The Final Curtain1

The Final Curtain1

        I’ve always been a Frank Sinatra guy and “My Way” has accompanied me on many romantic adventures. “My Way” has been one of those ‘etchings’ to enjoy with someone special at the end of a candlelight and wine dinner, a song that can be parsed and qualified in so many ways…guess that’s my best reason for the blog title.
 
      It isn’t so much that those lines in the song, “The Final Curtain,” need to conjure up morbid thoughts and ‘let’s all be sentimental’ thoughts. In fact,”The Final Curtain” can conjure up joyful thoughts, those that lift the spirit and put an extra swagger in our strides.
 
          I’m pretty much a ‘romantic’ with some life dreams realized and some that still wish to be. Mostly, these days, my writing speaks to me in so many ways, telling me so many truths about myself. Through the characters pecked out on the laptop, in their actions, reactions, interactions, there are glimpses of me, mini-portraits never seen before. Some are scary. Some are strangely uplifting and gratifying. Some glimpses make me sad. Some make me happy. Some make me confident. Some make me doubt myself.
 
         There is this ‘thing’ that always keeps me rooted to some true genetic spot: we can be no more in life than what we are intended to be. So, what’s with all the gibberish about “The Final Curtain1” and the writing and the glimpses? Truth is, I’m aging with a great deal of reluctance, going through the ‘pages’ past, present, and future, still searching for the elusive and the unattainable, trying very hard to make up for some wasted moments in this passage.
        I’m here in the ‘wings’ and the curtain has not closed. I’m wanting to come out ‘center stage’ and ‘sing’ like ‘ole blue eyes’ my thoughts with wide-ranging themes, present the 17 books I’ve written and tell you a bit about them, perhaps share why I feel that in the fictional stories and memoirs I pen, there is that kid who was I somewhere on and between the lines. 
 
         One of my favorite poet/writers is an ex-priest named James Kavanaugh. Among all his work, he has written two beautiful books of poetry: “There Are Men Too Gentle To Walk Among Wolves” and “Will You Be My Friend?” There is so much of his verse with which I identify. His words speak to me with the most marvelous clarity. With my Appalachian bible-belt roots, there is little wonder. James Kavanaugh is gone now, this gentle man who ultimately quit the Priesthood, got in his little yellow volkswagon, drove to California and beyond, took his voice to the people in the streets, in the pubs, in those places where men and women congregate and among themselves seek reasons for their lives.
 
       Sinatra and Kavanaugh are my two favorite ‘etchings’ with some Kahlil Gibran thrown in, each of them fodder for the romantic and soulful parts of me. There is of course nothing wrong with our different tastes in music. There are those who like the brassy groups, the rappers, and the new gents and ladies of song — most of my soul dances favor the ballads. We can’t all like the same music. And, yes, of course, age, time, and place carry our predictable favorites.
 
         Now, ‘will you be my friend?’ Are you a ‘romantic’ – dreamer – pragmatist – young adult – baby boomer – timid – out-going… How do you approach the page on which you are about to spill your guts — or, your character’s guts? How much of you do you leave on the written pages of your books? You tell me, and I’ll tell you.
 
      I’m going off stage now but I’ll be lurking around the ‘curtain’ to see if someone shows up on stage. I’ll keep hoping you will read synopses of my books at the website address, pick one or two to read. You will find me on and between the lines of those books.
     There’s a lot of time before the final curtain.
 
Billy Ray Chitwood

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The Restless Spirit

The Restless Spirit

(Written in 2012 while on The Sea of Cortez – TN & KY Since!)

Under a pale blue morning sky a long plume of white misty cloud softly touches the Sea of Cortez, and I ponder the spirit of the restless.

In fact, it is my own restless spirit that dictates this post, given energy by the ghosts from an Appalachian youth of mobility and uncertainty, by my own selfish need to describe the nature of my beast. This restless spirit is not something that embarrasses me or shames me in my eyes. It is a constant companion which I have nourished all my life with impulsive, spontaneous acts. It is something I accept as I do the color of my hair, my skin, the whole DNA networking inside my body walls. It is likely not so distinctive as one might expect. This restless spirit, this wanderlust component, must reside in legions of us.

