Category: Flash Fiction

‘A Meeting With The Shrink in Silly-Town’

[Image by Macela Laskoski]

‘A Meeting With The Shrink in Silly-Town’

The Psychiatrist asks, what’s the problem? to the fink.

I’m apathetic, brain-drained, and want a drink!

Well, what’s your problem, do you think?

You hard of hearing, or, what? I didn’t blink!

But that’s what I do, dumb-ass! I get paid to think!

Well, why am I here, almighty Shrink?

You already gave the reason. Is there more to the link?

You, guys! All you do is ask questions that stink!

Well, what exactly should happen, do you think?

Know what? Your questions drive me to that drink!

Then, we’ve accomplished something here, I think.

Yeah, sure, you made $150 bucks in an eye’s blink!

Now, now, relax. How ‘bout that amount with a chink?

How much of a chink, do you think?

Ah, what the heck, I’ll give a 5% chink.

You’re a loon! 5%? You belong in the clink!

You’re testing my good nature, I think.

You think, you dink? I’m gone for a drink.

But, wait, my fee with a 10% chink?

Up yours, shrink, with a chink, to the clink, I think.

Your truly, Billy Ray Chitwink

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Can You Hear Me?

“Can You Hear Me?”

Pre-dawn, rain storm, and fear gripped me like thousands of little fire ants crawling over my naked body, stinging as they hurriedly moved helter-skelter across my skin.

My forefingers rubbed irritated eyes as the darkness moved on the wall in front of me like angry waves lapping on a stormy coast, grotesque shapes of all sizes in staccato persistence…but it was those deep and growling whispers that tore at my sanity. What was this madness of movement and dulled sound?

For some unearthly reason, an aberrant thought came to my frenetic mind… a distorted and disoriented man with gaping mouth standing silently on a walking bridge screaming without sound. Was there madness occupying my mind and body in these dark hours?

My trembling body sought refuge under the bed covers. The ominous whispers were coming audibly low, rhythmic, but I could not make them out. I felt childish in my fear. Why not get up, turn a light on, and see if there was some logical reason for these melodic murmurings? Alone, I could admit to myself that I was too paralyzed with fright to move.

So, I cowed there beneath the covers, the unmuffled bass whispers still there, still melodic but also changing in different modulations.

Time was lost to me as I lay there in my fetus position on the edge of despair. The whispering had somehow merged into a harmonic blend, coming with the merciful daylight.

Tentatively I stretched my body full-length on the king-size bed and slowly pushed back the covers.

My wide eyes scanned the bedroom, saw nothing but the furniture and a splash of sunlight on the western wall. The whispers were now subdued into a musical sound, almost lovely to the ear.

What the hell was going on?

Was a radio on in the apartment?

I rose from the bed, padded to the closet, put on a robe, and walked into the living room. There was nothing out of place or different about any of the rooms in my bachelor pad. I stood looking out the window at the wondrous blue of the sky and chuckled.

But, wait!

The radio was not on, yet still I heard the whispering musical sounds. I was at a loss to explain it.

After a fast breakfast, I called my doctor, gave him a brief recap of my early AM experience, set a mid-day emergency appointment at 11:30 AM.

*

Soon after my long-time doctor ran auditory tests, he came into the examination room and stood stoically in front of me with a put-on capricious look. We were also friends and golf buddies, so I knew the man very well.

“Okay, Doc, the dramatic pose is good but are you going to let me in on it?”

“Just funning you, buddy. Sorry, but I had to confirm my suspicion. You, Frankie, my friend, have MES.”

Again, he just stood and smiled.

“Well, what the hell is MES, Doc? Must not be too serious, or, you’re a masochist, making me beg for answers.”

MES is an acronym for ‘Musical Ear Syndrome’ – that’s what you have. It’s a rare medical anomaly. You have your very own music system built into your brain.”

“Well, is it a temporary thing? Is it something I have to live with?”

“We know of no treatment for Musical Ear Syndrome at this time. It’s a relatively new phenomenon that only a few people acquire. It’s akin to Tinnitus. I’m afraid it’s something you have to live with, good buddy.”

“It scared me, Doctor Ben, really, truly, scared the hell out of me. The sound started out loud and low like a threatening voice until it finally settled into a slow melodic monotone.”

“It’s likely music you’ve heard over the years playing back for you.”

“Can other people hear this MES music?”

“No, just you, Frankie. You’re one of the select few.”

“Well, ‘bully’ for that, but it’s going to be annoying, Doc.”

“Yes, I suppose it can be in the beginning. You’ll get accustomed to it. It should level off sooner than later. At some point you may need hearing aids, and they will help with the MES.”

“Hearing aids? Damn, I’m not that old, Doc. Hell, you’re the old man here, Ben. What? Three years older than I, you old coot.”

“I know, but hearing is not restricted to us old folks. Soon, you won’t even know the music is playing. And, hey, the song could be one of your favorites.”

“Very funny, Doc. You get no strokes on any of the next golf holes we play.”

“So, that’s the tune you’re going to play for me?”

“Still funny, Doc, but don’t give up your day job…a lot of comics are out of work.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 4, 2019

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Two Parrots

Two Parrots

There were two southern preachers, one, an old-time Baptist sermon-master, the other, an old-time Methodist sermon-master.

Now, these two ‘good ole boys’ did have something more or less in common: each of them had a parrot. I’m talking here about parrots that can speak words clearly and often.

The Baptist preacher had this male parrot that spewed ugly words and phrases, did in fact at times take the good Lord’s name in vain. I mean, this parrot was something else, and the preacher was embarrassed anytime people visited him in his parish house.

