Tag: Books

Ode to Lamentation

Ode to Lamentation

 

What is it makes us yearn?

Lonely in peculiar ways?

Is it only hearts of Romantics

That connect to life’s gauzy haze?

 

What of a past we must give up?

Nights in love’s joyous cloud?

Is it so simple to pass and merely

Become one with the crowd?

 

What mocks us most in life?

The mistakes we made in our pace?

The glory that might have been?

Or the wrinkles upon our face?

 

Does dimension lie beyond this orb?

Does Heaven or Hell Await?

Tis written, ‘ours not to know’?

Doth then we yield to fate?

*

©Billy Ray Chitwood – April 6, 2019

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Can You Hear Me?

“Can You Hear Me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the hell was going on?

Was a radio on in the apartment?

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

But, wait!

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

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

*

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

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

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

Again, he just stood and smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can other people hear this MES music?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 4, 2019

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Appalachia and Me

Appalachia and Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess I better get to writing another book.

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 3, 2019

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Two Parrots

Two Parrots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, here’s what happened…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go figure…

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 24, 2019

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The House on Guthrie Place

The House on Guthrie Place

[All Dialogue]

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

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

“Why were you frightened, Edie?”

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

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

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

“What did you do then?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you know him?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Is Mr. Wentz in, please?”

“May I say who’s calling?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just running late to meet Barry for lunch.”

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

“What lovely furnishings! Edie never mentioned…”

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, no problem.”

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

*

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

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

“Information…can I help you?”

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

“Just a moment, sir…”

“How are you spelling that name, sir?”

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

“Just a moment, sir.”

“Sir, are you there?”

“Yeah, I’m here…what’s the number?”

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

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

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

“You must have. C’mon, check again…”

“Just a moment, sir…”

“Sir?”

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”

“I’m sorry, Sir.”

*

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

“I need to talk to one of your detectives…

“What’s the problem, Sir?”

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

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

“Two weeks ago.”

“Two weeks ago, huh?”

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

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

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

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Felix and Fred -Putting Up A Fence

(Image by vipul uthaiah)

Felix and Fred

-Putting Up a Fence-

 “C’mon, don’t give me that crapola! You know that I don’t buy into your atheist beliefs. You’re a close-minded ‘know-it-all’.”

“Hey, you started the conversation.”

“How do you get there, ‘me’, starting the conversation?”

“You asked me what I thought about ‘climate change’…”

“And?”

“And, you used the word, God, in your question.”

“I said, ‘For God’s sake’, how can these young progressives be so stupid as to put ‘climate change’ as the number one problem facing the country?”

“Right, and I said, ‘God has nothing to do with it. There is no God. So, you got pissed and called me names.”

“Look, Fred, let’s get something straight here. We’ve had this lively chat before, and I keep telling you, ‘keep the atheist crap to yourself’, but somehow you always get the conversation over into the domain of metaphysics and intellectual inquiry, trying your damndest to charm me with your intellect, to turn me in a direction I’m not about to go… So, once, and for all the ‘next times’, I believe in a higher intelligence, a Deity, a God, not that ‘big bang’ you bring into just about every conversation we have. Now, you’re entitled to believe whatever you wish to believe, but, I say, but, when I make it clear to you where I stand on an issue, don’t keep bringing up your so-called belief of life being ‘nothingness’, that generic man gets only one chance at this thing we call life, implying we who do believe in God are all idiots.”

“Felix, your argument has no credibility, but…”

“Why, you arse-hole, my argument has no credibility? What? The Sun rises and sets. The tides move with the Moon. A baby is born in very precise stages, alive in a woman’s womb, sustained by the miracle of a woman’s bodily make-up, brought into a world where he or she or they can achieve remarkable feats, or, simply live a life, good or bad, until death claims them. Faith gives Life meaning, a purpose, to create, to explore the depths of knowledge, to live in hope of something ‘beyond’ the earthly realm. The mystery of death beguiles and haunts the thinking man in search of his soul’s quest…oh, but, not you. You don’t doubt, you know ‘with avid certainty’ that darkness awaits at the end of our breathing… You know, because I’ve told you before, Fred, we could have perhaps lively and fun conversations about life and death if you could admit to Agnosticism. But, no, not you. You’re really bright, but I wish you had some honest humility. Ah, I’ve had my say. Let’s finish this fence and stop talking for a while, Fred. Okay with you?”

