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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

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“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

Please preview my books at:

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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
FICTION (SOME INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS!) – NON-FICTION – QUALITY READING
****

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Soul

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Enigma Of The Soul

How often do you use the word, ‘Soul?’ How often do you think about your ‘Soul?’

Mirriam-Webster defines ‘Soul’ as:

1. the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life

2. a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe

So, that’s enough, right? The two definitions pretty much say it all, and there are more definitions there in the dictionary if you want more.

‘Soul’ seems to me, though, such a huge word to be so small. Writers likely get the most use out of the word than the people who really work for a living — no anger, please, just adding a little levity here. Really, it seems to me that ‘Soul’ is not in too many mundane conversations. ‘Soul’ is usually saved for the philosophers, poets, preachers, Romantics, sentimentalists, and writers.

You can almost envision the literary expatriates who gathered in Paris between the period of World War One and the onset of World War Two…wtiters like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Gertrude Stein to name a few — okay, okay, I’m name-dropping — but these were the people I read and studied in college and their lives got somehow interwoven with my own, with my ‘Soul.’ I can see them sitting at the sidewalk cafes talking in the afternoon about their writings, about how the devastation of war had impacted their lives. I can see them drinking the Bacchus liquids and debauching in the evenings, pausing in their fun and frivolity for serious and sober moments to discuss the condition of the ‘Soul.’ These were the people Gertrude Stein referred to as ‘the lost generation.’ Certainly, why not Paris? Why not gather in the great city of lights with so much art and beauty? It was the place to be if you were disillusioned by a world intent on war and destruction. It was the perfect place and time to discuss matters of the ‘Soul,’ and these great writers held those discussions in the finest style and with some of the most celebrated erudition prevalent in those days.

So, why do I post about ‘Soul?’

Guess it’s easy for me, an oldtimer looking back on his life, how he’s lived, somewhat of an anachronism in today’s fast moving digital world. ‘Soul’ is such an all-encompassing word. It holds such a fascination for me in these sunset years, but it has always held that fascination for me — guess ‘Soul’ for me is what writing is all about. We live, we pay taxes, and we die, but the ‘Soul’ offers us so many delectable scenarios of which to consider and ponder.

‘Soul’ is that defining part of us that we can’t pinpoint, can’t know exactly where it is, but we have to know that it is there. ‘Soul’ is everything Mirriam-Webster says it is, but so very much more. There are times when the directions we take as a world concerns me greatly. It is my hope that we can still take time, Paris or not, to discuss the implications of such an enigmatic and beautiful word.

‘Soul.’

Billy Ray Chitwood – 12/10/17 (From the Archives, 8/12)

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The Saga of Ellis Continues

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Andrew Joyce 

Reading a story just doesn’t get much better than this!

The Saga of Ellis

 

All True!

Andrew Joyce

Note: This is all true.

Chapter Four

In the year of our Lord, 1700, it’s a gentle breeze that pushes the small sailing ship southwest, towards the northern coast of Cape Ann. The master and owner of the ship is John Lane who, together with his wife and children, is coming from Falmouth, Maine, after being run out by Indians during the First Indian War. It is a new century and a new beginning for the Lane family.

As the ship approaches land, John sees the dense forests he had been told about. His plan is to first clear a parcel in which to build their house. Then he and his sons will fell trees and sell the wood for the making of ships. There certainly is no shortage of raw material.

The ship anchors ten miles north of Gloucester Town, off Flatstone Cove. John and his eldest son, James…

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An Interview with John Dolan

An Interview With John Dolan – Author of “Everyone Burns” – AN UPDATE

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John Dolan

Without a lot of build-up, here is one of hundreds of reviews a la JD’s book, EVERYONE BURNS – and, it’s not my 5-Star Review. I’ve chosen the following review because it describes this novel with accuracy and provides enough pith of the read to serve as a good summary, to wit: 

on 1 April 2013

David Braddock is a complex man with several problems, both personal and business. Mr. Dolan commences the intricate web of mysteries about to draw you in by introducing a couple of new clients to David’s unusual business – he is a barely qualified personal counsellor and an unlicensed private investigator specializing in checking that tourists (farangs) in love with a Thai girl are not being taken for a ride. Enter the Police Chief of this Thai island needing David’s help to solve a particularly gruesome murder. This is where it gets really interesting as we learn David has had an affair with the Chief’s wife.

The story continues to reveal David’s personal life in snippets. His wife, Claire, is rarely home at the same time he is. When she is home their conversations are difficult and unproductive. Yet I sense how deeply David loves Claire, which confuses me as his sexual liaisons are hard to reconcile with what I have learned about his character. The beauty of this story is how it gradually reveals exactly how complex David’s character is. As clues from different parts of his life and business connect and disconnect, David also works to resolve his personal problems in a deep and thought-provoking way with a little help from a Buddhist monk. (I have to admit there are several high-brow pages that I only just about managed to keep up with.) For me, the highlight of the story was the jaw-dropping moment when my brain finally caught up with the numerous clues, but only thanks to David (read author) hitting me on the head with the terrible truth.

I won’t say more for fear of spoiling the various little mysteries that David slowly unravels, but suffice to say this is an excellent, interesting (the story is set in a beautifully detailed Thailand setting with the occasional philosophical detour), and enjoyable read. There is one mystery still to be unravelled in the series, plus the resolution to this book starts a huge problem for the next David Braddock thriller, but fear not, this is a standalone novel, and one I highly recommend.

