Category: Flash Fiction

Awkwardness Becomes Brady Chilton

Awkwardness Becomes Brady Chilton

A housefly somehow survived the spray and swatter and mingled among the guests at my celebration party, honoring the fact that miracles can happen. I, Brady Chilton, made it through law scho0l and passed the strenuous Arizona Bar Examination. The housefly would not be the only irritable pest of the evening, just, the first. No, that little pestilent pest fly made its way to the high and lovely sculpted ceiling, there to look down on all the killer giants of its world.

To loosen the knots of pre-party apprehensive jitters, I drank two jiggers of a highly touted Kentucky bourbon, mixed sparsely with wisps of soda and a twisted lemon peel which was submerged on the bottom of my highball glass. In fact, feeling not quite the effect desired, I had another. Then, to make certain there were no pre-party nerves, I had a third libation. It was my wish to ‘shine’ with those present at the party as a wizard of the word, chatter that would enlighten and show the charm, the bold intellectual ability befitting a man of the law.

Suffice it, I arrived in a nether world of alcoholic confidence and jolly attitude at the beautiful Arizona Country Club. A surprisingly large gathering of well-wishers was in the grand banquet room, and an immediate trickle of applause came and grew into a loud mixture of hands clapping and voices shouting. Even in my rather bourbon enhanced mood, there was still the emotional stir that comes and almost brings tears.

After a few embraces and handshakes, I went to one of four bars set up to handle the crowd of people. It was my wish to fortify my initial bourbon intake with at least one more highball and possibly more. This meeting would mean a lot to my future as an attorney, and I wanted to be reinforced and loose enough for my words to form the phrases of competency and surety. In short, I wanted to be true to my game plan, impress those present with my ease of communication and depth.

All went well at the celebration until the near ending when an inebriated man I did not recognize took the mike on the bandstand and made a few asinine remarks, closing with this:

“Mr. Chilton, won’t you come to the podium and say a few words, among which you might explain how someone like you can leave a gorgeous woman broken-hearted by calling off an engagement to be married, then parlay that into why anyone would hire you as an attorney…”

Finally, one band member escorted the man out of the room, his embarrassed lady friend following behind.

It became very quiet in the banquet room and hundreds of curious eyes sought me out. The ACC person in charge of the room came to the microphone to apologize for the interruption of ‘everyone’s good time’.

Emboldened by Bacchus I weaved my way to the bandstand. It was my feeling that the ‘drunk’ would not have the last word. The ACC gentleman gave me a consoling half-smile and handed me the mike.

I stood uncertainly for a moment, not really knowing what to say but knowing that some words should come from me.

“Hi, everyone. I feel I should respond to the gentleman who spoke of my calling off an engagement to a lady… Please, do not feel too hasty to dislike the man. He was obviously a friend or relative of the lady in question and urged forward by the alcohol he consumed tonight.

“The man was not untruthful. I did what he perhaps ineloquently spoke of my doing. It is true that the ‘gorgeous woman’ was not happy with me for calling off our engagement, and I can only say that I felt very much like a total ‘ass’ for doing it. My only defense is that factors dwelling in my mind caused me to make the decision to call off the engagement. I won’t get into those factors, but they led me to believe at the late hour that it was better the option than proceeding and causing more harm later. She was, is, a most lovely woman, a woman any man would be proud to call his wife. You may feel free to think of me in any way you wish. I can only say I’ve learned from that experience and can say that it will never happen again. A private matter such as this should never have been aired here in public and cause unease to a group of people out to enjoy an evening, and, hopefully, no one knows but the culprit involved and not the lovely lady.

“One last thing. You folks did not need to hear any of this tonight, and I only hope it will not diminish your enjoyment too much from this party in my honor. While mentioning that, thanks so much to my colleagues and friends for giving me this wonderful evening. Now, please, let’s converse, dance, imbibe, and leave us enjoy these precious moments together.”

From that point on in the evening, I could not reignite myself, felt a remorse not felt for some time. No highball or light talk could rid me of that. In the end I thanked my new colleagues and went home to a troubling sleep.

