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:

Rhttps://twitter.com/brchitwood

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haiku Friday – Touch & Wrong

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Hi, Ronovan,

Here’s my Haiku Friday Offerings – Touch & Wrong

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Is it wrong to breathe?
When my lips touch your lushness,
My breath escapes me!

OR:

Touch me tenderly
And spread fast the fire within!
Can lust be so wrong?

OR:

If we live each day
With abundant love in our hearts,
Wrong deeds we won’t touch!

Billy Ray Chitwood – https://billyraychitwood.com – Website
https://brchitwood.com – Blogsite

 

Welcome to Twilight

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Welcome to Twilight

Well, here you are!

Settle in…tell me about the roads you travelled to get here.

What dreams did you chase?

How many did you catch and find an ecstatic, enduring rapture in their fulfillment?

How many were somehow forbidden by tenuous moments of doubt and indecision?

How many routes along the road did you take?

How many loves?

How many heartaches?

How many moments of despair?

Well, you’re here in Twilight, here where you can suffer not so much the decisions you’ve made, here in the near-pleasant world of ‘been there, done that’, here where one can attend the parties without concern for the morrow, here where the golf club, shopping, lunch with friends are the only things that matter…

Unless, of course…

You’re a romantic and wanderlust, still carrying sad baggage of mistakes and minimal accomplishments, a quaint legacy void of grand, lasting dimensions.

But, then…

We all are somewhere in that passage to Twilight. God forbid, you might be in politics! Even, the leader of the free world, and, if you have not been too indiscriminate to matters of heart and soul, it is likely Twilight will fit you just fine.

Along those roads to Twilight, many of us were charmed and/or deceptively beguiled by people who have love or evil in their hearts. Both of those groups will have no problems in Twilight. Each in her/his way has not the heart-wrench in recounting their lives, both convinced of purity in their souls. (Only one, of course, could be correct.)

Sadly, though…

Those of us who carried too much Joy, love, and regret in our baggage along the roads travelled, whose feelings are fraught with emotional quakes of sorrow, fragile in the remembering, will have the toughest time in Twilight.

Why? You ask.

Because their souls lend them along the way the brush to paint the sunrise, the sunset, the musical instrument and voice to bring tears to our eyes, the pen to write the pathos and poetry of our lives. To be blessed with that tenderness of being must make Twilight difficult because they have searched and loved most arduously, have kissed the sensual and hungry lips, have strolled the Champs-Élysées most fervidly with easel and pallet, have shown their hearts most beautifully playing the tenor sax. AND, Because the desires never diminish for these people of the night – these people who speak to us from their hearts and souls.

But, so be it…

Twilight can make exceptions and can be a most wonderful place to be.

Welcome to Twilight…

Post by Billy Ray Chitwood – October 10, 2017

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

https://www.billyraychitwood.com

Please view my Blogsite at:

https://www.brchitwood.com

and/or

https://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

Please follow me on:

https://twitter.com/brchitwood

Facebook:

https://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

and

https://facebook.com/billyrayscorner

#RRBC #RWISA #ASMSG #IAN1 #AHA

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THE CRACKED MIRROR – Reflections of an Appalachian Son

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THE CRACKED MIRROR – Reflections of an Appalachian Son

“Mr. Chitwood–the author of Bailey Crane novels and works of nonfiction–bares his life from childhood to old age with the skill of a surgeon and the requisite messiness of ER trauma.”

(From the 5-Star Review by Dr. Timothy Tays – Author and Clinical Psychologist who has his practice in Scottsdale, Arizona.)

    Twitter: @timothytays)

 *

“The Cracked Mirror”

A memoir of author Billy Ray Chitwood, AND, 90+% of the narrative is TRUE!

SUMMARY

From Appalachia to neon lights and mind swirls of adulthood. A book worthy of any Book Shelf. A Book of literary quality, life events, and historical significance.

