Bewitched by Beauty

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

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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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Oft We Look

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Oft We Look

Oft we look beyond our longing selves

Seeking potions to fill the empty years

We stumble and fall so many times

And magically another dream appears.

 *

Our lives are filled with repetitions,

Dull daily ritual and chore,

Until chasing that newly found hope is

Dashed, we’re desperate, in need of more

 *

As we reach out for nebulous goals.

We despair ‘til comes some magic link

When Love suddenly comes on moonbeams

And Life is much more than we think.

 *

Love is then the totality of Life

Meaning, substance come from Love,

All that is Eternal, Noble and Pure

To find it, we must look Above.

 *

©BR Chitwood – March 9, 2018

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Mission of Hope

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The Mission of Hope

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

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Flowers and Stone

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

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

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

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The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

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

*

The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The robbery netted the lowlife reject $106.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A prosecuting attorney quickly appealed that decision the next day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 20, 2018   

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Flowers and Fate

Flowers and Fate

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Flowers and Fate

(Flash Fiction Inspired by Truth)

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

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

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

“Really! I’m that obvious?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millie obliged, and Stan left the store.

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

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

Love and Time Eternal

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

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

That will last eternally…

Forever, Stanley

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

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

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The End

The End

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The End

I was a beaten man!

There was nothing left! No wife! No children! No job!

The only clothes I owned covered my body.

The black ashes that were once my house had an acrid, gagging odor, mixed with the smells of fire-fighting liquids, dampness, and death.

How does one describe a body bereft of feelings, a body with all its tears shed, a hollow core of nothingness covered with flesh? Nothing there! Nothing I could or would ever be able to find.

That was my truth!

Standing there in a starless night of misty rain and appropriate bleakness, looking for the last time at the sum of my existence, there in those black, damp clumps of earth and bones, there with the only pieces of love I had ever known, there in that eerie graveyard of ashes.

We had a silly argument after the boys were put to bed. I made a petulant escape into the night of bar rooms and feigned grievance … my starring role in a ‘D-Movie’.

I heard the sounds of fire engines through my whiskey haze and gave it little thought.

Fire engines rushed to others’ houses, not mine.

Finally, the Bacchus glow came, went, and I recognized the inanity of my actions.

That rapidly fading glow took me home where I would do my habitual ‘I’m sorry, sweetheart’! Repentence was an eager surge within me as I sped onward for home. It was then, the car finishing its sharp turn, when I saw the halo of red and white flashing lights ahead. My body began to quake as the first pang of alarm came to rest inside my imbued brain.

It was my home from which those wind-driven flames came … soon to be, at my arrival, the charred ruins of my only prized possessions.

I stumbled from the car, stunned, inconsolable, watching my neighbors holding hands, praying, tears flowing down their cheeks, already knowing what I was about to find out.

My wife, my kids, were consumed by the fire … a fire caused by my forgetting to turn off the barbeque.

I fell to my knees, grasped my head with both hands, heaving, roaring my grief in loud sobs, piercing the smoke-filled skies above. The concept of Time had no reality for me as I gasped and breathed in particles of ash.

People talked to me, uttered their pity and sorrow, tried humbly to comfort me. Their voices were lost in my sobbing growls. The movement of fire engines, firemen, my neighbors going back to their homes were on the periphery of my awareness. I shook my head in negation to acts of kindness, of pleas to help me. 

Then, I was alone with my mind and its torturous playback of my fatuous acts in life, alone with the agony which now possessed my soul.

For three days and nights, I stayed awake, unseen, not wanting to be seen, in the wooded area behind the damp ashes where once stood my home. I was soon bereft of any meaningful thought, on the brink of madness.

At 11:00 PM that third night I heard off in the distance the freight train whistle.

I walked the quarter mile to the trestle and watched for the light that would announce its coming. I listened for the roar from the rails.

Like a thief in the night I left the bush behind which I hid and stepped onto the trestle. The train’s beacon of light came onward toward me, and the faint whistle registered somewhere in a tunnel of my mind. 

The train was but a hundred yards away when I raised my arms to the heavens and cried, “Oh, God, please forgive me!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – January 7, 2918 (Rev)

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Bubble of Existence

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Bubble of Existence

-Stream of Consciousness-

She is silent in her sleep – sleep that each night comes swiftly for her.

Not swiftly for me does sleep come. My mind is in its normal reverie, going through the tangled days, weeks, years of my life, the emotional detritus left along the roads I’ve traveled, reliving each night with the ’why this, why that’ buffoonery of a poorly tailored life. There are also the childish gene pool thoughts of future heroic deeds, rescuing damsels in distress, heroically accomplishing amazing feats, saving lives, attaining greatness… yes, still there from a turbulent childhood environment.

It is a learned process, always a constant staple in my life, that is, until the nightly sleeping pill takes effect.

But, I digress!

The lady I watch in sleep is my hero, my Sancho Panza riding a donkey alongside Cervante’s ‘Don Quixote’, tilting windmills and running my ‘knight errands’. She is my one and only. She is my everything. She is part of God’s omnipresence in my life.

In my thoughts I see myself in a transparent bubble of existence, one-half of me inside the gauzy metaphor, the other half still watching my wife in repose. There is an apparition, a little girl with cute curly locks sitting, smiling down at my sleeping beauty from the bed’s headboard – the small lass my sleeping beauty once was (a little girl whose small photo I once kept in my wallet until it went missing).

I think of our lives together, the contrast of our genealogy, the years of joy, of building a business together, of nuclear-family gatherings at our cabin in the pines, at the non-working ranch we used for get-away from the city. She comes from a mature, stable, environment, has a DNA with all ‘loops’ orderly fashioned. She is gifted with a combination of high intelligence, common sense, and the love of conversation (when awake). She brings stability and patience to fight my grittiness.

 In her slumber I cannot see the rhythm of her breathing – and I recall a time prior when it alarmed me. She can fall asleep quickly and is mildly irked if I insist on chatting when we go to bed. She can sleep in one position all through the night, and there are these quaint occasional moments when I watch her in sleep and think about our many years together, how my sometime Appalachian heritage roars and rumbles, how she sits silently with that little girl smile until I see the futility and silliness of my words.

It is there, in those still-dark moments with my fanciful opining of love, life, and death, when I see her and the little girl essence. Then comes sadness, or, more likely, regretful thoughts with uninvited tears.

Our love is real, and, oh, I fear that ‘bubble’ and the insistence of my nature must wear thinly.

So, while darkness still rules the night sky, it is time to step from the ‘bubble existence’, get out of bed, and try to capture some of these thoughts on the laptop.

For whatever their worth is to me and the Universe.

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 3, 2018

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