The Power Merchants
I cannot stop writing, so I’m throwing another book out there, and, hey, Twilight and back to my beloved desert in Arizona has given me either a brain-strain or a pleasant sense of longevity.
Whatever the hell it is, I am in step with it. The mind seems to be working well until I miss putting a period at the end of a sentence.
The book is the thing, though, and I’m feeling spry enough to say this novel of over 40,000 words is one of my best, tho I thought “Mama’s Madness” or “Stranger Abduction” or “A Common Evil” or “An Arizona Tragedy” or “Dominique” or – okay, I’ll stop ‘showing off’ – would bring me a small zephyr of success. Coupled with my lack of book marketing sense and my trying to be a comedian at the same time have completely embarrassed me to the point of tears. It is okay if grown men cry…a lot.
The book, dummy, get to the book.
The Power Merchants has a lot of themes about which to narrate: Love, Murder, Love (oops), Political Intrigue (or, Disgust, if most of you prefer), and our ‘Isolation Pet’, Covid-19, and our world today, drawing it all down to Scottsdale, AZ, the US, and, well, the world.
Putting Charlie McCarthy away for the Summer, here, please, just read ‘The Prologue’ and ‘Chapter One’ for free, decide if it might be a novel you want to read further. I am in the final stages of editing, so the book will be out in a week or so.
The only commitment I need is that all 500,000 of you lovely people BUY the book AND write AMAZON REVIEWS, and the first 100,000 people get their costs back. That is not so tough, right?
(Charly, you are down for the Summer. Be quiet, please.)
He is just kidding around, folks.
Can you let me know how you like the book cover?
Believe me, this is my best work since my last twenty books. Without that ‘further ado’ some people talk about, I give you the Prologue and a scary Chapter One…
[From BR Chitwood’s – May 2020 novel:
“The Power Merchants”]
She was a dazzling lady with long platinum hair in a perfect rhythmic bounce on her shoulders, without a stray maverick wisp out of place. Her cameo face, a near gemstone carved by a Master, her joyous blue eyes twinkling as she walked toward me. Her tanned body was covered by a soft mauve fabric that possessively clung to every curve of her body with every magical step she took. She could have been a Hollywood starlet made up beautifully for her role in an epic movie, portraying a ‘golden girl’ of Hollywood’s early days.
Watching her approach, I stole a glance over each of my shoulders to see if she was making those erogenous steps for me or someone behind me.
No one behind me, just a wall I forgot was there. OMG, she is walking to me.
With a coquettish smile of full lips made up of a soft and non-glaring shade of red matching her dress, she took loveliness to a completely new standard. She came to a stop at my high table and stools. All eyes in the posh Princess VP Lounge were upon her as she strode elegantly toward me.
She spoke and her voice matched all the rest of her, like mellow harp music in a grand arbor of lilacs and roses.
“You are Bradley Benedict and you match perfectly the description given of the gentleman with whom I was asked to keep company this evening – in a ‘nice way’, of course.” She gave me another erogenous move that I suspected no other woman could ever duplicate.”
I attempted a response, but she was obviously not through with her introduction…
“Do you mind terribly, Bradley, if we go to the lower tables and cushiony chairs in the Princess Dinner Lounge? It is more comfortable, and the music is so soft and pleasant there.”
“I don’t suppose…” The lounge music began its long session, and she was unable to hear me above the rumble of drums, bass, guitar, and horn.
I stood, smiled, loudly told the waiter to transfer my tab to the restaurant lounge, and the lovely lady and I strolled slowly the short distance to the other, more sedate, lounge.
The Princess Lounge was a large intimate room clothed in a magical lighting that seemed to sweep through the room with unobtrusive and delicate alternating shades of pleasing colors – if the shades were colors at all, but only subtle shifts at certain locations of the room. I could never tire of this lounge were I to have dinner with a special someone like the gorgeous lady who just joined me. The room was elegant in its leather comfort and sundry accouterments – fresh flowers, their scents an intoxicating pleasure in breathing, sculptures of high quality, notable portraits of prominent dignitaries on the golden-hued walls. The Princess Dinner Lounge was the epitome of consummate beauty, luxury and refinement.
In this truly magnificent environment, our drinks ordered, I spoke: “This is quite sudden, but then, how could I not accept such an offer from one so beautiful? You have me awkwardly off-balance, lovely lady. You know my name. I don’t know yours.”
“Christie Conway. Oh, Bradley, this lounge takes my breath away in its beauty.”
She paused, about to say something else, so I asked: “Yes, it is a magnificent room, and I’m delighted you like it. May I ask: to whom do I owe for such lovely company this evening? I can hardly wait for the answer to that question.”
With a slight shift in her soft lounge chair and a subtle smile that invited me to end all protocols, to rise from my own comfortable chair, to take a stride to her side, to lean and kiss those luscious lips, she said, “I’m sorry, Bradley, I’m sworn to secrecy.”
When I recovered from that impulsive moment, I responded. “So, are you with an agency that caters to requests like, ‘keeping company’ with men who might be in the throes of divorce, middle-age, or senility?”
“You know, it just occurred to me, we have names that form ‘BB’ and ‘CC’. Can we use those initials tonight?” Ah, she was changing the subject.
“And, pretty Miss, you didn’t answer my question. Are you with an agency, CC?”