Childhood was the ’emotional pits’ – sucking the clean air of Appalachia from the lungs of a little boy as he endured chronic abuse and steady mobility – the sad and emotional soup would be difficult to digest for a lifetime.

From the boyhood uncertainty to neon lights and sharp contrasts in adulthood, the young man searches to find family and love amid a new world of glamour and ‘lotus eaters’. While demons of the past often visit, the man finds modest hope in the many gin mills, love affairs, and an ultimate prize.

***

THE CRACKED MIRROR

A memoir of author Billy Ray Chitwood, AND, 90+% of the narrative is TRUE!

 BUY SITES:

AMZ US: https://goo.gl/7X1LZb

AMZ UK: https://goo.gl/eLv3zz

AMZ CA: https://goo.gl/nYS5zS

AMZ DE: https://goo.gl/5tzXnq

CrackedMirrorKindle

PERSPECTIVE ON THE NARRATIVE

Living on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, the deep cobalt beauty all around me, I decided to write the story of my life. Not really knowing why, I determined that characters on the Chitwood side of my genealogy would have fictitious names…while on my Mom’s side, real names were used. So, the reader can assume correctly that, in the memoir, my name is Prentice Paul Hiller. The idea was to liven up the story line, make it more interesting than a ‘laundry list’ of dates and facts, to give the book form and shape, some important historical data, and merge the facts with some titillating, dramatic moments, again, most of them true.”

***

Amazon & Goodreads ENDORSEMENTS (REVIEWS)

4-Stars – The Cracked Mirror

By Beach Lover at Heart on August 17, 2017

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase 

 Billy Ray Chitwood’s “The Cracked Mirror: Reflections of an Appalachian Son” is a brave, soulful read, which is imaginatively crafted (the story being told from the confines of an assisted living facility – the “way station” – while the main character, Prentice Paul Hiller, is recovering from hip replacement surgery).

Memoirs (even ones admittedly fictional, as this one is) are often a good way of learning history. This book manages to do just that, painting a vivid picture of life growing up in rural Tennessee in the 30’s and 40’s. The story is told with frankness and insight – revealing one man’s experiences, thoughts and feelings – warts and all – from early childhood through adulthood, and on into the “golden years”.

Along the way, the reader finds himself empathizing with the author’s quest for inner peace and understanding of his personal life struggles. This book should be an inspiration to all of us – to find the motivation and make the time to pen our very own memoirs to leave for future generations.

***

 5-Stars – The Cracked Mirror

By Timothy M. Tays on May 27, 2012

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

 I approached “The Cracked Mirror” by Billy Ray Chitwood with much anticipation because it uniquely presented itself as “A Fictional Memoir.” A challenge that could have easily been a literary disaster is instead a literary gem.

Mr. Chitwood–the author of Bailey Crane novels and works of nonfiction–bares his life from childhood to old age with the skill of a surgeon and the requisite messiness of ER trauma. He is honest and contrite about youthful transgressions, and is both traumatized and healed. The “Mirror” of the title is an accurate reflection of a lifetime that includes victory and beauty, the “Cracked” an honest ownership of human imperfections.

The fictional chapters titled “The Way Station” occur every-other chapter, and serve as introspection to the memoir chapters. These are handled flawlessly via the protagonist PP Hiller and the clinical psychologist character Greta Fogel. Mr. Chitwood does not make the mistake of leaning on psychobabble jargon to play psychologist, but instead captures the rapport of a friend who is also a retired psychologist sharing some insights with a friend, that we, as readers, get to also benefit. The result is a memoir that expertly handles the arch of a lifetime from childhood poverty and abuse to the bittersweet regrets, acceptance, and amends of a man intensely aware that he is in the autumn of his life.

Powerful writing from an author that now has me seeking out his other works.

 *** 

4-Stars – Billy Ray’s Memoir

By D. James on June 11, 2011

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

 I don’t normally care for memoirs, but Billy Ray Chitwood’s “The Cracked Mirror” was more than a memoir. The author expressed his views and showed his heartache in growing up poor while at the same time loving all of his relatives who took him under their wing.