“Yeah, sure, it’s okay with me, but, hell, Felix, we all have beliefs. I’m sorry I make you so angry, but I’m just speaking from my mind, not my heart.”

“That’s cute, Fred, that little ‘transference thing’ you just did, but don’t be using one of ‘our’ words in this conversation.”

‘Our words’, Felix? Oh, and which word is that, my enlightened friend?”

“The word is hell, Fred. Don’t use it, because you’re violating your belief system. Hell when used by atheists must mean that, in their most private moments, they think of Heaven and Hell! How’s that, my egotistical friend? Now, hand me another cinder block for the fence. We’re almost at the end. A few more yards will do it.”

“Are we okay, Felix? I mean, we still friends? I never know when you go on your rants”

“Rants, huh? I guess you’re talking about my superior logic… Yeah, of course, Fred. We’re still friends. Who else would listen to your brain farts? You make me mad with your mind-set, but we’ve been around too many corners to turn around now. We couldn’t find our way back home. You see, my God was feeding me my lines just now. Who was feeding you your lines?”

“The little guy in my brain.”

“Guess that’ll have to do.”

“We’ve been friends and next-door neighbors for years now, Felix. You figure this fence is a symbol for our disagreements?”

“Hell, no. I just don’t like watching you chase your lovely wife all around the back yard in your birthday suit. That ‘picture’ is not exactly pretty for you, but I’ve fallen in love with your wife.”

“That’s just mean, Felix, even though I’m smiling. That kind of thinking won’t get you to heaven.”

“You’ll never know. Now, hand me the the cinder block, arse-hole.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 3, 2019

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Some Thoughts on “Dominique”

There’s a guy in our neighborhood that is ‘dumb’ as squat – whatever the hell that means! At least he is when it comes to the machinations of the internet! Now, don’t get me too far wrong. I’m really fond of the guy. He’s smart, just likely not as smart as he thinks he is, he’s got this genetic structure inside that brain of his that goes a bit haywire at times…

Okay, let me nip this quickly in the bud because this guy is super nice most of the time and does in fact write some great books. It is humble I, says me, the author of this post…

Now, don’t be splitting a gut laughing at me. You know how the blood pressure rises when you’re tormenting your wife and cat – substitute, dog(s) if it’s more fitting to your clan. Hell, I had to start this post some which way, so I decided I might as well soothe my nerves by writing in this sort of ‘free-wheeling’ style. Indeed, writing is my ‘forte’, not only am l one of the very best authors you will ever read, I’m also so focused and locked in when I’m writing, and, today, well, I really needed some ‘existential love’. Hey, that sounds like a really good title for a book. I just might have to write it.

Okay, here’s the itch I’m trying to scratch, the ‘rub’ for the day…well, for the last three days actually! 

I just published a book entitled, Dominique, and it was so much fun to write. AND, I do believe it is one of the best books among my many happy labors – really close to “Mama’s Madness,” “Stranger Abduction,” “Hammer’s Holy Grail,” “The Pickett Factor,” well, yeah, I believe all my eighteen books are darned good, warts and all. With “Dominique,” I played ‘graphic designer’ and did my own book cover, didn’t like it, and, for the past three days have been working my brain overtime changing book covers on that really good novel, Dominique. I’ve gone through three covers in the last three days, and I’m really expecting to hear some angry words from those good folks at Amazon about these ‘cover turnarounds’! But, good news, finally, I did come up with a cover I’m not changing. Funny thing, I liked all three except the first one into which I inserted my good – no, my excellent, prose!

So, although unlikely, some of my followers might find different book covers of Dominique running loose on Amazon – MY BAD! Apparently, like so many of my titles, I’m doing a lousy job in the marketing area, doggone it! I would welcome some sales and some reviews. I’ve got my marketing armor on this evening, just in case, but I just know you’re going to like my books. They are almost dainty and dignified like literary stuff I once read in college – almost, I say, but it surely won’t interfere with your enjoyment…I promise that!

Okay, I’ve had my say!

I hope you like my new cover for “Dominique,” but along with that I hope you buy it and leave book reviews.

No more begging for tonight! 

