Tag: crime’

Close Call

Close Call

Just a bit tipsy when I left the Cannery Row bar, the hour was Ten PM, and I knew there were business calls to be made in Monterey the next day just as there was with this day ending. I walked down the lighted street until I came to the alleyway where I earlier parked my car. It was a short alleyway from the main street into a relatively small unlighted parking lot between a cluster of tall brick buildings.

The thought did occur to me that I could be an easy prey in this special part of the California I once knew. Maybe it was more than a thought. Perhaps it was a premonition.

John Steinbeck made this little piece of the world famous with his book, Cannery Row, in 1945, a story set during the Great Depression about the ‘earthy’ people of the author’s memory going back to 1930 of the men and women who lived bawdy lives, drank, and died. 1945 was the year the ‘seiners’ brought in 250,000 tons of sardines, the final year of such heavy yield. The following year was 25,000 tons of sardines. Despite the warnings from marine biologists, the sardine cannery and sardines would be seined out of existence.

Back to my woeful tale, I stepped from the alley into a parking area of pitch-black darkness. My tie was loose around my neck and my white shirt was slipping out of my trousers all rumpled. I looked the part of a drunken sot, but without the weaving and swaying. To some extent, that rumpled image can be taken as true…just a bit too much entertaining the clients seen that day.

So, into the blackness I went. Suddenly, from the darkness came two young men, each grabbing an arm, the one to my right was consistently punching me just above my bicep.

“Give us your wallet, mofo!” one thug whispered with emphasis that begged to be heeded.

Dumbfounded, I complied with the demand and handed over my wallet. The hoodlum on my right was still punching me above my bicep while gripping so tightly I could only feel the jolts.

Just as quickly as the two bad boys grabbed me, it was over. They ran quickly away into the blackness, while I stood momentarily staggered with incipient anger and frustration building. It quickly dawned on me that all my credit cards and some hundred-plus dollars were in my wallet.

I hurried from the parking lot down the short alleyway and called the police. When two officers arrived, I gave them the information that I had which was precious little, gave them my temporary lodging address – the Casa Munras, in Monterey, if memory serves correctly.

It was only when I returned to Casa Munras and began to pull my suit coat off that I noticed my blood-soaked right sleeve. The young punk was not punching me. He was stabbing me with a pocket-knife. The police prior obviously figured I knew about the bloody coat arm.

My wallet was found sometime during the next day in a street near Cannery Row.

Thankfully, my credit cards were all there. The money was gone.

I love John Steinbeck, studied him in college along with Ernest Hemingway and other notable American novelists, but, John, I won’t be visiting Cannery Row again – except through the pages of your classic book.

Incidentally this little scrap of a story is true of a younger me during my educational rep days.

Billy Ray Chitwood – June 1, 2019

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“Daddy, No!”

Daddy, No!

 In a Colorado upscale community near Denver in August of 2018 there were acts of violence so vile that I thought not to write about them, but, then, changed my mind. The desire, nay, the need to write about these brutal homicides was too strong for me to ignore.

 

In the early morning hours of that day in August, a man strangled to death his wife, then smothered to death his two daughters, ages 3 and 4. They were crimes that captured the attention of the entire nation – perhaps even, the world. My need to write about these awful murders can hopefully be forgiven, but I wanted to get inside the head of this monster who would commit such atrocious acts. My novella is not a ‘long-dwelling account’ of the crimes themselves, but of the fictional prison life being lived currently by this family slayer. The book’s narrative is an attempt at understanding the sociopathy, psychopathy of this ugly form of humankind. It can be said accurately that I am playing ‘clinical psychologist’ in this book. Whether these humble thoughts can come near to that professional league, no way, but, at least, I get to relieve some anger and angst.

 

The following two paragraphs from the beginning of ‘Chapter Four’ in Daddy, No! just might create the terrifying atmosphere for the book. Superfluously, this novella is fiction, but many of the details therein come from truth of this tragedy. The following has truth as well.

 

Chapter Four

Sobbing in small choking gasps the little girls wrap their arms around each other, their tiny trembling bodies absorbed in these moments of terror, their short body-quakes synonymous with the gaping flairs of their eyes – wide with the unknown evil outside their bedroom door. With each audible wall bump, each stifled scream, and demonic moan, they tighten their grasps of each other. Their anguished faces are scarlet red and moist from their prolonged fear, their eyes darting hither and yon in nervous expectations of an unknown, impending danger. It is sheer paralyzing, catatonic disorientation, a manic madness their young lives have never experienced.

