Category: #murder

Femme Fury Fatality

-Photo art by: Dennis Buchner – Unsplash-

Femme Fury Fatality

The sea from the balcony was glorious in its sunset pose. The brilliant yellow orb slowly dipped in the western sky, creating an unbridled inner stirring where phrases were worn closet clichés, feeble in rendering the poetic wonder of the Malibu scene. The heart and mind could never blend an appropriate coupling in describing a perfect utterance for a California evening in its sunset stages.

A lone couple walked along the edge of the slow-lapping surf with a beautiful Golden Retriever ahead joyfully leaping and romping in the choppy waters, chasing a large hard-rubber bone thrown by its master.

Melody Maybury stood pensively at the balcony’s sturdy stucco railing, engulfed in this splendid moment of another day’s end. There was a plaintive acceptance and gratitude for this ritual splendor. Delicate notes from Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini played softly from the balcony speaker, and Melody could not stop negative thoughts from intruding on this magical view.

“He’s a bastard. I’ve known Jeff Germaine for three years and I’ve never called him that before. Get over it. He could be telling you the truth. If you feel that way, move on. Find someone else. This is a sad story so often told. There’s someone out there who is real and can love you. But, am I being fair to Jeff? We’ve had some close, wonderful moments together. Oh, Damn, why am I doing this to myself?”

 Her thoughts persisted, negative, positive, back and forth, good guy, bad guy. What about the wonderful moments?

The phone ringing from inside broke into her monologue, and she left the sunset beauty and went inside to answer. She closed off the surf sounds by sliding shut the door to the balcony.

“Hello,” she spoke into the speaker.

“Melody, it’s Jeff. I’ve got a problem.”

Melody was silent.

“Melody, did you hear me? I’ve got a huge problem, and I need your help.”

“Really?” She stiffly responded. “You need my help? You told me you didn’t need me just last night. I’m hanging up, Jeff. I can’t help you, the way we are now.”

“Wait, please wait, Melody. Don’t hang up. I didn’t tell you, ‘I didn’t need you’ – I was talking about our spat: ‘I didn’t need the spat’. I do need you in my life. I love you. Please, Mel, hear me, ‘I need your help’. This is urgent for me or I would not call and bother you with it. It involves you as well as me. Please, hear me out. If you want us to be finished, we can be, but wait, please, until you hear me out. Melody, are you there?”

“Yes, I’m here, and I’ll listen but I’m not promising anything.”

“That’s okay, Melody. I’m a ‘heel’, I know, but I do love you. I hurt you and I’m so sorry. It was just the heat of our argument. Please try to believe me. Here’s why the call. I’m in the Santa Monica PD locked up on a bogus charge, and you are the only one who can help me. Please, Melody, help me.”

Melody heard loud voices and a scuffle in the background.

“Jeff, where did you go? Jeff?”

“I’m here. There’s another guy wanting me off the phone. Okay, here’s the story… Last night, when I left – at your request – I went to see Donna Grayson to ask her to call you, to tell you we were not an ‘item’, never had been, and that she was being a bitch for letting you think I was playing house with her…it never happened, Mel, truly, it never happened. But she wasn’t home, so I stayed last night in a motel off the Hollywood Freeway, and today, after…”

“Jeff, Jeff…”

“I’ve got to get off the phone, Mel, this guy here is nuts, but please believe me. I love you and only you. Donna was dead when I arrived at her place, and the cops think I did it. I did not kill her. Don’t even think that, Mel. I promise you, I did not. Can you make some calls for me, Mel? Try to get Les Baxter to get me bail, to get me out of here, let the studio know. I just tried to reach Les and could not. I’ve got to go. This guy is all over me, wanting the phone. I love you, Melody. Always have, always will…”

There was a loud crack in the phone, apparently dropped to the floor. “Hey, whoever you are, get off the damned phone so I can get a dial tone.” A gruff and nasty voice, not, Jeff’s.

