Author: Billy Ray Chitwood

The Cracked Mirror – Reflections of an Appalachian Son

THE CRACKED MIRROR – Reflections of an Appalachian Son

CrackedMirrorKindle

THE CRACKED MIRROR – Reflections of an Appalachian Son

AMAZON REVIEWS

“Mr. Chitwood–the author of Bailey Crane novels and works of nonfiction–bares his life from childhood to old age with the skill of a surgeon and the requisite messiness of ER trauma.”

(From the 5-Star Review by Dr. Timothy Tays – Author and Clinical Psychologist who has his practice in Scottsdale, Arizona.)

    Twitter: @timothytays)

 ***

“The Cracked Mirror”

A memoir of author Billy Ray Chitwood, AND, 90+% of the narrative is TRUE!

SUMMARY

From Appalachia to neon lights and mind swirls of adulthood. A book worthy of any Book Shelf. A Book of literary quality, life events, and historical significance.

Childhood was the ’emotional pits’ – sucking the clean air of Appalachia from the lungs of a little boy as he endured chronic abuse and steady mobility – the sad and emotional soup would be difficult to digest for a lifetime.

From the boyhood uncertainty to neon lights and sharp contrasts in adulthood, the young man searches to find family and love amid a new world of glamour and ‘lotus eaters’. While demons of the past often visit, the man finds modest hope in the many gin mills, love affairs, and an ultimate prize.

***

THE CRACKED MIRROR

A memoir of author Billy Ray Chitwood, AND, 90+% of the narrative is TRUE!

 BUY SITES:

AMZ US: https://goo.gl/7X1LZb

AMZ UK: https://goo.gl/eLv3zz

AMZ CA: https://goo.gl/nYS5zS

AMZ DE: https://goo.gl/5tzXnq

CrackedMirrorKindle

PERSPECTIVE ON THE NARRATIVE

Living on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, the deepcobalt beauty all around me, I decided to write the story of my life. Not really knowing why, I determined that characters on the Chitwood side of my genealogy would have fictitious names…while on my Mom’s side, real names were used. So, the reader can assume correctly that, in the memoir, my name is Prentice Paul Hiller. The idea was to liven up the story line, make it more interesting than a ‘laundry list’ of dates and facts, to give the book form and shape, some important historical data, and merge the facts with some titillating, dramatic moments, again, most of them true.”

***

Amazon & Goodreads ENDORSEMENTS (REVIEWS)

4-Stars – The Cracked Mirror

By Beach Lover at Heart on August 17, 2017

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase 

Billy Ray Chitwood’s “The Cracked Mirror: Reflections of an Appalachian Son” is a brave, soulful read, which is imaginatively crafted (the story being told from the confines of an assisted living facility – the “way station” – while the main character, Prentice Paul Hiller, is recovering from hip replacement surgery).

Memoirs (even ones admittedly fictional, as this one is) are often a good way of learning history. This book manages to do just that, painting a vivid picture of life growing up in rural Tennessee in the 30’s and 40’s. The story is told with frankness and insight – revealing one man’s experiences, thoughts and feelings – warts and all – from early childhood through adulthood, and on into the “golden years”.

Along the way, the reader finds himself empathizing with the author’s quest for inner peace and understanding of his personal life struggles. This book should be an inspiration to all of us – to find the motivation and make the time to pen our very own memoirs to leave for future generations.

***

 5-Stars – The Cracked Mirror

By Timothy M. Tays on May 27, 2012

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

 I approached “The Cracked Mirror” by Billy Ray Chitwood with much anticipation because it uniquely presented itself as “A Fictional Memoir.” A challenge that could have easily been a literary disaster is instead a literary gem.

Mr. Chitwood–the author of Bailey Crane novels and works of nonfiction–bares his life from childhood to old age with the skill of a surgeon and the requisite messiness of ER trauma. He is honest and contrite about youthful transgressions, and is both traumatized and healed. The “Mirror” of the title is an accurate reflection of a lifetime that includes victory and beauty, the “Cracked” an honest ownership of human imperfections.

The fictional chapters titled “The Way Station” occur every-other chapter, and serve as introspection to the memoir chapters. These are handled flawlessly via the protagonist PP Hiller and the clinical psychologist character Greta Fogel. Mr. Chitwood does not make the mistake of leaning on psychobabble jargon to play psychologist, but instead captures the rapport of a friend who is also a retired psychologist sharing some insights with a friend, that we, as readers, get to also benefit. The result is a memoir that expertly handles the arch of a lifetime from childhood poverty and abuse to the bittersweet regrets, acceptance, and amends of a man intensely aware that he is in the autumn of his life.

