The Park Bench Change of Pace

The Park Bench Change of Pace

The middle-aged man in dark sunglasses walked along the familiar sidewalk, tapping his silver-metal feeler-cane lightly in a tight side-wave in front of him. His faithful and lovely guide dog walked slowly beside him. When he reached the park bench he heard the sounds of pigeons and inhaled a familiar scent. He sat, put the cane between his legs and spoke: “Is that you, Agnes?”

“Of course, it’s me, Jeffrey! I have to ask you … why do you always ask that same question every morning you come to the park? You know I’m here at this time every morning.”

“Does that bother you, Agnes?”

“No, not really! Just a dumb question, I guess … I’ve got a nice surprise for you, Jeffrey.”

“What, Agnes, a new pair of eyes?”

“Don’t do that, Jeffrey!”

“Don’t do what, Agnes?”

“Feel sorry for yourself!”

“You messing with me, Agnes? You know I don’t feel sorry for myself. Just trying for a little levity, that’s all!”

“Okay, levity, it is! Hold out your hand, Jeffrey!”

“What? You gonna chop it off?”

“Yeah, sure, can’t you hear the chainsaw buzzing? Now, hold out your hand, you old fool!”

“Well, here’s my hand, but don’t be calling me an ‘old fool’, Woman. I’m not old!”

“Ha, ha, ha! But you are a fool, huh? Ha, ha, ha!”

“A Donut! Why, thank you, Agnes. That’s right nice of you! Not the ‘fool’ statement, the donut! Pardon me while I chomp on this Krispy Kreme … I love’em – so soft and flaky! What are you wanting from me, Agnes?”

“Now, why would you ask a question like that? What could I possibly want from an old coot like you?”

“Told you, I’m not old, girl! Hell, I’m ready to fire-up this engine and have me some sex! You game, woman? Or, do I have to go to a house of ill-repute?”

“Ha, ha, ha! That’s funny, Jeffrey, you just made me pee in my pants!”

“Well, then, I’m not having sex with you, girl!”

“Ha, ha, ha! You’re sure snappy this morning, Jeffrey. Let’s sit here for a while yet. Then, we’ll go home, and I’ll fix you a fine lunch … I kinda like this ‘meeting on a park bench’ business, Jeffrey. It sort of livens up our day. We’ll do it ‘til we get tired of it, then we’ll think of something new! I’m glad you thought of this, my darling!”

“Okay, sweetheart, but, tomorrow, you bring a couple of soft pads to sit on. My bony-old ass can’t take this concrete!”

“Ha, ha, ha! Thought you weren’t old, Jeffrey!”

“I ain’t, girl, my ass is!”

Tuesday Change of Pace by BR Chitwood – 8/28/18

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The Cargo

The Cargo 

The man stopped, turned, shook his head, scanned the horizon 180 degrees, pivoted, and continued walking.

After twenty paces Adrian Jacobs stopped again, repeated his scanning of the horizon. In a low voice, he spoke to himself, “What is it? What’s this crawling, gnawing feeling matching each step I take? Did I forget something? Leave something behind? What the hell’s eating at me? Dammit! I’ve been here   before! Something is wrong! Am I being forewarned? What? Is my mind playing with me?”

The escarpment was just ahead! He dreaded the trek down the steep incline, but he would not want to climb back up the damned thing! He almost lost it on the way up, thought he was going to pass out, die, have a stroke, just not ever again! Next time, a helicopter!

There was a boulder on his left. He would sit for a while, clear his mind, re-think it all. He was bone weary after the past few hours. He had to be sure! Too damned many moving pieces! He had to sort them all out, make sure he was not missing something!

He sat on the boulder, took a deep breath, and looked at the valley down below. Lights were beginning to twinkle in this early stage of twilight, dusk not far away. He needed to get started down the slope before darkness came. Weather didn’t appear to be a problem, but he needed to be at least halfway down the slope before he used the flashlight.

“Okay,” he spoke again, quietly to himself, “let’s go over the inventory…” He closed his eyes, projected in his mind the steps he took since leaving the car parked and hidden down below. What? He looked at his watch – nearly five hours so far.

“Car in garage. Nobody saw cargo loaded in trunk of car! Check, 100% sure!”

“Nothing left inside Allie’s patio home to implicate her or him! Check! 100% sure!”

“Car not followed! Check! 100% sure!”

“No one saw him on the up-slope. Check! Toughest part! Heavy-load, with a few stumbles! 99% sure!”

“Cargo buried deep in secluded spot Allie picked out at the far-end of Molar Peak! Check! 100% sure!”

“Information not shared with anyone! Check! 100% sure!

Adrian smiled… “What the hell am I worried about? It’s clean! Like a whistle, it’s clean! This time next week Allie and I will be on the white-sand beach in Aruba, sunning and splashing in those incredible powder-blue waves! I’ve been paid well! Wonder where Allie got the money? Not to worry! Said she would explain later!”

Adrian lifted his sore, well-worn body from the boulder, endured a sharp, involuntary pain in his solar plexus area, stretched, winced, and began his hike down the slope. He scattered loose gravel with each step, and the over-amplified sound filled the early night air, eerie in its hollowness. As the daylight still allowed he kept a wary eye out for rattlesnakes. This was the time of day when they came out from under a mesquite bush or rock to forage for food.

He hated snakes! But this little trip was worth the effort! He sang softly some tunes he knew, hoping to keep the snakes away.

Adrian stopped. Darkness was coming fast upon him…faster than he imagined. Vision was becoming a problem. He would need the flashlight and he had not yet reached the half-way point. He did not want the light to reach curious campers who might be nearby. Considering the time of day and inevitability of darkness he would have to use the flashlight. He did not want someone noticing a light and mistaking it for an SOS signal.

