Billy Ray Chitwood
Beware, the chameleons!
Classified as ‘highly specialized clade of Old World’ lizards’ adept at changing colors to blend into different environments, but I’m writing here about the human ‘chameleons’, that deceptive and manipulative breed of seemingly common folks who can play and often prey on our good, honest, and innocent Homo sapiens.
Take the case of Jeffrey Bullock and Catherine Santos…
Now, it is true that Jeffrey is a handsome man with a Grecian face punctured and set with blue eyes and an automatic upper and lower lip that can be in turn persuaded to change with the course of a conversation. Those blue eyes and remarkable lips can turn a conversation into a thing of academic beauty, with his alternating simulations of eyebrows, eye intensity – or, lack, thereof – in sync and on pitch with every word conveyed by and to him. He is without question a master in the art of listening and speaking. Jeffrey is also a pleasingly muscular six-feet height, his smooth ‘copper-tone’ complexion virtually glows in any light, and his body-fat repellence completes his ridiculously excellent physique.
It is likewise true that Catherine is a beautiful lady, her long auburn tresses with a lovely flow below her shoulders, her eyes as green as the verdant rolling hills of ‘The Emerald Isle’. Her body is a molding befitting a Goddess, and she too has that copper-tone skin so devastatingly delicate that surely makes her apparitional and beyond any earthly description. Her voice is like a box of music that issues forth a softness of melodious and mellifluous sounds to hold captive any male suitor or enviable and doting female. Catherine stands tall and glorious at her five feet, eight inches, making all shorter men want to kill themselves, the taller men, salivating and ignominiously servile.
These two would-be Mythical-like Grecian Deities ostensibly meet on the first afternoon of their ten-day luxury cruise in the Caribbean Islands, she, apparently finishing a ‘jog’, coming to the pool deck bar for a thirst quencher of vodka-tonic, accidentally stumbling, spilling her newly acquired libation in front of our aforementioned Adonis who is enjoined in conversation with another pretty young lady much too young and naïve for any kind of Adonis bonding.
In a believable, gallant display of nonchalance and brevity with the young lady, Jeffrey stands from his kneeling position and apologizes vigorously to the modestly attentive Catherine who turns and returns to the bar for another vodka-tonic. Following, insisting on his buying her drink for his knee-bending chatter with the young lady, Catherine shakes her head negatively, and speaks with a near timorous response. “No, I can pay for my own drinks. It was a simple accident. No harm done. Thank you for offering.”
Her drink order fulfilled, she brushes past Jeffrey and finds a seat in the middle of chatty sunbathers.
The sunbathers are a steady hum of noise and many eyes are following Catherine’s moves, either, openly without deception, or, with. In truth, no one can reasonably fault the onlookers. Catherine Santos is a rare beauty among so many who could be counted among the simply, beautiful. She sits alone for some moments, staring at the enormous cobalt sea that stretches as far as the eyes can see. Only the most daring of handsome men would seek an entrée to Catherine Santos…only Catherine would know the loneliness that came with her incredible loveliness.
Then, there is one qualifier that makes a fool of many men, perhaps, in more ways than one. That Qualifier is alcohol – drinking alcohol, that is. A most reasonable sequitur from that conclusion is an imbiber with too much juice running through his veins will find enough courage from a ‘high’ on booze to enter that world of beauty and glamour. Three such inebriates approached Catherine Santos there by the pool, the last of the three causing quite a stir and an embarrassing security escort back to his cabin and his sober wife. The first two sobered fast, left Catherine’s presence meekly and was soon gone from the pool area – either, losing a buddy bet, or, embarrassed by all the snickers in the crowded pool area.
Though her drink was only half-finished, Jeffrey brought another drink to her table and requested a brief chat. To the crowd, Catherine showed a nod of ‘no’ and a solemn but pleasant enough dismissal. Yet, he lingered briefly with something said that made her smile. Then, he left.
Later, sumptuous dinners were served in a cozy, softly lit gourmet restaurant that only served those passengers who had purchased that cruise option. The wealthier cruisers preferred the more intimate personal service given at The Golden Interval in lieu of the big dining rooms with hundreds of people vying for service. Romantic violin music played slow, delicately even strokes just beneath the conversations in the lovely adorned Crimson and Gold room.
Among the diners was Catherine Santos. She sat alone at a small table, conspicuous in her attempt not to be so, dressed in a lovely rose-colored sarong, her beauty accentuated even further by the simple hint of roses. Also, there seated some few tables away was an attractive couple in their forties, smiling, being amused by none other than the charming Jeffrey Bullock. The couple had been poolside earlier in the day to witness the farcical Jesters in their sophomoric attempt to woo Catherine.
Jeffrey finally noticed Catherine and stopped abruptly in his monologue. “Please excuse me, Reggie and Deb, would you mind my inviting a lone soul to join us – that is, unless she would prefer being alone?” The couple smiled and nodded an approval.
Jeffrey rose and went to Catherine’s table, but was back in very short order and announced to his two recently met friends, “The lady prefers to dine alone and I’m reluctant to admit my embarrassment.”
“Don’t be embarrassed, Jeffrey,” was the quick and cheery reply from Deborah Weeden, wife of Reginald, aka, Reggie.
“It’s her misfortune, my boy. We enjoy your company. In fact, after dinner, we hope you can attend with us the ‘Special Art Auction’ on Deck Seven’. There are to be some recent original oils by Evan Sloan Glasgow in various nouveau and original ‘scene-sets’ and some Landscapes, Seascapes by Luther Blankenship. We would really enjoy having you with us at the auction…”
“Unfortunately, I was not invited. I understand the auction is by ‘Invitation Only’, though I thank you so much for the thought.”