 

The darkness envelops them but the light-shaft from a bright moon at their bedroom window portrays grievous images of two tiny huddled masses compacted in terror so visceral it might absorb them in a maelstrom of madness. The twisted sheets upon which they now lie entwined are wet with their bodies’ waste. The blankets they are seldom without in the night are damp with the wetness of their mucous and their tears. Their eyes are swollen from the crying, chafed and red with the steady rubbing. Their hands, their bodies tremble in the horror that has joined them in the bedroom.

 

With the world’s population living among those who cut-off heads of people who believe contrary to their so-called religion, with evil perversions of all kinds on our planet, perhaps there is nothing left that can now shock us. Perhaps my skin is too thin, but the factors of these homicides stunned me, and I needed to prowl my mind and soul to find my own truths about this father from hell…herein Daddy, No! they lie.

 

In any event this my nineteenth book, a novella of 36,000 words plus. It is my hope you will read its contents and leave an Amazon review.

 

You can Order Daddy, No! on Amazon when the review is over: Paperback or Kindle, or, both. Thank you. The book was just listed.

 

BR Chitwood – May 19, 2019

 

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The Pickett Factor

THE PICKETT FACTOR

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AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON

BUY SITES:

Kindle Edition: Amazon US

Paperback Edition: Amazon US

Kindle Edition: Amazon UK

Paperback Edition: Amazon UK

ALSO AVAILABLE ON: APPLE – B/N – KOBO – TOLINO

Seldom does a book come to me in such a way as this book. It was all there in my head. Perhaps that’s because I’m so close to where the elements of the story took place, thirty minutes at the most. Yes, the location in the book is Pennsylvania because these are on-going cases, and I believe it wise to put the action somewhere else.

The same narrative prevails regardless of the state represented, that is, Pennsylvania is also familiar to me because I lived, worked, and went to college in Williamsport, PA – the college: Lycoming College – received my Bachelor of Arts there, carrying away some fond memories as I jouneyed west to California, then, Arizona.

While in College, my ‘Criminology Class’ visited several penal institutions, one of those dark and gloomy places was USP Lewisburg, referenced in the book, a prison that holds the worst of the worst criminals. I mention my Pennsylvania personal period because of those family, work, and college memories were vibrant and alive while writing this book, and the creation of a small town was easy for me to transmit narratively.

“The Pickett Factor” is truly inspired by crimes in a small town that shocks its citizens and those that are nearby: in 2013, a police officer was ambushed and murdered on his way home from a work shift; in 2014, a mother and daughter were brutally murdered in their bedrooms, throats slashed and shot; in 2015, a mother of four children went missing and has not been found to this day; the daughter murdered in 2015 went to high school with the missing woman’s daughter; in 2016, the father of that missing mother was mysteriously killed in a hunting accident; Drug gangs sell their wares on the streets of this small town, attacking citizens on their own property…and, there’s more.

As the reader can discern there is plenty of elements for several books. I have written “The Pickett Factor” as news flashes come in about these open cases, my mind swirling with images and words. My work is of course fiction, piggy-backing off these obscene and true crimes. My book has a fictional ending. The true cases’ denouement is yet to be written.

Please enjoy “The Pickett Factor” and leave a review if you would be so kind. Reviews as authors know are our lifeblood.

AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON BUY SITES:

Kindle Edition: Amazon US

Paperback Edition: Amazon US

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Billy Ray Chitwood – October 29, 2018

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THE PICKETT FACTOR

– FLASH – FLASH – FLASH –

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No matter how you color IT!

No matter how many times you say IT!

“The Pickett Factor”

IS A WINNER!

BUY SITES:

KINDLE: Amazon US

PAPERBACK: Amazon US

KINDLE: Amazon UK

PAPERBACK: Amazon UK

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A New Novel by Billy Ray Chitwood

An Explosive Book Inspired by True Events!

Amazon.com INTRODUCES

A Novel by Billy Ray Chitwood

– ANOTHER BIG FLASH – 

This novel is now AVAILABLE at the BUY SITES BELOW!

download (20)    “The Pickett Factor”     download (20)

An Explosive Book Inspired by True Events!