As darkness came the flashlight beam seemed brighter and more encompassing in its breadth of coverage, but he knew he had no choice but to use it. Otherwise, his footing and his balance would surely fail him. He also knew there were a few scattered cabins nearby that would possibly have the tenants sitting on their decks watching the night unfold and peering into the sky. Some, indeed, might have telescopes for their amateur star-gazing. No matter, the flashlight must be on for him to safely make his way down the steep slope. He simply had no choice, and the odds would certainly be in his favor. The cargo took longer to haul up that slope than he thought.

On he slowly moved down the slope, slipping, stumbling at times, the gravel sounds reaching decibels very loud to his ears So focused on his decline and the noise element, he paused at times, switching off the flashlight, standing still and waiting for the gravel rush to stop, listening intently for other possible sounds.

Hearing no sounds, seeing faint lights too far off to matter, he continued down the slope.

Amid his step-crunches and the gravel-rush, his mind began to play tricks on him. He heard or thought he heard hissing noises in the brush nearby. He stood motionless, perspiration blurring his blinking eyes, concentrating on the perceived noises around him. He heard only the slight stir of a zephyr floating by or a distant caw of a bird.

He took a tentative step down the slope and felt a sharp sting in his left calf.

He let escape a loud unwanted yelp! The yelp blended with unmistakable sounds of rattlers. Then, there came another   sharp sting on the right calf.

“Ow! Oh, my God!” His mind began to remind him of all the stories he heard from people or read in Arizona newspapers about rattlesnake bites, how fast they entered the nervous system and rendered one immobile. He felt another stab of pain to his left ankle. He started to dash down the slope but fell and tumbled head-long into the brush and gravel in front of him. A cholla shrub sent cactus needles into his arms and face. Some fifty yards down through cholla, sagebrush, and gravel his body slammed into the thicker thorns of a saguaro cactus. 

Barely conscious he felt the bloat of his calves and ankles, the blood on his upper torso and face from the thorny saguaro. He lay on his back looking up into the starry skies and felt his life draining from his body. “Oh, God!” He softly murmured, “not like this, please!”

He tried to move, but some parts of his body were broken. He lay there, short gasps emitting from a mouth now with tongue swollen and his energy gone. His mind caressed the final irony of his life. For once, he was to become someone, wealthy, free to be noble of gesture for worthy causes. He was to have Allie, someone beautiful to love and show off to the world.

In his dying throes he managed a weak smile and a mild ‘Ahh’ of capitulation to a God he once knew as a child. In a barely audible breath he muttered, “You are there after all!”

***

The next day, an Arizona newspaper’s first page lead head-line read: PAYROLL ROBBERY OF MAJOR INDUSTRY. In the smaller type below the headline, the copy read: ‘… No leads in the case.’

Two months later, on the society page, an Arizona newspaper announced the news of an ‘Allie McBride’ wedding, the bride a wealthy young lady of little history, the groom, an also rich and powerful politician in the state.

Six months later, on page five of an Arizona newspaper, a small headline spoke of a man’s bones being found on the steep eastern slope of ‘Molar Peak’. The DNA from the body’s remains gave no clue as to the identity of the man.

©The Cargo – A Short Story by BR Chitwood – August 27, 2018

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The Jest

©The Jest

 When skin sags with age,

And liver spots engage,

As joints scream in pain,

The skies fill with rain.

The mirrors now convey

Whiskers ugly gray,

 Peaked orbs set deep,

 Ever more to weep.

Puddles turn to streams,

The mind yet dreams

Fancy plots and schemes

On a myriad of themes!

What, then, is this clatter?

This Circling mass of matter?

But a simple and silly jest

Of a Planetary Guest?

 A poem by: BR Chitwood – August 23, 2018

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A Night With the Swells

A Night with the Swells

A Short Story by BR Chitwood

I’m not a party-animal! Well, more accurately, my first reaction to a party invitation is, ‘I don’t want to go’! I’m basically a more private person and don’t like the first hour or so among so many people I don’t know. Now, with a few drinks, I can open the can to all my scintillating party skills that will ‘wow’ anyone within my auditory range. That is my self-appraisal! Others might not agree.

Really!

The special element for this party is the bar. Charlie got that right. This spacious barroom-library is stunning, with its Mahogany lower walls, golden touches, sconces and a beautiful wall of books. Charlie Pollard is my gad-about pal who seems to be connected with all the ‘swells’, and it doesn’t go to his head. Charlie is ‘real’, a guy you can depend on in the trenches. He’s in PR and darn good at his job.

A movie mogul-dude named Bryce Cummings is throwing this party for a new actress who recently won a coveted award for her ‘supporting role’ in a major motion picture. Mr. Cummings owns this magnificent bar and the whole luscious domain with its spiral staircases and carpeting so deep you could almost breast-stroke through it. Cummings is connected with the movie industry. This palatial Pacific Palisades pad (seems heresy to call it ‘pad’), and this spacious bar-room-library is absolutely stunning, with its Mahogany lower walls, golden touches, sconces and a beautiful wall of books…oops! I already said that! But, then, it is impressive enough to say it twice!

The friendly bartender is nice enough to keep my highball glass filled with his delicious version of a Manhattan. Of course, I’m the only one at the bar except for young waiters at the ‘service station’ filling their trays with drinks for the wandering mass of people discovering the beauty of style and substance this mansion displays. Every bachelor should have a bar like this in his home. If this bar would fit in my pad I would just crawl onto one of the soft auburn sofas that dots the aforementioned walls and never leave the huge room. Of course, this bar wouldn’t fit in my pad, and, hey, I live in Marina del Rey next to Santa Monica which isn’t at all shabby. But this place! It speaks of the kind of wealth most of us will never know.