Melody put the phone back in its cradle, and her thoughts came jumbled, all disjointed for some seconds. She sat on the long sofa for several minutes digesting what she heard from Jeff. Was his story the truth? Was it true he has not been seeing Donna? Donna was dead. My God, Jeff’s in jail for killing Donna. What to do? Call Les Baxter for help. Santa Monica PD. Get Jeff out of jail

After several attempts, she reached Les Baxter and gave him the information from Jeff. Then, she called her Dad and Mom in El Paso just to talk, to tell them she loved them and missed them. She never mentioned the bad news about the fella she was living with.

*

Later, the next day after Les Baxter posted bail, Jeff and Melody sat in their lovely Malibu home, looking out the glass doors to the balcony and on farther west over the gentle incoming waves to another incredible sunset.

“Do you want to talk about Donna’s murder, Jeff?”

They sat on the sofa sipping cocktails.

“I’d like to talk, Mel, but civilly, not in angry bursts. You say you now believe that Donna and I were not an item. Do you honestly believe that? If so, I want to talk.”

“Just remember, there were some strong suspicions and…” She shrugged, “yes, yes, I believe you. Now, tell me what happened.”

“Hmm, okay, from the beginning. I left the studio early yesterday because the script lady misplaced the scene and Jackson Argenté wanted the scene perfectly projected so we were not allowed to ad lib the dialogue…it would have been easy to ad lib as it was not that long a script. Argenté as a director can be a real ass, funny guy at times, really serious other times. I rather suspect Jackson had some amorous monkey business up his sleeve, if you know what I mean.

“So, I left early and went to the ‘Club’ – wanted to play nine holes of golf and occupy myself with thoughts of you, how to convince you of my fidelity. At the club, in the Men’s Grill looking for a pal to play nine holes with me, I joined Avery Bascomb for a drink and forgot about golf. Avery’s the new guy from San Francisco. I introduced you two last week. He likes ‘Hollywood Gin’ as do I so we played away much of the afternoon until thoughts of you and our spat got into my brain. I began losing concentration and money. You know me, I don’t like losing, got a little angry, broke a cocktail glass, and cut my hand.

“I called Donna from the ‘Men’s Grill’ and asked her if she would call you and make you understand there was nothing going on between her and me. She said she would but needed to see me to show me something important. I balked but there was something in her voice that sounded most urgent. It was on my way to Malibu, so I decided to stop and see what her urgency was.

“Her entry chimes went crazy on my third attempt at getting her to answer the door, and they wouldn’t stop…kept on chiming. Why wasn’t she answering? We had just talked on the phone. She would not have left, knowing I was coming to see what it was she wished to show me. The chimes were driving me nuts. They just would not stop chiming.

“So, I looked through the side door-window and saw her lying in a pool of blood there on the edge of the ‘great room’ and the entry hall. I was reaching for my cell phone to call the police when the siren wailed loudly just a few yards away, like, the cops turned the siren on when they saw me stepping away from the entry.

“I looked down and saw the blood from my cut at the ‘Men’s Grill’ and so did the two cops who were answering an apparent ‘red alert’ call from Donna. The cops opened the unlocked entry door and went to the body, checked for vital signs and there were none. The cops arrested me on the spot and took me to the Santa Monica PD. I screamed all the way about the ‘Men’s Grill’ glass breakage and my cut hand. They listened intently to my ‘Men’s Grill’ story, my calling Donna, but they had to take me in. They believed me but had no choice, they said… I’ve got no idea what it was Donna wanted to show me.

“That’s my story, Mel, and it’s the honest-to-God’s truth. You’ve got to believe me. I couldn’t do anything like that. I don’t even like playing bad guys in our movies.”

“I believe you, Jeff. We will get through this. I’m sorry I doubted you. The mind can do some crazy meandering at times. The cops can easily check the ‘Men’s Grill’ for proof of your alibi. That should be enough for them to drop the charges, don’t you think?”

“Hopefully. They won’t find anything in Donna’s place that can incriminate me. I was only there the one time with you.”

“It’s all going to work out, sweetheart. You’ve told me everything, right?”

“Of course, I have. I’ve never lied to you, Melody. I love you.”

*

As trials go, Jeff’s was a breeze. The judge appeared, called the two attorneys to the stand, whispered a few words – actually, quite a few words – and the lawyers returned to their respective seats.

The judge picked up his gavel, slammed it down on the wood and announced: “This case will not be heard for insufficient findings. Case dismissed.”

