A Hasty ‘Live-In’

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Sept. 22/18  LindaGHill

Prompt for #SoCS Sept. 22/18  LindaGHill

 Prompt words-Flour and Flower-

“A Hasty Live-In”

“Hi, Judy Lou, that your travel bag at the door?”

“Yeah, it is.”

“You going somewhere?”

“Alreddy got here. Gonna spin tha weekend with yu an Suzy Mae.”

“Oh, you are, huh …umm…where is Suzy Mae?”

“She’s in the kitchen. She’s fixin sumthin you like, I theenk! Rekin you air glad ta-be home from work, huh, , Sam?”

“Yeah, I’m glad, Judy Lou. Well, you keep watching television, Judy, and I’ll go see Suzie, okay?”

“Shore, it’s okay. It’s yur partment, ain’t it?”

“Well, yes it is! Oh, there were flowers in a vase on that end-table. You know where those flowers are, Judy Lou?”

“No, I don’t, Sam. I shore diden takem.”

“Oh, I know you wouldn’t take them, Judy Lou. Okay, guess Suzy Mae put them somewhere else. You go ahead and watch television, Judy.”

(*Sam walks into the kitchen*)

“What’s that smell, Suzy Mae?”

“Oh, yor home early, Sam. That smell’s yur dinner and it’s almost dun. I fixed that Tenasee gulosh resapee you gave me. You wanna a lil taste afore I dish up? Now, it’s hot! So be curful!”

(*Sam tastes a spoonful of the goulash*)

“Well, you know, it’s … ouch! … what’s this sharp little thing that’s in that goulash?”

“Well, I rekin it’s from the flours, Sam. How’s it taste?”

“It doesn’t ‘taste’, Suzy Mae! It hurts! It pricked my tongue! Did you say, flowers, Suzy?”

“Yep, at’s what I sed ! Whatta yu meen, Sam, it priked you tongue! Jus how air yu  meening that, Sam? ”

“Suzy! Suzy Mae, stop stirring that pot for a minute! You telling me you put flowers in that goulash, those beautiful flowers I brought home last night?”

“Well, yeow, but I put’em in that blender afore I put’em in the pot. That’s what you told me ta put in the stew/”

“No, Suzy, you were supposed to put flour, f-l-o-u-r, in the goulash, not, flower, f-l-o-w-e-r! Those were artificial flowers, Suzy! That’s just crazy, Suzy Mae!”

“Well, I thaught that’s whot you wanted, Sam, Dam! Now, yor mad at me.”

“Now, stop crying, Suzy Mae, it’s alright! Just a mistake on my part. It’s okay! Stop crying, now! Know what, I’ll take you and Judy Lou out to dinner. We’ll go and have some Kentucky Fried Chicken. How’s that?”

“You ain’t mad at me nun? I Iuv that Kentuckee fried chicken, Sam! I’m shor soree bout the flours, Sam, that prik an all … wotevur yur meenin is!”

“No, I’m not mad at you, Suzy! Here, let me turn the stove off, and we’ll go upstairs and get ready to go out for dinner…come on, now.”

(‘Man, if she wasn’t built like Gina Lollobrigida, I wouldn’t be coming home from work tomorrow!)

Billy Ray Chitwood – 9/22/18

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Best Part of My Day

 Best Part of My Day

Ah, it’s Monday! I’ve done my exercises! I’ve shaved, showered, had my one cup of coffee, my English Muffins – crisp, with butter, cream cheese, and strawberry preserves, my glass of milk, and I’ve thanked my good wife. Oh, and I’ve given Lady Gray her ‘Temptations’ treat!

Except for the exercises, shave, and shower, all the rest takes place laid-back in my ‘Lazy-boy’ recliner. Hey, just saying, everybody has to be somewhere!