The Methodist preacher had this female parrot that sat in her cage and prayed all day long. Now, the Methodist preacher liked the fact that his female parrot was all holy and full of grace, but he wanted her to step out of the religious role occasionally.

Well, the two preachers became friends because they both met up at the pet shop where they got their parrots, and had so much in common – with God, sinners, and all…so, they just took to each other and began their friendship.

There came the night the Baptist preacher had his new Methodist preacher friend over for an evening chat. Well, wouldn’t you know, that doggone male parrot started up with all his cuss-words and mini-phrases that were, well, just downright nasty stuff for the ears to pick-up.

Well, the two preachers talked long and hard on the subjects of their two parrots. The Methodist preacher allowed that his female parrot prayed all day long, and that was all well and good. But, the Methodist preacher didn’t want his parrot so full of grace that she couldn’t open up a bit.

The Baptist preacher had the opposite problem and he wanted a little more grace in his male parrot, not those nasty words and phrases all his waking hours.

So, the two preachers talked, as I said, long and hard, and finally came up with an idea they both figured just might work…

What they figured to do was to put both parrots, the female praying parrot and the male cussing parrot, into a bigger cage and see if the two could maybe come out of their different shells and become more suitable in their behavior patterns.

So, one Saturday the preachers went to the pet shop, got a bigger cage, took that cage back to the Baptist preacher’s parish house, set it up with the little seats on each side of the cage, a cute little swinging apparatus, and little seeds that parrots just love.

Well, here’s what happened…

The preachers put both parrots inside the cage and closed the little gate. The male parrot that said the nasty words went to one side of the cage, and the female parrot that prayed all day long went to the other side of the cage…and those two parrots just sat there and stared at each other.

The preachers stood there shaking their heads for the better part of an hour, and those two parrots just sat and stared at each other.

Just when the preachers were about to make a move and put the parrots back in their own cages, the male parrot winked an eye and said to the female parrot: “Hey, baby, how ‘bout a little loving?”

The preachers looked at each other, both a little embarrassed with the situation, but stood and waited…

Finally, after several seconds passed, the female parrot says: “What do you think I’ve been praying for?”

Well, don’t you know? Those two parrots are still together, but they don’t talk that much…the Baptist preacher finally rigged some dark shades for the two parrots’ love-privacy for those moments when there was just no other route to go.

Oh, one last thing, the Baptist preacher became a book editor for whatever in the world the reason, and that fine Methodist preacher became a down-and-out fiction writer…

Go figure…

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 24, 2019

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Felix and Fred -Putting Up A Fence

(Image by vipul uthaiah)

Felix and Fred

-Putting Up a Fence-

 “C’mon, don’t give me that crapola! You know that I don’t buy into your atheist beliefs. You’re a close-minded ‘know-it-all’.”

“Hey, you started the conversation.”

“How do you get there, ‘me’, starting the conversation?”

“You asked me what I thought about ‘climate change’…”

“And?”

“And, you used the word, God, in your question.”

“I said, ‘For God’s sake’, how can these young progressives be so stupid as to put ‘climate change’ as the number one problem facing the country?”

“Right, and I said, ‘God has nothing to do with it. There is no God. So, you got pissed and called me names.”

“Look, Fred, let’s get something straight here. We’ve had this lively chat before, and I keep telling you, ‘keep the atheist crap to yourself’, but somehow you always get the conversation over into the domain of metaphysics and intellectual inquiry, trying your damndest to charm me with your intellect, to turn me in a direction I’m not about to go… So, once, and for all the ‘next times’, I believe in a higher intelligence, a Deity, a God, not that ‘big bang’ you bring into just about every conversation we have. Now, you’re entitled to believe whatever you wish to believe, but, I say, but, when I make it clear to you where I stand on an issue, don’t keep bringing up your so-called belief of life being ‘nothingness’, that generic man gets only one chance at this thing we call life, implying we who do believe in God are all idiots.”

“Felix, your argument has no credibility, but…”

“Why, you arse-hole, my argument has no credibility? What? The Sun rises and sets. The tides move with the Moon. A baby is born in very precise stages, alive in a woman’s womb, sustained by the miracle of a woman’s bodily make-up, brought into a world where he or she or they can achieve remarkable feats, or, simply live a life, good or bad, until death claims them. Faith gives Life meaning, a purpose, to create, to explore the depths of knowledge, to live in hope of something ‘beyond’ the earthly realm. The mystery of death beguiles and haunts the thinking man in search of his soul’s quest…oh, but, not you. You don’t doubt, you know ‘with avid certainty’ that darkness awaits at the end of our breathing… You know, because I’ve told you before, Fred, we could have perhaps lively and fun conversations about life and death if you could admit to Agnosticism. But, no, not you. You’re really bright, but I wish you had some honest humility. Ah, I’ve had my say. Let’s finish this fence and stop talking for a while, Fred. Okay with you?”

“Yeah, sure, it’s okay with me, but, hell, Felix, we all have beliefs. I’m sorry I make you so angry, but I’m just speaking from my mind, not my heart.”

“That’s cute, Fred, that little ‘transference thing’ you just did, but don’t be using one of ‘our’ words in this conversation.”

‘Our words’, Felix? Oh, and which word is that, my enlightened friend?”

“The word is hell, Fred. Don’t use it, because you’re violating your belief system. Hell when used by atheists must mean that, in their most private moments, they think of Heaven and Hell! How’s that, my egotistical friend? Now, hand me another cinder block for the fence. We’re almost at the end. A few more yards will do it.”

