Confused and Mystified

Confused and Mystified

Bill Chitwood

Confused and Mystified

Participating, watching others participate, wondering what and where is the magic in this digital mind-boggling world. You are a writer. You write because of need and because you have identified writing as the talent you most likely possess more than any other, because just maybe that activity keeps you alive and in tune with the world around you. You go through the spasms of depression, frustration, and an occasional adrenaline rush of encouragement and excitement.

Then, you take a look at the marketing aspects of selling your books, the various providers of platforms, tools, and applications. Perhaps, like me, you become aware of the specialized and confusing language used in the digital market places, things like Avatar, widgets, SEOs, RSS feeds, URLs, hash marks, and all of it somehow cannot seem to make sense to you. You become angry with yourself, with the computer and its devious foreign language, and with the madness of minds making life so much more complicated than it really needs be. You wonder what you should be doing that you are not doing but most of all how to do it. Could you have been selling more books and yourself if you had joined this group, used this platform, done this, done that?

Sure, you can hire someone for a tidy sum you think you can trust to take the marketing worries away that allows you to concentrate on your writing. Yet, you either feel not quite comfortable among the so-called professional or you are too money-tight to give it a try. So, you muddle on, writing good books – books that should be selling – and attempting a one-person publishing house. Is there an answer? Is there a Nirvana out there for you?

The odds might not be great, but you figure to keep on writing – because that’s what you love to do. Hopefully, before the grim reaper comes calling, a benevolent event, a magic will come your way and finally make all those moments at the laptop pay off. A Publishing deal with a handsome sign-up bonus? An Amazon selling spree that puts your books virally in the top echelon of the Indie market? Okay, more realistically, beautifully written and sincere heartfelt reviews may lack the money and fame but they do make you soar for a few moments in those heady clouds of success. Maybe that is all we can hope – that and learning the foreign language that is the internet.

Writing mimics life and weather! Just wait a few moments with the emotion you are currently feeling…it will soon pass and be replaced by another. Time is the arbiter of all things – it is here and gone!

Just in the time it took me to write this blog post, I became a famous writer! Talk about an emotional uplift… A good caring and loving spouse can do that for you.

Keep Writing! Good things can happen!

Billy Ray Chitwood – November 1, 2018

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NOTE: If you’re into faith,family, abuse, love, redemption, please check out my NEW BOOK:

“Hammer’s Holy Grail” – It’s a great read ! 

Here’s a couple of Amazon Reviews to entice you:

Format: Kindle Edition
– by Gwen Plano –

*

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Life With Some Luxuries

Life With Some Luxuries

It is supposed that most of us have heard the expression, ‘I felt sorry for the man without shoes until I met the man with no feet’.

It is supposed that one living in the proverbial lap of luxury, say, in a penthouse on a lovely sea, has the world by the ying-yang! That is, perhaps knowing the ‘dark negative side’ and knowing the ‘bright positive side’ of life. Or, not.

It’s doubtful that anyone ‘has the world by the ying yang’, but so many do know and can clearly distinguish between the two. My friends are farmers, pest-control people, and some wealthy folks as well. You can find that kind of living quite often in the small town scenario. Everyone is treated equally, though the register might show some big deficits in terms of wealth.

Take me, for example, I was born in Appalachian poverty and remember so well the kerosene lamps, bed chambers, and the occasional trip in dark of night to the outhouse.

Now, that doesn’t buy me a ticket anywhere, but those memories surely make me duly appreciate of a nice home with some luxury features. Those memories are always with me and they provide a ‘stop’ measure if there comes a time when I so easily ‘wear’ luxuries and forget how life can be in the lower rent districts…I’ve lived there, know them well.