 

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BUY SITES:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=everyone+burns

This is a ‘Don’t Miss’ combo for you: an interview with a quality author and a 5-Star book review of  “Everyone Burns.” If you have not had the pleasure of reading John Dolan you’ve missed a great experience from an author extraordinaire. JD is truly a  wordsmith for his times. He is also the man who introduced me and countless others to the word, ‘Galericulate’ — that’s the name of his website/blog. (See end of interview/5-Star review/Interview…) He’s the man hidden under the hat above and he’s roaming around some continent or another. At last report, he was in Amsterdam… 

OOPS – UPDATE: that was 2012…he was just recently released from Foxes and Hounds Tranquility Center!  He’s much better now, I’m told! I do so hope my information is accurate… But, be gone, my foolishness! Here’s a re-blog of my 2012 interview with this important literary figure and an update on his writing…

– ‘Burning’ (at least, ROASTING!) John Dolan, Writer Extraordinaire –

An Interview’ (Sort of!)

(Billy Ray Chitwood=BR) (John DolanJD)
BR: Okay, Filbert, take off the blindfold!
JD: Hey, not so rough! You just don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, do you?
BR: Why should I? You can leave us now, Filbert, and take Salome with you.
JD: You kidding me? ‘Salome!’ ‘Filbert!’ They’re ‘junkies…’
BR: Had no money…they grabbed you for the ‘grass.’
JD: Are you mocking me? Are you stealing my interview ideas?
BR: Show me a legal document!
JD: At least my chair is comfortable, and my straps are pure leather, not this cord crap!
BR: You left me no choice, JD, you broke your promise to take my books viral and…
JD: Correction! I said your books were vile and pretentious…
BR: Okay, okay, I understand you’re a bit angry…just some tit for tat, that’s all. I really like your book, “Everyone Burns,” and I’m thinking ‘movie,’ ‘TV series,’ something really big. Can we just relax and talk about the book?
JD: Can you at least put a cushion on this orange crate? You’re not helping my hemmies.
BR: How’s that? Better? Good…Now tell me about “Everyone Burns” and how you came to write it.
JD: Guess I got no choice, but you gotta promise me you’re not going to make a habit of this kind of interview. This is my idea, not yours. Do we have a deal?
BR: Yes, we have a deal…Hell, I thought you would be pleased!
JD: Well, I am, sort of, but this is intellectual property, not something you mess with, BR. Plus I only get one original idea per decade.
BR: Okay, no more kidnaps for interviews! Got it! Can we proceed?
JD: The events in “Everyone Burns” take place over seventeen days while Thailand is still numb from the giant tsunami of December, 2004. Like everyone of sane mind this great catastrophe made my emotions run wild, made me think of life like I had never really thought about it. “Everyone Burns” gave me some escape from the reality all around me.
BR: Really?
JD: No, not really. I wrote it for the money and the groupies.
BR: And how’s that working out?
JD: Probably about as well as it’s working out for you, I’d guess. Well … looking at you, probably slightly better with the groupies.
BR: Here’s a quote from ‘Everyone Burns, just after a bar fracas:
 
“To summarise, my life is one of split personality. I am in two minds about it myself.
Nevertheless, down these narrow streets a man must walk, even if it is in flip-flops.
But I am no Philip Marlowe, and Koh Samui is not film-noir USA. There is nothing
of Hollywood’s black and white morality on this most colourful of Thailand’s
Islands. And long overcoats just make you sweat in the sun. Here The Postman
Never Rings Twice, simply because he never rings at all. He has better things to
do. Lamai’s and Chaweng’s adventurers generally pack a condom, not a gun.”
You open the book with a broken cue stick inflicting injury to your protagonist and it’s like the excitement and action just never stops after that. I picked this quote because it’s one of my favorites but also because it gives the reader a sample of your splendid writing…Do you have any disagreement with my assessment here, JD?
JD: Take these cords off and I’ll kiss you. The passage is also a favorite of mine. Aside from the style thing in my writing, it is just basically who I am. But I’m NOT David Braddock, by the way. I want to make that clear in case my wife Fiona is reading this! A book of this genre for me has to move at a rapid pace, the action mostly non-stop. A lot of what I write about in “Everyone Burns” has some factual similarities, the people, the places, the time certainly. And, of course, you know my English is rather precise, proper, as it was intended to be! WHY are you smiling and shaking your head?
BR: Never mind, just me being me! It’s a great book, JD. Wish we had more time
because I’d like to mention “People With Real Lives Don’t Need Landscapes,” a book of poetry you wrote in 2003. You certainly have a way with words, JD, and I happen to love poetry. As Amazon puts it, “This big bouncy collection of contemporary poetry draws on both popular and high culture. The poems have energy, imagination, humor, and lively speech rhythms. They are light, weighty, topical, intellectual, gory, sad, wild, and tender all at once.”
JD: I didn’t write that.
BR: What?
JD: I didn’t write that collection of poetry. That was a different John Dolan.
BR: Are you sure?
JD: What do you mean, “Am I sure”? I’m not likely to forget a thing like that, am I?
Sheesh! It’s scary how your brain can live in such a small space.
BR: That hurts, JD. Well,regardless, I loved your book “Everyone Burns” and can’t wait for the sequel. People should really take a long look at you, my friend…
JD: ‘My friend!’ My butt is sore here, BR!
BR: Filbert and Salome are napping right now. I’ll untie you, but, please, no fracas here. Tit for tat, remember? Be gentle.
End of Interview…
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UPDATE2017-UPDATE2017-UPDATE2017-UPDATE2017

John Dolan releasing this month of November, 2017, a NEW novel: 

RESTLESS EARTH 

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 ONE OF THE FIRST REVIEWS of RESTLESS EARTH:

on November 26, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A few hours ago, I finished reading John Dolan’s latest novel, ‘Restless Earth’. I did not rush to write a review and post it for others to see because I wanted to selfishly savour the tale the author had woven as though reminiscing over an exceptional meal or a fine wine. This is easily author Dolan’s most exceptional book to date.

As with all his stories, this one too is character-driven, yet unlike the others, here we are treated to four superbly drawn protagonists, two we fans of Dolan’s work have met in previous books and two new, as their lives collide with deadly consequence. With the assistance of a few additional secondary characters, all of whom are fully fleshed out and believable even though their role may be small, the author gifts us the voyeuristic pleasure of following their lives as they intermingle and eddy like the hidden currents of a river. Moreover, what a magnificent waterway it is!

