Tag: #blog

‘The Library of Life’

The Library of Life

So often I’m inside myself, searching for the reason I am here on this great orb, so I write my blogs, my books, usually from some aspect of life that beguiles me, terrifies me, or gives me joy. Within the words and phrases of those blogs and books are at times subtle glimpses of universal truths. Wrapping my arms around those subtleties does not bring me the comprehension to understand, but, that they are there, that in writing them, give me some hope that my words in some small way speak to the lives of us all, give meaning to the daily wanderings of our minds, the tedious chores, the chaos, and the wonderment of it all. In all of this I sense a purpose for my living, and there is a literary ‘Saint’ among us who says it so much better than ever I could.

Please ponder these few words from Susan Orlean’s 2018 best seller, The Library Book, rich with some of the most lovely words and phrases a writer can put on paper. Just a few words of ‘back story’, and I shall give you the section from her book that perhaps says it all for me…

That is part of this simple ‘back story’…. My lovely daughter-in-law, Cindy Ruecker, sent Susan Orlean to Julie Anne and me, well, not literally, of course, but her book mentioned above. Our dear Cindy mentioned that, in her reading of The Library Book she thought of me…she at one time years ago typed for me part of a manuscript I had written. When I interrupted her with a question, she quickly told me while she was typing in world speed-breaking time to, ‘hush, I’m reading this as I type and I want to see what is going to happen next’. Cindy is the fastest typist I’ve ever seen type among the secretaries I’ve had and/or anyone in a typing pool – along, of course, with my own wife who is also very swift with her dancing fingers.

At that time, I was so pleased that Cindy ‘hushed me’ because her words resonated with me, giving me some hope for success that my writing might bring. Cindy is part of a ‘Reading Group’ that meets and discusses the book they’ve chosen to read on a given week. This is my way of saying, when Cindy likes a book, is really into it, then I’m comforted that maybe my work has validity. It means so very much to me.

So, that’s the simple ‘back story’, and I shall forever be grateful to Cindy for sending my wife and me The Library Book by Susan Orlean, the Simon & Schuster best-selling author of, The Orchid Thief. It’s an honor for me to recommend Susan Orlean to anyone reading these humble words of mine. Her words flow from the pages with wonderful clarity and meaning.

Now, on to the one page of all the three hundred plus pages in Susan’s book that held me captive, and, with some ‘old man tears’. I think you will love these words and Susan’s book as much as I… Good reading.

The Library Book

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Best wishes to all.

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 18, 2019

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Come, Stray Along

Come, Stray Along

-An Old Man Ranting-

It won’t be a long stray…my mind won’t allow it, and that is good news for those who might not enjoy the straying. Yet, here shall I stray.

I watch Fox News. Oops, I’ve already lost a few of you, I’m sure, but on I go, straying.

I watch Fox News because I wish to hear undiluted words and phrases that present a fairly accurate report of what is happening in the world around me. It’s been years that I gave up on the various network prime time newscasts.

If you wish your news reported without any filters, simply provable facts, then, I would recommend Fox News.

Oh, there are ‘Opinion Shows’ on Fox News that have a conservative cast, but I don’t find indictments of people (close) or mis-truths on this channel (but can be harsh), at least none that my Appalachian brain has been able to discern. If there is a careless negative and/or positive claim that proves incorrect, it is quickly and honestly so claimed.

So, why the ‘stray’?

My ‘Stray’ is written here because I care for my country, fear for my country, and wish only the very best for my country, my kids, my grandkids, and great grandkids.

Am I pure? Am I without a past layered with some mishandling of my life? Of course, I am not. I’ve made plenty personal mistakes, and, in younger years, I was not attentive to politics and the news in general – my head was filled with romantic mush and tomfoolery.

When I left college and the classroom I came to my conservative way of thinking. What do I mean by ‘my conservative way of thinking’? I mean by that phrase that I’ve come to know my country through not only local, national, but, as well, through international lenses. I’ve visited many countries. I’ve lived for a few years in Mexico, so, at least, to some extent, I have a voice that has some validity with which to convey my feelings.

I’ve watched presidents come/go, watched career politicians running our government, and I’ve had my heroes and my villains. My political feelings are just that, feelings, not political theories and/or policy stances, and those feelings are all steeped in one great document, the ‘Constitution of the United States of America’. Can I recite for you that document? No way. Can I ‘run on and on’ about a particular article or an amendment of that grand and aged document? Some, maybe, but, no, I really cannot. However, I do know for sure that our forefathers fought, died, went through their own kind of hell to forge that great document. Ergo, for all their early hard-fought efforts, I love the country they left me and mine. History tells their story in our red, white, striped flag, blue stars, and grand songs.