He points out to the reader all of the “cracks” in our poor misguided world, and he knows what he is talking about. This is not a “poor me” book because the author is quite intelligent and points out where we as a people are going in the wrong direction. He made his own mistakes along the way, but haven’t we all. He suffered greatly from those blips in his life and still does. He and his wife and Bengal cat live a good life now at the beautiful Sea of Cortez. His dreams continue to haunt him and undoubtedly always will. He is hanging on and will continue to do so.

***

5-Stars – A treat of a read!

By Maureen on June 4, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition

 Described as ‘fiction but 90% true’, the author has created protagonist Prentice Paul Hiller as a man reflecting on his life whilst recovering from a hip operation in a nursing home. We follow him from his birth in Appalachia where there were idyllic times, happy childhood days (his mom was a great cook and of course the food tasted that much better because it was served up with a great big dollop of love!) There were traumatic times too during The Great Depression, when his mom and dad would fight in the true sense of the word, with his mom suffering some beatings.

Prentice leads an eventful life, it’s raw and gritty, but it’s written with simplicity and an honesty that ensures there are no skeletons left in the proverbial cupboard. There were times when his life appeared to be spiraling out of control, but he managed to take back that control and carved out a good and comfortable life for himself. He’s an intelligent man, a good person who appreciates the love of his family, though his demons do come back to haunt him at times. There were some deeply moving moments, told with a clarity and candour that was a pleasure to read. It’s clear that the author’s life mirrors that of his protagonist, and it was a great insight into the life of this Appalachian boy…

***

 5-Stars – A Touching and Brave Book

By Diogenes on October 25, 2013

Format: Kindle Edition

 When I reviewed Mr. Chitwood’s novel “Mama’s Madness” last year, I applauded the author’s gritty, literary style and noted he was a writer outside of the ‘usual’ Indie mould – a chance-taker, and one who speaks his mind without pandering unduly to his readership.

“The Cracked Mirror” reinforces my view of Billy Ray Chitwood as a man of words. The book is a ‘fictional’ memoir, although most of the material is supplied from Chitwood’s own life.

Prentice Paul Hiller, the book’s first-person protagonist, is in the twilight of his years. He is recovering from hip replacement surgery in an old people’s facility. This provides him with the opportunity to reflect on his life; its highs and its disappointments. Hiller uses his enforced leisure time to document a restless, tumbleweed existence from a childhood of poverty in 1930s Tennessee to the present day. He is candid about what he perceives as his failures. In spite of his rationalisations, he remains haunted by his actions and inactions, missed opportunities and unsuccessful relationships. Chitwood presents us with a mind on a quest for meaning and understanding. Above all he gives us a portrait of a man trying to come to terms with guilt; an individual working towards self-forgiveness and peace of mind. This is a touching book and a brave one.

Some of the musings on the state of present-day America were lost on this British reader, but they may well have a resonance for those residing on the other side of the Atlantic.

This is a worthwhile and thought-provoking read. Five stars.

***

 5 out of 5 starsReflections of an Appalachian Son

By Rosalind R on August 7, 2011

Format: Kindle Edition

 I found this book to be a thoughtful, well told story of an interesting life. The author pulled no punches in baring his soul with refreshing candor and insight as well as good natured humor. I’m looking forward to reading his most recent book.

***

 Goodreads Review  – 5-Stars

Christoph Fischer

“The Cracked Mirror” by Billy Ray Chitwood is a thoughtful and reflective fictional memoir. The author’s life is told from one care home inmate to the other, giving us a dual narrative of life story from 1933 onwards and the present day relationship between the friends who are talking.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author

 Billy Ray Chitwood

 Being an Appalachian lad I ate quite a lot of emotional soup and have been trying for all the years to digest it. I’ve taken the easy and the difficult routes to get at this point in life, a point not so different from that confused kid who joined the US Navy to escape the fragmented uncertainty of youth. All the mobility of childhood, all the harshness that comes with a broken and misplaced family, all the ensuing mistakes and successes, all have guided me to this place in time and space.