This post began with a description of the beautiful sea that displays its gaudy deep green beauty outside my windows. This sea, this constant sun, this life style is the stuff of dreams. How could anyone be restless watching the sail boats, the ski jets, the parasailers high above the crystalline water, the people frolicking along the long stretch of sandy beach? Grab a Corona, a Tequila Sunrise, and live your dream, right? Well, that great big sea reaches out to a far horizon, and, after a few Coronas and Tequila Sunrises, the restless spirit can start its gnawing litany of thought… What’s beyond that horizon? Where have I not yet been? What have I not yet done? I’ve been here for a few years now. Is it not time to go? Even Paradise has its limits!

Okay, here’s the deal! I buy a new car. In a year I tire of the car and want another make and model. The same with living quarters! After a few years I want new quarters. It does not matter to the restless spirit that it is contemplating giving up ‘heaven’, its life style of which other people can only dream. In this case, it is a stunning, luxurious two-level penthouse where the host of the restless spirit has come to retire, where the only really pressing decisions to make daily are food selections, social media caretaking, and the book-writing periods. There are people who live in the same house in the same town in the same state all their lives. Not me! In the past thirty years, I’ve lived in twelve different places. You do the math! I’ve probably lost count.

Yes, I’ve still got a lovely wife who is a polar opposite. She is calm, patient, puts up with me, would have been happy to live our lives out in that first place thirty years back. Guess she loves me to keep uprooting her the way I do. Is this crazy, or, what?!

So, anyone interested in a 3600 square foot penthouse? I’ll buy yours. You buy mine. I’ll be fair, even leave all the furniture, utensils, everything, totally turnkey — just bring your clothes and a toothbrush. You will have constant sun, constant sea, constant beauty. The only catch is, you need to have something equally as nice, something that turns on my restless spirit, and your place has to be free and clear like my place. Any takers?

Worried about Mexico and all the media hype? Been coming here from Arizona for over forty years. I’ve felt safer here than any place I’ve ever lived. The people of Mexico are friendly, helpful, kind, and appreciative of our US dollars. Crime, drug cartels? I’m sure they’re around somewhere in the country, killing off themselves, mostly. One could be reminded that my great country, the US, has its share of drug cartels and crime…

But back to this restless spirit thing… Do I wish that it was not there? ‘Yes’ is the honest answer, but there is an honest qualifier. The books I’ve written, the poems, the songs, the posts, all the penning? Are they worthy? Of course, I think so, but the true judges are the readers and the lovers of poetry and song. But ‘worthy’ is not the point I’m making here. The point is, maybe all my words would not have been out there in print and Cyberspace had I not had the restless spirit — not that one cannot write without it. But, me, could I have ‘done all that’ in ‘my way’ without that restless spirit.

I’m just saying…

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 8, 2018

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A Private Session At “The Way Station”

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A Private Session At ‘The Way Station’

Guess I write quite a bit about my feelings, about my life and times. Thought I would allow a small portion from one of my books, a fictional memoir, to do the ‘talking’ in this post…

The following is a section from ‘The Way Station’ (a euphemism for a Care Facility) in my book, The Cracked Mirror – Reflections From An Appalachian Son. Prentice Paul Hiller is recovering from a complicated hip surgery, meets and bonds with a former Clinical Psychologist, Greta Fogel. Over the weeks of teasing and mental jousting, Greta has encouraged Prentice to write about his life and times, suggesting that it might be not only good therapy for him but that the end product should be a great read…

EXCERPT – from“The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son” – by Billy Ray Chitwood:

Having just settled in with my laptop, Greta came into the sun room. Without too much preamble, I moved the laptop to her lap, with the cursor set to start on the last two sections. “See what you think of these two sections,” I said with a doubtful expression, “I’m ambivalent! Don’t know if I went too overboard.”

It took some time for her to read the sections. She paused time and again in very thoughtful poses.

When she was finished, she asked: “You want to talk now or later? Want me to leave you so you can write?”

“No, let’s talk! First, Dorie seems really nice,” I said.

“She’s a really good lady. I’m very impressed. You’re going to like her.” She sat on the wicker chair near the window. Greta was wearing a lovely lavender sweater and beige pants outfit plus a new hairdo. Her eyes glowed with the combination.

