Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Road Journal

DEATH ON TWO LEGS
The Road Journal of Tommy Williams

Okay, I am perfectly willing to admit that that is a stupid title for my journal. How about this, we’ll have a contest where whoever sends in the best title will get a free Zombie-riffic T-Shirt sent to them, courtesy of the good folks at mysocalledundeath.com. It’s death-tastic! Get those entries in!

Just kidding.

I’ve walked now for hours and hours. Mapquest tells me that New Haven is 50.46 miles away from my starting point, most of which is on Rte. 95. I’m actually far past that now, nearly in New York. I stopped at a rest stop on the highway for awhile to type some notes and charge my batteries (literally charge my batteries, the cell phone and the computer). Most of the folks that drifted into the rest stop were there to either use the bathroom or to get something to eat from one of the two fast food options inside, so I got a number of strange looks during my stay there, presumably because I don’t have to engage in either of those bodily functions anymore. At least one person saw me and decided to leave without buying any food. I wasn’t insulted, I was happy to think that my death might have contributed to at least one person living a little longer. Some scientists believe that certain fast foods are what cause American teens to rise from the dead, but I suspect this is a rumor circulated by the companies themselves. Yes, they are that insidious.

I spent some time just people watching, but, being dead, I needed to be careful that it wasn’t people-staring. Trads can get freaked out by that sort of thing. But there was this one guy who sat at a table not too far from me, and he had two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. I have to confess I watched very intently as he unwrapped one from the crinkly blue paper. I really liked Filet-O-Fish sandwiches when I was alive. I could smell it from where I sat and I think if he offered me one I would have taken a bite. I can honestly say that I have never felt like taking a bite out of anything since I returned to life. I have a dead friend who has eaten and drank a few things since coming back and she says there hasn’t been any ill effects but I just don’t know.

Anyhow, I must have been really staring because the man was talking to me and I wasn’t even aware of it.

“You dead?” he said.

“Excuse me?” I replied, trying to sound as trad as I could. The man was pretty big, he was wearing a cap that advertised some brand of heavy machinery above the brim and he wore a large stained army jacket, one that looked like he’d worn it as he crawled under vehicles. He looked like he was in his early sixties or so, but if he was he was a rugged, healthy sixty, overweight but with muscle underneath the extra padding. He had a round face that he shaved clean like a lot of rumpled looking but neat guys that worked with their hands. The Filet-O-Fish, which he hadn’t bitten yet, was almost invisible in his hand, like a baseball deep in the pocket of a center fielders’ glove.

He took a bite then, and chewed thoughtfully, “I said, are you dead?”

I said that I was. He nodded, and washed down his swallow with a big gulp of Sprite, just like I would have done.

“Thought so,” he said. “Got a nephew who’s dead. Stupid idiot brother-in-law wouldn’t let him in the house so my sister had to move out with him. She lives with my parents now. They’re in their eighties, still kicking as high as you please.”

“No kidding,” I said. “Whereabouts?”

“PA,” he said, pronouncing it “Pee-Ay”. “Scranton, to be exact. Terrible place for one of you to be living. Bunch of ignorant so-and-so’s out there.”

“Really,” I said. “Where were they from originally? Around here?”

He nodded. “Lived over in Groton with my dumb ass brother in law. She wanted to send him over to that school in Oakvale, the one where a bunch of you go.”

“No kidding,” I said. “That’s where I went. It’s a great school.”
Somehow he’d finished his first sandwich even though I’d only seen him take two bites.

“You don’t go there any more?” he asked me. I told him I didn’t and I tried to explain to him what I was going to try and do. When he was finished he scratched his jaw and squinted at me.

“No joke?” he said. “You’ve got some guts. There’s a lot of ignorant bastards out there. Especially down south. You’re going to have to watch yourself, you know?”

“I’ll be careful,” I told him.

And then the second sandwich was gone, and he was down to the ice in his soda.

“I gotta go jump a vehicle in Bridgeport,” he said,rising. “My name is Al Johanssen. You want a lift?”

I told him that would be great, and I started packing my stuff up.

He owned his own towing business, and he worked mainly taking calls for Triple A, jump starting cars and towing. He did most of the talking as we cruised on down the highway, which was weird because I got the sense that he wasn’t somebody who talked much. He told me that the tow truck business was a second career for him, that he used to have a pretty big heavy equipment and hauling business but he sold it all when his wife of thirty years “caught the cancer”.

“She’s been gone five years now,” he said, “That was the worst thing. The worst thing ever until Joe, that’s my nephew, got killed in a car wreck. He and a few of his buddies were goofin’ off and drinkin’ and they got in a car and that was that. Joey was the only one that didn’t walk away.”

