‘Happy’

‘Happy’

The light bright sorrel mare with a flaxen mane and tail came to the fence, quickly ate the apple, turned and trotted off neighing and twirling in a delightful display of ‘thanks’! I laughed along with its joy and it pranced around in a circle, eyeing me in my joy.

“Come, ‘Happy’,” I called, and it came to the fence again.

I rubbed ‘Happy’s’ long snout and leaned over the fence and kissed her between the eyes, her tail wagging with delight.

“Would you like me to ride you this afternoon? I’ll ride you bareback and forget that old saddle. Would you like that?”

Happy lifted its regal head in a definite yes.

Wearing sneakers, denims, and a pale blue tee-shirt I put my left foot on the middle wooden crossing on the fence and jumped aboard Happy.

“Okay, Happy, I’ve got your mane, run with the wind and get some exercise.”

Much like a race horse, ‘Happy’ broke and dashed away, accustomed to my near-200-pound weight and knew that I was not worried about her speed. Off she went down into the pasture-land of our 500-acre ranch.

It was a glorious day with clear blue sky and slight zephyr-like breezes as ‘Happy’ galloped, careful not to make sudden turns as I was without benefit of saddle and stirrups and possibly could lose my balance. I gave ‘Happy’ her freedom of direction and hanged on to her mane, leaning forward with my chin almost touching her bobbing head.

There was a stand of trees and a knoll after clearing the pasture and ‘Happy’ took me in that direction. The exhilaration of the ride was what I so badly needed after the argument with Margo over the bills and the money to pay them.

The thing was, we had no financial problems. We had money to live on for the rest of our lives. There was no need to worry, to fret about bills and the paying of them. Margo came from a good solid background of Irish ancestry and instilled in her was sort of frantic penchant for keeping up with and paying monthly bills instantly.

So, we argued to the point of my becoming irritated with the senseless argument and walked away from her as she continued to rail on about the bills.

She would be fine by the time I returned from this Saturday morning gallop, and, definitely, so would I.

On the knoll and now slowed to a canter, ‘Happy’ seemed somehow disturbed by something, “What is it, ‘Happy’? An animal of some kind, a snake? It was as if I expected ‘Happy’ to answer me, but then, I, too, heard the desperate sound that was upsetting her, actually, more a scream some distance away. I tugged at ‘Happy’s’ Mane toward the direction of the scream and headed in that direction.

There, between the trees, a man was assaulting a woman. ‘Happy’s’ baying got the man’s attention as I nudged ‘Happy’ to move faster toward the assault.

When ‘Happy’ slowed, I jumped from the horse and collided with the now standing man, half-dressed and menacing with a knife in his right hand. I dodged one thrust from the knife, and ‘Happy’ weaving head dodged the next thrust…at least, I thought so. But, in my side vision I saw blood running down ‘Happy’s’ neck area. That infuriated me and I rushed, tackled the man, and slammed my fists into his body and face. His knife went flying as kept up my own assault, mindful of the weeping lady and my wounded ‘Happy’.

When the man no longer moved I assumed he was unconscious and rose from his body. Checking on ‘Happy’s’ wound I found it was just a scratch. As I turned toward the lady, she yelled, “He’s getting up.” I turned and with my right haymaker the man went down and stayed down. ‘Happy’ moved over the man and placed a front hoof on his chest.

The lady had stopped sobbing. She told me what happened. She thought he was a nice guy. She met him at a girlfriend’s afternoon party, and he invited her to go for a ride in his new Corvette.

I looked off to the right and there was a shiny white Corvette parked on the shoulder of the farm road. I reached inside the man’s denim left pocket and found the car keys for the Corvette and slipped them into my own pocket.

The young lady was not seriously hurt. ‘Happy’ and I came along just in time. I went to the Corvette and marked the license plate in my head. I got astride ‘Happy’ and pulled the young lady up and behind me. We went back to the ranch house and found my wife standing by the fence with tears in her eyes.

I kissed my wife and introduced the young lady whose name she had not given. Lacy LaGreen was her name, and I knew the family.

I first called the police, gave directions to the man and his car, told them I had his car keys and would give them up when a resolution was made on the man’s assault and/or I would pass them on to the police for their disposition, to relay them on to the man’s family.

