Wesley Britton's Blog

July 13, 2018

You can now get not just one, but two free Beta-Earth Chronicles short stories by visiting the Instafreebie Group Giveaway, “Summertime! You've Got Time for Short Reads.”

https://claims.instafreebie.com/gg/J7...

One is Murder in the Canyon”; the other is a brand-new story called “Last Night of the Collective.”

“The Last Night of the Collective: A Beta-Earth Chronicles Story”

For as long as history had memory, Beta-Earth was cursed by the Plague-With-No-Name, an incurable disease that killed three out of every four male infants their first year.

Now, the scientists of the Collective have discovered the cure. It comes from the combined DNA of Malcolm Renbourn, the alien from Alpha-Earth, and his wife, Saspheria Thorwaif Renbourn, the genetically enhanced mutant with astonishing physical and mental abilities.

But the one copy of this priceless cure has been stolen by the amoral and ruthless royal house of the island of Hitilec. For the sake of their planet, two powerful former enemies who share genetically-enhanced abilities must break into the headquarters of the thieves and recover the cure sought by all humankind for untold centuries.

But recovering the secret files is no easy or simple task. Success will depend on an almost unbelievable physical feat followed by a very high price, a heart-wrenching sacrifice.

“The Last Night of the Collective” is a thrill-ride of an adventure adapted from the pages of A Throne for an Alien: The Beta-Earth Chronicles, Book 4.

While you're there, why not sighn up for Wes Britton's newsletter? Then, while you’re online, check out the snazzy new Beta-Earth logo and brand at our Facebook page:
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Published on July 13, 2018 08:33 • 16 views • Tags: aliens, murder-mysteries, mutants, science-fiction

July 1, 2018

December’s Soldiers
Marvin Tyson
Defiance Press & Publishing
Release date: May 14, 2018
ISBN-10:1941948035065
ISBN-13: 978-1948035064
https://www.amazon.com/Decembers-Sold...
It should be no surprise that December’s Soldiers was published by Defiance Press this year. Not only does the house champion Texas writers, but a month before they issued Marvin Tyson’s fictional account of what might happen after Texas secedes from the U.S., they published Daniel Miller’s non-fiction Texit: Why and How Texas Will Leave the Union.

Tyson’s new sequel to his 2015 Fall of the Western Empire opens when an ex-president of the U.S. is drawn into a scheme by a group of rich Chinese underworld figures who will take care of his massive gambling debts if he’ll help ignite a war between the U.S. and the newly created Republic of Texas. They hope such a war would distract all eyes from their planned takeover of all the crude oil leases in Texas.

Ex-president Jackson isn’t the only political leader working for the Chinese. An important senator and the Attorney General are also mixed up in the plot. Opposing them are the presidents of the U.S. and Texas who want a smooth transition for Texas from statehood to independence. A more than capable group of Texas investigators try to connect the dots between troublemakers in Texas and Washington, the leaders of the conspiracy, and the Chinese bosses. And that takes some risky and deadly doing.

The stakes couldn’t be higher in this fast-paced tale of political intrigue. Both Texas and the U.S. are called on to help out Europe in its current economic crisis, the U.N. is concerned about any potential war, and a number of states in the American heartland announce they wish to follow Texas’s lead and secede from the union. The U.S. government says that simply can’t happen.

The rich well of main and supporting players includes the movers and shakers at the top of the political heaps as well as the investigators in the trenches who engage in gunfights and prison escapes in their quest to avert any larger wars. As a result, Tyson has us in locations in or near Austin, Texas and Washington. as well as important scenes set in Macau, China, and the mountains of Kurdistan. In short, Tyson paints a large canvas that isn’t confined within the borders of Texas.
December’s Soldiers is a thriller that should appeal to readers well beyond those interested in any potential Texas secession. It’s, in part, a page-turner of an espionage tale as well as a layered and very believable political thriller. It’s refreshing to meet so many positive political leaders in a story with no shortage of optimism.

I have to admit—I have no idea what the title means. I can’t connect it with anything I read. For now, consider December’s Soldiers a hot summer read for hot summer nights.


This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on July 1, 2018
https://waa.ai/am61
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Published on July 01, 2018 16:09 • 25 views • Tags: espionage, political-intrigue, thrillers

June 28, 2018

Fools of Parody
Scott Moses
Publisher: Laughing Warrior Publishing (June 14, 2018)
Publication Date: June 14, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B07CTCXY1M
https://www.amazon.com/Fools-Parody-S...


