Toll Taker 47 was inspired by a glorious moment of serendipity experienced by one of my daughters. Hog Heaven was inspired by a radio conversation about eating. Jack And Jill: The Final Chapter came to me from out of nowhere while I was riding on the New York subway.
Toll Taker 47
The only thing between us and the Bay Bridge
was Toll Taker 47.
That’s what it said on his badge.
He peered in the window and said,
“You’ve got a beautiful wife.”
And she said, “I’m not his wife –
not yet anyway.”
And 47 pointed at me and said,
“What are you waiting for?”
And I said, “My change,
so we can get across that bridge.”
And 47 turned around
and pulled out a stack of bills and said,
“Here’s 300 bucks,
go get her a ring,
compliments of the State of California.”
And I said,
“I can’t take that money.”
And she said, “Oh yes, you can,”
and reached across my lap and grabbed the cash.
And we felt like Bonnie and Clyde
in an old black jalopy
as we left Toll Taker 47 in a cloud of dust
and disappeared over the bay.
“Do you eat corn on the cob typewriter style
or around in circles?”
That’s the first thing I said
as we slipped into the booth
at Chuck and Lou’s Barb-B-Que.
She laughed and said, “Typewriter.”
Then her eyes lit up.
“Hey, I got one.”
“Do you scoop baked beans with a spoon
or spear them with a fork?”
I gulped down a swig of Hires and answered,
“I’ll show you when the food comes.”
A few minutes later,
she was typing away on her corn
and I was spearing beans.
She wiped her lips with a big cloth napkin,
looked around and whispered,
“Wanna hear a secret?”
“When I put peanut butter on toast
and no one’s looking,
I eat it upside down
so it doesn’t stick to the roof of my mouth.
Promise not to tell?”
It was a match made in hog heaven.
Every anniversary, we tell our kids that story,
and they just roll their eyes.
Jack And Jill: The Final Chapter
Jack and Jill never learned their lesson.
Jack fell down and broke his crown three more times,
the final mishap resulting in serious injuries
from which he never recovered,
despite a courageous battle
and his family doctor’s heroic efforts.
Jill, heartbroken and spent,
suffered from chronic injuries sustained
when she went tumbling after.
She lived the rest of her life
in relative seclusion.
At her request,
her ashes were scattered on the hill.