He sighed heavily. “The only one that didn’t walk away alive, that is.”

I know this doesn’t really happen any more, but I thought I could feel the hair on my neck standing up. Most of you that read this column know that I was killed in a car wreck along with my father. I heard later the guy that hit us was drunk. I don’t remember what it was like being dead, at least before I returned, but I can remember the impact of when that car hit us, and I remember the car spinning around in a circle that almost seemed lazy to me. I remember a lot about dying.

“We never had kids,” Al told me. “Always wanted ‘em, just couldn’t have ‘em. I guess Jeanie’s plumbing was screwed up all along. Anyhow, we really spent a lot of time with Joey. Watching him for my sister whenever she wanted. I’d take him fishing. He loved fishing.”

By this time I wasn’t saying anything, I was just sitting and letting him talk. He was driving with a heavy hand slumped over the wheel. His eyes were focused on the road ahead but I could tell it was really the past he was looking into. I watched him swallow hard, and then he took a sip of the large Sprite he’d refilled on our way out.

“I really miss that kid,” he said. “He was a real comfort to me when Jeannie died.”

There was a lot he wasn’t saying, too. I could feel the weight of his silence hovering in the space between us like family ghosts.

He drove to a Wal-Mart parking lot where some harried Mommy had left her lights on while getting the shopping done. I saw her waving to us frantically from the center of the lot, breathless as she waited for Al to arrive with the big engine and the jumper cables. I pointed her out and Al nodded, but he drove over to the far edge of the lot and parked.

“I’m going to let you off here,” he said. “No offence.”

He didn’t want the harried Mommy to get spooked. I couldn’t blame him.

“None taken," I said. "Thanks for the ride.” I pulled my backpack from behind the seat where his tools were.

“You be careful,” he said. “Like I said there’s a lot of ignorant bastards out there.”

I told him I’d be careful. I had almost shut the door when for some reason, I stopped.

I don’t know why I stopped. I don’t know how the synapses in our undead brains still seem to fire and spark even though the blood and oxygen doesn’t flow. I don’t know what possessed me to say what I said, just like I don’t know why the Universe or the Fates or God or whatever force it is that came upon me when I died still allows me to talk and walk two years after my death.

“Hey Al,” I said. “You know that people in Scranton need their cars towed, too.”
And then Al looked at me, really looked at me and saw me, as though for the first time. I could tell. It was sort of like watching someone walking up. I could see something in his expression change, something beyond the smile that crossed his round, clean-shaven face as he held out his massive hand for me to shake.

“Stay safe, son,” he said.

“Thanks again, Al,” I replied, and then I started loping back towards the highway, thinking about how the dead could still influence the living, and the living still love the dead.

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your in my prays tommy

MaliceInWonderland said...

Very beautiful story. I'm sure that you both touched each other's experiences deeply.

So will there be a contest or was that all a joke?

Emma said...

good to hear from you again. :)

mcrforthewin said...

good to hear from you again

Mary said...

I'm glad to know you're meeting some good people out there, Tommy. As always, best wishes, and best of luck.

Michael Williams said...

Thanks for sharing that piece of your trip. It was beautiful

Stay safe.
Mike

larua said...

sounds like you're well on your way. but what Al said about Scranton isn't true. Not everyone there is a jerk. I have family there and everyone i've met there is really kind.

undeadsfreind said...

i have a suggesion for the name of your road journal. i think it should be the Undeads Adventures. and u r in my prays too. please email me back

Evernight87 said...

that is beautiful and touching, just shows that you can not base a book by its cover. when you described him he sounded like some one i would stay awayfrom. well i hope you are being safe on your travles take care and be safe.your in my prayers

Missi said...

You know that you should call this the Adventures of the Undead Youth. A mouthful, but it sounds cool

Axel said...

Not EVERYONE down South is too bad. True, Georgia can get pretty bad when it comes to some cases, but there are the people who are like Angels sent from above.

I love you, Tommy.
And stay safe.
I especially, am looking forward to your visit to Marietta.

<3

Olivia said...

Thanks for sharing. It really made me think. Safe travels, Olivia.

mrossi said...

Be safe, Tommy!
I have a suggestion or two for the title:
"Walk for the Dead" (Like "Walk for the Cure?")
"Undead Travels"
"Hike of the Dead" (Blatantly obvious Romero rip-off.)

Hmmm...It's actually very hard to come up with a good one. Hope you like those! Update soon: We all get anxious when you don't!

