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BUY MY BOOKS

BUY MY BOOKS

Guess it could be considered foolhardy to look too far into the future when you’re old in age but young in heart. Whether it is or it isn’t, if you’re breathing and still have a working mind, use every millimeter of it. AND, go BIG in your thinking and planning. It’s just as easy to think BIG as it is to think small.

So, here’s what I’m thinking…

Get all your friends together, ALL of you, and insist, by cajoling, by insisting, by threatening loss of friendship, by any means available to you, except, of course, mind-altering drugs, weaponry of any kind, or, poisons of any kind.

Now that you’ve got all of your friends together, ALL of you, brain-whip them into buying BR Chitwood’s books, either paperback or e-book.

‘WHY’? You Ask!

Because it’s simply the right thing to do! They will see how a most worthy author writes excellent books, nay, quintessential books, literary quality (though lacking leather covers!), and for the price that one might pay for apple pie al a mode or a small pack of lung-oxidizing cigarettes…that is, if anyone smokes these days – it’s been thirty-five years since I gave them up. And, I had just bought a pack…crushed them with one hand. But, back to ‘breathing and working minds’ and ‘buying my books’!

‘BUT, WHY’? You ask again. So, being the right thing to do is not enough! Then, gracious! Think of book stores, of those unseen electronic elves that magically form the words onto a screen attached to a ‘mis-nomered’ tablet and/or laptop…did you know that a “‘killer whale’ is a ‘misnomer’ for what is one of the gentlest marine creatures known to man?” Actually, that is a very good description of my books (NOT, the ‘marine creature’ thingy!) AND a good reason for you, ALL your friends and all your neighbors to BUY my books. Hope I didn’t make you think of going to Sea-World…that’s much more expensive than buying my books.

Now, go back and read the first line of this missive! I believe you folks to be good and honest people, so I ask you, did I not convince you to buy my books?

It’s not easy to make a fool of oneself, but for the sake of my books I’ll do that in the very next blog post I write but, for now, think of these good reasons I’ve given you here to buy my books.

‘Dimwittingly’ yours!

BR Chitwood – September 11, 2018

Please see synopses of all my books at:

https://billyraychitwood.com

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Featured post

Hammer’s Holy Grail

Hammer’s Holy Grail

by BR Chitwood

-Coming July – 2018- 

 

“Hammer’s Holy Grail” is a relatively short read of 36,000-+ words. It will be published without launch, without fanfare (except for this blog post!) later this month! The book is about a kid who has an emotional family situation – angry father, his critical Appalachian uncertainty, gifted with football talent and a beautiful girlfriend he’s known since junior high.

Wesley Walton is a sophomore at Garden View University in Knoxville, Tennessee, has a great passing arm and faces a great future. The pro-football scouts are already looking at the kid with a golden arm.

Wesley meets a man named ‘Hammer’ who is both a decorated veteran and a person of great wisdom and with a unique hobby. Wes and Hammer become immediate friends.

The short tale follows Wesley’s football season as well as his parental love and woes. The book is not a ‘thriller’ or destined to be a classic by any means, but the pages do carry some interesting moments, and I believe it to be well-written… In any event, it will be an inexpensive read and one I hope the book buyer will like, PLUS, I’m giving you the first chapter free of charge in this post. Feel free in letting me know what you think.

So, no launch, no parades and graffiti, just my usual ‘do nothing’ marketing campaign with a hope some of you will buy the book, give me some ‘reviews’, and ‘PUSH’ it forward.

Here’s the first chapter (working on the cover):

HAMMER’S HOLY GRAIL

Chapter One

The darkness and fog are palpable viscid sweat things crawling all over my flesh! A gentle wind stir comes and my skin does shiver dances. I swallow and it’s like I’m somewhere between passing out and regaining my breath.

My eyes cannot be trusted. I rub my eyes and they project things that are not really there. My mind questions the logic that brought me to that decision. My concentration is drawn to these vague flashing images that keep popping up in spaces to the front, sides, and back of me… I figure it’s the mind doing its reckoning! I’m likely trying too hard to see and my brain is trying to accommodate me.

Okay, I admit it. I’m a big boy, scared. I mean, there is no way this world can be this dark and foggy.

“Why?” Someone might ask, “are you so stupid to be standing where you’re standing?”

The reason is really simple, but I’m going to make it complicated for you…not out of a warped and evil sense, but because this is a story I need to tell and it has some crazy turns and twists. Call it a weird psychological need if you want! That’s as good a description as any, but, please understand, I have not lost all my marbles. Then, again, maybe my bio here is not so unusual a tale after all. Maybe you readers have experienced some of the same events in your life – only, framed differently.

So, this little journey on which I’m taking you, please stay with me. An Epic? Probably not, but it might have some stuff that’ll stay with you for a while after I’m finished with the narrative – up to the point when I run out of words.

***

When I was a little boy, my crippled cousin had to have the light on during his dark bedtime hours. Now, I didn’t tease him about that but if I just mentioned it he chased me up one country road and down another. If I didn’t have a pretty good lead he’d catch me. Then, we would end up wrestling until one of us said ‘Uncle’ – usually me! We were best pals and I loved my club-footed cousin-buddy, but he would get madder than a frigging copperhead on LSD if anyone brought up sleeping with lights on.

That’s not part of this rather complicated story, at least, not in a major way. This darkness and fog just makes me think of JB – JB Hill, that’s his name. He’s the son of my Dad’s sister, Norma Hill.

I don’t want you to think JB is so crippled everyone has to be sorry for him. He turns out later on to be a top scratch golfer. He’s gone now, died too darned early in his life because of some darned rare breathing illness. His sisters and brother were with him when he left us. His wife should have been there with him, but, earlier, JB caught her screwing the next-door neighbor, and my cousin beat the shit out of the neighbor and threw all her clothes – and her – out of the house. Sure, he was club-footed but he was no chicken yellow-belly. Nobody gave him any crap, that’s for sure.

Well, again, that’s not part of the complicated story either – but I won’t lead you on any further.

It all starts with my sister, Sarah Lou. She’s sixteen going on twenty-four, if you get my drift, built like a brick shit-house, big boobs, long silky brown hair, great figure, pretty, and she reckons she’s the ‘cat’s meow’. It seems she knows early on she wants to taste some parts of life she is no way ready to taste.

I’m convinced Sarah Lou is the genuine product of her – and, my – dad. No question about it! He gets madder than hell and beats up on her and my Mom. Well, he did when he was coming around more

Dad has this fiery temper, and it’s his way or the highway, so to speak. This is when he’s visiting us. He and Mom are divorced, and Dad seems to have these demons inside him that make for crazy flip-outs at any moment. I’ve noticed his behavior changes when Mom mentions her side of the family – they don’t like Dad and he doesn’t like them. Of course, that gut-searing corn whiskey could have something to do with it. He likes his hooch! He’s also tall, good-looking in a George Clooney kind of way (sort of!) and has a thing for the ladies. How can I know that? Well, that’s a whole different story, and it’s doubtful I’ll ever tell it!

Well, anyhow, the genes running loose through Sarah Lou must be near-identical to Dad’s.

Moving the story along, Sarah Lou turns sixteen and elopes with an army corporal, runs off to another state when the corporal gets transferred. Mom is heart-sick and scared because she knows she’s got to tell Dad the news. And, me, well, I’m scared right along with her. You see, it’s just Mom and me since Sarah Lou eloped, and I sure have sleepless nights worrying about my dear sweet mother. She works so hard to make ends meet, has no time for socializing and being with her friends. It’s part of her nature to worry and fret about things. Did I fail to mention? My Mom is a beautiful lady, big brown eyes that sparkle and brown hair to go with them. She looks like a famous old-time movie star by the name of Claudette Colbert, famous actress during that golden era of Hollywood. Mom and I are fans of ‘old movies’.

Through some rough times, Mom has done her best to shelter my sister and me from all those emotional ills of divorce and the economic crises that rise from working sometimes two jobs. She has done well by Sarah Lou and me despite the troubles she’s had to bear. Dad’s visits end up most of the time in bad arguments and fights. As a young kid, I saw him too often physically abuse Mom and, somehow, I still love the man.

Enough ugly truth for a few sentences. Suffice it, Mom worked hard and got me through high school where I played quarterback for the football team and got a scholarship to Garden View University. Garden View is part of the greater metro area of Knoxville, Tennessee, and the university sets on a lovely and lush campus of about one hundred acres. It is a university that dates back to the 1940s and has academic achievement awards that any higher institution would covet.

Well, as implied above, here is more ugly truth.

Mom and I, my now older club-footed cousin, JB, and Lulu, his big sister on my Dad’s side of the family, go to the Hooper Hotel in Knoxville where my Dad is living to tell him about Sarah Lou’s elopement.

In Dad’s hotel room, my Cousin and his sister take the two chairs in the room and I sit under a window on an old radiator…you know, those ugly heavy metal gray vertically-elongated rods connected all in a row as one unit. Now, the heat isn’t on during this visit, but those units are particularly awful and uncomfortable to sit on. And, you’re right, those heating units were not built to be sat on. I just keep changing my sitting ‘this way and that’, dictated by my butt cheeks.

Now, Dad knows right away that something is up, and, he knows it isn’t good news – guess our sad faces and body language give us away.