Repeating another Dolan trait, almost an inside joke for his readers, the author includes a few nuggets of gold in the stream. These take the form of Sherlockian references, obvious in the case of the name of one of the protagonists, more subtle in the epithet used by another to refer to a minor character, perhaps as a tribute to Conan Doyle’s master crime writing of yore. Dolan’s storytelling is easily as outstanding as that of the aforementioned doyen, yet firmly placed in contemporary times.

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BUY SITES for RESTLESS EARTH: 

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Restless-Earth-Karmas-Children-1/dp/1912361019/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1511989317&sr=1-1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Restless-Earth-Karmas-Children-1/dp/1912361019/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1511989317&sr=1-1

You want good reading? Check out the books above…you will not be disappointed. John Dolan is destined for literary greatness! YOU HEARD IT HERE!
Please follow John on https://twitter.com – @JohnDolanAuthor 
AND, at AboutMe:  
AND, at Facebook:http://ow1y/o7Fte

(Really, follow him and read him. He’s ugly mean: it took two junkies and me to get him here for this ‘Orange Crate’ interview!)

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Martin and Sybil

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Martin and Sybil

-Short Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood

When the thought came to me I cannot say. The thought came and stayed, growing steadily through the minutes, hours, and days. It seized an uncommon, unpredictable control of my mind, macabre, mad thoughts pounding incessantly, relentlessly, a drum beat so wildly cacophonous I began to doubt my sanity…

Sybil was everything in my world, her devotion and love the building blocks of my future, our love destined for the scripts of poetry, pretty phrases, and romance novels.

It was a summer day on the white sandy shore in La Jolla, California. I sat on an unfolded beach seat reading once again my favorite book of soulful poetry by ex-priest, James Kavanaugh, a shattering compilation of soul-rending and searching. It was, and, is, a book that is both compliant and kindred to my own soul. The book’s passages reminded me of my own childhood and young adult life. the words and phrases touching the soft spots of pain and remembrance.

It was but a spray of sand that brought the exhilarating discovery of Sybil in a tantalizing yellow bikini, her tanned body of curves and voluptuousness arousing the gonads and the heart’s pitter-pat. But it was her face, framed by a delicious spill of golden hair, blue eyes and an elegant face that spoke supremely of angelic purity.

Something passed between us, that thrill of something discovered that just might be the defining moment of one’s life, a magical spate of emotions that come but once in a lifetime.

We stared at each other for some seconds before I found my voice. From some source within of clumsy mutterings, my first words to her were: “Are you with someone?”

She smiled and did a funny thing with her eyes and answered: “Well, no, I’ve just come from a modeling shoot. Are you suggesting I join you?”

“Look, you’ve staggered my senses here. You must know you’re beautiful… I just sense, uh, something passing through us, and that’s just not an ordinary event with me. But, yes, I am suggesting you join me. Will you consider it?”

She placed her hands on her titillating hips, gave me a coquettish smile: “Well, may we start with names? My name is Sybil. Yours?”

“Martin Hoover.’

So, began our relationship, built with the finest intentions and promises two people in love can make to each other.

We enjoyed being together with as little time apart as possible. We were in love, akin to some of the greatest loves of all time. Our adoration for each other bordered on rapture. I’m convinced no other love ever possessed more idyllic space in time.

We married three months after our La Jolla beach meeting, and life was storybook from every angle. Other than time at my Business Consulting and Sybil’s modeling, we were at all times together. We wanted a family but not immediately. We were enjoying life too much, our dinners at great restaurants, occasional evening visits with mutual friends, beach time, and some golf.

It was at a golf course that the first sense of trouble arrived. Sybil and I were put with two men to round out a foursome. That was fine with Sybil and me. We liked meeting new people.

These new people we could have done without very nicely, at least, one who called himself, Bryce Cowling. The one fellow, a John Gibbon, was a nice guy who had apparently been paired up with Cowling to satisfy the tee-times and crowds of golfers.

Bryce Cowling spent most of his golf-time looking at Sybil, an inane smile on his lips. He was a rude and brazen individual, showed no golf etiquette. He was always close to Sybil, making insulting non-sequiturs. Sybil gave no encouragement to the brash bastard and moved away from him when he came her way.

My run-in with him came on the thirteenth hole when I overheard Cowling utter an insult to me and to Sybil – her insult a sex-related quip. I grabbed him and shoved him away from Sybil, and he gave me a mean gritted-teeth stare and a menacing smile.

It was my good fortune to go thirty-eight years before meeting a crude and rude playboy type like Bryce Cowling. I told him this and to stay away from Sybil.

Fate can at times be cruel!

Cowling developed a fixation on Sybil, tracked her down at a modeling shoot and began stalking her.

Not only was the guy ugly and mean, he had a ‘rap sheet’ with the San Diego PD that included felony arrests for rape and assault.

It became my habit of taking time away from my work, driving Sybil to her ‘shoots’, but that was not doable on November 8, 2005 because of a consulting conflict.

When she went missing, I was frantic! I called the San Diego PD and was told forty-eight hours needed to pass before they could do anything.

The police found Sybil’s ravaged body seven days later in the hills above La Jolla near our home, near the beach where we met and fell in love.

My anguish became anger and rage. The SDPD questioned Bryce Cowling and cleared him of the homicide of Sybil. The PD said his alibi checked out.

Cowling’s alibi checked out for them, maybe, but not for me. My life became null and void without Sybil. There was nothing that would countervail my rage. Daily, nightly I tracked Bryce Cowling and finally gained unnoticed entry into his San Diego condo.

 He was with a woman who, unlike Sylvia, gave herself to dancing, laughing, telling of her sex-capades, copulating with this man I hated so much.