Don’t get me wrong! The funny thing is, many people have this built-in expectation that these ‘swells’ are rude and snobbish, opinionated, and pretentious. And, some really are. The majority, however, are real and know where their roots are. They were not ignoring me. In fact, some engaged me in short conversations, inviting me to join them in their wandering. I suspect they were feeling sorry for me because I sat musingly at this rapturous bar.

With my strange humor, I told anyone who came near to rescue my lonely soul that I was merely building some ‘party power’ before unleashing myself on the crowd. In other words, I was building a ‘glow’ that would get me through the evening and to a point where I could be polite and gracious in taking my leave, unless, of course, someone or some event caught and held my rapt attention. Of the one-hundred plus stags and lovely couples roaming the rooms, all nice and beautiful people, I was just not in a sufficient mood to mix. Plus, I fell immediately in love with this luxe barroom.

Gibby, the bartender, for all I knew, was an actor making some extra money at this bash. He was in-deed an excellent mixologist to go with whatever his main occupation…perhaps, a bartender! Would that not be unique? Okay, get over yourself, Sam!!

Samuel Bellows is my name, and I’m a would-be author, sometimes subbing as a humorist! There is nothing particularly abstract and/or unique about me except for a bald spot on the back of my close-cropped black hair. Inside that small bald spot is an almost perfect near-imperceptibly milk-chocolate outline of the USA. The ladies for some obscure reason love that birthright!

Speaking of ladies, there is a fetching lass taking a soft-leather seat next to me.

“Hi, mind if I join you?” her perfectly aligned white teeth gleaming in the soft lights of the bar, her elegantly light blue evening wear disclosing some tantalizing cleavage. (Sorry, men do not stare but do otherwise notice parts of women’s anatomies! It isn’t an art! It’s only a fact! Personally, I cannot see having it any other way!)

“Oh, please do!” I offered, beginning to lift my body from the low-seated comfortable chair.

“Please, stay seated!” she purred – well, indeed, it did sound like a purr. “These high-heels are killing me, and I had to sit! Do you mind?”

“Not at all, Ms…”

“Megan, please, no ‘Ms’! I’m far-distanced from that used-up nomenclature.”

“I think I’m in love!” I said, with a slight bend of head and twinkling eye. “I’m Sam. Samuel Bellows, trying to be a ‘Samuel Clemons’.”

“Oh, an author!?” she smiled so sweetly with her order of a Daiquri.

“It sounds so real when you say it!” I gave an extra blink of eye.

“Now, don’t tell me you’re one of those tortured artists?” she offered her hand and I took it and most gently shook it.

“Oh, no! That bus left town without me! I do op-ed articles and an occasional novel.”

“Are you good at what you write, Sam?” She sipped while eyeing me.

“Here we are, having a conversation about writing, and we’ve just met, but, yes, I’m very good at what I write. Thank God I have me on my side. I’ve had good reviews which outweigh the bad ones…I like you, Megan! Immediately, I like you! Does that sound phony somehow?”

“No, Sam, it does not sound phony. If you’re at all interested, I like you, too! That’s a bit strange for me!”

“Liking me is strange?” I cooed.

She laughed, and I loved her laugh. “My goodness, Sam, you’re really good at repartee. No, I’m feeling strange, liking you so suddenly, I mean!”

“Is that a good thing? I hope.” I really did, hope!

“It must be, Sam. It’s been a year since my divorce, and you are the first man I’ve encountered that has a certain way I like. I came to this gala with a dear couple I adore, who want me to be doing more with my spare time, you know, like, dating and so forth, and so forth!”

“Okay, I’m going near the ‘so forth and so forth’, but I can say in all honesty that I’m delighted with your analysis of me…” I paused to gaze into her dazzling hazel eyes. “Was it a tough ordeal, Megan, your divorce, I mean?”

She took a quick sip of her daquiri, and answered. “Not really, Sam. We met at our jobs, both in the advertising business, just got comfortable with each other and allowed that to eventually push us into a marriage neither of us was really ready for. He was, is, a nice person, and it was all so very dull and amicable, our divorce…not nasty, at all! We’re still good friends. How about you? Married?”

“Yes, not now, but, once! A college romance, still too young and not enough sense to know we should not marry. She was a nice young lady, and I have no idea where she is today. I’m thirty-three and at times feel like sixty-three. My op-ed job has in some ways made me cynical, Megan, too uneasy, too wary of people and their duplicity. I don’t like being that way, but the world seems to be going the direction of some robotic reordering and a ‘me, too’ mentality. I’m by no means a hermit, but there are times when that deserted island sounds pretty doggone good to me… Wow! Listen to me! What did you put in my drink, Megan?”

We both laughed and our eyes stayed for some extra moments in their stare.

Something in that ‘stare’ told me we were on the very same wavelength, that we had broken through a barrier that ofttimes took months or years to pass through.

We sat, had a few drinks, and totally enjoyed our time. More than that, we knew there was some sense of destiny in our meeting.

A couple of hours passed before her friends found us in that marvelous bar, laughing and doing our schtick!

After introductions, the couple had no doubt how their question was going to be answered…

“We’re leaving, Megan. Are you staying a while?”

Megan and I looked at each other. I gave her a small nod with a silly smile thrown in.

“Sam will be taking me home, Cynthia. Thanks for bringing me with you tonight. Love you and Mel!”

Megan’s friends left.

We stayed for one more drink in that now most sacred and beautiful bar-room-library.

We now have a reasonable facsimile of that bar in our own home in Chestertown, Maryland.

You know, it’s true, ‘Love is Lovelier the Second Time Around’!

Short Story by BR Chitwood – August 18, 2018

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Comes the Dawn

Comes the Dawn!

(For John Howell – Re-coup-knee-repl.)