Brooklyn;] said...

Awesome. That guy probably felt a lot better afterwards. But, do be very careful. There are a lot of crazys out there.

With Love,Brooklyn

kirsten said...

Its realy good to hear that you are safe.I think that story was beautiful.Hope that you continue to stay safe and you keep writing!:)

Anonymous said...

that is a beautiful story and i agree that you are in my prayers. i hope you find wat your looking for. i also have a suggestion for ur journal title ( if you don't like it thats ok) "Dead Man Walking for the Living". thanks for all you are doing.

animeface said...

Death-tastic?
Hahaha, we missed you, Tommy.

It's great that your found someone to aid you in your travels, even if it was only for a little while. In fact, it seems like your trip has been going well so far.

Good luck with the rest of your journey!!

Camille said...

Its been forever since you last wrote! It's great to hear from you. You should call your entries Undead Travels. Stay safe.

Camille said...

I just realized that mrossi already suggested Undead Travels. SORRY for mooching!

Ahhh,MyLife. said...

Wow,
be vert careful tommy, were all praying for you. :D

Love yahhh.

Unheard Of said...

if there is a contest i got some suggestions.
"dead man walking"
"my own green mile"
"highway from hell" (favorite)

crossing my fingers, let me kno when ur near chicago. try to stop by The real dairy state. Wi.

ati142 said...

Be safe tommy, we don't want nothing bad happenin 2 u and thank u for sharin

Candy said...

Wondrous story. (:
Take care, Tommy!

-Candy.

P.S. About the contest/title thing, was that a joke or for real?

Matt Freeman said...

hi if i were a religious person i would pray 4 u but i wouldnt wish u luck cos in this world we make our own loo and you've made a house full of good luck 4 ur self and all of ur friends

misaki said...

sounds like your having fun Tommy. I hope you meet people that are really nice to you. I would love to meet you. You're amazing. :)

kim said...

wow I hope you have more luck

Shelbylynn:) said...

hey tommy im glad u met some1 whos nice 2 us. i went to the mall the other day and went into a store then they told me 2 leave just 'cause im a zombie. but there was many other store i was suprised to c that where very welcoming to zombies. i hope the rest of ur trip is as problem free as that 1 stop. luvs ya much Shelbylynn

SNZA said...

POST NAME: Lets make this last forever
or
When i feel like iving up
I show up at 3 am and know everythings gonna be fine

I am uber happy that you are safe. Take my advice if you start eating again DO NOT start with mc donalds try to get someone to make you baked ziti or lasagna instaed of some fat fill (child reincarnating?)junk food.
Your in our hearts

tiamat100 said...

That was a beautiful story. it's good to know that you met someone nice on your travels, Tommy. Good luck on your travels! I really need to buy a copy of Kiss Of Life, though. I keep getting spoilers.

Constance Bougie said...

Tommy, you rock!
And if you're ever in Wisconsin in Greenville please visit our pleasant little town.
And if there is a contest, you should call it the undead travels, like mrossi and camille said. the name rocks.or Drive for the Dead. it sounds cool.

Magpie said...

What a lovely story! I always think that the people with the most compassion and goodness are the people you'd least expect - I'd probably be scared of a truck driver called Al!

BTW while I'm here, has anyone heard anything of British zombies?

There's nothing public, but I have started wondering... A classmate of mine vanished, amid hazy stories of her "Going to Dubai" and her best friend seemed REALLY defensive!

Just a thought xoxo

Tori Vallante said...

good luck and hope u meet nice people like him during ur trip thing lol <3 much love

-tori v

Lily Benan said...

That was a very touching story. I'm so thankful for the kind spirited trads like Al! We have quite a group of zombies here in Charleston. People have heard of us from across the country, and they come to meet us, and usually live here. Its a good feeling to know that people come to us and trust us. We've all become such great friends! I can't wait for you to come down to Charleston! Good luck with the rest of your trip! And by the way, deathtastic is a killer word! ;) heheh.

Your friends, Always,
~Lily, and the rest of us here at the Graveyard.
We all <3 you, and your in our prayers.

Carlyle Rose said...

I'm glad that your travels are going well

and my entry for the title contest is

Dairy Of A Teenage Boy: Minus Eating,Drinking and Going to the Bathroom

Daio said...

Best of luck to you Tommy.

RealisElastic said...

Glad you are safe, and Al is kinda wrong; the south can be bad (like The Nazi Zombie incedent)but since i live in texas i can say it isnt all that bad. honestly. :)

sophie said...

thanks for writing again :)

Harlee_Dino_Rawr said...