“I already do. We had a chance to visit when she got here. She’s a version of you, really!”

Don’t know about that, but I like her and I’m glad you do…” She paused for a second. “Shall we talk about these last two sections?”

“Really! You want to talk about the last two sections? Why do you think I shoved the laptop on your lap? Of course, sweet lady, let’s talk about these sections…you read it and acted like you wanted to leave. You don’t like the sections, do you?”

“Of course, I like the sections! You know I like your writing. You raised my eyebrows a bit, that’s all. You surprised me!” She said with a slight nod and a wry smile.

“Bet I know why!” with a nod and smile of my own. “The ‘Vickie’ sex snapshot?”

“Well, certainly, that raised my eyebrows! And we won’t dwell too long on that bit of memorabilia! However, it might surprise you to know that that kind of experience is not so uncommon, particularly when you consider the environment in which you lived, notwithstanding the criminal implications of Vickie’s complicity in the seduction. No, it is not a pretty snapshot, and  it does surprise me somewhat that you would make it part of your ‘reflections,’ although your penchant for honesty and ridiculing yourself would preclude your leaving it out.” She was about to say more when I interrupted.

“It was such a vivid recall, Greta, like the earlier sex encounter with my pre-puberty aunt. It was somehow important for me to put it in, even knowing that is was highlighting depraved behavior…”

“I understand, Prentice. You need not justify it to me. You want the writing to portray the ultimate true picture of who you were then. It couldn’t be any other way for you.” She paused again, then went on.

“The ‘Vickie snapshot’ is not necessarily what I meant by ‘raising’ my eyebrows.”

“Of what then do you speak, dear lady?” using my chivalrous tongue.

“I speak of your ‘isms’ section, EST and ‘Tao Te Ching,’ and your ‘political views’ section to the larger extent. What raised my brows and surprised me a bit was the length to which you’ve gone to find yourself, your belief system as it relates to your political morality. In other words, you’re a man who strives so hard to find integrity in yourself and in others. You fight in your mind the battles of our times, wanting desperately to find a Utopia which you know does not exist. In some ways, you are an incurable romantic, a Don Quixote chasing ‘windmills’ you think are giants to be slain. You know your sins, Prentice! You know your faults, your errant ways! Your missed opportunities! And you’re trying to make up for it all with the pages of your book.” She paused, eyed me carefully with a fondness she would not hide. “And, you’re doing a damned good job!”

“Whoa, wait a minute! There’s something else you want to say. ‘A damned good job’ doesn’t quite say it all, Greta. Come on, I can take it. It might hurt, a lot, but I can take it. I might never speak to you again, but take it, I shall!” She could see the last bit as mock and tease.

“Yes, a damned good job! I say what I mean, Mr. Hiller. And, yes, Mr. Hiller, there is something else to say…” Again, she paused, looked out the window at the lovely blue sky day. “What you put down is well written. You would be aware that some of your reading audience might not share your views. That, I know you know! Incidentally, I’m not one of those ‘really smart people’ to whom you refer, but I am non-partisan. What you want, I believe most people want. You write about it passionately and sincerely. How could I fault you? The chivalrous battles you fight with your writing are noble, patriotic, and good…” She paused yet again, then wistfully continued.

“Why, I’m not completely sure, but I’m thinking of those two great volumes of Spanish literature.” She waited, pursed her lips in that cute little habitual way she had, and went on. “His neighbors thought him mad for all his dedicated reading of chivalry, but Alonso Quixano gave himself a new name, ‘Don Quixote,’ put on a suit of old armor and went off on his chivalrous quests with wild imaginings. He was at times beaten, ridiculed, and ultimately unintentionally betrayed by his dull-witted squire and neighbor, Sancho Panza. His quests, his imaginings, ended in a great melancholy. Alonso would put away his armor. The melancholy worsened with his age, and Sancho in the end tried to restore his faith. But Alonso Quixano died a broken man, and, with him, his alter ego, ‘Don Quixote.’

“What does ‘Don Quixote’ have to do with what you’re writing? The chivalry part, mostly. Though, at times, you do seem daft and wildlyimaginative!” A pause for chuckles. “You write about many differnet things in yur life. You bemoan at times the sad states of your existence, your life style, your ‘images’ of the good life, your moods, your legacy. And, to repeat myself, you do a damned good job of it. If I have any concern, it comes from my fondness for you. I don’t wish you to become ‘melancholy and broken,’ Prentice.