Then comes my ‘think period’. I’m writing my seventeenth novel. It’s a fictionalized mind-buzz about an actual crime here in my state (my geographic location), and I’m really on a ‘tear’, letting the words fly onto that magical laptop screen. The ‘think period’ comes with a perfect harmony. Julie Anne is reading her book! Lady Gray is taking one of her frequent naps under the coffee table in front of Julie Anne. My strange ‘Musical Ear Syndrome’(MES to doctors) is playing soft music in my left ear, all is right with the world.

The ‘think period’!

Okay, I left my story yesterday with the lead suspect in jail and my ‘good guys’ off for cards and libations at the star-character’s country club.

So, I’m thinking: what’s the next action? You see, I’m a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plantser’ – I’m still deciding. I do fly by the seat of my Bermuda shorts or swim trunks, meaning I don’t plan a whole lot, or wear a whole lot! (You know, there are times when I just give away too damned much information!). I have a general idea of where I want to go, but I let the characters take me wherever that might be. The only real organizing I do is Character names, places, and a general idea of where I want the action and end-point to go. For this particular book the events are familiar to me, so I allow the ‘buzz’ to happen. So far, I’m really liking the pace of it all. Yes, I know! I can dupe myself on occasion!

So, I’ve interrupted my ‘think period’ by this post, and now I’m tired! See, I include you folks out there, invite you into my world, and so many of you don’t buy my books. Tell you what! I’ve got a short 99-cent compilation of some of my short writings, poems, and flash fiction. Like wine, it’s a taster, a sampler of my writing style. Try it out! KENTUCKY KERNELS – https://goo.gl/Nh9scv (US) and https://goo.gl/9gFLNQ (UK) … If you like it, buy one of my longer novels, like, MAMA’S MADNESS, a jarring and frightening story that ruined so many of my days in writing it – about a mother who tortures, kills two of her teen-age daughters. It’s inspired by a true crime event.

So, I’m going to rest maybe five, ten, minutes and get back to my 17th book!

Wishing you all a most enjoyable day!

BR Chitwood – September 17, 2018

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Why am I Still Alive?

Why Am I Still Alive?

Ah, let me list the ways!

Why am I still alive?

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

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

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

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

Why am I still alive?

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

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

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

Oh, where was I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Ray Chitwood – September 16, 2018

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BUY MY BOOKS

BUY MY BOOKS

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

So, here’s what I’m thinking…

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

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

‘WHY’? You Ask!

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

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

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

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

‘Dimwittingly’ yours!

BR Chitwood – September 11, 2018

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A Lingering Lament

A Lingering Lament

Those darn cows still aren’t home!

I’ve been at this writing business for much of my life, even taught the subject for a spell, and I’m not one to quit the battle without a proverbial last ditch effort, without showing yet another piece of me that is not so appealing… These are my three questions, one set directed to book readers, one set directed to authors – each set with auto-answers directed at both authors and readers.

First, to the READERS, let me ask you these three questions:

1) Do you like homemade apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?

Heck, I’ll save you the trouble and answer myself. Tens of millions of you like homemade apple pie with a hearty scoop of vanilla ice cream.  The apples and the ice cream have to cost money – stores that I know don’t give them away.

Next question:

2) Do you enjoy going out to the movies, both drive-in and cinema houses?

Don’t mind, I’ll answer! tens of millions of you do! Otherwise, those Hollywood ‘Elites’ would be working regular jobs, or, getting rich on ‘Tell-All’ non-fiction books. I’m sure you pay for those movies, the popcorn, and candy.

 

Next question:

3) Can you afford those ‘apple pie/vanilla ice cream’ treats?

Again, I believe the answer is, “Sure! Wouldn’t eat the ‘apple pie/vanilla ice cream’ treats and go to the movies if tens of millions of us readers didn’t enjoy them and couldn’t afford them. 

~*~

Now, these three questions/my presumed answers to Authors:

1) How much time and effort do you put into writing your books and short stories and poetry – and, your blog posts!

