Beware, traffic bozos! I’m watching

Image courtesy of Shannon Holman.

They came by email and they came by telephone and they came by fax and even good old Uncle Sam’s snail mail.

And almost to a man and woman they cried: Kick the flickers.

You folks really hate people who flick their cigarette butts out car windows. Sheesh. And judging by your comments, you’d take vicarious delight in watching the offenders skewered on the sword of public exposure.

Here’s a sampling of your comments:

One man wrote to say he’d seen “a big fat guy in a big red Caddy” roll down his window and toss out a cigarette. Our correspondent got out of his car.

“I knocked on his window. After he rolled it down, I asked him if he was aware that he (had) just accidentally dropped his cigarette. He simply said, ‘Yup’ and quickly rolled up his window and took off.”

An auto mechanic who lives in Navarre revealed a problem with butt-flicking I hadn’t considered.

“By also working on cars, and the newer model cars – the ones with today’s high-tech plastic, I have come across places under the car, the engine compartment, front bumper area, moldings outside and even inside that have burn marks on them where undoubtedly a cigarette was thrown from another vehicle.”

He also said that once, he’d repaired a car’s AC system – to the tune of $150 – after a tossed butt burned a hole through a hose.

A lady reported that as she’d been driving on a local thoroughfare, a burning cigarette flung from the car ahead flew through her open window and landed in the back seat. Good thing she didn’t have a child strapped in back there.

Sheriff’s deputies and Fort Walton Beach policemen called to remind everybody that there are laws against littering – and flicked cigarettes qualify as litter.

On the flip side of this coin, I received several notes from people who warned I’d probably end up with a fat lip – or a lawsuit – if I published people’s license plate numbers.

The fat lip I can’t speak to (although I’m shopping for a hockey mask!). But a lawsuit, I’m told, is not an option, because I would not be identifying a person per se, but only a car the anonymous perp was driving.

Others wrote to say that I would not publish their license plate numbers. They left it at that.

So, what do I do?

Well … unless somebody can point out to me a compelling reason not to do it, I’ll be driving with a notepad at the ready.

Traffic bozos beware!

More local signings: Crestview retired military man and author Col. Don Carmichael has scheduled several signings for his book “A Trumpet for Freedom: (The Legacy: Lost Heritage and War).”

Carmichael describes his book as a look at our culture and its most recent wars – World War II, Korea, and the good, bad and ugly of Vietnam.

Signings are Friday at Destin’s Books-A-Million from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at Bayou Books in Niceville from 3 to 5 p.m.; Saturday at the Eglin base exchange from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Sunday, Pensacola’s Books-A-Million from 1 to 3 p.m.

Remember: Stop and talk to the author!

This column was originally published in the Wednesday, Dec. 16, 1998 edition of the Northwest Florida Daily News and is used with permission.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at .