“Role and Roll”
(Not to be confused with: ‘Rock and Roll’)
“Have you ever eaten a roll while playing a role?”
“What! Ah, you’re doing another one of Linda’s ‘prompt’ things, right? Role and roll, right?”
“Well, yeah! So, I know you were an actor…did you ever eat a roll while playing a role?”
“Yeah, I ate a roll while playing a role! Now, can I get back to my book?”
“The book you’re writing! You write about the rolls you ate while playing your roles?”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake! You’re bound to do this, interrupt me with your stupid ‘prompt’ for role and roll… No, I don’t write about the rolls I ate while playing my roles! Now, put a roll in your mouth and play the role of quiet mouse!”
“I know what you’re doing! You’re playing a role, being mad at me, right? Here, have a cinnamon/raisin roll!”
“I’m going to throttle you! You’re just trying to roll over me with this role-playing crap. You do this every week when Linda does her prompts! And, you play this role every week! AND, no, I don’t want your cinnamon/raisin roll…and, dammit, I like my cinnamon/raisin rolls with a glass of milk…”
“Okay, okay! If you’re going to play this role with me, I’ll get you a glass of milk to go with your cinnamon/raisin roll.”
“Give me a really tall glass of milk for these three cinnamon/raisin rolls I’m going to eat for this stupid role I’m playing.”
“Really! Three cinnamon/raisin rolls! My role only calls for you to eat one, because I like cinnamon/raisin rolls, too, a lot, and I only made six!”
“That’s it, this role-playing has got to stop. My three rolls for YOUR role-playing still leaves you three rolls to eat. It’s a small price for you to pay, interrupting my important writing role. The cinnamon/raisin rolls are good, but no more ‘Linda Prompts” while I’m in my writing role. I appreciate your rolls, but I’ve got to get back into this writing role. Kabish, Kook?”
“Well, if you’re going to be crude and rude, I’m taking my rolls and leaving for brighter roles people will play when I engage them.”
“Now you’re talking, Sylvester! Leaving my writing room so I can eat my cinnamon/raisin rolls while in my writing role is the best news I’ve had for ten minutes!”
“You think we did enough role-playing for Linda’s prompt, Homer? Here, take my third roll! I just dropped it on the floor.”
“Dropped it on the floor! Well, that roll can’t be that badly soiled, as long as the cats haven’t been up to their roles of leaving cat-hair and dead little bugs on the floor… I’m impressed with your Chef-role, Sylvester…go make some more cinnamon/raisin rolls.”
(Under his breath) “Geez, you’d think the prompt was ‘cinnamon/raisin rolls’!”
Billy Ray Chitwood – November 17, 2018
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Bad Day on the Laptop
May I say? In all humility, the digital world truly sucks!
The digital world is like a zany puzzle that doesn’t know what it wants to be, crossword or otherwise. How many frigging minds are destroyed by its wacky configurations? I Hate You, Internet! In all humility!
It is as though those who put all the strange turns and twists to this digital empire smile with elitist glee because THEY KNOW what it’s all about, and everyone outside their ranks will have to pay dearly for their knowledge, like, buying a brand new laptop every year because of its promise to do more than the one you just bought six months ago…you Idiot! Me, Idiot! You, Tarzan, big man!
Yes, it’s a frigging elite club to whom only those who have bizarre technical skills can belong. All others: here, have some scraps of our earlier too mucky bulky, too easy gizmos with which we can no longer torment you; here, you poor saps who put up with the gyrations, constant aggravations, try these new and better applications, add more to your insane cravings; here, you dumb non-nerds, have an elixir WE put together just for you, an ‘SEO Friendly Content Download’ to go with your WORD PROGRAM – you will love it! Oh, AND good luck downloading it with all our (heh, heh!) easy as pie explanations. (Heh, heh!)
May I say, ‘Go to HELL with your satanic torturing of one’s mind and ego. Up yours! I can’t be more hostile because the frigging ‘Space Cadet Internet Cops’ will come and put me out of my misery.
May I say, ‘Up your YING-YANGS, you merciless bunch of societal rejects. May all your stupid circuit boards turn on you and make you the morons you’ve tried to make me! Oh, hell, who am I kidding! the moron you’ve made me!
AND, for those of you who somehow kept your sanity and mastered this damned time-consuming nano-piece of nothing and walk around acting like ‘know-it-alls’ with smiles on your stupid faces, up yours, too!
May I say, I hate you!
AND, will the ‘Internet Ward Nurse’ take this damned straightjacket off me? It’s difficult typing with my proboscis!
Billy Ray Chitwood – November 15, 2018
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The Long Lingering Night
“So, your answer is, no. You won’t go?”
“Hey, you can go. You don’t need me to go.”
“You said you would go, Charlie.”
“C’mon, Beth, Sweetheart, I’m working here on the laptop, and the final edit is going really well right now. It’s selfish, I know, but I’ll make it up to you. “
“Okay, I’ll go alone. This is the last night ‘The Sting’ is in town and I’m not going to miss them.”