When Dad hears the news about Sarah Lou, he stomps around the room in a fury, the anger and prelude to eruption showing on his face. Abruptly, he stops in front of Mom who is sitting on the bed. My sweet hard-working, lovely Mom sits there very still with her hands clasped on her lap with a blanched and pitiful look on her face, puffy from crying and the awful dread of telling Dad news of Sarah Lou’s rash elopement.

My ‘tainted-gene’ Dad hovers over Mom, his face distorted with fury like a dragon breathing fire, gritting his teeth, and says, “Damn you, Maureen.”

Suddenly, he gives Mom a hard looping open-hand slap to the face with so much force it knocks her over. My immediate fear is that he’s knocked something loose in her brain or upper body…and he’s getting ready to do more hitting.

I’m petrified and watching it all from this hotel room radiator and l reckon something snaps inside me. I’ve watched this kind of madness too many times before as a young kid. I’m a lot bigger now and I rush him and tackle him onto the bed, crying and mumbling something stupid, like, ‘I’ve seen you do that to my Mom too many times’. I’ll never forget – he’s got this look on his face like a slight smile and surprise all at the same time.

Multiple times I hit him with my fists, lost in my own anger, my tears dropping down on his face. Mom moves from the bed and stands crying in the corner of the hotel room.

Soon, Dad is not moving. I must have connected with a vulnerable spot on his head. It’s like he just turns his head over to the side and goes to sleep.

Seconds pass and I realize what has happened. I’ve attacked my own father and knocked him out. His pulse is okay, and I feel a bit better. After several anxious minutes of trying to revive him, I tell our little group that Dad will be crazy mad when he comes around so we likely should leave.

We hustle out of Dad’s room and loudly close the door. I feel bad leaving him unconscious on the bed, but more afraid of what he might do when he comes out of it and we’re still there.

Mom cries all the way down in the elevator, and we go unnoticed out a side entrance of the lobby.

I drive my Cousin and his sister home, and, except for the sound of the car engine, no one makes a sound. Tears flow down our faces, and the only sounds in the car are from our sniffing. We all hug and kiss each other when they get out of the car at their place.

Next, I drive Mom to her folks’ place some forty miles away.

We give Grandma and Grandpa all the news about our fateful visit with Dad, and they’re madder than hornets in a whirl-wind. ‘Is he dead?’ ‘Is he alive?’ They want to know. I ask Mom to promise me she’ll stay with the grandparents until she hears from me. There’s no way Dad, assuming I didn’t kill him, would want to go around Grandpa because of a fight they had some years back. Grandpa gave Dad quite a whipping.

After a few more tears are shed, I take off. Mom pleads with me to stay but she can’t talk me out of leaving. I’m worried about my dad and want to go back to the Hooper Hotel and check on him.

Beneath my tousled blond hair, my head inside is churning with thoughts as I drive back to the hotel. The closer I get, the more I become anxious and fearful of what I’ll find.

There’s this grim need to know about my Dad, whether he’s okay or dead. I’m a sturdy 6’2” young man now, 185 pounds, playing quarterback as a Sophomore at Garden View University. It’s difficult to calculate how hard I hit my Dad – I feel like a part of me was holding back.

There is just no way to forget what I did in that hotel room. Now, after a few hours, I’m making a return visit to the Hooper Hotel. I need to know, one way or another, about my Dad. Is he alive? Is he dead? Despite losing it and hitting him, I still love my Dad. Guess I should hate him, but I don’t. Seeing Mom so fearful and frozen in place I denied my own fear and went after my Dad.

I park Mom’s car fifty feet down the street from the Hooper Hotel and walk to the side entrance into the lobby.

The elevator is on the lobby level as if waiting for me. On Dad’s floor, the elevator comes to a stop, doors open, and my heart jumps into my mouth as I reflexively take a step forward!

My Dad is standing in front of me, his eyes blinking like he is trying to clear his head.

“You coming off of the elevator, young fellow?” Dad asks in an impatient and impersonal tone.

He wrinkles his brow as he notices the apparent surprise on my face. “You all right, boy?”

“Dad, it’s me!”

He did a fast look behind him like I was talking to someone else.

Dad blinks some more. “You’re mixed up, boy, I don’t have a son. Now, stay in the elevator or get out. I fell and cracked my head…have to get it taken care of.”

“But, Dad, I hit you when you hurt Mom. You slapped her so hard I was worried for her. I must have given you a concussion. I just couldn’t stand by and watch you hurt her. Please let me help you!”

Dad grabs my arm and pulls me out of the elevator onto the hallway carpeting. “Told you, boy, I’ve got no son.” He goes into the elevator, pushes the lobby button on the control panel and is gone.

I can’t say how long I stand rooted to that spot in front of the elevator. I’m aware enough to know that there are other people entering and exiting the elevator while I’m standing there. I’m dumbfounded by Dad’s reaction – He seemed so sure about what he was saying.

Finally, worried sick, I take the stairs down seven floors and walk out the hotel’s side lobby entrance. My befuddled mind is on automatic pilot and leads me down the street to Mom’s car. At least, I know he’s alive. Guess that’s something of a relief.

When I pull away from the curb, confused and frightened, I drive around aimlessly, turning left here, turning right there, lost in cascading thoughts, my mind reviewing over and over the events of the day.

I drive for miles not mindful of where I’m going. Tears flow until my eyes get all misty and puffy from rubbing them with my shirt sleeve. My brain tells me to pull off the road.

I’m somewhere out in the ‘boonies’. There is an old rutted country farm road, and I turn onto the dirt and gravel, drive a quarter mile and notice that, suddenly, I can’t see. I’m in an ultra-thick cloud bank of fog, suddenly frightened by the swift change in weather and mad at myself for being so self-absorbed I let this happen.

Yes, I know! I know! How does one get so locked onto something in his mind that he doesn’t know where he is? It’s crazy, but it happened!

At this point I’m crawling along, the car barely moving, trying to see, wiping the built-up vapor off the inside windshield, hoping for better vision. After a few moments, I see the futility in my feeble efforts, utter a not-so-nice but appropriate word for the ugly foggy dilemma.

I carefully edge to what I hope is the outer side of the country road, get out of the car, touch the hood metal, holding on to the only reality given to me at the moment.

Standing there, leaning on the car’s hood, my Dad’s face flashes in front of me in the darkness and fog, along with snakes, dinosaurs, crocodiles, and other beasts of the world. I cannot see my hand when I hold it out in front of me. There is a most vivid sense of desperation.

With Dad’s face, there comes to my mind some bad recalls of life with my Dad in it, not long after the ugly divorce. I push those bad thoughts away and force myself to think of the good moments.

Much of those times were rough, but there were tender moments as well – farther back in youth, when Dad bought me the little boy’s gray suit with a gray hat, and he called me his little business man. He took many pictures of me with a cigarette dangling from my six-year old lips, pictures on train-rides, car-rides while on the way to visit his parents, my grandparents, his nearly-blind grandmother, my great-grandmother. They lived north of Knoxville some sixty miles, near the Kentucky border.

On one visit he drove us off the main US highway into the hills of High Cliff, TN. We stopped not too far from the turnoff in an area of open fields and meadows. The bucolic scene presented to my young mind cows grazing in the meadows among huge oak trees, and there was this lonely looking clapboard house setting alone on this small knoll. Dad’s sweet old grandmother sat on an old rickety wooden porch that had an excellent chance of falling plank by plank to the ground below. She had a lovely weathered and leathery face, was almost blind and sat in an old wooden rocking chair. She looked so frail behind the horn-rimmed spectacles she wore.

She was so beautiful sitting in that home-made rocking chair on that wood-warped porch, like a picture in sepia tone, like a scene in an old-time movie. She sat there with a corn cob pipe in the corner of her mouth. She was in her nineties, and Dad had to get within inches of her face before she knew we were there. She squinted and finally recognized Dad.

She formed a sweet smile on her face, hugged him with shaky thin arms coming out of the gingham dress sleeves. “That you, Thomas? Lawdy, mercy me! you are a sight for these sore eyes.” She had a thin, squeaky voice that seemed a whisper. She used up a lot of breath as she talked and maintained that sweet smile.

She then peripherally noticed me, made over me as well, and I felt an awesome sense of history – the events, all the things she had seen in her long lifetime, things I would one day study. In the remembrance, it was all so nostalgic, dream-like, and, looking back, it somehow had a time-travel feel for me, so quiet, serene, like pages of history flipping backward. Those time-worn wrinkles on her bony arms and face, the faded gingham dress, her gray-hair in a bun on the back of her head, and the slow steady motion of her rocking chair as her eyes fixed on the parts of her life that were important to her. Her time was almost used up, but she would keep rocking on that graying rough-plank porch, smoking her corn cob pipe, looking out over the blurry land playing back misty memories.

Funny, how wonderfully that memory is so vivid in my mind, so fresh and firmly planted. A country song by Alan Jackson playing on the car radio is all I need to complete my ensemble of fuzzy thoughts and tears. Guess that might say something about my southern genes.

A few happy times flashed by, those times when we played at being a family, without the tempestuous flares of raw emotions: the Saturday movie matinees; Mom and Dad smiling happily when my sister and I danced to the radio; when I attempted to write a poem; the endless questions I asked of them both – the insatiable curiosity that stayed steady on a little boy’s mind.

I love them both so much, and, now, my father has no son.

The tears do not stop until my mind reminds me of where I am, in the middle of proverbial nowhere with only those scary image-flashes coming at me from too much eye concentration, and those conjured up memories that are both keepers and throwaways.

So, the world can be dark and foggy, and, maybe, reasons for standing in the darkness and fog are not so simple.