“Bosh! Jeffrey, we’re inviting you. We can bring anyone we wish. You will come with us. I shall pull ‘age-rank’ on you, young man and treat you as we might our own son… Now, one more Gibson before dinner. The food is quite marvelous here, Jeffrey, as you might already know, and the Cabernet will add to the overall enjoyment of our meal.”
Deborah added to Reggie’s command, “We are so glad we met you, Jeffrey, in the gaming room earlier. By the stack of chips in front of you, it appeared you did quite well for yourself. For some inscrutable reason, I love gambling on these cruises…something about the sea, I suppose. But, then, that’s part of the fun of ‘Cruising’, gambling, meeting new people. I know Reggie and I have continued friendships with those we’ve met on our many cruises…”
So, the three talked through their dinner, nodded to Catherine as she had to pass their table in exiting the Golden Interval. She smiled sweetly to Deborah and Reginald but barely acknowledged Jeffrey.
One hour later, the trio exited the glass elevator on Deck Seven and entered the ‘Private Invitation Only Art Auction’. Seating was arranged by name of attendees and the comfortable chairs were given numbers to match the guest roster. Some thirty-one people were in attendance for the auction and these were without doubt the wealthiest of all passengers on board.
The big surprise for the dinner trio was the presence of Catherine Santos at the auction. She was seated just behind the three new friends. With a quick phone call, Jeffrey’s name was added to the attendance list and seating next to his two new friends was arranged.
There was a buzz of anticipation in the small crowd, and the noise outside the auction room was audible but not disconcerting. Deck Seven was given to Art Auctions, a Library, Fast Foods of various sorts, and, for the runners, a jogging oval set apart from the strollers.
As a result of the ‘Art Auction’, the Weeden couple winning bids bought them a rare and beautiful Luther Blankenship Seascape extraordinaire, a Glasgow ‘Still-life’, and a magnificent Glasgow ‘Lake House’ oil painting, leaving the attendees agog with the colors represented in the painting. Jeffrey Bullock was impressed with the artist-minded couple with whom he had spent the evening. Jeffrey bid a few times but dropped out when the bidding became too formidable.
As fate would have it, the same was true of Catherine Santos. She seemed to desperately want the Glasgow ‘Lake House’ oil but was outbid by an elderly lady in the back row of seats, who was herself, ultimately outbid by Deborah Weeden.
At the end of the auction, Reggie turned to Catherine Santos and asked her to join them in their huge and high-end expensive suite. Catherine surprised the group with an affirmative response.
The opulent suite had a garden area along with its four plush rooms and a large outer deck for night-time sea-gazing. Both Catherine Santos and Jeffrey Bullock commented on the suite’s beauty without too many lavish-laced phrases. It was not lost on the hosts the carefully worded praise of their suite. It was indeed a formidable penthouse of the Sea, and the group enjoyed their time together. Before the consumption levels reached near the foolish folly level, Catherine was the first to leave with gracious utterings and sleepy eyes. Ten minutes later, Jeffrey left the suite, with a ‘glow’ and gratitude for a fine evening.
Before the partings from the suite, the group promised to meet next evening for dinner at the Golden Interval.
“So, what do you think? Is it a ‘Go’ or a ‘No Go’?”
“Of course, it’s a ‘Go’. Why else are we here?”
“Just asking…there are times when you feel uncomfortable. Just making sure you’re good with the ‘mark’.”
“I’m good with the ‘mark’. Did you see something I didn’t see?”
“No, not really, just that I can smell a ‘con’ a mile off, just…”
“Well, the guy is talking some ‘investment scheme’ which is a ‘scam’ but he thinks I’m a big hitter with millions. I’ve got him thinking the investment scheme sounds good and something I might be interested in. I’m playing along like it’s a possibility, plus I told him I was in a winning zone at the casino tables. He thinks I’m going for the investment scheme, if not during the cruise, then, at a later date.”
“So, what’s the problem?”
“You are my problem. I love you, and I don’t want you getting hurt in all of this. Do I think the guy is dangerous, like, a killer? No, but I need to feel that out just a bit more before committing to the scam. I’ll sleep on it, but Im 90% sure at this point. She’s making a big hit in the casino, and I mean BIG. I stood behind her, and, in just those few minutes, she pulled in more than three hundred grand plus. Those winnings will be wired from the ship into an already huge account. She loves gambling on Cruise ships. Don’t ask me, why, because I don’t have a clue. People are funny in their gambling habits. I do know she wins on the sea and she keeps coming back. We get paid off when the ship wires the money to her bank.”
“We can’t do it if you’ve got the ‘feeling’. We agreed at the beginning – if we are not 100% sure about a ‘mark’ or something seems weird, we don’t go on.”
“Yeah, I know. Let me sleep on it. If the feeling is still there in the morning, we pull it off the table. And, yeah, I know, this might be the biggest ‘hit’ we’ve ever made…and, the last. We’ve got to get serious about our future.”
“Why won’t you tell me how you got the wiring transaction numbers on this mark, and, how does it work?”
“Because my source knows nothing about you, and I intend to keep it that way. You don’t need to know the operation. It would make you much more vulnerable. I can tell you it’s a simple system that cannot be traced back. We get the money wired into our proxy account and no one knows us and how we did it. It’s a new untraceable electronic wiring program. I couldn’t tell you even if I knew how it works… By the way, I believe our new-buddy thinks I’m either gay or a misogynist.”
“Are you one of those things?”
“What…! I’m going to give you a good spanking, lady! Stop giggling and tell me you don’t harbor thoughts like that.”
“Well, I’ve been told…” There was playful chase in the limited space. “Stop tickling me, you brute! You know I’m kidding… Stop tickling…”
“Yes, master!” There was one more tickle and the playful activity was finished. “Seriously, Sweetheart, make me a promise: can this be our last gig?”