Most of us would say: 24/7 if we include ‘not sleeping too well’ with ideas popping into our cranial network… really difficult to calculate the hours, but certainly more than a normal 8-hour work day.

Next question:

2) Do you consider yourself an excellent writer, an aspiring author, and/or, a rather mediocre writer?

 Okay, this is my guess… The self-publishing ranks have all of the above. Some should be on ‘Best Seller’ lists. Some are getting better at wordsmithing with each day they write. And, truth be told, there are really some bad writers in our midst, and there’s just not a whole lot to be done about that – we kid ourselves into thinking we’re great, but that is likely not the case.

 Last question:

3) Do you give your books away in hopes that the free reading experiences are going to lead to big sales?

On this question, I could be wrong… I don’t like giving away my books. If my blog posts, my free flash fiction pieces, my poetry, or, my free short stories do not give readers a clear enough depiction of my writing style so that they might buy my books, then it appears I’m not as good at writing as I need to be… Or, maybe, it’s a matter of ‘why buy’ when I can get books FREE! 

So, why the questions above?

Hopefully, to make us authors think twice about giving away so much of our souls. I know we must ‘also be a publisher’ as well as authors. I know we should do ‘mailing lists’ (which I do not! shame on me!), spread our marketing arms to embrace a multitude of  ‘book listing’ sites, shop for ‘reviews’, ‘author interviews’, tweeting, facebook, social media ad nauseam, ad infinitum, ad forever!!

If you’re young, even, middle-age, stay the course if you feel you’re good enough to be among the stellar authors. 

When you get a review like this one for my novel, “Mama’s Madness,” from someone I truly respect, it keeps me playing the odds a little longer…

on July 8, 2018

Mama’s madness is a work of fiction, but according to the author Billy Ray Chitwood, there are some inspirations from actual criminal behavior. This is a story about the meanest, lowlife, straight razor totin’ woman named Tamatha Preen. She is the mother of six kids and the ex-wife of four husbands. Although this seems a little abnormal in everyday life, compared to mama’s proclivities having four husbands is normal in comparison. Let’s say mama has some problems and as you can guess the children are the ones who bear the brunt of her mental issues. To describe any of the abusive behaviors would be courting spoilers, so I’m just going to summarize by saying mama is evil.

The writing in this story is so good the reader feels like a transportation into the scenes has taken place. The descriptions of people, places, and events are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Mr. Chitwood has been blessed with a golden pen (or keyboard). He can show the reader all the sights, sounds, and smells of each scene through a tapestry that only can be woven by a perfectionist literary genius. I think that pretty much describes Billy Ray Chitwood. He has honed his writing art, and there is no more exquisite example of the resulting output than this book. I would recommend Mama’s madness to anyone who enjoys a deeply disturbing story told effectively and with great taste.

~*~

Buy my books because I’m not giving them away – today! You can preview my books at:  https://www.billyraychitwood.com  

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Family Love

17904346_10212604998622427_8835160309080360115_n (1)   e15241296_10210589180546815_7619236045342556019_n (1)                               Billy Ray and Julie Anne

Family Love

Upon the laptops across the globe, authors take to their keyboards to peck out their stories, opening their hearts and their very souls to seek some arcane knowledge of their own existence. It is a two-way street, I believe, this writing business. Authors surely wish to entertain their readers. Authors are also writing in many ways to find themselves in their narratives. At least, this one is…

Take me, for example, I put my life under many of the microscopes of readers almost daily in search for the essence of the man behind his words. On the surface of those words I believe it easy to discover some superficial nomenclature to describe myself – a man who ate some emotional soup in childhood and has spent a lifetime in search of himself, that essence, the reality of his soul. Of course, I can immediately acknowledge in all my lucid candor that the simple ‘nomenclature’ I’ve discovered at best can only scratch the surface of who I am, what and where I’ve been. The ultimate truth lies out there in the void of the ‘dark veil’!