The premise of Fools of Parody is established when a spaceship lands on earth bearing two powerful, god-like aliens, Anu and Matrona. They’ve been to earth before, helping shape the evolution of life here but haven’t stopped by for two thousand years. They are very unhappy with how humanity has turned out and have decided we have nine months to clean up our act. Or else.

They claim humanity is the only alleged “advanced” species in the galaxy that doesn’t embrace unconditional love and joy. They’ve sent us a series of messengers to teach us, including “the fourteen Dalai Lamas, Muhammad, Martin Luther King, Jack Robinson, RosaParks, AbrahamLincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking, Nikola Tesla, Susan B. Anthony, Mother Teresa, Be-nazir Bhutto, Leonardo da Vinci, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Langston Hughes, Shel Silverstein, Oscar Wilde, and the list goes on.” Now, they’re collecting seven contemporary humans to try to teach us how to get past our drive to separate ourselves into all manner of conflicting groups that can’t seem to get along. Perhaps dolphins or eleven other species might be better at being the dominant species on earth?

Along the way, we meet characters like Major Delia Coulinbaugh, aliens with different agendas from Anu and Metrona, as well as humans with alien DNA. To say more opens the door to potential spoilers. Suffice it to say the cast of characters and unpredictable events broaden the canvas in a number of surprising ways.

The humor of this book isn’t present on every page. Long sections read as more-or-less straight-forward narratives and expositions. Still, in the early pages we read a series of penis jokes. Shel Silverstein as an agent of love and joy? FBI agent Doxy Sculder has a name that’s a mash-up of the leads in the X-Files, Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. A drug kingpin named Floyd Maybury?

But, for me, much of the alleged humor gets lost in the complexity of the stories and the actions of a growing cast of characters whose motivations and relationships aren’t always clear. On the other hand, all the plots and sub-plots contribute a lot of suspense to the tale, which is the main element that kept me turning the pages. This is a book that demands close attention as you go along, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s quite a trip Moses takes us on, or should I say trips? You decide.

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on June 29, 2018:
https://waa.ai/amzd
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Published on June 28, 2018 13:21 • 26 views • Tags: humor, mythology, science-fiction

June 4, 2018

Texit: Why and How Texas Will Leave the Union
Daniel Miller
Defiance Press
Release date: April 21, 2018
ISBN-10:1948035022
ISBN-13:978-1948035026
https://www.amazon.com/Texit-Texas-Wi...

I lived over twenty years in Texas where I earned both my masters and doctorate degrees. My father grew up in West Texas and then lived over thirty years in Dallas. While my Mom grew up in Arkansas, she too lived in Dallas with Dad until her death in 2015. Most of my extended family, both maternal and paternal, have lived in Texas for decades.

I say all this because author Daniel Miller implies talk of Texas independence has been part of Texas culture for a very long time. First I heard of it. True, from my childhood on, I’ve known many Texans who have a very strong pride in their state to colorful extremes. One of my Dad’s books he got sometime in the ‘30s or ‘40s was called Texas Brags, a collection of things distinctively Texan.

But Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, goes beyond all that. In his view, I shouldn’t be surprised I haven’t heard much about Texas independence as he believes the majority of Texans who would like to secede just don’t talk about it. He preaches secession and his case isn’t based on an exaggerated sense of state pride but an astonishing range of documentation and research.

Part of his thesis is that the Federal Government is over-reaching, bloated, wasteful, and Texas could do very well without it. He believes the Federal government has strayed very far away from its fundamental principles. He preaches a dogma most conservatives, in any state, would agree wholeheartedly with. In fact, you don’t have to be Texan to get into Miller’s world view. He thinks secession is a universal concept for anyone craving independence, freedom, Self-determination and self-government. After all, he writes, State governments are essentially sub-divisions of the Federal government which would be more responsive to citizens if they untangled themselves from Washington bureaucracy.

Perhaps the most convincing part of the book is his plan for a gradual move to state independence, not some radical instantaneous break from the union. First, a statewide referendum needs to take place to demonstrate the will of the people. Then, a period of adjustment would move the state from inter-dependence on the U.S. into becoming a new nation. He says Texas already has everything it needs to be self-sufficient. The new government would have to figure out multi-lateral treaties and determine ownership of Federal properties like military bases and arsenals.