It’s bedtime here in ‘Twilight’. Between cursing and my wife shaking her head at my madness, I’ve watched bits of news this evening I could have easily done without, but, by my reckoning, this orb we call earth will keep right on orbiting and I’ll keep right on tweeting, retweeting, and, yeah, writing and begging!

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 28, 2019

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writi

 

A Private Session at the Way Station

A Private Session At ‘The Way Station’

Guess I write quite a bit about my feelings, about my life and times. Thought I

would allow a small portion from one of my books to do the ‘talking’ in this

post… The following is a section from ‘The Way Station’ (a euphemism for a Care

Facility) in my book, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections From An Appalachian

Son.”Prentice Paul Hiller is recovering from a complicated hip surgery, meets and

bonds with a former Clinical Psychologist, Greta Fogel. Over the weeks of teasing and

mental jousting, Greta has encouraged Prentice to write about his life and times,

suggesting that it might be not only good therapy for him but that the end product

should be a great read.

 

It should be noted this memoir is 90% true, and I am Prentice Paul Hiller — but I have never been in a ‘care facility’ (other than hospital stays for hernia and appendectomy operations). The remainder is pretty much true except for names and some places… I might be a bit generous to myself regarding the 90% – but too far off.

Also, this memoir is written on ‘two tracks’ – one chapter for ‘The Way Station’ followed by chapters from periods in my (Prentice Paul’s) life. The section noted below has followed a chapter regarding Greta’s reading of one of my personal chapters.

***

EXCERPT – from “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son” by Billy Ray Chitwood:

Having just settled in with my laptop, Greta came into the sun room. Without too much preamble, I moved the laptop to her lap, with the cursor set to start on the last two sections. “See what you think of these two sections,” I said with a doubtful expression, “I’m ambivalent! Don’t know if I went too overboard.”

It took some time for her to read the sections. She paused time and again in very thoughtful poses.

When she was finished, she asked: “You want to talk now or later? Want me to leave you so you can write?”

“No, let’s talk! First, Dorie seems really nice,” I said.

“She’s a really good lady. I’m very impressed. You’re going to like her.” She sat on the wicker chair near the window. Greta was wearing a lovely lavender sweater and beige pants outfit plus a new hairdo. Her eyes glowed with the combination.

“I already do. We had a chance to visit when she got here. She’s a version of you, really!”

Don’t know about that, but I like her and I’m glad you do…” She paused for a second. “Shall we talk about these last two sections?”

“Really! You want to talk about the last two sections? Why do you think I shoved the laptop on your lap? Of course, sweet lady, let’s talk about these sections…you read it and acted like you wanted to leave. You don’t like the sections, do you?”

“Of course, I like the sections! You know I like your writing. You raised my eyebrows a bit, that’s all. You surprised me!” She said with a slight nod and a wry smile.

“Bet I know why!” with a nod and smile of my own. “The ‘Vickie’ sex snapshot?”

“Well, certainly, that raised my eyebrows! And we won’t dwell too long on that bit of memorabilia! However, it might surprise you to know that that kind of experience is not so uncommon, particularly when you consider the environment in which you lived, notwithstanding the criminal implications of Vickie’s complicity in the seduction. No, it is not a pretty snapshot, and  it does surprise me somewhat that you would make it part of your ‘reflections,’ although your penchant for honesty and ridiculing yourself would preclude your leaving it out.” She was about to say more when I interrupted.

“It was such a vivid recall, Greta, like the earlier sex encounter with my pre-puberty aunt. It was somehow important for me to put it in, even knowing that is was highlighting depraved behavior…”

“I understand, Prentice. You need not justify it to me. You want the writing to portray the ultimate true picture of who you were then. It couldn’t be any other way for you.” She paused again, then went on.

“The ‘Vickie snapshot’ is not necessarily what I meant by ‘raising’ my eyebrows.”

“Of what then do you speak, dear lady?” using my chivalrous tongue.

“I speak of your ‘isms’ section, EST and ‘Tao Te Ching,’ and your ‘political views’ section to the larger extent. What raised my brows and surprised me a bit was the length to which you’ve gone to find yourself, your belief system as it relates to your political morality. In other words, you’re a man who strives so hard to find integrity in yourself and in others. You fight in your mind the battles of our times, wanting desperately to find a Utopia which you know does not exist. In some ways, you are an incurable romantic, a Don Quixote chasing ‘windmills’ you think are giants to be slain. You know your sins, Prentice! You know your faults, your errant ways! Your missed opportunities! And you’re trying to make up for it all with the pages of your book.” She paused, eyed me carefully with a fondness she would not hide. “And, you’re doing a damned good job!”