“Don’t try so hard to make up for your life! This writing business, the process, is good for you. Use it for all the right reasons: the legacy thing, the self-ablution, as it were, the process itself. You are who you are. You will try too hard. You will continue to beat yourself. It’s too late for the couch, not that you really ever needed it, but, if I could push but one button for you, it would be the button that makes you believe in yourself and makes you have more faith in the God who made you and accept whatever it is He intends for you. You are really a dear, dear man, and I don’t wish to see you hurt so much.”

She stopped talking and looked again out the big window, her face creased with a sadness beyond the mere interpretations she had rendered on the sections of my book. That sadness held me for a moment. Then, I decided to revert to my easy tactic of light patter. 

“Well, Greta, you’ve totally blind-sided me! What the hell am I supposed to do with Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and you?” smiling, with raised eyebrows. “Okay, methinks I get it. You’re a sweetheart!” I closed the laptop and got up. “Come on, let’s break out of this joint and find a Big Mac, fries, and coke.”

Actually, ‘Don Quixote’ and I likely had a lot more in common than I might be willing to admit. Then, again, there might be more Sancho Panza in me than I might be willing to admit.

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Why am I Still Alive?

Why Am I Still Alive?

Ah, let me list the ways!

Why am I still alive?

To annoy people who tire of my sometimes pedantic and/or melancholy matters of the heart and mind!

A mechanic will tell you what’s wrong with your car, often times, not words you wish to hear!

“A cracked engine, you say! My God, man, don’t tell me that! Can’t you caulk it, put cement along the crack and seal it? I drove it in here! It was running fine! I just wanted gas! Now, you give me more gas than I wanted! You must be wrong! My engine cannot be cracked! I just drove this car off the showroom floor! You’re mad! Yor’re a scoundrel!”

Now, a noble ‘Romantic’ comes along to tell you that his words can bring you joy! If not joy, his words can bring you sadness! If not sadness, his words will speak to you of murder and mayhem, of love lost, regained! If not sadness, his words will squeal with fashioned glee he has never truly felt! But, then, what is a writer for but to create whatever it is you wish to feel!

Why am I still alive?

I’m still alive because I must, I need, I require before saying goodbye to my three fans and these earthly orbits a ‘Best Seller’ – allow me to repeat that, please: I must, I need, I require before saying goodbye to my four friends – I picked one up with just these first few lines – a BEST SELLER!

I’m still alive because I’m told by the Gods on Olympus that my time won’t be up until the frost on all pumpkins dehydrate at the same time and the world of Halloween knows no bounds. The Gods tell me I can even create an event that does not even exist!

Yes, it’s true! Take, for example, the fine scholar of a gentleman (or, perhaps, lady, for I know not the gender of ‘Anon’) who wrote: “Life is really simple! We people insist on making It complicated.”

Oh, where was I?

Oh, yes! The mind goes, you say, so it is written that I must be on way to death’s uncertain embrace! Yet, still, I beg to stay for that BEST SELLER! And, I shall stay until you merry lads and lassies fulfill that dream I carry in this villainous old head of mine… Oh, that reminds me, you get to see the steady decline of my head (that is to say, my brain!) but only after you give me my BEST SELLER!

So, ask not what you can do for other authors! Ask what you can dor for me!!!

I’m now working on my seventeenth novel! It is also that golden moment I’ve written of in this brilliant post: it is that BEST SELLER of which I speak…with the understanding that books I’ve already written should have had that high rank of BEST SELLER!

But, I shall trifle no longer with my quaint words which the Gods of Olympus provided me!

My acquaintances tell me that my subtlety is one of my finer traits, along with the ‘boy scout’ honor I’ve carried with me all these many years!

So, had you expected more than I’ve given here, I truly would like to be sorry! But, the Gods on Olympus speak to me directly and tell me not to be sorry! That, they say, shows weakness in my character. The Gods on Olympus also tell me leave now whilst I still might add my fifth friend.

The foregoing words relate so much better than I could speak it to you: Why I’m Still Alive! (Until age, 105, I hasten to say!)