Get your copy on: Amazon.com – US:

E-Book and Paperback

AVAILABLE on Amazon.

Also available on: Apple – B/N – Kobo – Tolino

 

download (20)    The Pickett Factor    download (20)

An Explosive Book Inspired by True Events!

Get your copy on Amazon.co.com – UK: 

E-Book and Paperback

AVAILABLE on Amazon.

Also available on: Apple – B/N – Kobo – Tolino

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SYNOPSIS:

A novel inspired by true events but fictionalized in its narrative…

Some strange criminal elements are at work in the small town of Mackland, PA: a Mackland patrol officer is ambushed and murdered in 2013; a mother and common law wife goes missing in 2015; the missing woman’s father is killed in a suspicious hunting accident in 2016 -was he getting too close to some truths about his daughter’s disappearance? a mother and daughter are brutally murdered in 2014 – the mother’s & daughter’s throats are slashed, then shot separately in their bedrooms (the daughter went to high school with the missing woman’s daughter); at least two drug gangs operate in the small town, brazenly attacking citizens and bragging about bigger crimes they’ve committed…there’s more, and the town has only 11,000 + population.

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Proudly Presented by: Billy Ray Chitwood – 10/30/18

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A Closet Dark With Fear

A Closet Dark With Fear

Thought I might titillate you with the first two pages of a ‘Prologue.’ Call me shameless because the ‘Prologue’ is from my novel, Mama’s Madness.

This book was taken from some true life events and it was tough to write. It startled me to think that mothers of such quantifiable evil existed and doled it out at regular intervals. There are no ‘spoilers’ here and perhaps you will want to read more. The good news is that these mothers from hell are hopefully outside the reach of those reading this small portion.

From Mama’s Madness by Billy Ray (BR) Chitwood:

PROLOGUE

-The Year: 1985-

“Help me! Please help me!”

It is a piteous whimper, lost in the black void of the narrow closet. The weak and eerie sound of her own voice chills her more fiercely than the cold. The thought brings an aberrant amusement. Her own small voice frightens her!

A sound! A creaking sound. Far off. A footfall! Is it? No. It is not a footfall. It’s just one of the strange noises that comes in the night.

Is it night?

Time is lost. Time is gone from her world like a chunk of youth. The black hole draws her toward an uncertain vortex. She must close her eyes. But, not so tightly. She sees less with her eyes lightly closed. There is better control of her quivering body. With eyes open, the blackness comes alive with trickery.

Some crawling thing moves along her upper arm. That is her perception. She shifts and finds a wooden wall protrusion. A vertical beam. She moves her arm and body in back and forth rushes to accommodate the itch.

Her wrists are painfully numb and raw. The handcuffs seem now natural extensions of her hands.

Her shoulders ache in their sockets. They are taut from the pull of arms bound behind her back.

How long? God! It seems an eternity! A small lifetime she has lived in this palpable darkness. Maybe, it has been two days. The air has no texture or stir. It hangs there, stale and dank.

Her face is flushed with fever. It feels stiff and crusty from the tears running over her abrasive wounds. She squints and contorts. She opens and closes her mouth. There are sharp responses of pain. Her entire body feels leaden and bloated. When she moves there is a burning chaff between her thighs. A complacent soreness pervades. It no longer matters. Nor does the stench from her body’s waste matter.

It is her mind which throttles her. Whisks her off in searing flashes, abates, lingers amid the blackness. A fragile sentry. Both enemy and friend.

It is all happening again! She is next to die. Just like Celia. Was it a year ago? Two? Time, again, is elusive, lost. What does it matter? A year ago or an hour ago! Sarilee knows she is next. Just like Celia…

Mama beat Celia, too. Got so mad she shot her. But the bullet didn’t kill Celia. The fire killed Celia. The bullet lodged in Celia’s back and stayed there for two years. Celia healed with the bullet there in her back. Then, Celia had wanted to leave home.

Was that one year ago?

For some unknown fathoming, Sarilee wants to be precise in her remembering. Somehow, it is important to remember this point.

Yes, it was a year ago. They were living in an apartment near the old trailer court where Mama used to live…

***

Okay, that’s just the first two pages of Mama’s Madness. It’s my hope that you’re interested enough to read more. It is a dark tale but there are some moments of recompense and justice.