“Are we okay, Felix? I mean, we still friends? I never know when you go on your rants”

“Rants, huh? I guess you’re talking about my superior logic… Yeah, of course, Fred. We’re still friends. Who else would listen to your brain farts? You make me mad with your mind-set, but we’ve been around too many corners to turn around now. We couldn’t find our way back home. You see, my God was feeding me my lines just now. Who was feeding you your lines?”

“The little guy in my brain.”

“Guess that’ll have to do.”

“We’ve been friends and next-door neighbors for years now, Felix. You figure this fence is a symbol for our disagreements?”

“Hell, no. I just don’t like watching you chase your lovely wife all around the back yard in your birthday suit. That ‘picture’ is not exactly pretty for you, but I’ve fallen in love with your wife.”

“That’s just mean, Felix, even though I’m smiling. That kind of thinking won’t get you to heaven.”

“You’ll never know. Now, hand me the the cinder block, arse-hole.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 3, 2019

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Broker in the Pit

Broker in the Pit

The darkness is overpowering, consuming me with its lava flow of sheer blackness, denying my mind sanity, sequence of thoughts, and viable options for escaping this suffocating imprisonment.

What lunacy brought me to this space of horror? (It can occupy my time to explain this vacuity.)

A combination of anomalous events brought me here.

Where is here? When and Why?

The ‘who’ is I, of course, all alone in this dark dungeon of nothingness…my name’s Freddie Cheever.

I’m a jogger. It is my way to stay healthy and trim. Every morsel of food I eat must be assessed for its calorie count and nutritional value. I’m the obsessive jerk people talk about, the guy who takes each aspect of life to its outer limit, weighing on the mind-scale the logical and reasonable factors.

Okay, I had an appointment cancel on me…no reason, just a rude denial of our pre-set meet. I’m a broker, so I’m guessing the lady whose husband just died and left her with all the ‘e-pluribus-unum’ heard rumors about me that were launched by a competitor three years ago. (I’m blessed with fairly good looks and like women – but in very gentleman ways.) Guess one could call me a ‘womanizer’, because, in my opinion, a beautiful woman (in my ‘beholding eyes’) is truly a work of art.

But I digress…

So, I used that aforementioned appointment time with Ms. Snooty to jog. I had no other appointments on my calendar, so I shortened my day, went to my bachelor pad, decked out, drove out in the country to find new terrain for my jogging, found it, parked my Benz, and jogged.

I was into my second mile when I came to a big swath of leaves, and, as I ran through said leaves, I started free-falling downward akimbo and heard above me a slamming sound. Luckily, I landed on my feet – more or less – and badly sprained my left ankle. Whatever the slamming sound it left me in that pitch-blackness that started this narrative. My fall I judged to be some ten feet, but it was the slamming noise that really got my attention, not so much the fall itself.

This was by my reckoning an animal-trap of some kind, and, it was my hope, not a human-trap laid out by some very weird dude or dudes.

Though alone, I was mortified and damned scared. On hands and knees, I crawled the small space, judged the rounded pit’s circumference to be maybe ten feet or more. Its floor was all filled with the falling leaves and likely gave my fall some small advantage. Below the leaves there was just hardness, and all I received from my effort scratching at the surface was a broken finger-nail.

Along the walls of the pit was the same hardness. My guess was that it was either concrete or bitumen. The pit was likely used as a silo of some kind.

That’s when the utter black of the darkness hit me in a mind-chamber that caused me to inwardly flash, like a spasm passed through me.

Did I yell? No, my pit was so serene! Of course, I yelled until my throat pained me to swallow. It seemed that, with that acknowledgement, I was swallowing more often than I could ever remember swallowing.

Okay, I’m there for, guessing here, some three hours. My angst was deep like the hole I was in. I lay on my right-side for a while, then the left-side, on and on.

I did a lot of praying, not that I expected much relief from a Deity I had ignored badly over the years. Still, I prayed, supplicated, pled with tears my eyes seldom used for any reason – well, maybe a really sad movie could bring tears…if I were alone, NOT on a date, NOT in a movie house.

Then, the miracle!

Thought I heard a motor purring above me. Then, no purring of motor. When I felt almost on the verge of ‘flipping out’ a scraping sound came to my ears from above, then a small stretch of sunlight that got bigger and bigger. A gravelly voice came from above – a farmer’s voice, not my Deity’s voice.

“Who’s down there?” the voice sounded almost angry and impatient.

I tried to yell up to my hero, but my voice faltered. Finally, I found a squeaky refrain somewhere in the sore throat and softly sang out, “I’m down here! I fell while jogging.”

“I ought to leave you down there! This is private land, boy!”

I squeaked, “I’m so sorry, sir. It won’t happen again, I promise.”

“Okay, boy, grab the rope, loop it around your middle and I’ll pull you up.”

Did as I was told, and ‘thank you, my divine Deity. You did hear me after all’.

The farmer became my friend – and my client. Tom Simpson’s his name. I’ll never forget what he said to me when I hobbled with him to my car. He bore most of my weight on that short walk.

Tom said to me: “Freddie Cheever, huh? Well, son I have to tell you, you are one lucky fella! I usually don’t come this route. Just decided the last minute to check out this quarter of land. I saw the leaves all messed up, and they stopped at the silo pit.”

Funny how fate works at times. Maybe I’ll start going to church on Sundays.