The long night was over: no more voices whispering in the darker shadows of the bedroom; no more misshapen forms parading slowly past the end of the bed, blood pouring in ghastly lava-flows; no more screaming from my beloved wife, not knowing why, but screaming from seeing my white-blanched face, my red, tear-streaked cheeks, and my uncontrollable shaking.

The doctor gave me a mild pre-warning, but I will never forgive myself for the agony I put my good wife Jackie   through that first night home from a knee-replacement surgery.

Dr. Driscoll told me that the pain medicine and its delivery system did not necessarily go well with the current pill regimen I was on. “Some medications collide with pain pills, Jeremy, so hallucinations are not out of the question. There is no way to predict the nature of the hallucinations, but I’ve heard some grotesque tales from patients in the past. You must take your medications, so it’s ‘pain or pain-pill’.”

The pain last night was excruciating, so I opted for the ‘pain-pill’, figuring the hallucinations could not be too much worse than the pain. Well, it was a ‘toss-up’! Still, that phantasmagorical experience was a ride down one of Hell’s terrifying roller coasters.

Okay, my pain threshold is weak to cry-babyish! AND, I’m about to take another pain-pill as I’m writing this because the pain is eating me alive – again! And, it’s daytime.

This time, I’m recording both video and sound. Yes, I know! Jackie saw nothing last night, only my writhing body and screams. Let’s just say, I’ve got to do this for myself. If nothing else, I’ll have some history to look back on so I can do a bad imitation of one silly laughing hyena. I’ve sent Jackie and our golden retrievers to the park. Jackie doesn’t want to go, leaving me alone, but I win the argument for her going. Looking at the clock, it is now one-thirty in the afternoon – at least, I made it with the pain for a few hours.

Okay, I’m getting really drowsy as the pain has subsided and sleep is inevitable. I’m closing my eyes now, letting Hypnos have his way with me.

I’m sleeping! I know I’m sleeping, but I also know I’ve got my eyes open watching the thin wispy cirrus clouds go lazily by outside my bedroom window. The pale blue sky is so beautiful, and I’m conscious of the most serene and dominating ether feeling in my body and mind with just a smidgen of numbness in the knee replacement area. In this most languid moment I surrender to the wondrous drowsy feeling and allow sleep to come.

“Oh, God! What is that? No, no! Get away, I’m sleeping and you’re not real. GO! GET AWAY FROM ME! Oh, my God! Help me! Someone, please, help me! The recorder is on! The world will know about you! No! Please, no! Not in bed with me! No! No! My God! It’s opening its long ugly brown jaws! It’s going to eat me! No! No! No!”

Jackie found me asleep on the floor by the bed, softly snoring. There was a huge gash on my right bicep, and the carpet was soaked in my blood. Jackie immediately called 911!

EMTs arrived! Carted me off to hospital emergency as I still slept, unaware this drama was taking place.

I awoke in a hospital bed, confused and unmercifully rude to the nurses and intern servicing me, angry at the alligator-thing that attacked me, angry at my good doctor for performing the knee replacement surgery, angry with Jackie for leaving me alone.

YES, YES, I KNOW! I insisted that she go to the park with our most beautiful Goldens.

GOOD THING! Perhaps! Who knows what the alligator would have done to Jackie and the pets?!

YES, there was an alligator! Believe me! There was an alligator! AND, I have it on audio and video!

Jackie thought she had closed the door when she left for the park, and, perhaps she did… Our Florida home is on the waterway that feeds into the sea.

However, it was Jackie’s re-entry into our lovely home that spooked the alligator enough that it very quickly exited!

All’s well that ends well!

Today, six months later, I’m running a 5K Marathon!

~*~

Flash Fiction by BR Chitwood – August 16, 2018

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Time Ticks

©Time Ticks

Your vanquishing ticks

Of time

Have betrayed me with

Your surly

Constancy!

Have held me hopeful

Of some special

Equity!

Your metronomic ticks

And tocks

Of lazy

Tones

Corrupt and beguile!

You spoil the

Dreams

Fashioned by Love

And Romance,

Hold your

Meaningless Wake

When I can

No longer

Hear

Your merciless

Monotony!

Divine,

You are!

And, Evil

Still!

When the final

Tock is

Ticked,

I shall be

The Victor

In

Eternity!

 

Poem by BR Chitwood – Aug. 13, 2018

 

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Miles From Afghanistan

Miles from Afghanistan!

“Pardon me, aren’t you staying on Route 40?”

“Does it look like I’m staying on Route 40?”

“No, sir! But you said you were staying on Route 40 all the way to Flagstaff when you picked me up.”

“Did I say that? The devil must have made me say that!”

“But, sir, I need to get to Flagstaff. Please stop here. I’ll make it back to Route 40 on my own.”

“You just undid your seat buckle! Buckle-up for safety, they say. Have you heard them say that, Ronnie?”

“No, sir, and my name isn’t Ronnie. It’s Bishop.  Please stop the car, sir, and let me out.”

“Lawrence Ronald Smith? That your name?”

“Please, sir, stop the car, let me out. Now, sir, please!”

“Um! Not, Smith? Not, Ronnie? So, you’re one of those ‘Bishops’? One of those religious leaders?”

“Is it my uniform, sir? You don’t like the military? Just let me out of your car, sir. You’ll never see me again.”

“You’re sweating, kid! I’ve got the air on! Why are you sweating, young sir?”

“Please, Mister, stop the car and let me out! Now, Sir!”

“Marines give orders! Right? You giving me an order, Sergeant Bishop? That right?”

“No, I’m giving you this, you miserable SOB!”

“Ouch! That’s a pretty good right hand you got there, Sergeant Bishop… Now, you’ve done it! Don’t you know, Sergeant a car loses its power steering when the keys are turned off while driving, that is, if you’re driving one of those oldies that don’t have the modern gear. Aah!

