Friday, January 17, 2014

Foreign Tomas, the Strangetalker Said...

[The following was translated and assembled from hieroglyphic scribble found along the Pennsylvania, New York Central, and Western Maryland railroads in 1942 - by rail and hobo historian Tommy Dummychuck (later "All-But-Dissertation Tommy Dummychuck").  Enjoy.]

"I haven't the time to waste on the pursuits of the common hobo, nor have I the slightest inclination to find it.  I should sooner die of starvation, my body digesting itself out of sheer mechanical desperation, than eat a bean of any hue other than green.  I find thievery and beggars' banquets equally abhorrant, and I pity the grown man who barters with lint and bits of burlap.  What, you may ask, does strike my fancy?  Solitary, somnolent circumambulation of the earth strikes my fancy.  And pies.  I so adore pies."

"It would behoove you to stand clear of that switch, lest you find yourself here and there, a victim of the Midnight Special, so named because of the unique quiet it maintains as it descends into Altoona from on high like a ghost train.  They say it hisses down the tracks, hovering in fact just above the steel.  They also say-- well now, where did he go?"

"My parents were removed from my life by force when I was but small boy, and it is my profoundest duty to honor their memory with every waking breath I draw until the day I am called Home by my Maker.  My father worked on the Johnstown Inclined Plane Railway - built by his own father, among others - but that dangerous occupation was not the cause of his demise.  My mother was the only female fireman on the floor at the steel mill, and although it was dirty and dangerous work, it did not kill her.  No, the two of them were accidentally shot dead while walking me to church on the third day of doe season.  The single shot that did them in had been fired from at least a half-mile away, and the shooter was never found.  I've been asked just how it is that my miserable vagabond life in any way honors their memory, and to anyone with the gall to loft such a query in my direction, I say only this - how dare you?"

"In the air between your words, I taste your hate, and to me it smacks of spun sugar at the fun fair - blue, I think."

"On a clear night, when all the stars in the heavens gleam and glimmer freely, the enormity of the time between here and there weighs on me as would a boot on a cricket, pressing me into oblivion until even Betty Boop makes sense."

"The Charleston is insipid."

"I have known love that would make you foul your trousers, speak in tongues, and vote for Alf Landon.  Her name was... um... Well, what's in a name, anyway?  She was most comely."

"Do not trifle with the crows when the frost lingers beyond sunrise, for they will be cross, and hungry."

"I eat time and convert it into this squiggly line I call life.  It is the blessing and the curse.  Seconds become inklings.  Minutes beget thoughts.  Hours are the ample bosom of ideas.  From days, we become.  A week is a book - a month, a library.  Years become tears and joys and everything in between.  I am never filled.  The capacity for turning time into being is as limitless as the sky.  I do not know why I am here, but I step ever closer to that understanding with every instant of time I consume."

"So long..."

 The preceding drivel is mostly harmless, and was prompted by a STUDIO 30 PLUS writing prompt, TIME.



  1. My dad grew up in a railroad town. When he was young, hobos would draw chalk hieroglyphics on sidewalks in front of houses to indicate which ones fellow hobo could get a hot meal, or get the cops called. This reminded me of some of his stories.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Tara! And I must admit, until I started reading about the real hobos (instead of John Hodgman's 700 fictitious ones), I had no idea they had such a sophisticated method for communicating with each other. It has a strange elegance, actually.

    Part of me envies your dad for being around such a phenomenon. That's really cool.

  3. "I eat time and convert it into this squiggly line I call life." ... that and pies. Too bad he hasn't found 'time pies'. He'd be a happy man! :)

    p.s. ever saw the Family Guy episode about Meg's hair pie? Such a funny and classic FG moment...

    1. Time pies! NICE! And I love that FG episode - it gets downright creepy, but my favorite line from the show is "Meg? Who let you back in?"

    2. Also, [Maris] and I have verbed the word Meg. When the guys on "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" started abusing Sweet Dee, we said the show was "Megging" her!

  4. Tomas is a silver-tongued devil. Love it!

    1. I so love creating hoboes who sound nothing like they should. Thanks for the visit!