For sure, I’m going to be seeing Tom Simpson fairly often…he’s a broker’s dream – big spread of land that feeds a lot of people, plus a dairy that yields lots of milk. That ‘e pluribus unum’ I wrote about just a bit ago? Well, good old Tom’s got enough to fill that darned pit I was in.

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 25, 2019

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Souls Refreshed

Souls Refreshed

In the vast blue sky a lone, odd cloud shaped in a halo-like pose appeared on the distant mountain, a most unusual configuration, the sun giving it a beautiful glow and contrast along the far amber slopes.

The mule abruptly halted! I was stopped short with the plow handles slamming into my chest.

I stood in the freshly plowed furrow and gazed in wonder as did ‘old Fred’, the mule. It was a sight that came with a trilling sound, not of thunder with trailing streaks of jagged lightning bolts, but a whispering of strange archaic words in a soft musical cadence. The Sun was directly above me yet a broad shadow without darkness hovered just above the plowed field. There came an eerie stillness that filled the air. No longer were the birds tweeting. No longer could I see the bugs and worms of the earth. Never had I witnessed silence like this. Not a sound came to me in those strange moments after the soft trilling of echoic words. It was as though the ground upon which I stood, the air and space all around me was now a vast surreal cathedral. The tweetless birds dipped and flowed above in muted harmony of movement. I stood spellbound on seemingly sacred soil, and an amazing feeling of grace passed through my body. In that still hallowed moment I felt the essence of God.

Millie stopped in her tracks some twenty feet away, dropped the food she was bringing me at lunchtime. Her hands shook, reached, clasped her cheeks, and her face was bewildered, blanched with surprise, her blue eyes momentarily wide with shock from the trilling sounds emanating from the the strange aberration.

Some seconds passed before I realized Millie was in my arms, her trembling body mixing with my own quivering flesh. There had been no movement. She was just…there, in my arms.

“What is it, Lucas? Is it God speaking to us?” Her voice came to me as a quaint melodic tone, but I knew what she was saying. The silence all around us would not be broken.

“I think so,” I mumbled and tightened my embrace, my own words going back to her in the same odd melodic tone. Millie looked at me as a smile came to her face in a moment of holy acknowledgement.

“The paleness, it’s…it’s transparent. The sky is blue, yet there are shadows across our land. There is nothing to bring these shadows but a sheer transparency. It’s like an enveloping sheet of gossamer that we cannot touch, but can only realize that it is there. And, the total silence is all around us. Oh, Lucas, is this the end of days? Is this what the bible speaks to us about?” Her words could have been the soft sound of an orchestral refrain.

I held her to me as though afraid of losing her. Somehow, this anomaly did not bring anxiety or great dread. We were in a state of bewilderment but found there was no panic, no reason to be afraid. It was more an inner awareness of peace, of tranquility, something holy, an aura of sanctitude.

“Could you make out the sound, Lucas? Was it talking to us?”

“I believe so. Your voice is like the sound that came from the mountain. Is mine the same?”

“Yes.”

“If it was indeed talking to us, I can only feel it was a benevolent message of hope.”

“Your voice is back to normal, Lucas.”

“As is yours, sweet Millie, and the sky is clear and without the shadows that were not there…”

Then, we laughed at my words…’the shadows that were not there’.

“Whatever that most divine sequence I feel somehow renewed, a calmness that I cannot remember having before. Do you feel that as well, Millie?”

“Yes, yes, you describe it exactly, a ‘calmness’ that purifies the spirit and makes life and death a union and constancy. We never die. Our spirits simply move into other kindred souls, in perpetuity. My good Lord, Lucas, did I just say the words I think I said?”

“You said it perfectly, Millie… Tonight, we will have red wine with our supper.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2019

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Lost in Moscow

Lost in Moscow

I gently touched the man’s arm as he walked by: “Sorry to bother you, sir. Do you speak English?”

The man turned quickly to face me, angry with my touching, shook his head from side to side, pursed his lips, looked me up and down, and finally spoke, “Nyet!” the Muscovite said in a low angry voice and walked away, disappeared around a corner.

“My God! What am I going to do? I’m freezing”

I stood slumped over, leaning against a cold gray brick building on a near-deserted street corner in Moscow. My hands were stiff from the cold Moscow weather.

Does the sun ever shine in this God-forsaken city?

The thought lingered in some stoic wilderness of my mind until my plight hammered its message to some core of my being and tears came. Stop worrying about ‘sunshine’! You’ve got bigger problems!

My plight?

No memory! I have no memory of coming to Moscow. I’m, just, here!

Ask me, what were you doing fifteen minutes ago?

My answer to my own question.

I don’t know.

Now, I’m shaking my head. What did I just say? Did I just now ask:  what were you doing fifteen minutes ago?

Yes, I did ask that question. Just, now, I asked that question. Well, what’s your answer?

My answer? Did I just say, what’s your answer?

Yes. Well, do you have an answer?

Do I have an answer to what?

To, what?

I don’t know.

A woman is passing.

“Maam, sorry to bother you, but do you speak English?”

The woman smiled slightly and continued walking.

A Young boy, maybe fourteen, fifteen, is coming down the sidewalk.

My head is spinning.

I’m falling, sliding down the side of this cold gray brick building.

The young boy is stopping, leaning over me, asking me something. His words are lost in my spinning head and I feel my body falling sideways to the snow-covered sidewalk.

*

“Can you hear me, young lady? Young lady, can you hear me? Her eyes are open. She must hear me. Please, young lady, we’re trying to help you. Can you hear me?”

I can hear a man’s voice, a gentle voice, asking me a question. I’m trying to answer, but I’m having difficulty forming my words.