Billy Ray Chitwood – September 16, 2018

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My Favorite Writing Spot

My Favorite Writing Spot

 

Artists find favorite spots to paint, by the sea, in a park, a mountaintop, or a kitchen (thinking ‘still life’ with apples, bananas, cherries because I’m hungry for them). Writers must need their favorite spots as well.

Most of my writing has come in the last twenty years, much of it stored in 8″X10″ cardboard manuscipt boxes until one was published in 1995. The others have been gathering dust until just the last few years. When I reached the Sea of Cortez, it seems my need to write increased along with my desire. And, write I have.

There are sixteen books finished now, fourteen fictional, two non-fiction with just a few final touches left, and another ficttional manuscript just recently started. It has dawned on me, what the artists have apparently known for all these years, that a writer must find a spot that agrees with her or his motivational make-up, her or his health, her or his moods, her or his changing priorities. I’m convinced that the sea is my favorite spot, because I’ve never enjoyed the ‘flow’ of writing that I feel here, the phrases that seem to effortlessly come out and please me. Yes, I know, they ‘please me’, but they might not find the same measure of enjoyment in others eyes.

I find myself wondering why this is so, why one can find a spot where writing becomes more natural and rhythmic in its outpouring. Perhaps it is because I can see from my penthouse deck the horizon there in the distance, and my mind is free to roam toward that far off spot and grab from the passing zephyrs those little gems of words and phrases that go by as though on currents of their own. Perhaps it is because I do not feel hemmed in on all sides so my mind is keenly aware that the horizon and all beyond are mine but for the asking there in my imagination. Pehaps it is because it is so beautiful here by the sea where the villas touch the sand, where the beach hawkers sell their wares among the sun worshipers, where there playing upon the water are jet skis, sail boats, yachts, and the large twin yellow ‘banana boats’ that toss the squealing young adults into the choppy waters.

Whatever it is, the transparency of my delight must indeed be obvious. I’m a wordsmith at his favorite spot, doing what it is that he perceives he does best. My only wish now is to have my writing enjoyed by many, as many as I might be allowed by the God of that distant horizon on the glorious Sea of Cortez.

Billy Ray Chitwood – Written in 2012 on The Sea of Cortez

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Somebody Likes Us!

“Somebody Likes Us!”

We all have our reasons for writing and it’s a good bet that most of those reasons are fairly standard…to fulfill a desire…to become established, famous, successful…to simply tell a story…to scratch an ego itch…for all these and many other reasons. Does it really matter what our reasons are for writing? Any reason is valid and need not be magnified, right? Well, not quite. Some might write to hurt someone, to slander, to libel, to ruin someone or some entity. Let’s just assume for this post that our reason for writing has a noble intent and has no malicious purpose.

So we write a few books and there come the critics, the reviews that can range from 5-Star to 3-Star, even lower. The world of reading seems to thrive on reviews, what someone thinks about her/his reading experience. There are professional review services. There are housewives, husbands, people in book clubs, avid readers who are moved to comment about a writer’s effort. It is a fact of life in the relationship between reader and writer.

So, you have written what you consider a relatively good book…sure, even you can in the final pre-publish reading find things you could change — extend a section, remove a section, embellish here, there, increase the length, decrease the length, etc. In the end you feel that you have written an entertaining book, maybe not the perfect quintessential novel that you know is still inside you somewhere but a good book. The reviews line up, the 5-Star, the 3-Star, the 1-Star, the fractional Star, and you begin to analyze the reviews, maybe even agree with a point or two the people are making. The emotions begin to swirl. Of course, you gravitate toward the 5-Star, 4-Star reviews and are elated. The bad reviews bring conflicting thought patterns…there is an initial sinking feeling which will likely become anger, and, at some point, you will equivocate, deny, only to finally acknowledge that perhaps the negative points made in the bad reviews have validity.

Your thought processes on reviews run the gamut. ‘What gives this person the right to publicly condemn my efforts, this Hannah Housewife, this Harold Husband’? Hell, I likely gave them the book free on amazon during a free giveaway day! Cost them nothing and they’re critiquing me! You go back and re-read the 5-Star and 4-Star reviews, get some renewed sustenance. But, most of all, you’re in a dither and doubting yourself and your writing talent because you could not please everyone. Chances are very good you are not being controlled by a publicist, someone who shelters you from this wasteful dithering. As an independent author you are a one-person publishing house, writing, editing, marketing, promoting, getting lost in all the digital world’s ‘ways and means.’