It’s on amazon.com US (Kindle and paperback). It’s on Nook, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, It’s on amazon.co.uk. It is also on other E-formats.

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/F4QR56 

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/uuFFPj

The Bailey Crane Mystery Series

  The Bailey Crane Mysteries 1-6

Meet Bailey Crane, a sleuth who wears his emotions in easy view of whomever he comes in contact. His musing is part of his charm and wit. He muses about old love affairs, friendships, anger, con artists, people of unusual character and wisdom. The case he’s working at the time does not suffer with his musing but gives more than flesh and bone dimensions to the characters. Below, mystery lovers may enjoy a 6-book series featuring a protagonist whose DNA is not only in solving crimes but in matters of the heart and soul. Bailey and the characters come alive within the pages.

Five of the six ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ are inspired by real crimes. Book 3 stands on only the author’s fictional narrative and character dialogue and development. The first book in the series is special because the young actress brutally murdered many years ago was a friend of the author and his wife. It is a case still unsolved to this day – a ‘cold case’ for the Phoenix Police Department.

These books are ‘stand alone’ reads but do have some obvious connectors – aging and life changes of the central character and his partners in crime solving. Here are the books in order, with a quick preview, and BUY sites.

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An Arizona Tragedy (1)

Editorial Reviews

Review

5.0 out of 5 starsA Thoroughly Enjoyable Must-Read!

By SUSAN H. MCINTYRE

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I was glued to this story all the way to the end.. I want to avoid any spoilers, so I won’t reveal the plot. the description, however, does not begin to show how well-written this mystery novel is. The plot has twists and turns, with a few red herrings that kept me from predicting the end. I loved that! In addition, the main character, Bailey Crane, is well-developed. I feel as if I know this guy. He philosophizes, loves, has friends, and yet stays on track of the case. This book was a delight, and I plan to read more by this author!

From the Author

From the Author

Many years ago, a lovely actress friend of mine was brutally murdered in the desert northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. She was a young mother of two children, a legal secretary for two of my attorney buddies, and she was responsible for my acting avocation — we had the same great agent in Scottsdale, Bobby Ball.

My friend’s murder has never been solved, and this fictional novel was inspired by her death. The book was originally published years ago under the title, “Probable Cause,” by a small publisher. I’ve dusted it off, edited it, rewrote some sections, and it is now, “An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery.” It is my way of remembering her. She had her life in front of her with all the dreams most of our young generation had at the time, but her biggest dream was to have someone to love and a home for her family. 

You are never far from our thoughts, dear lady. 

BUY SITES:
Amazon US:  https://goo.gl/NQrJqF
Amazon UK:  https://goo.gl/Rxb528
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Satan’s Song (2)

A young lady in Phoenix, Arizona is decapitated while riding her bike in a municipal park…(inspired by a true Phoenix crime). The Phoenix PD has the case but the girl’s mother comes to Bailey Crane and asks for his personal help in finding the maniacal killer. Another young lady is murdered in San Diego, yet another in Texas, and Bailey finds common connections. The final disposition of the case will come in a small ski community in Colorado. Bailey finds his killer and also a new beginning for his life. 

NOTE: This crime was unsolved for many years. Within the past few years, the Phoenix PD found their killer.

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/2dQcte

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/NvBD72

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The Brutus Gate (3)

A warehouse fire nearly consumes Bailey Crane in this fiery opening, but our intrepid sleuth lives to add more battle scars to his job description. One of the thugs arrested at the warehouse is heard to mutter a cryptic phrase, “Beware the Brutus Gate.” Bailey and his buddies in blue have a hearty laugh at the pithy utterance and try to figure out what it means.

This is a proverbial roller coaster ride for Bailey, the department, and the Fibbies as they anticipate drug shipments coming in from Mexico. In this large caper there’s a bunch of crimes taking place – drugs, murder, rape, political corruption. Bailey has all he can handle plus another ‘turning point’ in his life. 

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/psF7CD

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/c7wqrD

****

Murder in Pueblo del Mar (4)

5.0 out of 5 stars Murder in Pueblo del Mar by Billy Ray Chitwood
Recently finished “Murder in Pueblo del Mar” and found it very entertaining! It’s one of those “hard to put down” kind of mysteries! Will be looking for more books by Billy Ray Chitwood!
Review Published 15 days ago on amazon.com by Mary A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsAnother Mexico Murder Story

By Mike D. Landfair on August 18, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I liked the story, and the introspection. The dropping of “I” as the subject in his sentences, while annoying, wasn’t enough to reduce the novel to four stars.