Powerful writing from an author that now has me seeking out his other works.

 *** 

4-Stars – Billy Ray’s Memoir

By D. James on June 11, 2011

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

 I don’t normally care for memoirs, but Billy Ray Chitwood’s “The Cracked Mirror” was more than a memoir. The author expressed his views and showed his heartache in growing up poor while at the same time loving all of his relatives who took him under their wing.

He points out to the reader all of the “cracks” in our poor misguided world, and he knows what he is talking about. This is not a “poor me” book because the author is quite intelligent and points out where we as a people are going in the wrong direction. He made his own mistakes along the way, but haven’t we all. He suffered greatly from those blips in his life and still does. He and his wife and Bengal cat live a good life now at the beautiful Sea of Cortez. His dreams continue to haunt him and undoubtedly always will. He is hanging on and will continue to do so.

***

5-Stars – A treat of a read!

By Maureen on June 4, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition

 Described as ‘fiction but 90% true’, the author has created protagonist Prentice Paul Hiller as a man reflecting on his life whilst recovering from a hip operation in a nursing home. We follow him from his birth in Appalachia where there were idyllic times, happy childhood days (his mom was a great cook and of course the food tasted that much better because it was served up with a great big dollop of love!) There were traumatic times too during The Great Depression, when his mom and dad would fight in the true sense of the word, with his mom suffering some beatings.

Prentice leads an eventful life, it’s raw and gritty, but it’s written with simplicity and an honesty that ensures there are no skeletons left in the proverbial cupboard. There were times when his life appeared to be spiraling out of control, but he managed to take back that control and carved out a good and comfortable life for himself. He’s an intelligent man, a good person who appreciates the love of his family, though his demons do come back to haunt him at times. There were some deeply moving moments, told with a clarity and candour that was a pleasure to read. It’s clear that the author’s life mirrors that of his protagonist, and it was a great insight into the life of this Appalachian boy…

***

 5-Stars – A Touching and Brave Book

By Diogenes on October 25, 2013

Format: Kindle Edition

 When I reviewed Mr. Chitwood’s novel “Mama’s Madness”last year, I applauded the author’s gritty, literary style and noted he was a writer outside of the ‘usual’ Indie mould – a chance-taker, and one who speaks his mind without pandering unduly to his readership.

“The Cracked Mirror” reinforces my view of Billy Ray Chitwood as a man of words. The book is a ‘fictional’ memoir, although most of the material is supplied from Chitwood’s own life.

Prentice Paul Hiller, the book’s first-person protagonist, is in the twilight of his years. He is recovering from hip replacement surgery in an old people’s facility. This provides him with the opportunity to reflect on his life; its highs and its disappointments. Hiller uses his enforced leisure time to document a restless, tumbleweed existence from a childhood of poverty in 1930s Tennessee to the present day. He is candid about what he perceives as his failures. In spite of his rationalisations, he remains haunted by his actions and inactions, missed opportunities and unsuccessful relationships. Chitwood presents us with a mind on a quest for meaning and understanding. Above all he gives us a portrait of a man trying to come to terms with guilt; an individual working towards self-forgiveness and peace of mind. This is a touching book and a brave one.

Some of the musings on the state of present-day America were lost on this British reader, but they may well have a resonance for those residing on the other side of the Atlantic.

This is a worthwhile and thought-provoking read. Five stars.

***

 5 out of 5 starsReflections of an Appalachian Son

By Rosalind R on August 7, 2011

Format: Kindle Edition

 I found this book to be a thoughtful, well told story of an interesting life. The author pulled no punches in baring his soul with refreshing candor and insight as well as good natured humor. I’m looking forward to reading his most recent book.

***

 Goodreads Review  – 5-Stars

Christoph Fischer

“The Cracked Mirror” by Billy Ray Chitwood is a thoughtful and reflective fictional memoir. The author’s life is told from one care home inmate to the other, giving us a dual narrative of life story from 1933 onwards and the present day relationship between the friends who are talking.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author

 Billy Ray Chitwood

 Being an Appalachian lad I ate quite a lot of emotional soup and have been trying for all the years to digest it. I’ve taken the easy and the difficult routes to get at this point in life, a point not so different from that confused kid who joined the US Navy to escape the fragmented uncertainty of youth. All the mobility of childhood, all the harshness that comes with a broken and misplaced family, all the ensuing mistakes and successes, all have guided me to this place in time and space.

