Friday, April 10, 2015

Exit: The Unanswered Question of Timothy

[The following was found in 1937, scrawled in the hieroglyphic patois of the American hobo, on a 3-by-4-foot piece of plywood, in Katy, Texas. I did the best I could to translate it.]

My Dear Brothers,

If you are reading this, I am already dead.  If you are not reading this, I am already dead, just the same.  If you are reading this and I am for whatever reason NOT dead, I apologize, because I fully intended to be dead, by the time you read - or did not read - this.

Anyway... I thought about making a hole in the water, but I couldn't find any, in this dusty wasteland, so I decided to grease the track - to take the hobo shortline.  I wanna say that I'm awful sorry to the crew of the train that hit me, and for the mess I must've made.

So.  I'm dead.  Boo hoo.  Some of you will wonder why.  Was it all too much - the hard days and cold nights and hunger and whatnot? Was it one too many miles on my bad knee, and all that agony? Was I just following in the footsteps of my suicidal parents? Maybe, but there was no way I was going to kill myself with a meat grinder, like my father did, or a puppet, like my dear mama.

You might think it was my gimpy, hooch-rotted liver that drove me to do it. Or maybe I took the easy way out, rather than face Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick, who was mad at me. You might think I just wanted the attention. Another good reason could be the lifetime of bullying I've endured, at home, in school, and on the road. I'm sure somebody out there thinks my fear of beans must've had something to do with it. Of course, my poor broken heart should come to mind as a motivation for my suicide.

But the real reason might surprise you. I chose to grease the tracks because-- hang on. 

Sorry. I hear the westbound comin' for me. I'm so sorry.


The Unanswered Question of Timothy is not buried here. No hoboes are buried here.

Another fun writing prompt from STUDIO 30-PLUS. This time, it was PATOIS. Also, please note that the hobo names used herein come from John Hodgman's list of 700 hobo names, from his brilliant almanac, The Areas Of My Expertise. More about that, HERE.




  1. Oh Timothy... just leave us hanging.

    1. He had to stay true to his name. I swear, some of the hoboes on this list are going to be impossible to write. But I keep trying.

  2. His mother killed herself with a puppet? Now I'm intrigued.

    1. My hobo parents often have inexplicable deaths. I don't know why, or how this started. I want to blame the South Park guys, but that's too easy. Must explore...