Later that day, movie director Jackson Argenté was arrested for the murder of Donna Grayson, his longtime secret paramour. His fingerprints and other evidence had been found at the murder scene. It was believed by most reports that Jeff just happened on the scene at the wrong time.

It was later noted in newspaper articles that the movie director had managed through extortion and payouts to keep other affairs and angry dispositions from print and media in general. Jackson Argenté was known to have a violent temper, with eruptions quite often.

The final chapter was written when Jackson Argenté was found hanging from a crude tangle of clothes tied around his neck and somehow connected to a ventilation duct.

Jeff Germaine and Melody Maybury became husband and wife in August that year and honeymooned in the south of France.

Of course, they lived happily ever after.

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 20, 2019

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Wicked Marcie

Wicked Marcie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Flash Fiction by BR Chitwood

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Fateful Flowers

Fateful Flowers

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

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 Mahannic. 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, marched to the ‘Men’s Room’ and shot to death at close range.

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

In Memory of my Uncle Stanley who lives forever in my heart! 

*

I’ve written a novel about love called, Phoenix Fire – It’s a beautiful story, if I do say so myself…

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This book begins with two joggers fatefully brought together on a running path when a lightning strike hits… The story that follows is about love and the obstacles that get in the way: betrayal, sibling rivalry, gambling, murder, a matriarch’s secret, a desert odyssey, and redemption. Read and enjoy.

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A Common Evil – A Bailey Crane Mystery #6

A Common Evil – A Bailey Crane Mystery 

(From the 6-book Series: Bailey Crane Mysteries)

A Common Evil is the last book in ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery’ Series, and, joining An Arizona Tragedy as bookends to the six, these two might be the most outrageously good reads of the series. Believe me, that is not to say the other books cannot stand proud among an unbelievable lineup of thrillers. All books in this series are inspired by true events except for book 3, The Brutus Gate – itself, with the thrills and subject matter, will keep the mystery buffs reading into the night.

 A Common Evil was inspired and written from some of my own experiences while president of the board of directors at a lovely resort on the Sea of Cortez. Of course, there are fictional elements in the story, but plenty of the narrative lends its words to actual events. The characters are built from real bone and flesh people. There was indeed a shootout at the resort in a pre-dawn raid by law enforcement officials and a cartel group renting one of the villas on the property. The snap-snap of gunfire was real. The dead bodies on the blood- soaked ground were real.

That shootout starts the book, and some believe it might have happened because of a letter I wrote to the Governor of Sonora about some culpable folks at the resort and after one of our administrative personnel was kidnapped for several days, beaten, found, hospitalized for a time and released back to the resort.

To experience the dazzling beauty of that resort, to enjoy the cobalt waters of the Sea of Cortez, to gather sea shells along the beach, and, as an ex-pat, witness some elements of a country I’ve loved for many years, made me heart-sick to leave and return to the United States. It was at the loving insistence of family that prompted us to leave that beautiful sea resort.

A Common Evil is particularly close to my heart. There is a haunting nostalgia for me connected with old Mexico. The people, beaten down by their history of cartels and mordida, are thankful for the American home owners in Mexico, are helpful in so many ways and their lined and toil-ridden faces show their story as plainly as any history text could lay out. I think the narrative of this book will bear that out.

Bailey’s wife Wendy is kidnapped! Bailey is fraught with agony and anger! Bailey acts, and it doesn’t seem to be the same Bailey…but, then, his wife is missing.

A Common Evil will keep you riveted with mystery and suspense. The ending is alone worth a read. Don’t miss this one!

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 29, 2018

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Re-Launch of “Mama’s Madness”

“Mama’s Madness” – Re-Launch – June 21, 2018

One more time! 

“Mama’s Madness” has been among my fourteen books my best seller, and I’ve changed the cover a few times. WHY AM DOING IT AGAIN?

Call me crazy, but this time I also did some re-writing, making some changes here and there – nothing major but enough, I believe, to make it even better. The old edition had some sixty reviews, most of them 5-STARS and 4-STARS, so maybe I am a bit nutty to be making a change again. However, I’m committed to this change and I hope that my friends and followers will help me with this re-launch…I’m awaiting proof copy and will be shooting for a June 21, 2018 publication.