“Whoa, wait a minute! There’s something else you want to say. ‘A damned good job’ doesn’t quite say it all, Greta. Come on, I can take it. It might hurt, a lot, but I can take it. I might never speak to you again, but take it, I shall!” She could see the last bit as mock and tease.

“Yes, a damned good job! I say what I mean, Mr. Hiller. And, yes, Mr. Hiller, there is something else to say…” Again, she paused, looked out the window at the lovely blue sky day. “What you put down is well written. You would be aware that some of your reading audience might not share your views. That, I know you know! Incidentally, I’m not one of those ‘really smart people’ to whom you refer, but I am non-partisan. What you want, I believe most people want. You write about it passionately and sincerely. How could I fault you? The chivalrous battles you fight with your writing are noble, patriotic, and good…” She paused yet again, then wistfully continued.

“Why, I’m not completely sure, but I’m thinking of those two great volumes of Spanish literature.” She waited, pursed her lips in that cute little habitual way she had, and went on. “His neighbors thought him mad for all his dedicated reading of chivalry, but Alonso Quixano gave himself a new name, ‘Don Quixote,’ put on a suit of old armor and went off on his chivalrous quests with wild imaginings. He was at times beaten, ridiculed, and ultimately unintentionally betrayed by his dull-witted squire and neighbor, Sancho Panza. His quests, his imaginings, ended in a great melancholy. Alonso would put away his armor. The melancholy worsened with his age, and Sancho in the end tried to restore his faith. But Alonso Quixano died a broken man, and, with him, his alter ego, ‘Don Quixote.’

“What does ‘Don Quixote’ have to do with what you’re writing? The chivalry part, mostly. Though, at times, you do seem daft and wildlyimaginative!” A pause for chuckles. “You write about many differnet things in yur life. You bemoan at times the sad states of your existence, your life style, your ‘images’ of the good life, your moods, your legacy. And, to repeat myself, you do a damned good job of it. If I have any concern, it comes from my fondness for you. I don’t wish you to become ‘melancholy and broken,’ Prentice.

“Don’t try so hard to make up for your life! This writing business, the process, is good for you. Use it for all the right reasons: the legacy thing, the self-ablution, as it were, the process itself. You are who you are. You will try too hard. You will continue to beat yourself. It’s too late for the couch, not that you really ever needed it, but, if I could push but one button for you, it would be the button that makes you believe in yourself and makes you have more faith in the God who made you and accept whatever it is He intends for you. You are really a dear, dear man, and I don’t wish to see you hurt so much.”

She stopped talking and looked again out the big window, her face creased with a sadness beyond the mere interpretations she had rendered on the sections of my book. That sadness held me for a moment. Then, I decided to revert to my easy tactic of light patter. 

“Well, Greta, you’ve totally blind-sided me! What the hell am I supposed to do with Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and you?” smiling, with raised eyebrows. “Okay, methinks I get it. You’re a sweetheart!” I closed the laptop and got up. “Come on, let’s break out of this joint and find a Big Mac, fries, and coke.”

Actually, ‘Don Quixote’ and I likely had a lot more in common than I might be willing to admit. Then, again, there might be more Sancho Panza in me than I might be willing to admit.

[End of Excerpt…]

Billy Ray Chitwood – January, 2019

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The Flat Head of a Nail

The Flat Head of a Nail

-Some Silly Machinations-

One hellava title, huh, The Flat Head of a Nail?

So, what?

Just waiting for you to ask, thanks!

Science and Technology people are really messing us up ‘byte time’ if you get my drift. When Sputnik went up in November,1957, our knowledge was re-doubling every five years. In 1900, geez, knowledge was doubling, like, every century. What’s next? Now, these genius-minds have so many bytes at work that they could make our entire Universe seem really cloudy…whatever bytes might look like in the universe.

I think.

No, no, no, not, think! ‘Cogito ergo sum’ for me, or, as it was originally stated in French, ‘je pense, donc je suis’…that’s just a dab of ‘showing off’ – I don’t speak French, but, when I was younger and courting the girls, I would carry a few short phrases in French and/or Spanish with me on dates, you know, to put some icing on the proverbial cake.