“Good. I don’t want you to miss them, though I wish you would get Carol or someone to go with you.”
“No, I’m going alone. Go ahead, work on your book. I know it’s important to you.” Beth leaned down and gave Charlie a kiss. “See you later.”
“So, you’re not mad?”
“No, not mad. Love you, Charlie.” Beth yelled as she exited the front door.
“Love you, too. Enjoy,” Charlie yelled back to the closing door, immediately retreating back into his laptop and his final draft.
Having lost all track of time Charlie looked in the lower right-hand corner of his laptop screen and saw the time was 1:14 AM.
He worked six straight hours without a potty-break, without food or drink, all evening, and, now he sat smiling. He finished the final draft of his book, and the ‘dream channel’ began in his head, those wonderfully wild thoughts of acclaim and 5-Star Reviews…
He was so wrapped up in his accomplishment, he forgot Beth.
“Beth,” he yelled loudly, and not a response. Ah, she slipped in, saw him lost in his work and went to bed.
He rose from his swivel desk chair, stretched, and went to the bedroom.
Bed made. No Beth.
Hmmm. The concert would be over by now.
There came a quick stab of alarm and shame. He let Beth go to a concert by herself. Concerts were rowdy, always ultra-loud, with lots of booze and dope being consumed.
Oh, Christ, what kind of man was he? Letting his wife go into the night alone without him? How could he do that to her? His ‘writing’ was more important than his wife? You are a miserable sap!
Okay, stop with the self-recriminations!
What the hell was he to do?
Wake her up at 1:30 in the AM?
Well, damn, He had to do something! Yes, call Carol.
Carol’s phone rang, Charlie was counting the rings, and, on the ninth, he was about to hang up when a gruff and sleepy voice answered.
“Oh, Leonard, I didn’t know you were back from your business trip, sorry to wake you…”
“What the hell do you want this time of night, Charlie, for Christ’s sake?”
“Is Carol with you?”
“What the hell kind of question is that at 1:33 in the morning?”
“I’m really sorry, Leonard, but, dammit, Beth isn’t home from the concert, and I’m worried about her. Did Carol go with her?”
Now, with more concern for his friend, “No, she’s here beside me in bed. Hey, Charlie, Beth probably met a lady friend and she’s having after-concert drink. Can’t believe you let her go alone, Charlie!”
“Believe it, Leonard, I’m a bastard… And, no, she wouldn’t do that, Leonard. She wouldn’t stop for drinks. Beth would know I’d be worried.”
“Why didn’t you go with her, Charlie. I thought that was your plan.”
“Well, it was, Leonard, but I wanted to wrap up the final draft of my book.”
“I’m feeling your pain, Charlie, but, damn, you should have gone with her.”
“I know. Oh, how I know!”
“Check hospitals, Charlie. Check in with the police, but they’ll probably tell you they have to wait 48-hours before they can do anything. I’m sorry, Pal, that’s all I got. If anything occurs to me. I’ll call you. Carol’s awake now wanting to know what’s going on. Get back to us when you find out something, Charlie.”
The two friends disconnected.
For the next few hours, Charlie called hospitals, police stations in all jurisdictions in the metro area of Phoenix. Some he called twice.
He was now crying at intervals, beside himself for being such an idiot to let Beth go alone to the concert. He could do nothing but wait … Wait for what?
“Oh, God!” the tears came again.
He was totally lost, his mind blank but sending ugly themes of what might have happened. He tried to be rid of them by walking, making more coffee, drinking more coffee, and his pain was joined by a bone weariness. He was like a man drunk, drugged, without the power of any more thought.
The book. The damned book! His inveterate, his incorrigible addiction to writing had caused him to lose his wife, if not forever, for this time, for this agonizing time…
Something about the book. Something in the book about one of the women characters. What was it? Come on, man, you wrote the damned book! What is it?
Then, it came to him, softly at first, then sharply like a razor slice of beard. But, Beth? Not Beth! No, that could not be the answer. Beth would not do that.
He rose from his swivel chair, went to the garage. The car was parked in the garage. What the hell?
He went back into the house, scratched his head, went to the guest bedroom.
There, the covers pulled snugly up to her chin, lay his sleeping beauty!
Charlie had never experienced a happier moment in his life. His love, his wife was safe from harm.
He smiled, removed his clothes, tossed them on the stuffed chair in the corner, and slipped into bed with his no longer missing Beth.
He wrapped his arms around her, pulled her gently to him, kissed her with softness she could not resist.
They lingered there through their love-making, through the deep sighs of love and oneness…
Just before they faded and fell into their night’s long slumber, he smiled and said: “You know, you might have broken some copyright laws tonight! The very idea, using one of my literary characters as an object lesson for your husband.”
“Oh, be quiet, my darling, and go to sleep.!”
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood
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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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e Billy Ray and Julie Anne
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 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 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.
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!
“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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