There is another fact that I know to be true: we are the country which the world envies, and, if that envy is not overtly shown to all of us, you can believe it is respected. I’m sure even China and Russia respect us. Our government leaders will make mistakes, do make mistakes, have made mistakes, but, when the chips go down on the table, our patriots are ready to play.

Today, our country seems to be walking an historical tightrope, democrats unhappy in our choice for a president, entrenched in their hatred for our Commander-in-Chief, taking their fight to unseat him to the very negative edge of decency and democratic fairness.

Where I live, in my heart and mind, I see the actions of this man we call on to make our country great again – in the sense that we could have done better in the previous eight years, maybe, back farther – as a man who can shock us with his words, maybe, even, embarrass us, but also a dedicated man who has already taken us to record market growth, created millions of new jobs in many sectors of our economy, brought back manufacturing, rid all business, large and small of tedious government regulations, taken employment figures to all-time ‘high wages’ for the minorities in our nation, kept his promise to defeat ISIS, got us out of the ill-fated Iranian Nuclear Deal, and stopped apologizing for America to the nations of the world.

Our president, Donald Trump, is no Saint, has a businessman’s approach to solving some of our problems, does tweet and speak daily in some harsh tones, does not pretend to be anyone but who he is, does truly care for our country, and wants to give back to a nation that has given him so much.

So, I can dismiss easily the fact that this man we call President is in any shade like the people who have preceded him, but he is for sure getting the job done.

No big surprise, my chips are all in for our President Donald Trump.

One last thing before I decide whether or not to post this and forever be hated.

President Trump’s number one concern is for America to be safe and secure, hence his wish to build a great wall on our southern border to minimize the illegal entry into our country of millions of people. Many of these illegal aliens in our country have been deported time and again, have murdered, raped, robbed, and some of our cities and states have offered illegals sanctuary…this is perhaps the most difficult subject to understand. We do not have a country if we do not have borders. To have open borders is to destroy our cherished country and our constitution.

I simply do not get it! How can we not come together to get this country on its true path? How can we ignore the guiding pages of our U. S. Constitution? If enough of us do not like this president, 2020 is just around the corner…we can vote him out.

Our country is not perfect by any stretch, but it’s the democracy that all nations respect for its freedom and liberty.

Oh, what the hell! While I’m at it, how can we have people in our halls of congress that wish to destroy us with their socialistic B/S, young moronic kids who believe in their minds we have trillions of dollars to solve all of our climate and social problems?

Has anyone visited Venezuela lately?

Come on, America! Wake up! This is our home! This is our country! Freedom lives here! Liberty lives here! For a while longer, the old coot writing these fiery words lives here!

Let go the hatred!

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 9, 2019

 

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Come, Stray Along

Come, Stray Along

-An Old Man’s Ranting-

It won’t be a long stray…my mind won’t allow it, and that is good news for those who might not enjoy the straying. Yet, here shall I stray.

I watch Fox News. Oops, I’ve already lost a few of you, I’m sure, but on I go, straying.

I watch Fox News because I wish to hear undiluted words and phrases that present a fairly accurate report of what is happening in the world around me. It’s been years since I gave up on the various network prime time newscasts.

If you wish your news reported without any filters, simply provable facts, then, I would recommend Fox News.

Oh, there are ‘Opinion Shows’ on Fox News that have a conservative cast, but I don’t find indictments of people (close, at times) or mis-truths on this channel (but can be harsh), at least none that my Appalachian brain has been able to discern. If there is a careless negative and/or positive claim that proves incorrect, it is quickly and honestly so claimed.

So, why the ‘stray’?

My ‘Stray’ is written here because I care for my country, fear for my country, and wish only the very best for my country, my kids, my grandkids, and great grandkids.

Am I pure? Am I without a past layered with some mishandling of my life? Of course, I am not. I’ve made plenty personal mistakes, and, in younger years, I was not attentive to politics and the news in general – I loved John Kennedy’s ‘Camelot Years’, and my head was filled with romantic mush and tomfoolery.

When I left college and the classroom I came to my conservative way of thinking. What do I mean by ‘my conservative way of thinking’? I mean by that phrase that I’ve come to know my country through not only local, national, but, as well, through international lenses. I’ve visited many countries. I’ve lived for a few years in Mexico, so, at least, to some extent, I have a voice that has some validity with which to convey my feelings.