“Yes, most definitely. It’s time we began enjoying the fruits of our labors…”
More playful activity came, but this time it was sensitive, soft, beautiful.
Four ports of call and ten lazy, lovely sunny days on the briny, the cruise ended in Miami, Florida. In that time Jeffrey and Catherine had become seemingly very close. In the eyes of new friends, Reginald and Deborah Weeden, the sparkle and spontaneity that their Cruise play pals gave off indicated as much
The Cruise Ship’s speakers announced disembarking instructions while both Jeffrey and Reggie left the ladies and luggage in The Garden Suite to visit the Chief Purser for the settling of their bills.
On the pier, there were hugs and jolly goodbyes with promises to get again together for another cruise, or, simply to visit each other. There seemed a most sincere bonding of the group, and each couple looked back in their strides to wave.
“Nice couple, really. It seems…”
“Yes, very nice…don’t go there. ‘Sorry’ is a miserable place to visit. Just remember, they were after what we have. We just beat them to the punch.”
The door slammed making her jump with fright. He called her name and she relaxed.
When he walked into the living-room she knew there had to be bad news.
“We have no money, that’s what’s wrong!”
“What! Don’t do this…it’s not funny!”
“You’re telling me, ‘it’s not funny’? Jeez, you don’t see me laughing, do you? WE HAVE NO MONEY! Zilch! Zero! Account empty!”
“But you wired the money aboard ship. How can that be?”
“How the hell do I know? So? ‘How can that be’, you ask? There is no money in our account! That’s how it can be! There is no money, period. No ship casino money…no millions we had in the account. NO MONEY!
“Maybe, it’s just not in yet! Oh, you mean, the money we had in the account is gone, too? Oh, my God!”
“Jeez, you’re dense! Wired money is NOW-money? Yes, the account money and the casino winnings, all gone! Why…”
There was an insistent ringing of the front doorbell.
“I’ll get it,” he said.
She followed him to the door.
He yanked the door open!
“Nice place you have here, Mr. and Mrs. Weeden. You two are under arrest! Put your hands behind your back. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney…You…”
“You’re serious? You want to get married?” Catherine – real name, Sherrie Malcomb, asked in disbelief.
“Yeah, I’m serious,” answered Jeffrey, real name, Gibson ‘Gibby’ Tierney, “Why would you think I’m not serious? You know how I feel about you, and you say you love me, so let’s do it. We have a major chunk of money now for a huge honeymoon – not too gaudy and/or too showy to call attention to us…”
“Wait, no one knows it was us, do they? You said. ‘anonymous’ made it known to the police.”
“That’s right! Someone ‘Deborah’ and ‘Reggie’ fleeced on their previous cruise. Not to worry, it’s our pay for getting the job done. Don’t you just love a ‘double-con’?!” The two lovable ‘con artists’ enjoy a chuckle and embrace. “So, do I go to my knees to propose, or, are you gonna save me from bruising my knees?”
“You’re not much of a Candlelight and Wine guy, are you?” Sherrie smiled, as they embraced – sealing the deal.
“I’m saving that for our first night in The Garden Suite, my love…”
Billy Ray Chitwood – July 11, 2019
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-Photo art by: Jakub Dziubak-
There in that sacred space
Where dreams lay crumbled
From all the yesterdays –
There where songs are sung
And stale memories play on
The soft notes of piano keys –
There in the unfulfilled dream
Heaps of all tomorrows amid
The rearranged bar stools –
There in the Bacchus mist
Among the sad souls of night
Love comes briefly to delight –
There in that play parlor for
Lonely souls of poetic pawns
The tortured Romantic sits.
Thank you, Romantics of the
World for the beauty of your
Musical notes of such sweet pain.
- BR Chitwood – July 9, 2019 –
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‘ALL AUTHOR’ AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Billy Ray Chitwood Interview Published on: 19, June 2019…All Author:
Crime fiction writer Billy Ray Chitwood came into the world as a ‘blue baby’ in rural Tennessee, during the aftermath of a big depression, and into a world of poverty, malaria, and broken homes. He had an abusive father, but was blessed with a hardworking and wonderful mother that did everything in her power to keep the family together. To Billy, writing is his therapy and he finds it hard to imagine good writing coming without passion. Though inspired by many English Romantic poets in college, he didn’t start writing till after the end of his first marriage. Many, but not all, of his eighteen books stem from some real life’s true crime cases. He is currently working on a book which is temporarily titled, THE SOUL DOME PROJECT, a novel about three young lifetime friends, enterprising businessmen who love to fish in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, who encounter other-worldly treasures in lieu of fish. This book is a different genre for the author, and he’s having glorious fun writing it. Hopefully, it fits in the SciFi genre. The young men are more than simply fascinated by one of their fishing adventures. They are overwhelmed in a major way. I’m working hard, trying to fuse my brand of humor into what is a first-class, supreme world shocker kind of book. Obviously, it is my hope that I can ‘pull it off’, as they say (whomever ‘they’ are supposed to be). I just wish it to be a fun read by the reading community. I’m still some months out on this ‘fishing boat’.
Here is ‘All Author’s’ Interview with author BR Chitwood:
AA Question: Tell us about your life and your struggles.
BRC Answer: Wish I could put a ‘smiley face’ on my life and struggles, but I must be truthful. I came into the world as a ‘blue baby’, born in a clapboard house up a muddy lane in a sawdust hamlet of rural Tennessee. It was the aftermath of a big depression. Poverty was everywhere as were malaria and broken homes. I’m rather fond of a phrase I used in my memoir: ‘I ate a lot of emotional soup as a kid and have been trying all my life to digest it’. The broken home, family, the times, the world were vague message carriers at the time. There were emotional and physical abuse by an itinerant father. There was a strong and hard-working mother who tried to keep the family together, working as a telephone operator by day, in war assembly plants at night, and as a boarding house cook. She was a wonderful mother.