In fact, I can track my memories and remember some lovely simple moments of youth, like, when my grandmother held me on her lap in an old stuffed chair, her spittle can on the floor next to her. She would cut a big red apple in two halves and with that knife ‘mush’ that apple up it into her version of apple sauce, then fed it to me…

I can remember when my Mom was a boarding house cook, when we had a room across from the kitchen, and, as I sat listening to a radio broadcast of a baseball game she brought me a plate of her wonderful cooking – kissing me on the cheek and saying her love words to me…

I can remember my club-footed cousin JD and I playing ‘cowboys and indians’ on those old country roads, exploring around the old sawmill watching for copperheads…

I can remember my grandpa coming around the mountain on an old railroad track tooting the old steam engine’s whistle, announcing the arrival of another bunch of logs from the other side of the mountain.

Well, I grew through those early days and experienced the comraderie of my football and basketball buddies in a gated historic city there the ‘Atomic Bomb’ was built, and on the periphery, watching my Mom struggle still with the rent payments and a sister that was growing too fast, age fifteen, going on twenty-one.

So, why all this rummaging through the past, the ‘ying and yang’ of living? Here in ‘Twilight’ there is time to reflect likely too much on the past and the present, how people make their adjustments as they play out their lives. Compared to those long-ago days I’ve fared very well in the pre-twilight years, not a ‘fat-cat’ by any stretch but will likely be buried with a bit of legacy for the kids. I’m envious of no one, but I still have my dreams as an author of a ‘best-selling’ book. My 17th novel, “The Pickett Factor” is being launched in a couple of weeks, and I like its chances…if I get some help from my friends.

As I ramble here, I’m just hopeful that people can understand that where they are on any kind of measuring chart, financial or otherwise, it’s basically where your heart and mind are that truly matters.

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 30, 2018

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The Long Lingering Night

The Long Lingering Night

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

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

“You said you would go, Charlie.”

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

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

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

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

“So, you’re not mad?”

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

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

*

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

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

Whoa!

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

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

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

Bed made. No Beth.

Hmmm. The concert would be over by now.

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

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

Okay, stop with the self-recriminations!

What the hell was he to do?

Call Carol?

Wake her up at 1:30 in the AM?

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

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

“Hello!”

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

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

“Is Carol with you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know. Oh, how I know!”

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

The two friends disconnected.

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

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

“Oh, God!” the tears came again.

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

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

Wait!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She roused.

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

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

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

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

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood

 

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Family Love

17904346_10212604998622427_8835160309080360115_n (1)   e15241296_10210589180546815_7619236045342556019_n (1)                               Billy Ray and Julie Anne

Family Love

Upon the laptops across the globe, authors take to their keyboards to peck out their stories, opening their hearts and their very souls to seek some arcane knowledge of their own existence. It is a two-way street, I believe, this writing business. Authors surely wish to entertain their readers. Authors are also writing in many ways to find themselves in their narratives. At least, this one is…

Take me, for example, I put my life under many of the microscopes of readers almost daily in search for the essence of the man behind his words. On the surface of those words I believe it easy to discover some superficial nomenclature to describe myself – a man who ate some emotional soup in childhood and has spent a lifetime in search of himself, that essence, the reality of his soul. Of course, I can immediately acknowledge in all my lucid candor that the simple ‘nomenclature’ I’ve discovered at best can only scratch the surface of who I am, what and where I’ve been. The ultimate truth lies out there in the void of the ‘dark veil’!

What I can be certain of is what I label, ‘my orbital truth’. It is a truth I’ve dodged most of my life as a wanderlust, what many would call a ‘romantic’ or a ‘lotus-eater’, a man hungry for the fruits that can be found in the nether world of women and song, in and out of love, playing the role of dismayed man sorry for himself, or the role of a poet and soothsayer – ‘hey, look at me, am I not a good and solid actor in this not-so-great B-level  Movie’?

My children, two of whom I present to you above, love me for some obscure reason for I was absent for days, weeks, months, and years of their lives – sitting likely in a motel room writing about them on cheap stationery, how I missed them, how much I loved them, only to es-cape the motel room for more women and song. They are wise enough to know all of this and most of them are now closely-knit families with lovely children of their own.