I’ve watched presidents come/go, watched many career politicians running our government, and I’ve had my heroes and my villains. My political feelings are just that, feelings, not political theories and/or policy stances, and those feelings are all steeped in one great document, the ‘Constitution of the United States of America’. Can I recite for you that document? No way. Can I ‘run on and on’ about a particular article or an amendment of that grand and aged document? Some, maybe, but, no, I really cannot. However, I do know for sure that our forefathers fought, died, went through their own kind of hell to forge that great document. Ergo, for all their early hard-fought efforts, I love the country they left me and mine. History tells their story in our red, white, striped flag, blue stars, and grand songs. Is it just me, or, are our schools still teaching American History, our wars, our sacrifices of so many of our young people on the beaches and the fields across the pond? Are we losing sight of our grand past by tearing down statues conveying historic meanings? Yes, I’m begging the questions!

There is fact that I know to be true: we are the country which the world envies, and, if that envy is not overtly shown to all of us, you can believe it is respected. I’m sure even China and Russia respect us. Our government leaders will make mistakes, do make mistakes, have made mistakes, but, when the chips go down on the table, our patriots are ready to play.

Today, our country seems to be walking an historical tightrope. Democrats are so unhappy in our choice for a president, They control the House of Representatives but are so entrenched in their hatred for our Commander-in-Chief, taking their fight to unseat him to the very negative edge of decency and democratic fairness. I’m not big on writing blog posts that deal with politics. It is so divisive and ugly. 

However, where I live, in my heart and mind, I’ve watched the actions of this man we called on to make our country great again – with a solid sense that we could have done better in the previous eight years, maybe, back farther. President Donald Trump is a man who can shock us with his words, maybe, even, embarrass us, but he is also a dedicated man striving to fulfill his campaign promises. He has already taken us to record market growth, created millions of new jobs in many sectors of our economy, brought back manufacturing, rid all business, large and small of tedious government regulations, reduced unemployment down to 4%. He has taken  employment figures to all-time ‘high wages’ for the minorities in our nation, kept his promise to defeat ISIS (‘defeat’, he said, and, maybe, but more likely, not totally). He did severly damage ISIS! Hegot us out of the ill-fated Iranian Nuclear Deal, and stopped apologizing for America to the nations of the world. President Trump is brash, but it’s way past time to shed our hatred of this man and think about our country…if we haven’t noticed, it’s going too far to the left of center.

President Donald Trump is no Saint, has a businessman’s approach to solving some of our problems, does tweet and speak daily in some harsh tones, admittedly not so eloquently as some presidents in the past, but he does not pretend to be anyone but who he is, and I’m convinced he truly cares for our country, and wants to give back to a nation that has given him so much. That rises for me far above displeasure – or, hatred.

So, I can dismiss easily the fact that this man we call President is in any shade like the people who have preceded him, but he is for sure getting the job done.

No big surprise, my chips are all in for our President Donald Trump.

One last thing before I decide whether or not to post this and forever be hated.

President Trump’s number one concern is for America to be safe and secure, hence his wish to build a great wall on our southern border to minimize the illegal entry into our country of millions of people. Many of these illegal aliens in our country have been deported time and again, have murdered, raped, robbed, and some of our cities and states have offered illegals sanctuary. Immigration in our country is out of control. This is perhaps the most difficult subject to understand. We do not have a country if we do not have borders. To have open borders is to destroy our cherished country, our constitution, and our way of life.

I simply do not get it! How can we not come together to get this country on its true path? How can we ignore the guiding pages of our U. S. Constitution? If enough of us do not like this president, 2020 is just around the corner…we can vote him out.

Our country is not perfect by any stretch, but it’s the democracy that all nations respect for its freedom and liberty.

Oh, what the hell! While I’m at it, how can we have people in our halls of congress that wish to destroy us with their socialistic B/S, young moronic kids who believe in their minds we have trillions of dollars to solve all of our climate and social problems, lecturing to us on principles of Economy? The ‘House of Representatives’ is  allowing their hatred for our duly elected president and their desire to maintain their ‘Power’ by systematically letting hundreds of thousands illegal immigrants to come into our country. The argument doesn’t wash that ‘we are a country of immigrants’! Of course, we are but the vast majority came the way of my ancestors, the legal way, and assimilation took place with these people, learning English along with our rights and privileges. 

Yes, there is a grave emergency in our beloved country! The emergency has at its root hatred, and, friends, it is viral! 

The ‘House’ is not doing their job. They’re mired in continuing a ‘Special’ probe that has gone on for over two years, stalling, manufacturing untruths when they should be handling the immigration issue, providing funding for a ‘Wall’, doing a virtual re-haul of our entire ‘Immigration Laws’. Instead, they’re endeavoring to pass a law that does away with the ‘Electoral College’ – allowing in essence a few states to dictate who our ‘Commander-in-Chief’ will be! What craziness is this? It is an engaged craziness by groups of people attempting a ‘power grab’ of our Constitution and our country.