NOW – The Hard Truth – About Me

About Me:

I’m a young man in an old man’s body, trying to catch up to myself, trying to find pieces of me I left back in a disconnected youth and the early years of manhood. I’m a stereotype of many in my generation who can play the ‘blame game’, yell ‘foul’, and ‘let’s start over’. But, we are what we are, the sum of all the scary kid-emotions we experienced, the gin mills and piano bars that became our sandbox of pleasure – lotus eaters of the best (or, worse!) kind, the love affairs that did not quite settle us down, the sad poetry and songs written in bars and motels along the way… A Dreamer! A Wanderlust! The world needs such fools as we to write our books, our poetry, our songs, to offset the madness that plagues the soul.

I’ve written fourteen books, over three hundred blog posts in search of those pieces left somewhere in many parts of the globe. You can preview my books at https://billyraychitwood.com. If you wish to read some of my 350 blog posts, go to my old blog site at:

https://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

My new domain Blog is: https://brchitwood.com

 Billy Ray Chitwood – March 6, 2018 (Prev. Pub.)

 AUTHOR WEBSITE – https://billyraychitwood.com

Please Follow my ‘Musings’ on my Blog

AUTHOR BLOGSITE:

 https://brchitwood.com – The Final Curtain1 – MUSINGS: Authors – Books – The World

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#RRBC – #ASMSG – #IAN1 – #AHA -#Books – #Authors – #IARTG – #AmWriting #Mystery #Romance – #Suspense – #Memoir – #Thrillers – Many of my books are Inspired by True Events!

Attainment

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Attainment

-The Days That Never Came-

-Just Writing-

So, it appears that soaring with the eagles will come in another life, or, pity, not at all!

No ‘Best Sellers’ from my list of books.

No ‘Academy Awards’ for any of my many TV commercials.

No special awards but good newspaper reviews of my one and only role in the ‘Stage Production’ of “The Pleasure of His Company.”

No speechless ‘Awes’ for my little known ‘Dog Track Racing’ and ‘Shell Oil’ Industrial Film roles.

Oh, there were chances but a very big obstacle got in the way – my Life!

Okay, I must write this before I go on…

This is ‘early morning – 4am‑ self-absorption, likely not the sort of penning a person of normal humility and good humor would partake of. But, this is I! My only Life (that I now know of), and dancing around my brain, stopping here and there for spot analysis, I decided, ‘Why Not!’ Someone could possibly identify with my rambling, with my soap-box mumblings. PLUS, I love to write! Sure, there will be those who pronounce me ‘showing off’, but, remember, I live in ‘Twilight’ where the hours are like jet planes and their white vapor trails, disappearing, gone in a flash!

So, am I bitching and moaning?

Well, YEAH!

But, I’m Writing!

I’ve still got books to write, posts to pen on my Blog, still have an outside chance of a dream or two coming true! Heck, I want to be an inspiration to the people older than I (Don’t be laughing at me! There are some!), to younger people coming into mid-life crisis. I want to be the ‘Poster Boy’ for all those fearing old age. Heck, I say again, I just might go gin-mill hopping again, pick up a nice blue-eyed blond lass who shows a preference for the older guys… (I only wrote the last sentence because my loving wife was peeking over my shoulder – now, she’s sulking and turning her head to laugh.) How can ‘sulking’ and ‘laughing’ go together?”

Okay, what is the point of all this? That’s the beauty of writing! You can make it up as you go, and it doesn’t have to make any sense – anyone read a college textbook lately? Or, maybe “Shades of Gray?”

Well, actually, there is a point!

I awoke when ‘Lady Gray’ (my sweetheart cat) stepped on my feet, wanting a ‘Temptations’ treat at 4:00AM. She got her treat, and I decided to get up and write something really constructive, vivid and riveting with a ‘Life’s Message’ for the ages all wrapped and in a box with a ribbon on top… See how easy writing is? But, remember, you have to get up at 4:00AM to write something as meaningful and earth-shattering like I am here. Also, check first with your doctor. He or She might not want you trying this at home…guess you could bust something loose in your brain!

Just saying!