Standing at the front of the car, measuring each stride, I take a few steps, pivot, return to the car, do the same strides on each side of the car. Feeling secure enough that the car was far enough off the road, I climb into the back seat, and lock the doors.

Assuming a fetus position on the backseat, I try desperately not to think any more about past events, the present, and the future. I can wait out the darkness and the fog.

Tomorrow will come, and the sun will replace the dismal darkness and fog with thoughts of hope.

I love my Mom and Dad.

Maybe I still have both to love.

-END OF CHAPTER ONE-

Let me know what you think! My best wishes to all.

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 7, 2018

Please preview my books at:

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter: @brchitwood

 

 

Featured post

Could It Happen?

[Preface: the two men in this fictional story, Eddie and Presley, are retired dock workers from New York City, retired to ‘The Valley of the Sun’ in the Phoenix area of Arizona – only because I say it’s so. The story is intended to amuse and to present in my not-so-unique amateurish way some Micro-Biological research that is actually taking place around the Globe. Not in my lifetime, or, perhaps, even yours, will there be the science and technology to cure major diseases with ‘type-specific auto-bots’ roaming through the veins of the sick and dying, supplying clean new cells, destroying the deadly cells, creating in many ways an unknown protracted life-span! But, it’s coming! Of course, that will be up to the ‘powers that be’ at the time and the mind-set of the populace. I simply hope you enjoy what I make out of the story. (The Author)]

Could It Happen?

-Short Story by BR Chitwood-

The doorbell shook him from his near-comatose condition. Eddie, with some effort, raised himself from the recliner. He was a big rugged man, over six feet tall with not a lot of flab on his frame – a bit reminiscent of John Wayne in his sharp and angular no-nonsense face and frame.

The doorbell rang again, this time with more urgency.

“Hang on! Dammit! I’m coming!” he yelled, grabbed a quick sip from his near-empty highball glass as the doorbell rang yet again.

Not a patient man, he limped through the family room to the entry door and angrily yanked it open, peeved with the insistent ringing.

Before Eddie could speak, the man outside spoke: “Eddie, I must talk to you, you might think I’m nuts!”

With an exaggerated frown, Eddie responded, “Hell! I’m already thinking you’re nuts. Who are you and what do you want? It’s 9:30 in the PM. You better not be selling anything!”

The man outside was momentarily stunned, gaped at Eddie for some seconds. “Eddie, it’s me, Presley.”

Eddie said a few nasty curse words to the man calling himself ‘Presley’ and slammed the door in his face!

The man screamed through the big ribbed door, “Eddie, it’s me, dammit! I can explain everything. Please! Open the door! I really need to tell you what happened! Eddie, open the door!”

“Hey, you A-hole, get away from my front door or I’m calling the cops if I don’t beat the crap out of you first! You got just thirty seconds before I decide which one of those options I’m going to use.”

“I’m not leaving, Eddie, you’re the only one I can talk to! Please, just hear me out!”

Eddie screamed, “Okay, you dumb sick jerk! You hit the right nerve!” Eddie stomped to the front entry, opened the door in a rush, and threw a haymaker at the man.

The man went down and lay crumbled for several seconds on the flagstone entry platform.

When the man didn’t move, Eddie hovered over the limp body, ready to continue his assault. He rubbed his right fist and felt the first brain wave of concern. Maybe he hit the man too hard!

As the seconds ticked by, Eddie felt stronger waves of guilt. His drinking and his temper grew after the loss of his wife to a drunk driver, and his fuse for anger got shorter with each passing day.

Now, Eddie was concerned, and, just when he was about to reach down and check the man’s pulse, there was movement.

The man tentatively and with some difficulty lifted his arm, rolled to face Eddie, and spoke: “Eddie, for God’s sake, it’s me, Presley, and I can explain. Think of Cora, your wife, my sister. I was your ‘best man’ at the wedding. Think of the weekends we spent in Palm Springs, the golf we played – your ‘hole-in-one’ at the Arizona Country Club.”

“Stop,” Eddie interrupted. “Who the hell are you to know these things?”

“If you let me up, I’ll explain it all, Eddie, and, believe me, it’s incredible!”

There was something in the man’s voice! It did have a familiar sound! My God! His voice sounded like Presley Berman!

Eddie became more attentive to the man on the ground. “Okay, okay! You have a ‘mouse’ on your left cheek. Did I break your jaw?”

Eddie helped the man to his feet and inside the house.

“Nah, the jaw’s okay. It moves alright! Damn, Eddie, we’ve never fought before. The anger is eating you up.” The tanned good-looking man, taller than Eddie but slightly smaller, rubbed his cheek, his blond hair mussed from the hay-maker punch. “I can’t believe you hit me so hard, Man! That not only hurts my jaw but my feelings as well.”

“Here, sit here.” Eddie seated the man on the sofa across from his recliner and allowed that the man slightly resembled his friend of a lifetime, but, no way him. “Damn, I can’t believe I’m doing this! How the hell is it you know so much about my wife, Palm Springs, and my golf game? And, this better be really good!”

“How long has it been since you saw me last, Eddie? No, I’ll answer my own question since you doubt me. It’s been exactly six weeks to the day since I left on a trip. In fact, I told you I was going, but didn’t tell you where, and you got pissed off at me for making it such a big secret. Well, the fact is, the lovely lady I went with swore me to secrecy.”

“What lovely lady?” Eddie wanted to know.

“You don’t need her name, Eddie. It’s what she knew you want to know about. She’s a most unusual and beautiful lady I met at my ‘La-LA Club’, you know – ‘Life and Love Abound’.”

Eddie shakes his head, his blue eyes squinting toward the ceiling. “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard of the clip joint. Just get to the point of all this crap!”

“It’s not ‘Crap’, Eddie, you’ll see. Anyhow, I’ll call my lady friend, Amber – can’t give you her real name! Had to sign some papers – but that’s another story! So, Amber and I, we go to Spain, first to Barcelona, then to a beautiful and quaint village along the Costa Brava. I love its name – Castanéa.”

“Come on, Man, don’t give every single detail. Get on with it!” Eddie rose, went to the bar, poured himself another drink from the bottle of bourbon, and returned to his chair.

“Eddie, could I pour myself one of those? I sure could use it, with my jaw and all.”

“Jeez! Okay, get yourself a highball glass. You can find…”

“I know where you keep the highball glasses. C’mon, Eddie! Remember, we’ve done a lot of booze here in your beautiful home.”

Eddie shakes his head in silent negation.

With drink in hand, the man who calls himself Presley continues with his story.

“So, this small village of Castanéa does a ‘trip’ on me, taking me to places in my mind I’ve never been, like, you know, nostalgic stuff. So, Amber introduces me to this lovely lady who works for a Scientist, and we become buddies, you know, really close, so to speak. Her name is Melodie – really pretty lady! she works for some young ‘Swami-like’ guy who is probably the most intelligent person I’ve ever met in my life. He looks a lot like that movie star that starred in ‘Doctor Zhivago’. I mean, I was truly mesmerized by this guy, call him Alfredo, and the three of us do lots of things together, boating, nightclubs and local theater stuff.”

“Whoa! What happened to Amber? The gal who went with you?”

“I knew you would ask me that. Short answer, she hooked up with another guy. My guess is, she used me for the flight to Barcelona. Yeah, I know what you got in your mind, Eddie, and you’re right! Okay! I’m a sucker! but, she claimed the trip was all for me. I now know what she meant, because we talked about some things that will come up here, uh, in my recitation.”

“Whoa! why would I think anything about you! I don’t know you, dip-shit! You have ten minutes! If you can’t be finished in ten minutes, I’m throwing you out! You got that?”

“Okay, I got you! What amazes me, Eddie, is this: everyone I’m meeting in this small coastal town is carefree and happy! It’s like they’ve found paradise in this little village along the Costa Brava.”

Eddie has little patience, vacillating between anger and the absurdity of his evening. “You ready for another bust to the chops, Pal? Get on with it! Get to the crux of the matter! If there is one!”

The man calling himself Presley sighs deeply. “I’m just trying to give you some lead-up to this life-changing event, Eddie. Please, listen, and try to trust me. Okay, how old are we, Eddie?”

“Yeah, right! Okay, I’ll play just to get you out of here! I’m sixty-five, and, you are not, but my good friend, Presley, is sixty-four. Now, what?”

“You remember when our courts at one time sentenced to death the really bad guys, the fiends who murdered, raped our children, killed a cabbie for a few bucks, and good people who never saw them coming?”

“Yeah, we gassed them!”

“Well, before gas, there was the ‘Electric Chair’, remember?”

“No, completely slipped my mind! Of course, I remember, nitwit!”

“Sorry if I insult your intelligence, buddy! So, Alfredo and I become really tight, good pals, like you and me. Ah, c’mon, Eddie, don’t raise your eyebrows and give me the finger! You will see what I’m telling you is pure unadulterated truth. Okay, pal? Yeah, that’s right, shake your head, drink your drink but listen good to this, please!

“One night, the Science guy and I are sitting, having highballs in his place by the sea – beautiful place, Eddie. Ah, man, you should see this place. It was…”

“Hey, I’m having one more drink and I’m getting really tired of your chatter. So, whoever you are, pal, get it said and get out of here! Your ten minutes are almost up.”

On unsteady legs, Eddie went to the bar, brought the bourbon bottle to his easy chair, sat, and poured another drink. With his eyes blinking now with more frequency, he said, “Okay, Pal, finish your tale. I’m going to bed after this drink. Get it done!”