NOW – The Hard Truth – About Me

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 at https://billyraychitwood.com. If you wish to read some of my 350 blog posts, go to my old blog site at:

https://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

My new domain Blog is: https://brchitwood.com

 

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 2, 2017

 AUTHOR WEBSITE – https://billyraychitwood.com

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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

 

Please preview my books and some Amazon reviews at: https://billyraychitwood.com – My Website.

If you like what you read, or, even if you do not, perhaps you can leave an Amazon Review… Would be greatly appreciated.

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Featured post

“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:

https://www.billyraychitwood.com – (Website) AND

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Proud recipient of eleven Blog Award Nominations.

 

Featured post

How Dare the Inconvenience!

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“How Dare That Inconvenience!”

I’m currently working on a new book and stopped long enough to check in with twitter…Twitter had the audacity to be ‘down.’ Like, down for over an hour — and, still down! How dare that inconvenience!

Serves a point in our lives today, does it not? We live in a digital world in which some folks thrive and know everything there is to know about the internet, while others of us just sort of get along. We are so accustomed now to running our lives with laptops, URL’s, RSS Feeds, Streams, et al. When we share bandwidth with others in our community and someone is streaming movies, kids are active on their game boards, and parents are doing their digital thing, the electronic gadgets can slow down dramatically. Then, we get irritable, yell at the wife, kids, friends, and curse all those who are eating up all our bandwidth.

Time for the generational questions! What have we become? Where are we going in this mad digital world? An old anachronistic simpleton like me gets lost in this world at times and spends a lot of valuable time trying to figure it all out…at least, the time is valuable when one is my age. So we hoot and holler until the electronic gadgetry comes back to a sane and sensible environment for work, like twitter tweeting and facebook messaging and goodreads solicitations and book recommendations, etc. Then, at the end of the day when I turn off my computer, sip on my one and only tequila on the rocks, and look out at the Sea of Cortez, I see the folly of it all…well, I sort of see the folly of it all — with the help of the Sea and tequila sipping.

Whatever the generation, we must live in it, accept its technological advances, and move on with our lives. Then, the succeeding generations can claim us ‘nuts’ for leaving them with such a mess to clean up.

Does any of this sound familiar? Is it all part of a bigger picture? Am I just singing to the choir? Of course, I am, and in pretty good voice, I’d say.

For now, though, how dare that inconvenience!

Billy Ray Chitwood – 9/22/17 and 7/26/12

Please preview my books at my website: https://billyraychitwood.com 

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Airlines and Altitude

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Airlines and Altitude

A striking lady stood on her toes in the aisle placing a small brown valise in the overhead compartment. Momentarily, I was stunned by her beauty, by the delicate beige dress of chiffon that surrendered sensually to her curvaceous body in a most delicious way. Her long golden tresses dropped elegantly just below her shoulders. She appeared to me in the age range of thirty-plus, perhaps a model, or, a movie actress.

I’m an entrepreneur, busily involved in a number of businesses, likely, maybe, aside from money, considered handsome by some…at least, good-looking. I’m athletic, six feet tall with raven-dark short-cropped hair, hazel eyes, a Roman cast, and in my early forties. I hastily married once, but found it too confining, confounding, and too interruptive of my business goals.

The attraction was immediate as the glamorous lady in the aisle slammed close the overhead, her mesmerizing blue eyes cast a spell on my own, and her perfectly shaped lips formed a smile as she spoke: “Hi, I have the window seat. You’re stuck with me all the way to Los Angeles.”

I started to unbuckle my seatbelt and stand, but she stopped me. “Please, you’re fine. First class makes flying a treat with its roomy space.”

Still with the soft smile, she moved easily and swiftly between the bulkhead and me to her window seat – we had the first row of seats in the first-class section, lending a feel of coziness and privacy.