Does an established, famous, author get a mixture of critiques? Perhaps not so many because the pros have the reading Pavlov public 5-Star oriented. But the truth is, yes, even these most popular penners of best sellers get their negative reviews as well. They have a much better shield in place to deflect the nasty words that cause the dithering.

All of this is not to say that you, I, and the countless other writers do not have our book flaws. Most probably, we have many flaws in our books, and with each new book we write, we are getting less and less errata. We are, as they say, growing our craft. Will we get to that stage where we live among the giants of our writing world? Some certainly will because talent cannot be denied too long.

It is difficult to separate ourselves from the critics in the writing field, but we can remember what our reasons are for writing. We will still experience the dithering, but it seems to me we have to stay true to whom we are. If we are getting 5-Stars along with some minimal Stars, somebody likes us. And, that is the message: remember your reasons for writing and just know that somebody likes us. My belief is you get better with each writing effort. Just stay committed to your course. Somebody Likes Us!

Billy Ray Chitwood (Rpt)

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The Old Red Barn

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The Old Red Barn

Years ago, driving on a two-lane highway from Decatur, Illinois to Springfield, Illinois, I found myself stuck behind a semi-truck. After several attempts to pass the truck failed, my patience was on the thin side. (So, I’m a ‘mover’ in life! Not necessarily a ‘shaker’.)

Impatience can lead to bad decisions!

On a long inclined straight-away I decided to make my pass, jammed the accelerator to the floor and went into the oncoming lane. Abreast of the Semi, I saw a fast-moving car coming into view over the distant rise. It was coming straight at me. The semi-truck seemed to pick up speed, and I remember thinking at the time the driver was being spiteful. I slammed on the brake, screeched, got back behind the Semi but going too fast to slow down. So, I was either to hit the truck’s rear-end or go off the road…I took the latter choice, went off onto a grassy knoll and slid sideways past the Semi, looked into the shocked driver’s eyes, and came to a stop by an old barbwire/wood post fence.

I turned off the ignition and sat stupefied, my whole body quaking from within my sweaty skin. Nerves scrambled, I looked across a green field of daisies and saw an old red barn…

Suddenly, déj vu moments came: “My God! I’ve been here before!” Aloud, I mumbled to myself. That red barn, this land, has something to do with my life, not in its current human form, but, maybe, as a cow grazing in this green field of daisies…

These bits of thought brought deeper cognition: was it God’s plan that we entities were to keep incarnating until we reached some quintessential level of growth? Live our lives in other  forms, perhaps, a bird, barn owl, cat, coyote, dog, rabbit, squirrel, an ape, a bear, different human forms? Was it God’s plan that, at some point in these incarnations, we would reach a level of purity at which point we would become part of the great light and glow with happiness forever?

I sat there and wondered how scientists would assess such thoughts? Surely, they would laugh and dismiss such notions as nonsense, silly aberrations of the mind that go against fundamental scientific inquiry. But, there, at that rotting fence post and barbwire, I sat and argued within myself: Wait, God gave me a mind to think my thoughts! Can I not be rational in an irrational world? Or, is it that I am irrational in a rational world? ‘Cogito ergo sum’! I think, therefore I am! Certainly, in this body I’m allowed to follow the course of my linking thoughts to the limited ability of my intelligence quotient.

I even remember laughing at myself as my body and mind came back more to the ‘real world’ in which I was living: cars passing on a hightway; business meeting to attend; a banquet to attend, et al.

Of course, I knew this near-death interruption of normalcy was likely a factor in this instance of mind skittering, but it was all so very real to me at that time, the strong sense of some force pulling me back in time. Those moments of neuronic madness spread before me my early life of family displacement, mobility, and emotional confusion, and I sat, only peripherily noticing the passing cars and its occupants staring at the strange car and driver. I’m sure it was but a momentary distraction for the passing cars and occupants, likely thinking someone just pulled off the highway for a nap.