My daughter, Shelley Jean (top picture), her handsome husband, Greg, are shown above, below them, my son, Scott and his lovely wife, Carla. Another son, Brandon, is a PhD in Literature, a professor living in Minnesota, unmarried at last report. There is a school teacher daughter and two engineers in the mix – Chemical and Electronic. All have wonderful children of their own… As a sad footnote: One of my sons, Steven Ray, was lost to us because of his life on the dark menacing streets of Las Vegas in drug dealing and use. If one might presume I could have made a difference in his life had I been there more, you would be presuming correctly… I carry that ignoble deed to the black void mentioned earlier.

With this righteous candor, I can say in honesty that all of the other children now have families and a good life. Shelley and Greg rejoice in their God and their blended family. Scott and Carla, having lived productive business lives, spend most their time in a Utah mountain retreat. The engineers and teacher whom I love come to me via Julie Anne, my most generous and loving wife of some thirty-five years. They are all family-oriented and have clearer truths for living than their father.

So, why have I shared all of my children, myself and wife with you, my compatriots on the writing circuit and some few reading fans? Surely, you did not need to read this, to hear it, as it were. No, of course not! It is all for me, this long missive of contrition. I’ve made you, the readers, my altar of remorse!

 It seemed necessary for me to share the larger truths of my life. Somehow, with the allocation comes ablution, some semblance of playing straight without falsely presenting myself. I served honorably in the United States Navy, have a loving and cherished wife, and felt the simple need to share the beauty that now pervades my life…the children, their families, their devotion to their own families and their charitable aid to others.

In pondering my life’s rather rascally environments at times I’m reminded of how truly lucky I am to have so very much love in my life.

That’s really comforting here in ‘Twilight’, where I plan to live until age 105 and write many more novels…

Surely hope those novels get read… 

No groveling, please, BR! 😀

Billy Ray Chitwood – September 1, 2018

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Soul’s Surrender

Soul’s Surrender

The damp air assumed the color of periwinkle on my sweaty arms as the moon came from the cumulus like an angry despot, a wisp of cloud appearing like a mustache on its solemn surface. The gently rising hill upon which my steps carried me was covered with freshly mown grass that gave off a delicious smell of watermelon. I stopped at the top of the hill and breathed deeply the olfactory delight, the big house now in view, some three hundred yards down this hill and up another, big centuries-old maple trees dotting its perimeter.

For a moment, the lights in the big house seemed to twinkle for me, perchance a welcome home endearment, but, then, my errand of mercy had only taken me three hours although it seemed much longer. The car would not start. The cell phone would not work. I didn’t want to walk along the highway at night, so, to the rolling hills. We were alarmed and nervous about our cat, Joey. We were afraid we might be losing him as he seemed unable to move about without falling and regurgitating.

The vet was one mile away, and I decided to carry Joey to the vet’s office. Someone was at their small hospital facility at all times. Joey was of petite build and not heavy in his carrier. Laura, the nice lady vet, gave Joey a quick check and decided it was best to leave him there for a day or two to allow for thorough testing and treatment. She indicated his ‘vitals’ were showing satisfactory readings, but she wanted to be certain it was nothing more than a bad morsel Joey decided to ingest.

If the light from the moon was not deceiving me and my old failing eyes could be trusted, Heather was there on the porch waving me on. Waving back, I smiled, and tears slowly passed through the whiskery wrinkles on my cheeks and dropped to mix with the ground dew. It was rather common these days to shed tears in my desperate moments when harsh realities hit and confounded the order and sequences of living. I slowed my pace to give the tears their time to flow before I reached Heather, conjuring up thoughts that were mundane and easy to indulge and toss away.