“She’s trying to speak. Her lips are moving… Quickly, let’s get some water down her…slowly, lift her slowly, that’s good. She’s having trouble, but she’s getting some of it down her…that’s enough for now…she wants to say something…”

“You speak English,” I say so quietly. I have no volume to my voice. I’m scared.

“She’s trembling! She’s frightened! Yes, we speak English. You’re okay, young lady. Do you know your name?”

“Becky Whitsel.” Still lacking volume.

“Where are you from, Becky?”

“I’m from Philadelphia. Why am I in Moscow?”

The people dressed in white and green look strangely at each other. The male in green asks me: “What’s the last thing you remember, Becky?”

“A street corner in Moscow.”

The doctor has a suspicion, and asks: “Are you an avid reader, Becky?”

“Yes.” My voice is coming back.

“What have you recently read, Becky?”

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.”

The doctor smiled. “Are you taking any medications, Becky?”

“No, sir.”

The doctor smiled again. “It’s okay, Becky. I want you to feel really comfortable. I’m only doing an assessment. Don’t be afraid to answer my questions. You will not be punished for speaking the truth. You said just a moment ago you were on a street corner in Moscow. Do You remember saying that?”

With some timidity, I answered, “Yes, sir.”

“Okay, have you by any chance – and, again, please don’t be afraid to answer. We’re only getting to the root of your problem. We will tell no one what you tell us here – have you by any chance taken any drugs or smoked marijuana recently? Please, don’t be afraid to answer. You will not be disciplined.”

Embarrassed, I answer, “Yes, sir. It was my first time – and, only time, I promise. Some school friends and I, just experimenting after school.”

“Okay, Becky, tell me about last week, about your family, and where you live.”

Somehow, with the smiles all around me, I opened up and gave them more information than they likely needed. When I was finished with my short bio, the doctor sent a nurse out to call my mother. Geez! I’m home…good old Philadelphia!

“Don’t worry, Becky, your mother will not hear anything from us, but you must confess to her yourself – and promise her you’ll never do any kind of drugs again… You have had what we in the profession call ‘Global Transient Amnesia’. You will be fine now…but, again, young lady, no more experimenting with drugs. You do understand, right?”

“Oh, yes sir! I can easily answer that question!”

The little gathering with my close friends after school had given me an unexpected reaction I would never wish to go through again… Indeed, me, in the great city of Moscow…and in the winter.

NO MORE GRASS!

We have our own snow in Philadelphia AND it’s much friendlier!

A ‘Flash Piece’ by Billy Ray Chitwood – January 27, 2019

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Chance Meeting at the Mall

Chance Meeting at the Mall

It began when I saw her in the upper-level of the Brighton Mall. She placed her paper bag of purchases on the floor next to her cushioned seat. Avoiding her was not an option as the sitting area was in my path to the escalator.

Of course, you would know, she was beautiful as she sat and shook her head to resettle her long lovely raven curls. She was dressed in lovely colors of Ivory and Lavender, a dress sheer and clinging – like, my eyes at that moment.

My mind did its calculations…do I just stop, sit in the chair next to her, begin a conversation. What do I say as an opener? Her left hand was gloved so, married or not, I was ‘flying in the blind’. It was one of those fateful moments in life where one must decide to act or not to act, with the haunting of the latter lingering forever in the mind… I decided to act.

I sat in the chair next to her. There were other chairs in the grouping, but other shoppers were passing, chatting, and I wanted to be close so as not having to increase the decibel level of my voice.

Please, allow me to pause and explain…

First, my name is Lawrence Wallenby, just, Larry, will do, and I’m a trim six-footer who stays in shape by jogging and exercising – which once, in starting out, was a chore, but, now, something I look forward to. I’m told by some of my staff at the Agency that I bear the looks of actor Matthew McConaughey. That’s good, I think, because I like his acting.

I am not a ‘stalker’ who frequents shopping malls for women to meet and harass. I am a responsible male person who owns his own small advertising enterprise, growing by leaps and bounds, I might add. I am a man who some months ago lost his wife to a drunk driver in a head-on collision. Both were killed, and I had my days, weeks, and months to damn the fiddlers of fate who perform these acts so people can grieve and crawl into themselves and become inoperably viable. So, time did not, would not heal the wound of losing Diana, but, at least, it would have the courtesy to allow the ‘devastation’ period to pass – to the point of having needs to fulfill.

May I apologize if this preceding acknowledgement is not enough a prelude to what I’m about to narrate for you. Suffice, Diana is still in a precious vault of my heart, but I’ve come to realize that life does indeed go on and old needs come rushing back in need of fulfilling.

The handsome lady with the raven hair, soft blue eyes, and most luscious lips glanced up at me with an awkward, almost, smile, and then went quickly back to a piece of paper on her lap – presumably, a ‘shopping list’.

“Holiday shopping can be a real ‘bear’, don’t you think?” Without giving her a chance to answer, I pressed forward. “Of course, you do. You’re sitting here, resting, so, obviously, shopping ergo is a ‘bear’ or your choice of animal. I know you are wondering who the ‘nut’ is sitting next to you, and I implore you not to get up and leave with my muttering hanging in the air. Really, I’m not so great at this, but I do honestly and sincerely believe you are the most beautiful lady I’ve seen in my lifetime. Is it okay that we might meet? Please.”

“Wow, you should take a breath between syllables. You’ll pass out, I’m thinking. Sure, why not? We’re in a public arena here, people passing by, and you don’t seem to be carrying weapons of any kind. So, sure, let’s ‘meet’. I’m Diana Bixley.”

