West of the bustling metropolis of Phoenix, along Interstate Highway 10, is the magnificent and mystical desolation o...

Review || Uncle Billy's Chicken Hut and Salvation Emporium

West of the bustling metropolis of Phoenix, along Interstate Highway 10, is the magnificent and mystical desolation of the mountains of Southwestern Arizona. It is as alien as the planet Mars, and just as foreboding. Yet hidden away between the peaks & valleys and desert vistas, is a most incongruous edifice – part diner, part carnival atmosphere, with equal measure of whimsy, and just a smidge of nightmare. And it lay smack dab between the Eastern boundaries of imagination, and the Western shores of spooky. You can’t get to it by car or plane; and you won’t reach it by helicopter or even horseback. Nor is it on any map in existence. In fact – you won’t find it at all. 

Unless you’re dead. For this is Uncle Billy’s Chicken Hut & Salvation Emporium. Welcome. You say your spirit can’t move on until you find that 1995 issue of Jugs Galore with Miss February – before your wife does? Come on in! Never got a chance to see the dream realized of eating oysters on the half-shell? You’ve come to the right place! Not quite sure you’re actually in the dead mode? Uncle Billy will steer you on the right path! You know you’re dead, but you’re not quite sure how it happened, or where to go? Uncle Billy will set you straight!


With that blurb, you can only imagine how Uncle Billy's Chicken Hut and Salvation Emporium reads. Uncle Billy, all 6'6", 300 lbs of him, removes "roadblocks, impediments, unfulfilled dreams and blockages" to make transitions from the living to the dead to the afterlife problem-free. Various souls end up in this cross between a diner and Hermoine's bag of holding to deal with those pesky little questions that finding yourself dead might bring on. 

While Billy is the agency for good, the er...other side is represented by a large, cranky talking tom cat with red fur. Though as it turns out, neither of them are actually making decisions on who goes where. That is left up to the powers that be, which quickly sorts them out in the form of simple arrows — up or down, presented either in a book, or a cake, whichever is closer. 

I did find some of the humor a little on the immature side, such as the infestation of the Punstafulz from the "lower realms". These little creatures are invisible until they fart making sounds such as "Oon" and "Poot" and explode thanks to special candles. It just took the offbeat humor to actual fart joke level. Other than that, I enjoyed this quick, fun read. The world building and personality of Uncle Billy were larger than life so to speak. I enjoyed the various characters that worked their way through the Emporium. Full of tongue in cheek humor, Uncle Billy's Chicken Hut and Salvation Emporium is everything you would expect of a wacky, off the wall story called Uncle Billy's Chicken Hut and Salvation Emporium. 

About the Author

I was born in New York City during Millard Fillmore’s administration. At least, I feel like that sometimes. 
My Dad was a decorated ace in the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain, having received the Distinguished Flying Cross. I think that’s where I got my love of aviation from. My Mom was a saint. Period. 

I soloed on Halloween, 1968, from the old Burnside-Ott Aviation Training Center at Opa-Locka Airport in Florida, graduating from North Miami Senior High that same year. I remember it was a beautiful little Cessna 150. I graduated from Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, in 1974, having received a Bachelor’s degree in writing and a Master’s in history. Flagstaff is the home of Lowell Observatory, where Percival Lowell did so much to further our understanding of Mars at the turn of the last century, and where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. It’s also the home of the U.S. Geological Survey, who were the 1st to process the pictures of Mars, sent from the old Mariner missions in the 60’s. N.A.U. astronomers were also the first to discover caves on Mars, due to the darker light at their entrances, when compared to the surrounding area. 

I did awful in High School because I hated it. I did great in college because I loved it. No brainer. Now I know why Northern Arizona is called God’s country. Visit it sometime! I’ve climbed down to the bottom of the magnificent Grand Canyon (and yes, out again – obviously) and still feel the aches & pains some 40 years later. I’ve lived in Florida, New York, California, Ontario, Canada, and now Arizona again. And we come full circle.

I started writing seriously around 1978. Prior to that I suppose I wasn’t serious – shopping lists, addressing letters, hastily scribbled recipes, threatening notes to other car owners to get out of my parking space – things like that. Since then, I’ve written THE HEALER ,CHERRIES IN WINTER, IN THE SHADOW OF THE HOUSE OF GOD,UNCLE BILLY'S CHICKEN HUT & SALVATION EMPORIUM, plus 4 other novels of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, comedy and numerous short stories.
I’ve always been attracted to the weird & unexplainable. I’m a great believer in UFO’s, and detest the conspiracy of silence concerning them. I believe the future of space commercialization lies in private enterprise. As such, I also believe that Mars should be our top priority. And what will we find when we get there? Remnants of an ancient civilization. And – of course – the infamous Face on Mars. Don’t believe me? Wait. As Fox Mulder said, “The truth is out there.”

My favorite authors? Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke, James Thurber, Thornton Wilder, H.G. Wells, and many others, fiction and non-fiction, and too numerous to mention. 
I did my Master’s thesis on THE LOST CONTINENT OF ATLANTIS. I was going to write on THE SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF SANTA CLAUS, but I was afraid of getting a lump of coal in my stocking that Christmas. 

I love 60’s muscle cars, cheeseburgers, kittens & puppies, Enya, Mars, peace & quiet, fringe science, airplanes, suppressed inventions, the past, the future, the Philadelphia experiment, vexillology (the study of flags), NDE’s, Disneyworld, ghosts, and the wisdom of Edmund Burke, who said, “the only requirement for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do – nothing.”

The things I hate would require more storage capacity than the computers of the Starship Enterprise. So if you want to know, you’ll just have to wait until the 25th century!
I’m a type B introvert. I believe in the contemplative, quiet life. I believe in the Golden Rule – and live by it. I prefer the country to the city.

Someone once said that all speculative fiction begins with a two word premise: what if? Works for me. 
Just remember, friends – at best, life is a joke. At worst, none of this is real; it’s all done with smoke & mirrors. Actually, life is a question of mind over matter; if you don't mind - it doesn't matter.