The next day I called the lady who was the unfair subject of part of the previous evening. Our talk was congenial and warm. I was surprised the evening’s flare had gotten back so soon to her, but she was well over the topic and apologized to me for having to endure that part of the evening.

We had cocktails together a few nights later.

Billy Ray Chitwood – June 17, 2019

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Brotherly Love

 

Brotherly Love

“So, what’s up, big guy?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Okay, I know what’s next. My ‘You’re right, I don’t want to know,’ is not going to mean a twit to you, and you’re going to spend the next unquantifiable seconds telling me anyhow. So, again, what’s up, big guy?”

“Oh, you think you know me so well, but you don’t. Unquantifiable? Really! What does that mean? Never mind, I don’t want to know. I have a pretty good idea what it means. Look, this will take only a minute…I need to borrow $500 so I can get this remarkable deal on a laptop that has all the ‘goodies’ and the mega high numbers on everything – it’s got mega-bytes up the grommet.”

“So, why the hell are you asking me to give you $500. It would be, giving you, $500, because you would never pay it back. We’ve been there, done that before.”

“Aw, come on, you’re my big brother. You’re a handsome dude with a wife ‘to die for’ and you love me. You want to see me succeed, and, with this web puppy, I will succeed. I’ll pay you back when I get my income tax ‘money-back’ check…stop laughing, I mean it, I will pay you back.”

“Listen to you. You are insulting me, little brother…Elaine has gone grocery shopping so it’s a good time to have my chat with you. Sit and let’s allow me to give you some facts…

“Mom and Dad have been gone for a while, and I admit I’ve been over-accommodating you and your spurious needs. Elaine was the vote that got you living here with us, but there is a time-limit for you, Axel. I know you had tough emotional times, but so have I, and you need to put your life back together quickly. Elaine and I are not your mom and pop. God bless them, they’re gone. I love you and want you to succeed in your writing. However, your job at the tire factory pays you enough to be on your own, but you prefer living with us and partying way too much. Elaine must clean your messy room, pick up food droppings, do your maid duties for you, and that stops NOW! No more eating in your room for the remainder of your stay with us. No more messy room. No more mooching money.

“So, Axel, you get no more money from me or Elaine, and you have thirty days to find your own place and be out of here. As for your request for $500, that is a non-negotiable, NO! You’re my brother and I do love you, but your stay here is over in thirty days. If you are not out of here in thirty days, you will find all your meager belongings gone, given to Goodwill.

“Do you understand the ‘program’ I’ve described, Axel?”

“You really would do all that, Matthew?”

“Yes, and I might and will add, at twenty-four, a college drop-out, and a real presumptuous ass, I’ve put up, we’ve, Elaine and I, have put up with you too damned long. The thirty days can and will be moved up based on your attitude. We have simply had it, Axel. You are a brother I don’t recognize anymore. Mom and Dad would be so ashamed of you during these months you’ve been with us. I doubt if you would have left on your own terms, so I’m making that decision for you. You have taken advantage of us and our home for too long. Family love is important, but not so much under these circumstances. Please understand, I mean every word.”

“Wow! Why don’t you tell me what you really think, Matt! Damn, I never knew you felt like this. I just assumed, you know, family and stuff… Suddenly, I feel sort of dirty, you know, like a homeless bum. But, yeah, I understand. I thought you were grumpy at times, but I never thought the grumpiness was about me… Well, my being sorry won’t hack it, but I’ll say, I’m sorry, very sorry, for the way I’ve acted. I’ll be out of here before using up those thirty days. A buddy has been wanting me to move in with him. That suddenly sounds like a winning offer. Don’t misunderstand, Matt, I’ve heard you loud and clear. I will change – for the better, I promise. I needed this ‘Big Brother’ session. Believe me, it all makes perfect sense to me. I really have been an intolerable ass. Thanks, Matt, good ‘Bro’, I’ll surprise you. Wait and see. I love you, big guy. Is it okay if I hug you, Matt?”