From the Author

“Murder In Pueblo Del Mar – A Bailey Crane Mystery” is Book 4 of 6 in the ‘Bailey Crane Series.’

Some years ago a mother was savagely murdered while on holiday in Mexico. The case had many interesting elements, from cock fights and sex tapes to transsexual lover. This true event inspired me to write book 4 of The Bailey Crane mysteries. This author also had a dear friend whose wife was fighting her battles with alcoholism and there was an inherent need to combine this element in the story. It is my feeling that including issues with which many people can identify, along with the criminal case under study can only bring heightened awareness and some measure of compatibility with the plot line. It is also true that my father-in-law did in fact live around the ‘bend of the caliche road’, and my wife and I were frequent visitors.

The friends are now gone and sorely missed…friends in the book: father-in-law and my wife’s step-mother in truth.

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/bNfefn

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/KzKS5L

*****

A Soul Defiled (5)Editorial Reviews

From the Author

“A Soul Defiled – A Bailey Crane Mystery” is Book 5 of six books in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’.

This short ‘Bailey Crane’ book will be the fifth in the series and likely one of my personal favorites. Why? Don’t really know, except the environment for writing the book was so very pleasant — stopping occasionally during the laptop pecks and looking out across that beautiful sea was so exhilirating. In fact, watching from my deck, a hawker walking on the beach peddling his serapes gave me the very first glimpse into this ‘Bailey Crane’ novel. Unfortunately, the poor hawker in the book was to have a very short appearance in the prologue of “A Soul Defiled.” 

Note: Each ‘Bailey Crane’ Book can be read independently of the other. 

From the Back Cover

Bailey Crane and wife, Wendy, are just settling into their new condo unit on the Sea of Cortez when a call from an old friend begins a dangerous ride through another mystery maze. They’re all here, the scammers, contract killers, good guys, bad guys. Bailey has come to the sea for some retirement fun and sun. Instead, he gets kidnapped twice, battered and bruised twice, meets a man of intrigue, and, finally finds that friendship and life can come to surprising ends. 

With compelling characters and a beautiful backdrop of sea and desert elegance, this is a tale with surprising climactic moments, not to be missed.

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/ojyTgk

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/P0cwuT

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A Common Evil (6)

Editorial Reviews

Review

5.0 out of 5 stars – Sin and sand

By CA reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

A COMMON EVIL is the 6th and final novel in his Bailey Crane mystery series and takes us to a seaside resort along Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Bailey is a retired Arizona cop who, with his wife Wendy, has settled into the condo resort in Mexico and is now the homeowner’s association head honcho. But along with sun and luxe, the Cranes also find danger and duplicity.

The cornerstone of the story is a scenario in which the largest cartel in Mexico, with a jefe who is not too objectionable, promises to clean up the violence and strike a deal with the Mexican government. Part of the clean-up action (read: getting rid of his rivals in order to run a drug monopoly with Mexico City’s approval) spills over onto Bailey’s turf. There’s a shootout on the resort property, Wendy is kidnapped because of a letter Bailey wrote protesting the dubious dealings of an American in with the cartels, and Bailey’s survival instincts surge to the fore, although not always with the results he intends.

This isn’t the usual whodunit but a look at Mexico’s drug war through an expatriate’s eye. The charm of the novel–and the series–is driven by Bailey’s unmissable musings on life and love. His voice is a gutsier, spicier, and more raw version of Alexander McCall Smith’s point of view in the latter’s Isabel Dalhousie series but his subject matter is both more intense and immediate. Recommended.

