Flowers and Stone

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Flowers and Stone

Thank you all for dropping by today.  I hope it was the title of this post that enticed you to do so.

Many of you may be aware that early last year I took my debut novel, “DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER, NIGHTMARE’S FRIEND” down from Amazon.  (I’ve recently discovered that in my haste to do so, I only removed the e-book format and it is still there in paperback format, but hopefully, no one’s buying it).  I did this, because although it received many positive reviews, I just happened to open a paperback copy one day to find some very glaring “hiccups.”  I was so blown away (that they were glaring…at least to me) that I rushed to Amazon and yanked it down with such force, I think I hurt my arm. (I’m sorry, poor arm).

Anyway, with running the hugely busy and successful communities known as RRBC & RWISA, I…

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The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

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“In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnished dove. In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Alfred Lord Tennyson – ‘Locksley Hall’

*

The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

‘It was a simple dream! Stanley Balsinger wanted to be the owner of a ‘Service Station’.

A large subset of that dream was to marry Johnnie, his long-time sweetheart, to live in quiet harmony with nature and with their God…to mirror a nurturing and peaceful life he had known.

At age 32 in the year of 1956, his dream of a service station came true, and he married Johnnie, his long-time sweetheart. One of his older brothers, John, had owned for years a popular service station in Knoxville, so it could be said ownership of such a business was in his blood.

There were blissful years to follow for Uncle Stanley. His parents, my grandparents (of course!), lived a short distance away, and there were many family weekends through this period when his siblings and their families would join in quiet weekend reunions, with good southern home cooking, churned home-made vanilla ice cream, juicy watermelons, new family gossip, and Stan’s Mom giving one of her long famous prayer wails, asking for blessings and forgiveness of sins…tears flowed and emotionally stirred souls let out gasps and moans. It was a fundamental cultural link, ‘sinners facing their angry but forgiving God’, a bible-belt heritage long on generational gravity.

In 1964 Susan was born, a daughter who was given much doting and love, a true blessing for the family… Her daddy was so proud of his beautiful daughter, and she got pretty much anything she wanted. The script for the family’s lives were natural and seemingly ordained.

In 1978, tragedy struck and left Johnnie and Susan heart-broken.

The location of Uncle Stanley’s Gulf Station was in a more isolated section of Knoxville than his older brother John’s station. My Uncle John’s station was on one of Knoxville’s busiest metro street corners and John’s hard work brought a long list of steady customers and friends. There were never any great competitive edginess in the brothers’ two stations – just sharing of ideas on how to grow and sustain a customer base.

Around 7:00 PM on Friday, April 21, 1978, Uncle Stanley was working alone at his station when 29-year-old Richard Houston robbed the station and took Stan’s wallet. The robbery was not enough for the miserable bastard. He ordered Stanley to a rest room on one side of the station, shoved him inside, and shot him three times. The miserable thug shot Stan in the mouth, and, while my uncle writhed in pain on the rest room floor, Houston shot him twice more in the heart and upper abdomen.

Houston slammed the door, got in his car and left.

Houston then went to a motel where he was staying, had three beers, had sex with a woman sharing his room, and shortly after their ‘fun time’ the two left to get fried chicken.

As timing would have it, a customer pulled into the service station for gas and saw Houston leaving, ultimately found Uncle Stanley in the rest room, and called the police.

The observant gas customer was very thorough in describing the criminal – six feet tall, around 170 pounds, short Afro haircut, wearing a leather jacket. The customer as well thoroughly IDed the car. It was a white ’64 or ’65 Ford Fairlane, with square tail lights, and chrome was missing on the passenger side of the car.

Approximately three hours after Stan’s murder, two detectives of the knoxville Police Department spotted the car and gave chase up to 70 miles per hour. In the car, they found Stan’s wallet and the service station receipts for the day’s business.

The robbery netted the lowlife reject $106.