The young lady was most thankful to ‘Happy’ and me. Lacy would become both a good friend of my wife and me, but, to ‘Happy’s’ delight, a new riding partner.

The young man would eventually get a reduced sentence of 30-days jail time, and would blame the assault on too much alcohol.

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood -October 21, 2018

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The Long Lingering Night

The Long Lingering Night

“So, your answer is, no. You won’t go?”

“Hey, you can go. You don’t need me to go.”

“You said you would go, Charlie.”

“C’mon, Beth, Sweetheart, I’m working here on the laptop, and the final edit is going really well right now. It’s selfish, I know, but I’ll make it up to you. “

“Okay, I’ll go alone. This is the last night ‘The Sting’ is in town and I’m not going to miss them.”

“Good. I don’t want you to miss them, though I wish you would get Carol or someone to go with you.”

“No, I’m going alone. Go ahead, work on your book. I know it’s important to you.” Beth leaned down and gave Charlie a kiss. “See you later.”

“So, you’re not mad?”

“No, not mad. Love you, Charlie.” Beth yelled as she exited the front door.

“Love you, too. Enjoy,” Charlie yelled back to the closing door, immediately retreating back into his laptop and his final draft.

*

Having lost all track of time Charlie looked in the lower right-hand corner of his laptop screen and saw the time was 1:14 AM.

He worked six straight hours without a potty-break, without food or drink, all evening, and, now he sat smiling. He finished the final draft of his book, and the ‘dream channel’ began in his head, those wonderfully wild thoughts of acclaim and 5-Star Reviews…

Whoa!

He was so wrapped up in his accomplishment, he forgot Beth.

“Beth,” he yelled loudly, and not a response. Ah, she slipped in, saw him lost in his work and went to bed.

He rose from his swivel desk chair, stretched, and went to the bedroom.

Bed made. No Beth.

Hmmm. The concert would be over by now.

There came a quick stab of alarm and shame. He let Beth go to a concert by herself. Concerts were rowdy, always ultra-loud, with lots of booze and dope being consumed.

Oh, Christ, what kind of man was he? Letting his wife go into the night alone without him? How could he do that to her? His ‘writing’ was more important than his wife? You are a miserable sap!

Okay, stop with the self-recriminations!

What the hell was he to do?

Call Carol?

Wake her up at 1:30 in the AM?

Well, damn, He had to do something! Yes, call Carol.

Carol’s phone rang, Charlie was counting the rings, and, on the ninth, he was about to hang up when a gruff and sleepy voice answered.

“Hello!”

“Oh, Leonard, I didn’t know you were back from your business trip, sorry to wake you…”

“What the hell do you want this time of night, Charlie, for Christ’s sake?”

“Is Carol with you?”

“What the hell kind of question is that at 1:33 in the morning?”

“I’m really sorry, Leonard, but, dammit, Beth isn’t home from the concert, and I’m worried about her. Did Carol go with her?”

Now, with more concern for his friend, “No, she’s here beside me in bed. Hey, Charlie, Beth probably met a lady friend and she’s having after-concert drink. Can’t believe you let her go alone, Charlie!”

“Believe it, Leonard, I’m a bastard… And, no, she wouldn’t do that, Leonard. She wouldn’t stop for drinks. Beth would know I’d be worried.”

“Why didn’t you go with her, Charlie. I thought that was your plan.”

“Well, it was, Leonard, but I wanted to wrap up the final draft of my book.”

“I’m feeling your pain, Charlie, but, damn, you should have gone with her.”

“I know. Oh, how I know!”

“Check hospitals, Charlie. Check in with the police, but they’ll probably tell you they have to wait 48-hours before they can do anything. I’m sorry, Pal, that’s all I got. If anything occurs to me. I’ll call you. Carol’s awake now wanting to know what’s going on. Get back to us when you find out something, Charlie.”

The two friends disconnected.

For the next few hours, Charlie called hospitals, police stations in all jurisdictions in the metro area of Phoenix. Some he called twice.

He was now crying at intervals, beside himself for being such an idiot to let Beth go alone to the concert. He could do nothing but wait … Wait for what?

“Oh, God!” the tears came again.

