BLACK AND WHITE:
Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol
BEN H. ENGLISH
Law Enforcement Biography / Memoir / Ethics & Morals
Publisher: Creative Texts Publishers ** 250 pages
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
You know, I never saw an officer, an EMT, a fireman, or an ER crew ask anyone what their politics were and then refuse to care for them because of their answer. The color of skin pigment, the last name, the amount of money in a bank account, none of that mattered.
All that mattered was someone needed help, and they had the skills as well as the burning desire to do so.
Yes, they are only human and internally flawed and prejudiced as any other. But their true nature, their crowning glory in mortal life, is their ability to rise above those flaws and prejudices when called upon.
In a world of hungry, destructive wolves, they stand as the sheepdog who serves and protects the flock.
For autographed and personally inscribed copies you can visit the display at the bookstore in THE STABLE in Alpine, Texas where you can make the request. To talk about the book visit FRONT STREET BOOKS on Facebook.
THE BOOK I DIDN’T WANT TO WRITE
BEN H. ENGLISH
In my six years of writing, I have authored five books. With each came reasons to do so, something called out to me to see them through. I wanted to write them and to share this particular story with others.
But Black and White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol was the one I did not really want to write.
There lies an irony among many ironies, as I had spent most of my adult life as a Texas Highway Patrolman, mostly working rural interstate.
And there was not a single moment in any single day I was ever ashamed of who or what I stood for. In that was a blessing, as I do not believe there are many in any walk of life who can honestly say and know they made a real difference.
Even to the point of life or death, and not just once.
And I knew, although I did not want to write about those experiences, they definitely needed to be documented. Not so much for me, but for so many others.
For they were the real motivators, the faraway voices of those no longer with us who gave their all in service to their fellow man.
They deserve to be remembered and to be honored.
Then there are those still around, both now retired or still manning the ramparts to protect a society that many believe is presently devolving. But they still stay true to the oath, no matter the odds, or the perceived hopelessness of it all.
An oath, by the way, with no expiration date or escape clause in future situations.
Over the past two years or so, I have heard from them in emails, letters, texts, social messaging, or phone calls.
Sometimes not only reading and hearing their words of shock, angst, and despair but in seeing the same reflected in their eyes.
Eyes that have seen so much ugliness in one lifetime day by day, year by year, and decade by decade. But who still believed in that oath and that badge and gave an uncaring and sometimes hostile public all they personally possessed.
Thus began my long, somewhat emotionally arduous journey into the past. The challenges were many, not only in being as accurate as possible in every detail but in describing many of the events contained within.
I can liken it best to taking a considerable number of soul-searing memories, sealing them in mason jars, and burying them in a backyard for what should be forever.
Then one day, you have to go out and dig them all up again, unscrew those lids and examine the contents of each in minute detail.
Providentially enough, I had kept many of my offense reports, accident investigations, interoffice memorandums, teletypes, newspaper clippings, video recordings, and daily tally books.
And, of course, all of those vivid recollections of shock, anger, frustration, helplessness, rage, and horror stamped indelibly in my heart.
I would sit in my study and stare mutely at a name on a manila folder marked ‘FATALITY,’ feeling somewhat ashamed because the name brought no personal response.
Someone had died, and I could not remember anything about them or of the circumstance.
Almost on its own accord, the folder would open, and my eyes would take in the first few sentences, and the confines and quietude of my study went away, replaced by the sights and sounds of another time and place. Suddenly, I was there again.
I could see the devastation, hear the screaming, feel blood oozing between my fingers, smell the oncoming scent of death and taste the fear in the back of my mouth as I realized someone was slipping away from me.
No matter what I did or tried to do.
The barking of the outside speaker on my unit, the faraway sirens of help arriving too late, the traffic going by as people gawked, and the look of indescribable heartbreak on the face of the survivors.
It all came back to me in a flash.
Then came the purely agonizing events needing no jumpstart for the memory at all. The loss of those who were as close as any brother, and far too many times over the span of my career.
Or of those involving the killings, the suicides, the demented, the lost, and the most likely damned.
Again, I never wanted to write this book. But I also realized how important it was to do so. It is a remembrance to those who died because of that oath, to those who still carry their own memories long after retirement, and to those still on patrol.
God speed to all…
Ben H. English is an eighth-generation Texan who grew up in the Big Bend. At seventeen, he joined the Marines, ultimately becoming a chief scout-sniper as well as an infantry platoon sergeant. Later he worked in counterintelligence and traveled to over thirty countries on four continents.
At Angelo State University, he graduated Magna Cum Laude along with other honors.
Afterwards, Ben had a career in the Texas Highway Patrol, holding several instructor billets involving firearms, driving, patrol procedures, and defensive tactics.
After retirement, he decided to try his hand at writing. His first effort, Yonderings, was accepted by a university press and garnered some awards. His second, Destiny’s Way, led to a long-term, multi-book contract. This was followed by Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend, The Uvalde Raider, and now Black and White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol.
His intimate knowledge of what he writes about lends credence and authenticity to his work. Ben knows how it feels to get hit and hit back, or being thirsty, cold, wet, hungry, alone, or exhausted beyond imagination. Finally, he knows of not only being the hunter but also the hunted.
Ben and his wife have two sons who both graduated from Annapolis. He still likes nothing better than grabbing a pack and some canteens and heading out to where few others venture.
Just as he has done throughout most of his life…
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