Well, now you can see what ‘stream of conscious’ writing is all about, and the purity of SOCW, what I’m doing here is the benchmark!

Okay, that’s a little strong!

The real message???

Well, if there was really a message, it would be, Just Write!

Don’t talk about writing!

Just Write!

Don’t think about writing!

Just Write!

The only way you get good like me is,

Just Write!

Again, a little strong!

Okay, maybe I stretch it all just a little bit!

Do me a favor!

When you’re hovering over your laptop, simultaneously crying and laughing at yourself, feel like you have ‘writer’s block’ and will never be able to write again, do this!

‘Think of a two-word or three-word phrase, like, say, ‘Spirit of Youth’, or, ‘Oh, Crap’, or, ‘Aging is A Pain in the Ass’! (I know, that’s more than a two-word or three-word phrase – it doesn’t matter!) Just start typing! Just throw caution to the wind! (I hate clichés!) Just peck out what enters your mind! Wait! That could be dangerous! Just don’t direct your words, if they’re mean-spirited, at anyone who could possibly sue you!

Just Write!

Not loud enough?

JUST WRITE!

Here’s your first line, just to get you started:

‘My gas gauge is showing empty, and it’s scary dark here on this stretch of the Carefree Highway…’’

Okay, take it from there!

You heard it here!

JUST WRITE!

I’m going back to bed!

BR. Chitwood – March 4, 2018

Please Preview my books of mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, memoir at:

http://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow my Blog posts at:

http://brchitwood.com

Please follow me on: https://twitter.com/brchitwood.com

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – The World Is Changing And I’m Stuck Here!” by Billy Ray Chitwood

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers can share posts that might not have got all the attention they deserved back in the early days of the blog.. or posts that the writer would like to share with a new audience mine.  The blogs should be over 12 months old for established writers and over 6 months old for those who started blogging in the last year.

Details on how you can share your blog posts can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives/

Please read through before sending as there are some time restrictions on the post and information I need to do the article justice.

Now time to meet author Billy Ray Chitwood with the first of his archive posts. Today Billy is nostalgic for the music of his hell-raising years, when stars such as Frank Sinatra and Kay Starr made a highball taste better……

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Introducing – ELLIS: One Man’s Remarkable Life – Guest Post by Andrew Joyce…

Must Read!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

My name is Andrew Joyce. Some of you may know me … most of you, probably not. But I’m sure you all know of my ex-dog, Danny the Dog. He left me for greener pastures a few months ago (like six months ago) and I was kinda sad. Still am, but that’s another story.

What I’m trying to say is that without Danny around, I got bored. He used to keep me entertained (and on my toes). Anyway, about then I got to know an interesting character. I had seen him around the marina for years, but I had never said more than a few words to him.

For a long time now, some of my friends have been coming up to me and telling me I should write a book about him. They told me he had led a remarkable life and I could sell a lot of books…

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The Clock and the Car

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The Clock and the Car

-Some Scintillating Dialogue-

(Dedicated to John Howell – My Dialogue Hero!)

***

“What’s with the clock and hammer, Henry?”

“You don’t want to know, Helen!”

“You’re angry! Why are you angry? Stop walking, Henry! Talk to me! Your face is flushed!”

“I told you, you don’t want to know! Move! Out of my way!”

“My God! Henry, you’re going to crush the clock with the hammer? Henry, stop and talk to me!”

Back door slams!

 Guess he’s on one of his rampages! Why bother when he’s in these moods? He has to put his fire out! That’s the way He’s made, God help him!

I’m glad we have a few acres here – wouldn’t want neighbors hearing his pounding and yelling out there! Time for my ear plugs, Social Media and the reading room upstairs.

Poor Henry! In thirty minutes, or less, he will be all loving and sweet again, asking forgiveness for his fiery temper! I love him so much, and it is kind of a comical break to the day… He’s so darned predictable. I’m surprised he hasn’t hammered his laptop…he’s threatened often enough! Oh, well, Henry got his genes at a ‘pawn shop’ back room!

He’s so sweet most of the time! It’s that blasted meltdown he inherited from his father (he owned the pawn shop!). Papa Gregory died of an abdominal aneurism! Henry gets his regular medical tests for those ‘meanies’, but his doctor tells him each check-up all his systems are ‘go’!

