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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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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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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Miles From Afghanistan

Miles from Afghanistan!

“Pardon me, aren’t you staying on Route 40?”

“Does it look like I’m staying on Route 40?”

“No, sir! But you said you were staying on Route 40 all the way to Flagstaff when you picked me up.”

“Did I say that? The devil must have made me say that!”

“But, sir, I need to get to Flagstaff. Please stop here. I’ll make it back to Route 40 on my own.”

“You just undid your seat buckle! Buckle-up for safety, they say. Have you heard them say that, Ronnie?”

“No, sir, and my name isn’t Ronnie. It’s Bishop.  Please stop the car, sir, and let me out.”

“Lawrence Ronald Smith? That your name?”

“Please, sir, stop the car, let me out. Now, sir, please!”

“Um! Not, Smith? Not, Ronnie? So, you’re one of those ‘Bishops’? One of those religious leaders?”

“Is it my uniform, sir? You don’t like the military? Just let me out of your car, sir. You’ll never see me again.”

“You’re sweating, kid! I’ve got the air on! Why are you sweating, young sir?”

“Please, Mister, stop the car and let me out! Now, Sir!”

“Marines give orders! Right? You giving me an order, Sergeant Bishop? That right?”

“No, I’m giving you this, you miserable SOB!”

“Ouch! That’s a pretty good right hand you got there, Sergeant Bishop… Now, you’ve done it! Don’t you know, Sergeant a car loses its power steering when the keys are turned off while driving, that is, if you’re driving one of those oldies that don’t have the modern gear. Aah!

“You okay, Sergeant? My right hand’s likely not as good as your right hand, right, Sarge Bishop. Sarge Bishop! Oh, you’re taking a nap. Got all tired out on me, huh? ‘Whistle me up a memory’ – you don’t mind my singing, do you Sarge? Guess not, you’re still napping on me. ‘Whistle me up a memory, whistle me back where I want to be – to Tombstone Territory’!

“Okay, this looks like a real good spot! Ah, you’re coming around! Guess maybe my karate chop put you napping longer than I expected…wow, you’re a big guy, heavy, heavy! Okay, I got you leaning against the tree. You a bit more comfortable now, right, Sarge? You’re blinking your eyes, that’s good! You got your wits back, Sarge? I need to talk to you. Now, you can see you’re free to go, but here’s the thing…you got these trees all around you and you gotta figure which way you want to go…”

“Come on, Mister! Don’t play these games with me. Just let me go! I’ve done nothing to you and …”

“Whoa! Hold on there! You gave me a darn good blast back there in the car, so, yeah, you did something to me. Now, listen, Sarge, I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told nobody! The marines treated me real awful-like back in the day, put me in their version of a prison stockade, and it just wasn’t a very nice place. Some of those fellas had been in there for a while, and they got their jollies in nasty and peculiar ways, if you know what I mean… Whoa, now, Sarge, don’t be trying to get up ‘til I tell you the rules…”

“The Marines might have done bad things to you but I didn’t…can’t you see that? Can’t you just let me go? I’ll just forget all of this! Can you do that for me, Mister?  You don’t have to use that rifle you’ve got there! You can’t just shoot me. Please, Mister, I got a new family! Give me a chance!”

“Well, now, that was a right nice way of putting your words, Sarge, and, doggone it, I’m gonna let you go. For real! Shucks, you’re right, you got a family started and all. You just get on up from that ground you’re on, and take off! Don’t shake your head because I’ve got the gun. I mean it, Sarge, just take off…only one thing, you have to go that direction, straight away into the woods. You can almost see a pathway the way those trees are laid out. The only thing is, if I see you trying to get off that line right there my rifle’s pointing at, I’ll have to shoot you…am I making my point clear enough?”

“Why can’t you just let me get back on the road?”

“Cause that’s the rules of the game, Sarge! I won’t start looking for you ‘til you’re out of sight.”

 “Looking for me? What? You’re going to hunt me like an animal? This is a sporting event for you? You are one sick sonofabitch! Why don’t you fight me like a man? You have all the advantage! You afraid I can take you, Mister? Is that it? Because you hit me with a karate chop in your car, you figure that makes you the better man. Hell, you’re a damned coward, afraid to fight! I can see why the corps blasted your ass, Mister. You wouldn’t make a pimple on a good Marine’s ass! You’re yellow! You’re…Ow!”

“Get up, boy! I’ve got some more of this gun butt for you! You’re trying my patience, and I’m about to get so mad I may have to kill you after all. Come on! Get up! Get up, Sarge, now! Okay, you feel the rifle barrel on your fore-head, Sarge. You want me to pull the trig..ugh…”

The leaves fell from the trees as the marine tackled the man with the rifle, straddled him and pummeled him with left and right fist blows until the blood made him nauseous. The marine rolled off the man, stood above the lifeles body and heaved off to the side.