Yes, there are Crazy times in the United States of America, but we can recover with intelligent, active, and positive participation in our most cherished Democratic ideals. 

Has anyone visited Venezuela lately?

Come on, America! Wake up! This is our home! This is our country! Freedom lives here! Liberty lives here! For a while longer, the old coot writing these fiery words lives here!

Let us let go the hatred!

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 9, 2019

 

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Ode to Lamentation

Ode to Lamentation

 

What is it makes us yearn?

Lonely in peculiar ways?

Is it only hearts of Romantics

That connect to life’s gauzy haze?

 

What of a past we must give up?

Nights in love’s joyous cloud?

Is it so simple to pass and merely

Become one with the crowd?

 

What mocks us most in life?

The mistakes we made in our pace?

The glory that might have been?

Or the wrinkles upon our face?

 

Does dimension lie beyond this orb?

Does Heaven or Hell Await?

Tis written, ‘ours not to know’?

Doth then we yield to fate?

*

©Billy Ray Chitwood – April 6, 2019

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Can You Hear Me?

“Can You Hear Me?”

Pre-dawn, rain storm, and fear gripped me like thousands of little fire ants crawling over my naked body, stinging as they hurriedly moved helter-skelter across my skin.

My forefingers rubbed irritated eyes as the darkness moved on the wall in front of me like angry waves lapping on a stormy coast, grotesque shapes of all sizes in staccato persistence…but it was those deep and growling whispers that tore at my sanity. What was this madness of movement and dulled sound?

For some unearthly reason, an aberrant thought came to my frenetic mind… a distorted and disoriented man with gaping mouth standing silently on a walking bridge screaming without sound. Was there madness occupying my mind and body in these dark hours?

My trembling body sought refuge under the bed covers. The ominous whispers were coming audibly low, rhythmic, but I could not make them out. I felt childish in my fear. Why not get up, turn a light on, and see if there was some logical reason for these melodic murmurings? Alone, I could admit to myself that I was too paralyzed with fright to move.

So, I cowed there beneath the covers, the unmuffled bass whispers still there, still melodic but also changing in different modulations.

Time was lost to me as I lay there in my fetus position on the edge of despair. The whispering had somehow merged into a harmonic blend, coming with the merciful daylight.

Tentatively I stretched my body full-length on the king-size bed and slowly pushed back the covers.

My wide eyes scanned the bedroom, saw nothing but the furniture and a splash of sunlight on the western wall. The whispers were now subdued into a musical sound, almost lovely to the ear.

What the hell was going on?

Was a radio on in the apartment?

I rose from the bed, padded to the closet, put on a robe, and walked into the living room. There was nothing out of place or different about any of the rooms in my bachelor pad. I stood looking out the window at the wondrous blue of the sky and chuckled.

But, wait!

The radio was not on, yet still I heard the whispering musical sounds. I was at a loss to explain it.

After a fast breakfast, I called my doctor, gave him a brief recap of my early AM experience, set a mid-day emergency appointment at 11:30 AM.

*

Soon after my long-time doctor ran auditory tests, he came into the examination room and stood stoically in front of me with a put-on capricious look. We were also friends and golf buddies, so I knew the man very well.

“Okay, Doc, the dramatic pose is good but are you going to let me in on it?”

“Just funning you, buddy. Sorry, but I had to confirm my suspicion. You, Frankie, my friend, have MES.”

Again, he just stood and smiled.

“Well, what the hell is MES, Doc? Must not be too serious, or, you’re a masochist, making me beg for answers.”

MES is an acronym for ‘Musical Ear Syndrome’ – that’s what you have. It’s a rare medical anomaly. You have your very own music system built into your brain.”

“Well, is it a temporary thing? Is it something I have to live with?”

“We know of no treatment for Musical Ear Syndrome at this time. It’s a relatively new phenomenon that only a few people acquire. It’s akin to Tinnitus. I’m afraid it’s something you have to live with, good buddy.”

“It scared me, Doctor Ben, really, truly, scared the hell out of me. The sound started out loud and low like a threatening voice until it finally settled into a slow melodic monotone.”

“It’s likely music you’ve heard over the years playing back for you.”

“Can other people hear this MES music?”

“No, just you, Frankie. You’re one of the select few.”

“Well, ‘bully’ for that, but it’s going to be annoying, Doc.”

“Yes, I suppose it can be in the beginning. You’ll get accustomed to it. It should level off sooner than later. At some point you may need hearing aids, and they will help with the MES.”

“Hearing aids? Damn, I’m not that old, Doc. Hell, you’re the old man here, Ben. What? Three years older than I, you old coot.”