I have to admit, while much of his book is chock full of facts and figures, Miller Makes a number of assumptions and generalizations as to why those Texans who would prefer independence can’t get politically organized. I wonder about all the citizens who weren’t Texas born and consider themselves patriotic Americans.

Texit expands on the themes of Miller's first book, Line in the Sand (2011), which addressed the roots of Texas Nationalism and the practical implications of national self-identity for Texans. Miller’s controversial books and media appearances certainly deserve serious attention as he presents a well-thought-out case despite some global generalizations about what Texans think and want. Still, he isn’t just some spokesman for a minor fringe element in Texas who just blogs his ideas for anyone interested.


This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on June 4:
https://waa.ai/aXXZ
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Published on June 04, 2018 11:18 • 42 views

May 31, 2018

The first issue of Wes Britton’s new newsletter debuts tomorrow, June1!
https://mailchi.mp/ca42bf76277c/welco...

Try your hand at the contest and try to win a free e-book!

Speaking of free stuff, sign up on our mailing list form and get a free short story!
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Win a $30 gift card from the Explore Science Fiction and Fantasy promo at Book Cave:
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Published on May 31, 2018 15:29 • 58 views • Tags: fantasy, sci-fi, science-fiction

May 20, 2018

Once again, my brain is full of mental tape loops racing around and repeating and repeating in my head.

The main images in my mind today are the things Betty didn’t get to do. In the freezer are the frozen packs of tilapia fish Betty wanted to cook. She fell in love with tilapia during her second stay at Spring Creek. She planned on getting back into cooking. She bought a big box of all sorts of special pots and pans suitable for using on the burners on our stove. She never even opened the box.

I remember one day when she sat in the kitchen with one of her occupational therapists frying some eggs. She was supposed to be showing the therapists how much she was progressing. The irony was, she WAS progressing. Betty would come home from her latest round of hospital, then therapy, and spend a few weeks or a month doing her best to get around. To go shopping once in a while and ride around in a motorized cart. To ride around with Cheryl and look at houses. Once, she rode on her hover-round across Mountain Road to visit Barb. Many weeks, she was doing so well.

We all knew she was just dreaming, but she said many times she wanted to drive again. After she sold our car, she said many times she had “seller’s remorse.” Our doctor told her that getting her license back wasn’t in the cards. I often thought I shouldn’t pooh-pooh the notion too much. She needed hope.


* * * * *

Tonight, I finished the last pack of her peanut butter crackers she was supposed to take to dialysis. The top drawer in the fridge still contains some small cans of tomato juice and her much loved “gingy ale.” She has more “gingy ale” under her desk in the kitchen.

“Gingy ale” replaced “lemmy-ade” as her favorite drink sometime late last year. I don’t know why or when, but suddenly I didn’t have to mix her Crystal Light packets into her bottles of water anymore.

* * * *

I think a lot about Betty’s last coherent days in Spring Creek. I recall one day when she pushed a tube of Goldbond into my hands. She wanted me to rub it on her cracked fingers where all those needles had pricked her fingertips. She was so tired of that.

I remember one time she requested a Coke. We told her she couldn’t have one. “What difference does it make now?” she asked angerly. There was nothing she resented more than being told what to do. Looking back, I wish we’d have given her that Coke. I think that was one of those moments she was signaling she knew what was coming.

I remember our last prayer together. She concluded it by saying, “I know I’m coming home soon.”

I was very afraid of what I heard. “When you say home,” I asked, “you mean our home, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she lied. She knew what was coming. She so wanted what was coming.

* * * * *

I’ve also found my mind wandering back to so many death scenes in my life before Betty. For one, back in 1979, my girlfriend was a blonde with a Dutch hair-cut, I think they called it, named Margie Linden. I was 26, she was 33, a survivor of childhood rheumatic fever. She had the first pacemaker I ever felt under her right breast.

Margie had moved to Dallas from California in order to be close to the surgeon who had saved her life. He had replaced valves in her heart with pig heart parts, the practice of the day, I presume. Margie always told pig jokes about herself which I can barely remember now.

One day, she didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. That happened after I proposed to her in her little room and she brought over a box full of medical bills.

“No one,” I exclaimed, working my way through the thick stack, “could pay this off in a lifetime!”