What I can be certain of is what I label, ‘my orbital truth’. It is a truth I’ve dodged most of my life as a wanderlust, what many would call a ‘romantic’ or a ‘lotus-eater’, a man hungry for the fruits that can be found in the nether world of women and song, in and out of love, playing the role of dismayed man sorry for himself, or the role of a poet and soothsayer – ‘hey, look at me, am I not a good and solid actor in this not-so-great B-level  Movie’?

My children, two of whom I present to you above, love me for some obscure reason for I was absent for days, weeks, months, and years of their lives – sitting likely in a motel room writing about them on cheap stationery, how I missed them, how much I loved them, only to es-cape the motel room for more women and song. They are wise enough to know all of this and most of them are now closely-knit families with lovely children of their own.

My daughter, Shelley Jean (top picture), her handsome husband, Greg, are shown above, below them, my son, Scott and his lovely wife, Carla. Another son, Brandon, is a PhD in Literature, a professor living in Minnesota, unmarried at last report. There is a school teacher daughter and two engineers in the mix – Chemical and Electronic. All have wonderful children of their own… As a sad footnote: One of my sons, Steven Ray, was lost to us because of his life on the dark menacing streets of Las Vegas in drug dealing and use. If one might presume I could have made a difference in his life had I been there more, you would be presuming correctly… I carry that ignoble deed to the black void mentioned earlier.

With this righteous candor, I can say in honesty that all of the other children now have families and a good life. Shelley and Greg rejoice in their God and their blended family. Scott and Carla, having lived productive business lives, spend most their time in a Utah mountain retreat. The engineers and teacher whom I love come to me via Julie Anne, my most generous and loving wife of some thirty-five years. They are all family-oriented and have clearer truths for living than their father.

So, why have I shared all of my children, myself and wife with you, my compatriots on the writing circuit and some few reading fans? Surely, you did not need to read this, to hear it, as it were. No, of course not! It is all for me, this long missive of contrition. I’ve made you, the readers, my altar of remorse!

 It seemed necessary for me to share the larger truths of my life. Somehow, with the allocation comes ablution, some semblance of playing straight without falsely presenting myself. I served honorably in the United States Navy, have a loving and cherished wife, and felt the simple need to share the beauty that now pervades my life…the children, their families, their devotion to their own families and their charitable aid to others.

In pondering my life’s rather rascally environments at times I’m reminded of how truly lucky I am to have so very much love in my life.

That’s really comforting here in ‘Twilight’, where I plan to live until age 105 and write many more novels…

Surely hope those novels get read… 

No groveling, please, BR! 😀

Billy Ray Chitwood – September 1, 2018

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The Park Bench Change of Pace

The Park Bench Change of Pace

The middle-aged man in dark sunglasses walked along the familiar sidewalk, tapping his silver-metal feeler-cane lightly in a tight side-wave in front of him. His faithful and lovely guide dog walked slowly beside him. When he reached the park bench he heard the sounds of pigeons and inhaled a familiar scent. He sat, put the cane between his legs and spoke: “Is that you, Agnes?”

“Of course, it’s me, Jeffrey! I have to ask you … why do you always ask that same question every morning you come to the park? You know I’m here at this time every morning.”

“Does that bother you, Agnes?”

“No, not really! Just a dumb question, I guess … I’ve got a nice surprise for you, Jeffrey.”

“What, Agnes, a new pair of eyes?”

“Don’t do that, Jeffrey!”

“Don’t do what, Agnes?”

“Feel sorry for yourself!”

“You messing with me, Agnes? You know I don’t feel sorry for myself. Just trying for a little levity, that’s all!”

“Okay, levity, it is! Hold out your hand, Jeffrey!”

“What? You gonna chop it off?”

“Yeah, sure, can’t you hear the chainsaw buzzing? Now, hold out your hand, you old fool!”

