Letter to Betty J

by Dave GUNN

To Betty J:

I want you to sit on my lap, even if I have to drive to Tulsa to make it happen. Your smile is about the dumbest thing I’ve seen and I want you to go from non-smile to smile like tick-tock, tick-tock. Remember how I called your best friend the night before I took you out on our first date just so she’d know I was going to start dating you instead of her? She never sounded so beautiful in her lack of words. I saw the way you looked at me when you heard her say, “this isn’t happening anymore” over the loud speaker of the phone. We both know who looked away first.

When I get to Tulsa I hope that you’ve called your landlord about the rat problem. It’s just not safe to sleep in a house with rats running loose in the walls. During the night they could come in and get on your bed and if you have food on your face or hands still you may get bit. I’d hate to see that happen. You got such a beautiful face. I tell you that all the time. I’d hate to see it get bit by a rat.

Now I’ll be taking the train instead of the bus this time. I know I told you different on the phone. While the train ride is actually more expensive I feel I’ll be far more comfortable with it and it won’t take nearly as long.

I know you have to work at 6:30 a.m. but the train gets to Tulsa at 5:45 so you’ll just have to be late that day as I want you to drive me to your house so I can go to sleep rather than having me wander around all day waiting for you to get off of work. Have your mother pick me up if the above just isn’t possible for you. But why would it not be? You know I’d do it for you any day of the week.

When we talked on the phone last week you had mentioned wanting to go to a water park that’s new in town while I’m there. Why would you want to do that? You know I’m not the swimming kind. Can you picture me in a swimming suit with my belly sticking out of some brown shorts, my chest hair all matted down? If you really want to go you’re gonna have to help me figure some things out first. If we go I’d like to go in the afternoon as swimming, when I have done it, makes me awful tired and why ruin the whole day if we’re only gonna be swimming for a few hours. Now if you wanna be going down them slides or doing that pulley thing where you hold onto the strap until you get above the water and fall that’s fine. I’ll watch you. Just don’t make a big deal out of it when I tell you no way Jose. I’ll find speed on my own time.

What I’d like to do on the first weekend I’m there and you’re not working is drive over to Ponca City, Oklahoma as that is where my Uncle Jack lives. He’s the one I told you about that owns them car dealerships and fast food restaurants. If I call far enough in advance and let him know we are coming he’ll let us stay at his house. And what a house it is! A mansion practically. I’d like to see if he could get me a sweet deal on a car when I’m there but it would have to be something mighty cheap as you know where I stand now with the moola. He’ll be good for meals and entertainment. He knows the whole town. I remember going out to eat with him as a kid and by the time I got my food the entire restaurant would have his card. Hell of a guy that Jack. He’s old now but I trust him. Even if you don’t want to go I’ll go on my own.

Before I forget to tell you I still have that Barnes and Noble $20 gift certificate you can buy from me for $20 when I get there.

When you were up here last time I had told you about this guy Craig that I had been calling Vic for years. Turns out remember that was his wife Vicky’s nickname? Her name is still Vicky or Vic I guess as she ain’t dead and they’re still married. I bet I’d been calling Craig his wife’s name for five or six years. I ran into him the other day and I didn’t call him nothing. I just said “hello” when I saw him and he walked on by and said, “Nice to see you Clarence.” He said that just as I passed him by. So I said “Same to ya’” without saying Craig. It’s gonna be hard to see him now because I do see him about once a week because of the job. The other night when I was sitting at home after work I started trying to remember, you know, rack my brain why it is I started calling him Vic and I just couldn’t put a finger on it.You said you didn’t remember him or his wife but you knew his children, the ones that are real bitches to all the other girls. Anyways, I know his name now.

The date I’ll be there is April 11, 5:45 a.m. at the Tulsa Amtrak station.



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