The marine leaned against the tree staring down at the man with the gun, his breath coming in short gasps. He swallowed hard, weaving, retching again, tried to bring his right hand to the gash on the side of his forehead as the pain registered in his brain from the broken fingers. He swooned, almost fell and went to the ground on his knees, squealing as his left hand reached for the ground as balance. The left hand was also broken, thankfully not as severe as the right.

When some semblance of normal breathing returned he checked for a pulse of the psychotic man on the ground. The marine gasped again.

The man was dead!

Then, tears came to mix with the grit and sweat of the past frenzied moments. Thoughts cascaded in his mind.

 He had taken another life! Another life he could add to those he had taken in Afghanistan!

After the crying, the soul-searching, the marine known as Bishop managed to painfully and slowly remove the car keys from the dead man’s pocket, got in the car and drove to the nearest roadside stop to make a phone call to the authorities.

The authorities had an extensive rap sheet on the dead man, and no charges were brought against Bishop. The authorities could forgive him but he could not forgive himself.

Bishop awoke on many nights from terrible dreams of a man with a mutilated face, gashed, with blood flowing profusely from the gaping maw! On those occasions, he would rise tearfully from the bed, put on jogging shorts, and run far into the night.

A short tale from:

BR Chitwood – August 8, 2018

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The Light Must Be On

sunset-485016__480

The Light Must Be On

After all the years it’s still with me,

That fear that clutches in the night

The vulnerable spots of my Soul –

And there must be constant Light.

*

There even into the morning’s sunrise

The room which is my only world

A table light must continue its glow

To feed ravenous thoughts unfurled.

*

Whence came this awful curse of mind?

What mockery didst I make of Life

To cause thought demons to visit me thus?

To bring such monsters of strife?

*

Was it a childhood devoid of care and love?

A child’s witness to life’s vulgar showing?

The vagaries of unbridled behavior?

The bleak, lonely child’s unknowing?

*

Didst come with nature’s random imprint?

This ugly mistake with no remedy?

Whatever its symptoms my life goes on

And I fear that I still wish to be!

 

@Billy Ray Chitwood – April 15, 2018

*

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Phoenix Fire

      

A Phoenix, Arizona entrepreneur and an ad agency director fall in love in a most unusual way. Their relationship is interrupted by sibling clashes, a gambling addiction, a murder, and a matriarch’s secret that ultimately causes emotional chaos and disorientation. This is a book that will draw the reader into the story and compel them to stay glued until the end. The gripping climax to PHOENIX FIRE is powerful, and tissues are recommended. Treat yourself to a marvelous romance, mixed with some suspense and a desert odyssey to save one’s soul. A truly great read.

Questions:

Do you like a love story with suspense?

Do you like characters with complex issues?

Do you like a smooth flow of narrative?

Do you like vivid description with your narrative?

Do you like dramatic and tense situations?

Do you enjoy plots and sub-plots that link coherently?

Do you prefer ‘Happy Endings’?

Do you like authors with a clear, lucid, style?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you will enjoy PHOENIX FIRE! And, you will like it enough to leave a Review on Amazon.

Now, enjoy a few excerpts from the novel… My wish is to give you a sense of my writing style, to introduce you to some of the characters. My promise: you will enjoy PHOENIX FIRE, a love story with some tense moments. Now, the excerpts:

*****

Chapter One

[Part of Chapter One]

She was lost in the brightness, a magnificent static whiteness, alluring and warm. It was an easy place to be, if, it was a place. Perhaps it was a state, a bright and new awareness, a safe and final destination.

She only knew that her essence was etched in the great luminous energy and she did not wish to leave it. The light seemed to be transporting her outward, expanding some awesome truth, recently possessed, and she wanted only to remain and to become whatever the promising ecstasy.

Then, there came a shimmer of interference, vaguely emanating from the mystic fringes, slowly fragmenting the weightless pool of white. There was a rippling which nudged her new awareness, gently precluding her anticipated oneness with the expanding light.

Then came sound, soft and beckoning, like a bird chirping in slow motion, becoming stronger and more strident. She resisted the sound and the fragmenting but she could not pull herself onward into the radiant void. Like a swimmer urgently breast stroking against a strong noiseless tide, she felt herself dipping, sinking, then free-falling from the disintegrating brilliance.

She became conscious of her head shaking in sidelong negation of the interference, her lips silently murmuring, ‘no, no, let me stay! Please let me stay!’