There was something unrevealed to Heather which, as fate would have it, coincided with Joey’s sudden ailment. Perhaps the lovable cat sensed the secret. My days of doubting ‘cat lore’ and labeling mysteries of the world’s tomfoolery were long gone. Our family doctor gave me his diagnosis of my frequent headaches after EEG test-runs and consultation with a neurologist specialist. It was an inoperable tumor, now the size of a large marble but growing in size steadily. Was there a chance the tumor might just dissolve, just miraculously melt into nothing and its residue get lost in the nerve messages sent via neuronal activities? Doctor Spaulding’s only response to my queries was: “Miracles happen in the Medical field all the time, Jimmy, but take the medication I’ve prescribed to slow the tumor’s growth and we’ll keep a watchful eye. Other scans and tests were subsequently performed and diagnosed. The rendering was the same. The doctor said Heather should know, but I swore him to secrecy. This was my fight alone, and she was not to be part.

The nearer to the porch I walked, Heather’s beautiful smile and the love that shone in her eyes made me quake inside and the tears came again. I managed a smile to go with the tears but she saw the distress behind my quivering lips and ran down the steps to meet me.

“Oh, we lost Joey, Jimmy?” She wrapped her arms around me and was sure Joey was gone.

“No, no, sweetheart, Doc Laura is just keeping him over for some tests. Joey’s tough! He’ll be up and around in no time.”

As I talked she pulled back and eyed me carefully.

“Why are you crying, Jimmy? Tell me, please!”

“Ah, come on, I just saw you there and the moment got to me.  That’s all, honey, really. I’ve been gone for three hours and I missed you. Can’t I miss my wife?”

“Of course, you can – and, better, for that matter!” She smiled again, grabbed my arm and led me up the porch steps and into the house.

I was suddenly and unaccountably happy and unafraid of dying. Heather was with me! That was all that truly mattered to me. After all, dying is part of our living, a moment in time each of us must face. So, I pushed aside those moments of anxiety and weakness. I regaled in thoughts of all those moments yet left to me with Heather.

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – July 30, 2018

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Matter of the Heart

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Paradise Island

Matter of the Heart

What was I doing here? It seemed a sad inertia was in control of my body.

Beautiful, yes, this sand and sun part of the world! And, it was a promise my heart compelled me to keep…after so many tears and a fragile restoration from the pain and finality of impending death. Those who have lost the warm cloak of love will know of what I write.

Before coming inside to sit on the big bed to write my thoughts of desperation and longing, I stood on the 9th floor balcony of the ‘Royal Tower’ and gazed out over the beauty that is all of Paradise Island Bahamas.

Close to my tower, people and kids watched the feeding of large Manta rays, while, in the next large pool, loud cheering came from children and their parents as brothers and sisters slid quickly down the steep, thick, clear round-tube through water where sharks swam all around them. My wan smile of acknowledgment came and lingered briefly from the shrieks of play and excitement in the large pool below.

I began my writing…

This is for you, Johnny, these words my heart and soul convey, words which I pray will give me sustenance to continue life – a tenuous blur in my mind during the past few days…

We spoke of coming here to the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort just two months ago at our most beautiful first anniversary dinner, one week before your cancer diagnosis came from your doctor. As always, you faced that awful information in your fashion, showing your acceptance and lack of concern. “Hey,” you said, “doctors make mistakes! I feel great and plan on living for many years with my lovely bride.” You kissed me softly on the lips and gave me your brave smile.

On our arrival home, I tried, too, for bravery, but failed. You saw my tears, gathered me in your arms, carried me to our bed and slowly, with moments of playful tease and tormenting delays, made spectacular love to me. You made me momentarily forget the terrible news of the diagnosis.

The days that followed were much the same. You took me with you on your business trip to Seattle, even allowed me to be present during your major appointments. You would not be without me for a moment. My love for you, always at its highest point, came near to eruption, to the degree of silly school girl antics. I clung to you, stopped on the busy sidewalks of Seattle to embrace, kiss you, in such a state of euphoria that I could almost forget the dreadful cancer news…almost! It hovered just above my consciousness, bringing deep dips of sorrow at the prospect of losing you.