AA Question: How passionate are you about writing?
BRC Answer: Writing is my therapy. I find pieces of me on and between the lines of what I write. Writing for me is as much about finding those loose ends of my life smack in the middle of a sentence or paragraph as it is writing a polished piece of prose that readers will enjoy reading. Nothing gives me more pleasure than grabbing a word or phrase that says exactly what I want it to say. It’s difficult for me to imagine good writing coming without passion.
AA Question: How long have you been writing and what inspired you to become a writer?
BRC Answer: Most of my life. As a kid I played around with words, writing silly poetry, mimicking the famous singers of the day – loved to sing. After a ten-year marriage came to an end, I played with the ‘lotus eaters’ for a number of years – booze, gin mills, piano bars, pretty ladies, and lonely motel rooms…wrote my maudlin poetry on bar counter napkins and motel stationery…my ‘self-pity period’… In college the English Romantic poets – Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge – appealed to my emotional hunger, as did the group known as the ‘Naturalists’: Emile Zola, Thomas Hardy, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris, Jack London, et al.
AA Question: How did you get the idea for your first book?
BRC Answer: A dear actress friend of mine was brutally murdered in Phoenix, AZ. She was twenty-six years old, a mother of two small children, and had her entire life in front of her. Her body was found in the desert six weeks after her disappearance and savage murder, ravaged by the summer heat and denizens of the desert. My first book, PROBABLE CAUSE, was published and went out of print. That book became the first ‘mystery’ book out of six of the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ (Books 1-6) – AN ARIZONA TRAGEDY – A BAILEY CRANE MYSTERY (Book 1 of 6). The book was my way to say goodbye to a lovely lady whose life was cut short by an evil predator…the killer has never been caught, so far as I know, and the case remains a ‘cold case’ for the Phoenix Police Department.
AA Question: While choosing a name for your characters, what elements do you consider that will determines what you finally call them?
BRC Answer: For me, the sound of the name, how it reads to me on the page, means a lot. Also, if a name comes to me that somehow seems to fit the character’s personality, in her/his strength or weakness, I will use it. Names are important and should be chosen with care.
AA Question: Do authors in general and you in particular plan series beforehand or do they just happen?
BRC Answer: After the Bailey Crane Book 1, there was another gruesome murder in Phoenix, a decapitation homicide of a lovely young lady. That gave rise to the Bailey Crane Mystery Series (1-6) and would become Book 2 of the ‘Series’…my fictionalized version of the crime. That homicide was a cold case for some years until just recently. The Phoenix PD finally found the killer.
AA Question: How do you choose which stories to tell?
BRC Answer: Many of my books have some basis in fact – not all, but, some. A story can come from an interesting news article – like my novel, MAMA’S MADNESS…a story of a mother in California who tortured and murdered two of her daughters and an ex-husband. The torture events and murders are related in the book, but there is also my fictional narrative.
AA Question: Do you ever get writer’s block?
BRC Answer: Not really. I just won’t allow it to happen. Usually, a line will come to me and I’m off and running. Lazy? Yes, I get a bit lazy at times…lazy in the sense of watching a football game or golf match instead of writing at a particular time. Much of the time I look over at my lovely wife and say: ‘Give me a phrase! Any phrase!’ She does, and I write a blog post based on the phrase. Crazy, I guess, but it works for me. At least one of my books came from that process…HAMMER’S HOLY GRAIL is that novel.
AA Question: Do you have a “reader” in mind while writing?
BRC Answer: Oh, sure. That’s why I rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, over and over, in an attempt to eliminate boring sentences, spelling errors, grammatical goofs, et al. AND, guess what? I can almost assure something will be missed. That’s why an editor is part of most authors’ output…and even they can miss something now and then.
AA Question: Who is the first person to read the first draft of your books?
BRC Answer: My wife, generally, and I have a very wonderful fan and friend, Dr. Timothy Tays in Scottsdale, Arizona, who is also an author, a noted Clinical Psychologist, and he gets the first file to read and critique.
AA Question: How do you get reviews? Which was the best review you ever got?
BRC Answer: Of course, I request reviews in promotional blog posts, tweets on Twitter, Facebook, et al. You have touched on an area in which I am remiss. I really don’t know how to promote my books in the best way. I certainly like the way All Author and ‘QUOTESRAIN’ promote my books with sample chapters. Of the many great reviews I’ve gotten for MAMA’S MADNESS, this one from Amazon UK lifted me to the heights:
MAMA’S MADNESS – Amazon Review by Diogenes – Amazon UK:
“Compelling and Disturbing” 5.0 out of 5 stars By Diogenes – Amazon UK Format: Kindle Edition Billy Ray Chitwood’s novel `Mama’s Madness’ is a real find. While many Indie authors follow well-trodden paths of `popular genres’, Chitwood’s work cuts its own route through the underclass wilderness of modern America. Based on real-life events – but fictionalised in the telling – Chitwood’s story is by turns compelling and disturbing. The central character, Tamatha Preen, is a monster for our time. Inhabiting her own self-centred and embittered world she inflicts psychological and physical damage on her daughters while keeping her sons cowed by alternating violence with affection. Chitwood has an authentic voice articulating the world of the grifter and petty criminal hovering at the margins of society. The writing is gritty, laying bare the animal beneath the thin veneer of civilisation. Child abuse, theft, deception and murder all feature in a heady cocktail of corrupted morality – yet these topics are handled without sensationalism, and at times the novel has an almost journalistic feel to it. This is a brave book, swimming against the tide of literary popcorn, and it deserves a wide readership.
AA Question: What does the word “story” signify for you?
