The day before New Year’s Eve. I was stuck in Birmingham rush hour. A ten-mile line of standstill traffic stretched before me. It looked like I wouldn’t be getting home until sometime around the next papal installation.

The Dodge truck beside me towed a gooseneck horse trailer. Inside was a white horse, staring at me from her open window, chewing a mouthful of alfalfa.

You might not care about this, but as a boy I was obsessed with horses. I grew up around horse people. I rode some; I wasn’t any good.

Even so, I was always thinking about horses, drawing pictures of quarterhorses in notebooks, reading novels like “National Velvet” and “My Friend Flicka.”

“The Black Stallion” was perhaps one of the greatest horse movies ever made.

All these memories came back to me while looking at that horse. She ate her dinner of legume hay, sniffing the Alabamian breeze, cheerfully watching the passing eighteen-wheelers, the UPS trucks, the public transit busses, the Porsches, and the giant SUVs which were roughly the size of rural school


And I fell in love with her right there.

The horse had other admirers in traffic, too. There were teenagers in the Nissan ahead of me, rolling down their windows to greet her.

“HEY, HORSEY!” they howled.

Soon, everyone in traffic was staring at these obnoxious teenagers who tried wildly to get the horse’s attention.

After watching the teenagers for a few minutes, I decided that I had never seen behavior so ridiculous and immature in all my life, and I wanted to be part of it.

So I cranked down my window and joined them.

And do you know what? No sooner had I rolled down my window than I discovered other adult motorists were doing the same thing I was doing.

An older man in a nice suit, driving a Land Rover Defender, was speaking to the horse.

A young…

My phone vibrated. The first birthday text of the day came from the old man who coached my Little League team after my father died. He made a real impact on me during a time when I was most vulnerable.

“Happy birthday, Samuel!” he texted.

I was so moved. And although, technically, my name is not Samuel (it’s Sean), it is still nice to be remembered.

The next email I received was from a guy in Mayfield, Kentucky. He’s busy helping with the relief efforts after the devastation from the tornadoes.

“Happy birthday, Sean…” the man’s letter began. “I love you.”

I could not believe that in the midst of a veritable ground zero, this man took the time to wish me a happy birthday. This time, I cried.

Later, my phone vibrated again. An old friend who is currently undergoing cancer treatment in California messaged.

“Happy birthday, Sean…” was the gist of the email she sent during her chemo treatment.

This woman who is undergoing the worst trial of her lifetime paused to wish me well.

My cup runneth all over the place.

Throughout the day, the phone rattled in my pocket nonstop. My mother texted. My sister. Old coworkers. My cousins. My uncles. My old employers. Someone with important information about my vehicle warranty.

And I got a text from my pal, Guillermo.

Ah, Guillermo. I met Guillermo in a Walmart parking lot many years ago. My heap-of-junk Buick had broken down. Guillermo saw me from across the lot, struggling. He fixed my engine although he did not speak a lick of Norte-Americano.

That night, I figured out that Guillermo was living in his car in the Walmart parking lot. He was camped there until he got enough money to fix his Honda’s transmission.

And since I speak fluent hand gestures, I asked him if he wanted to come live with me and my wife.

I will never…

Erin has a guardian angel. A real one.

This supernatural cherub was a gift from her mother, long ago. It all started when Erin was six years old. Her dying mother called Erin to her sickbed, said a prayer, and gifted her daughter an angel. Simple as that.

After her mother passed, Erin was raised by her grandmother in a ramshackle house near the railroad tracks. Times were not easy. Her grandmother was a single parent, and kids ain’t cheap. Simple as that.

“We ate a lot of Hamburger Helper,” said Erin. “And we shopped at thrift stores.”

But an angel is worth a lot more than greenbacks. Especially an angel like hers, who has made himself evident at pivotal moments throughout her life.

There was the time in elementary school when Erin fell off a low balcony at her friend’s house. When she opened her eyes, she was in no pain. The doc couldn’t believe what he saw. Not a bone broken.

