In 1998, I wrote and illustrated a five-page book called All About Cars and Trucks.
It was a national best-seller, read by millions of children across the country and later, the world. But then, some years ago, the books all went missing. No one knows what happened to them. Until … right now. I am happy to report that the investigative team at jfleishman.com recently uncovered a rare copy of the book, buried deep underground in the tombs of el-Mahalla, Egypt.
It has been re-printed here with the author’s permission:
One day a boy named Mike was born. Then 30 years later he was into trucks. 5 years later he started getting trucks and cars. Most people called him Mike Alexander. The kinds of trucks…
We meet our protagonist, Mike Alexander. I imagine Mike had many hobbies as a kid, but it took him until the age of 30 to realize that he really likes trucks.
But it wasn’t until he was 35 that he actually started buying trucks (and cars). Why did it take five years? What happened between the ages of 30 and 35?
Let’s take a moment here to look at the illustrations. They are … odd. And why is there a note that says ‘year 2000’ on top of the truck? And what is that thing in the middle of the page? How could something so hideous possibly be smiling?
It was shortly after this doctors realized the author was colorblind.
Let us read on.
…he had were Kenworth arrowcab, and old Lincoln, and Hun-v, Chevy dumptruck, and a Kenworth that was black. The size of the trucks were 200 tons. The sleeping cab in the Hun-v was as big as a station wagon’s trunk.
The book fails to mention that Mike is currently being smashed in between the Lincoln and the Hun-v*, which must be incredibly painful.
*Yes, this is meant to be Humvee, but I like Hun-V better.
Mike Alexander went a bit overboard with his purchase of cars and trucks. A Lincoln, a Hun-v, a dumptruck, and two Kenworth trucks. Why does one man need that many cars and trucks? What do you possibly need a dumptruck for?
The size of the Kenworth’s sleeping was as big as one very small car, as small as a Ford Fiesta sedan. There was also one more truck that Mike Alexander had. It was an International.
Well, why didn’t you mention this in the beginning? International’s aren’t cheap. So now Mike Alexander has six cars and trucks. I imagine this didn’t go over well with Mrs. Alexander.
Mike Alexander: Hi honey, I bought some stuff.
Mrs. Alexander: Oh God, not again…
Mike Alexander: Just a Lincoln, a Hun-V, a dumptruck, and two Kenworths…
Mrs. Alexander: What, why…
*five hours later*
Mike Alexander: Oh, I also bought an International.
Mrs. Alexander: I want a divorce.
The sleeping cab was as big as a Saab 9-5 or a Saab 9-3 1999. The Saab 9-5 have side airbags and go up to about 150 miles. The trucks go up to 70-75 miles an hour.
OK, I swear that’s a car on the right and not some severely deformed male nether-parts.
And as far as I know, Mike doesn’t own a Saab 9-5, so why do we need to know that it has side airbags and goes up to 150 mph?
And wait, are those supposed to be birds in the sky?
Time for the big finish:
The Saab 9-3 goes up to about 150 miles. My dad’s 1988 Saab goes up to 175 miles. My dad’s 1988 Saab has 100,000 miles on it. My grandpa’s Mercury Grand Marquis has 5,500 miles on it. Three years later Mike Alexander died. The end.
Wait, WHAT! No! You can’t end the story like that!
My seven year old self was not kind to the characters he created. My stories often ended in terrible, unspeakable tragedies. They also ended with more questions than answers, leaving the door open to sequels and trilogies and epic series that were, sadly, never written.
The story-telling on this last page gets very complicated, as the narrator breaks the fourth wall and address the reader directly. For a moment, we forget about Mike and focus on the narrator’s family. His dad has a 1988 Saab with 100,000 miles on it. It goes up to 175 mph. His grandfather has a Mercury with 5,500 miles on it. It’s an odd interlude with absolutely no connection to the larger story at hand.
But then, the narrator brings us back, harshly. Mike Alexander is dead. He was 38.
Rest in peace, Mike.