He was totally lost, his mind blank but sending ugly themes of what might have happened. He tried to be rid of them by walking, making more coffee, drinking more coffee, and his pain was joined by a bone weariness. He was like a man drunk, drugged, without the power of any more thought.

The book. The damned book! His inveterate, his incorrigible addiction to writing had caused him to lose his wife, if not forever, for this time, for this agonizing time…

Wait!

Something about the book. Something in the book about one of the women characters. What was it? Come on, man, you wrote the damned book! What is it?

Then, it came to him, softly at first, then sharply like a razor slice of beard. But, Beth? Not Beth! No, that could not be the answer. Beth would not do that.

He rose from his swivel chair, went to the garage. The car was parked in the garage. What the hell?

He went back into the house, scratched his head, went to the guest bedroom.

There, the covers pulled snugly up to her chin, lay his sleeping beauty!

Charlie had never experienced a happier moment in his life. His love, his wife was safe from harm.

He smiled, removed his clothes, tossed them on the stuffed chair in the corner, and slipped into bed with his no longer missing Beth.

She roused.

He wrapped his arms around her, pulled her gently to him, kissed her with softness she could not resist.

They lingered there through their love-making, through the deep sighs of love and oneness…

Just before they faded and fell into their night’s long slumber, he smiled and said: “You know, you might have broken some copyright laws tonight! The very idea, using one of my literary characters as an object lesson for your husband.”

“Oh, be quiet, my darling, and go to sleep.!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood

 

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Portrait in Time

Portrait In Time

Young man, do you not see me as once I might have been?

Is it the wrinkle, the sagging skin Time laid upon me that you see?

Once I stood, perhaps like you, with noble thoughts and dreams

A new bright morning might bring.

Time wore me down with its ceaseless ubiquitous ways and subtle promises.

Time taunted and tempted me with its guile and deceptions,

With its beauty beads of love.

Time gave me its reins to run wild with the wind toward sunrise and sunset.

Time now leaves me here along the sea, better to have had its moments of joy;

Sad to have you see the frail and broken parts of me.

Young man, can you not see me as once I might have been?

(An ending poem in a book by Billy Ray Chitwood, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son”)

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 12, 2018

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Thoughts of an Assassin

©Thoughts of an Assassin

He watched from his secret spot above the street, his telescope adjusted for maximum clarity. The time on the tower clock showed 5:25 PM and the sun was getting lower in the western sky. Soon, on the lower horizon, the lucid orange colors would come, would dazzle the ‘romantics’ in the crowd of life’s living lovers …

He grinned at his thoughts:

Where else would the sun be at this time of night but in the western sky? Remarkable how we people speak and think so often in grandiose terms, adding the delicate modifier words to an important moment we’re describing, to a person we’re praising, to an object of devotion.

Hah! Am I just now succumbing to the art of poetry? Ah, the mind can bewitch and tease us in so many ways … Laura taught me that. Dear, beautiful, Laura, you introduced me to so much in life. We went to those romantic places you made so vivid for me in your telling. You were alive in a world I never knew, a political world you loved and believed in, a world you shared for a while with me, a simple man, unschooled in the finer etiquettes of life, a man who shunned the crowds, sought only his lonely miserable solitude in introverted and fearful insignificance…

He looked at his watch. The posted time for the politician’s arrival at the square was only twenty-five minutes away. He licked his lips but only because they were dry from being out in the open so long. He ran his open palm back through his sandy hair. It would not be long now.

He was at the party by chance. His old college friend, his only friend, had insisted he attend with him because he was ‘worried about your own introverted and quaint nature’, his friend said, and I shall never know how it was he convinced me to go with him. And, there, I sat in a golden stuffed love seat in a corner of the huge ornate room while a soft roaring of incessant chatter from small huddled groups came resoundingly to my ears.

The robotic roving waiter in black and white brought me my second Manhattan, and as I timidly took a sip I saw you, Laura, walking toward me, your long flowing colorful hair with a streak of peroxide somehow adding and sculpting the rest of your gorgeous body, tightly caressed by the burgundy gown and gold trim. As you neared me, I gulped for I saw that you were about to speak and the awful fear gripped and held me stupefied. Your beauty notwithstanding, my onset of paralysis was an awful discomfort mixed with both anxiety and a modicum of hope. It dawned on me to stand in meeting a lady, and that began the only three years of my life that would come to have meaning.