In the motel room the detective found Houston’s leather jacket and recently washed clothing. The woman with Houston testified that the clothes were washed because of blood stains…

While awaiting his trial for murder/robbery of Uncle Stanley, Houston was indicted for  second degree murder charges in his possible involvement of 30 year-old Patricia Northern Evans’ homicide the year before. The authorities suspected his involvement in three other execution-style murders in the area…probably ‘drug related’! The gun found in the execution murders crime scene was identified by forensics as the same gun used in the Evans homicide. (NOTE: indicted along with Richard Houston was Edward Addison Goins, and I’ve found no further information in my limited means of searching about these homicides and/or court proceedings.

(Am I hiding not too well the anger and rage that still comes to me when I talk or write about this crime? I remember so well as a little boy those lovely family weekends where love showed up, when Uncle Stanley played catch with me on the lawn of the old railroad section house. Of all my dear Mother’s brothers and sisters, all with a sense of purpose in their lives, all of whom I loved, Uncle Stanley was my favorite. Those were the precious ‘memory keepers’ of my youth, some of the inestimable pieces of myself I find worth keeping.

No, I cannot with certainty wrap my mind around this killing of someone I loved. I can believe my Uncle tried to take the gun away from his killer…as Houston stated at a later court appearance. I can believe Stan tried to fight off this animal from hell. I can also come to tears believing, as my Uncle lay dying on the rest room floor, that mind flashes of his all too brief life came rushing to him: Johnnie’s love, Susan’t graduation from high school and college he would never see, the cherished love he carried for his family… He was a most humble and beautiful person in life, and I can believe Uncle Stanley is with God in that perfect dimension. I can hope, pray, and believe that we will meet again when it is ordained to happen.) 

Houston was originally sentenced to ‘Death’ for the Murder of my Uncle Stanley and also received a ‘Life Sentence’ for Armed Robbery.

After spending seventeen years on death row, in 1994 a judge threw out the Murder Conviction and the Armed Robbery conviction.

A prosecuting attorney quickly appealed that decision the next day.

In 1995, the Appellate Judge reinstated the ‘Life for Armed Robbery’ conviction while the prosecuters continued working for a possible retrial on the murder conviction and the reinstatement of the death penalty for Stanley’s murder.

In a 2009 ‘Plea Deal’, Richard Houston confessed to the murder of Stanley Balsinger and the ‘Death Sentence’ was dropped, the murder sentence reduced to ‘Life WITH the possibility of parole’.

Through the years, all the ‘appeals’, and ‘monkey-wonkey’ machinations of the judicial system,  ‘Life’ WITH the possibility of parole was renderd for my Uncle Stanley. Having served thirty years, many of which were spent on death row, Richard Houston was already eligible for parole.

The ‘Piece of S___’ is likely out there among us.

Perhaps I should be sorry showing my anger and hatred in this blog missile and in the fictional mysteries I write, most of which are inspired by true events.

I am not sorry! If some praise and profit come from my humble writing efforts, so be it! So be it if that doesn’t happen! It is my way to give something of myself to those who are taken from us by the evil in our world

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 20, 2018   

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Autumn and The Muse

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Autumn And The Muse

 

It was all so different these many years later…

 

The clapboard houses were all gone, replaced by small brick and hardwood homes with indoor plumbing. The dirt and gravel lanes were now paved although still isolated and rural. The old white church with its high steeple, now freshly painted, was the marker that let me know I was really home again.

 

It was like time had abbreviated everything I looked upon. The distance from church to Mama’s and Papa’s old house was hardly a quarter mile. The lanes that branched off the short stretch of road to the old sawmill and the railroad tracks were now unrecognizable, overgrown with brush, trees, and weeds… I could not even determine where the old sawmill and train tracks had been. Where so many years ago there had been Papa’s rows of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, and scallions was now tall green grass for a few grazing cows.