For me, though, the incident brought so many questions and metaphysical thoughts. I sat there behind the wheel for thirty minutes feeling relief from what could have been a highway ‘death pass’ accident, trying to equate my near death to moments that spoke to me so clearly.

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 23, 2018

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Remembering Arnold Palmer – ‘The King’

 

2016-PGA-Arnold-Palmer-Invitational-Free-Golf-PicksRemembering Arnold Palmer -The ‘King’

This is the first day of the rest of your life!

Actually, quite a phrase if you really parse it…regarding what the words convey.

Okay, it’s 5:30 in the AM. I’m up early, chomping on the proverbial bit, with something to say, and, just not sure what’s going to roll out here.

You see, when I can’t sleep, I lie in bed and think, along with other trifling habits – like, finding a comfort zone for Arthur and me…you know Arthur, he’s the ‘itis’ in my bane of existence. Arthur’s been with me since I was a relatively young man, taking me through some painful gout attacks, joint swelling, just plain pain and misery.

However, I don’t wish to make this 5:30 AM post about Arthritis, and, I feel fine – joint-wise! So, you ask, what am I going to ramble about? Well, first of all, it’s not very nice of me to be you, to put words in your mouth and show my latent and presumptuous nature.

My! My! The ramble is off and running…

May I remind you? WRITE, if you are a writer…people, particularly, avid readers, will read anything. So, just get on a ‘kick’ to ramble. You’ll be surprised what you’ve written when you’re all finished and reading over the Pulitzer words.

Actually, someone I revered died recently, and it was my good fortune to spend some time with him – which encompassed all of three meetings and two days. You all know him, and, I hope, love him…well, if you are a golfer, you love him.

Now, look, because you’re NOT a golfer, you will still love this short story, although the dynamics may be missing (no murders, no rapes, no romance, no thriller, no thunderous moments of peril and excitement, and so forth!).

I’m into parentheses this early morning! Here’s another: (Writing is important to me, and it MUST be my attempt to show this early morning, if you just release your mind and let it roll, you might be surprised what you come up with…and, later, you can always edit and polish it to your fancy – which I WILL NOT do with this bit of SOfC!)

Also, part of the job of a writer is to keep people waiting for some ‘punch lines’, that is, like, I was going to tell you about this chance meeting with one of my golf idols…

Now, you can also irritate the reader with the ‘stall moves’, so I’m going to hurry along here.

Some years ago, I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, the ‘Valley of the Sun’, one of the golf capitols of the world, and I was fortunate to belong to the Arizona Country Club. In those days, the PGA ‘Phoenix Open Golf Tournament’ was played on alternate years at the Phoenix Country Club and the Arizona Country Club. This particular year, the ‘Open’ was held at the ACC.

So, it’s a beautiful sunny day (what else could it be?), blue skies, and lots of ‘Birdie Putts’ which golfers know about. Some friends of mine, a buddy and a couple of airline ‘Stews’ were out on the course watching the golfers. One of the ladies wanted to see Arnold Palmer…she thought he was a handsome dude and the sport’s ‘King’. We didn’t see Arnie on the holes we walked, and I boasted: “Hey, we’ll go back to the clubhouse, have a few drinks, maybe we get lucky and meet ‘The King’.

The Clubhouse is crowded. I manage to get us a cluster of comfy chairs together, and we sat, drank, and, because the ladies with us were pretty, we had a pro golfer or two join us from time to time – good golfers, just not the ‘Poster Man’ and/or stature of Arnold Palmer!

At some point, because I was a businessman at the time, I excuse myself, go the bar and use the phone to call my office for messages. As I ended my phone business I turned to return to my group, and (drum-beat roll!), there, standing in front of me, was Arnie and a trio of guys chatting.

I boldly go up to the group, put my hand on Arnie’s shoulder, and, say: “Sorry, Arnie, to interrupt, but, I’m Bill Chitwood, and, if you have time, I have some gents and ladies who would love to meet you.”

Arnie smiled, looked at me kindly in the eyes, and asked: “Where are you sitting, Bill?”

WOW! I mean, WOW! Arnie called me, ‘Bill’! Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s my name, but it was my golf idol speaking it.

I turned and pointed to where our group was sitting, and Arnie says: “I’ll be over in a couple of minutes, Bill.”