“You okay, Sergeant? My right hand’s likely not as good as your right hand, right, Sarge Bishop. Sarge Bishop! Oh, you’re taking a nap. Got all tired out on me, huh? ‘Whistle me up a memory’ – you don’t mind my singing, do you Sarge? Guess not, you’re still napping on me. ‘Whistle me up a memory, whistle me back where I want to be – to Tombstone Territory’!

“Okay, this looks like a real good spot! Ah, you’re coming around! Guess maybe my karate chop put you napping longer than I expected…wow, you’re a big guy, heavy, heavy! Okay, I got you leaning against the tree. You a bit more comfortable now, right, Sarge? You’re blinking your eyes, that’s good! You got your wits back, Sarge? I need to talk to you. Now, you can see you’re free to go, but here’s the thing…you got these trees all around you and you gotta figure which way you want to go…”

“Come on, Mister! Don’t play these games with me. Just let me go! I’ve done nothing to you and …”

“Whoa! Hold on there! You gave me a darn good blast back there in the car, so, yeah, you did something to me. Now, listen, Sarge, I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told nobody! The marines treated me real awful-like back in the day, put me in their version of a prison stockade, and it just wasn’t a very nice place. Some of those fellas had been in there for a while, and they got their jollies in nasty and peculiar ways, if you know what I mean… Whoa, now, Sarge, don’t be trying to get up ‘til I tell you the rules…”

“The Marines might have done bad things to you but I didn’t…can’t you see that? Can’t you just let me go? I’ll just forget all of this! Can you do that for me, Mister?  You don’t have to use that rifle you’ve got there! You can’t just shoot me. Please, Mister, I got a new family! Give me a chance!”

“Well, now, that was a right nice way of putting your words, Sarge, and, doggone it, I’m gonna let you go. For real! Shucks, you’re right, you got a family started and all. You just get on up from that ground you’re on, and take off! Don’t shake your head because I’ve got the gun. I mean it, Sarge, just take off…only one thing, you have to go that direction, straight away into the woods. You can almost see a pathway the way those trees are laid out. The only thing is, if I see you trying to get off that line right there my rifle’s pointing at, I’ll have to shoot you…am I making my point clear enough?”

“Why can’t you just let me get back on the road?”

“Cause that’s the rules of the game, Sarge! I won’t start looking for you ‘til you’re out of sight.”

 “Looking for me? What? You’re going to hunt me like an animal? This is a sporting event for you? You are one sick sonofabitch! Why don’t you fight me like a man? You have all the advantage! You afraid I can take you, Mister? Is that it? Because you hit me with a karate chop in your car, you figure that makes you the better man. Hell, you’re a damned coward, afraid to fight! I can see why the corps blasted your ass, Mister. You wouldn’t make a pimple on a good Marine’s ass! You’re yellow! You’re…Ow!”

“Get up, boy! I’ve got some more of this gun butt for you! You’re trying my patience, and I’m about to get so mad I may have to kill you after all. Come on! Get up! Get up, Sarge, now! Okay, you feel the rifle barrel on your fore-head, Sarge. You want me to pull the trig..ugh…”

The leaves fell from the trees as the marine tackled the man with the rifle, straddled him and pummeled him with left and right fist blows until the blood made him nauseous. The marine rolled off the man, stood above the lifeles body and heaved off to the side.

The marine leaned against the tree staring down at the man with the gun, his breath coming in short gasps. He swallowed hard, weaving, retching again, tried to bring his right hand to the gash on the side of his forehead as the pain registered in his brain from the broken fingers. He swooned, almost fell and went to the ground on his knees, squealing as his left hand reached for the ground as balance. The left hand was also broken, thankfully not as severe as the right.

When some semblance of normal breathing returned he checked for a pulse of the psychotic man on the ground. The marine gasped again.

The man was dead!

Then, tears came to mix with the grit and sweat of the past frenzied moments. Thoughts cascaded in his mind.

 He had taken another life! Another life he could add to those he had taken in Afghanistan!

After the crying, the soul-searching, the marine known as Bishop managed to painfully and slowly remove the car keys from the dead man’s pocket, got in the car and drove to the nearest roadside stop to make a phone call to the authorities.

The authorities had an extensive rap sheet on the dead man, and no charges were brought against Bishop. The authorities could forgive him but he could not forgive himself.

Bishop awoke on many nights from terrible dreams of a man with a mutilated face, gashed, with blood flowing profusely from the gaping maw! On those occasions, he would rise tearfully from the bed, put on jogging shorts, and run far into the night.

A short tale from:

BR Chitwood – August 8, 2018

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A Meeting at Chasen’s

A Meeting at Chasen’s 

I Wonder!

(And, Song! ‘I Wonder’)

She was with a group of ladies leaving Chasen’s, a popular dinner-stop for the Hollywood elite. The ladies were all busily atwitter with conversation and giggles, all lovely to look at, all most elegantly and splendidly representative of the classy sets that came to dine and be seen in the sumptuous five-star dining palace.

Having had a busy day clearing up some dull and uninteresting legal business, my attorney buddies and I were also leaving this hallmark of dining. When my eyes stopped quickly on this beautiful creature, the impulse was strong, nay, urgent, it seemed, to dash the few yards that separated us and meet this winsome damsel in no stress whatsoever. Her long flowing folds of blond curls danced upon her shoulders, her eyes sparkled and the beige dress she wore clung proprietarily to her body in maddening precision.

I broke from my friends, and their surprised eyes followed me to my destination.

Touching softly her upper arm, I spoke: “This is a bit awkward, I admit, but please allow me but a few seconds of your time.” The three other ladies in the group grinned and raised their brows at my un-bridled whimsy. “This is not a common action for me, but I’m dazzled by your beauty and simply had to meet you…pardon me, I’m Johnson Jacobs, JJ, if you will, and may I have the name that goes with your aforementioned beauty?”