“Well, here’s my hand, but don’t be calling me an ‘old fool’, Woman. I’m not old!”

“Ha, ha, ha! But you are a fool, huh? Ha, ha, ha!”

“A Donut! Why, thank you, Agnes. That’s right nice of you! Not the ‘fool’ statement, the donut! Pardon me while I chomp on this Krispy Kreme … I love’em – so soft and flaky! What are you wanting from me, Agnes?”

“Now, why would you ask a question like that? What could I possibly want from an old coot like you?”

“Told you, I’m not old, girl! Hell, I’m ready to fire-up this engine and have me some sex! You game, woman? Or, do I have to go to a house of ill-repute?”

“Ha, ha, ha! That’s funny, Jeffrey, you just made me pee in my pants!”

“Well, then, I’m not having sex with you, girl!”

“Ha, ha, ha! You’re sure snappy this morning, Jeffrey. Let’s sit here for a while yet. Then, we’ll go home, and I’ll fix you a fine lunch … I kinda like this ‘meeting on a park bench’ business, Jeffrey. It sort of livens up our day. We’ll do it ‘til we get tired of it, then we’ll think of something new! I’m glad you thought of this, my darling!”

“Okay, sweetheart, but, tomorrow, you bring a couple of soft pads to sit on. My bony-old ass can’t take this concrete!”

“Ha, ha, ha! Thought you weren’t old, Jeffrey!”

“I ain’t, girl, my ass is!”

Tuesday Change of Pace by BR Chitwood – 8/28/18

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The Cargo

The Cargo 

The man stopped, turned, shook his head, scanned the horizon 180 degrees, pivoted, and continued walking.

After twenty paces Adrian Jacobs stopped again, repeated his scanning of the horizon. In a low voice, he spoke to himself, “What is it? What’s this crawling, gnawing feeling matching each step I take? Did I forget something? Leave something behind? What the hell’s eating at me? Dammit! I’ve been here   before! Something is wrong! Am I being forewarned? What? Is my mind playing with me?”

The escarpment was just ahead! He dreaded the trek down the steep incline, but he would not want to climb back up the damned thing! He almost lost it on the way up, thought he was going to pass out, die, have a stroke, just not ever again! Next time, a helicopter!

There was a boulder on his left. He would sit for a while, clear his mind, re-think it all. He was bone weary after the past few hours. He had to be sure! Too damned many moving pieces! He had to sort them all out, make sure he was not missing something!

He sat on the boulder, took a deep breath, and looked at the valley down below. Lights were beginning to twinkle in this early stage of twilight, dusk not far away. He needed to get started down the slope before darkness came. Weather didn’t appear to be a problem, but he needed to be at least halfway down the slope before he used the flashlight.

“Okay,” he spoke again, quietly to himself, “let’s go over the inventory…” He closed his eyes, projected in his mind the steps he took since leaving the car parked and hidden down below. What? He looked at his watch – nearly five hours so far.

“Car in garage. Nobody saw cargo loaded in trunk of car! Check, 100% sure!”

“Nothing left inside Allie’s patio home to implicate her or him! Check! 100% sure!”

“Car not followed! Check! 100% sure!”

“No one saw him on the up-slope. Check! Toughest part! Heavy-load, with a few stumbles! 99% sure!”

“Cargo buried deep in secluded spot Allie picked out at the far-end of Molar Peak! Check! 100% sure!”

“Information not shared with anyone! Check! 100% sure!

Adrian smiled… “What the hell am I worried about? It’s clean! Like a whistle, it’s clean! This time next week Allie and I will be on the white-sand beach in Aruba, sunning and splashing in those incredible powder-blue waves! I’ve been paid well! Wonder where Allie got the money? Not to worry! Said she would explain later!”