BRC Answer: a) a piece of writing (or vocal rendering) that tells of an event, experience, short or long, true or fictional… b) a floor in a building…
AA Question: Do you think an author should be bound by Genre?
BRC Answer: Readers dictate the genre – some readers like romance, some like mystery and suspense, thrillers, true crime, adventure, ‘how to’ books, et al. Of course, the writer is not bound by genre. As far as writing in different genres, I plan on writing in most before my fingers can no longer hit appropriate laptop keys.
AA Question: Are you currently working on anything?
BRC Answer: Yes… Working title is “The Soul Dome Project” – likely will be the title. The book is about three easy-going businessmen who love fishing in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. On one of their fishing trips, they encounter some startling truths their minds cannot initially wrap around. It’s a SciFi romp for me, and, a lot of fun. Still some months away before birthing…
AA Question: Do you have a special time or place for writing?
BRC Answer: Usually during the day, after breakfast, and most of the day in the den on a Lazyboy leather recliner, I write, along with too much social media activity. Many good thoughts are lost at night when I can’t sleep and refuse to get up and put them on paper or the laptop.
AA Question: How do you promote your work? How will AllAuthor (QuotesRain) help you in your book promotion and sales, would you like to refer this platform to your author friends?
BRC Answer: Through QuotesRain/AllAuthor, Twitter, Facebook, Blog Posts, other authors, readers comments, blog posts, tweets, and referrals… As I suggested earlier, I welcome reviews of my books and suggestions for better marketing… An author can spend lots of money on promotion. I’m not a miser, but I need some assurances that the money I’m spending is leading to books being sold. Regarding referring Quotesrain and AllAuthor platform to my author friends.I’s my pleasure and no problem with that. In fact, I do some of that myself by re-tweeting some of your original tweets for my books.
AA Question: Would you like to share something with your readers and fans?
BRC Answer: I gratefully thank my fans and readers and wish them all GOOD READING. I might sheepishly ask that they write reviews of my books they read and refer me to their friends.
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Posted by: BR Chitwood – June 26, 2019
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Down and Deep
Down and Deep, in shadowy Soul of Man,
Among wanton desires and greed,
Can there be a winsome plan
For Love and nascent need?
Can some benign and gentle force
In shapeless wonderment
Come to settle in due course
Fulfilling noble Testament?
Were we to call such Phenomena
A Deity from No Time and Space
Would we be judged Anathema
Or God’s servant full of grace?
Wander and wonder we through ageless
Eons of Earthen causes and effects
Glimpsing beauty and sages
Man’s mortal goodness and defects.
Until the Orb upon which we dwell,
Spins one last earthly time
And settles some in Hell,
Others in Heaven’s Holy Clime.
On a long-ago parchment it is said
Man’s search for the Holy Grail
Doth lead Man to dread
The fiery furnace of Hell.
So, see wonders of this ageless Orb
Listen to the music of your Soul
Allow not your lives absorb
The leaf of the Lotus toll.
BR Chitwood – June 24, 2019
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The Mind – A Great Odyssey
An octogenarian mind has a plethora of experiences to share, bemoan and cherish. The dips and sways during a lifetime are one great roller coaster ride. Some mind choices along the way will chastise and haunt. Some will make you weep. Some will make you smile with joy.
The wiring is likely the most important part of the mind – a well-engineered mind that keeps the mind focused on its chosen field and/or fields of interest…that DNA stuff that a relatively few can talk about. There are people who can stay their course, who have minds that stay focused on ultimate goals they wish to reach. There are those of us who are like moths to light, forever longing for some elusive Nirvana, some peaceful way station along the way where life yields pleasure and forever love. Often, we, those people are referred to as ‘Romantics’.
The environment can alter choices and deeds surely, but it is the mind that in its uncanny ability and unique engineering can wipe away most of its ‘carrier’s’ ugly parts and proceed with its eventual destiny. It is with joyous envy that I sprinkle dashes of remembrance to a few people of history that have given me small fractions of wisdom, hope, and pleasure, people who had those mind attributes that I covet and wish to have possessed.
My mind conjures up people like Arnold Palmer, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates. What could a golfer, a couple of scientists, and a group of philosophers really have in common?
At the Phoenix Open PGA Golf Tournament some years ago, I met and spent a delightful afternoon with Arnie Palmer and a small group of admirers. Arnie shared with us some of his experiences after leaving his Pennsylvania farm. Golf had been his obsession, and he knew early on that he wanted to compete and win major golf tournaments. He stayed true to that single-minded dream, and he became one of the most adored man in the sport. His ‘simple man’ of the land image endeared him to millions of fans, and the phrase, ‘Arnie’s Army’ became a television staple when talking about the great golfer’s fans. Arnie was simply a man who could walk among Kings, Presidents, and the common man. He knew where he was in his journey. Meeting Arnie, sharing space with this man who was my idol, was one of the singular events of my life. I loved the man.
Comparing Arnold Palmer’s mind with the minds of Einstein, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and Marie Curie would perhaps seem frivolous, but there is commonality. Each had enquiring minds, single-minded interests.
Albert Einstein, of course, brought our eager world into Science in monumental ways, his mind touching so much of what today we take for granted, in sophisticated manufacturing principles to household products. A German-born theoretical physicist, his mind was magnificently wired for Science, he would amaze his contemporaries with his scientific knowledge, would develop his ‘Theory of Relativity’ and win the Nobel Prize in 1921…and, he was also ‘human’, married, had two sons, divorced, lived a life lush with fame, alerted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the potential development of ‘extremely powerful bombs’ – which led to the ‘Manhattan Project’.
Marie Sklodowska Curie was a Polish French Physicist and Chemist who conducted pioneering research on the study of radioactivity, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice. She was also the only woman to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields. She was the first woman professor at the University of Paris…an amazing lady who contributed greatly to the world of Science.