Then, there came the Tuesday telephone call from doctor Dearfield’s office. You were to check into the Holy Cross Hospital at 8:00 AM the next day to start treatments. From your soft and inaudible voice while talking to the doctor, I knew the seriousness of the situation. I also saw the momentary closings of your eyes and the dropped chin.

After the phone call with the doctor, you insisted, without allowing my dissent, that night would be our last together. Your arguments were selfish, you said, that you would not allow me to see your declining days of health caused by Cancer’s newest treatments, including sessions of Chemo therapy. You made me promise not to show up at the hospital. You gave me the first-class ticket to Nassau, booked my ‘top priority’ suite at the Atlantis Bahamas for a three-week stay. You said, if the news proved good, you would be joining me at Atlantis. If the news were negative, our Tuesday night would be our last night until we met in God’s eternity. We were locked in each other’s arms all that night, me, saying silent prayers…

I stopped writing when tears began blotting my pages. I was hopelessly lost in my lassitude, laid back on the bed until feelings of anxiety hit me, got up, left the lovely suite and walked aimlessly around the grand resort.

Below ground, I walked along the thick concrete walls of the world’s largest marine exhibit, passing within three feet of all kinds of exhibits, sharks, rays, all kinds of water life, swimming up to the thick glass enclosure where families touched them safely via the glass. Even in a lethargic state, I managed to find some minimal escape from my despair.

After walking up and through the large casino, I returned to my room. It was 5:00 PM. I took a sleeping pill and soon fell asleep among the tear-blotted pages written some hours earlier.

For the next few days, it was much the same for me, ordering room service food, eating only parts of it, picking up the pen to write more thoughts on paper and giving up when the tears came. Johnny’s face I saw as an image on the glass sliding doors to the balcony, on the bathroom mirrors, in my mind when eyes were closed. The weather outside was beautiful, and, even in my grief, I could understand the popularity of this paradise.

Even with the beauty of Paradise Island, the walls closed in on me, forcing my movement, either to the pool area or the beach.

On Friday morning of my second week, I awoke with the same torpid lack of mobility, dregs from the sleeping pills, ordered room service coffee and eggs Benedict, drank the coffee, left most of the eggs Benedict. I picked up my pen to write more about Johnny, and, again, began crying.

Outside the weather was all sun and blue skies. I took off my pajamas and put on my bikini, grabbed a beach towel and noticed I was still wearing the last gift Johnny had given to me – a most elegant diamond-studded pendant with a lush heart-shaped Garnet gem. I placed the pendant on the dresser, lingered over it for a few seconds until the tears thought about returning, and walked out the door.

The sun felt strangely good on my body, adding pleasantly to my lethargy. I tried not to think, but it was impossible. Johnny was so solidly in my thoughts, and I truly wondered if I could live without him. I turned my body on the beach towel to the tummy, my back needing some sun.

As I lay there on my tummy, my face upon my folded arms, eyes closed, reliving memories, I felt something drop to the sand in front of my face, a few sprinkles of sand touching my forehead.

Impulsively, I raised my head and glanced at the sand in front of me.

My heart skipped several beats! My head and entire body was tingling with titillating thoughts.

Quickly, I turned over onto my back and sat up.

Standing above me with a wide grin on his face was Johnny!

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” I blurted and jumped from the beach towel and threw myself into his open arms.

“You just buried your Garnet pendant!” he said, with a mock sneer. “That cost me a few bucks, you know! And you leave it on a dresser in a resort?”

“Oh, Johnny, Johnny!” I sighed deeply, “You’re here… Are you cured?” I kissed him so much he couldn’t answer.

He finally disengaged enough to mutter: “You ever hear of ‘remission’? That’s me! The ‘Remission’ man! On a mission to re-claim my lovely, lovely bride. Shall we get a drink and celebrate?”

“Not just a drink, Johnny! I have a lot more in mind for you!” A quick thought hit me. “That is, unless…” in my stuttering way, “there are health issues.” I gave him my raised eyebrows and soft smile.