We fell in love so effortlessly and hopelessly. It was you, Laura who taught me the manners and the ways of culture and refinement…to the extent they could be taught to me. It was you, dearest Laura, who taught me love. The happiness and the love shared by the two of us, our trips to far-away places, the few friends with whom we shared some special moments, all would be the stuff of painting, poetry, songs. Then, you were gone, taken from me by a foolish political ploy that caused your death…and, my death.

He checked his watch. Five minutes. With his gloved hands he opened the long leather case, assembled easily, quickly all parts of the high-powered long-range rifle, the telescopic sight, the barrel, checked its heft, took a test-pose to check scope, and leaned back against the short roof wall…and waited.

Laura, my one and only love, this is for you. There is something within me that cannot allow this man to live, this man who took your life from me. Not through love did he take your life, but through a ruse that would cause your death and my only real reason for living.

I know you would not approve of my action here, my love, but men measure equities and losses in different ways than do beautiful women. But, still, I will ask you to forgive me this frailty of mind and body that urges me on to fulfill this deed. And, please, if there is that divine gate on golden shores of after-life, please be waiting to open that gate for me, dear lady of my heart.

The tall handsome man stood, took his position at the parapet, kneeling, sighting, as the black limousine came to a stop at the beautiful flower-laden square. The tower clock struck six lovely tones. All the secret service people came from the vehicles, gathered near the politician responsible for the man’s deep sorrow. The politician took his first step from the limousine.

A gunshot pierced the early evening air, unheard by the cheering crowds below.

The man lay dead on the roof floor by the short wall, blood slowly seeping from his head wound.

There was static heard only on the building’s roof, and these words: “Subject target eliminated. The president entourage may continue.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 14, 2018

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The Restless Spirit

The Restless Spirit

(Written in 2012 while on The Sea of Cortez – TN & KY Since!)

Under a pale blue morning sky a long plume of white misty cloud softly touches the Sea of Cortez, and I ponder the spirit of the restless.

In fact, it is my own restless spirit that dictates this post, given energy by the ghosts from an Appalachian youth of mobility and uncertainty, by my own selfish need to describe the nature of my beast. This restless spirit is not something that embarrasses me or shames me in my eyes. It is a constant companion which I have nourished all my life with impulsive, spontaneous acts. It is something I accept as I do the color of my hair, my skin, the whole DNA networking inside my body walls. It is likely not so distinctive as one might expect. This restless spirit, this wanderlust component, must reside in legions of us.

This post began with a description of the beautiful sea that displays its gaudy deep green beauty outside my windows. This sea, this constant sun, this life style is the stuff of dreams. How could anyone be restless watching the sail boats, the ski jets, the parasailers high above the crystalline water, the people frolicking along the long stretch of sandy beach? Grab a Corona, a Tequila Sunrise, and live your dream, right? Well, that great big sea reaches out to a far horizon, and, after a few Coronas and Tequila Sunrises, the restless spirit can start its gnawing litany of thought… What’s beyond that horizon? Where have I not yet been? What have I not yet done? I’ve been here for a few years now. Is it not time to go? Even Paradise has its limits!

Okay, here’s the deal! I buy a new car. In a year I tire of the car and want another make and model. The same with living quarters! After a few years I want new quarters. It does not matter to the restless spirit that it is contemplating giving up ‘heaven’, its life style of which other people can only dream. In this case, it is a stunning, luxurious two-level penthouse where the host of the restless spirit has come to retire, where the only really pressing decisions to make daily are food selections, social media caretaking, and the book-writing periods. There are people who live in the same house in the same town in the same state all their lives. Not me! In the past thirty years, I’ve lived in twelve different places. You do the math! I’ve probably lost count.

Yes, I’ve still got a lovely wife who is a polar opposite. She is calm, patient, puts up with me, would have been happy to live our lives out in that first place thirty years back. Guess she loves me to keep uprooting her the way I do. Is this crazy, or, what?!