“I know, but hearing is not restricted to us old folks. Soon, you won’t even know the music is playing. And, hey, the song could be one of your favorites.”

“Very funny, Doc. You get no strokes on any of the next golf holes we play.”

“So, that’s the tune you’re going to play for me?”

“Still funny, Doc, but don’t give up your day job…a lot of comics are out of work.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 4, 2019

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Appalachia and Me

Appalachia and Me

Standing at the window I could see her working in the earth, planting her garden, a plot of ground she alone had created on the hard prairie soil of our eighty-acre ‘Lazy Rabbit Ranch’

My emotions were trade-mark soft and tender with no discernable reason. Tears welled and fell down my cheeks. It was at that time when gout attacks were frequent in my life, had me limping in painful, short steps. I wanted to be there in the garden with my wife, sharing the joy of her moments. The tears lasted for a brief period until I turned them off, returned to the library to render time typing on my Star Writer Word processor.

Time and again my mind slipped away from the characters and plot lines of the book I was writing on the Star Writer, slipping back to my wife in the garden, then, into assessing the emotional source of my tears. Of course, I quickly rid my mind of the gout pain being the root cause of sob-time…it was so much more than that.

My life at the Lazy Rabbit Ranch was rather rich with melodramatic episodic introspections, likely sufficient enough to abundantly satisfy any reclining position taken on a psychiatrist’s sofa. Plus, it would surely be a dead give-away to mention that, yes, I was also born in Appalachia…well, of course, dear boy, that is what Appalachian lads do so very well. How else can history explain our cornball evocative ‘country music’, honky-tonk romances ‘on the fly’, and those multiple divorce court appearances?

Well, sure, I could laugh at myself along with my agents of disregard. However, were my copious life tears simply ‘crocodile’ in nature? Were my myriad emotional tendencies, my basic earthly and inherent needs, so easily explained away?

My hasty conclusion would not necessarily surprise anyone, but I said at the time – and, I say now – No, they were not… they are not.

This may be fundamental to many people, but, hey, I was just getting it – right then, ‘after all those tear-years’, right then, at the Lazy Rabbit Ranch ‘cry episode’.

The ‘gout attack’ was not the sole reason for the crying.

Pardon my flippancy, but it was the south where all those degenerate, debt-owing, thieves in the night were deposited when they arrived from across the pond from Europe. I’m guessing that after a while we had some sweet and pure genteel groups coming into Appalachia mixing with our chromosomic/genetic machinery, getting us all ‘cornfused’ about proper etiquette, language, books, and stuff. Shucks, we could have had our own country by now, just wheeling, dealing, killing, and dying way too young…if the ‘genteel groups’ had just stayed away.

Sitting there that day at my lovely mahogany desk the way I figured it was: with so many low IQ folks, mixing their vulgarities with the stealing and killing, their mindless behaviors, by the time I came out of my Mom’s womb, I was doomed to be a sort of half-breed…that is, part of me got some of that ‘rough and tumble’ stuff, and the other part got some of those genteel qualities.

Just like then, I can’t figure out why I’m crying now.

Hmm, I’m wondering… My wife is outside, working on another darn flower garden. Is she trying to tell me something?

Guess I better get to writing another book.

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 3, 2019

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Two Parrots

Two Parrots

There were two southern preachers, one, an old-time Baptist sermon-master, the other, an old-time Methodist sermon-master.

Now, these two ‘good ole boys’ did have something more or less in common: each of them had a parrot. I’m talking here about parrots that can speak words clearly and often.

The Baptist preacher had this male parrot that spewed ugly words and phrases, did in fact at times take the good Lord’s name in vain. I mean, this parrot was something else, and the preacher was embarrassed anytime people visited him in his parish house.

The Methodist preacher had this female parrot that sat in her cage and prayed all day long. Now, the Methodist preacher liked the fact that his female parrot was all holy and full of grace, but he wanted her to step out of the religious role occasionally.

Well, the two preachers became friends because they both met up at the pet shop where they got their parrots, and had so much in common – with God, sinners, and all…so, they just took to each other and began their friendship.

There came the night the Baptist preacher had his new Methodist preacher friend over for an evening chat. Well, wouldn’t you know, that doggone male parrot started up with all his cuss-words and mini-phrases that were, well, just downright nasty stuff for the ears to pick-up.

Well, the two preachers talked long and hard on the subjects of their two parrots. The Methodist preacher allowed that his female parrot prayed all day long, and that was all well and good. But, the Methodist preacher didn’t want his parrot so full of grace that she couldn’t open up a bit.

The Baptist preacher had the opposite problem and he wanted a little more grace in his male parrot, not those nasty words and phrases all his waking hours.