I watched from my hidden spot until I retched, but the retching did not rid me of my anger. With my hunting knife slicing and stabbing, I killed them both while they were sexually rapt. I would not know how many stabs, how many slashes I put upon their bodies. I can only say my rage was spent.

A neighbor in an adjoining condo heard the screams and called 911.

The police came.

I was arrested.

Now, I hear footsteps outside my cell.

It is time for my execution. I’ve been here for years and I am ready for my sentence to be carried out.

There are no regrets for what I did. That is perhaps the saddest part. That and the not knowing whether I shall see my beloved Sybil in the next dimension.

Anger and Hate are beastly emotions, but I somehow cannot regret the mutilations of those l savaged…

Even, when the real killers were apprehended later!?

What does that make me?

Short Fiction © by Billy Ray Chitwood

Please visit my Website:

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me:

https://twitter.com/brchitwood

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Prologue from “Stranger Abduction” (A novel by Billy Ray Chitwood)

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Stranger Abduction is out of the oven – edited, re-edited, ad infinitum, and I wanted to write a bit about the book and present the prologue…you can let me know if you like or don’t like what I’m sharing with you. Just be gentle and remember, I’m part of your reading and writing family…and, your elder.

This is the second time I’ve written this book…let me explain.

In the 1980’s, on an 80-acre non-working ‘Lazy Rabbit Ranch’ in southeastern Arizona near the ‘town too tough to die’, Tombstone, I began writing on a Starwriter 60 word processor my ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’. There were to be seven books in the series, with five inspired by true events. At the ranch I completed three of the ‘BC Series’ (except for final editing), neatly put the manuscripts’ pages in boxes, and moved to the beautiful cobalt waters of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. STRANGER ABDUCTION was to be Book 2 in the series.

In my lovely Sea of Cortez digs, I finished the rest of the books in the series, pulled each manuscript from its dusty box, and started the final draft, editing, and re-editing. The manuscripts were previously stored in a shed at my daughter’s house in Las Vegas, Nevada when we moved to Mexico. My son-in-law drove all the manuscripts down to me – sweet guy, love him, but I was irked because Stranger Abduction was missing. My son-in-law went back to Las Vegas and could not find the doomed manuscript… No, my love for the son-in-law did not turn to hate! (Okay, I thought about it but decided that might be a tad irrational!)

Thus ends the long saga of the lost manuscript, but not without reliving the frustration and anger I felt at losing said manuscript. I finally assumed it was lost in our move…by the movers, likely! A person has to have someone to blame for a loss like that! Am I right? Really, I’m not a cry-baby! Please, do not listen to my wife, Julie Anne! After all, she’s a genealogist! We’re all related, right? (Oh, well, I’ll let it go!)

Because each book in the ‘BC Series’ stood alone and was ready for publishing I forthwith took that action…hoping that one day I would by some stroke of luck and/or karmic event find the missing manuscript. Finally, I decided to totally re-write the book with different plot angles but not as a ‘Bailey Crane Mystery’.

Well, enough of ‘love’s labor lost’…forgive the ‘ramble’… You do know I live in ‘Twilight’? The population there does a lot of that! (Rambling, I mean!)

Stranger Abduction is inspired by an actual mother/daughter abduction two years before we moved to the Lazy Rabbit Ranch…in fact, that abduction took place within a few miles of our ranch, five minutes from the ranch. It is my belief, my hope, that ‘mystery’ and ‘suspense’ readers will enjoy the book that is now available for your serious perusal… It’s really apropos because there was a ‘Blog Talk Radio’ interview segment just this past Saturday (11/18/17) all about STRANGER ABDUCTION. The interviewer was the talented author, Beem Weeks. Of course, I was the interviewee.

Just another small detour…

Beem Weeks is an author with notable achievements, and ‘the thirty-minute interview’ was a fun experience for me. Beem is on Twitter (@BeemWeeks). Check out Beem’s book, JAZZ BABY, a novel that meticulously details the journey of a suddenly orphaned young teenage lady – ‘Baby Teegarten’ – and her remarkable singing voice that takes the ‘Big Apple’ by storm during a vintage era in American history. It’s a book with tons of Amazon 5-Star reviews.

Beem and I are both members of #RRBC and #RWISA, two book clubs that globally carry the torch for hundreds of gifted authors and readers. These two groups are creations of Nonnie Jules, an amazing author who envisioned unique Book Review Clubs that concentrated on presenting the very best INDIE writers, those authors who consistently strive for perfection in their blogs, books, and poetry…for the love of words they string together, not just the numbers. There are hundreds of authors and readers in our two idiosyncratic families, each member giving unselfish support to others in the groups. Hats off to Nonnie!

Nonnie’s books live up to her vision. For example, her novel, DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER, NIGHTMARE’S FRIEND: One Woman’s Journey Through Two Hells, is a book that will keep you awake nights. Nonnie has other best sellers as well. Check Nonnie out on Amazon.

Check out Beem, Nonnie, and the groups. They are amazing… #RRBC (RAVE REVIEW BOOK CLUB) on the Twitter search box for more information…#RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY) OF AUTHORS).

AND, NOW…we go to the REALLY self-serving part of this post May I have a light drum roll, Please? (Oh, stop it, Billy Ray!!! Your mirth makes no magic!)

Without proverbial further adieu, here is the ‘prologue’ from my novel, STRANGER ABDUCTION…

*****

STRANGER ABDUCTION

Prologue

Cigarette smoke slowly swirls around the dimly lit and crowded room. The smell is mixed with spilled beer, bad whiskey, body odor, stale smoke, something nostalgically reminiscent of old Mexico. The men belch, burp and fart when the need comes. The few women of the night, old, young, short, tall, slender, fat, some rather lovely beneath their cheap glitter, are gaudy in their colorful dresses. That is as it should be in Aqua Prieta, Mexico. There is nothing new in this old room, tables gouged and scarred, chairs uncomfortable without padding. The bar is the only area of the big room that has an ornate finish, and the stools are padded – ripped here and there but padded.