So, anyone interested in a 3600 square foot penthouse? I’ll buy yours. You buy mine. I’ll be fair, even leave all the furniture, utensils, everything, totally turnkey — just bring your clothes and a toothbrush. You will have constant sun, constant sea, constant beauty. The only catch is, you need to have something equally as nice, something that turns on my restless spirit, and your place has to be free and clear like my place. Any takers?

Worried about Mexico and all the media hype? Been coming here from Arizona for over forty years. I’ve felt safer here than any place I’ve ever lived. The people of Mexico are friendly, helpful, kind, and appreciative of our US dollars. Crime, drug cartels? I’m sure they’re around somewhere in the country, killing off themselves, mostly. One could be reminded that my great country, the US, has its share of drug cartels and crime…

But back to this restless spirit thing… Do I wish that it was not there? ‘Yes’ is the honest answer, but there is an honest qualifier. The books I’ve written, the poems, the songs, the posts, all the penning? Are they worthy? Of course, I think so, but the true judges are the readers and the lovers of poetry and song. But ‘worthy’ is not the point I’m making here. The point is, maybe all my words would not have been out there in print and Cyberspace had I not had the restless spirit — not that one cannot write without it. But, me, could I have ‘done all that’ in ‘my way’ without that restless spirit.

I’m just saying…

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 8, 2018

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Blood and Bones

perryville

Blood and Bones

Our Sunday drive took my wife and me to Perryville, Kentucky to travel over the hills and valleys where an early Civil War battle was fought, where thousands of young people lost their lives fighting for some idea of where they wished their country to be…you all know enough about the Civil War, so I won’t embellish on its causes, its generals, and the aftermath which still lingers with some of us to this day. In fact, there are some people who refer to our fractured political process, those and them, and feel as though we’re approaching another such battle, one that is currently being waged with acrimonious insults, pushing, shoving, with a hatred hard to believe, the blessing of some of those in elements of our political power elites… I won’t talk about that either!

It was a most gorgeous Sunday afternoon as we left our home (pictured above) where in 1862 an older relic of this one stood amid tobacco fields, where confederate soldiers more than likely marched up the road on which our home sits. We believe the rebel troops came up from Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee through Lebanon, KY and on down Lebanon Road (where our house sets). Of course, the original house still stands and was added onto a number of times, most recently in 2008. My wife is a history buff and will add her section after my finish here, but our place is beautiful and built like a fortress – and, we believe those rebel troops likely passed by or certainly were close to our home at that moment in history.

But, back to the Perryville battle site, some fifteen plus or minus miles from us, our visit to the civil war site was at just about the time the battle was waged in 1862. The day, filled with sunshine and silence, a somberness that gave us pause to look out across the valleys where beneath its earth lies the long rusted weaponry and the blood and bones of those who died. This land we passed over seemed, nay, was, sacred and, if tender of heart, one could almost hear ‘taps’ playing softly over the verdant dips and rises. My wife and I were quiet for most of the moments we travelled over that land, each of us thinking thoughts of then and now.

We eventually passed by the canon (pictured above) and left the hallowed ground, still silent, still in some remote part of our minds thinking our thoughts…

Mine spoke to me of humankind, the sometime gaping abysses we must navigate to get to a place of mutual understanding – if we ever do. Mine spoke to me of life and death, how some few men and women can be so power hungry to lead their fellows to chaos. In that Sunday solitude my heart bled for all who must come to save us from ourselves from time to time…and, finally, there were my tears. 

Now, I turn to my good wife, Julie Anne, to perhaps leave the philosophical depths and render a more ethereal synopsis of that lovely Sunday… [BRC]