Hey, I’m barely able to understand that I cogito or sum.‘I think; therefore, I am’! Most of us will remember that bit of Latin from our classroom educations.

‘I think therefore, I am, WHAT?

Really, what am I?

Don’t give me the ‘blood, bone, and flesh’ answer! I mean, we’re in an age now where knowledge is re-doubling every thirty minutes. Computers gave birth to bytes, and now, today, we’ve gone from byte to kilobyte to megabyte to gigabyte to terabyte…all the way to Domegemegrottebyte – that damned word in bytes has eleven 000’s following in a row the numeral, 1.

Did you know that one kilobyte represents the size of a short story like ‘flash fiction’!

Did you know that a short novel is one megabyte?

Well, hell, I don’t know what to do with that information other than sling it at you! Now, some of you are thinking right now what you would like to do with that information, but, please, remember to be gentle with this messenger.

Now, don’t get angry at me and stop reading! This stuff these genius guys of Science and Technology are feeding us every day! Be mad at them. They made me do this post!

On second thought, get angry, because I’m angry… I make a dumb mistake, go to google for help and they feed me this stuff – well, actually, I made a mistake with my Ichabod Crane fingers on the laptop keys.

What I was trying to do was get to Amazon and correct another dumb mistake. My new book, Dominique, just launched (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) and, like an idiot I put the Kindle Edition on ‘Pre-Order’ until January 20, 2019…when what I really wanted to do was allow folks to buy the novel on Kindle for 99 Cents until January 20, 2019. Some way or another, I got lost in this ‘Knowledge Re-Doubling and Byte’ stuff and got my head zipping around like it was on a tilt-a-whirl stick. Truth is, I don’t know how to get Amazon to change course… Dominique is still 99 Cents on Amazon Kindle, but, as I understand it, readers won’t get the book delivered to them until January 20.

My bad!

Anyhow, “Dominique” is about one megabyte, or, 1 000 000 000 bytes… Ah, sorry, the book is about two-hundred pages in length. Whew! And, yes, this is a ‘plug’ for Dominique! But, gee whiz, a person’s gotta market somehow or ‘tuther’. You will make me really proud if you buy the kindle store out, or, shucks, it’s okay if you want the paperback…go ahead and buy it. It won’t make me mad, I promise.

I’m guessing I should explain the title of this blog post, and, I know some of you are thinking it defies explanation…but I gotta try.

‘The Flat Head of a Nail’?

Well, that mistake of landing on that ‘Knowledge Re-Doubling’ and the ‘Byte’ pages just kind of blew me away, and I began thinking about sizes – you know, planets, universes, cities, towns, people – and I wondered, like, if that flat head of the nail was, now don’t laugh at me, well, if that flat head of the nail was, maybe, populated with people, cities, towns, and maybe had its own world and universe…

Okay, I can’t write when you all are laughing so hard at me, so I’ll stop now…

Except, I just don’t want to take away from my one-megabyte book entitled, Dominique. It deserves to be read, folks. I promise you this: Dominique will be your finest one-megabyte read in a long time. In fact, I’m pretty close to guaranteeing that last little 100 bytes I just gave you.

As far as the flat head on that nail, you might want to read up on Rene Descartes and Emanuel Kant – those philosophers spent some time on trying to figure things out… Then, you can explain it all to me. One day, I’ll do some imagining and maybe come up with a tall tale about it all.

Now, don’t desert me, good folks! My next post won’t try to make sense out of what the sci & tech boys and girls are serving up to us.

Oh, just for fun and your edification, check out this link for me. It’s waiting for you to take a look!

https://booklaunch.io/billyraychitwood/5c363eb290e02adf7ae252c8

interstellar madhouse (3)

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 18, 2019

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The World – According to Me

The World – According to Me!

I came into this world as a ‘blue baby’. Now, I never took the time to figure out just what being a ‘blue baby’ was all about, never asked a doctor or my mom… I do remember my sister saying to me when we were adults that, “you know, Billy, you were born a ‘blue baby’!” It seemed we were always arguing about this and that, so she was tagging me with that little piece of news out of spite.

. I asked her, “What’s a ‘blue baby’, Bobby Jean?”