“Okay, okay, but you got to hear me good, Eddie. You have to listen because this is important, what I’m going tell you! This is not phony-baloney here!”

“Yeah, yeah! Talk and be finished, man! I’m listening, but you’re bloviating!”

“Okay? Right, okay, I’ll get on with it… (‘Bloviating’ – good word, Eddie!) Okay, here’s the story, and I swear to you, Eddy, this is a true story…

“Melodie had to go into Barcelona for a TV marketing ‘shoot’. After she left, Alfredo and I, we got into this big philosophical and science discussion, weird, real brainy stuff! (And, believe it or not, I’m getting what he’s telling me, just not the big science words he’s spewing.) His words were mesmerizing, and they stayed with me. We were in a discussion about ‘Life and Death’, about the villainous nature of some people, the evil among us, you know, and we end up talking about the really bad criminals who were executed in the electric chair. He even knew their names and their crimes – I didn’t recognize the names he gave. I mean, this guy is some kind of smart!

“Suddenly, well, almost, suddenly, Alfredo takes me to an upstairs laboratory-looking room, the walls are all glass and looking out on the moon-splashed Mediterranean Sea. Man, it was so beautiful! Pure Rapture, Eddie! I’m looking around the room and I see this chair and pull up short. ‘Whoa! What? Is that an ‘electric chair, Alfredo’? I asked.

“His eyes take on an honest to goodness God glow, and the moon hits his face at the same time, causing me to think this guy is not human. He had this almost angelic, magical glow on his face. I mean, it was all so eerie and baffling to me.

“So, he then tells me this story connected to that big ‘Electric Chair’ and my mind and body get all jitters and shivers, with some unpleasant thoughts mixed in. In short, Alfredo’s field is ‘Science’ and he explains to me why and what he has created.

“He says to me, and you know me, Eddie, I got that good memory thing, that telepathic whatever. He says to me:”

~*~

The thought, Presley, germinated in this very room on such a lovely night as we have this evening. If that ‘Chair’ could at one time take a life, why could it not give life and reduce the aging process of a person? Scientifically, we knew that the high electrical charge from this wired Electric Chair would destroy all biological life carriers within the human body. My mind was eager to determine if, by different and special wiring not yet invented, could that chair be used to add new cells to the body, to recreate youth in an older person who wished to prolong her/his living?

I studied for months, in fact, for over three years, read books by scientists most people would not know, or, would consider daft. I became addicted, sleeping only when exhaustion set in. I worked daily with mice and formula after formula, trying to find corollaries, ratios, the degrees of parity from mice and other animals to men. I used all forms of matter, elements of the earth in different formulae, reducing each experiment down to electrical impulses. As I progressed, I must say, there were times when it seemed I was going mad, injected by my own poisonous mind fluids. But, I kept the experiment on track, sleeping two, three hours each night. I ate sparsely but enough to keep me going, took breaks, went out on the terrace to breathe the sea’s salt air coming in on the breezes. Combined, as it were, with my obsessive behavior and relevance of the study, the days, weeks, months, were gone so swiftly.

Imagine my joy one morning when I stepped into this room and found a frisky, youthful ‘Meeko’ (my dear near-death Great Dane) returned to his youthful coat, shedding his fur of age for the scat-about fur of youth.’

Alfredo stopped when I looked across the room at the beautiful dog curled up in the corner and was about to ask a question.

Yes, Presley, the same Meeko you saw when we first met. That moment of discovery was many years ago, and you’ve seen for yourself how active and spry my best friend can be.’

‘I can, for sure, Alfredo. Meeko was like a puppy, and so beautiful. At this point, I asked Alfredo a question: how was it he could determine the age he was going to be if the experiment worked? He responded with these words, or, close enough.’

That is an excellent question, Presley. That was part of my 3-year-plus study. With the animals and elements from Physics, I needed to experiment for some time to what degrees certain modules were used in the project. In the final analysis the tests performed gave me data I felt I could rely on in terms of how far from where I was age-wise to where I wanted to be. That part of the science was the part that frightened me so much, but it was my decision to use myself as the test host before going any further. The quantum factor of all my testing proved accurate…

Let me just say, I cannot give you in these few minutes what it took me over three years to grasp. Should I or should I not be interfering with God’s mortal plans? Was I to be the creator of one more Frankenstein Monster?

I finally concluded it could very well be God’s will for me to find this grand semblance of immortality. In fact, as we speak, labs around the world are filled with scientists working in the field of Microrobotics. Think of it, tiny mobile robots less than one millimeter in size one day on a journey through our veins carrying new cells, remedies for cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cardio-vascular problems, obesity, and other medical problems.

It was Melodie, my old and trusted house maid who found me one morning in that chair with my head resting on my right shoulder, sleeping. Her problem in seeing me there? She did not recognize me, because I had my youth returned to me. I was energized, could have run a 10-k marathon. It took a while for me to convince her of my breakthrough, and she soon after demanded to sit in the Chair.

In fact, Melodie rather robustly insisted she be next in the chair, and so she was – the beautiful girl with whom you are now in love.

With all of what I’ve told you here tonight, I have done the science, mathematics, and time calculations to formulate a simple tablet that can be used in lieu of the Chair, only to be taken once every six months. That is, after the three to be taken initially. The first three pills start the process, and, depending on body chemical factors, can take from twenty-four hours to a week for the transformation. To ensure our secret, I must inject a micro-chip into your left bicep.”

At this point I stopped Alfredo. “Tell me about the micro-chip. What is its purpose?”

‘You must know, Presley, what we are doing is not standard operating procedure and goes against Man’s Law. What began as a Science Project in my mind became a life’s work, and I had concerns about what I might discover. Yet, my mind was keyed up and it became NOT just a project but a Holy Grail. Because I’ve reached this point of no return, I must somehow protect myself and the people who join this grand plan. So, I worked diligently to find a way where we all might be safe, protected, if you will, from legal concerns.

‘The micro-chip is that safety shield. If someone in our elite group becomes too enthusiastic about our project and thinks about doing an open forum on ‘The Chair Project’, the micro- chip can identify that the project is about to be compromised and signals an electronic board for which I am the only one privy to it. (Don’t ask how this chip can distinguish words that will allow it to know the project is in jeopardy…I cannot take all the hours, perhaps days and weeks to explain this to you – you must accept my assurance that this is true!) With that signal, I know there is someone of our group who is compromising the project. I then proceed to activate the chip which is designed to block that memory part of the brain. It does not harm the person but voids his knowledge of this project. The person simply maintains his youth and who he has become without other knowledge blocking his way forward! 

I had to know more on this procedure and asked, “That sounds like an impossibility to me, Alfredo. How can you pinpoint a specific area of the brain?”

‘Again, my friend, Presley, you must take my word for this. It is a most difficult process to explain and would take serious time away from us. You must trust me! No one will be hurt by this micro-chip, but safety of the group, including me, is paramount and must not be put in danger. All you need do is put yourself in my place, Presley. Consider the consequences of my actions. The person who does the Science, years of scientific study, who has a charter group to whom he charges not a penny, offers an opportunity such as this. It goes without saying, you are the person who controls your decision-making. I’ve become fond of you, but this is your decision to make. Go on with your life as it is, or, take the ‘youth pills’. Your choice!’

‘Oh, I’m in! no question about it! I trust you, Alfredo, and I thank you for this wonderful opportunity.’  

Good! So, we gamble with our older lives to find another chance at youth. Hopefully, we will not make so many mistakes in our youth this time around.

Until now, Melodie and I are not the only recipients of the Chair’s gift of youth. I chose carefully those with whom I shared this gift of new life, only those few humble, once feeble people in our village who no longer have families to cherish and with whom to commune. It is a secret shared by only a few people who are well aware they must not share any details of their new lives. It took much time to devise a plan to ensure that the secret would never be revealed. That plan is the harm-less micro-chip, and it’s good that I will not bore you with all those tedious details.

Why have I shared so much with you? The woman who came with you from the United States, Amber, she is one of us who shares the secret of the ‘Chair’. She informed us of your fervent wish to be young again – she cares for you very much, but in a more Platonic way than you might once have wished. So, she did not abandon you but meant only to give you the wish-secret she shared with us some months ago. The man you believe she traded you for is but a friend himself. What does that matter, now? You love Melodie, and Melodie loves you.

Now, I must be certain that you’re ready to take the next step. You must allow that micro-chip to be injected into your left bicep, and, you must sign our documents before going back to the US.

You have mentioned you have only one good friend there in Arizona whom you believe will want to join you after you’ve had the good fortune and time to have him believe you. You understand, once he is told of your secret, he can take an accelerated dosage of pills – exactly, three. The pills should take effect within twenty-four hours, or, no longer than seven days. Because of some variables in each person’s DNA it should take no longer than a week. If that does not occur during a week’s period after taking the maximum dosage, you must return with him to Castonéa for the ‘Chair’ treatment.

Also, on the negative side, you must manage to inject a micro-chip into his left bicep. You know the chip will not harm him once it is activated, that is, only if his determination is to bring our ‘Chair Project’ public. Of course, you must explain all of this to your friend. I suggest you find a way of least resistance. You must figure what that way of ‘least resistance’ will be.

‘I have fought the moral battles of my mind, Presley, and, for me and the others, this discovery is okay. It must also be okay for you and your friend. You know him well and you will know what to do.