[Julie Anne]
Today we ventured out to the Battle of Perryville. Drove around rather than walked. Basically had almost all of the battlefield to ourselves. Didn’t run into any of its ghosts. In between re-enactments but could visualize. Guessing about as warm today (high 80s) as it was in 1862 – but no drought to contend with. Remembered when Craig led Cindy (our kids were visiting) had us all over the fields and longing for water – how terrible it had to be for those fighting – after long marches and no water and the sun beating down on them. Some of the Rebs would have marched up the old Lebanon Road, right by here. I wonder if some got off the road hoping to find well water and possible shade. Did some sit under our old Sugar Maple for a bit before rejoining the march north and then east? Did Finley (freshly married) bring them cool well water, not caring which side, just that they were boys who were tired, thirsty and scared? And where did she hide the family silver? The big house wasn’t built yet but they were living here, growing tobacco. If I crawled around the old, low hanging, dirt part of the basement could I find something? Or was the old house in a completely different area at that point? The big house was built in 1871.
All the homes in the whole area took in wounded. Robert and Finley in 1862, the owners of our property, would have as well I’m sure (they were from some of the founding families and predominant in the area). Are there bodies buried here from the battle – where they didn’t survive their wounds?
My mind drifts back to what it was like those early October days in 1862. Our Sugar Maple probably remembers.
Billy Ray and Julie Anne Chitwood – Oct. – 2018
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Writing and Me

Writing and Me

Most people who write and those who wish to write likely know that the libraries of the world are comfortably stacked with the ‘how to’ of creative writing. Guess the thing for me is, I’ve got to do my own struggling, got to find my own way of saying things with these fingers that dance along the laptop keys. The question for me is not so much, how successful can I be financially in my writing? (Don’t get me wrong, would not mind at all cashing a lot of royalty checks!) More important for me at this juncture in my life is finding out about where I’ve been, all the bad things, all the good things, and getting a better idea of who I really am. My books have plots, such as they are, and they have characters. These plots and these characters serve me and give me a chance to ‘muse and fuse,’ to maybe discover some things about me I never knew.

Sure, I want my books interesting enough to be read, enjoyed, and to have people talking about them. The most important thing, though, for me, is being true to me, plumbing my depths, finding the music of my soul, and hoping I discover more of me. Ego? Maybe so. But it has got to be me finding out whether or not I’m any good at this business of writing. You know, I’m beginning to think maybe I am. It’s not that I’m not willing to learn — it’s just, it better be there within me now, this style thing, this appeal to readers, because I’m not necessarily going to find it in the library.

I’m thinking we do it by ‘doing it,’ over and over again… if we’re any good, we need to trust that little voice inside that says we are.

Everyone has to do her and his own thing. I’m old enough to think I’m just as right as some folks who write about writing and maybe too dumb and inflexible to realize I’m singing a song here with a guitar out of tune.

That’s what I’m thinking!

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 4, 2018

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A Private Session At “The Way Station”

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A Private Session At ‘The Way Station’

Guess I write quite a bit about my feelings, about my life and times. Thought I would allow a small portion from one of my books, a fictional memoir, to do the ‘talking’ in this post…

The following is a section from ‘The Way Station’ (a euphemism for a Care Facility) in my book, The Cracked Mirror – Reflections From An Appalachian Son. Prentice Paul Hiller is recovering from a complicated hip surgery, meets and bonds with a former Clinical Psychologist, Greta Fogel. Over the weeks of teasing and mental jousting, Greta has encouraged Prentice to write about his life and times, suggesting that it might be not only good therapy for him but that the end product should be a great read…

EXCERPT – from“The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son” – by Billy Ray Chitwood:

Having just settled in with my laptop, Greta came into the sun room. Without too much preamble, I moved the laptop to her lap, with the cursor set to start on the last two sections. “See what you think of these two sections,” I said with a doubtful expression, “I’m ambivalent! Don’t know if I went too overboard.”

It took some time for her to read the sections. She paused time and again in very thoughtful poses.

When she was finished, she asked: “You want to talk now or later? Want me to leave you so you can write?”

“No, let’s talk! First, Dorie seems really nice,” I said.

“She’s a really good lady. I’m very impressed. You’re going to like her.” She sat on the wicker chair near the window. Greta was wearing a lovely lavender sweater and beige pants outfit plus a new hairdo. Her eyes glowed with the combination.

“I already do. We had a chance to visit when she got here. She’s a version of you, really!”

Don’t know about that, but I like her and I’m glad you do…” She paused for a second. “Shall we talk about these last two sections?”

“Really! You want to talk about the last two sections? Why do you think I shoved the laptop on your lap? Of course, sweet lady, let’s talk about these sections…you read it and acted like you wanted to leave. You don’t like the sections, do you?”

