Should anyone in the hobo camp on the outskirts of the abandoned railyard find this paper, I would ask you to please pass along the following message to your cohorts before you use it to line your shoes, assuming you can read. It would be greatly appreciated.

In regards to our encounter this past Saturday, apologies are in order, the first, and not the least of which to the gentleman, Meat, whom I approached at the hobo encampment last Tuesday night looking to acquire some temporary labor in exchange for a hearty bean dinner. I leapt to certain conclusions about you based on your appearance, and I shudder to think of my rudeness. Primarily, I am sorry that I took for granted that you were the mayor of your hobo village.

I admit, I rushed to judgment. In all honesty, I had previously only read about hobos in books or seen them in movies and maybe a painting or two, usually in clown makeup, and I suppose I had a rather romantic notion of what they were like. So when I saw you, Meat, at what appeared to my untrained eye to be a position of prominence at the fire barrel wearing a top hat and the most striking coat of all the hobos, I assumed you were the leader. But you know what they say about assuming. Assume makes—well, I'm sure you've heard it before.

I don't want to appear to be making excuses, but you were eating from the largest can of beans as well, which only served to heighten my confusion. Had I noticed that your big toe was sticking out of your boot from the start, I would have looked elsewhere for leadership.

I now know that I was to have spoken to Doc, who, it would happen, was passed out at the time of our encounter, and looked nothing like a medical doctor. Maybe it's my naiveté, but I thought that if one were to rise to the level of hobo king, or whatever one would call it—well, there is simply no gracious way to put this—I never imagined that the hobo leader would smell so strongly of old urine.

So to Doc, it seems, I also offer my apologies. Again, I am so embarrassed.

In any event, it was certainly not my intent to slight your president in any way. I also regret waking her in such an abrupt fashion. I suppose that if I had been jarred from my slumber by a sharp blow from someone's boot, I would have lashed out as well. Perhaps not quite as physically, but, all the same, I would have been quite cross. The fact is, no matter how we appear, even if it's in a sunbonnet and woolen blanket mottled with summertime filth and reeking of Sterno and effluvia, we are all human beings.

While I'm at it, allow me to extend heartfelt apologies to both the gentleman in the calico-patched trousers and red-kerchief bindle upon whom I think I poured gasoline in a moment of confusion, and to Boxcar Lucy as well. On reflection, it seems obvious that her name is derived from her preferred means of transportation, and not her size, upon which I made a few unfortunate and poorly chosen remarks. I must confess some amazement that a woman of her means would be so large, but I suppose her size is irrelevant. It is probably because she houses such a big heart, though I wouldn't know, given that she threatened to boil my insides and eat them.

In any event, I hope that we can move beyond all this misunderstanding so that future encounters, should they occur, will not result in the promised blade between my ribs. Please accept my humble apologies, some cigar butts that you can smoke with toothpicks, four cans of stew and two dollars, which I understand is the cost of justice among you people.

I'm sorry. That came out all wrong.