~*~

“We’ve talked about being young again on many occasions, Eddie, and, now we can be. That’s the story of my past six weeks. I’ve left nothing out. I’ve even added Alfredo’s concerns. What do you think?

“Eddie!

“Eddie!”

Presley was so wrapped up in his story, he had lost track of Eddie.

Eddie was in his recliner, head resting on the back’s soft leather. He was passed out!

“Ah, Crap! Now, I’m gonna have to go through it all again!” Presley thought for few seconds. “Ah, but, wait!” he muttered to himself. “He would do it for me! this is the ‘way of least resistance’, as Alfredo phrased it.”

Presley went to Eddie’s side table, picked up his highball glass half-full of bourbon, and dropped in three ‘Youth Pills’! From a small plastic case he extracted a syringe and injected Eddie with the micro-chip into his left bicep. With the chip and the accelerated dose, and, when he takes those last few sips, he will within twenty-four hours find out for himself. Hopefully, it won’t take a week. He will be young again.

Presley knew Eddie for sure could never leave a half-full glass of ‘Makers Mark’ Bourbon.

Presley checked Eddie’s phone, copied the number he lost on the trip to Spain.

He would check in with Eddie tomorrow, late afternoon! Presley did not expect him to rise from slumber for at least twelve to twenty-four hours.

Probably better this way: ‘Showing, Not, Telling’!

©Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood

April 28, 2018

~~~~~

(Note: the author to determine later whether or not to have a second part to this short story!)

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Requiem to a Boarding House Cook

Maude Inez Balsinger
– My Mom –

Requiem To A Boarding House Cook

 

Don’t guess too many boarding houses even exist anymore, but let me tell you: the best food I’ve ever eaten was in a boarding house setting.

The cook? My dear, beloved, departed mother. In one of my books, I mention that she is up there with angel ‘Clarence’ ringing a bell when some earthly creature does something good — you will all remember ‘Clarence:’ he visits us each year at Christmas time in a re-run of the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

It might seem strange to sing the praises of a boarding house cook in a post, but the mind can carry you to some memory stations that leave a faint, sometime tearful, wisp of nostalgia.

The sleeping room in Mrs. Lester’s Boarding House my Mom and I shared was just across from the big kitchen, and, as a small eight-year old kid, I sat in one of the two rocking chairs in that room listening on the radio to a broadcast of a baseball game or football game, and the smells from that kitchen at dinner time would get me really hungry.

Just before Mom served the boarders at the long large dining table in front of the house, she would bring a heaping plate of food to me in that bedroom across the hall. Didn’t matter what it was, meatloaf, pot roast, pork chops, corn bread, biscuits, mashed potatoes with gravy or home fries, it was always the most enjoyable food I would ever remember eating. And Mom would always smile, give me a kiss on the cheek, and say something like: “You’re the best little boy in the world…”

My Mom was a boarding house cook during some of the most troubled times in our economic history…during the great depression era in Appalachia. East Tennessee would be more precise. Knoxville, Tennessee would be most precise. Mom and Dad were divorced, and my sister was living fifty miles away with my maternal grandparents because of the bad times. Mom worked long hours seven days a week and she always made the time for me, made the time to make me feel like all was really right with the world. Even in my little pea-brain I knew all was not right in our world, that there were things happening in our lives that were beyond my scope of understanding. But Mom tried and she did make me feel loved and very much wanted in her life.

So, when that big plate of food was all consumed and wiped clean with the last bit of biscuit or cornbread, the ballgame ended, I would become wistful about my Mom’s boarding house existence, feeling that she really did not have much of a life. I would sit in that room, stuffed with good southern cooking, Mom doing dinner clean-up duties, and I would try to write a poem…try to write a poem that would convey the love I felt for my Mom, try to say in words on paper what my tiny voice could not say.

My Mom always encouraged me to follow my heart, to sing my songs, to write my verses, and it was there in those days during World War Two when I first took pencil to paper. Yes, the words were the mutterings of a young unsettled mind, but they meant something to me then.

Today, perhaps my mind is still unsettled, still searching for some ultimate truths, and that is okay. The words still mean something to me. Whatever my writing comes to be, somewhere in those sentences and paragraphs, in those characters and plots, there will be parts of me, and, actually, they are pretty easy to find. I am not a very large mystery in the scheme of things.

My Mom gave me the great gift of writing, the wonderful gift of expressing myself with words. It doesn’t matter so much that the words will or will not ring so many bells down here.

It does matter that Mom and ‘Clarence’ might occasionally ring their bells for me.

Billy Ray Chitwood – 9/25/17 and 8/06/12

 

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“Darkness and Fog” – Short Story/Flash Fiction

August 28, 2016 and September 25, 2017 Revised

cropped-cropped-bill-sun-room-aug-9-20172

man-fog

“Darkness and Fog”

 A Short Story/Flash Fiction –

The darkness and fog are palpable like a viscid sweat crawling all over the body, and my eyes cannot be trusted. Keen concentration is not all it’s made out to be. These dumb-ass images keep popping up all over the space in front, sides, and back of me…and, okay, I admit it – I’m a big boy scared. ‘There’s no moon in the sky – stormy weather’ (ring a bell?). I mean, there is no way this world can be this dark and foggy.

“Why,” Someone might ask, “are you so stupid to be standing where you’re standing?”

The reason is really simple but I’m going to make it as complicated for you as I can.

When I was a little boy, my crippled cousin had to have the light on during his bedtime dark hours. Now, I didn’t tease him about that but if I just mentioned it he chased me up one country road and another. If I didn’t have a pretty good lead he’d catch me. Then, we would end up wrestling until one of us said ‘Uncle’ – usually me! We were best pals and I loved my club-footed cousin-buddy, but he got madder than a frigging copperhead on LSD if anyone brought up sleeping with lights on.

That’s really not part of the complicated story, at least, not in a major way. This darkness and fog just made me think of him. He turned out to be a scratch golfer. He’s gone now, died too early in his life. His damned cheating wife was screwing the next-door neighbor, and my cousin beat the daylights out of the crooked-nose jerk and threw all her clothes – and her – out of the house. He was club footed but he was no yellow-belly. Nobody gave him any crap, that’s for sure. Then, bless him, he got some sort of breathing problem and it killed him.

Well, again, that’s not part of the complicated story either…and it makes me sad thinking about it.

I won’t lead you on any further.

It all starts with my sister, Sarah Lou. She’s fourteen going on twenty-four, if you get my drift, built like a brick s…-house, big boobs, long silky brown hair, great figure, really pretty, and she reckons she’s the ‘cat’s meow’. It seems she knows early on she wants to taste some parts of life she is no way ready to taste.

I’m convinced Sarah Lou is the genuine product of something genetically disfavored, sort of like my Dad. He gets madder than hell and beats up on her…and, Mom. Bless her heart! Well, I’m thinking I have more of my Mom in me. At least, I hope so, because she is all giving and loving. When Mom goes to heaven, ole ‘Clarence’ will be ringing loudly his bells.

Dad has this fiery temper, and it’s his way or the highway, so to speak. This is when he’s visiting us. He and Mom are divorced, and Dad seems to have these demons inside him that make for crazy flip-outs at any moment. I’ve noticed his behavior changes when Mom mentions her side of the family – they don’t like him and he doesn’t like them. Of course, the corn whiskey could have something to do with it. He likes his hooch! He’s also tall, good-looking, and has a thing for the ladies. How can I know that? Well, that’s a whole different story.

Well, anyhow, the genes running through Sarah Lou must be identical to Dad’s.

Moving the story along, Sarah Lou turns sixteen and elopes with an army corporal, runs off to another state when the corporal gets transferred. Mom is heart-sick and scared because she has to tell Dad the news.

Mom and I, my now older club-footed cousin and his big sister (on my Dad’s side of the family) go to the hotel where my Dad is now living to tell him about Sarah Lou’s elopement. Cuz and his sister come along to hopefully soften my Dad’s temper.

In his hotel room, my cousin and his sister take the two chairs in the room. Mom sits on the bed all timid and nervous… I can see her trying to swallow her fear, but it’s etched there on her face. I sit, timid and nervous myself under a window on a radiator…you know, those ugly, vertical heavy metal rods all linked in a row as one unit. Now, the heat isn’t on during this visit, but those units are a might uncomfortable to sit on. I just keep alternating my butt cheeks and somehow manage.

My Dad is just walking around the room. Now, Dad knows right away that something is up, and, he knows it isn’t good news – guess our faces and body language give us away. So, he’s nervous, too, but not in a sane way…it’s like, he’s the tiger sitting on a boulder about to pounce on an unsuspecting prey.

“Okay,” he says, “what’s the bad news? I can see it on all your faces.” He leans against the wall near me.

My stomach is turning as I’m looking at Mom while she haltingly tells Dad about Sarah Lou and the elopement.

I’m stealing peeks at Dad and can see a storm rising inside of him.

Mom finishes and is near tears, her face red with a thin layer of fret-sweat.

When Dad hears the news about Sarah Lou, he stomps around the room in a fury, shaking his head, temples pounding, mumbling curse words, and, abruptly stops in front of Mom and eyes her menacingly for several seconds. My sweet hard-working, lovely Mom sits there very still with her hands clasped on her lap with a now blanched and pitiful look on her face. My tears are about to come and I can almost feel her anxious and trembling body preparing itself for Dad’s assault.

My tainted-gene Dad gives Mom a hard looping open-hand slap to the face, so damned hard it knocks her over. My immediate fear is that he’s knocked something loose in her brain or upper body…and he’s getting ready to do more hitting.

I’m petrified watching it all from this hotel room radiator and l reckon something snaps inside me. I’ve watched this kind of madness too many times as a younger kid. Now, I’m a lot bigger. I rush him and tackle him onto the bed, crying and mumbling something stupid, like, ‘I’ve seen you do that to my Mom too many times’. I’ll never forget – he’s got this look on his face like a slight smile and surprise all at the same time.

With a blind rage, I start pounding Dad with my fists.  Pretty soon, he’s not moving. I must have connected with a vulnerable spot on his head. He just turns his head over to the side and goes to sleep. I sit there staring down at Dad, becoming a bit worried that I’ve done something bad. Yet, so far as I can see, he’s breathing with a normal rhythm. I gently slap his face a few times, but he doesn’t stir. I inspect his head, notice no swollen places and no blood.

After a couple of minutes pass, I rise from the bed and tell our little group we likely should leave before he comes out of it. He could really go bonkers then. So, we hustle out of Dad’s room and loudly close the door.

Mom cries all the way down the elevator, and we go unnoticed out a side entrance in the lobby. I drive my cousin and his sister home, and, except for the sound of the car engine, no one makes a sound. Only tears flow down our faces. We all hug and kiss each other.

Next, I drive Mom to her folks’ place some forty miles away.

We give Grandma and Grandpa all the news about our visit with Dad, and they’re madder than hornets in a wild wind, ‘Is he dead?’ ‘Is he alive?’ I make Mom promise me that she’ll stay with the grandparents until she hears from me. There’s no way Dad, assuming I didn’t hurt him too badly, would go around Grandpa because the latter gave Dad a whipping some months back.

After a few more tears are shed and the grand-folks can’t talk me out of leaving, I’m on my way back to the hotel to check on Dad… I know! Who should be caring about a guy who is abusive to his wife and daughter? Well, he’s my Dad, for better or worse! Me, I did not suffer so much his physical abuse. There are the lingering emotional scabs that come off as time passes and memories haunt in the dark of night. The real damage, emotionally, psychologically, and life-changing are for my dear Mom and Sister.

My blond head is churning with thoughts as I drive back to the hotel. The closer I get, the more tense I become. There’s this need to know about my Dad, whether he’s okay or hurt badly. I’m a sturdy young man now, 185 pounds, playing quarterback as a freshman at Garden View University. It’s difficult to calculate how hard I hit Dad with my fists – I feel like a part of me was actually holding back. But, then, I was lost in the moment.

There is no way to forget what happened, and just go back to my grandparent’s house. I have to know, one way or the other about my Dad. Did I hurt him more than first I thought? Is he alive? Is he dead?

I park Mom’s car down the street from the hotel and walk to the side entrance of the lobby.

The elevator is on the lobby level as if waiting for me. On Dad’s floor, the elevator doors open and my heart jumps into my mouth!

My Dad is standing in front of me, his eyes blinking like he is trying to clear his head.

“You coming out, young fellow?” Dad asks in an impatient and impersonal tone.

He notices the apparent surprise on my face. “You alright, boy?”

“Dad, it’s me!”

He did a fast look behind him like I was talking to someone else.

Dad blinks some more. “You’re mixed up, boy, I don’t have a son. Now, stay in the elevator or get out. I fell and cracked my head…have to get it taken care of.”

“But, Dad, I hit you on the head because you hurt Mom. Let me help you!”

Dad grabs my arm and pulls me out of the elevator onto the hallway carpeting. “Told you, boy, I’ve got no son.” He enters the elevator, pushes the lobby button and is gone.

I can’t say how long I stand rooted to that spot in front of the elevator. I am aware enough to know that other people enter and exit the elevator while I’m standing there.

Finally, I take the stairs down seven floors and walk out the side lobby entrance. My befuddled mind is on automatic pilot and leads me down the street to the car.

When I pull away from the curb, confused and frightened, I drive aimlessly, turning here, turning there, my mind going over and over the events of the day.

I drive for miles not mindful of where I’m going. Tears flow until my eyes get all watery. Finally, my brain tells me to pull off the road.

I’m out in the ‘boonies’ somewhere. There is an old rutted country road, and I turn onto the dirt and gravel, drive a quarter mile and notice that suddenly I can’t see.

The weather changes suddenly and I take the time to think, ‘What the hell am I doing? Out here in nowhere land?’ The reality of the situation makes me ease to the right off the old road, feeling my way as the darkness and fog come together – seemingly all at once.

I get out of the car, touching the metal, holding on to the only reality given me at the moment.

My Dad’s face is flashing at me in the darkness and fog…along with snakes, dinosaurs, crocodiles, and other beasts of the world.

There come some recalls of life with my Dad in them, not long after the divorce.

Much of those times are rough, but there are tender moments as well – farther back in youth, when he buys me a little boy’s grey suit with a bibbed hat, takes pictures of me with a cigarette dangling from my lips. There are bus, car, and train rides to visit his parents and grandmother…my grandparents and my great grandmother.