Adrian lifted his sore, well-worn body from the boulder, endured a sharp, involuntary pain in his solar plexus area, stretched, winced, and began his hike down the slope. He scattered loose gravel with each step, and the over-amplified sound filled the early night air, eerie in its hollowness. As the daylight still allowed he kept a wary eye out for rattlesnakes. This was the time of day when they came out from under a mesquite bush or rock to forage for food.

He hated snakes! But this little trip was worth the effort! He sang softly some tunes he knew, hoping to keep the snakes away.

Adrian stopped. Darkness was coming fast upon him…faster than he imagined. Vision was becoming a problem. He would need the flashlight and he had not yet reached the half-way point. He did not want the light to reach curious campers who might be nearby. Considering the time of day and inevitability of darkness he would have to use the flashlight. He did not want someone noticing a light and mistaking it for an SOS signal.

As darkness came the flashlight beam seemed brighter and more encompassing in its breadth of coverage, but he knew he had no choice but to use it. Otherwise, his footing and his balance would surely fail him. He also knew there were a few scattered cabins nearby that would possibly have the tenants sitting on their decks watching the night unfold and peering into the sky. Some, indeed, might have telescopes for their amateur star-gazing. No matter, the flashlight must be on for him to safely make his way down the steep slope. He simply had no choice, and the odds would certainly be in his favor. The cargo took longer to haul up that slope than he thought.

On he slowly moved down the slope, slipping, stumbling at times, the gravel sounds reaching decibels very loud to his ears So focused on his decline and the noise element, he paused at times, switching off the flashlight, standing still and waiting for the gravel rush to stop, listening intently for other possible sounds.

Hearing no sounds, seeing faint lights too far off to matter, he continued down the slope.

Amid his step-crunches and the gravel-rush, his mind began to play tricks on him. He heard or thought he heard hissing noises in the brush nearby. He stood motionless, perspiration blurring his blinking eyes, concentrating on the perceived noises around him. He heard only the slight stir of a zephyr floating by or a distant caw of a bird.

He took a tentative step down the slope and felt a sharp sting in his left calf.

He let escape a loud unwanted yelp! The yelp blended with unmistakable sounds of rattlers. Then, there came another   sharp sting on the right calf.

“Ow! Oh, my God!” His mind began to remind him of all the stories he heard from people or read in Arizona newspapers about rattlesnake bites, how fast they entered the nervous system and rendered one immobile. He felt another stab of pain to his left ankle. He started to dash down the slope but fell and tumbled head-long into the brush and gravel in front of him. A cholla shrub sent cactus needles into his arms and face. Some fifty yards down through cholla, sagebrush, and gravel his body slammed into the thicker thorns of a saguaro cactus. 

Barely conscious he felt the bloat of his calves and ankles, the blood on his upper torso and face from the thorny saguaro. He lay on his back looking up into the starry skies and felt his life draining from his body. “Oh, God!” He softly murmured, “not like this, please!”

He tried to move, but some parts of his body were broken. He lay there, short gasps emitting from a mouth now with tongue swollen and his energy gone. His mind caressed the final irony of his life. For once, he was to become someone, wealthy, free to be noble of gesture for worthy causes. He was to have Allie, someone beautiful to love and show off to the world.

In his dying throes he managed a weak smile and a mild ‘Ahh’ of capitulation to a God he once knew as a child. In a barely audible breath he muttered, “You are there after all!”

***

The next day, an Arizona newspaper’s first page lead head-line read: PAYROLL ROBBERY OF MAJOR INDUSTRY. In the smaller type below the headline, the copy read: ‘… No leads in the case.’

Two months later, on the society page, an Arizona newspaper announced the news of an ‘Allie McBride’ wedding, the bride a wealthy young lady of little history, the groom, an also rich and powerful politician in the state.

Six months later, on page five of an Arizona newspaper, a small headline spoke of a man’s bones being found on the steep eastern slope of ‘Molar Peak’. The DNA from the body’s remains gave no clue as to the identity of the man.