She nodded. “That would be my dowry, Wesley. A lifetime obligation.”

I later understood she had distanced herself from me because she knew she was on borrowed time. This came into sharp focus when she called me from a nursing home. I went in to see her. My lover was a walking blue skeleton staying close to an oxygen machine. A 33-year-old blue skinned woman in a home meant for old people. Not long after that, Margie went home to California to die.

Many years later, Betty claimed she saw Margie’s spirit once in our Penn St. apartment. We were pretty new together in those days. She said she saw Margie stretching her legs across my lap on the couch. “She had really long legs,” Betty said. “She approves of us together.”

I must say, losing a girlfriend of a year or so doesn’t come close to being like losing a wife of nearly twenty. Take my word for it.

* * * * * *

May 29 is coming fast, and that’s an important date for the Brittons. May 29 was the day my brother David Britton was born in Denver, May 29 was the day David Britton died in Dallas. The coroner ruled the death a suicide. I know Dad came to accept that, I’m not sure my Mother ever did.

I vividly recall going to David’s apartment to help get his things and found a brown spot on the living room floor. “That’s your brother’s blood,” my Dad said. “His head was all black, I didn’t think it was him at first. That blood came out of a crack in his mouth.”

The horror of it all hit me. My Dad had gone over to collect David for his birthday and he was the one to find his son dead on the floor. For years, I thought that was the most horrible moment of my life.

Betty told me several times she talked with David in the afterlife. This was most frequent after we started having problems with David’s daughter, Lori. “The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree,” she said David told her. O.K.

* * * * *

Dave was buried in a section of a cemetery where my Dad’s mother and one of his brothers were already buried. In time, both Mom and Dad were buried nearby. I’m the only one of us who won’t end up there. The cemetery director kept trying to convince me to buy a lot, but there was no way I could afford it. Then or now.

I plan on being cremated and my ashes put in Betty’s purple urn. I also plan on putting Clipper’s ashes in that urn when that time comes. I hope when my time comes, I’ll have some funds to cover my cremation. At the very least. At least, that’s my plan in 2018.

No wonder sleep is hard.
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Published on May 20, 2018 20:21 • 28 views

May 18, 2018

This morning, a social worker from Hospis came by to see me. I babbled on and on about Betty and we talked about Betty’s first heart attack after Chris died.

There was a moment of silence, and then the counselor said, “I think I met your wife.” More than once it turned out.

I never knew this, or at least don’t remember talking with Betty about this, but throughout 2016, off and on, she stopped by the Hospis building on Linglestown Road and talked with this counselor. Ironically, their headquarters sits next to the dialysis center where she spent so much time in 2017.

Of course, the social worker couldn’t reveal much of what they talked about, other than it seems Betty was really focused on getting this house. That means her Hospis visits must have lasted until the final months of 2016 when everything came together. “She thought it was really the right thing for you two to do.”

“She seems to have made a big impression on you,” I replied. “That was so long ago.”

She laughed. “I suspect your wife made a big impression on a lot of people. your wife had a very strong, memorable personality.”

Truer words were never spoken.

The counselor was sitting on Betty’s couch and I told her I really felt Betty’s presence there sometimes. “That should be very comforting,” she replied.

“Not really,” I said. “it kinda spooks me.”

I thought about this conversation for a while after the counselor left, especially Betty wanting this house so bad and her possible afterlife presence on that couch. I knew Betty really, really wanted this house even though she seemed to know, after her first stint in the hospital last year, that she wouldn’t be able to spend much time in it. Now, that thought really haunts me. It really hurts to think about that. Probably always will.

But I got one thought all wrong—that her presence on her couch spooked me. I should be happy that Betty’s spirit would spend some of that lost time in the big dream house she had wanted. Sometimes, I wonder if she thought about what she left me with—a very expensive lifelong obligation. Also a lifelong memorial to Betty Jane Britton and her strong personality.

Tomorrow, depending on the weather, the Collins plan to come over and we will plant two rose-bushes in Betty’s memory—one yellow, one red. We’ll surround them with the yard figurines Betty left out on the driveway wall. I didn’t know a thing about them until the other day. I seem to keep finding things about Betty every day I didn’t know before.

That seems a good thing to me. I don’t yet know what else I’ll find in that shed out back. I just noticed she has items in the hallway closet I can’t identify. So too the kitchen, so too her bedroom.