 

I smiled and pointed out to my wife Julie and son Scott where the old out-house had once stood, where Papa had once castrated the squealing hogs. I pointed out where old ‘Fred’ the mule used to lead the plow through the fields with a few ‘gees and haws’ from Papa. The little hamlet of Wooldridge was now all condensed for my memory but the thoughts, good and bad, raced through my aging brain…

 

It was here where some of the first memories were built of my displaced youth, where fear of the unknown and new experiences collided to make me a docile and disturbed little boy. It was here where my microcosmic world was filled with dreams and dark ugly shadows. Here was the nexus that was the foundation for all that I would become – the nomadic drifter in search of illusive dreams, the uncertain master of a fate always to be determined.

 

The tears were not seen through the smiles as I passed on to my son and wife the wisps of yesterday, but they were there…tears for Mama and Papa, their hard lives, yet their devotion to me…tears for the parents who fought, who loved and tried, but were unable to make things right for their family…tears for a life that could have been better in some ways but did, through all the wanderlust, bring me to wife Julie who personifies family, love and patience…tears for my beautiful children of whom I am so proud and love so deeply.

 

This day trip from my middle Tennessee home to the east Tennessee hamlet of my youth inspires this post. While there has to be some sadness – that’s the way I’m put together – it is likely one of the best days to go into my still active memory pages. The day serves to point out for me that, indeed, ‘everyone has to be from somewhere.’

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2018 (REV)

 

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Howling at the Moon

Howling at the Moon

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Howling at the Moon

My howl grows weaker as the Summers come and go,

And the Winter’s bitter gales bring harsh realities to my world.

My aging body grows weary in its long seasonal quest to know,

To find in my meandering search the truth unfurled.

*

Yet, some abiding glimmer of Faith bids me journey on

As I see the eager and young give rise to the next tomorrow,

To kindle old desires, awaken my mind to a new kinder dawn,

Tease me with truths-bearing wisdom I might better know.

*

Then, as years speed by steadily, and my steps limp along,

The world seems more precariously out of its orbital sync

As though some treacherous fate on wicked winds so strong’

Comes to claim its ownership of an orb no longer able to think.

Poem by Billy Ray Chitwood – February 2, 2018 (Prev)

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TIME of My Life

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TIME of My Life

TIME of My Life

-(A Poetic Moaning)-

Time, Time, Time.

Tick, Tick, Tick.

Are You a merciless menace

Of maddening passing?

Time, Time, Time.

Tick, Tick, Tick.

Can you not slow your pace?

Prithee, can you not provide more

Of your endless ticks?

I yet have books to write,

Poetry to pose a riddle,

Or, think romantic allusions

Of Love and Ventures past!

Why must you be the sole

Arbiter of my Soul, while

I suspect my God might

Approve your ever rapid

Transit through my Dawns

And my restless Eves of Doubts?

Your pendulum swings to and fro

In a mocking remembrance

Of an ambiguous and most

Impassioned wayward passage.

Is it that I have betrayed you?

Or, pray tell, is it that you have

Seduced me with your Lure to

Love’s easy Manipulative ways?  

When did you begin your ticking?

Are you synonymous with an

Infinite Divinity noble of promise?

Or, are you but a simple dream

That gives each of us a mare

To ride through a long night,

Some Lottery of Chance?

I plea for more thoughts to

Unscramble – an act doubtlessly

Vainglorious of deed and effort.

© Billy Ray Chitwood –01/23/18

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The End

The End

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The End

I was a beaten man!

There was nothing left! No wife! No children! No job!

The only clothes I owned covered my body.

The black ashes that were once my house had an acrid, gagging odor, mixed with the smells of fire-fighting liquids, dampness, and death.

How does one describe a body bereft of feelings, a body with all its tears shed, a hollow core of nothingness covered with flesh? Nothing there! Nothing I could or would ever be able to find.

That was my truth!

Standing there in a starless night of misty rain and appropriate bleakness, looking for the last time at the sum of my existence, there in those black, damp clumps of earth and bones, there with the only pieces of love I had ever known, there in that eerie graveyard of ashes.

We had a silly argument after the boys were put to bed. I made a petulant escape into the night of bar rooms and feigned grievance … my starring role in a ‘D-Movie’.

I heard the sounds of fire engines through my whiskey haze and gave it little thought.

Fire engines rushed to others’ houses, not mine.