It’s been about thirty minutes, and this book is just not wrapping me all up in its narrative. Henry has got me spoiled! He’s an author who can really paint several portraits in a book – he’s written fourteen, working on fifteen. If his anger with the laptop doesn’t kill him first!

Guess I better check on him! It’s really quiet all of a sudden! “Henry! Henry!” (Gotta get that stair-step creak nailed down!) “Henry, are you down here?”

Darn, forgot to take my earplugs out!

“Henry, why are you sitting all alone here in the living room?”

“Cause my mistress didn’t show up for our afternoon play-party! Why you asking? I’m relaxing, having a Willet on the rocks…it’s not Maker’s Mark but it gets the job done! Thought you were gone to the store?”

“And, why would you think that, Henry? Told you earlier I wasn’t going to the store until tomorrow.”

“Well, where did you go?”

“I’ve been upstairs in the library, reading, you old fool! Did you get over your anger spell with that clock?”

“Well, yeah, and I’m sorry about that…Time is just flying by! I look at the darned clock and it’s almost 5PM – it seems it ought to be still AM… don’t like clocks not even a little bit! But, hang on a doggone minute, Helen!”

Henry is finishing off his Willett on the rocks in one gulp and getting out of the LazyBoy in a big hurry!

“Now, where’re you going, Henry?”

“Just a minute, Helen!”

He’s going toward the front door!

“Henry, stop! Where are you going?”

He’s looking out the side window at the front door!

“Henry, will you please tell me what you’re doing?”

“Where’s the car, Helen?”

“In the driveway, Henry!”

“Sorry, hissy Helen. There is no car in our driveway!”

“Oh, My God, Henry! The car’s been stolen?!”

“I’m fixing myself another Willett on the rocks, sweet lady, while you talk to the police!”

“What are you mumbling under your breath, Henry? I can hear you here in the living room!”

“Take your best guess, sweetheart! Just keep dialing the phone…the police department, not, 911!”

“The phone is ringing, Henry, at the police department. Come, sit next to me on the love seat while I’m waiting for them to answer.”

“Afraid I might spill some of my Willett on you, Helen. ‘Ain’t’ going to lose a drop of this valuable stuff! You just get our car back!”

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 28, 2018

Please Preview my books of Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Memoir, Thrillers at:

http://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow my Blog posts at:

http://brchitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter:f

http://twitter.com/brchitwood

 

Mission of Hope

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The Mission of Hope

  • Where have all the ‘Mother Teresas’ gone?
  • Are there no more Francis of Assisis’?
  • No more Billy Grahams?
  • Can we not see our Nation and our World in crisis? Wars all over the globe? Power brokers in every corner of the earth? Souls void, empty of caring and feeling, cutting off heads, bombing innocents to present their robotic and Satanic message of doom, laughing at their livid liquidation?
  • Where did Love go?
  • Where did Faith go?
  • This is a Sunday of reflection for me on the life of one of ‘God’s Ambassadors’, Billy Graham, a man who found God early and never wavered from his Biblical message of Faith and Hope:
  • “I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.”
  • Billy also believed at our earthly ending our journey was only beginning.
  • I prefer to believe that, despite much of my own life spent in playgrounds of ‘lotus eaters’, chasing ‘white buffaloes’, a cute euphemism for searching in the wrong places for love and family. While at times a dashing life of lovely ladies and booze, actually enjoying that playground, falling in and out of love, I had those days of sad Appalachian regrets, feeling those soul-stabs of remorse and loss, betraying my Bible-Belt inheritance.
  • In no way am I made of the ‘Saintly Stuff’ of Billy and his good son, Franklin, but I still cling to my fragile Faith and believe that this mortal residence leads to something far greater for those of Faith, for those who allow some Biblical relevance to why we are here. This might seem too adolescent to some of little or no faith, but I figure it this way:
  • It seems to me the order in our Universe is too precise to have come from a ‘big blast’. The orbital and angular journey of our planet that bring us days, nights, Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, beautiful sunrises, sunsets, rain and snow, all say to me a divine intelligence is at work.
  • If more is needed, consider the magical miracle of birth, that intricate and precise time-table of growth inside a mother’s womb.
  • Consider the creation of a painting by an artist who has just witnessed stars shooting across the sky, a sunset with a big bright orange globe falling off our horizons, a woman so dazzling in her beauty we call her Madonna.
  • Consider the Bible, words and phrases we don’t always understand, yet a history given to us by the Prophets and Scholars through Time.
  • Most of all, consider your Love for your wife, children, your sweetheart, grandfather, grandmother, all representing our passage and moments in Time.
  • That’s what makes my opening so compelling and resonant. My thoughts might seem anachronistic to the new generation, and, throughout history we have faced similar holocaust-like events (Terrorism, Wars, Self-Doubts, Faith and Soul), and we somehow make it to the next generations.
  • Okay, I’ve had my say, all words fueled by the news of the days… And, really, I’m an upbeat kind of guy, calm, nice…
  • I just won’t watch the stupid news!
  • Billy Ray Chitwood – February 25, 2018
  • Please Preview my books, some of my books’ reviews, and ‘About Me’ at:
  • http://billyraychitwood.com
  • Please follow my Blog at:
  • http://brchitwood.com
  • Please Follow me on Twitter:
  • http://twitter.com/brchitwood