Oh yes, this entire house is a memorial to Betty Britton. I so hope her spirit will spend all the time she can here, whenever she wants. That couch is a good place for her to relax on, whenever she wants. If it’s haunted, it’s haunted in a good way.
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Published on May 18, 2018 10:38 • 35 views

May 15, 2018

When Betty came out of her coma last year and worked her way home for the first time, she often said God must have spared her because he had work for her to do yet. There was something important for her to do.

I wonder what that might have been. I’ve thought about that idea many times since April 26. Any thoughts?

* * * * *

Betty always called my Dad her “Dallas Daddy.” Even though they spent comparatively little time together, they shared some memorable moments.

The first one that springs to mind is when Dad and Mom greeted us at the airport the first Christmas Betty and I flew down to Texas. For some reason, Betty had decided the two of us should wear elf-like hats, for lack of a better term. The type that are like felt-cones with tousles dangling from the top point. We wore them when we disembarked from the plane.

Dad got such a kick out of that. That was the Christmas the Britton’s had one dinner at the local “Joe’s Crab Shack.” Betty saw a t-shirt for sale with the establishment’s name on it. You know who she bought one for.

Dad also enjoyed the Christmas when Betty gave him a pedicure. “That’s about the best Christmas present I ever got,” he told her.

Dad liked to drive. Man, did he like to drive. On the Kentucky leg of our honeymoon trip, he had Mom sit with him in the front seat, Betty, Lori, and I sat jammed in the back when he decided to go exploring. He got lost in the back roads of the Kentucky mountains. Man, did he get lost. It was a hot, unpleasant day and the three of us in the back suffered for an hour and a half while a nonplussed father just talked about finding a road that would take us back to the hotel. These were the days before GPSs. Betty never forgot that ride, but she usually described it with a sense of humor. Just one of Dad’s idiosyncrasies.

I remember one Christmas trip during Dad’s long, long decline. He had moved into a back bedroom next to the garage, a room across from a small private bathroom as that was about as far as he could walk from his bed.

Then, one afternoon, Dad decided he was going to use his walker and go out on to the front porch. Mom, Betty, and I followed him in his wake as he pretty much charged through the living room, up the entry hall, and out on to sit on the porch. I don’t remember ever seeing him sitting on the porch before.

That was pretty much Dad’s final push for independence away from his bedroom. It was his final hurrah to being a man, if that’s the right way to express that. Later, when Betty charged down our driveway last summer with her walker, across Larue Street, and visited with Leroy and Penny, I remembered Dad’s last charge. I wonder if Betty did too. Gratefully, she had more time to go being herself unlike Dad.

It was Betty who was with Dad the moment of his death. We had flown down around Thanksgiving, never realizing how long a stay we would have. Dad was in a hospital room with a Hospis nurse with him, but he wasn’t responding to anything. But he hung on. And on. The nurse said she thought he was waiting for something or someone. I wonder who or what that was. I often thought it was his brother Morris who lived in Sherman but who never came down to see Dad in his disintegration. Maybe, maybe not.

I do know Mom and I had gone back to the house for something. Betty stayed with Dad. When we returned to the hospital, Dad was gone. “He wouldn’t do that to me!” Mom cried, thinking Dad would surely not go without her by his side. So the two Betty’s—my Mom was Betty Ruth Somers Britton—took over, preparing my father for his last ride on earth.

* * * * *

We’re planning to create a memorial site for Betty outside the laundry room wall. We’re planting two rose bushes—Betty loved rose bushes—hopefully one yello, one red. We’ll put all those garden figurines out there, her cows and angels. Ron Collins mentioned talking with a guy who makes plaques for headstones and maybe get a plaque for Betty to put on the wall. I’ll probably have some sort of ceremony later this spring or summer. Any suggestions?
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Published on May 15, 2018 07:14 • 44 views

May 14, 2018

“Do you really think,” the spirit of Betty Britton says, poking a fork into her imaginary applesauce, “that people really care to read about all the tidbits of my life like you do?”

“Like I do, probably not. But I’m mainly writing for myself. To remember so, so much of our lives together.”

“And punish yourself by dwelling on what is done. Finito. Dust to ash.”