Johnny slapped me on my ‘buns’, smiled broadly, and said, “Bring it on, baby! I’m up to the task!”

“Make that, ‘tasks’, please, Johnny!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – (Rpt)

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Love’s Ironic Twist

(From the author’s book: SATAN’S SONG – A Bailey Crane Mystery Bk. 2)

– NEW Re-Launch The Month of June –

The unmistakable alluring aroma of coffee came to me at 8:30 AM that Saturday morning. It was one of the most satisfying smells in the universe.

I sneakily left the bed and went to the bathroom, silently closed the door, brushed my teeth, scraped the tongue, and shaved. Emerged from the bathroom in an old ASU football jersey, faded jeans, and white canvas shoes, went to confront Pam.

She was sitting on the patio, dressed also in jeans and one of my old striped dress shirts. Poured myself a cup of coffee and went out to join her. A closed book was on her lap, and the newspaper on the wrought iron table. Her legs were resting on one of the other chairs and she had a wistful little girl look on her face as she stared at the bougainvillea bushes on the western end of the patio. She was really deep within herself and that grapefruit-size knot returned to my stomach.

Mood swings were part of my reality. For Pam, they were more rare. When either of us was in a mood, we stayed out of each other’s way until it passed. This time, it was necessary for me to intrude into her space.

“Wanna talk?” My voice was soft and meek. Closed the french door behind me, placed my coffee on the table next to the newspaper and sat down.

She looked at me with that cute enigmatic smile that was her trademark. Was it just me or were her eyes misty from crying?

“Hi, how was your trip to San Diego?” Like there was no last night, no scratching record to remove, and no Pam at home with me.

“Trip was fine. Where were you?” No small talk. This was on a definite ‘need to know’ basis.

“Out. With friends. Had some drinks.” Pam looked at herempty cup on the table. “I’ve gotta get another cup of coffee.”

Jumping out of my chair, “I’ll get your coffee. Sit.”

I returned, sat her coffee in front of her, and asked: “Pam, no smoke and mirrors, please. My gut’s in a knot. Why is my gut in a knot, Pam? Why do I wake up at 3:00 AM on the sofa and find my wife in a bed she wasn’t in hours earlier?” I sat erect in my chair, feet firmly on the ground, my arms on the chair supports. Needed a cigarette in times like this.

Pam did a little head bow, hesitated, picked up her coffee and took a sip. “Didn’t want to wake you and have a scene. You were obviously loaded. You seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Even started your classical tape over for you.”

“Gee, thanks!” snidely rendered, “Okay, loaded on the sofa. Sleeping peacefully. Now awake and sober, so tell me about last night.”

“Told you, Bailey. Drinks with my friends, Am I not allowed? Is clearance needed?” She was emoting the damned issue.

“Come on, Pam. Dispense with the rationalizing crap. You know you’re allowed and you know damned well I would want to know. And what’s with the ‘clearance’ bullshit? You know that’s not true. You’re married to a cop, dammit! Don’t lay this stuff on me.”

“Okay, okay! Larry was in the group, and I knew you would be pissed about it.” She looked down at the table.

“Larry Clarkson?” The knot got bigger, and I got angry. “Your ex-lover! Oh, and you thought I’d be pissed? Right? Me, pissed?” The jolt had the adrenaline doing crazy things to me. It was difficult to think, to formulate a response.

“Yes, pissed!” she yelled. “Look at you, you’re …”

“I’m what? I’m sure not pissed. I’m fucking outraged! How could you do that? How could you be with him?” I got up and stomped around the patio. Picked up the newspaper and slammed it back on the table. “How, Pam? How?”

“Bailey, you don’t own me! I have a life. I have a right to see people. My friends. You do your thing. You don’t ask my permission.”