With the great philosophers, their single-minded queries into the knowledge and thinking of their time would forever be a part of our educational system, and pass through the halls of colleges and universities…’Aristotelian Logic, Socratic Method, Platonic Theory’, all phrases heard daily in classrooms across the land. In his famous ‘Dialogues’, Plato discussed not only the physical world, but the metaphysical as well – immortality, the mind, Man. These were ‘Mind-Giants’ who led the way to logical thinking.
The lives of these few great people among so many that could be mentioned were astounding and serve as role models for those who tenaciously hold onto their dreams, their love of a specific subject, be it arts, industry, science, sports, those who have the minds and the wills to achieve.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste’, it has been said.
On a personal level, my mind was put ‘oh hold’ for much of my younger life by a chaotic Appalachian youth and a sojourn of ‘lotus-eating’ – then, in those early years of manhood, would have been the time to begin my serious writing. Something was missing in my life, a vague wispy dream of family and love, and the path I took to finding those most genuine realities were laden with ‘lotus flowers’ and ‘Mr. Bacchus’. I was blind to a sure path that would lead me to writing. One path was left to follow yet another.
In short, my mind in so many ways I’ve wasted.
The latter part of this life that is left to me is taken up with writing. I call it my therapy. I love to write… Nineteen books, some 400+ blog posts, and some poetry thrown into the mix. There is no Nobel, no Pulitzer, no award I can imagine coming to me. I’ll be satisfied with some of my books being read and enjoyed – with, hopefully, some Amazon reviews thrown in.
Moral to the story here? To the extent there is one, if writing is your ‘dream’ and you feel you can do it well, begin and grow with each new Blog post, Book, and Poem. You will get better with each new stroke of your pen, or, sadly, you will become someday an octogenarian loving soft vanilla ice cream…
Two scoops on my cone, please!
BR Chitwood – June 22, 2019
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Awkwardness Becomes Brady Chilton
A housefly somehow survived the spray and swatter and mingled among the guests at my celebration party, honoring the fact that miracles can happen. I, Brady Chilton, made it through law scho0l and passed the strenuous Arizona Bar Examination. The housefly would not be the only irritable pest of the evening, just, the first. No, that little pestilent pest fly made its way to the high and lovely sculpted ceiling, there to look down on all the killer giants of its world.
To loosen the knots of pre-party apprehensive jitters, I drank two jiggers of a highly touted Kentucky bourbon, mixed sparsely with wisps of soda and a twisted lemon peel which was submerged on the bottom of my highball glass. In fact, feeling not quite the effect desired, I had another. Then, to make certain there were no pre-party nerves, I had a third libation. It was my wish to ‘shine’ with those present at the party as a wizard of the word, chatter that would enlighten and show the charm, the bold intellectual ability befitting a man of the law.
Suffice it, I arrived in a nether world of alcoholic confidence and jolly attitude at the beautiful Arizona Country Club. A surprisingly large gathering of well-wishers was in the grand banquet room, and an immediate trickle of applause came and grew into a loud mixture of hands clapping and voices shouting. Even in my rather bourbon enhanced mood, there was still the emotional stir that comes and almost brings tears.
After a few embraces and handshakes, I went to one of four bars set up to handle the crowd of people. It was my wish to fortify my initial bourbon intake with at least one more highball and possibly more. This meeting would mean a lot to my future as an attorney, and I wanted to be reinforced and loose enough for my words to form the phrases of competency and surety. In short, I wanted to be true to my game plan, impress those present with my ease of communication and depth.
All went well at the celebration until the near ending when an inebriated man I did not recognize took the mike on the bandstand and made a few asinine remarks, closing with this:
“Mr. Chilton, won’t you come to the podium and say a few words, among which you might explain how someone like you can leave a gorgeous woman broken-hearted by calling off an engagement to be married, then parlay that into why anyone would hire you as an attorney…”
Finally, one band member escorted the man out of the room, his embarrassed lady friend following behind.
It became very quiet in the banquet room and hundreds of curious eyes sought me out. The ACC person in charge of the room came to the microphone to apologize for the interruption of ‘everyone’s good time’.
Emboldened by Bacchus I weaved my way to the bandstand. It was my feeling that the ‘drunk’ would not have the last word. The ACC gentleman gave me a consoling half-smile and handed me the mike.
I stood uncertainly for a moment, not really knowing what to say but knowing that some words should come from me.
“Hi, everyone. I feel I should respond to the gentleman who spoke of my calling off an engagement to a lady… Please, do not feel too hasty to dislike the man. He was obviously a friend or relative of the lady in question and urged forward by the alcohol he consumed tonight.
“The man was not untruthful. I did what he perhaps ineloquently spoke of my doing. It is true that the ‘gorgeous woman’ was not happy with me for calling off our engagement, and I can only say that I felt very much like a total ‘ass’ for doing it. My only defense is that factors dwelling in my mind caused me to make the decision to call off the engagement. I won’t get into those factors, but they led me to believe at the late hour that it was better the option than proceeding and causing more harm later. She was, is, a most lovely woman, a woman any man would be proud to call his wife. You may feel free to think of me in any way you wish. I can only say I’ve learned from that experience and can say that it will never happen again. A private matter such as this should never have been aired here in public and cause unease to a group of people out to enjoy an evening, and, hopefully, no one knows but the culprit involved and not the lovely lady.
“One last thing. You folks did not need to hear any of this tonight, and I only hope it will not diminish your enjoyment too much from this party in my honor. While mentioning that, thanks so much to my colleagues and friends for giving me this wonderful evening. Now, please, let’s converse, dance, imbibe, and leave us enjoy these precious moments together.”