Finally, the Bacchus glow came, went, and I recognized the inanity of my actions.

That rapidly fading glow took me home where I would do my habitual ‘I’m sorry, sweetheart’! Repentence was an eager surge within me as I sped onward for home. It was then, the car finishing its sharp turn, when I saw the halo of red and white flashing lights ahead. My body began to quake as the first pang of alarm came to rest inside my imbued brain.

It was my home from which those wind-driven flames came … soon to be, at my arrival, the charred ruins of my only prized possessions.

I stumbled from the car, stunned, inconsolable, watching my neighbors holding hands, praying, tears flowing down their cheeks, already knowing what I was about to find out.

My wife, my kids, were consumed by the fire … a fire caused by my forgetting to turn off the barbeque.

I fell to my knees, grasped my head with both hands, heaving, roaring my grief in loud sobs, piercing the smoke-filled skies above. The concept of Time had no reality for me as I gasped and breathed in particles of ash.

People talked to me, uttered their pity and sorrow, tried humbly to comfort me. Their voices were lost in my sobbing growls. The movement of fire engines, firemen, my neighbors going back to their homes were on the periphery of my awareness. I shook my head in negation to acts of kindness, of pleas to help me. 

Then, I was alone with my mind and its torturous playback of my fatuous acts in life, alone with the agony which now possessed my soul.

For three days and nights, I stayed awake, unseen, not wanting to be seen, in the wooded area behind the damp ashes where once stood my home. I was soon bereft of any meaningful thought, on the brink of madness.

At 11:00 PM that third night I heard off in the distance the freight train whistle.

I walked the quarter mile to the trestle and watched for the light that would announce its coming. I listened for the roar from the rails.

Like a thief in the night I left the bush behind which I hid and stepped onto the trestle. The train’s beacon of light came onward toward me, and the faint whistle registered somewhere in a tunnel of my mind. 

The train was but a hundred yards away when I raised my arms to the heavens and cried, “Oh, God, please forgive me!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – January 7, 2918 (Rev)

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Bubble of Existence

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Bubble of Existence

-Stream of Consciousness-

She is silent in her sleep – sleep that each night comes swiftly for her.

Not swiftly for me does sleep come. My mind is in its normal reverie, going through the tangled days, weeks, years of my life, the emotional detritus left along the roads I’ve traveled, reliving each night with the ’why this, why that’ buffoonery of a poorly tailored life. There are also the childish gene pool thoughts of future heroic deeds, rescuing damsels in distress, heroically accomplishing amazing feats, saving lives, attaining greatness… yes, still there from a turbulent childhood environment.

It is a learned process, always a constant staple in my life, that is, until the nightly sleeping pill takes effect.

But, I digress!

The lady I watch in sleep is my hero, my Sancho Panza riding a donkey alongside Cervante’s ‘Don Quixote’, tilting windmills and running my ‘knight errands’. She is my one and only. She is my everything. She is part of God’s omnipresence in my life.

In my thoughts I see myself in a transparent bubble of existence, one-half of me inside the gauzy metaphor, the other half still watching my wife in repose. There is an apparition, a little girl with cute curly locks sitting, smiling down at my sleeping beauty from the bed’s headboard – the small lass my sleeping beauty once was (a little girl whose small photo I once kept in my wallet until it went missing).

I think of our lives together, the contrast of our genealogy, the years of joy, of building a business together, of nuclear-family gatherings at our cabin in the pines, at the non-working ranch we used for get-away from the city. She comes from a mature, stable, environment, has a DNA with all ‘loops’ orderly fashioned. She is gifted with a combination of high intelligence, common sense, and the love of conversation (when awake). She brings stability and patience to fight my grittiness.

 In her slumber I cannot see the rhythm of her breathing – and I recall a time prior when it alarmed me. She can fall asleep quickly and is mildly irked if I insist on chatting when we go to bed. She can sleep in one position all through the night, and there are these quaint occasional moments when I watch her in sleep and think about our many years together, how my sometime Appalachian heritage roars and rumbles, how she sits silently with that little girl smile until I see the futility and silliness of my words.