“Sure, it’s okay. You’re still my brother. I just played Dad for a few moments, but I still meant everything I said.”

“I know, Matt…guess this is not the right time to mention my affair with Elaine, huh?”

Billy Ray Chitwood – June 17, 2019

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Instant Love

Instant Love

Little did I know at the time that my walk in the woods would bring my heart near to breaking, that a portion of it would be broken irreparably, never to be fully mended, and that my mind would be absorbed with guilt and pain because of my over-active mind…who could have done this to such a beautiful animal? A moment of anger soared through me. A hunter, I surmised. Damn the hunter all to hell! Could I have walked faster? Gotten there sooner?

So many questions and denial assailed my mind as I stared into that tangled brush and saw an animal in pain, its body moving only slightly in spasmodic barely noticeable jerks.

Then, I heard his low whimper carrying doubt and fear. In that instant, all that mattered was saving his life. In that brush of broken tree limbs, rocks, and blood-stained earth was a beautiful Golden Retriever, now more audibly moaning in long painful gasps, somehow sensing my presence. The Golden’s hair was matted with a slow ooze of blood coming from an ugly gash to his lovely head. The eyes were half-opened, pleading, rolling lazily up and down in my direction, as if saying, ‘please, no more, please’, perhaps his mind considering me the enemy who had attacked him. How long had he been lying there in terrible pain? I could only guess. Quickly scanning the area, I saw no other people in sight.

My heart sank at the sight, and, despite his suffering, he was so beautiful lying there in the brush, his body atremble with the uncertainty of my appearance in the dense woods. A tear owned by me came and fell to the ground. Call me, wimpy, it’s okay, because it was instant love, seeing that beautiful creature moaning in distress and so much agony.

As I gingerly pulled away the tangled mess to reach him, he moaned so desperately. With my voice as soft as I could make it, I tried to console him. “It’s okay,” I muttered gently, softly, “I’m going to help you. Don’t be afraid. Please, lie still while I remove some of this knotted mess around you. I’m here to help you, not harm you.” I gently stroked his middle back. He seemed to understand my words and his eyes closed for a moment as he emitted a barely audible sigh. The gash appeared to be his only injury, but it looked menacing with its emission of blood.

For a moment, as his breathing became fainter, I thought he might be dying, but as I reached him, touched him, he reacted with new yelp. As gently as were my arms enfolding him, he still gasped in with every move I made. I talked to him as I worked to get him out of the brush. “I’m taking you to the vet hospital, to someone who can stop your . I won’t hurt you, and I won’t leave you. I promise.”

As I carried him to my car, I could feel and hear his soft labored breathing with little gasps of more discomfort when I had to make an adjustment with my grip on him. I also prayed for the lovely Golden in my arms. At the car, I carefully opened the back door of my sedan and with tedious care placed him on the back seat.

We made it to the Vet hospital, and, Thank God, the Golden was saved. A hunter’s misplaced shot had ricocheted and caused the gash and his near death. He had crawled to the brush for safety, to avoid the danger of which he had no knowledge.

Julie Anne and I named him, Toby. He was with us for eleven years before we had to put him down because of a cancer, bringing an agony hard to bear and memories laved with tears.

Those tears can still easily come when I think of my beautiful friend, now long gone, but never, ever, to be forgotten. He is buried under a peaceful and aged oak tree in the east valley of Phoenix, Arizona.

Rest in Peace, Toby, we will always love you….one day, we’ll be together again.

BR Chitwood – June 11, 2019

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Save That Dream

Save That Dream

 The colors were devastating, people sharply defined, the music from the band magically soothing, and my boldness stronger with each sip of the Manhattan on the rocks. It was my third and I was entering that stage of liquid laxity that was both delightful and dangerous, a moment that needs little elaboration for the lotus-eater that controls my moments of merriment, and, good golly, the big band was playing a slow tune. The song was ‘Theme from a Summer Place’, an all-time favorite of mine, one of those marvelous tunes that makes dancing with a lovely lady so very special…so, where was the lovely lady?