“Actually, I feel like I’m punishing myself when I’m thinking about my empty now, my empty future. I need to delve into our twenty years together. Nothing mattered more in my life. I fear nothing will matter as much in my future. And who says I’m writing all this for other people? I hear they say what I’m doing is therapy.”

“O.K.,” Betty sits back on her couch, done with her cup of applesauce. “What tidbits do you have today?”

“How about your favorite author, Nora Roberts. More than once, I stood beside you in a bookstore while you looked for a new Nora Roberts book. `You got to give the lady,’ I repeatedly told you, `time enough to write a new book before you can read it.’”

“There are some of my books out in the shed. Danielle Steele, mostly. Show them to Bert. We used to trade books all the time.”

“Do you remember developing a long-distance friendship with then-elderly actor Bill Erwin? You met Bill at one Mark Twain conference in Elmira, NY. you recognized him as playing the bellhop in Somewhere in Time, one of your favorite movies. Bill sent you a DVD of the film which I presume I have somewhere. Where else—the shed.”

“While I was never as involved in politics like you were, I’m glad we were both staunch Democrats. I liked Al Gore, both Barack Obama and Hillary. Trump scared me. Him and that hair and all that racism.”

“But you liked George Bush because you thought he looked good in his jeans.”

“He did!”

You also loved all those reality shows. Like Dancing with the Biggest Loser.”

“You made that up! But I was glad you would watch Survivor and Big Brother with me which gave me an excuse to come out to the living room and watch TV with you. Unlike The Voice and American Idol. You really missed something not watching them with me. Some good music there.”

She smiles wickedly. “It was too bad you didn’t like country music. Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Johnny Cash, yum!”

“During our early years together, you got into New Age meditation music, especially any with a Native American flavor. I have a ton of your CDs out, where else, in the shed that folks can have if they help me dig them out.”

After a pause, I added, “I didn’t realize until the other day that you had a special love for the theme song to the film, Titanic. You had a nice music box that plays “My heart will go on and on.” I’m keeping that, for sure.”

Betty lowers her eyes as I start talking again. “Nothing I can say about Betty Britton that comes closer to your essence is that you always had a big, open heart. You accepted everyone and usually did so very quickly. So you had a lot of friends from all sorts of walks of life.“

“I wasn’t always the best judge of character, especially when it came to my boys. I so wanted them to be happy that I tended to go off the deep end embracing their girlfriends. We all know how that ended up.”

“But, for the most part, your openness was something that made you very special. I remember how things broke down at Holy Spirit when you rather unjustly lost your job due to co-worker nonsense. That wasn’t typical of your interpersonal relationships.”

“I have a much better memory than that! Do you remember the first employee dinner we shared with the girls from the Holy Spirit Registration department?”

“How could I forget! You were the star of the show, literally! Somewhere, they found a round false nose on some sort of long rubber band which you wore over your nose. Someone wrote up the lyrics to `Betty, the Red-Nosed Reg Clerk’ and printed out copies. The girls sang the song while you stood there and just beamed.”

* * * *

This might seem a tad controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway. Betty was on a serious spiritual quest all the time I knew her. Betty Britton was unquestionably psychic. I know full well she could talk with the dead.

I’ll provide just one example. Back when we lived on Linglestown Road, I got involved with a TV producer named Paul Guffan who was working on a prospective TV series called Secret Heroes. As a “spy master,” I was brought in to look over scripts, provide scripts, help provide publicity into the spy fan community, the like.

We worked on this for perhaps a year when we learned Paul had contracted cancer. Both Betty and I talked with Paul several times promising we wouldn’t jump ship and would help him see the project cross the finish line.

Then there were no more phone calls, no more e-mails from Paul. I tracked down a director friend of Paul’s who told me Paul was dead.

That evening, Betty looked over to me from her computer and told me Paul had a message for me. “he’s pissed. To get so close and then everything goes pop, like that. He’s pissed. “ She paused and added, “He says to mention the fugitive slaves and the Southern spies.”

I jolted. She was referring to a script idea I had which I had told Paul about. No one else. That was his way of letting me know the contact was real.

* * * *

For many years, Betty’s spirit guide was the goddess Persephone. They had many intimate conversations I wasn’t privy to. I do know she kept telling me I needed to be more open as I could do what she did. For example, she once told me one spirit guide was present when I was picking out her wedding ring. “He says,” Betty told me, “that you’re a very stubborn man. He held out the ring for you three times before you took it.”