WOW! Again! I just pulled off a ‘coup’ with my hero. I was bursting with pride as I went back to join my group. Rather nonchalantly, I announced: “Arnie will be joining us in a few minutes!” Eyes widened, and the ladies became a bit nervous. The anticipation was keen, and I could hardly contain myself.

We sat and drank for a few minutes when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned, and, my heart jumped to my throat. There was the ‘handsome dude’, Arnie Palmer, smiling and grabbing my hand again as I stood and introduced my people. Arnie sat, ordered, if memory serves, a Vodka Tonic, and we sat, drank, and visited for the entire afternoon. Arnie kept us enrapt with his answers to our questions and stories of his ventures, and I shall never forget his kindness and fellowship that day.

Arnold Palmer was/is the ‘real deal’! How do you measure a person’s worth by golf statistics and hero-worship? This man was all, and, MORE, than were the publicity pieces written about him. I’ve followed and loved this man my entire life. I can personally speak to his humility and his warmth. He was, and, is a role-model Supreme!

The morning after our long afternoon gathering, I took my son, Steve, to the club for the Saturday round of the Phoenix Open. We wormed our way through the crowd to where Arnie was putting on the practice green.

Arnie looked up and saw Steve and me, smiled, came over to the roped-off area and asked: “Is this your son, Bill?”

WOW! Arnie remembered my name!

We chatted there at the putting green for some minutes…minutes I shall never forget!

There is no doubt in my mind that meeting Arnold Palmer was a singular event in my life… I would not trade that event for anything in the world!

The ‘King of Golf’ – Arnold Palmer’: I love this man!

Okay, the ‘Ramble’ is over!

Now, WRITE! If you really are a writer!

Here’s something to get you started:

‘The World is my oyster! Where did that come from’?

– BR Chitwood – March 30, 2018 –

Follow me on Twitter: @brchitwood

Visit my Website: About Me – Books -Some Book Reviews:

https://www.billyraychitwood.com

My Blogsite:

https://www.brchitwood.com

Autumn and The Muse

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Autumn And The Muse

 

It was all so different these many years later…

 

The clapboard houses were all gone, replaced by small brick and hardwood homes with indoor plumbing. The dirt and gravel lanes were now paved although still isolated and rural. The old white church with its high steeple, now freshly painted, was the marker that let me know I was really home again.

 

It was like time had abbreviated everything I looked upon. The distance from church to Mama’s and Papa’s old house was hardly a quarter mile. The lanes that branched off the short stretch of road to the old sawmill and the railroad tracks were now unrecognizable, overgrown with brush, trees, and weeds… I could not even determine where the old sawmill and train tracks had been. Where so many years ago there had been Papa’s rows of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, and scallions was now tall green grass for a few grazing cows.

 

I smiled and pointed out to my wife Julie and son Scott where the old out-house had once stood, where Papa had once castrated the squealing hogs. I pointed out where old ‘Fred’ the mule used to lead the plow through the fields with a few ‘gees and haws’ from Papa. The little hamlet of Wooldridge was now all condensed for my memory but the thoughts, good and bad, raced through my aging brain…

 

It was here where some of the first memories were built of my displaced youth, where fear of the unknown and new experiences collided to make me a docile and disturbed little boy. It was here where my microcosmic world was filled with dreams and dark ugly shadows. Here was the nexus that was the foundation for all that I would become – the nomadic drifter in search of illusive dreams, the uncertain master of a fate always to be determined.

 

The tears were not seen through the smiles as I passed on to my son and wife the wisps of yesterday, but they were there…tears for Mama and Papa, their hard lives, yet their devotion to me…tears for the parents who fought, who loved and tried, but were unable to make things right for their family…tears for a life that could have been better in some ways but did, through all the wanderlust, bring me to wife Julie who personifies family, love and patience…tears for my beautiful children of whom I am so proud and love so deeply.

 

This day trip from my middle Tennessee home to the east Tennessee hamlet of my youth inspires this post. While there has to be some sadness – that’s the way I’m put together – it is likely one of the best days to go into my still active memory pages. The day serves to point out for me that, indeed, ‘everyone has to be from somewhere.’

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2018 (REV)

 

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http://billyraychitwood.com

 

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