It is there, in those still-dark moments with my fanciful opining of love, life, and death, when I see her and the little girl essence. Then comes sadness, or, more likely, regretful thoughts with uninvited tears.

Our love is real, and, oh, I fear that ‘bubble’ and the insistence of my nature must wear thinly.

So, while darkness still rules the night sky, it is time to step from the ‘bubble existence’, get out of bed, and try to capture some of these thoughts on the laptop.

For whatever their worth is to me and the Universe.

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 3, 2018

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Hearts Melt in the Snow

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Hearts Melt in the Snow

Mellowed by age, this ‘sunset’ heart still embraces the feelings that steal into its pulsing organ, that magic which changes the moods of scrooges and lightens the load of life’s vicissitudes.

I’ve always felt this organic change come over me during this special period of the year. I sense a commanding comaraderie and warmth emanating from people who normally seem  inclined to show gruff and negative personalities.

Makes me wonder…

Even warring people pause for their faiths, put on hold the bloodshed and killing at this time of the year.

Is the birthday of a Deity, a Deity Who wore human skin, bled from wounds of the sword, so manifest that it reaches the Souls of all? Even, those who wear their hatred as badges of honor? Is there an arcane flow of Spirituality running through so much of humanity?

Even the political personae seem to sincerely change from the many oratorical duels to pleasant grins of conciliation.

Is it the Christmas carol that speaks to us of a “Silent Night?” That speaks to us of a sacred “Little Town of Bethlehem? Perhaps the words from “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful” reach us in its divine plea!

Of course, I dismiss those believers of ‘from Darkness we come and to Darkness we go’! Dismiss them only because they cannot be reached, convinced that their ‘scientific knowledge’ beats out the ancient Prophets of the Old Testament and John, Mark, Matthew, Luke, Revelations of the New Testament. Though there are days when generational factions compete for their audiences, I hold as firmly as I can onto my Faith.

There are those, too, who languish in their dark prisons, or, lurk the dark alleys of our cities in search of criminal pursuits, those devoid of ‘Sense and Sensibility’…and, in most cases, they cannot be reached.

For the overwhelming numbers of us who wish to believe in a ‘Higher Order’, I can hold my belief that this ‘dynamic’ I feel during this season of giving, of love, is really a harbinger of ‘good tidings’ and a reminder that Love will conquer all.

Billy Ray Chitwood – December 15, 2017

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Prologue from “Stranger Abduction” (A novel by Billy Ray Chitwood)

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Stranger Abduction is out of the oven – edited, re-edited, ad infinitum, and I wanted to write a bit about the book and present the prologue…you can let me know if you like or don’t like what I’m sharing with you. Just be gentle and remember, I’m part of your reading and writing family…and, your elder.

This is the second time I’ve written this book…let me explain.

In the 1980’s, on an 80-acre non-working ‘Lazy Rabbit Ranch’ in southeastern Arizona near the ‘town too tough to die’, Tombstone, I began writing on a Starwriter 60 word processor my ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’. There were to be seven books in the series, with five inspired by true events. At the ranch I completed three of the ‘BC Series’ (except for final editing), neatly put the manuscripts’ pages in boxes, and moved to the beautiful cobalt waters of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. STRANGER ABDUCTION was to be Book 2 in the series.

In my lovely Sea of Cortez digs, I finished the rest of the books in the series, pulled each manuscript from its dusty box, and started the final draft, editing, and re-editing. The manuscripts were previously stored in a shed at my daughter’s house in Las Vegas, Nevada when we moved to Mexico. My son-in-law drove all the manuscripts down to me – sweet guy, love him, but I was irked because Stranger Abduction was missing. My son-in-law went back to Las Vegas and could not find the doomed manuscript… No, my love for the son-in-law did not turn to hate! (Okay, I thought about it but decided that might be a tad irrational!)