From that point on in the evening, I could not reignite myself, felt a remorse not felt for some time. No highball or light talk could rid me of that. In the end I thanked my new colleagues and went home to a troubling sleep.
The next day I called the lady who was the unfair subject of part of the previous evening. Our talk was congenial and warm. I was surprised the evening’s flare had gotten back so soon to her, but she was well over the topic and apologized to me for having to endure that part of the evening.
We had cocktails together a few nights later.
Billy Ray Chitwood – June 17, 2019
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“So, what’s up, big guy?”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Okay, I know what’s next. My ‘You’re right, I don’t want to know,’ is not going to mean a twit to you, and you’re going to spend the next unquantifiable seconds telling me anyhow. So, again, what’s up, big guy?”
“Oh, you think you know me so well, but you don’t. Unquantifiable? Really! What does that mean? Never mind, I don’t want to know. I have a pretty good idea what it means. Look, this will take only a minute…I need to borrow $500 so I can get this remarkable deal on a laptop that has all the ‘goodies’ and the mega high numbers on everything – it’s got mega-bytes up the grommet.”
“So, why the hell are you asking me to give you $500. It would be, giving you, $500, because you would never pay it back. We’ve been there, done that before.”
“Aw, come on, you’re my big brother. You’re a handsome dude with a wife ‘to die for’ and you love me. You want to see me succeed, and, with this web puppy, I will succeed. I’ll pay you back when I get my income tax ‘money-back’ check…stop laughing, I mean it, I will pay you back.”
“Listen to you. You are insulting me, little brother…Elaine has gone grocery shopping so it’s a good time to have my chat with you. Sit and let’s allow me to give you some facts…
“Mom and Dad have been gone for a while, and I admit I’ve been over-accommodating you and your spurious needs. Elaine was the vote that got you living here with us, but there is a time-limit for you, Axel. I know you had tough emotional times, but so have I, and you need to put your life back together quickly. Elaine and I are not your mom and pop. God bless them, they’re gone. I love you and want you to succeed in your writing. However, your job at the tire factory pays you enough to be on your own, but you prefer living with us and partying way too much. Elaine must clean your messy room, pick up food droppings, do your maid duties for you, and that stops NOW! No more eating in your room for the remainder of your stay with us. No more messy room. No more mooching money.
“So, Axel, you get no more money from me or Elaine, and you have thirty days to find your own place and be out of here. As for your request for $500, that is a non-negotiable, NO! You’re my brother and I do love you, but your stay here is over in thirty days. If you are not out of here in thirty days, you will find all your meager belongings gone, given to Goodwill.
“Do you understand the ‘program’ I’ve described, Axel?”
“You really would do all that, Matthew?”
“Yes, and I might and will add, at twenty-four, a college drop-out, and a real presumptuous ass, I’ve put up, we’ve, Elaine and I, have put up with you too damned long. The thirty days can and will be moved up based on your attitude. We have simply had it, Axel. You are a brother I don’t recognize anymore. Mom and Dad would be so ashamed of you during these months you’ve been with us. I doubt if you would have left on your own terms, so I’m making that decision for you. You have taken advantage of us and our home for too long. Family love is important, but not so much under these circumstances. Please understand, I mean every word.”
“Wow! Why don’t you tell me what you really think, Matt! Damn, I never knew you felt like this. I just assumed, you know, family and stuff… Suddenly, I feel sort of dirty, you know, like a homeless bum. But, yeah, I understand. I thought you were grumpy at times, but I never thought the grumpiness was about me… Well, my being sorry won’t hack it, but I’ll say, I’m sorry, very sorry, for the way I’ve acted. I’ll be out of here before using up those thirty days. A buddy has been wanting me to move in with him. That suddenly sounds like a winning offer. Don’t misunderstand, Matt, I’ve heard you loud and clear. I will change – for the better, I promise. I needed this ‘Big Brother’ session. Believe me, it all makes perfect sense to me. I really have been an intolerable ass. Thanks, Matt, good ‘Bro’, I’ll surprise you. Wait and see. I love you, big guy. Is it okay if I hug you, Matt?”
“Sure, it’s okay. You’re still my brother. I just played Dad for a few moments, but I still meant everything I said.”
“I know, Matt…guess this is not the right time to mention my affair with Elaine, huh?”
Billy Ray Chitwood – June 17, 2019
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Little did I know at the time that my walk in the woods would bring my heart near to breaking, that a portion of it would be broken irreparably, never to be fully mended, and that my mind would be absorbed with guilt and pain because of my over-active mind…who could have done this to such a beautiful animal? A moment of anger soared through me. A hunter, I surmised. Damn the hunter all to hell! Could I have walked faster? Gotten there sooner?
So many questions and denial assailed my mind as I stared into that tangled brush and saw an animal in pain, its body moving only slightly in spasmodic barely noticeable jerks.
Then, I heard his low whimper carrying doubt and fear. In that instant, all that mattered was saving his life. In that brush of broken tree limbs, rocks, and blood-stained earth was a beautiful Golden Retriever, now more audibly moaning in long painful gasps, somehow sensing my presence. The Golden’s hair was matted with a slow ooze of blood coming from an ugly gash to his lovely head. The eyes were half-opened, pleading, rolling lazily up and down in my direction, as if saying, ‘please, no more, please’, perhaps his mind considering me the enemy who had attacked him. How long had he been lying there in terrible pain? I could only guess. Quickly scanning the area, I saw no other people in sight.
My heart sank at the sight, and, despite his suffering, he was so beautiful lying there in the brush, his body atremble with the uncertainty of my appearance in the dense woods. A tear owned by me came and fell to the ground. Call me, wimpy, it’s okay, because it was instant love, seeing that beautiful creature moaning in distress and so much agony.