“No, BB. I’m an unworking actress.”
“Here in Phoenix? Wait, wait, I have seen you on TV commercials. Did you act in California on one of the daily ‘soaps’?”
“Yes, and yes.”
“Okay, tell me, what is this all about? Is someone playing a colossal joke on me?”
“I don’t know about that, BB. I was just paid to give you company at dinner and to give you an envelope at my departure.”
CC reached into her purse and pulled out a small manila envelope.
I reached for the envelope, and she pulled it out of my reach and said: “I was told to give it to you upon my leaving tonight, so, if you want to skip buying me dinner I’ll give the envelope to you now, and leave.” She smiled sweetly.
“Would you like to leave now, CC?”
“No. I find you a handsome man, easy to talk to. I think we would have a fun evening, again, in a ‘nice way’.”
“I’m flattered. Thank you. Can you tell me anything about the person or persons who asked you to be here tonight? You are beautiful, and I would love to buy you dinner and spend the evening with you – in a ‘nice way’.” I smiled but I was sure the smile and eyebrow lift conveyed no gallantry at all.
“I was only told by the agency to be here tonight. The agency gets a percentage of the money. I can only say that I would not expect my agency to send me out for anything not lawful.”
Soft romantic music began to flow through the hidden speakers, audible enough to enhance and please any mode of conversation.
We talked, had dinner, and, at our parting in the parking lot we instinctively kissed – not a kiss of lovers but with perhaps a hint of that ‘goal’ in mind. She handed me the envelope and walked away to her car, stopping once to look back and give me a wave. That had to mean something.
Yeah, she was making sure you were not following her.
I absently put the envelope in my sport coat inside pocket and went to my car.
My mind berated me with thoughts…
You dummy. No phone number. No address. You are daft.
I tried, but she changed the subject.
You should have tried again. You are some ‘Romeo’.
The bikini-clad blonde on the large billboard looked down on me with a smile that said she loved me, and some uncontrollable part of me had the gall to convince my middle anatomy to get alert for action. That, as a full-body numbing buzz came and filled my total awareness with razor-sharp pains in all parts of my disabled bone and flesh.
First, though, I needed to remember why the hell I was lying in this ditch some fifty yards from what looked like a state highway. The area was too isolated to be a major road. At this point I saw no traffic at all.
Uh-oh, another sharp jolt just sparked my brain, letting me know where the pain was coming from. Just when I figured the pain was coming from the right side of my body and figured it was time for me to move, the left side of my head near the eye urgently warned me, ‘do not move quite yet’.
I closed my eyes tightly as though that might offer some sanity to the moment, but it only added to the pain. After softly touching my rib cage, carefully moving my feet and hands, after touching a spot above my left forehead, I felt the large wide lump with a long gaping valley running along my forehead, I let out a sharp cry when I touched bone some centimeters down, a half-inch above the eyebrow. The exquisite pain threw me back, slamming my head into a boulder I did not know was there, and one more yell came. With the yell came more pain, and some part of the engine inside me was fit enough to allow me some self-pity.
How did I get to self-pity when I did not even know my name? For whatever the stupidity, that thought had a consoling effect.
I lay there, not moving because both sides of my body were denying that simple task. So, I lay there, thinking. How the hell did I get here? That thought was swallowed up with the previous jarring truth. I did not know who and what to call me.
I did not know me.
Oh, my God.
The panic now lodged there in my crowded brain made me try again to get up out of the ditch, but I only fell back to my earthen bed of the moment – dusty earth, gravel, and the afore-mentioned boulder.
Some knowledge bade me take long deep breaths and not try to figure it all out. I guess some ruling gene from the cranial pool was trying to settle me down with the fact that my mind and body were going through a totally awesome shut-down, and, again, how do I get ‘there’ when I don’t even know my name and how and why fate put me here?
I lay there, taking deep breaths until sharp stabbing ouches hit me. I tried to calm my thinking. All events have reasons, good and bad. It would come to me. ‘Just relax’, I kept telling myself.
Lying still there, the pain was not so bad, and that bikini-blonde beauty was still trying to get me erected. In this state of pain, how the hell can that be?
Smiling lamely and with pain at my silly thoughts I kept my gaze on the billboard.
At some point, I felt like I was going to pass out, a slow swooning sensation, not pain so much.
That is when I heard movement among the dirt and gravel.
The thoughts came hard and fast. What can I do? I can hardly move.
Then I screamed at what I saw within ten feet of me.
It was a Mojave Rattlesnake.
Once again, how the deuce would I know about Mojave rattlesnakes when I do not even know my name? Then, another weird thought hit me, a movie I saw – Harrison Ford in Temple of Doom. Indiana Jones hated snakes, and he ran like hell from them.
That thought came at me from Hell’s murky furnace, and, hating snakes with good movie company, I rushed on ‘auto-pilot’ to get up, and the excruciating pain took me back to sudden darkness on my earthen bed of dirt and gravel.
Thoughts can be obnoxious – my last bit of thinking as the pain took me again to the nether world of abject unconsciousness: at least I will not see the wiggly bastard finish me off…
Okay, you friends and readers out there, that is all you get for now, so, let me know your thoughts.
Best wishes to all.
BR Chitwood – 5/1/20
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