©The Cargo – A Short Story by BR Chitwood – August 27, 2018

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A Night With the Swells

A Night with the Swells

A Short Story by BR Chitwood

I’m not a party-animal! Well, more accurately, my first reaction to a party invitation is, ‘I don’t want to go’! I’m basically a more private person and don’t like the first hour or so among so many people I don’t know. Now, with a few drinks, I can open the can to all my scintillating party skills that will ‘wow’ anyone within my auditory range. That is my self-appraisal! Others might not agree.

Really!

The special element for this party is the bar. Charlie got that right. This spacious barroom-library is stunning, with its Mahogany lower walls, golden touches, sconces and a beautiful wall of books. Charlie Pollard is my gad-about pal who seems to be connected with all the ‘swells’, and it doesn’t go to his head. Charlie is ‘real’, a guy you can depend on in the trenches. He’s in PR and darn good at his job.

A movie mogul-dude named Bryce Cummings is throwing this party for a new actress who recently won a coveted award for her ‘supporting role’ in a major motion picture. Mr. Cummings owns this magnificent bar and the whole luscious domain with its spiral staircases and carpeting so deep you could almost breast-stroke through it. Cummings is connected with the movie industry. This palatial Pacific Palisades pad (seems heresy to call it ‘pad’), and this spacious bar-room-library is absolutely stunning, with its Mahogany lower walls, golden touches, sconces and a beautiful wall of books…oops! I already said that! But, then, it is impressive enough to say it twice!

The friendly bartender is nice enough to keep my highball glass filled with his delicious version of a Manhattan. Of course, I’m the only one at the bar except for young waiters at the ‘service station’ filling their trays with drinks for the wandering mass of people discovering the beauty of style and substance this mansion displays. Every bachelor should have a bar like this in his home. If this bar would fit in my pad I would just crawl onto one of the soft auburn sofas that dots the aforementioned walls and never leave the huge room. Of course, this bar wouldn’t fit in my pad, and, hey, I live in Marina del Rey next to Santa Monica which isn’t at all shabby. But this place! It speaks of the kind of wealth most of us will never know.

Don’t get me wrong! The funny thing is, many people have this built-in expectation that these ‘swells’ are rude and snobbish, opinionated, and pretentious. And, some really are. The majority, however, are real and know where their roots are. They were not ignoring me. In fact, some engaged me in short conversations, inviting me to join them in their wandering. I suspect they were feeling sorry for me because I sat musingly at this rapturous bar.

With my strange humor, I told anyone who came near to rescue my lonely soul that I was merely building some ‘party power’ before unleashing myself on the crowd. In other words, I was building a ‘glow’ that would get me through the evening and to a point where I could be polite and gracious in taking my leave, unless, of course, someone or some event caught and held my rapt attention. Of the one-hundred plus stags and lovely couples roaming the rooms, all nice and beautiful people, I was just not in a sufficient mood to mix. Plus, I fell immediately in love with this luxe barroom.

Gibby, the bartender, for all I knew, was an actor making some extra money at this bash. He was in-deed an excellent mixologist to go with whatever his main occupation…perhaps, a bartender! Would that not be unique? Okay, get over yourself, Sam!!

Samuel Bellows is my name, and I’m a would-be author, sometimes subbing as a humorist! There is nothing particularly abstract and/or unique about me except for a bald spot on the back of my close-cropped black hair. Inside that small bald spot is an almost perfect near-imperceptibly milk-chocolate outline of the USA. The ladies for some obscure reason love that birthright!

Speaking of ladies, there is a fetching lass taking a soft-leather seat next to me.

“Hi, mind if I join you?” her perfectly aligned white teeth gleaming in the soft lights of the bar, her elegantly light blue evening wear disclosing some tantalizing cleavage. (Sorry, men do not stare but do otherwise notice parts of women’s anatomies! It isn’t an art! It’s only a fact! Personally, I cannot see having it any other way!)