His grandmother is almost blind and sits on an old wooden porch in a rocking chair, frail and beautiful like a picture in sepia tone, with a corn cob pipe in the corner of her mouth. She is in her nineties, and Dad has to get within inches of her face before she recognizes him and gets a sweet smile on her face and hugs him. She makes over me as well, and I feel a sense of history – the events, all the things she has seen in her lifetime. Her time is almost up, but she is going to keep rocking and smoking her corn cob pipe for a while yet.

A few happy times flash by, those times when we play at being a family, without the tempestuous flares of raw emotions: the Saturday movie matinees; Mom and Dad smiling happily when my sister and I dance, when I attempt to write a poem; the endless questions I asked of them both – the insatiable curiosity of a little boy’s mind.

I love them both so much, and, now, my father has no son.

The tears do not stop until the mind reminds me of where I am, in the middle of proverbial nowhere with only the scary flashes coming from too much eye concentration and the memories that are both keepers and throwaways.

So, the world can be dark and foggy, and, maybe, reasons for standing in the darkness and fog are not so simple.

With measured steps I walk a few paces, can see no end to the darkness and fog, pivot, return to the car, get in the back seat, and lock the doors.

Assuming a fetus position on the backseat, I try desperately not to think anymore. I can wait out the darkness and the fog.

Tomorrow will come, and the sun will replace the dismal thoughts with hope.

I love my Mom and Dad.

Perhaps I still have both of them.

Billy Ray Chitwood – 9/25/17

*

Hope you enjoyed this short story and/or flash fiction – whichever your preference.

This is the beginning of a book with a working title, “Darkness and Fog.”

Well, fancy that!

Will you read the book when I launch it in late 2017 or early 2018?

I’ve authored fourteen books and invite you to my website to preview them. There are mysteries, suspense, romance, thrillers, memoirs, time travel, and other genres from which to choose. They have new covers and some of the novels are inspired by true events.

Hope you will read some of my offerings and leave reviews on Amazon. As we are wont to say, reviews are the lifeblood of authors:

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Proud recipient of eleven Blog Award Nominations.

 

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Life and Choices

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Life and Choices

Which end of the rainbow holds the magic that will transform our lives? That proverbial ‘Pot of Gold’?

How far do we have to travel to find the elusive ends of those rainbows? It looks as though the ends are within our reach.

‘Okay, enough of the philosophical gibberish! We are a new generation and don’t grab hold too easily these metaphorical nuances. What’s your point’?

‘You are the point! Your generation is the point’!

Of ‘The Greatest Generation’, I’m a part, that pristine era that encompassed World War 2 and its aftermath. We helped to finally absolve a lingering malaise of ‘The Lost Generation’, the era following World War 1. We in my generation held no exclusive trademark on ‘sense and sensibility’. We had some blunders and gaps along the way.

However, for the most part, there was the pride and remembrance of those who gave their lives in the great war to preserve our freedom and liberty. Our military heroes paid the ultimate price.

Allow me to be plain in my words here…

I live now in ‘Twilight’, writing my fiction and observing the nature of the world around me, chaos and insanity across the waters as countries vie for power and dominance, as new forms of immorality charge closer to our shores in barbaric numbers. I watch our young people stray farther and farther away from the principles in our political bible called the ‘United States Constitution’, that document codified so clearly by our ‘founding fathers’… ‘United States Constitution’ and ‘Founding Fathers’, now seemingly phrases that edge slowly away from our consciousness.

I watch some of our young people caught up in a frenzied delusion imprinted on their brains by monied power groups, misdirected media, and political groups…tearing down statues that have historical meaning for so many, trying to sanitize and erase from memory life and death struggles in our storied past.

I watch a brash, plain-speaking billionaire business man elected president of our nation, a neophyte politician, a man with a wide-spanning agenda to cure some economic and security ills in our country. His platform speaks to immigration reform, job creation, foreign policy shifts, infra-structure clean-up, tax-reform, repeal and replacement of a most disastrous health program, better and more viable educational options, et al.

Despite the allure, charm, and eloquence of Barack Obama, he made, in my opinion, so many terrible foreign policy decisions, domestic miscues, and mysterious spending of tax payers’ dollars that it might be a while before we figure it all out. A few already have but can’t get any real traction from a biased media. Actually, it was my initial thought that Obama might be good for America. No racial thing! No bias! No hate! Just the way I see it…

The new President Trump starts enthusiastically and quickly in his new job, surrounding himself for the most part with a cadre of intelligent and qualified people. He issues ‘Executive Orders’ to negate many of the previous president’s directives. He makes successful trips to troubled parts of the world and elicits support for his foreign policies. He takes a strong position on North Korea’s missile launches and unveiled threats against our nation. The fixation by the media on ‘Russian Election Collusion’ truly becomes tiring and a thorn in President Trump’s side as he tries for comity with our adversary.  

His efforts find great support from his politically conservative and independent base, but the liberal leaning media and distressed democrats challenge him at every turn. His tweets on Twitter draw ire, and he is reviled by the so-called establishment groups in Washington, DC and by some in his own party.

‘So, what’s the point of all this?’

For the first time in my long life, the feelings for me are visceral. Watching the riots at Berkeley, the destruction of property there and other states, the professorial leanings toward guided liberal thinking of their students, I feel Democracy in my country shifting from its long freedom and liberty roots to a more open and socialistic society. I’m not an avid student of history but have studied enough to know that Communism and Socialism have never worked. When Large Corporations, Big Money, and the Power Elites make decisions for the working classes, it’s the beginning of the end. When freedom-loving people are duped by the liberal revolutionists of our times, beware the ‘Ides of March’.

You might very well differ in your thinking, and that is the American way. We can debate issues and come to different conclusions without hating each other.

I started life in Appalachia and poverty, and that buys me a ticket nowhere…still haven’t made any ‘best seller lists’ with my books. I’m no longer in poverty, but neither am I rich and/or an envied one-percenter…just want my kids, grandkids, and great grandkids to have their freedom and liberty.

‘Tha-tha-tha- that’s all, folks’!

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 22, 2017

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About Me

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About Me:

I’m a young man in an old man’s body, trying to catch up to myself, trying to find pieces of me I left back in a disconnected youth and the early years of manhood. I’m a stereotype of many in my generation who can play the ‘blame game’, yell ‘foul’, and ‘let’s start over’. But, we are what we are, the sum of all the scary kid-emotions we experienced, the gin mills and piano bars that became our sandbox of pleasure – lotus eaters of the best (or, worse!) kind, the love affairs that did not quite settle us down, the sad poetry and songs written in bars and motels along the way… A Dreamer! A Wanderlust! The world needs such fools as we to write our books, our poetry, our songs, to offset the madness that plagues the soul.

I’ve written fourteen books, over three hundred blog posts in search of those pieces left somewhere in many parts of the globe. You can preview my books above on the menu of ‘books’. If you wish to read more of my blog posts, go to my official blog site at:

https://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

Most important among the searching, I found Julie Anne – she’s there in the picture with me.

♥​

BOOKS OF MYSTERY – SUSPENSE – ACTION ​- CRIME – THRILLER – ROMANCE – MEMOIRS
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‘Happy’

‘Happy’

The light bright sorrel mare with a flaxen mane and tail came to the fence, quickly ate the apple, turned and trotted off neighing and twirling in a delightful display of ‘thanks’! I laughed along with its joy and it pranced around in a circle, eyeing me in my joy.

“Come, ‘Happy’,” I called, and it came to the fence again.

I rubbed ‘Happy’s’ long snout and leaned over the fence and kissed her between the eyes, her tail wagging with delight.

“Would you like me to ride you this afternoon? I’ll ride you bareback and forget that old saddle. Would you like that?”

Happy lifted its regal head in a definite yes.

Wearing sneakers, denims, and a pale blue tee-shirt I put my left foot on the middle wooden crossing on the fence and jumped aboard Happy.

“Okay, Happy, I’ve got your mane, run with the wind and get some exercise.”

Much like a race horse, ‘Happy’ broke and dashed away, accustomed to my near-200-pound weight and knew that I was not worried about her speed. Off she went down into the pasture-land of our 500-acre ranch.

It was a glorious day with clear blue sky and slight zephyr-like breezes as ‘Happy’ galloped, careful not to make sudden turns as I was without benefit of saddle and stirrups and possibly could lose my balance. I gave ‘Happy’ her freedom of direction and hanged on to her mane, leaning forward with my chin almost touching her bobbing head.

There was a stand of trees and a knoll after clearing the pasture and ‘Happy’ took me in that direction. The exhilaration of the ride was what I so badly needed after the argument with Margo over the bills and the money to pay them.

The thing was, we had no financial problems. We had money to live on for the rest of our lives. There was no need to worry, to fret about bills and the paying of them. Margo came from a good solid background of Irish ancestry and instilled in her was sort of frantic penchant for keeping up with and paying monthly bills instantly.

So, we argued to the point of my becoming irritated with the senseless argument and walked away from her as she continued to rail on about the bills.

She would be fine by the time I returned from this Saturday morning gallop, and, definitely, so would I.

On the knoll and now slowed to a canter, ‘Happy’ seemed somehow disturbed by something, “What is it, ‘Happy’? An animal of some kind, a snake? It was as if I expected ‘Happy’ to answer me, but then, I, too, heard the desperate sound that was upsetting her, actually, more a scream some distance away. I tugged at ‘Happy’s’ Mane toward the direction of the scream and headed in that direction.

There, between the trees, a man was assaulting a woman. ‘Happy’s’ baying got the man’s attention as I nudged ‘Happy’ to move faster toward the assault.

When ‘Happy’ slowed, I jumped from the horse and collided with the now standing man, half-dressed and menacing with a knife in his right hand. I dodged one thrust from the knife, and ‘Happy’ weaving head dodged the next thrust…at least, I thought so. But, in my side vision I saw blood running down ‘Happy’s’ neck area. That infuriated me and I rushed, tackled the man, and slammed my fists into his body and face. His knife went flying as kept up my own assault, mindful of the weeping lady and my wounded ‘Happy’.

When the man no longer moved I assumed he was unconscious and rose from his body. Checking on ‘Happy’s’ wound I found it was just a scratch. As I turned toward the lady, she yelled, “He’s getting up.” I turned and with my right haymaker the man went down and stayed down. ‘Happy’ moved over the man and placed a front hoof on his chest.

The lady had stopped sobbing. She told me what happened. She thought he was a nice guy. She met him at a girlfriend’s afternoon party, and he invited her to go for a ride in his new Corvette.

I looked off to the right and there was a shiny white Corvette parked on the shoulder of the farm road. I reached inside the man’s denim left pocket and found the car keys for the Corvette and slipped them into my own pocket.

The young lady was not seriously hurt. ‘Happy’ and I came along just in time. I went to the Corvette and marked the license plate in my head. I got astride ‘Happy’ and pulled the young lady up and behind me. We went back to the ranch house and found my wife standing by the fence with tears in her eyes.

I kissed my wife and introduced the young lady whose name she had not given. Lacy LaGreen was her name, and I knew the family.

I first called the police, gave directions to the man and his car, told them I had his car keys and would give them up when a resolution was made on the man’s assault and/or I would pass them on to the police for their disposition, to relay them on to the man’s family.

The young lady was most thankful to ‘Happy’ and me. Lacy would become both a good friend of my wife and me, but, to ‘Happy’s’ delight, a new riding partner.

The young man would eventually get a reduced sentence of 30-days jail time, and would blame the assault on too much alcohol.

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood -October 21, 2018

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The Long Lingering Night

The Long Lingering Night

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

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

“You said you would go, Charlie.”

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

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

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

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

“So, you’re not mad?”

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

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

*

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

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

Whoa!

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

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

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

Bed made. No Beth.

Hmmm. The concert would be over by now.

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

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

Okay, stop with the self-recriminations!

What the hell was he to do?

Call Carol?

Wake her up at 1:30 in the AM?

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

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

“Hello!”

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