Flowers and Stone

Watch Nonnie Write!

Flowers and Stone

Thank you all for dropping by today.  I hope it was the title of this post that enticed you to do so.

Many of you may be aware that early last year I took my debut novel, “DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER, NIGHTMARE’S FRIEND” down from Amazon.  (I’ve recently discovered that in my haste to do so, I only removed the e-book format and it is still there in paperback format, but hopefully, no one’s buying it).  I did this, because although it received many positive reviews, I just happened to open a paperback copy one day to find some very glaring “hiccups.”  I was so blown away (that they were glaring…at least to me) that I rushed to Amazon and yanked it down with such force, I think I hurt my arm. (I’m sorry, poor arm).

Anyway, with running the hugely busy and successful communities known as RRBC & RWISA, I…

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The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

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“In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnished dove. In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Alfred Lord Tennyson – ‘Locksley Hall’

*

The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

‘It was a simple dream! Stanley Balsinger wanted to be the owner of a ‘Service Station’.

A large subset of that dream was to marry Johnnie, his long-time sweetheart, to live in quiet harmony with nature and with their God…to mirror a nurturing and peaceful life he had known.

At age 32 in the year of 1956, his dream of a service station came true, and he married Johnnie, his long-time sweetheart. One of his older brothers, John, had owned for years a popular service station in Knoxville, so it could be said ownership of such a business was in his blood.

There were blissful years to follow for Uncle Stanley. His parents, my grandparents (of course!), lived a short distance away, and there were many family weekends through this period when his siblings and their families would join in quiet weekend reunions, with good southern home cooking, churned home-made vanilla ice cream, juicy watermelons, new family gossip, and Stan’s Mom giving one of her long famous prayer wails, asking for blessings and forgiveness of sins…tears flowed and emotionally stirred souls let out gasps and moans. It was a fundamental cultural link, ‘sinners facing their angry but forgiving God’, a bible-belt heritage long on generational gravity.

In 1964 Susan was born, a daughter who was given much doting and love, a true blessing for the family… Her daddy was so proud of his beautiful daughter, and she got pretty much anything she wanted. The script for the family’s lives were natural and seemingly ordained.

In 1978, tragedy struck and left Johnnie and Susan heart-broken.

The location of Uncle Stanley’s Gulf Station was in a more isolated section of Knoxville than his older brother John’s station. My Uncle John’s station was on one of Knoxville’s busiest metro street corners and John’s hard work brought a long list of steady customers and friends. There were never any great competitive edginess in the brothers’ two stations – just sharing of ideas on how to grow and sustain a customer base.

Around 7:00 PM on Friday, April 21, 1978, Uncle Stanley was working alone at his station when 29-year-old Richard Houston robbed the station and took Stan’s wallet. The robbery was not enough for the miserable bastard. He ordered Stanley to a rest room on one side of the station, shoved him inside, and shot him three times. The miserable thug shot Stan in the mouth, and, while my uncle writhed in pain on the rest room floor, Houston shot him twice more in the heart and upper abdomen.

Houston slammed the door, got in his car and left.

Houston then went to a motel where he was staying, had three beers, had sex with a woman sharing his room, and shortly after their ‘fun time’ the two left to get fried chicken.

As timing would have it, a customer pulled into the service station for gas and saw Houston leaving, ultimately found Uncle Stanley in the rest room, and called the police.

The observant gas customer was very thorough in describing the criminal – six feet tall, around 170 pounds, short Afro haircut, wearing a leather jacket. The customer as well thoroughly IDed the car. It was a white ’64 or ’65 Ford Fairlane, with square tail lights, and chrome was missing on the passenger side of the car.