Thus ends the long saga of the lost manuscript, but not without reliving the frustration and anger I felt at losing said manuscript. I finally assumed it was lost in our move…by the movers, likely! A person has to have someone to blame for a loss like that! Am I right? Really, I’m not a cry-baby! Please, do not listen to my wife, Julie Anne! After all, she’s a genealogist! We’re all related, right? (Oh, well, I’ll let it go!)

Because each book in the ‘BC Series’ stood alone and was ready for publishing I forthwith took that action…hoping that one day I would by some stroke of luck and/or karmic event find the missing manuscript. Finally, I decided to totally re-write the book with different plot angles but not as a ‘Bailey Crane Mystery’.

Well, enough of ‘love’s labor lost’…forgive the ‘ramble’… You do know I live in ‘Twilight’? The population there does a lot of that! (Rambling, I mean!)

Stranger Abduction is inspired by an actual mother/daughter abduction two years before we moved to the Lazy Rabbit Ranch…in fact, that abduction took place within a few miles of our ranch, five minutes from the ranch. It is my belief, my hope, that ‘mystery’ and ‘suspense’ readers will enjoy the book that is now available for your serious perusal… It’s really apropos because there was a ‘Blog Talk Radio’ interview segment just this past Saturday (11/18/17) all about STRANGER ABDUCTION. The interviewer was the talented author, Beem Weeks. Of course, I was the interviewee.

Just another small detour…

Beem Weeks is an author with notable achievements, and ‘the thirty-minute interview’ was a fun experience for me. Beem is on Twitter (@BeemWeeks). Check out Beem’s book, JAZZ BABY, a novel that meticulously details the journey of a suddenly orphaned young teenage lady – ‘Baby Teegarten’ – and her remarkable singing voice that takes the ‘Big Apple’ by storm during a vintage era in American history. It’s a book with tons of Amazon 5-Star reviews.

Beem and I are both members of #RRBC and #RWISA, two book clubs that globally carry the torch for hundreds of gifted authors and readers. These two groups are creations of Nonnie Jules, an amazing author who envisioned unique Book Review Clubs that concentrated on presenting the very best INDIE writers, those authors who consistently strive for perfection in their blogs, books, and poetry…for the love of words they string together, not just the numbers. There are hundreds of authors and readers in our two idiosyncratic families, each member giving unselfish support to others in the groups. Hats off to Nonnie!

Nonnie’s books live up to her vision. For example, her novel, DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER, NIGHTMARE’S FRIEND: One Woman’s Journey Through Two Hells, is a book that will keep you awake nights. Nonnie has other best sellers as well. Check Nonnie out on Amazon.

Check out Beem, Nonnie, and the groups. They are amazing… #RRBC (RAVE REVIEW BOOK CLUB) on the Twitter search box for more information…#RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY) OF AUTHORS).

AND, NOW…we go to the REALLY self-serving part of this post May I have a light drum roll, Please? (Oh, stop it, Billy Ray!!! Your mirth makes no magic!)

Without proverbial further adieu, here is the ‘prologue’ from my novel, STRANGER ABDUCTION…

*****

STRANGER ABDUCTION

Prologue

Cigarette smoke slowly swirls around the dimly lit and crowded room. The smell is mixed with spilled beer, bad whiskey, body odor, stale smoke, something nostalgically reminiscent of old Mexico. The men belch, burp and fart when the need comes. The few women of the night, old, young, short, tall, slender, fat, some rather lovely beneath their cheap glitter, are gaudy in their colorful dresses. That is as it should be in Aqua Prieta, Mexico. There is nothing new in this old room, tables gouged and scarred, chairs uncomfortable without padding. The bar is the only area of the big room that has an ornate finish, and the stools are padded – ripped here and there but padded.

At a stained checker-cloth table in the corner of the Casa Orca Cantina three men sit talking. One is refilling the near empty mugs. Two of the men are from the United States, the other from Mexico’s resort cities along the Sea of Cortez. The US pair are mean-looking, swarthy, both with long oily dark hair, ruddy complexions and unshaven for many days, befitting the surroundings. The one called Eddie has a long diagonal scar on his forehead. The other man called Carl is younger and has a long bulbous nose. They are dressed in soiled sweatshirts, faded jeans, and well-worn sneakers.