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

“Is Carol with you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know. Oh, how I know!”

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

The two friends disconnected.

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

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

“Oh, God!” the tears came again.

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

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

Wait!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She roused.

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

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

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

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

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood

 

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Portrait in Time

Portrait In Time

Young man, do you not see me as once I might have been?

Is it the wrinkle, the sagging skin Time laid upon me that you see?

Once I stood, perhaps like you, with noble thoughts and dreams

A new bright morning might bring.

Time wore me down with its ceaseless ubiquitous ways and subtle promises.

Time taunted and tempted me with its guile and deceptions,

With its beauty beads of love.

Time gave me its reins to run wild with the wind toward sunrise and sunset.

Time now leaves me here along the sea, better to have had its moments of joy;

Sad to have you see the frail and broken parts of me.

Young man, can you not see me as once I might have been?

(An ending poem in a book by Billy Ray Chitwood, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son”)

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 12, 2018

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Thoughts of an Assassin

©Thoughts of an Assassin

He watched from his secret spot above the street, his telescope adjusted for maximum clarity. The time on the tower clock showed 5:25 PM and the sun was getting lower in the western sky. Soon, on the lower horizon, the lucid orange colors would come, would dazzle the ‘romantics’ in the crowd of life’s living lovers …

He grinned at his thoughts:

Where else would the sun be at this time of night but in the western sky? Remarkable how we people speak and think so often in grandiose terms, adding the delicate modifier words to an important moment we’re describing, to a person we’re praising, to an object of devotion.

Hah! Am I just now succumbing to the art of poetry? Ah, the mind can bewitch and tease us in so many ways … Laura taught me that. Dear, beautiful, Laura, you introduced me to so much in life. We went to those romantic places you made so vivid for me in your telling. You were alive in a world I never knew, a political world you loved and believed in, a world you shared for a while with me, a simple man, unschooled in the finer etiquettes of life, a man who shunned the crowds, sought only his lonely miserable solitude in introverted and fearful insignificance…

He looked at his watch. The posted time for the politician’s arrival at the square was only twenty-five minutes away. He licked his lips but only because they were dry from being out in the open so long. He ran his open palm back through his sandy hair. It would not be long now.

He was at the party by chance. His old college friend, his only friend, had insisted he attend with him because he was ‘worried about your own introverted and quaint nature’, his friend said, and I shall never know how it was he convinced me to go with him. And, there, I sat in a golden stuffed love seat in a corner of the huge ornate room while a soft roaring of incessant chatter from small huddled groups came resoundingly to my ears.

The robotic roving waiter in black and white brought me my second Manhattan, and as I timidly took a sip I saw you, Laura, walking toward me, your long flowing colorful hair with a streak of peroxide somehow adding and sculpting the rest of your gorgeous body, tightly caressed by the burgundy gown and gold trim. As you neared me, I gulped for I saw that you were about to speak and the awful fear gripped and held me stupefied. Your beauty notwithstanding, my onset of paralysis was an awful discomfort mixed with both anxiety and a modicum of hope. It dawned on me to stand in meeting a lady, and that began the only three years of my life that would come to have meaning.

We fell in love so effortlessly and hopelessly. It was you, Laura who taught me the manners and the ways of culture and refinement…to the extent they could be taught to me. It was you, dearest Laura, who taught me love. The happiness and the love shared by the two of us, our trips to far-away places, the few friends with whom we shared some special moments, all would be the stuff of painting, poetry, songs. Then, you were gone, taken from me by a foolish political ploy that caused your death…and, my death.

He checked his watch. Five minutes. With his gloved hands he opened the long leather case, assembled easily, quickly all parts of the high-powered long-range rifle, the telescopic sight, the barrel, checked its heft, took a test-pose to check scope, and leaned back against the short roof wall…and waited.

Laura, my one and only love, this is for you. There is something within me that cannot allow this man to live, this man who took your life from me. Not through love did he take your life, but through a ruse that would cause your death and my only real reason for living.

I know you would not approve of my action here, my love, but men measure equities and losses in different ways than do beautiful women. But, still, I will ask you to forgive me this frailty of mind and body that urges me on to fulfill this deed. And, please, if there is that divine gate on golden shores of after-life, please be waiting to open that gate for me, dear lady of my heart.

The tall handsome man stood, took his position at the parapet, kneeling, sighting, as the black limousine came to a stop at the beautiful flower-laden square. The tower clock struck six lovely tones. All the secret service people came from the vehicles, gathered near the politician responsible for the man’s deep sorrow. The politician took his first step from the limousine.

A gunshot pierced the early evening air, unheard by the cheering crowds below.

The man lay dead on the roof floor by the short wall, blood slowly seeping from his head wound.

There was static heard only on the building’s roof, and these words: “Subject target eliminated. The president entourage may continue.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 14, 2018

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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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Blood and Bones

perryville

Blood and Bones

Our Sunday drive took my wife and me to Perryville, Kentucky to travel over the hills and valleys where an early Civil War battle was fought, where thousands of young people lost their lives fighting for some idea of where they wished their country to be…you all know enough about the Civil War, so I won’t embellish on its causes, its generals, and the aftermath which still lingers with some of us to this day. In fact, there are some people who refer to our fractured political process, those and them, and feel as though we’re approaching another such battle, one that is currently being waged with acrimonious insults, pushing, shoving, with a hatred hard to believe, the blessing of some of those in elements of our political power elites… I won’t talk about that either!

It was a most gorgeous Sunday afternoon as we left our home (pictured above) where in 1862 an older relic of this one stood amid tobacco fields, where confederate soldiers more than likely marched up the road on which our home sits. We believe the rebel troops came up from Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee through Lebanon, KY and on down Lebanon Road (where our house sets). Of course, the original house still stands and was added onto a number of times, most recently in 2008. My wife is a history buff and will add her section after my finish here, but our place is beautiful and built like a fortress – and, we believe those rebel troops likely passed by or certainly were close to our home at that moment in history.

But, back to the Perryville battle site, some fifteen plus or minus miles from us, our visit to the civil war site was at just about the time the battle was waged in 1862. The day, filled with sunshine and silence, a somberness that gave us pause to look out across the valleys where beneath its earth lies the long rusted weaponry and the blood and bones of those who died. This land we passed over seemed, nay, was, sacred and, if tender of heart, one could almost hear ‘taps’ playing softly over the verdant dips and rises. My wife and I were quiet for most of the moments we travelled over that land, each of us thinking thoughts of then and now.

We eventually passed by the canon (pictured above) and left the hallowed ground, still silent, still in some remote part of our minds thinking our thoughts…

Mine spoke to me of humankind, the sometime gaping abysses we must navigate to get to a place of mutual understanding – if we ever do. Mine spoke to me of life and death, how some few men and women can be so power hungry to lead their fellows to chaos. In that Sunday solitude my heart bled for all who must come to save us from ourselves from time to time…and, finally, there were my tears. 

Now, I turn to my good wife, Julie Anne, to perhaps leave the philosophical depths and render a more ethereal synopsis of that lovely Sunday… [BRC]

[Julie Anne]
Today we ventured out to the Battle of Perryville. Drove around rather than walked. Basically had almost all of the battlefield to ourselves. Didn’t run into any of its ghosts. In between re-enactments but could visualize. Guessing about as warm today (high 80s) as it was in 1862 – but no drought to contend with. Remembered when Craig led Cindy (our kids were visiting) had us all over the fields and longing for water – how terrible it had to be for those fighting – after long marches and no water and the sun beating down on them. Some of the Rebs would have marched up the old Lebanon Road, right by here. I wonder if some got off the road hoping to find well water and possible shade. Did some sit under our old Sugar Maple for a bit before rejoining the march north and then east? Did Finley (freshly married) bring them cool well water, not caring which side, just that they were boys who were tired, thirsty and scared? And where did she hide the family silver? The big house wasn’t built yet but they were living here, growing tobacco. If I crawled around the old, low hanging, dirt part of the basement could I find something? Or was the old house in a completely different area at that point? The big house was built in 1871.
All the homes in the whole area took in wounded. Robert and Finley in 1862, the owners of our property, would have as well I’m sure (they were from some of the founding families and predominant in the area). Are there bodies buried here from the battle – where they didn’t survive their wounds?
My mind drifts back to what it was like those early October days in 1862. Our Sugar Maple probably remembers.
Billy Ray and Julie Anne Chitwood – Oct. – 2018
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Writing and Me

Writing and Me

Most people who write and those who wish to write likely know that the libraries of the world are comfortably stacked with the ‘how to’ of creative writing. Guess the thing for me is, I’ve got to do my own struggling, got to find my own way of saying things with these fingers that dance along the laptop keys. The question for me is not so much, how successful can I be financially in my writing? (Don’t get me wrong, would not mind at all cashing a lot of royalty checks!) More important for me at this juncture in my life is finding out about where I’ve been, all the bad things, all the good things, and getting a better idea of who I really am. My books have plots, such as they are, and they have characters. These plots and these characters serve me and give me a chance to ‘muse and fuse,’ to maybe discover some things about me I never knew.

Sure, I want my books interesting enough to be read, enjoyed, and to have people talking about them. The most important thing, though, for me, is being true to me, plumbing my depths, finding the music of my soul, and hoping I discover more of me. Ego? Maybe so. But it has got to be me finding out whether or not I’m any good at this business of writing. You know, I’m beginning to think maybe I am. It’s not that I’m not willing to learn — it’s just, it better be there within me now, this style thing, this appeal to readers, because I’m not necessarily going to find it in the library.

I’m thinking we do it by ‘doing it,’ over and over again… if we’re any good, we need to trust that little voice inside that says we are.

Everyone has to do her and his own thing. I’m old enough to think I’m just as right as some folks who write about writing and maybe too dumb and inflexible to realize I’m singing a song here with a guitar out of tune.

That’s what I’m thinking!

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 4, 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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A Closet Dark With Fear

A Closet Dark With Fear

Thought I might titillate you with the first two pages of a ‘Prologue.’ Call me shameless because the ‘Prologue’ is from my novel, Mama’s Madness.

This book was taken from some true life events and it was tough to write. It startled me to think that mothers of such quantifiable evil existed and doled it out at regular intervals. There are no ‘spoilers’ here and perhaps you will want to read more. The good news is that these mothers from hell are hopefully outside the reach of those reading this small portion.

From Mama’s Madness by Billy Ray (BR) Chitwood:

PROLOGUE

-The Year: 1985-

“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 ago or an hour ago! Sarilee knows she is next. Just like Celia…

Mama beat Celia, too. Got so mad she shot her. But the bullet didn’t kill Celia. The fire killed Celia. The bullet lodged in Celia’s back and stayed there for two years. Celia healed with the bullet there in her back. Then, Celia had wanted to leave home.

Was that one year ago?

For some unknown fathoming, Sarilee wants to be precise in her remembering. Somehow, it is important to remember this point.

Yes, it was a year ago. They were living in an apartment near the old trailer court where Mama used to live…

***

Okay, that’s just the first two pages of Mama’s Madness. It’s my hope that you’re interested enough to read more. It is a dark tale but there are some moments of recompense and justice.

It’s on amazon.com US (Kindle and paperback). It’s on Nook, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, It’s on amazon.co.uk. It is also on other E-formats.

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/F4QR56 

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/uuFFPj

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