Then she acknowledged the inevitable full immersion back to a solid, contoured reality. The bird chirps became loud concerned voices. The ripples became caring and caressing hands.

The hard ground was cold.  She began to shiver, felt the urge to rise, but was somehow constricted. Her mind made some adjustments and she suddenly knew where she was, how she had gotten there.

Finally, she slowly opened her eyes with a fluttery acceptance of her immediate environment. A man’s face came into focus, hovering two feet above her own. She felt pinned down and quickly discovered that the man was astride her. There was a momentary sense of panic but something about the man’s face made her relax.

A light rain fell, and she was conscious of wet hair matted to her face and forehead. The sky was a dull gray, and skinny treetops came to her peripherally as some surreal apparitions. The man’s concerned face gave her a final focus. She remembered what happened.

The lightning! She recalled an awful clap of thunder, so jarring and harsh, so totally upon her, instantaneously enveloping her in its loud and splintered brightness. She remembered the searing, exquisite pain that so consummately wracked her body and mind.

She was jogging and she must have been struck by lightning. As she blinked from the raindrops and the accounting of the lightning strike, she felt lethargic and without purpose. She was struck by lightning, yet there was no panic, no real sense of urgency.

The man’s hands left her chest and he studied her with a tender and squinted concern. She felt the weight of his body leaving her, felt a great rush of air fill her chest. The man lifted himself from her but his soft blue eyes remained upon her face.

They were beautiful eyes, shrouded by dark cavernous brows. Wisps of his black hair was pasted about his forehead, and he made odd movements with his lips as though making an adjustment.

Her own lips felt strangely tender to the touch of her tongue, and, in a moment of clarity, she understood: the man had given her mouth to mouth resuscitation.

The man then spoke, softly, his voice conveying a cultured refinement and pleasant resonance. “Can you move your arms and legs?”

She understood the question and lifted her head tentatively, feeling her hands, arms, and legs slowly move to her inner commands. She nodded to the handsome stranger who knelt above and to her side. She managed a small, sad smile of gratitude.

“And can you speak?” He returned her smile.

“Yes, I think so,” came her weak reply.

She noticed for the first time a small group of people standing off to her right, near a park utility shed. She heard a siren off in the distance, its sound increasing in volume. She attempted to rise from the ground.

“Maybe you should stay where you are until you’ve been medically checked. Are you feeling much pain?” The man lightly touched her shoulder.

*****

[Part of Chapter Three]

Chapter Three

Without religious fervor or zeal, Jason Prince believed in fate and serendipity. He felt simply there were fateful events in every life.

At age thirty-three he was the recipient of some good genetic tailoring: a strong Roman angularity to his attractive face and full black hair, minus the imperious and defiant set; a well-built body without flab; intelligent, solid business acumen, with a penchant for fairness and mild aggressiveness. Jason suffered no swollen and insufferable ego problems in his stable environment. He was lucky, and, not so lucky. He carried with him a pleasant humility, no doubt the result of his grandmother, whose doting was subtle but pure. There was also no doubt that the death of his parents when Jason was eleven years old factored into whatever essence was uniquely his.

Although he was shielded by his grandmother, Jason remembered the details of his father’s and mother’s deaths. His parents died in an ill-fated traffic accident. A tractor-trailer semi, its driver asleep at the wheel, crossed a center line on Carefree Highway near Cave Creek, Arizona, and plowed head-on into his parents’ car. The truck was going seventy-five miles per hour at the time of the crash, so death for his parents was reported as instantaneous. His father and mother, weary and anxious to be home, were returning from a dinner party in Oak Creek Canyon.

Grandma Myrena Wimsley was home with Jason and his older brother, Carlton, when the call came from the authorities. There were tears and there was anguish, but Grandma Wimsley was not one to dwell too long in emotional crises. Her strong will prevailed as she sheltered the boys as much as possible from the devastating news.

Carlton Prince was the difficult son to soothe. He somehow internalized his parents’ deaths as his own personal tragedy, intermingling his tears of loss with aberrant fits of selfish tirade. Grandma Wimsley found it necessary at times to forcibly control Carlton’s behavior.

For Jason, the death of his parents brought a period of dull apathy. He seemed for some time lost in a foggy nether world, unable to accept the tragic event yet powerless to deny it. He moved in awkward limbo and was ultimately sustained by his grandmother’s stoic acceptance and patient nudging which brought him to a final certainty and reluctant peace. Grandmother Wimsley became for Jason an anchor and a symbol of stability and safe harbor. In a very real sense Jason adopted his grandmother’s calm and unflinching personality, an alluring stoicism with a slight edge of inner doubt. His tinge of humility and resolve was not an unpleasant anomaly.