Approximately three hours after Stan’s murder, two detectives of the knoxville Police Department spotted the car and gave chase up to 70 miles per hour. In the car, they found Stan’s wallet and the service station receipts for the day’s business.

The robbery netted the lowlife reject $106.

In the motel room the detective found Houston’s leather jacket and recently washed clothing. The woman with Houston testified that the clothes were washed because of blood stains…

While awaiting his trial for murder/robbery of Uncle Stanley, Houston was indicted for  second degree murder charges in his possible involvement of 30 year-old Patricia Northern Evans’ homicide the year before. The authorities suspected his involvement in three other execution-style murders in the area…probably ‘drug related’! The gun found in the execution murders crime scene was identified by forensics as the same gun used in the Evans homicide. (NOTE: indicted along with Richard Houston was Edward Addison Goins, and I’ve found no further information in my limited means of searching about these homicides and/or court proceedings.

(Am I hiding not too well the anger and rage that still comes to me when I talk or write about this crime? I remember so well as a little boy those lovely family weekends where love showed up, when Uncle Stanley played catch with me on the lawn of the old railroad section house. Of all my dear Mother’s brothers and sisters, all with a sense of purpose in their lives, all of whom I loved, Uncle Stanley was my favorite. Those were the precious ‘memory keepers’ of my youth, some of the inestimable pieces of myself I find worth keeping.

No, I cannot with certainty wrap my mind around this killing of someone I loved. I can believe my Uncle tried to take the gun away from his killer…as Houston stated at a later court appearance. I can believe Stan tried to fight off this animal from hell. I can also come to tears believing, as my Uncle lay dying on the rest room floor, that mind flashes of his all too brief life came rushing to him: Johnnie’s love, Susan’t graduation from high school and college he would never see, the cherished love he carried for his family… He was a most humble and beautiful person in life, and I can believe Uncle Stanley is with God in that perfect dimension. I can hope, pray, and believe that we will meet again when it is ordained to happen.) 

Houston was originally sentenced to ‘Death’ for the Murder of my Uncle Stanley and also received a ‘Life Sentence’ for Armed Robbery.

After spending seventeen years on death row, in 1994 a judge threw out the Murder Conviction and the Armed Robbery conviction.

A prosecuting attorney quickly appealed that decision the next day.

In 1995, the Appellate Judge reinstated the ‘Life for Armed Robbery’ conviction while the prosecuters continued working for a possible retrial on the murder conviction and the reinstatement of the death penalty for Stanley’s murder.

In a 2009 ‘Plea Deal’, Richard Houston confessed to the murder of Stanley Balsinger and the ‘Death Sentence’ was dropped, the murder sentence reduced to ‘Life WITH the possibility of parole’.

Through the years, all the ‘appeals’, and ‘monkey-wonkey’ machinations of the judicial system,  ‘Life’ WITH the possibility of parole was renderd for my Uncle Stanley. Having served thirty years, many of which were spent on death row, Richard Houston was already eligible for parole.

The ‘Piece of S___’ is likely out there among us.

Perhaps I should be sorry showing my anger and hatred in this blog missile and in the fictional mysteries I write, most of which are inspired by true events.

I am not sorry! If some praise and profit come from my humble writing efforts, so be it! So be it if that doesn’t happen! It is my way to give something of myself to those who are taken from us by the evil in our world

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 20, 2018   

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Flowers and Fate

Flowers and Fate

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Flowers and Fate

(Flash Fiction Inspired by Truth)

“Red or yellow roses, Sir?” the older lady in the flower shop asked.

The young man in his early thirties smiled and raised his brow. “Now, how did you know it was to be roses, Millie?” He knew her from a name tag.

“It’s the body language, young man. Your step, your face, the happy gleam in your eyes.”

“Really! I’m that obvious?”

“You’re that obvious,” she teasingly grinned, “plus I’ve had this shop too many years not to know when love walks through the door.”

He put his hands on the counter and gently asked, “And, do you know how many roses I’ll be sending FTD today?”

“You’re a two-dozen fellow, I’m betting.” She pursed her lips.

“And, does my step, my face, and the happy gleam in my eyes tell you which color I’ll pick?”

“Red, of course! You’re obviously in love and you want the red roses to convey your love for the young lady.” She tilted her head slightly in a positive gesture.