Tommy You're inspiring to the living as well as the dead. I support you 100% and i wish you were headin closer to florida! Good luck with your journey and watch your back.
Love,
Cheyyene Harlee

hannah said...

interesting i love this blog tommy u touch me deeply and u feel like one of my best friends and thats how i loook as u like one of my best friends and hellz one of my only u allways in my thoughtswith everything u do it makes me love u more keeep being u tommy

Asvoria Blade said...

Keep up the good work, we've all got your backs.

Kit-Kat said...

Wow that was really kind of him to give you a lift. I wish everyone could see the "zombies" like that. It's good to hear from you and Ill pray that people are nice to you.
CuteKities

Life of a totaly misunderstood teenager said...

love u tommy u feal like my best friend ur in my thoughts

xXPotterWizXx said...

how about the name being
"The journal to which the story of my life unfolds"
idk that's from the top of my head lol

rachael.a. belton said...

hey, first off, love the blog, maybe the title could be something like, 'life go's on segment: _____' and then just fill in what number the entry is. i dunno, just a random thought. hope u like it tho.

Anonymous said...

please go back to phoebe it made me mad when you left.ppleeaassseee you love each other and you know it too

Tara said...

Awwww, thats the most adorable story ever!!! And by the way, good work not letting the living intimidate you. I'm alive and they intimidate me all the time!
<3
Tara

Life of a totaly misunderstood teenager said...

im always thinking of u tommy ur like a best friend to be be safe

lockedorre said...

Dear Tommy,

I'm glad you're meeting some nice people on your travels and I think it was nice of you to tell Al that.

Also, for the title I sort of like "Death on Two Legs". But if you're really looking for a different one what about
Life above the Tomb. (Or ground, something to represent the grave. Or Grave itself.)
Dead Men do Tell Tales.
Or..fghjghjgnb I dunno.
I can't think of anything else.
Anyways, I hope your travels are safe and that things go well for you on the road. <33333

Ryn said...

That was surprisingly touching. . .
And I do hope your journey goes well.
Lord knows Al was right about the crazies in the South. . .
As for the contest. . Perhaps;
'Transient Necrosis'?
A craptastic title, indeed.

Rilie said...

I love your blog your righting is beautful. you express not only yourself but write about what you see in others its beautiful.

-Rilie

Anonymous said...

well good story stay safe

notamoment2soon said...

Stay safe tommy dont let the beating hearts get u down

Anonymous said...

I live in Scranton.. it's not that bad. :)

Kickstart My Heart said...

Good Luck and Be Safe!
Also ur a gbr8 writer!
Keep it up!
:D

Izzy said...

Good luck, Tommy. You seem to be doing pretty well so far. And you're very brave. Then again, you've been through a lot, huh?

As for your contest (if you were serious), what about...:
"Every step brings me closer to the blood-bags who won't try to kill me... again"
"Potential Zombie Hitchhiker"

I've never been very good at this. You'll have to forgive me.

Anonymous said...

Stay Safe tommy. Good luck and All that Mumbo. We Love you

alyssa said...

me ans my freinds love what your doing tommy. stay safe. your in my prays

Michelle said...

It's so good to hear from you, Tommy. That is an amazing story. I'm glad that you are safe and be careful!

Jill said...

I have to say that "Generation Dead" and "Kiss Of Life" are the best books I've read in a while. It's sort of funny, I idiocally picked up "Kiss Of Life" without even realizing it was the sequel to "Generation Dead". A pretty stupid move lol.

I think it's great that you're documenting your Road Trip. I can't wait to see where your journey takes you.

x.
J.

Kori said...

Hm... How about "Rising To Occasion: An Account of Uncovering the Truth"

Kinda long... with a pun :D

Good luck to you Tommy Williams, may your journey stay a well-worthy and safe one.

different96 said...

good to hear your journeys is still treating you well and it is great to hear from you hope you stay safe and the road you take is a smooth one and it's good to hear that some trads are helping you out

Anonymous said...

cool

Purdy said...

i want you to know you are welcome here Tommy If you need a safe place in Ontario give me a call!
good job with the blog, zombies need a voice!

Addie said...

Keep it coming tommy! best of wishes

Sonakaru said...

It's nice to see that. :3
Everyone will always have something to learn from someone else.

Anonymous said...

why didn't u move ur ass when she was in danger?? you could've saved Adam.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tommy,
how about Dead journal(like live journal blogs) or Dead End- Tommy's Travels if you were serious about the naming thing.Best of luck-Abbie

Suiside Doll said...