So, the two preachers talked, as I said, long and hard, and finally came up with an idea they both figured just might work…

What they figured to do was to put both parrots, the female praying parrot and the male cussing parrot, into a bigger cage and see if the two could maybe come out of their different shells and become more suitable in their behavior patterns.

So, one Saturday the preachers went to the pet shop, got a bigger cage, took that cage back to the Baptist preacher’s parish house, set it up with the little seats on each side of the cage, a cute little swinging apparatus, and little seeds that parrots just love.

Well, here’s what happened…

The preachers put both parrots inside the cage and closed the little gate. The male parrot that said the nasty words went to one side of the cage, and the female parrot that prayed all day long went to the other side of the cage…and those two parrots just sat there and stared at each other.

The preachers stood there shaking their heads for the better part of an hour, and those two parrots just sat and stared at each other.

Just when the preachers were about to make a move and put the parrots back in their own cages, the male parrot winked an eye and said to the female parrot: “Hey, baby, how ‘bout a little loving?”

The preachers looked at each other, both a little embarrassed with the situation, but stood and waited…

Finally, after several seconds passed, the female parrot says: “What do you think I’ve been praying for?”

Well, don’t you know? Those two parrots are still together, but they don’t talk that much…the Baptist preacher finally rigged some dark shades for the two parrots’ love-privacy for those moments when there was just no other route to go.

Oh, one last thing, the Baptist preacher became a book editor for whatever in the world the reason, and that fine Methodist preacher became a down-and-out fiction writer…

Go figure…

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 24, 2019

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Insomnia

Insomnia

 

Night Comes

With Its Demons,

Stays Late Into My

Hapless Toss And Turn…

Brings Its Jabbing Thoughts

Of All My Yesterdays,

Leaves Me Tangled

In The Wet Sheets

Of Memories…

With Dawn,

The Weary Self Of

Bone And Flesh

Seeks Cessation

In the hopeful

Sunlight

Of Day.

 

©Billy Ray Chitwood – March 22, 2019

 

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How Can We?

How Can We?

How can we breed patriots

When we don’t teach our history?

From ‘Pilgrim Rock’ through

The great presidents of our time?

Valley Forge, the wars we’ve fought

For a country now harassed with hate?

How can we deplore so easily

With easy disdain and anger?

How can we be so blind of eye

As not to see the great rupture

In our land of milk and honey?

How can we not with haste defeat

This pestilence that so infects

Our hearts, our minds, our souls?

How can we be so hardened of heart

As not to feel compassion and joy?

How can we not feel pride in a

Nation that has so much to give?

How can we not stem the bigotry

That runs rancid in our streets?

How can we turn a Democracy

Into a totalitarian state of chaos?

What feeds this disease that now

Plagues our halls of government?

Please, tell me how can we revive

A country rich in history and glory?

How can we breed patriots

When we don’t teach our history?

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – March, 2019

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The House on Guthrie Place

The House on Guthrie Place

[All Dialogue]

“Hi, Sweetheart. Did you see the house?”

“Yes. It was immaculately beautiful, but I was frightened, Barry!”

“Why were you frightened, Edie?”

“It was the realtor’s eyes, I think, for the most part. They were menacing in their hungry stares, with an almost reddish-glow. It was enough to make me shiver with fear.”

“Where were you in the house? Which room in the house?”

“In the master bedroom. He was showing me how to work the on/off gas switch at the fireplace. It was a beautiful room, an awesome home with a rich and wonderful elegance. He bent down to reach the switch, and I bent over to see the spot and accidently brushed his side. When we stood up I had the strange notion he was going to grab me, and I took a step back toward the entry door to the master bedroom. That was the moment his eyes seemed to penetrate me, eyed me with a bold and scary stare.”

“What did you do then?”

“Well, I wasn’t positive my mind was recording the scene as I felt it so I tried to act normal, whatever that means, you know, I said: ‘Okay, can we see the kitchen and the patio area?’ and hurriedly took leave of the master bedroom.”

“And, did he show you the kitchen and patio area?”

“Yes, and as he opened the patio’s sliding glass-doors, he made body contact with me, and, I believe it was his intent to do so.”

“I rushed toward the hallway that leads to the front entrance and mumbled some silly gibberish, like, ‘Well, thank you for showing me the house. It’s very nice. I’ll bring my husband by to see it’.”

“Is that it, then, you just left? Where was the real estate agent when you left?”

“He followed me outside, acted befuddled, and yelled: ‘Are you alright, Mrs. Branson’?”

“I yelled back, ‘Yes, just running late, thank you’, and he had the last yell, ’you have my card, Mrs. Branson. Call me when you and your husband want to preview the house.’ Then, I zipped away from the curb fast, wanting to put distance between me and Nolan Wentz – just in case he planned on following me.”