As I gingerly pulled away the tangled mess to reach him, he moaned so desperately. With my voice as soft as I could make it, I tried to console him. “It’s okay,” I muttered gently, softly, “I’m going to help you. Don’t be afraid. Please, lie still while I remove some of this knotted mess around you. I’m here to help you, not harm you.” I gently stroked his middle back. He seemed to understand my words and his eyes closed for a moment as he emitted a barely audible sigh. The gash appeared to be his only injury, but it looked menacing with its emission of blood.
For a moment, as his breathing became fainter, I thought he might be dying, but as I reached him, touched him, he reacted with new yelp. As gently as were my arms enfolding him, he still gasped in with every move I made. I talked to him as I worked to get him out of the brush. “I’m taking you to the vet hospital, to someone who can stop your . I won’t hurt you, and I won’t leave you. I promise.”
As I carried him to my car, I could feel and hear his soft labored breathing with little gasps of more discomfort when I had to make an adjustment with my grip on him. I also prayed for the lovely Golden in my arms. At the car, I carefully opened the back door of my sedan and with tedious care placed him on the back seat.
We made it to the Vet hospital, and, Thank God, the Golden was saved. A hunter’s misplaced shot had ricocheted and caused the gash and his near death. He had crawled to the brush for safety, to avoid the danger of which he had no knowledge.
Julie Anne and I named him, Toby. He was with us for eleven years before we had to put him down because of a cancer, bringing an agony hard to bear and memories laved with tears.
Those tears can still easily come when I think of my beautiful friend, now long gone, but never, ever, to be forgotten. He is buried under a peaceful and aged oak tree in the east valley of Phoenix, Arizona.
Rest in Peace, Toby, we will always love you….one day, we’ll be together again.
BR Chitwood – June 11, 2019
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Together We Go
“Each writer has a style…”
“Well, now, aren’t you the savvy one? Where are you going with this bit of ‘old news’?”
“Oh, come on, Alter-boy, play nice. Let me show off just a tad. I’m just practicing my Phrase Prompt?”
“Well, you are the ruling member of this august group of two, so sally forth, my main man. This Phrase Prompt thing is what gets you to writing, ain’t it?”
“Alter-boy, don’t you ever again use that pedestrian verb combo. It reminds me too much of my time in the Writer Wasteland. Now, I can’t get rid of you, but I can control your impulses, so I’m going to push the pause button on you. Just stay inside my head and let me know when I’m getting in a writing warp that I should not be in. Just, behave yourself. Generally, I love your good humor and those beady little bon mots with which you suffer me…”
“Hold it, before you push that pause button, don’t you believe you might be using a dab of affectation here, I mean, bon mots, really? Why don’t you just write, quip, or, pun? I know you want to show off, and I’m not going to bother you again, but, get real, son, I live in here, too. You…” Pause button time.
“That’ll hold you a while, Alter-boy. We’ll have a big laugh about all this a little later.
“As I was saying/writing, each of us has a style that goes a long way in identifying who we are. For example, back in college, being an English major and studying one semester American authors who had discernable styles. Take, for example, Edgar Allen Poe, the south’s, Thomas Wolfe, I loved those gentlemen and their writing, styles, but the southern author who was challenging for me to read was Oxford, Mississippi’s contribution to literature, William Faulkner, Nobel Laureate, Pulitzer Winner twice. Faulkner is likely best known for his The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Absalom, Absalom! and The Reivers. I’ve gone back and read Faulkner, and, well, who am I to argue with the literary rankings? William Faulkner was a great writer, but I didn’t particularly enjoy him as much as the almost poetic narrative style of Thomas Wolfe.
My writing was influenced mostly by my study in college of the American Naturalists in literature. Emile Zola, the French writer, was to formulate the naturalist standard in writing, evolving from the so-called Realist writers of the day. Realism and Naturalism began to lead writers away from landscape-style writing to the ugly happenings of the streets, the under-belly of society dwellers. Writers like Jack London, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane came on strong to pick up from the great early narratives of Samuel Clements (Mark Twain). The Naturalist style of writing appealed to me, and my books likely show that influence.
There are many authors I’ve read and enjoyed over the years, the poetry and writing of an ex-Catholic priest, James Kavanaugh, whose book of poetry, Will You Be My Friend? and There are Men Too Gentle to Walk Among Wolves ‘matched so well with me’ and hearkened me back to my early Appalachian roots. I still remember how very ‘eager to write’ I was after reading Theodore Dreiser’s, Sister Carrie, about a young girl coming to the big city to find her fame and fortune, only to be used by the corrupted moth to light characters of the street. Crane’s Red Badge of Courage and Maggie, Girl of the Streets gave me the same thrill, made me want to write… Do you know Stephen Crane wrote The Red Badge of Courage over a weekend? At least, that’s the anecdote I heard at the time, and never checked it out for authenticity.
One last observation from William Faulkner. He was a self-made author. Faulkner believed and stated, a writer learns to write from writing, from the mistakes you make as writers. He also stated in fairly clear language that a writer had to believe he/she was the very best out there. Pretty bold, but I like it. That’s how I want to think…
So, long story short, I can easily trace my reason for loving to write back to childhood mimicking of singers I liked and childish poetry plus the foregoing influences.
So, each writer has a style, and I won’t be claiming to be in the same league as the great authors I’ve mentioned above. There are always the factors to consider of brain power and latent talent. We are all blessed with some – is it enough to author a best-selling mega-hit?
Each of us must determine that for ourselves…
“Well, isn’t that obvious?”
Oops, I accidentally hit the pause button.
“Okay, you want to have dialogue with me, Alter-boy? Go for it!”
“Want a drink?”
“Yeah, a highball. You, pouring?”
“You know, that’s an amusing question. To each his own!”
Billy Ray Chitwood – June 11, 2019
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