It was a special ‘Spring Dance’ in honor of the city’s sesquicentennial, and I was a resident author invited because of my philanthropy, that is, spending so much money in the pubs throughout the city, many donations to various civic causes, and in serious search for a wife replacement. Now, that’s rather blunt, but it’s the truth. A successful author in his prime, having divorced one trophy wife for taking her flirting activities too far, searching all anew for another trophy wife… I’m a bit like Brigham Young, you know, I don’t care how you Bring’em, just bring’em young. One other thing, about the resident author, successful author, let’s keep that between us. I wouldn’t want that to become public knowledge. You likely get my ‘drift’, people bugging me all the time for autographs and free books…I’m sure you know what I mean.

Sitting at the bar looking over the crowd, there were a few possibilities that I could see among the bodies standing at those temporary tables that are used for events such as this. My bartender buddy was an old drinking pal by the name of Paulski – at least, that’s what I had always called him, even though his name was, Paul. The noise in the big room was a constant mix of laughter, talking, music, and Paulski had to nudge me to get my attention. He leaned over the bar and spoke, “Don’t look now, but you’re getting the eye of one hellava looker, brunette, starboard.” Then, he moved away to serve a drink.

I dutifully obeyed Paulski and casually raised my highball glass to my lips and ‘took a look’. Good Lord, how did I miss that beauty. Damn, she was right off the cover of a women’s magazine, hell, make that a ‘Playboy’ magazine. All of a sudden, I’m smitten and bitten by an impatient lust…I’m sorry, folks, I’ve got to call it what it is. It is not something new with me. It’s been a life-long struggle for me, some warped genetic-thing that eats me up when I see a lady so confounded beautiful.

Then, she looked at me and smiled. The bar was horseshoe-shaped, and I felt like leaping over all the booze and mirrors and landing on that empty seat next to the lady. I gentlemanly snapped my fingers to get Paulski’s attention, then yelled at him finally because of the roar in the place. He saw me, finished the order he was working on and came to me.

“You saw her?” he asked with a wide grin.

“Saw her? Hell, Son, I’ve already had her twice while attempting to get your attention. Please, go ask her if she is unencumbered and, if so, may I join her for a drink.”

“I’m on it, Gerard. You owe me, son.” Yeah, we were in Texas, where all the Texas gents call a buddy, ‘son’. It just becomes habit after a time. Paulski was heading back my way with his eyes flicking and a grin a Texas mile long.

“She knows you, son, at least that’s what she says, and she’s read all your books. Get on over there. I’m fixing her a drink and another for you. Go, man, go.”

Her name was Terri, and I did not know her but was doggone happy she knew me and had given me the eye. Man, you don’t know what a ‘headwind’ that gives a feller seeking treasures in femininity. Sure enough, she read all my books, and loved them all, she said. She teasingly told me, “You know, I fell in love with your picture that appears on all your books.” Terri was just about to burn me up with all her lovely chatter.

Okay, I’m going to deny you the scenes that are better left to the imagination. After all, an author has his reputation to maintain. I will only tell you that Terri and Gerard spent the weekend together, then booked a cruise on that Norwegian Cruise Line, got themselves the ‘Van Gogh Suite’, and pretty much kept their butler busy with food and wine orders. We stayed in that lovely suite the whole cruise, except when we were out on our big private deck. Funny how food tastes so good on those cruises. Ahem.

Here’s the shocker… The Captain married us while we were docked in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Terri became my fourth and last wife. Remarkable how you can go traipsing through life being ruled by the writing gods and looking for love in so many places. Then, you find the magical one in your own backyard.

People are fond of saying, ‘don’t be looking for love in bars’, but I’ve got news for those folks: I’ll match my statistics with any man looking elsewhere.

We’re in our thirty-fifth year of marriage as I write this. We never tire of each other. Our big nights out are short and uneventful.

We see Paulski at his own bar every anniversary.

Terri still reads every book I write. I’m hoping one of these days, some other people will join her…

Billy Ray Chitwood – May 28, 2019

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‘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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