“Are you sure in your own mind, Edie, that you’re not over-reacting to this encounter?”

“Well, not completely, no, and I would hate myself for the thoughts I had in that lovely house if I’m over-reacting… Call it whatever you will, Barry, but I felt my skin crawl with a ‘danger alert’, I’m convinced of that. His eyes were the ‘danger alert’, along with the touching in the master bedroom and at the patio sliding doors. With all of that, Barry, I loved the house, and you would, too. I know you would. We’ve been looking for exactly this house. I know you would love it. Are you thinking I’m embellishing all of this?”

“No, I don’t think that at all…just running the event in my mind. This could be very important, but it’s surely not enough to alert the police. Let me see his business card.”

“I put it in my purse… here, here it is.”

“Hmm, his name is Nolan Wentz…sounds vaguely familiar.”

“Do you know him?”

“No, I don’t know him. I’ve seen the name somewhere, likely in my travels.”

“What are you doing? Are you calling him?”

“Yes. I want to see the house, number one, because I want to get us out of this high-rise apartment, and, I want to check out this guy.”

“Are you sure, Barry? I do love the house, but do I have to go with you? I don’t want to see that guy again.”

 “Yes, I want you along, just in case we’re both of a mind to buy the place. I told you six months ago when we met and fell in love we would buy our dream house, and I intend to keep my word. The money is not an issue, and, if this is the house of your dreams and mine, we will buy it… shh, the phone is ringing.”

“Is Mr. Wentz in, please?”

“May I say who’s calling?”

“Barry Branson…he had a showing with my wife earlier and I would like to see the house.”

“Thank you, sir. Just a moment, please.”

“This is Nolan, how can I help you, Mr. Branson?”

“Hi, Nolan, call me, Barry, please. You showed my wife a house on Guthrie Place. She likes it very much so we would like to preview it again. When can you be available to show the house?”

“My time is easy, Barry. I can be at the Guthrie Place estate this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon. I have appointments in the morning.”

“Good. We’re easy, too, so can we meet at 3:00 PM this afternoon at the Guthrie Place residence?”

“I’ll be happy to meet you there at 3:00 PM, Barry. Your wife, I believe, has the gate code for Guthrie Place?”

“Yes, she has it, Nolan, so we’ll see you there at 3:00 PM. Good-bye.”

“Okay, Edie, you heard, we’re set for 3:00 PM. I know you’re nervous about seeing the guy, but I’ll be with you. Hey, it just could be our dream home.”

*

“The area is fantastic, Edie, so much greenery, flowers, trees, and the waterfall at the gate is a great selling point. The homes are all custom-built and so lovely.”

“Wait until you see the home, Barry. It’s fantastic. I just hope I’m wrong about Nolan Wentz.”

“Me, too, sweetheart. Hell, I feel at home already…”

“Okay, this is it, Barry, there, where the two tall palm trees stand. The Homeowners Association allows curb parking for possible buyers of property. Just park here.”

“Hey, I like our new house number, 711 Guthrie Drive. That’s a great number on the green felt of a Las Vegas casino crap table. Sounds somehow ‘right’ just saying it. I know, I know. We have a dual-purpose here. ‘Scope out Nolan Wentz and like the house’.

“Ah, the birds are tweeting, welcoming us to our new home, Edie…love the flagstone walkway treatment and drive-way. Hmm, I see Mr. Wentz at the front door waiting for us. Good-looking dude. How nice, big smile and all. Hope you’re wrong about the man, Edie.”

“Hi, folks, come on in. Welcome to your new home…sorry if I’m being presumptuous, Mr. and Mrs. Branson. Just trying for levity. How are you, Mrs. Branson? You left so fast earlier today, you had me worried.”

“Just running late to meet Barry for lunch.”

“Well, why don’t I put away my sales pitch and you two make the rounds inside and out. I’ll be right here in the parlor if you need to ask questions about anything, anything at all…”

“What lovely furnishings! Edie never mentioned…”

“Oh, she didn’t know, but all the furniture stays. It’s ‘turn-key’ and that includes all the kitchen goodies, china, silverware, plates, the whole enchilada, as they say… An unfortunate divorce and neither one wants to come near the house again. Crazy, huh? You, Barry, I’m betting, will fall in love with the exercise room and large steam shower – it will seat at least six people, that is, if there’s a need for that many…but, you two go ahead and make yourselves at home. Each residence in Guthrie Place sets on one-half acre and most of the homes have pools and spas, out-door kitchens, and very lovely landscaping…yell if you need a question answered…”

“Nolan’s a good-looking guy, Edie. He doesn’t look like the kind of guy who would come onto a client…not that I think you were mis-representing anything…just saying.”