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5.0 out of 5 starsChitwood adds wonderful finale to Bailey Crane Mystery Series

By Timothy M. Tays 

Format: Paperback

Billy Ray Chitwood channels his alter ego, Bailey Crane, for another suspenseful tale. In this final book in the Bailey Crane Mystery Series, Bailey wants nothing more than to enjoy a relaxing retirement in his penthouse in a Mexican beach resort with his beloved wife, Wendy. But once again, trouble finds him–and by association, Wendy–this time in the form of a vicious Mexican drug cartel and the nefarious characters who populate it. Bailey is sucked into violence when the cartel blames him for a government crackdown. When Wendy is targeted as a way to punish Bailey, he must suspend his gentle southern ways and become as vicious as the cartel thugs to save her. What follows is intrigue and moral dilemmas as Bailey fights forces too large for him to defeat.
With a final unexpected twist at the end, this is a gritty tale of evil that will always exists as long as people give in to their darker side–which, of course, they will. Somehow Bailey survives and still finds love and hope among the systemic evil and moral compromises. A must-read mystery novel!
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5.0 out of 5 starsA Common Evil is basic in all of us
By eden
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A Common Evil addresses something basic in all of us–the need to preserve the things we love, whether they are people, a place to live, or a certain way of life.

This is the sixth and final book in the Bailey Crane Mystery Series, which started with An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery (Bailey Crane Mystery Series Book 1), and it more than stands on its own as an engaging story.

The setting is the Sea of Cortez, also known by other names–Gulf of California or Gulf of Mexico, a large inlet along the northwestern coast of Mexico. Already, the story attracted me due to its location – exotic, hot, sand, beach, and home to Corona beer.

Bailey Crane, a retired detective is minding his own business, living in a luxury beach resort with his wife, Wendy, when he is drawn into the shifty underworld. The start of the book pulls you in immediately with raucous gunfire. It offers a look of what it’s like to live among drug cartels that are at odds with one another. The paradox of paradise is that life is expendable when profit and greed motivate those in power.

Against the backdrop of the fascinating world of living in Mexico as an American, Mr. Chitwood treats us to moments of self-reflection with strong hints of his Southern upbringing. These moments were for me, some of the most satisfying passages in the book. They offered a deeper look into the inner workings of his protagonist.

Bailey Crane is not afraid to be brutish to protect what he wants. While he may wrestle with inner demons, he can steep himself firmly in the task at hand and reflect on his own morality later. In other words, he gets the job done.

Through his two main characters, the author offers us a glimpse of a couple who have been through a lot. Bailey Crane and Wendy have a very strong relationship, one with a love that runs deep and is deeply personal. Within that love, words are not always required to express how they feel for each other. At times, the book reads as an ode from Bailey to Wendy, and I found this particularly endearing.

As with all good mystery/thrillers, there are twists and turns and a surprise ending that made for a wonderful read. For lovers of the mystery genre, whether you slant toward action, cozy, or literary–A Common Evil will not disappoint.

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5.0 out of 5 stars
Fun and Games South of the Border
By Diogenes 
Format: Kindle Edition
‘A Common Evil’ is the sixth book in Billy Ray Chitwood’s mystery series. It is also the first of the series I have read – but I WILL be back for more.
Chitwood’s detective, Bailey Crane, has moved to Mexico with his wife, Wendy, hoping for a quiet retirement by the Sea of Cortez. But fate intervenes and Crane finds himself caught up in a shootout with members of a Mexican drugs cartel. So much for a quiet life. From then on, things go from bad to worse for the ex-detective…

One of the things I enjoy about Chitwood’s books – apart from the absorbing passages of reflection on life and purpose – is that his characters possess a moral ambivalence. Tales about two-dimensional ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys bore me to tears. Not only does this approach strike me as lazy writing, but it also patronises the reader. Chitwood’s protagonists, on the other hand, face tough choices and the decisions they make are not always good ones.
Not just a crime/adventure tale, this novel is a treatise on what it means to grow old, to have secrets and to recognize the things that bind us and the things that fulfill us.

‘A Common Evil’ is a quick read, but a satisfying one. Now I need to go back and start the series at book one to see what I’ve missed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars… I read mysteries for the sleuth more than the sleuthing and that’s why I enjoyed A Common Evil so much
ByAmazon Customeron July 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read mysteries for the sleuth more than the sleuthing and that’s why I enjoyed A Common Evil so much. Bailey Crane is a bible-belt gumshoe living la vida loca on the Sea of Cortez. It’s a retirement fantasy life that he and his wife – also an ex-cop – have cultivated as a reward for years of catching bad guys. But when a drug cartel muscles into his beach and barbecue lifestyle, the dream of a peaceful march into old age evaporates and Bailey is thrust back into the world of cops and robbers he and his wife had left behind. A fun, suspenseful mystery filled with the musings of a protagonist with plenty of regrets, A Common Evil makes for terrific beach reading (that’s where I read my copy).