At a stained checker-cloth table in the corner of the Casa Orca Cantina three men sit talking. One is refilling the near empty mugs. Two of the men are from the United States, the other from Mexico’s resort cities along the Sea of Cortez. The US pair are mean-looking, swarthy, both with long oily dark hair, ruddy complexions and unshaven for many days, befitting the surroundings. The one called Eddie has a long diagonal scar on his forehead. The other man called Carl is younger and has a long bulbous nose. They are dressed in soiled sweatshirts, faded jeans, and well-worn sneakers.

The short rotund Mexican man sits in stark contrast in his dark suit, mustache, and bald head. He is obviously a man of some power and respect in the Casa Orca Cantina and anywhere else he might be. He does cringe and wrinkle his brow when the crude denizens belch, burp, and fart. The Casa Orca is simply a convenient venue for the type of men with which he must deal. Aqua Prieta is not home to this dignified man of Mexico. He is from the Sea of Cortez cities that offer better cuisine, better manners, and more elegance. Yet, he actually enjoys these short visits to the underclass environments…here, Mexicali, Nogales, San Luis, Tijuana. There is much respect paid to a man of his stature in these border towns.

The Mexican speaks. “My contacts tell me that you have been useful in delivering our products to your Denver, Colorado area. Are you pleased with the arrangement you now have with us?” He puffs his cigar and plumes the smoke upward.

“Yeah, sure, we are pleased,” the ugly American with the forehead scar speaks as the man in charge.

“I am also informed that you might be interested in performing some other activities for us. Are you aware of what I speak?”

“Yes, we are aware.” The American stares sternly into the face of the Mexican.

“It is my opinion that we can together make much money if you agree to our terms.”

“Some of your terms we’re already aware, but please lay them out for us again.” He sips from his mug.

“Of course…” the Mexican pauses, leans closer to the two across the table, takes a long puff on his cigar. “First, you find the product which meets our requirements. Second, you make a phone call to our agent and comply with his directions – you have the name and phone information. Third, upon delivery of the product in good condition to the final destination, you will receive a cash payment of $25,000 US dollars. Upon satisfactory receipt of three such satisfactory products, your payment is to reach $35,000 US dollars. Fourth, in the event of your arrest in the United States, this business of which we speak cannot be revealed under penalty of your immediate deaths. You can be assured that those arrangements can be easily made. Fifth, if at any time it is your wish to betray us, number four is to apply… as you can see, it is a simple arrangement for us both, and, of course, you assume all risks in these matters. Do you completely understand?”

“These ‘products’ as you call them, these females, it is my understanding that you are more interested in younger women?”

“I prefer that you use the word, ‘product’ when discussing our business. Is that a problem for you?”

“That is no problem. Sorry, but I would still like an answer to the question.”

“Yes, that is our preference, but there are benefits to us for products even older… We do pay less for the older products, by thirty per cent. There can be times when one must come with the other. We understand that.”

“Who is ‘we’?” asks the man called Carl.

“Pardon me but that is of no concern to you. Other than the phone agent and possibly others with whom you will speak, I am the only one from Mexico who will have contact with you. I should ask, do you have a problem with that arrangement?”

“No, we have no problem,” says the man called Eddie.

“Good! You say you have the number to call regarding the products, yes?”

“Yes… Is it any of my concern as to why you refer to the females as products?”

“No, it is of no concern to you… Just, don’t do it! Is that clearly understood at this time and in the future?”

With a short shake of the head, he answers, “Yes, that is clearly understood, but, listen, we do your work and we don’t appreciate being talked down to…”

“Do you wish out of the arrangement?”

“No, just some common courtesies, please.”

“You present yourself to me unshaven, poorly dressed, and you are common criminals… You are paid well for what you do, and you tell me to act a certain way with you? I ask you again, do you wish out of the arrangement? Think before you give me another frustrated shake of your head and say what you think I wish to hear. This is how I conduct business, and there are others who wait in line to do what you are doing. So, be sure of your answer. You are not dealing here with a Boy Scout Director. So, I await your answer?”

Feeling deflated, Eddie and Carl exchange glances. Eddie answers, this time with more humility of tone, “No, sir, we do not want out of the arrangement. I’m sorry.”

“Good!” The Mexican puffs rapidly on his cigar. “Now, I can tell you the date of the next pick-up for your van…”

When finished with the details of the pick-up, the Mexican takes from his pocket a small pouch and hands it to the man called Eddie. “You will be given directions when the time comes on how and when to use this. Do not lose it and keep it in a safe place.”

*

Sunday breaks with another sunny day in southeast Arizona, the long, wide Sulphur Springs Valley desert stretching out to the mountains east, west, north, and south to the Sierra Madres in old Mexico. It is the way of this Sunizona, Arizona community some forty-odd miles below Willcox, the heat and warm breezes bringing life to a lazy and slow pace for most inhabitants. The land is arid and without showy vegetation. There are only cacti, sand, gravel, sagebrush, and the tumbling tumble weeds crossing the roads for cars and trucks to dodge or splinter. To say the area is rural might not be enough, but it is beautiful and home to many who would not want it any other way.

The valley farmers grow barley, corn, wheat, vegetables, turning the soil often to get maximum value from the land. Great pistachio orchards, bee colonies, Christmas tree farms are part of the valley landscape, and all around the large rotating watering systems provide the irrigation. The big farmers belong to a coop to smooth the operative marketing of the goods. Great herds of sheep and cattle co-exist here in the Sulphur Springs Valley and the sheered wool and meat are significant sources of income for many in the area.

To the near west of this vast valley rise the rocky Dragoon Mountains and the well-known monument known as Cochise Stronghold. Tombstone, the ‘town too tough to die’, sets just over the Dragoons some fifty miles from Sunizona…conjuring up tales of Wyatt Earp, his brothers, bar room brawls, gun duels, and ‘the shootout at the OK Corral’.