“Why would I not choose yellow roses?” the man asked, amused by the conversation.

“Yellow roses would be fine, but you wish to make a deeper statement. Red gets the point of love across rather profoundly. They say, ‘I love you’. Yellow roses convey happiness and joy in more of a friendship fashion… My goodness, listen to me, giving you information you likely already know.”

“No, you’ve actually tagged me perfectly, and I thank you. It will be two dozen red roses, and I trust you will pick out twenty-four of your very best.”

“It will be my pleasure, plus an extra red rose to accentuate the strong statement. I shall make it a very special arrangement for you. You will wish a card sent with the roses…”

His name was Farris Stanley Ballanger. The flowers were going to Johnnie Ballanger, his wife. On a short business trip to help out one of his service station managers, he would be home tomorrow and wanted Johnnie to receive the flowers before his arrival.

Stan spent some time in thought at the counter as to the words he would put on the card. Smiling, finally satisfied with his choice of words, he placed the card in the accompanying envelope, wrote ‘Dear Sweet Johnnie’ on the front, and handed it to Millie.

Stan paid for the flowers and chatted a few moments more with Millie.

As Stan was about to leave the store, he asked: “Do you mind if I hug you, Millie? You are such a great person.”

Millie obliged, and Stan left the store.

Later around midnight as Stan closed and locked his service station, he was robbed at gunpoint, prodded to the ‘Men’s Room’ and shot to death at close range. His body was not found until daybreak when the service station attendants arrived for work.

Stan’s roses arrived the next morning before news of the robbery and homicide reached Johnnie. Her heart filled with love overflowing as she read what Stan had written on the card:

Love and Time Eternal

It matters not the hours, the days, the years, the lifetime we spend together!

What matters is all the love we have gathered in our hearts

That will last eternally…

Forever, Stanley

– Flash fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – February 14, 2018 (REVISIT) –

In Memory of my Uncle Stanley Balsinger who lives forever in my heart! (Brutally Murdered as he closed his place of business many years ago!) – We played ‘catch’ on the lawn back in the day!)

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Autumn and The Muse

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Autumn And The Muse

 

It was all so different these many years later…

 

The clapboard houses were all gone, replaced by small brick and hardwood homes with indoor plumbing. The dirt and gravel lanes were now paved although still isolated and rural. The old white church with its high steeple, now freshly painted, was the marker that let me know I was really home again.

 

It was like time had abbreviated everything I looked upon. The distance from church to Mama’s and Papa’s old house was hardly a quarter mile. The lanes that branched off the short stretch of road to the old sawmill and the railroad tracks were now unrecognizable, overgrown with brush, trees, and weeds… I could not even determine where the old sawmill and train tracks had been. Where so many years ago there had been Papa’s rows of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, and scallions was now tall green grass for a few grazing cows.

 

I smiled and pointed out to my wife Julie and son Scott where the old out-house had once stood, where Papa had once castrated the squealing hogs. I pointed out where old ‘Fred’ the mule used to lead the plow through the fields with a few ‘gees and haws’ from Papa. The little hamlet of Wooldridge was now all condensed for my memory but the thoughts, good and bad, raced through my aging brain…

 

It was here where some of the first memories were built of my displaced youth, where fear of the unknown and new experiences collided to make me a docile and disturbed little boy. It was here where my microcosmic world was filled with dreams and dark ugly shadows. Here was the nexus that was the foundation for all that I would become – the nomadic drifter in search of illusive dreams, the uncertain master of a fate always to be determined.

 

The tears were not seen through the smiles as I passed on to my son and wife the wisps of yesterday, but they were there…tears for Mama and Papa, their hard lives, yet their devotion to me…tears for the parents who fought, who loved and tried, but were unable to make things right for their family…tears for a life that could have been better in some ways but did, through all the wanderlust, bring me to wife Julie who personifies family, love and patience…tears for my beautiful children of whom I am so proud and love so deeply.

 

This day trip from my middle Tennessee home to the east Tennessee hamlet of my youth inspires this post. While there has to be some sadness – that’s the way I’m put together – it is likely one of the best days to go into my still active memory pages. The day serves to point out for me that, indeed, ‘everyone has to be from somewhere.’

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2018 (REV)

 

Please Preview my Books, read Amazon Book Reviews of some of my books, and a short page about me, on my Website:

 

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