The short rotund Mexican man sits in stark contrast in his dark suit, mustache, and bald head. He is obviously a man of some power and respect in the Casa Orca Cantina and anywhere else he might be. He does cringe and wrinkle his brow when the crude denizens belch, burp, and fart. The Casa Orca is simply a convenient venue for the type of men with which he must deal. Aqua Prieta is not home to this dignified man of Mexico. He is from the Sea of Cortez cities that offer better cuisine, better manners, and more elegance. Yet, he actually enjoys these short visits to the underclass environments…here, Mexicali, Nogales, San Luis, Tijuana. There is much respect paid to a man of his stature in these border towns.

The Mexican speaks. “My contacts tell me that you have been useful in delivering our products to your Denver, Colorado area. Are you pleased with the arrangement you now have with us?” He puffs his cigar and plumes the smoke upward.

“Yeah, sure, we are pleased,” the ugly American with the forehead scar speaks as the man in charge.

“I am also informed that you might be interested in performing some other activities for us. Are you aware of what I speak?”

“Yes, we are aware.” The American stares sternly into the face of the Mexican.

“It is my opinion that we can together make much money if you agree to our terms.”

“Some of your terms we’re already aware, but please lay them out for us again.” He sips from his mug.

“Of course…” the Mexican pauses, leans closer to the two across the table, takes a long puff on his cigar. “First, you find the product which meets our requirements. Second, you make a phone call to our agent and comply with his directions – you have the name and phone information. Third, upon delivery of the product in good condition to the final destination, you will receive a cash payment of $25,000 US dollars. Upon satisfactory receipt of three such satisfactory products, your payment is to reach $35,000 US dollars. Fourth, in the event of your arrest in the United States, this business of which we speak cannot be revealed under penalty of your immediate deaths. You can be assured that those arrangements can be easily made. Fifth, if at any time it is your wish to betray us, number four is to apply… as you can see, it is a simple arrangement for us both, and, of course, you assume all risks in these matters. Do you completely understand?”

“These ‘products’ as you call them, these females, it is my understanding that you are more interested in younger women?”

“I prefer that you use the word, ‘product’ when discussing our business. Is that a problem for you?”

“That is no problem. Sorry, but I would still like an answer to the question.”

“Yes, that is our preference, but there are benefits to us for products even older… We do pay less for the older products, by thirty per cent. There can be times when one must come with the other. We understand that.”

“Who is ‘we’?” asks the man called Carl.

“Pardon me but that is of no concern to you. Other than the phone agent and possibly others with whom you will speak, I am the only one from Mexico who will have contact with you. I should ask, do you have a problem with that arrangement?”

“No, we have no problem,” says the man called Eddie.

“Good! You say you have the number to call regarding the products, yes?”

“Yes… Is it any of my concern as to why you refer to the females as products?”

“No, it is of no concern to you… Just, don’t do it! Is that clearly understood at this time and in the future?”

With a short shake of the head, he answers, “Yes, that is clearly understood, but, listen, we do your work and we don’t appreciate being talked down to…”

“Do you wish out of the arrangement?”

“No, just some common courtesies, please.”

“You present yourself to me unshaven, poorly dressed, and you are common criminals… You are paid well for what you do, and you tell me to act a certain way with you? I ask you again, do you wish out of the arrangement? Think before you give me another frustrated shake of your head and say what you think I wish to hear. This is how I conduct business, and there are others who wait in line to do what you are doing. So, be sure of your answer. You are not dealing here with a Boy Scout Director. So, I await your answer?”

Feeling deflated, Eddie and Carl exchange glances. Eddie answers, this time with more humility of tone, “No, sir, we do not want out of the arrangement. I’m sorry.”

“Good!” The Mexican puffs rapidly on his cigar. “Now, I can tell you the date of the next pick-up for your van…”

When finished with the details of the pick-up, the Mexican takes from his pocket a small pouch and hands it to the man called Eddie. “You will be given directions when the time comes on how and when to use this. Do not lose it and keep it in a safe place.”