Stay safe Tommy! <3

Anke said...

your writing is art, you know that?
Have you ever thought about visiting England?afterwards maybe?
take care, tommy boy
ps: what about 'undead on the road'
Anke

ILuvTommyW. said...

How about..
On the road..of death or
walk of death

IHeartTommy!! said...

I luv luv luv U Tommy!!
U made Zombies one of my favorite things!!

Good 2 hear from U!!

XOXO

cassi said...

Tommy
I believe that not everyone is bad, you just need to look. Many people need to get use to you. Show them the real you and never give up. Maybe you will find someone who will make you feel like your-self. Always remember that you have friends and they love you.

cassi said...

Tommy,
I believe that not all people are bad you just have to look. No matter what anyone says you will always be great and ah-mazing! Believe in your-self as others do. Your story means alot to me. Do your best and never give up.
With much hope and love, Cassi

Maya ^_^ said...

Hey Tommy :) I'm a huge fan of your blog, you're writing is beautiful. I'm really glad that you're doing okay, and I loved your story so much. It's good that even in an age like this, people are still open-hearted. If I was in the food place, I would have said hi to you :)

Keep writing, K? I wanna know what's going on :)

~Maya

Jeniegood said...

That was a fantastic story!
Really pleased to hear you doing well.

About the contest (if u werent joking)....
I don't want to join it, but here are some ideas:

1. Journey - living impaired and living

2. Meeting a memory (person)

3. Living and living impaired's chat

Hope you like it~!

hally said...

keep doing what your doing...but liike many people have said...please please be careful!

Tasha said...

First, I would like everyone to read my blog. Its about interest in zombies. And Actually I would like to know what everyone else's feelings and thoughts about zombies were. Please come view it. It would mean a lot to me if you left a comment.


Secondly, I love this blog. :) It's great. I've been reading every post in order from first to last and I haven't got to this one yet I'm still on May of 2009, but I love it so far. :) Good luck Tommy.

samantha said...

Wow that was so kind of him except for the first part of him acknowledging you. Beautiful Story. Your in my prayers.

Evernight87 said...

so it has been over a month since your last post, i hope everything is okay Tommy... Im praying for you.

socially unacceptable said...

I still love my dead great grandmother....I wish she had waken up after she died.

PhoebeKendall said...

Thank you all for your kind comments and suggestions for a title. My suggestion to Tommy was that he call it:

"Notes From an Inconsiderate Jerk Who Makes Us All Worry That He's Been Reterminated or Kidnapped Without Having the Simple Decency to Drop Us an Email or a Phone Call Every Couple Days or So", but he wasn't very enthusiastic about that one!

XO
Phoebe

Bekki said...

No joke! Down south is aweful! And I'm trying to deal with it in school. To add to that its a private christian school. Many people think we're a sign of the end of the world or some Mumbo Jumbo. Go me! xD Pray for me?

Love now and always,
Bekki♥

DARKESTDIVA said...

SO GLAD U FOUND SOMEONE WHO WAS NICE TO YOU AND DIDNT MIND WHAT YOU ARE. I LOVE YOUR STORY.


P.S. CAN U SEND ME A ZOMBIE POWER T SHIRT?

Hanne-chan said...

Wow, that's really something Tommy :] Like before, I don't know if anyone will see this, but it doesn't matter much to me. I'm glad you met Al! He seems like a nice guy. How was SC for you, though? Haven't seen too many zombies around here, I don't know how people would react.

Anonymous said...

sam said....
i like ur adventures but i dont like ur tittle. i think u should call it Zombies Adventures.B.T.W i love u.
best of luck from,
sam

Anonymous said...

sam said....
i like ur adventures but i dont like ur tittle. i think u should call it Zombies Adventures.B.T.W i love u.
best of luck from,
sam

Allison said...

Tommy, I just wanted to let you know. If you ever come back to PA not all of us are ignorant bastards. I am all for the zombies!!! =D Adam, Karen, Melissa, and all the other differently biotic seem "human" to me. So what if you died and came back? Your still a "Human being"- yes your not alive..but you are in a way. Your still on this earth, your walking and talking...your more alive then some people on this planet. People are so mean. I have no clue why state is so harsh toward you guys. If you where to ever come to Harrisburg, close to Hershey- I'd take you in, give you a place to stay overnight so you wouldn't have to wonder in the streets of PA, knowing that there are people after people like you up here, and basically all over but mainly here. I posted on one other entry telling you to be safe...and that still remains. Stay safe!!!

Anonymous said...

Awww! I'm not religious but that man and you are in my prayers.


-KayKat