“No, no, you can’t be… I mean, your first name – pick another first name!”

“I’m sorry. Now, you’re confusing me. I thought your little rushed ‘pick-up’ line was cute, but…are you some kind of nut?”

“Oh, no, no. I’m so sorry to blunder like this. Your first name, Diana, is a beautiful name, and you should keep it. Of course, she should and will keep it, you idiot. Again, sorry, but I lost my wife to a drunk driver about a year ago, and her name was Diana.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“No, no, don’t be. I’ve gone through the periods of loss and find that I still wish to go on, but I’ve been with no one for that period of time and very likely don’t know how to act properly. May I start again? My name is Larry Wallenby, and, when I saw you, my heart did little ‘flip-flops’ and I had to meet you. Please, is that okay? I mean, that I had to meet you?”

“Relax, Larry, I’m happy to meet you, and I’m sorry about your wife.”

She offered her hand which I swiftly but softly clutched for some two or three seconds before releasing.

“Are you encumbered?” Too fast, too fast, you dummy.

“I beg your pardon.”

“I’m sorry, again, Diana, but I’m such a ‘Klutz’ at this. Are you married, going steady with anyone?”

“You’re fast, Larry, but I suppose that comes from your loss and grief period. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but, no, I’m not married, not going steady with anyone.”

My heart-beat got faster. Now, don’t screw this up, Larry. Take a shot, but slow down the process. You got the answer you wanted. There’s a chance, so don’t screw it up.

“Do you have children, Diana?”

“No, I’m not too big on kids. They annoy me, mostly. I’m sure I did my annoyance bit as a kid. You have kids, Larry?”

“No, no kids. No animals of any kind, although I love Golden Retrievers. You like animals?”

“Not so much. Better than kids, but the ‘clean-up’ and routines would drive me nuts. Your business keep you busy, Larry?”

“As much as I allow it to keep me busy. I’ve got some good people working at the ad agency that keep the load off me. What do you do, Diana?”

“I’m an actress and model, Larry. I’ve done nothing memorable in film that you would remember seeing. Most of my action is in modeling and ‘specialty films’.”

“You enjoy what you do, Diana?”

“Very much so, Larry. You?”

“Yeah. I was drawn to advertising at a young age for some reason, likely because my Dad had a ‘Billboard’ business. I was fascinated enough by it to take all the courses relative to advertising while in the university environment. The business has been good for me. The people who work with me free me up to pursue other interests, like traveling to exotic places. Do you travel a lot in your business, Diana?”

“Too much, actually. I don’t like airport waits and all the security crap one has to go through anymore… I notice you have no packages, Larry. Are you not shopping? Did you just come to the mall to meet me?”

“Well, while that’s a nice thought, I did plan to pick up some items for my sister and my staff, but now it’s not so important. I can put it off ‘til another day. That is, if I can talk you into cocktails and dinner.”

“That sounds wonderful, Larry. And, what would your plans be after our dinner?”

Hey, she’s playing right into my hand. How can I get so lucky? Hell, I’ll lay it out for her.

“Well, to be honest, Diana, I thought we could go to my place, have nightcaps, listen to some romantic music, turn the lights down low, and see where it all would lead us.”

“Larry, you scoundrel! You do work fast. However, I’m afraid I would spoil your plans.”

“I doubt that, Diana. You’re so beautiful, and I’m sure we would get along just fine.”

Oh, she’s getting up, reaching for her shopping bags.

“Thank you, Larry, for the dinner and romance offer, but I will pass and just say, ‘nice meeting you’.”

“But, Diana, I thought…”

“You thought, what, Larry?”

“I thought we were bonding nicely…”

“By bonding, you mean you thought I would jump in the sack with you, correct?”

“Well, I’m sorry, but I thought we were heading toward something really romantic and beautiful.”

“Really?” She stood and for a moment hovered over me.

I stood and faced her.

“Was it something I said, Diana?”

“No, it was something I did not say, Larry…”

“And, what was it you did not say, Diana?”

“Well, if I say it, no longer will it be not said, Larry.”

She started to walk away.

“Diana, please, tell me what was not said.”

She looked back at me, and, with a slight raise of brow and grin, said, “I like to go to bed with women, Larry…nice meeting you.

Damn, it ended where it started!

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – January 21, 2019

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Winter – 2039

Winter – 2039

Flash Fiction by a New Model –‘Dialogue Only’

“My God, Frank, are you…you?”

“Of course, I’m, me! The treatment took less than two hours, Gracie. The transformation took hours, and it was amazing to feel the not unpleasant tingles and tightening of skin. When I looked in the examination room mirror I almost passed out with elation – and, or course, the anticipation. You’re scheduled for 6:00 AM Friday morning. Your procedure will take less time than mine, the doctor says. At Five O’clock that afternoon we fly to Nassau and ‘Paradise Island’. We’ve wanted to return there for years. Now, we’re going back younger than when we went the first time.”

“Frank, we talked about this. I thought we decided we were not going to do this, our Faith, all our discussions about the costs involved, about the altering of our belief in God…”

“Grace, Grace, please, sit with me…

“I know all of that… Costs? The business is doing well. We have good people we trust running it. We talked about the ‘Micro-Bots’ Micro-Biologists have been working on for many years. We also talked about it being part of God’s plan for us people of Faith to find this ‘Manufactured Man’s Immortality’, and about this being ‘His Plan for us’ – that Humankind seek and find their immortality with their own cognitive powers of discovery in Science and Technology. We talked long and hard about this, Grace… I changed my mind and kept the appointment with Doc Burrell.”