To the nearer east lies the Chiricahua Mountains and, farther north, the Dos Cabezas Mountains where Cochise and Geronimo roamed well over a century ago. Much of our cowboy/Indian history was written in this valley and among these rock and cavernous mountains. The people who live here love the tranquil way of life, at least, most of them. Some want more than this somnolent existence and move away to the big cities and towns that offer more in the way of diversity.

Donna Pickering lives now in the East, has a lovely family and remembers well her home of youth here in Sunizona, her many brothers and sisters, her wonderful father and mother, and the crazy and beautiful memories of her young growing years on this quiet sun-filled prairie…the hikes around the ‘Stronghold’, Dos Cabezas, and the Chiricahua National Park.

There is one memory from Sunday, May 23, 1993, that still lingers, haunts Donna and her family – a sleepy Sunday Sabbath afternoon with some dust devils playing touch and go on the desert floor, breezes touching bodies with warm caresses, lemonade under the trees.

This is the backdrop for the story of that tragic and awful memory… Only this sun-scorched and storied land knows the actual events. While this tale gives a fictional account, there is some plausibility as to what could have happened. Some references here have viability, and, just perhaps, the story can offer an alternate truth.

(End of ‘Prologue’)

Billy Ray Chitwood  –  November 19, 2017

After reading Stranger Abduction, why not read Book 1 of the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’, An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery – Book 1, inspired by the actual brutal murder of a good friend of mine. The lovely actress and mother was missing for weeks and finally found in the desert northeast of Phoenix, ravaged by denizens of the habitat and the relentless summer sun. An Arizona Tragedy ( BUY SITES: https://goo.gl/L7wwR5 – US and https://goo.gl/UWgQXr – UK ) is my ‘requiem’ for a young lady, mother of two, who had the world in front of her. In my humble opinion, it is a great read – inspired by true events. It is now, after all the years, as is Stranger Abduction, an Arizona ‘Cold Case’.

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BUY SITES for STRANGER ABDUCTION

Amaxon US:  https://goo.gl/KPn1hn

Amazon UK:  https://goo.gl/WMu62d

Some Links:

http://www.about.me/brchitwood

http://twitter.com/brchitwood (@brchitwood)

http://billyraychitwood.com (My Website: books – short bio -some of my book reviews – a few blog posts)

http://amazon.com/author/billyraychitwood

https://brchitwood.com (My Blogsite)

http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

http://facebook.com/billyrayscorner

http://linkedin.com/billyraychitwood

http://googleplus.com/+billy-ray-chitwood

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Leonid and Sasha

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Leonid and Sasha

 (Flash Fiction/Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood)

Sasha begged him not to go. “You belong here with me, Leonid. The battle is within you, not with North Korea. What of us?” She tugged at his tattered coat.

He smiled benignly, “You’re a lovely and silly girl. You do not understand the reality of our time. To stay would be to defy my beliefs, my convictions, and, yes, my anger and hatred.”

“You would die for these beliefs and convictions, this anger and hatred?”

“We all must die, Sasha.”

“You brought me here to be left alone in a strange country?”

 “Hong Kong is not a strange country, foolish one. You know many of our people. Go to them when your money runs out. Stay with them. Should something go wrong, I will return for you.”

 “Please, Leonid, you go to die and you know it. You’ve told me of your plans. You go on a suicide mission. I’ve begged before and I beg of you, now, please stay!”

 At the door of the small efficiency apartment, Leonid paused with his hand on the door knob. His dark eyes and handsome face held a strange and wistful look. He removed his hand from the door knob, returned to Sasha where she stood by the tiny dining table.

 “You are so beautiful, my blue-eyed wonder.” He embraced and gave her a long passionate kiss.

 He then quickly twisted her head until he heard the snap. The lips were still in a half-smile as her head dangled and fell to his right shoulder, her blue eyes large and vacant in their death stare. In a whisper, he spoke, to the face he had loved, “Better you go this way, my dear Sasha, than to linger in life’s pain. You cannot know but I did love you.”

 Leonid gently lowered her body onto a soiled stuffed chair just a few feet from the dining table, gazed upon her splayed form for some seconds, then slowly left the apartment. Tears welled but he willed them away, a final and essential part of his being had snapped and was forever lost to him.

*****

Night, reluctant to shed its vagueness, was slowly showing its lightened eastern clouds as the sun gave way to earth’s perpetual orbital pattern. Leonid walked in the shadows along streets leading to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. It was still quiet in this city known in its translation as ‘Flat Land’. In his backpack he carried explosives with timer mechanisms that he would plant at key buildings. The explosive carefully strapped to his body he would save for the KMP.

His thoughts were well focused on his morning’s mission but he could not deny the flashing memories that brought him to this point in time…

His father, mother, and brother had been ruthlessly killed here in Pyongyang in 2012 by a squad of government gangsters of the ‘People’s Republic of Korea.’ His family was shown no mercy as they were chopped to death by machetes, labeled spies against the state. Four hours later his older brother and sister were pulled from their lodgings, beaten, and then chopped to death. The government squad had no ears to listen to his family’s protests of innocence, their legitimate reason for being in the ‘Flat Land,’ their labored cries of mercy.

Pyongyang’s government never wavered from their ill-gotten information about his family. Never mind that his mother had pleasantly refused to cater a special luncheon for the squad and their friends, the sole event and motive that brought the hatred and the killings. Never mind that his sister would be raped before she was chopped. The killings were all justified, each query quashed and forgotten by the government.

His marriage to Sasha prior to the family murders made home life an hourly ebb and flow of emotions. When sleep would come there were the hellish nightmares, waking, screaming the names of his dead family, his body slick with sweat and tears, Sasha clinging to him, sobbing, trying desperately to slay the night-dragons that possessed him.