The sweet scent of her perfume filled my nostrils, delighted my lungs, as she took her window seat, and I was hoping my nonplussed insides was not simultaneously shaped on my face. The smile I returned to her seemed socially awkward to me as I spoke: “I’m delighted to be ‘stuck’ with such a lovely lady. My name is Stuart (Stu) bellows, and I might as well ask up front, are you a conversationalist or do you prefer privacy with your flying?”

“How courteous and sweet, Stu, of you to ask, but I enjoy chatting with people on planes, being nosey! My name is Evie Coblessie. I’m delighted to meet you.” Her perfectly aligned white teeth contrasted marvelously with her sultry lush lips, painted with a subtle non-glaring blush shade.

We softly shook hands as we were interrupted by the first-class stewardess with a gold name tag of Betsy: “You two wish a drink before take-off?” She looked first at Evie.

“Sounds great! A glass of Chablis if you have it. Thank you.”

“Please make it two, Betsy,” hoping the cute ‘Stew’ would not be able to notice the unusually romantic stirring generated by my brain… This blonde beauty was definitely interrupting my lap-top business date for the next five hours.

The altitude, the Chablis rounds, the inexplicable attraction that we each seemed to have for one another moved us along very nicely. Our chatter became much more personal, disabling subtlety, decrying diary pages of the most personal kind.

Evie and I turned down the lunch offer for more Chablis, and, as the wine unlocked other sinister doors within us, we began ‘touching’, first with the arm touch, then with the knee…but the kicker was the role of the eyes.

It turned out that Evie had indeed been a model, had married once, found the same mediocrity in the different shades of each’s personality. We in fact had very similar takes on life and where it might take us.

Somewhere during the delirium of our awakened senses came a question from me that produced a shock value for each of us.

“Do you know about the ‘Mile High Club’?” As soon as I asked the question I gasped and added: “I’m so sorry! I don’t know why I would ask you a question like that?”

She giggled and responded. “Well, I do know of the club but don’t have membership. How about you? Are you a full-fledged member?” She had the cutest grin on her face, her orbs doing a wild display of dance moves.

Betsy brought us another Chablis, then went to her ‘drop-down’ seat next to the flight deck for a nap.

“No, not a member at all, ‘fledged’ or otherwise. I do have to say I’m intrigued by the possibility… Please don’t be insulted by my comment. I find you a most beautiful and wise flight buddy, Evie, and it’s not my intent at all to make suggestions. In fact, I do not want to end this ‘buddyship’ when this cross-country journey is over. ‘The ‘Mile High Club’ thing just makes me wonder about altitude and airline aircraft. Does that combination do a job on people of the daring and romantic sets?”

Evie got this flushed look on her face, grabbed my hand, and said: “Let’s do it, Stu! But, how do we get away with it?”

Okay, I can’t say who came up with the idea, but one of us leaves the first-class compartment and goes to the tourist-class section. We agree that I will be the first to leave, will wait, if need be, for the very last rest room on the right side of the plane. Evie will leave a few minutes later, will either see me waiting or can assume I’m already in the room.

There will be no suspense built here…

The deed was done, and, when Betsy awoke from her nap she brought fresh glasses of wine to two flushed smiling faces, eyes dreamy and staring straight ahead into the carpeted bulkhead.

Now, look, don’t get the wrong idea…

Here’s what my entrepreneur friend wanted me to write under his hand at the end of this post, to wit:

I’ve explained all of this to the writer of this blog post, with his promise of no names – or, fictitious names if he must.

For the record, ‘Evie and I’ have been happily married for many years and have beautiful kids. We love each other with a devotion that is likely rarely found in marriages.

Just beware of ‘airlines and altitude’!

Evie and I now travel by rail…

Well, that’s another story… I’ll get around to sharing it with my blogpost writing buddy here. Be on the lookout for it.

Flash Fiction by: Billy Ray Chitwood – 9/15/17

Please preview my books at:

https://billyraychitwood.com

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