She took a sip from her 24-ounce plastic glass of Pepsi, and said: “Hell, I don’t know, but you lived. So, guess it wasn’t lethal!”

“Well, you sound disappointed, Bobby Jean,” I responded.

“Well, I was the one that got all the beatings from our itinerant daddy, Billy Ray.”

“Well, I know, but you were the one doing the bad things, Bobby Jean. I suffered through those beatings, too, sitting there in a state of emotional paralysis.”

But, back to the ‘blue baby’ label. I finally googled ‘blue baby’, and here’s the information provided: a ‘blue baby’ is a baby  with a blue complexion from lack of oxygen in the blood due to a congenital defect of the heart or major blood vessels. That’s it, all I got from google. All I was ever told by my Mom was that it was my grandmother who took me from old Doc Brown, dangled me in the air by my feet and gave my backside a pretty good whack. That got me to crying, Just a tad more important, it got me to breathing. There was a gathering of kinfolk and neighbors in that old clapboard house at the time, and my grandmother became a celebrity of sorts up and down those muddy lanes. Guess it’s pretty obvious that old Wooldridge sawmill camp didn’t have a lot to excite folks…except, maybe, some copperheads from all the sawdust.

Well, the rest is history, as they say – that is, up to a ‘passage’ point.

Most of my young life was spent in emotional confusion. Now, I didn’t know to call it ‘emotional confusion’ at the time, but it surely was that malady as I look back on it. Now, I’m not going to turn this into a sad story. Suffice it, I grew up after a lot of spent-emotion and a lot of moving about in East Tennessee, joined the Navy, met a ‘Wave’, married her, and spent ten years in another kind of emotional spell, had three beautiful kids, got a college degree, and taught school for short while.

Skipping over a lot of dumb mistakes and ‘searching’, I met Julie Anne, likely the best thing that ever happened to me. She got me to writing, and now, some eighteen books and 400+ blog posts later, I’m sitting here in ‘Twilight’ with still some ‘oats to sow’, my little euphemism for writing.

What have I learned about life in my sojourn here on this orbiting craft of conundrums? We’ve had plenty of philosophers writing, telling us about metaphysics, the branch that covers just about everything, being, time, space, knowing, a whole gunny-sack of abstract knowledge that my ‘Chitwood model’ is not equipped to appreciably handle with any great insight.

I’ve learned that most of the platitudes for living don’t really mean ‘squat’. Take, for an example, ‘one learns from her/his mistakes’. Well, ‘whopee’, I didn’t! I just kept on making those ‘goofers’. Of course, there are a couple of ways to look at that. Number one, maybe there’s just too much junk piled-up inside that keeps one from learning the good ABCs of living. Maybe, if one could just find what it is they’re good at and keep on doing it with someone who is compatible and loves her/him, maybe the junk wouldn’t pile so high. Number two, maybe the inconsistency and the wanderlust are too ingrained, too attached to one’s being that makes settling down and becoming something ‘permanent’ just isn’t possible. Maybe Ralph Waldo Emerson was right in his essay on Self-Reliance: “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Then, what do I know?

In my humble opinion, I have one salutary talent – writing! Writing is not only a ‘love’ for me. It is a necessity. Particularly now, here in Twilight , the latter is most compelling. Perhaps, my writing creations blind me to reality. Maybe I’m not as good at writing as I think. No, not viable. I am as good as I think. What is difficult is convincing readers and publishers of that fact.

In this life I’ve known the gamut of emotions – ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat’. I’ve lost, and I’ve won. I’ve walked with the ‘kings’ and with the ‘common man’. I’ve played the games that keep me living and alive. I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone through covert planning. I’ve loved and won. I’ve loved and lost.

For a kid born in a clapboard house on a rainy night in Tennessee, a ‘blue baby’ (if that scores points!), fed emotional soup that was never fully digested, all the above, I’ve had a reasonably good life and times. Perhaps, I’ve had more than I deserved. Perhaps, I’ve had less.

Either way, the journey is still on. I’m going to motor right on to my next blog post and book, enjoying the life my characters give me to live – the loves, the disappointments, the victories, the defeats, the high-life and the low-life. They are there in all that I write, the foibles and the strength.

Welcome to my world.

Won’t you come on in?

I’ll do some writing.

You do some reading.

We have a deal?

Good.

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 1, 2019

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