“You know, I agree, Barry. It all had to be just me! Gawd! It’s like I’m previewing this beautiful residence for the first time. I just love it…”

*

“Nolan, we…oops, sorry, didn’t see the cell phone…”

“I’m off now… So, what do you think of 711 Guthrie Place?”

“We think you need to get our offer written up and to the sellers ASAP. We want a fast closing, and it’s a cash deal.”

“Oh, be quiet, my heart. It’s thumping wildly. Are you talking a full-price offer?”

“Yes, no, haggling! Everything stays as it is – all things we see here stays here. Understood?”

“Understood, for sure. That is exactly the way the sellers wanted it…sorry if my handshake is a bit moist, Barry and Edie. This is quite a day for me. You just put me in the sales-leader position at the agency. Thank you so very much. I will require a fairly high sum down. Is that a problem?”

“No, that’s no problem. Give me a figure and I’ll write a check. To whom do I make the check out?”

“Langley Escrow Service…you understand I’m sure the mortgage company must do a search for any liens and so forth. It’s routine to check your bank for the rather high deposit amount. There must be a ‘close of escrow’ as well, so it will all take a few days. Is that a problem for you?”

“No, no problem.”

“Again, thank you so much. I’ll be sending you copies of paperwork as we go through this procedure. Mailing stuff can take a few days, or, if you like, I can drop the paper off to you. Mailing it will take up to a week, maybe longer, with real estate transactions running sometimes a bit slow.”

“Mail is fine. No need for the legwork…”

*

“Why did you make the check so big, Barry?”

“Well, they’re going to get the full amount anyhow… 1.5 million! This way, maybe we get into our new home a bit quicker.”

“True, but half the amount, $750,000? Ah, you know what you’re doing. I love you, big guy. It is such a beautiful house. Hopefully, by the time you get back from your 10-day trip to Cincinnati, all the paperwork will be done, and we’ll move in with just our suit-cases. To be honest, I’ll miss our luxury high-rise condo, but all that room at our new place…so much fun in the anticipation. ”

“If the close comes faster and they want the rest of the money, you write the check. Okay?”

“Sure, if you want me to. God! The pen in my hand will shake, writing a check that big. I love you, Barry, and thank you for our beautiful new home.”

*

“Hey, Edie, I’m home. Edie. You here, Edie? Hmm, she knew when I was getting home. Probably, shopping…”

*

“Yeah, operator, how do I get information? I can’t seem to get it on my phone…”

“Hang on, sir. I’ll connect you to ‘information’.”

“Information…can I help you?”

“Yeah, can you find the number for Langley Escrow Service?”

“Just a moment, sir…”

“How are you spelling that name, sir?”

“Langley…L-A-N-G-L-E-Y, Escrow Service, unless there is no ‘e’ at the end of Langley.”

“Just a moment, sir.”

“Sir, are you there?”

“Yeah, I’m here…what’s the number?”

“I’m sorry, sir, I find no number for Langley, L-A-N-G-L-E-Y, Escrow Service listed.”

“No, no, there’s got to be a listing for Langley Escrow Service. I just bought a house that went through Langley Escrow Service.”

“I’m sorry, Sir. I do not have a listing for that company.”

“You must have. C’mon, check again…”

“Just a moment, sir…”

“Sir?”

“Yes.”

“There is no Langley Escrow Service listed in our city, sir. I’m terribly sorry for your inconvenience.”

“My inconvenience! My inconvenience! That company has my money. You have to have it listed.”

“I’m so sorry, sir. Would you like to speak to my on-duty supervisor?”

“Yes. Yes, let me speak to your supervisor. My God, when the phone company can’t help you, what the hell…”

“Hello, Sir, I’m the Supervisor on duty, and I’m so sorry to make you wait. The operator stated the problem, sir, and she told you correctly. We do not have a listing for Langley Escrow Service.”

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”

“I’m sorry, Sir.”

*

“Can I help you, Sir? You look like you could use some help.”

“I need to talk to one of your detectives…

“What’s the problem, Sir?”

“I’ve been swindled out of one million five hundred thousand dollars.”

“Geez. That is a problem… When did this swindle happen?

“Two weeks ago.”

“Two weeks ago, huh?”

“That’s what I said. I didn’t stutter. I’m hurting here! Get me a detective.”

“Hey, don’t get snappy with me, Pal…(hmm, if this guy has just lost one and a half million dollars, I’m Queen Elizabeth without the sex-change…) Hold on a minute, Sir. I’ll get a detective.

©Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood – March 5, 2019

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