There were glances among the ladies, and I noticed a playful cognition, a slight downward bow of head to urge onward my lovely prey. They were being entertained by my free-wheeling interruption of their chatter.

“I’m Lesley Bidwell, and I’m in shock!”

“Well, you’re most lovely in that place! Oh, please don’t mind me. In my world, I find myself not so timid when it comes to meeting a rare and lovely jewel such as you…and, please forgive me, ladies, you’re all so lovely, but this one matches those lovely dreams that possess me in the lonely nights. I’m quick to notice, Lesley, there is no wedding ring on your finger. Is there the slightest possibility my brash behavior can result in a future dinner date, or, perhaps a simple meeting for cocktails?”

Lesley looked to each of her smiling lady friends for support and received again those raised eyebrows and gentle nods. After some seconds, Lesley spoke: “We just came for dinner and were heading for the Marina del Rey lounge for after-dinner drinks.” She looked again at her friends and got the nods. “We can meet there and have a nightcap.”

My buddies went on their way, and I went to the Marina del Rey lounge and met Lesley. It was all that a ‘romantic’ could ask for – low lighting, and softly filtered ballads from the adjoining lounge. It was a night to remember, one more page for the memory vault.

~*~

We shared some wonderful moments together and were indeed serious for a time. Our love affair was to last nearly a year. Close but no cigars, as they say! I’m sure my friends thought that my wandering eye, my unstable soul always alert to new conquests, was the real cause for our parting. Perhaps it was to some extent, but more than that, Lesley was seriously tied to her brokerage work, and more often than not, it conflicted with an amorous get-away up or down the Pacific coast highway.

We were both divorced and looking for ‘White Buffaloes’ – me, more so than she. Lesley had great acumen, took her brokerage position much more seriously at times than I wished. Me? I owned a going business, built earlier with years of hard work, and now sufficiently staffed with people I trusted, leaving me the time to seriously search for my soul-mate, to search and shape that important part of my life. I was unwilling to let business interfere too frequently with my quest. It did not matter that people might think me an adolescent, a ‘lotus-eater’, a Don Quixote off on a silly quest atop his steed. No, I needed love! I needed that special person with whom to grow old.

Actually, my poetry at the time depicted a lonely guy with an unsteady beat to his heart, a harried mind scrambled by an unreasonable past.

So, it was! And, so it is!

Lesley became a friend, never married.

My mind does its aimless wandering at times. I often find myself remembering old ‘loves’ and how their lives turned out. There is one point of clarity if it is needed: there was never NOT love in any of my relationships…I can hear Willie and Julio singing now – ‘To all the girls I loved before…’

So, deserving or not, I got lucky! There came into my life a lovely raven-haired, down-to-earth lady who treasures family and pets. We have children and grandchildren. She tells me quite often that I’m her ‘favorite pet’. I have a feeling she’s telling me some arcane truth about myself… I wonder!

‘I wonder’!

I see trees

With Green leaves in Winter!

I see the moon

Where the sun should stand…

There’s a lake

Where there should be a meadow,

A forest where there should be sand!

And, with all this,

I wonder,

Can life be merely a dream?

A dream that can build

A love that is real,

A love to last,

Eternally?

I hear a song

With soft words of silence.

I hear a lark

When there is no bird.

I hear a horn

When there should be no music,

A sound

that should not be heard!

And, with all this,

I wonder,

Can life be merely a dream?

A dream that can build

A love that is real,

 A love to last,

Eternally?

(Song ‘I Wonder’ ©Billy Ray Chitwood)

Post by Billy Ray Chitwood – August 3, 2018

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The Bailey Crane Mystery Series

  The Bailey Crane Mysteries 1-6

Meet Bailey Crane, a sleuth who wears his emotions in easy view of whomever he comes in contact. His musing is part of his charm and wit. He muses about old love affairs, friendships, anger, con artists, people of unusual character and wisdom. The case he’s working at the time does not suffer with his musing but gives more than flesh and bone dimensions to the characters. Below, mystery lovers may enjoy a 6-book series featuring a protagonist whose DNA is not only in solving crimes but in matters of the heart and soul. Bailey and the characters come alive within the pages.

Five of the six ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ are inspired by real crimes. Book 3 stands on only the author’s fictional narrative and character dialogue and development. The first book in the series is special because the young actress brutally murdered many years ago was a friend of the author and his wife. It is a case still unsolved to this day – a ‘cold case’ for the Phoenix Police Department.

These books are ‘stand alone’ reads but do have some obvious connectors – aging and life changes of the central character and his partners in crime solving. Here are the books in order, with a quick preview, and BUY sites.

*

An Arizona Tragedy (1)

Editorial Reviews

Review

5.0 out of 5 starsA Thoroughly Enjoyable Must-Read!

By SUSAN H. MCINTYRE

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I was glued to this story all the way to the end.. I want to avoid any spoilers, so I won’t reveal the plot. the description, however, does not begin to show how well-written this mystery novel is. The plot has twists and turns, with a few red herrings that kept me from predicting the end. I loved that! In addition, the main character, Bailey Crane, is well-developed. I feel as if I know this guy. He philosophizes, loves, has friends, and yet stays on track of the case. This book was a delight, and I plan to read more by this author!

From the Author

From the Author

Many years ago, a lovely actress friend of mine was brutally murdered in the desert northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. She was a young mother of two children, a legal secretary for two of my attorney buddies, and she was responsible for my acting avocation — we had the same great agent in Scottsdale, Bobby Ball.