“But you said…”

“I know what I said, but those thoughts changed for me with a sudden mind-spark just before arriving at the doctor’s office. Then, when the Doctor gave me documentary information my mind was totally satisfied with the decision. Dr. Crosley had his doubts as well until he had seen the evidence…”

“What evidence? Don’t stop now.”

“Well, you can’t speak of this to anyone, and I frankly don”t know why it should be such a big secret. It has something to do with endemnifying the doctor and government regulations. While it’s been rather media-hyped, I think it might have something to do with people coming to their own conclusions about ‘Immortality’ without outside source information. Even today, in 2039, this in not a universally adknowledged and approved by everyone. Of course, when we see our friends, we will be forced to talk about it all to some extent. Just, no ‘pressuring’.”

“So, why were you given the information?”

“Because, as I said, just before getting to the doctor’s office, the truth – for me – struck the chord and I concluded it was the right thing for me to do. The doctor just cemented the decisio for me, for us, to do this procedure… and, yet, you must come to this conclusion on your own, Grace. You must come to this conclusion for yourself. Can’t you see the truth by looking at me?

“Look, The micro-biologists have been working for years developing this ‘Miracle of Humanity’. They can now provide to the medical profession the navigational training necessary to inject these Nano labs into the blood stream, into the veins, to replace dead cells with new cells, cure cancer, heart disease, arthritis, COPD, the long-feared body dysfunctions that have plagued all of humanity in the past. It is God’s way to helping MAN help himself… Can’t you see that, Grace? I thought your seeing me would convince you. Do you not want to be young and vital again – with me, Gracie? Why are we even having this conversation? You see me! That should be enough.”

“Of course, I want to be young and vital again with you. It’s just there is a nagging that comes from my mind and likely my soul that I can’t quite dispel… But, seeing you, listening to you, loving you so much, how can I do otherwise? I shall keep the appointment and join you and the other ‘Immortals’ as I’m sure the world will convert to MBT.” [Micro Biological Transformation]

“Just think, Gracie, we can do some of those things we’ve talked about, the travel to places of history…best of all, we can now solve your infertility issue and bring children into our world…”

“Why the long pause, Frank?”

“It just occurred to me… Other people will have these thoughts we’re having. Infertile women will become fertile, bring children into the world. Those children will bring more children into the world… My God! Earth will be over-run with people…

“Perhaps that is why intensive extra-planetary studies and exploration are taking place…

“My God, Gracie, think about it! God’s design is to populate the Universe, and, perhaps, beyond… makes me wonder, Gracie, just how long this MBT business has been with us. People have often pondered what their governments keep secret from them.

“Perhaps, this is the ‘Grand-daddy’ of them all!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood

January 18, 2019

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Wicked Marcie

Wicked Marcie

“You’re a filthy beast!” she spoke as tears fell down her cheeks.

“And, what kind of beast, would you say?” his face squinted in a soft strange sadness.

The woman did not understand the expression, read it as a ‘mocking’ of the situation. She appeared cautiously in conflict with her emotions. She spoke again.

“Oh, go ahead with your ugly passion, Willard. I can’t stop you, but you can know this: I’ve never hated you more than at this moment.”

Willard stopped mid-stride and stared at the woman in the wheelchair, his brow wrinkled, his tired face showing an anguish she could not comprehend. His steps were measured and slow as he neared the wheelchair. The woman quavered and showed a fear she sought to hide. She hunched as much as she was physically able, and spoke: “Please Willard, don’t slap me again, and don’t do the other thing…please! If I ever meant anything to you, please, please, don’t go in there tonight!”

For some terrible seconds, Willard stopped, stood erect, and appeared to consider what the woman was saying. With reticence, he looked wearily into her sad eyes before responding. “It was you, Bella!” He spoke in a soft voice with a hint of some sort of pity. “You put yourself in that wheelchair when you tried to kill me. You do remember that night, don’t you, Bella?”

“I didn’t try to kill you, Willard. I only wanted to keep you away from Marcie, just trying to scare you, that’s all. I could never kill anyone. Marcie did something bad that one night, and you’ve been making her pay for it ever since. For pity’s sake, she’s only fourteen years old. You said you loved her as your own. What you’re doing is criminal and sinful.”

“You rushed me. I dodged. You went flying into the coffee table and damaged your back. I’ve gone all these weeks caring for you, Bella, while Marcie kept flaunting her blossoming body at me, smiling and inviting. You never saw any of that, Bella. Yes, it’s criminal and sinful, what you’re thinking, and I’m also a man who has needs – needs you can’t satisfy until you mend.”

“Can you so easily justify your actions against our daughter, Willard?”

“Our adopted daughter, Bella, fourteen years, going on twenty-four. I’m justifying nothing! You believe what she tells you. You don’t see her coming on to me every night. She’s insatiable in her own sexual needs, a nymphet right out of a Nabakov novel. She must be. I avoid her. I tell her it is all wrong, both legally and morally what she wants from me. That doesn’t stop her from coming to my bed each night. I never harbored a sexual need for her. It never entered my mind and still does not. You remember that night when she came out to the den in only her panties and bra. You went to bed. I was drinking and half-drunk. She tried to seduce me with her eyes, with her swinging hips, with her sitting on my lap and tormenting me with her wiggling moves.