The changes I’ve made to “Mama’s Madness” do not lessen the evil transgressions in the book. It is still a book that will shock readers, make them angry, make them not believe what they’re reading, but this book is inspired by a true California case some decades ago. When I read the newspaper clippings of this ‘mother’s’ brutal treatments of her six children, it made me angry, made me sad to the point of tears, made me think of my own children and their lives…thank God, they never suffered the beating, the dark-closet confinements (for days, NOT hours!), the unsavory introduction to sex, the eating of lard and their own retch. Because my kids did suffer the emotional stress of a divorce, they never suffered from a lack of love.

In short, I had to write this book!

No one needs perhaps to be reminded of the evil in our world, but the urge was so powerful to fictionalize this mother’s brutal and psychopathic behavior for my own inner compulsion but, hopefully, to also remind people people of their vigiliance  and environments, to be aware of that solicitous smiling stranger in the park, that passing car with a weirdo at the wheel making gestures, the friendly co-worker who offers a ride home.  

Yes, there will be some who see “Mama’s Madness” as a gratuitous penning of some lurid and sensational events. Those who feel that way will not have seen an author’s tears as he wrote some sections of the book.

“Mama’s Madness” will always be to me my favorite book, NOT so much because of the evil portrayed within its pages, but because it awakened me as an author, made me so much more aware of the events in our world, and the ultimate power of words.

May I ask of my friends and followers to assist me in getting this new edition of “Mama’s Madness” re-launched. It is a novel I believe to be by anyone’s writing standard a quality book.

“Mama’s Madness” was recently posted by Caleb Pirtle: “Five of 100 books you should read before you die.”  https://calebandlindapirtle.com/five-100-books-read-die-2/efore You Die!

At the top you see the new cover for “Mama’s Madness” – Do you like it!

Any assistance you can give me will be appreciated – reblogs- suggestions.

You can read part of the ‘Prologue’ of “Mama’s Madness” here:

~*~

PROLOGUE PORTION “Mama’s Madness”

 “Help me! Please help me!”

It is a piteous whimper, lost in the black void of the narrow closet. The weak and eerie sound of her own voice chills her more fiercely than the cold. The thought brings an aberrant amusement. Her own small voice frightens her!

A sound! A creaking sound. Far off. A footfall! Is it?

No. It is not a footfall. It’s just one of the strange noises that comes in the night.

Is it night?

Time is lost. Time is gone from her world like a chunk of youth. The black hole draws her toward an uncertain vortex. She must close her eyes. But, not so tightly. She sees less with her eyes lightly closed. There is better control of her quivering body. With eyes open, the blackness comes alive with trickery.

Some crawling thing moves along her upper arm. That is her perception. She shifts and finds a wooden wall protrusion. A vertical beam. She moves her arm and body in back and forth rushes to accommodate the itch.

Her wrists are painfully numb and raw. The handcuffs seem now natural extensions of her hands.

Her shoulders ache in their sockets. They are taut from the pull of arms bound behind her back.

How long? God! It seems an eternity! A small lifetime she has lived in this palpable darkness. Maybe, it has been two days. The air has no texture or stir. It hangs there, stale and dank.

Her face is flushed with fever. It feels stiff and crusty from the tears running over her abrasive wounds. She squints and contorts. She opens and closes her mouth. There are sharp responses of pain. Her entire body feels leaden and bloated. When she moves there is a burning chaff between her thighs. A complacent soreness pervades. It no longer matters. Nor does the stench from her body’s waste matter.

It is her mind which throttles her. Whisks her off in searing flashes, abates, lingers amid the blackness. A fragile sentry. Both enemy and friend.

It is all happening again! She is next to die. Just like Celia. Was it a year ago? Two? Time, again, is elusive, lost. What does it matter? A year or an hour ago! Sarilee knows she is next. Just like Celia…

End of ‘Prologue’ portion…

~*~

Again, thank you for helping me in this  re-launch. I’m trying for a pub-date of June 21, 2018. Any suggestions you have will be welcomed, as will any and all re-blogs. If you have comments about the cover, please let me know.

Billy Ray Chitwood – May 21, 2018

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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’

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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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