*

Sunday breaks with another sunny day in southeast Arizona, the long, wide Sulphur Springs Valley desert stretching out to the mountains east, west, north, and south to the Sierra Madres in old Mexico. It is the way of this Sunizona, Arizona community some forty-odd miles below Willcox, the heat and warm breezes bringing life to a lazy and slow pace for most inhabitants. The land is arid and without showy vegetation. There are only cacti, sand, gravel, sagebrush, and the tumbling tumble weeds crossing the roads for cars and trucks to dodge or splinter. To say the area is rural might not be enough, but it is beautiful and home to many who would not want it any other way.

The valley farmers grow barley, corn, wheat, vegetables, turning the soil often to get maximum value from the land. Great pistachio orchards, bee colonies, Christmas tree farms are part of the valley landscape, and all around the large rotating watering systems provide the irrigation. The big farmers belong to a coop to smooth the operative marketing of the goods. Great herds of sheep and cattle co-exist here in the Sulphur Springs Valley and the sheered wool and meat are significant sources of income for many in the area.

To the near west of this vast valley rise the rocky Dragoon Mountains and the well-known monument known as Cochise Stronghold. Tombstone, the ‘town too tough to die’, sets just over the Dragoons some fifty miles from Sunizona…conjuring up tales of Wyatt Earp, his brothers, bar room brawls, gun duels, and ‘the shootout at the OK Corral’.

To the nearer east lies the Chiricahua Mountains and, farther north, the Dos Cabezas Mountains where Cochise and Geronimo roamed well over a century ago. Much of our cowboy/Indian history was written in this valley and among these rock and cavernous mountains. The people who live here love the tranquil way of life, at least, most of them. Some want more than this somnolent existence and move away to the big cities and towns that offer more in the way of diversity.

Donna Pickering lives now in the East, has a lovely family and remembers well her home of youth here in Sunizona, her many brothers and sisters, her wonderful father and mother, and the crazy and beautiful memories of her young growing years on this quiet sun-filled prairie…the hikes around the ‘Stronghold’, Dos Cabezas, and the Chiricahua National Park.

There is one memory from Sunday, May 23, 1993, that still lingers, haunts Donna and her family – a sleepy Sunday Sabbath afternoon with some dust devils playing touch and go on the desert floor, breezes touching bodies with warm caresses, lemonade under the trees.

This is the backdrop for the story of that tragic and awful memory… Only this sun-scorched and storied land knows the actual events. While this tale gives a fictional account, there is some plausibility as to what could have happened. Some references here have viability, and, just perhaps, the story can offer an alternate truth.

(End of ‘Prologue’)

Billy Ray Chitwood  –  November 19, 2017

After reading Stranger Abduction, why not read Book 1 of the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’, An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery – Book 1, inspired by the actual brutal murder of a good friend of mine. The lovely actress and mother was missing for weeks and finally found in the desert northeast of Phoenix, ravaged by denizens of the habitat and the relentless summer sun. An Arizona Tragedy ( BUY SITES: https://goo.gl/L7wwR5 – US and https://goo.gl/UWgQXr – UK ) is my ‘requiem’ for a young lady, mother of two, who had the world in front of her. In my humble opinion, it is a great read – inspired by true events. It is now, after all the years, as is Stranger Abduction, an Arizona ‘Cold Case’.

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BUY SITES for STRANGER ABDUCTION

Amaxon US:  https://goo.gl/KPn1hn

Amazon UK:  https://goo.gl/WMu62d

Some Links:

http://www.about.me/brchitwood

http://twitter.com/brchitwood (@brchitwood)

http://billyraychitwood.com (My Website: books – short bio -some of my book reviews – a few blog posts)

http://amazon.com/author/billyraychitwood

https://brchitwood.com (My Blogsite)

http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

http://facebook.com/billyrayscorner

http://linkedin.com/billyraychitwood

http://googleplus.com/+billy-ray-chitwood

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