Then came the job loss and it was as though the people of Hong Kong could see the rage in his eyes, the stench of hatred from his body. He became a man avoided and feared. Sasha tried to get him help, would set an appointment for him to see someone who might be able to help him, but he would not arrive at the set time. Sasha was the only person in the large city who could give him moments of relative calm, but then those times of surcease became fewer and fewer.

He would not bathe nor shave, only when Sasha would run his bath and physically pull and push him to the tub and wash and rinse him. For those few precious moments Sasha could almost sense some warmth come to him…but it never lasted long. The strange hatred that occupied him never resulted in personal damage to her. She did the talking, asking questions of him, and he bluntly answered the questions – until the fateful day he killed her! It was only some modicum of revenge that would fulfill what was left of his putrid life…

 

As he walked in the shadowy stillness, a voice came to him from an alleyway just a few feet away: “Leonid, I must talk to you. Come walk with me in the alley.”

Leonid stopped, momentarily startled…no one knew his name, knew that he was here in Pyongyang. “Who speaks my name?” He braced himself against a building corner near the alley, moving his hand near a detonator that would vaporize him and much of the immediate area.

“A friend, Leonid. Please come these few steps and talk to me. There is no harm intended. We will talk, and you can do then what you will.” The voice had a calm and soft cadence, and Leonid knew that the man spoke the truth.

Leonid walked a few feet into the alley until he saw a man’s form. What struck him were the man’s eyes. They glowed in the semi-darkness, matched the tenor of the stranger’s voice. Oddly, Leonid was not afraid of the stranger and walked some fifty feet further down the alley, stopping when the stranger sat on a wooden crate. The stranger bid Leonid to sit on another wooden crate nearby.

“How is it that you know me and what do you want?” Leonid asked.

“I’m just a man who knows the pain you carry within you and the mission that you are on.”

“How could you possibly know such things?”

“I have been with you all the way from Hong Kong, Leonid, mourning with you the loss of your beloved Sasha.”

“I killed her! With these ugly knotted hands, I killed her. How can you know this? Tell me who you are and why you are here, or, I will…”

“Leonid, just a few questions I have and you can be on your way.” The stranger’s voice was mesmerizing, measured in softness and tone. “Why is it, Leonid, that we are here on this spinning orb we call earth?”

There was rapture in the stranger’s voice that commanded a response. “We are here to live in delusion and to die and be no more.”

The stranger’s eyes seemed to glow more brightly and the long beard he wore was a pellucid whiteness that seemed somehow unearthly.

The stranger spoke, “So, why is it that the moon falls from the sky, the sun does not bring us daylight, and birth has no precise process to follow?”

Still taken by the stranger’s soothing voice, but a bit nonplussed, Leonid responded. “But you know that is not so. What is your motive here?”

The stranger seemed not to hear the question. “Why is there no evil and good in the world?”

“Stop confounding me with your Socratic silliness. Of course, there is evil and there is good in the world.”

“And why do you think that is so?”

“God only knows.”

“You speak His name as though you know him, Leonid. Do you know God?”

“There is no God!”

“Yet, you say He knows about evil and good.”

“Look, your aura wraps me in some kind of spell and I seem compelled to listen to your words. Please tell me what it is you wish me to know.”

“One last question, your response, and I will say my final words to you. “Did you truly love Sasha?”

“Of course, with all my heart I loved her, but my heart and soul are heavy with grief and hatred.”

“Like the hatred of Jesus’ enemies as they crucified Him on the cross? Like the hatred of the Americans for the Japanese during World War Two? Like the psychotic hatred of serial killers?”

“Yes, yes! How else can I answer such questions?”

“You can answer such questions by having Faith that there is more to come beyond this life, by believing that evil only spreads when good people are paralyzed by anger, fear, and hatred. To Love is to have Faith. To have Faith is to have Love. These noble elements of living decide our ultimate destinies. People have choices to make all their earthly lives. They will not always make the right choices, but Faith and Love will make all the wrong choices bearable and inconsequential when the last grain of sand is gathered.”

As more light came to the alley Leonid thought that he understood what the stranger was saying to him. He wanted to say something but no words would come.

The stranger lifted himself from the crate and stood in front of Leonid. “May I touch your head, Leonid, so that it might bless you?”

With tears now flowing, Leonid merely moved his head downward. The stranger touched his head. Leonid sensed warmth on his head and a coursing flutter through his body.

Then, the hand left his head.

When Leonid raised his head, the stranger was gone and daylight streamed throughout the alley.

Leonid was suddenly wearier than ever before in his life. He slid down the wall of a building and fell asleep.

*****

When Leonid awoke, his head was on his own pillow. He was gazing at the adjoining pillow into the wondrous blue eyes of his beloved Sasha, a sweet smile upon her face.

“You look different somehow, my love. Do you still intend to carry out your vendetta against North Korea? Please say that you will not.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled her face to his chest.

He blinked several times, feeling a wondrous presence streaming through his body He first smiled broadly, then giggled deliriously.

A pout showed on Sasha’s face. “Why do you laugh at me, Leonid.

“No, no! my precious love, I don’t laugh at you. I’m so happy, and, one day I will tell you, why!” He hesitated and wrapped Sasha in his arms.

“There will be no vendetta, not ever…”

Leonid tightly wound himself around Sasha and gave her a long and tender kiss.

“I’m torn,” he said, “making love to you, or, bacon and eggs?”He paused only briefly, “Oh, to hell with the bacon and eggs.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – Flash Fiction

(First written in June, 2013 – here with minor changes.)

Please visit my Website and preview my books, some reviews, and a bit about me:

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter:

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RRBC Spotlight Author: Michael Lynes

RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’S

Spotlight Author: Michael Lynes

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So…I hate computers and computers hate me.

I suppose it’s only fair. After all, I have misspent the last three decades of my youth assembling, tinkering, compiling and probing their convoluted silicon innards, and what creation does not harbor hatred for its creator?