My friend’s murder has never been solved, and this fictional novel was inspired by her death. The book was originally published years ago under the title, “Probable Cause,” by a small publisher. I’ve dusted it off, edited it, rewrote some sections, and it is now, “An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery.” It is my way of remembering her. She had her life in front of her with all the dreams most of our young generation had at the time, but her biggest dream was to have someone to love and a home for her family. 

You are never far from our thoughts, dear lady. 

BUY SITES:
Amazon US:  https://goo.gl/NQrJqF
Amazon UK:  https://goo.gl/Rxb528
**

Satan’s Song (2)

A young lady in Phoenix, Arizona is decapitated while riding her bike in a municipal park…(inspired by a true Phoenix crime). The Phoenix PD has the case but the girl’s mother comes to Bailey Crane and asks for his personal help in finding the maniacal killer. Another young lady is murdered in San Diego, yet another in Texas, and Bailey finds common connections. The final disposition of the case will come in a small ski community in Colorado. Bailey finds his killer and also a new beginning for his life. 

NOTE: This crime was unsolved for many years. Within the past few years, the Phoenix PD found their killer.

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/2dQcte

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/NvBD72

***

The Brutus Gate (3)

A warehouse fire nearly consumes Bailey Crane in this fiery opening, but our intrepid sleuth lives to add more battle scars to his job description. One of the thugs arrested at the warehouse is heard to mutter a cryptic phrase, “Beware the Brutus Gate.” Bailey and his buddies in blue have a hearty laugh at the pithy utterance and try to figure out what it means.

This is a proverbial roller coaster ride for Bailey, the department, and the Fibbies as they anticipate drug shipments coming in from Mexico. In this large caper there’s a bunch of crimes taking place – drugs, murder, rape, political corruption. Bailey has all he can handle plus another ‘turning point’ in his life. 

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/psF7CD

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/c7wqrD

****

Murder in Pueblo del Mar (4)

5.0 out of 5 stars Murder in Pueblo del Mar by Billy Ray Chitwood
Recently finished “Murder in Pueblo del Mar” and found it very entertaining! It’s one of those “hard to put down” kind of mysteries! Will be looking for more books by Billy Ray Chitwood!
Review Published 15 days ago on amazon.com by Mary A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsAnother Mexico Murder Story

By Mike D. Landfair on August 18, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I liked the story, and the introspection. The dropping of “I” as the subject in his sentences, while annoying, wasn’t enough to reduce the novel to four stars.

From the Author

“Murder In Pueblo Del Mar – A Bailey Crane Mystery” is Book 4 of 6 in the ‘Bailey Crane Series.’

Some years ago a mother was savagely murdered while on holiday in Mexico. The case had many interesting elements, from cock fights and sex tapes to transsexual lover. This true event inspired me to write book 4 of The Bailey Crane mysteries. This author also had a dear friend whose wife was fighting her battles with alcoholism and there was an inherent need to combine this element in the story. It is my feeling that including issues with which many people can identify, along with the criminal case under study can only bring heightened awareness and some measure of compatibility with the plot line. It is also true that my father-in-law did in fact live around the ‘bend of the caliche road’, and my wife and I were frequent visitors.

The friends are now gone and sorely missed…friends in the book: father-in-law and my wife’s step-mother in truth.

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/bNfefn

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/KzKS5L

*****

A Soul Defiled (5)Editorial Reviews

From the Author

“A Soul Defiled – A Bailey Crane Mystery” is Book 5 of six books in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’.

This short ‘Bailey Crane’ book will be the fifth in the series and likely one of my personal favorites. Why? Don’t really know, except the environment for writing the book was so very pleasant — stopping occasionally during the laptop pecks and looking out across that beautiful sea was so exhilirating. In fact, watching from my deck, a hawker walking on the beach peddling his serapes gave me the very first glimpse into this ‘Bailey Crane’ novel. Unfortunately, the poor hawker in the book was to have a very short appearance in the prologue of “A Soul Defiled.” 

Note: Each ‘Bailey Crane’ Book can be read independently of the other. 

From the Back Cover

Bailey Crane and wife, Wendy, are just settling into their new condo unit on the Sea of Cortez when a call from an old friend begins a dangerous ride through another mystery maze. They’re all here, the scammers, contract killers, good guys, bad guys. Bailey has come to the sea for some retirement fun and sun. Instead, he gets kidnapped twice, battered and bruised twice, meets a man of intrigue, and, finally finds that friendship and life can come to surprising ends. 

With compelling characters and a beautiful backdrop of sea and desert elegance, this is a tale with surprising climactic moments, not to be missed.

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/ojyTgk

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/P0cwuT

******

A Common Evil (6)

Editorial Reviews

Review

5.0 out of 5 stars – Sin and sand

By CA reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

A COMMON EVIL is the 6th and final novel in his Bailey Crane mystery series and takes us to a seaside resort along Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Bailey is a retired Arizona cop who, with his wife Wendy, has settled into the condo resort in Mexico and is now the homeowner’s association head honcho. But along with sun and luxe, the Cranes also find danger and duplicity.

The cornerstone of the story is a scenario in which the largest cartel in Mexico, with a jefe who is not too objectionable, promises to clean up the violence and strike a deal with the Mexican government. Part of the clean-up action (read: getting rid of his rivals in order to run a drug monopoly with Mexico City’s approval) spills over onto Bailey’s turf. There’s a shootout on the resort property, Wendy is kidnapped because of a letter Bailey wrote protesting the dubious dealings of an American in with the cartels, and Bailey’s survival instincts surge to the fore, although not always with the results he intends.

This isn’t the usual whodunit but a look at Mexico’s drug war through an expatriate’s eye. The charm of the novel–and the series–is driven by Bailey’s unmissable musings on life and love. His voice is a gutsier, spicier, and more raw version of Alexander McCall Smith’s point of view in the latter’s Isabel Dalhousie series but his subject matter is both more intense and immediate. Recommended.