“Bullshit! You always know where I am. And you damned well know I wouldn’t be with an ex-lover. You’re doing a puppet show, Pam. I can see it. I can see it all. The way you’re talking, reacting. It’s bullshit. You know what you did last night, and I know what you did. You got laid by an ex-lover. You got …”

“Bailey, stop it! Stop it now!” She was angry and she was scared, but not of me. I could not and would not hurt her. She was scared for us.

“Okay, Pam, I’ll stop it. But look me in the eyes, straight on, and tell me. Tell me you did not fuck Larry Clarkson last night.” My hands went gently to her shoulders, turning her to face me.

“Tell me you did not, Pam!”

Her tear-filled eyes finally lifted to meet mine, and I could see the awful truth without her uttering it. Oh, her love for me was there, too, and her shame for having hurt me. I could see a little girl lost, abused and frightened, wary yet bold, confused and unable to lock in totally, wanting to but unable to lock in totally to something so rich and promising as the love we felt for each other. I could see my own image in her eyes, tears welling and falling down my cheeks. An enormous hurt consumed me and, in that moment, some atavistic awareness clutched my heart as though this hurt passed well beyond and back from now and on into the yesterdays of tomorrow.

I released her shoulders and dropped my hands. She began to speak, “Bailey, I …”

“No, Pam,” my voice betrayed me, choked, “don’t say any-thing just now … It’s okay … You’re allowed.”

I stood and left the patio. In the bathroom, I turned both faucets on full force to drown the noise of the great heaving sobs, the rending of my soul. Even there, in that painful place of the heart, could grown-up men cry?

Married three and a half years, gloriously happy years for the most part, always on a honeymoon, it seemed.

Our pasts had caught up with us. The raw ugliness of her youth had merged with the senseless bible-belt guilt of my own. Perhaps all along our fate had been inevitable, sealed in the quiet desperation of our search to find one another, seeking to match souls not ready for matching … There was something dark and deep in the lower part of our consciousness that knew all along that we could never be that wondrous storybook love of our dreams.

Here on the surface of flesh reality, away from the deeper unknowable truths of soul, it was true that too much ego and pride can cripple the mind of man. My endowment had been an over-generous amount in those areas, yet I could still fancy myself as having compassion and humility in just as great quantity. Ah, abstract bullshit! I was suffocating on my own self-pity, feeling a lethargy of spirit never known in my adult life until now. Compassion and Humility was at war with ego and pride.

‘A dandy little pitiable pit you seem to be digging for yourself,’ my alter guy kept telling me the next couple of days, over and over until it became rote, feeling perhaps that the repetition of some sane reality-based statement might shorten the excavation period. It worked and it didn’t work.

Pam was near obsequious in her efforts to please me and somehow erase the one event that a man has the most difficult time erasing. This was merely the perception, not her intent. She was truly sorry and in pain herself. There were no screaming and yelling scenes after the truth had been revealed. There were no revenge and get even inferences or thoughts. We even slept in the same bed. Alone. There was just a stifling and onerous apathy. It occurred to me that I should be angrier, more the damaged party. But it simply hurt, more devastatingly than the searing stab of a knife or the stinging bite of a gun-shot. And it hurt to watch Pam go through her own agony, her soulful regret at having caused me pain. Our love was still there, just parked at a spot inaccessible to us.

It was everything I’ve said but it was embarrassingly more: it was the slow peeling away of my being, the fabric of what I conceived myself to be. It was low time, slow time, and second-guessing time. Pam and I walked on proverbial egg shells covering mounds of quick-sand, imitating some inane, inadequate, secondary semblance of life.

Ego and Pride, evil twin brothers in man’s march through life!

Billy Ray Chitwood – May 31, 2018

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Bewitched by Beauty

Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 81, ENCHANT & SHAPE, #SynonymsOnly

life-is-likea-cup-of-tea

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“Bewitched by Beauty”

Bewitched by beauty

Woven by fiery desires

I kissed her hot lips

Hungrily there on the beach

Passion’s fire was still unquenched

– Tanka by Billy Ray Chitwood – April 27, 2018 – 

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