“You came out and saw it all, Bella, and knew that it must be my fault, not Marcie’s fault, the little girl we brought home when she was six years old. You didn’t notice me trying to disengage from her that night, struggling to get her off my lap. Whether she learned about sex from her many ‘night-stay-overs’ with ‘school friends’, or, watched porno movies, she tried to seduce me with her knowledge of every move in the sexual manual. She showed me filthy pictures to seduce me. She…”

“Stop, Willard! Please, stop! I Can’t listen to your vile comments any longer.” Bella started to move her wheelchair toward her bedroom, but he stopped her.

“Just one last thing, Bella, and you can go to bed… I will say no more after these last comments. Please, hear me out.”

Bella looked down at her hands, intertwined on her lap and remained silent.

“Yes, I slapped you a few times, not hard, just enough to stop your rants about Marcie and me. You would never let me tell you what I’m saying tonight, and I’m sure you will never believe me. I’ve tried to tell you before tonight but you always get so angry – and that gets me angry, and I don’t tell you. That changes tonight…

“I have never had sex with Marcie, Bella…not that night you saw her on my lap in her panties, not any night. Yes, she comes to my room, and, in my anger, I sometimes slap her, warn her about losing her home, having her put in some squalid detention center, and come short from really strapping her, finally getting her back to her own room.

“What you saw weeks ago is all that happened, Bella. I repeat, I have never had sex with Marcie. AND, it didn’t happened when you saw her on my lap. Yes, I had liquor working in my system, but I would never lose sight of my moral integrity altogether.

“I don’t know what Marcie is telling you, what kind of lurid tales she’s spinning, but this I do know. She is an evil young lady, and I have spent all the time I care to spend trying to straighten her out, talking to her in matter of fact terms, paternally and with caring feelings. AND, you need to know that, today, late this afternoon, after using up all my clear thinking in trying to save Marcie, I visited state officials and alerted them that the situation was no better than when I first reported it to them weeks ago. Yes, I reported Marcie to state officials and followed up with them on several occasions to keep them informed.

“They will be picking her up tomorrow morning. The officials are my friends, Bella, and they believe what I’ve told them. They believe me because what I’ve told them is true…they even did background checks on her former life before us, on her sinister parents.”

“My God, Willard! She’s our daughter.”

“Bella, do you not believe the words I’m telling you? Marcie is evil! I’ve tried to save her! Can’t you see that? She is telling you unsavory lies, working against us. She cannot stay any longer in this house. I truly can say, I’ve done all I can do… She now belongs to the state.

“I know this is difficult for you, but you have not seen Marcie as I’ve seen her. You have been wheelchair-bound, unable to lend your maternal counsel to her. You must know I would not lie to you about this. You know how I’ve loved you over the years…that has not changed. I still love you and long for the day you’re out of that wheelchair. Marcie is a victim of her previous parents, a ‘bad seed’, and I’ve come to know she cannot be here any longer. She is trying to hurt us, Bella. PLEASE! Understand that.”

Tears rushed down Bella’s face, and she could see the tears on Willard’s face as well.

With some effort, she reached a hand upward to her husband. Willard caressed the hand, kissed it, held it against his cheek for some seconds, and smiled gently.

“Now, you must go to bed and get your rest…”

Bella tried to speak, to give one last attempt at saving Marcie, but she knew, now, without any doubt, that Willard had spoken the truth to her. Her voice rendered incapable of speech by the tears, she sighed deeply, slowly shook her head as Willard wheeled her to the bedroom.

Willard pulled the bed cover up to her chin. He took a sleep capsule from a pill bottle on the bedside table, he spoke gently and with love. “Take the pill, dear Bella. You need to sleep and be away from the thoughts. Take also my love and know that tomorrow begins the first day of the rest of our lives. All our days will be happy and good after this darkness leaves us.”

Bella took the sleeping pill, wiped her eyes with a soft tissue and allowed Willard a kiss goodnight.

***

When three state officials arrived the next morning, no one answered their front door ring.

The Wingates would be expecting them. Concerned after multiple loud raps on the door, they jimmied the door and entered the house. The three state people eyed each other cautiously and with deep concern. Something was not right.

As they entered the master bedroom an awful odor greeted them along with splattered blood on the tiled floors and walls. The state authorities gagged at the sight in front of them.

A portion of the king-sized bed was covered with the blood of Bella Wingate, half-covered on the bed with rips to her gown and blood droplets on her chest and hands. Her face was oddly peaceful as though in sleep.

Stretched across Bella’s lower body was Willard Wingate, his own blood oozing out of  the multiple stab wounds to his now ripped and torn pajama top. He had apparently tried to fight off the killer. His mouth still held the terror he must have felt during the brutal attack.

“Oh, my God!” cried the state lady in the group. “That Marcie girl murdered her adoptive parents.” The lady reached for her phone and called ‘Dispatch’ to put an ‘all-points bulletin’ out for Marcie Wingate. “God, why didn’t we come back here with Mr. Wingate yesterday instead of putting it off ’til today. Dammit, that background check we did on her was enouugh to warrant our coming yesterday. Mr. and Mrs. Wingate would still be alive. Oh, my God!”

The two men shrugged sadly, one speaking, “Betty, how could we have possibly come to a conclusion like this? The report was bad, but it didn’t detail something like this. God help us! it is what it is.”

The officials searched the other rooms of the house but could not find Marcie.

***

Some three hundred miles down the Interstate, young Marcie Wingate was laughing at jokes being told by her patron of the road. The man was feeling good about this hitching-lady, and a good time was coming up in a few miles…he knew just the place.

Flash Fiction by BR Chitwood

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