It was Carlton who could not resolve his seemingly vindictive grief. He vented anger and hostility. His mood shifts were uncomfortable and unreasonable. Grandmother Wimsley came to an uneasy and wary acceptance of Carlton’s moods, hoping that eventually he would grow out of the negative self-absorption. It was Carlton who inevitably and unknowingly brought a tight bond of love between Grandmother Wimsley and Jason. There was also a decidedly open favoritism shown to Jason by his grandmother. Grandfather Wimsley stayed lovingly neutral in the background, busy in his work, leaving the rigors of child nurturing to his capable wife.

So, fate and serendipity were accepted and important acknowledgments for Jason Prince, and his unusual encounter with Jenny Mason aroused a dormant emotion. He found her image kept superimposing itself in his thoughts. He knew that this woman was somehow meant to be a part of his life. His acceptance of fate negated the fleeting feeling of impetuousness.

*****  

[Part of Chapter Eleven]

“But he is my grandson. Now stop your fretting. You did the right thing in telling me.” The pain was easing. “The medicine is working. Don’t worry about me. I’m a strong old girl. Just got an aging ailment, that’s all. You get old, the old body starts breaking down a bit. I’m feeling better now.”

“What is it, Grandmother Wimsley?” Sheila’s voice was tender and genuine in its caring. It was the first time she had addressed Myrena in that way. Sheila’s face wore the knowledge that this was not just an ‘aging ailment’ for Myrena.

Myrena was touched and beckoned Sheila to her small but strong arms. They comforted each other for some long moments.

It was Myrena who spoke. “Child, I’m going to be sorry not seeing you with Carlton anymore. But you’re not to worry. I’m going to work on the problem you’ve talked about. I want you to stay in touch with me. You are like family.”

Sheila soon left. Wardley came to the day room to assist Myrena, but she waved him away. He smiled with affection at her indomitable spirit. With the tray of uneaten finger sandwiches and lemonade in his hands, Wardley left her alone, a painful knot in his gut. She would not be with them too much longer. The trusted employee and friend felt a deep sadness with the thought and would wait until he was in his quarters before shedding the tears welling up inside of him.

Myrena went to the parlor and stood a long time in front of the portrait that she loved so much. Then she reclined on the long sofa, placing herself so that her view of the portrait was unimpaired. She was there staring at the portrait for a long time, her mind playing themes from the long ago past. She pulled the misty old memories from the deep rich tones on the portrait’s canvas. The scenes passed swiftly and poignantly before her clouding eyes.

She and John standing at the doorway to the boys’ bedroom, watching them sleep…

The daughter who bore the boys in her cap and gown at graduation exercises …

A wedding reception so gala, so full of hope and possibilities …

A funeral …

A past and present merging into a wistful place in the heart …

Dusty, rutted roads in Mexico, the smell of frijoles, mariachis strumming their plaintive, discordant guitars …

A flower garden by the sea, the boys skipping along the surf …

A camp site in the high desert …

Carlton, Jason, smiling, joyfully playing cowboy games …

A plot of land, scenes of family gatherings, loving scenes, faces, merging, flowing into a profusion of color …

Tears slowly flowed down the tanned and weathered furrows on either side of her stoic face, and she slept.

[End of Excerpts… – It truly is a great story… – Do hope you read it!]

The excerpts were randomly selected. Again, just giving a sense of style and short shots of some characters. Please enjoy the entire book.

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From Italy – With Love

From Italy With Love

I thought it was all over!

There were two problems. My single engine plane coughed, sputtered, and acted like it was out of gas – but the tank was filled just twenty minutes before at the air park in Genoa. The other problem was lack of control – without success, I tried to control the Aileron, that hinged surface in the trailing edge of an airplane wing which is used to control lateral balance…think of a seesaw, keeping it horizontally straight without either end dipping down.

Bottom line: big problem with the plane’s engine out and my inability to glide the plane accurately to a spot for landing.

I got lucky!

See the trees at the bottom of the picture above? Somehow, I managed to land the plane some ten feet to the right of those trees, with the right wing an inch or two from the sand and the nose about to plow into the ground. An abrupt action with the right wing somehow caused the plane to straighten its line and touched down roughly but then slowly moved to a stop with the friction of the sand.

No bruises, no cuts, no radio transmission, and no real damage…just some rattled nerves.

Actually, I sat there behind the stick for some seconds and felt pretty good – hey, I had a story to tell my film buddies back in Santa Monica. We were still young, chasing the ladies, and telling each other our tall stories. Because I looked a bit like Steve McQueen, my buddies gave me the nickname, ‘Cool Mac 2’.