“Of course, I like the sections! You know I like your writing. You raised my eyebrows a bit, that’s all. You surprised me!” She said with a slight nod and a wry smile.

“Bet I know why!” with a nod and smile of my own. “The ‘Vickie’ sex snapshot?”

“Well, certainly, that raised my eyebrows! And we won’t dwell too long on that bit of memorabilia! However, it might surprise you to know that that kind of experience is not so uncommon, particularly when you consider the environment in which you lived, notwithstanding the criminal implications of Vickie’s complicity in the seduction. No, it is not a pretty snapshot, and  it does surprise me somewhat that you would make it part of your ‘reflections,’ although your penchant for honesty and ridiculing yourself would preclude your leaving it out.” She was about to say more when I interrupted.

“It was such a vivid recall, Greta, like the earlier sex encounter with my pre-puberty aunt. It was somehow important for me to put it in, even knowing that is was highlighting depraved behavior…”

“I understand, Prentice. You need not justify it to me. You want the writing to portray the ultimate true picture of who you were then. It couldn’t be any other way for you.” She paused again, then went on.

“The ‘Vickie snapshot’ is not necessarily what I meant by ‘raising’ my eyebrows.”

“Of what then do you speak, dear lady?” using my chivalrous tongue.

“I speak of your ‘isms’ section, EST and ‘Tao Te Ching,’ and your ‘political views’ section to the larger extent. What raised my brows and surprised me a bit was the length to which you’ve gone to find yourself, your belief system as it relates to your political morality. In other words, you’re a man who strives so hard to find integrity in yourself and in others. You fight in your mind the battles of our times, wanting desperately to find a Utopia which you know does not exist. In some ways, you are an incurable romantic, a Don Quixote chasing ‘windmills’ you think are giants to be slain. You know your sins, Prentice! You know your faults, your errant ways! Your missed opportunities! And you’re trying to make up for it all with the pages of your book.” She paused, eyed me carefully with a fondness she would not hide. “And, you’re doing a damned good job!”

“Whoa, wait a minute! There’s something else you want to say. ‘A damned good job’ doesn’t quite say it all, Greta. Come on, I can take it. It might hurt, a lot, but I can take it. I might never speak to you again, but take it, I shall!” She could see the last bit as mock and tease.

“Yes, a damned good job! I say what I mean, Mr. Hiller. And, yes, Mr. Hiller, there is something else to say…” Again, she paused, looked out the window at the lovely blue sky day. “What you put down is well written. You would be aware that some of your reading audience might not share your views. That, I know you know! Incidentally, I’m not one of those ‘really smart people’ to whom you refer, but I am non-partisan. What you want, I believe most people want. You write about it passionately and sincerely. How could I fault you? The chivalrous battles you fight with your writing are noble, patriotic, and good…” She paused yet again, then wistfully continued.

“Why, I’m not completely sure, but I’m thinking of those two great volumes of Spanish literature.” She waited, pursed her lips in that cute little habitual way she had, and went on. “His neighbors thought him mad for all his dedicated reading of chivalry, but Alonso Quixano gave himself a new name, ‘Don Quixote,’ put on a suit of old armor and went off on his chivalrous quests with wild imaginings. He was at times beaten, ridiculed, and ultimately unintentionally betrayed by his dull-witted squire and neighbor, Sancho Panza. His quests, his imaginings, ended in a great melancholy. Alonso would put away his armor. The melancholy worsened with his age, and Sancho in the end tried to restore his faith. But Alonso Quixano died a broken man, and, with him, his alter ego, ‘Don Quixote.’

“What does ‘Don Quixote’ have to do with what you’re writing? The chivalry part, mostly. Though, at times, you do seem daft and wildlyimaginative!” A pause for chuckles. “You write about many differnet things in yur life. You bemoan at times the sad states of your existence, your life style, your ‘images’ of the good life, your moods, your legacy. And, to repeat myself, you do a damned good job of it. If I have any concern, it comes from my fondness for you. I don’t wish you to become ‘melancholy and broken,’ Prentice.