My reciprocal loathing is similarly well founded, as the tangible rewards of a career in embedded software engineering are few and fleeting. For instance I’ve long ago given up any hope of explaining what it is that I do to any other normal human being on the planet. Save for the one-tenth of one percent who are either fellow engineers or children, and believe me most days it’s hard to tell them apart, no one has the slightest clue.

I’ll give you an example. When asked, for instance at a casual barbeque party, my best off-the-cuff answer is, “I type for a living.” This earns me a sharp elbow in the ribs if my wife is at hand. I have also responded, “I poke turtles with sticks until they turn into racecars.” said with complete sincerity and a deadpan expression. That gets me an elbow and a dirty look.

Now, if my interrogator just happens to be an engineer, one who has presented me the correct counter-sign identifying themselves as a fellow mage, I can wax poetic about memory leaks and clock duty cycles, pesky stack overflows and the joys of eliminating a sneaky uninitialized variable. But…I digress.

We were talking about hate, and I want to stay on point.

Computers hate me and the feeling is mutual. They are malodorous, vindictive, ungrateful little bastards, who will monopolize your time, waste all your money and leave you nothing to show for it except a sink full of dirty dishes, an empty snack cupboard and piles of smelly laundry.

Hold on a second. That would be teenagers. But, you get my point.

Computers are spoiled and willful. They are also devious and occasionally indispensable, but for the most part hardly worth their keep. The shades of both Babbage and Turing may oscillate wildly about their respective rest states, but I will stand firm by my conviction. In short – computers just suck – full stop.

“But,” you protest, “Computers are our helpers! Indispensable guides, sources of endless amusement and founts of precious wisdom! How did we live before we had them?

“They are our lifeline, pictures, voices and personas. Without computers, we would be lost, less than human!”

“Baloney!”, or some such, I reply with desperate conviction. “Computers are nothing but parasites on the body politic! They go on and on about how they need a bigger hard-drive or bazillion pixel display screen or the latest Windows Eleventy-seven operating system!”

Wild-eyed and spittle flecked I conclude. “Join me! It is not too late! Together, we can expunge this curse from our society!”

My strident call to arms fades to a whisper. It falls unheard, upon bud-plugged ears and mega-pixel-glazed eyes. It is too late.

We have met the enemy, and Pogo my friend you were right. They are us.

*

Just so this post will not be a complete waste of time – below are some time-honored computer care and feeding tips that you are free to use without attribution…your results may vary. Have fun stormin’ da castle…!

COMPUTER TIPS: (for experienced users and/or dummies)

  • Never address computers politely. (They love abuse)
  • Never feed them after midnight. (No one likes FAT16, FAT32 or any sort of FAT)
  • Always rub your lucky mouse pad when you really, really need your install, upgrade or Microsoft update not to fail. Rub harder when this does not help.
  • To encourage good behavior from your computer, lay a loaded carafe of salt water, a ball-peen hammer and a wickedly sharp pair of wire-cutters down in view of it’s built-in-camera prior to starting any important project with a deadline. After all, everybody should have some skin in the game.

When any, or all, of the above paths to enlightenment fail, my advice is find a kid, basically anyone over the age of eight, and throw yourself on their tender mercies. You will learn humility and gain great wisdom, and, your computer will respect you in the morning – I promise.

And, Here is the Really Good Stuff:

♥THIS BLOG AUTHOR’S NOTE: (Mr. Lynes would not say this, but I do) – Really,  how could someone not like this guy? He’s a great author (5-Star Reviews up the ‘Kazoo’) and he’s got a great sense of humor – I’m just saying! Look below at his bio… I’m one of those computer ‘dummies’ to whom he jokingly refers – I’m in ‘Twilight’ now and my laptop drives me crazy (that’s every single day!)… I love this guy. ♥ 

Author Bio:

Mr Lynes is a serial entrepreneur who enjoys dry red wine and single malt scotch. When not occupied with arcane engineering projects he spends his time playing with his two grandchildren, baking bread, feeding seasoned hardwood into his ancient Timberline woodstove, working on his various cars, bird watching and taking amateur photographs. His current menagerie includes one short-haired turtle shell cat and a pair of actual turtles.

His last book, There Is A Reaper: Losing a Child to Cancer, was an Indie B.R.A.G. Gold Medallion Honoree in January 2017, a silver-medal winner of the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards for Memoir, a medalist in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards for Memoir, a winner of the 2015 TISBA (The Indie Spiritual Bookk Awards), and a finalist in both the Independent Author Network 2015 Book of the Year award and the Beverly Hills Book Awards for 2015.

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THERE IS A REAPER – https://www.amazon.com/There-Reaper-Losing-Child-Cancer-ebook/dp/B00XNZW6C4

Mr Lynes was awarded a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and currently works as an embedded software engineer. He has a consuming interest in the science of emotion as promulgated by Dr. Paul Ekman and has made a comprehensive study of his Face and Emotion courses.

Mr Lynes has four sons, has been married for over thirty years and currently lives with his wife and youngest son in the beautiful secluded hills of Sussex County, NJ.

 

*  *  *

Michael’s Books

THE FAT MAN GETS OUT OF BED:  https://www.amazon.com/Fat-Man-Gets-Out-Bed/dp/1938812905

Book Cover

AND:

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THERE IS A REAPER – https://www.amazon.com/There-Reaper-Losing-Child-Cancer-ebook/dp/B00XNZW6C4

Follow Michael Lynes online:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/woodheat

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MLynesAuthor/

Website – https://mikelynes.wixsite.com/mlynesauthor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of “Alien Disclosure at Area 51” by C. Ronald Garner: This Mind-blowing Read is NOT for the Fainthearted

This fascinating read is primarily the true story of Dr. Dan Burisch, a microbiologist at the infamous Area 51. It’s well-documented with a substantial number of quotes from credible individu…

Source: Review of “Alien Disclosure at Area 51” by C. Ronald Garner: This Mind-blowing Read is NOT for the Fainthearted

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