“Oh, please do!” I offered, beginning to lift my body from the low-seated comfortable chair.

“Please, stay seated!” she purred – well, indeed, it did sound like a purr. “These high-heels are killing me, and I had to sit! Do you mind?”

“Not at all, Ms…”

“Megan, please, no ‘Ms’! I’m far-distanced from that used-up nomenclature.”

“I think I’m in love!” I said, with a slight bend of head and twinkling eye. “I’m Sam. Samuel Bellows, trying to be a ‘Samuel Clemons’.”

“Oh, an author!?” she smiled so sweetly with her order of a Daiquri.

“It sounds so real when you say it!” I gave an extra blink of eye.

“Now, don’t tell me you’re one of those tortured artists?” she offered her hand and I took it and most gently shook it.

“Oh, no! That bus left town without me! I do op-ed articles and an occasional novel.”

“Are you good at what you write, Sam?” She sipped while eyeing me.

“Here we are, having a conversation about writing, and we’ve just met, but, yes, I’m very good at what I write. Thank God I have me on my side. I’ve had good reviews which outweigh the bad ones…I like you, Megan! Immediately, I like you! Does that sound phony somehow?”

“No, Sam, it does not sound phony. If you’re at all interested, I like you, too! That’s a bit strange for me!”

“Liking me is strange?” I cooed.

She laughed, and I loved her laugh. “My goodness, Sam, you’re really good at repartee. No, I’m feeling strange, liking you so suddenly, I mean!”

“Is that a good thing? I hope.” I really did, hope!

“It must be, Sam. It’s been a year since my divorce, and you are the first man I’ve encountered that has a certain way I like. I came to this gala with a dear couple I adore, who want me to be doing more with my spare time, you know, like, dating and so forth, and so forth!”

“Okay, I’m going near the ‘so forth and so forth’, but I can say in all honesty that I’m delighted with your analysis of me…” I paused to gaze into her dazzling hazel eyes. “Was it a tough ordeal, Megan, your divorce, I mean?”

She took a quick sip of her daquiri, and answered. “Not really, Sam. We met at our jobs, both in the advertising business, just got comfortable with each other and allowed that to eventually push us into a marriage neither of us was really ready for. He was, is, a nice person, and it was all so very dull and amicable, our divorce…not nasty, at all! We’re still good friends. How about you? Married?”

“Yes, not now, but, once! A college romance, still too young and not enough sense to know we should not marry. She was a nice young lady, and I have no idea where she is today. I’m thirty-three and at times feel like sixty-three. My op-ed job has in some ways made me cynical, Megan, too uneasy, too wary of people and their duplicity. I don’t like being that way, but the world seems to be going the direction of some robotic reordering and a ‘me, too’ mentality. I’m by no means a hermit, but there are times when that deserted island sounds pretty doggone good to me… Wow! Listen to me! What did you put in my drink, Megan?”

We both laughed and our eyes stayed for some extra moments in their stare.

Something in that ‘stare’ told me we were on the very same wavelength, that we had broken through a barrier that ofttimes took months or years to pass through.

We sat, had a few drinks, and totally enjoyed our time. More than that, we knew there was some sense of destiny in our meeting.

A couple of hours passed before her friends found us in that marvelous bar, laughing and doing our schtick!

After introductions, the couple had no doubt how their question was going to be answered…

“We’re leaving, Megan. Are you staying a while?”

Megan and I looked at each other. I gave her a small nod with a silly smile thrown in.

“Sam will be taking me home, Cynthia. Thanks for bringing me with you tonight. Love you and Mel!”

Megan’s friends left.

We stayed for one more drink in that now most sacred and beautiful bar-room-library.

We now have a reasonable facsimile of that bar in our own home in Chestertown, Maryland.

You know, it’s true, ‘Love is Lovelier the Second Time Around’!

Short Story by BR Chitwood – August 18, 2018

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https://billyraychitwood.com

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