS license plate (Photo credit: woody1778a)

A few nights ago, I decided to go have a beer while I watched a college basketball game on television. There was one spot that looked open at the crowded bar. When I got close, I realized someone’s coat was on the stool. The man on the next stool looked over and said, “sorry, I should have hung that up” He picked up the coat. “Have a seat” he said, as he walked over and to hang his garment up. I thanked him for the gesture.

A group of us sat, watching and discussing the game. The man who’d moved his coat had introduced himself as Al, but I couldn’t help but notice that the bartender kept calling him G. When Al headed off to the men’s room during a commercial, I asked the bartender why she called him G. “Oh no, I’m not getting him started. I’m working for tips.” Read the rest of this entry »

Spam Short Story: I’ve Got A Thing For Southpaws

I’m not a fiction writer. I don’t do short stories. Rather, I haven’t until now. This one grew out of my spam folder. I found this message there:

“Would you like some help? Close the door after you please. I felt no regret for it. She really wishes her alarm clock had rung. I’m supposed to go on a diet get a raise I am busy. The brothers differ from each other in their interests. Tomorrow will be a holiday. He sat with his arms across the chest.”

I wondered what I could make of those sentences and phrases. It became a 1940’s film noir gangster style short story spoof where an alarm clock repair man replaces the hard-boiled private eye character.

All the gibberish from the spam is in the story, in order.

Please read this in black and white.

Film noir. (public domain image via

She stood in the doorway, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dim indoor light. The sun silhouetting her from behind made part of me wish she’d stand there all day. I decided not to listen to that part.

I called out to her, “Would you like some help? She seemed confused. “Why, yes. Yes I would. It’s just that…I can’t…well…”

“Take your sunglasses off, sweetheart, it’ll brighten things.” She blinked as she put her shades in her purse. Her eyes were like big pools, the sort a fella could fall into and drown…if pools were brown. I can’t swim. I decided I’d better not go near this dame. Read the rest of this entry »

A Tale Of Two Parakeets – Clarence Takes The Rap

Mark Twain photo portrait.

Parrot quote taken from my favorite book, Following The Equator. (Image via Wikipedia)

“She was not what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot.”  Mark Twain

Several roofs over my head ago, I lived in a little apartment. I was dating a woman  who was several roofs younger than she is today.

On a shopping expedition one day, the topic came up again about how I needed something to “liven up” my apartment. I tried being slick and said something like how she livened things up. It didn’t work. She still bought me the two parakeets like she intended to. Read the rest of this entry »