Another jolt. Betty wasn’t at the jewelers when I picked out her ring, but the salesman indeed offered one ring three times while I wanted to explore all the options.

Betty and others in her family sometimes called on a local psychic named Rhonda. I think Betty lost confidence even if Rhonda was hit-or-miss correct on some things.

* * * * *

I don’t know what kick-started her renewed interest in Christianity, but in her final years, Betty got very interested in the Bible and prayer. She wanted to find a church home.

One day, we were sitting on our patio when a couple was looking for Marianne next door. Betty struck up a conversation with them and learned they went to the same church as Marianne.

They came over and visited awhile and shared what seemed to me to be some unorthodox interpretations of scripture. But Betty seemed to think the visit was special and proclaimed she thought she had found her church. Well, not quite. Beyond one phone call, we never heard from that couple again.

For a few months last summer and fall, I called around all the local churches in the area to see if we could find a pastor and church for Betty. Any that were too ritualistic, like the Lutherans, Betty ruled out. Any that didn’t emphasize the Bible, like the Unitarians, she ruled out.

What astonished me then and amazes me now is how virtually every pastor in the area would visit Betty once, phone call her once, and then disappear. Not especially evangelical or reaching out. A lot of folks have offered one excuse or another for this lack of interest but I don’t buy into any of it. How can you grow a church if you’re not willing to spend time with a possible new member eagerly looking for a church home?

The only pastor to show an ongoing interest in Betty was Barry Stall of the Church of God. He visited her comparatively frequently wherever she was. He still keeps in touch with me—just spoke with him a few moments ago. That’s why he conducted Betty’s funeral service—he had been the only one to be there as the decline really kicked in. He realized she wanted to hear and say prayers. Betty was very big on prayer this past year.

I’ll finish this overlong memory with one event that happened in Spring Creek during Betty’s next to final stay there. Her 97-year-old roommate had a pastor stop by who had a guitar and sang prayers for her. At one point, I asked if he could come over and sing a prayer for Betty.

He did so. I thought that moment of sharing kind of summarized Betty’s spiritual journey which really revolved around the Bible, prayer, and music.

* * * *

“Damn Betty, I keep finding new surprises from you! Ron and Bert just came over to set up my new little garden and we found all your garden decorations on the porch walls! Cows, of course, angels . . . I wonder why they didn’t ever blow over in all our heavy wind gusts!

“They will become yard decorations again this weekend when we plant two rose bushes in your memory. If all works out, one will be red, one will be yellow, and we’ll put up a plaque in your name on the wall by the laundry room.

“Damn it Betty, I miss you. I really miss you today. I’ll really miss you tonight.”
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Published on May 14, 2018 15:47 • 19 views

May 13, 2018

I asked Joey what his favorite presents were that he got from Betty and me. He recalled bikes, Game Stop gift cards, and electronic games, of course.

His all-time favorite is the Blanket she made for him at Spring Creek for this Christmas which he has with him right now. He uses it at home and here.

We also gave him a basketball he named “Wilson” after the volleyball in the Tom Hanks Castaway film. Imitating Hanks, we could hear Joey in the Patton Road house and the yard calling out, “Wilson, where are you!”

He had several Wilsons that all lost their air. We gave him a new one for Betty’s last Christmas as he can easily play basketball across the street in the park.

* * * * *

Other memories he shared with me today include our trip to Gettysburg where he climbed all over the rocks at Devil’s Den, up one of the towers, and his conversation with one of the reenactors in their campground.

I remember that day as Betty dropped me and Joey by the Visitor’s Center’s front doors as it was so difficult for her to walk up to it. Sorry folks, that Visitor’s Center is not handicap accessible, at least for those who can’t walk long distances. That walk wore her out so she didn’t really get to enjoy the Hall of the Presidents, the Cyclorama, Little Round Top. She knew Gettysburg very well as she used to drive a cab there, long before my time with her. She even drove some of the stars of the film, Gettysburg, around when it was in production.

* * * * *

“Nanny made great chili,” Joey observed. That was true. I’m going to miss Betty’s chili.

Joey also like the breakfasts she used to make of eggs, bacon, toast. I’ve forgotten breakfasts like that.

“”Nanny was a really nice person and I’m really going to miss her,” Joey just said.


Enough said, don’t you think?
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Published on May 13, 2018 12:33 • 53 views

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