~*~
5.0 out of 5 starsChitwood adds wonderful finale to Bailey Crane Mystery Series

By Timothy M. Tays 

Format: Paperback

Billy Ray Chitwood channels his alter ego, Bailey Crane, for another suspenseful tale. In this final book in the Bailey Crane Mystery Series, Bailey wants nothing more than to enjoy a relaxing retirement in his penthouse in a Mexican beach resort with his beloved wife, Wendy. But once again, trouble finds him–and by association, Wendy–this time in the form of a vicious Mexican drug cartel and the nefarious characters who populate it. Bailey is sucked into violence when the cartel blames him for a government crackdown. When Wendy is targeted as a way to punish Bailey, he must suspend his gentle southern ways and become as vicious as the cartel thugs to save her. What follows is intrigue and moral dilemmas as Bailey fights forces too large for him to defeat.
With a final unexpected twist at the end, this is a gritty tale of evil that will always exists as long as people give in to their darker side–which, of course, they will. Somehow Bailey survives and still finds love and hope among the systemic evil and moral compromises. A must-read mystery novel!
~*~
5.0 out of 5 starsA Common Evil is basic in all of us
By eden
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A Common Evil addresses something basic in all of us–the need to preserve the things we love, whether they are people, a place to live, or a certain way of life.

This is the sixth and final book in the Bailey Crane Mystery Series, which started with An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery (Bailey Crane Mystery Series Book 1), and it more than stands on its own as an engaging story.

The setting is the Sea of Cortez, also known by other names–Gulf of California or Gulf of Mexico, a large inlet along the northwestern coast of Mexico. Already, the story attracted me due to its location – exotic, hot, sand, beach, and home to Corona beer.

Bailey Crane, a retired detective is minding his own business, living in a luxury beach resort with his wife, Wendy, when he is drawn into the shifty underworld. The start of the book pulls you in immediately with raucous gunfire. It offers a look of what it’s like to live among drug cartels that are at odds with one another. The paradox of paradise is that life is expendable when profit and greed motivate those in power.

Against the backdrop of the fascinating world of living in Mexico as an American, Mr. Chitwood treats us to moments of self-reflection with strong hints of his Southern upbringing. These moments were for me, some of the most satisfying passages in the book. They offered a deeper look into the inner workings of his protagonist.

Bailey Crane is not afraid to be brutish to protect what he wants. While he may wrestle with inner demons, he can steep himself firmly in the task at hand and reflect on his own morality later. In other words, he gets the job done.

Through his two main characters, the author offers us a glimpse of a couple who have been through a lot. Bailey Crane and Wendy have a very strong relationship, one with a love that runs deep and is deeply personal. Within that love, words are not always required to express how they feel for each other. At times, the book reads as an ode from Bailey to Wendy, and I found this particularly endearing.

As with all good mystery/thrillers, there are twists and turns and a surprise ending that made for a wonderful read. For lovers of the mystery genre, whether you slant toward action, cozy, or literary–A Common Evil will not disappoint.

~*~
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fun and Games South of the Border
By Diogenes 
Format: Kindle Edition
‘A Common Evil’ is the sixth book in Billy Ray Chitwood’s mystery series. It is also the first of the series I have read – but I WILL be back for more.
Chitwood’s detective, Bailey Crane, has moved to Mexico with his wife, Wendy, hoping for a quiet retirement by the Sea of Cortez. But fate intervenes and Crane finds himself caught up in a shootout with members of a Mexican drugs cartel. So much for a quiet life. From then on, things go from bad to worse for the ex-detective…

One of the things I enjoy about Chitwood’s books – apart from the absorbing passages of reflection on life and purpose – is that his characters possess a moral ambivalence. Tales about two-dimensional ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys bore me to tears. Not only does this approach strike me as lazy writing, but it also patronises the reader. Chitwood’s protagonists, on the other hand, face tough choices and the decisions they make are not always good ones.
Not just a crime/adventure tale, this novel is a treatise on what it means to grow old, to have secrets and to recognize the things that bind us and the things that fulfill us.

‘A Common Evil’ is a quick read, but a satisfying one. Now I need to go back and start the series at book one to see what I’ve missed.
~*~
5.0 out of 5 stars… I read mysteries for the sleuth more than the sleuthing and that’s why I enjoyed A Common Evil so much
ByAmazon Customeron July 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read mysteries for the sleuth more than the sleuthing and that’s why I enjoyed A Common Evil so much. Bailey Crane is a bible-belt gumshoe living la vida loca on the Sea of Cortez. It’s a retirement fantasy life that he and his wife – also an ex-cop – have cultivated as a reward for years of catching bad guys. But when a drug cartel muscles into his beach and barbecue lifestyle, the dream of a peaceful march into old age evaporates and Bailey is thrust back into the world of cops and robbers he and his wife had left behind. A fun, suspenseful mystery filled with the musings of a protagonist with plenty of regrets, A Common Evil makes for terrific beach reading (that’s where I read my copy).

Buy Sites:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/57ExVZ

~*~ 

One final word from me, the author…
It is my fault alone that these most readable mysteries have languished on the blogosphere shelfs for too long without better marketing – make that, little or no marketing! These books deserve more than what I’ve given them in terms of book marketing. So, you know what’s coming…please do yourself a favor and read one, several, or, all of these books. It’s my belief you will have satisfying reads.
Of the sixteen books I’ve written, these were my first six, and I’m sad that they are not getting the attention I believe they deserve. Five of the six are inspired by true criminal cases.
So, give Bailey Crane a chance to win you over! It is not lost on me that there are those ’31 flavors’ out there and these might not be your reading choices. 
These six books are good…hope you give them a read! 
-Billy Ray Chitwood – Author – July 30, 2018
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