“Don’t try so hard to make up for your life! This writing business, the process, is good for you. Use it for all the right reasons: the legacy thing, the self-ablution, as it were, the process itself. You are who you are. You will try too hard. You will continue to beat yourself. It’s too late for the couch, not that you really ever needed it, but, if I could push but one button for you, it would be the button that makes you believe in yourself and makes you have more faith in the God who made you and accept whatever it is He intends for you. You are really a dear, dear man, and I don’t wish to see you hurt so much.”

She stopped talking and looked again out the big window, her face creased with a sadness beyond the mere interpretations she had rendered on the sections of my book. That sadness held me for a moment. Then, I decided to revert to my easy tactic of light patter. 

“Well, Greta, you’ve totally blind-sided me! What the hell am I supposed to do with Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and you?” smiling, with raised eyebrows. “Okay, methinks I get it. You’re a sweetheart!” I closed the laptop and got up. “Come on, let’s break out of this joint and find a Big Mac, fries, and coke.”

Actually, ‘Don Quixote’ and I likely had a lot more in common than I might be willing to admit. Then, again, there might be more Sancho Panza in me than I might be willing to admit.

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A Closet Dark With Fear

A Closet Dark With Fear

Thought I might titillate you with the first two pages of a ‘Prologue.’ Call me shameless because the ‘Prologue’ is from my novel, Mama’s Madness.

This book was taken from some true life events and it was tough to write. It startled me to think that mothers of such quantifiable evil existed and doled it out at regular intervals. There are no ‘spoilers’ here and perhaps you will want to read more. The good news is that these mothers from hell are hopefully outside the reach of those reading this small portion.

From Mama’s Madness by Billy Ray (BR) Chitwood:

PROLOGUE

-The Year: 1985-

“Help me! Please help me!”

It is a piteous whimper, lost in the black void of the narrow closet. The weak and eerie sound of her own voice chills her more fiercely than the cold. The thought brings an aberrant amusement. Her own small voice frightens her!

A sound! A creaking sound. Far off. A footfall! Is it? No. It is not a footfall. It’s just one of the strange noises that comes in the night.

Is it night?

Time is lost. Time is gone from her world like a chunk of youth. The black hole draws her toward an uncertain vortex. She must close her eyes. But, not so tightly. She sees less with her eyes lightly closed. There is better control of her quivering body. With eyes open, the blackness comes alive with trickery.

Some crawling thing moves along her upper arm. That is her perception. She shifts and finds a wooden wall protrusion. A vertical beam. She moves her arm and body in back and forth rushes to accommodate the itch.

Her wrists are painfully numb and raw. The handcuffs seem now natural extensions of her hands.

Her shoulders ache in their sockets. They are taut from the pull of arms bound behind her back.

How long? God! It seems an eternity! A small lifetime she has lived in this palpable darkness. Maybe, it has been two days. The air has no texture or stir. It hangs there, stale and dank.

Her face is flushed with fever. It feels stiff and crusty from the tears running over her abrasive wounds. She squints and contorts. She opens and closes her mouth. There are sharp responses of pain. Her entire body feels leaden and bloated. When she moves there is a burning chaff between her thighs. A complacent soreness pervades. It no longer matters. Nor does the stench from her body’s waste matter.

It is her mind which throttles her. Whisks her off in searing flashes, abates, lingers amid the blackness. A fragile sentry. Both enemy and friend.

It is all happening again! She is next to die. Just like Celia. Was it a year ago? Two? Time, again, is elusive, lost. What does it matter? A year ago or an hour ago! Sarilee knows she is next. Just like Celia…

Mama beat Celia, too. Got so mad she shot her. But the bullet didn’t kill Celia. The fire killed Celia. The bullet lodged in Celia’s back and stayed there for two years. Celia healed with the bullet there in her back. Then, Celia had wanted to leave home.

Was that one year ago?

For some unknown fathoming, Sarilee wants to be precise in her remembering. Somehow, it is important to remember this point.

Yes, it was a year ago. They were living in an apartment near the old trailer court where Mama used to live…

***

Okay, that’s just the first two pages of Mama’s Madness. It’s my hope that you’re interested enough to read more. It is a dark tale but there are some moments of recompense and justice.

It’s on amazon.com US (Kindle and paperback). It’s on Nook, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, It’s on amazon.co.uk. It is also on other E-formats.

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/F4QR56 

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/uuFFPj

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