There was the time in high school when she was driving on

the interstate. A voice inside Erin said, “Take the exit, and wait at the gas station.”

She did. On that same highway, on that same night, an auto collision occurred involving an eighteen-wheeler. Four people died.

There was the time when Erin was engaged to a young man whom she thought she loved. The wedding was fast approaching, but something inside her said, “This is wrong. Do not marry him.”

She called off the ceremony, simple as that.

Erin gave back the wedding gifts. She returned the ring. And many years later, Erin realizes she made the right call. The man she might have married has already been remarried thrice.

Another time, she was in an apartment building visiting a friend. There was a man in the hallway who looked suspicious. He was standing too close to her.

When Sarah brushed past him, the man’s…

I don’t know how it started. But somewhere along the way people started sending me angel stories. So I started sharing them. Which only meant that I began getting more stories.

Currently, I still receive bundles of angel stories in the forms of messages, emails, and letters. As we speak, the spiders living in my USPS mailbox are getting squashed by angel stories that keep arriving.

Truthfully, I didn’t set out to be a writer of angels. In fact, I wanted to be a humorist. I began my career telling funny stories, trying very hard to make the occasional reader pee themselves.

But if there is one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s this: You must go where the angels take you.

Which brings me to my story. I was in a bookstore recently when I saw two Latina women shopping. They were in the same section I was in. In fact, they were looking at the same book I was looking at. The book was about angels, and it happened to be

in my hands.

I was thumbing through the pages when I noticed two five-foot women breathing down my collar.

Finally, the younger woman asked if I was going to purchase the book. I said, yes, I planned on it. Then I asked why she wanted to know.

“Because,” she said. “My mama wants this book. She is using it for research.”

Research? This got my curiosity piqued. I am a writer, and it is my job to get piqued. Sometimes I get piqued three or four times each day. It just relaxes me.

I asked what exactly the old woman was researching.

The old woman spoke in a booming voice not unlike the voice of Vincent Price from the 1953 film “House of Wax.”

“Los Ángeles,” the old woman said.

Then the elderly woman went on to tell me her tale. She spoke in Spanish and…

It was the night after Christmas, and Birmingham was quiet. I was on a walk through a neighborhood, watching street lights wink on at dusk.

The sunset was neon pink. There were sirens in the far-off. A distant train sounded its horn; two long, one short.

There were people walking dogs, old ladies watering ferns, and children riding scooters. And there were six kids playing a game of Wiffle Ball in their backyard.

“Heybatterbatterbatter…!” shouted the sweaty kids in the infield, punching their little hands.


The boy at the plate golfed one into right with his plastic bat.

“Throw him out!” shouted someone’s mom.

The throw was good.

“YOU’RE OUT!” shouted six kids in ecstatic unison.

The runner made the long walk of shame back to his mom’s lap and cried tears of sportsmanship.

Funny thing about Wiffle Balls. Not long ago, the State of New York declared that Wiffle ball, along with kickball and freeze tag, posed a “significant risk of injury” to kids. New York legislature decreed that any summer camp that included these activities

would be subject to government regulation.

Meanwhile, back at Wiffle Ball Inc. headquarters in Shelton, Connecticut, Wiffle employees probably thought this legislation was a prank.

Wiffle Ball dangerous? Wiffle Ball Inc. has been around for over half a century and has never—not once—been sued over safety issues. They have doled out over 60 million plastic balls since they opened their doors. There are Wiffle Balls on nearly every continent.

So people across the U.S. were ticked off about New York’s decision. They were vocal about it, too. They made a big stink, and they won. New York legislature finally removed Wiffle Ball from its list of regulated high-risk activities along with other allegedly dangerous sports like dodgeball, knitting, and Algebra II.

Anyway, as I walked past the kids playing Wiffle Ball, a stray plastic ball rolled onto the sidewalk and stopped only…