I pulled the leather flight jacket from my near 200 pound, 6 foot frame, flung it over my right shoulder, grabbed my clothes bag from the cockpit, and started walking toward the buildings in the picture’s foreground. Only a few feet into my walk I saw an old jalopy heading toward me. My walk only lasted some three hundred yards before the jalopy stopped and a man and woman threw some Italian at me. Some I understood but the gist I did not.

The woman was beautiful, and the guy, well, he was handsome enough, I guess, but he was much older than the lady…for some obscure reason, I was wishing the duo was daughter and father.

Sorry, I speak very little Italian. Do you speak English?”

Jes, we speak some Engleesh, but you just crash yur plane! Are you hokay?” Such a lovely voice to go with the face and body.

Yes, I’m fine. I got lucky. But I could use a phone and some assistance in reaching people who can help me. Would you…”

The older man stopped me in mid-sentence, “Get in the car. We will take you to our home where there is phone and food.” His white whiskered face showed kindness and blended in with his white wavy hair. He instantly reminded me of Maurice Chevalier…you know, the French actor who sang ‘Thank Heaven for Leetle Gurls, for leetle gurls get bigger every day’.

Rosina was the lady’s name, and Pauli was the gentleman’s name. I immediately liked them and found them most cordial and friendly. It was particularly tough for me me to avoid glancing at Rosina. Her long dark hair went to the middle of her back, framed a beautifully tanned exotic face, and her bluish green eyes sparkled with flirty coyness. She was wearing a slightly loose tan dress, but, had it been tightly fitting, my heart might have leaped through my shirt. I had worked with some lovely ladies in films, and this Rosina beauty did not take a backseat to any of them.

Pauli asked me what I was doing flying a plane in Italy.

Well, Pauli, my girlfriend and I broke things off, and I was between jobs, never been to Italy and have always wanted to come and see it in person. I’ve been in love with your country ever since Clint Eastwood made those ‘Spaghetti Westerns’, well, actually, all my life. This was a good time for me to come… Oh, my name is Faron Brady. Flying is a hobby, and I just thought I would see some of your beautiful country…didn’t get much accomplished, I’m afraid.”

We talked, got well acquainted, and I felt we established a great bond. Pauli knew who to call to handle the plane and the rental company in Cortona.

When Pauli and Rosina found out I had no lodging in Cortona for the night, they insisted I be their guest, spend a few days, and tell them all about America. I had an idea Pauli was perhaps playing matchmaker for Rosina – without her necessarily knowing it.

After Rosina left the conversation to refresh herself before dinner, Pauli showed me to my bedroom. He announced wine and hors d’oeuvres would be served before dinner and that Madame Rosaria would be preparing dinner for serving at 7:00 PM… Madame Rosaria had been Pauli’s mistress and house manager since his wife died ten years prior. Out shopping, I would meet her later.

Suddenly, I was very tired. I took off my shoes and fell across the bed.

The nap came quickly, and I don’t know how long I slept. When I awoke, Rosina was standing in the doorway with the most seductive smile ever put on me. I raised to an elbow.

Is it near 5:00 PM?” I asked, trying very hard to return the seduction.

Jes, you must freshen up and have some wine, the best Italian cheese, and hors d’oeuvres. We await you, Signore Faron.” She turned and left the doorway ‘in a most delightful way’.

Freshened, I joined my hosts in the living room. Madame Rosaria was a lovely lady as well and not a lot older than Rosina. It was a little scary! Both seemed to be putting the moves on me. Now, of course, this was likely an Italian ‘thing’ and not meant to be interpreted in a romantic fashion. Certainly, Pauli was not at all concerned by the actions of the ladies.

We drank, we ate, we laughed, we traded cultural distinctions and idiosyncrasies. It was one of the best evenings I could remember ever having.

In the end, Pauli and Rosaria went to bed, leaving Rosina and me alone in the living room, slightly tipsy and now fully engaged in our sensual maneuvers.

Believe it or not, I don’t remember how I ended up in bed alone. I could remember being sure earlier that being in bed together was a foregone conclusion. A lesson was learned: our cultural distinctions were definitely there and frustrating as hell.

Three days later, Rosina and I decided to be married in Cortona, honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast, then return to California.

Hey, I’m still stunned by the turn of events, BUT I must add, I am one happy ‘Cool Mac 2’… Steve McQueen, we miss you, buddy!

I cannot imagine anything in my life from this point on topping my Italian visit… I do indeed love that country – and, Rosina.

©Billy Ray Chitwood – March 14, 2018

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