Buy Sites:

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/57ExVZ

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One final word from me, the author…
It is my fault alone that these most readable mysteries have languished on the blogosphere shelfs for too long without better marketing – make that, little or no marketing! These books deserve more than what I’ve given them in terms of book marketing. So, you know what’s coming…please do yourself a favor and read one, several, or, all of these books. It’s my belief you will have satisfying reads.
Of the sixteen books I’ve written, these were my first six, and I’m sad that they are not getting the attention I believe they deserve. Five of the six are inspired by true criminal cases.
So, give Bailey Crane a chance to win you over! It is not lost on me that there are those ’31 flavors’ out there and these might not be your reading choices. 
These six books are good…hope you give them a read! 
-Billy Ray Chitwood – Author – July 30, 2018
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Satan’s Song

Wherein Be Evil

Is the wolf’s wistful wail to the moon a siren of evil?

A stretch, no doubt, but Hollywood has made a lot of money with Lon Chaney and the Wolf-man…a full moon and a man turning into a werewolf.

Satan’s Song A Bailey Crane Mystery regrettably has no connection with Hollywood where millionaires are made overnight when their books are tailored into screenplays. Of course, I easily salivate with thoughts of that enticing proposition and welcome that ‘producer’s request’ to do just that with any of my books.

Well, that thought remains on a fading ‘wish list’!

Satan’s Song has the ‘evil’ and it has also inspiration from a true Arizona decapitation homicide. Like the first book in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’, An Arizona Tragedy, this title was also a ‘Cold Case’ for many years. Recently, Phoenix Police Department found their killer.

In my novel, the details of that long-ago murder of a young blond lady is fictionalized and turns into a case of serial murders. The suspense and surprise of Satan’s Song deals with the motive and psychotic mind of the killer. The murder spree of the killer includes young ladies in the states of Texas, Ohio, and California, plus a male victim in Pennsylvania.

Bailey Crane’s life undergoes changes as my hero’s personal life becomes complicated and must deal with some emotionally painful realities.

There is a strong ‘women presence’ particularly in this book, and, in truth, all six books of the Bailey Crane mystery series. Please, partake and enjoy!

Hope all your reads are enjoyable.

Billy Ray Chitwood – June 14, 2018

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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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Martin and Sybil

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Martin and Sybil

-Short Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood

When the thought came to me I cannot say. The thought came and stayed, growing steadily through the minutes, hours, and days. It seized an uncommon, unpredictable control of my mind, macabre, mad thoughts pounding incessantly, relentlessly, a drum beat so wildly cacophonous I began to doubt my sanity…

Sybil was everything in my world, her devotion and love the building blocks of my future, our love destined for the scripts of poetry, pretty phrases, and romance novels.

It was a summer day on the white sandy shore in La Jolla, California. I sat on an unfolded beach seat reading once again my favorite book of soulful poetry by ex-priest, James Kavanaugh, a shattering compilation of soul-rending and searching. It was, and, is, a book that is both compliant and kindred to my own soul. The book’s passages reminded me of my own childhood and young adult life. the words and phrases touching the soft spots of pain and remembrance.

It was but a spray of sand that brought the exhilarating discovery of Sybil in a tantalizing yellow bikini, her tanned body of curves and voluptuousness arousing the gonads and the heart’s pitter-pat. But it was her face, framed by a delicious spill of golden hair, blue eyes and an elegant face that spoke supremely of angelic purity.

Something passed between us, that thrill of something discovered that just might be the defining moment of one’s life, a magical spate of emotions that come but once in a lifetime.

We stared at each other for some seconds before I found my voice. From some source within of clumsy mutterings, my first words to her were: “Are you with someone?”

She smiled and did a funny thing with her eyes and answered: “Well, no, I’ve just come from a modeling shoot. Are you suggesting I join you?”

“Look, you’ve staggered my senses here. You must know you’re beautiful… I just sense, uh, something passing through us, and that’s just not an ordinary event with me. But, yes, I am suggesting you join me. Will you consider it?”

She placed her hands on her titillating hips, gave me a coquettish smile: “Well, may we start with names? My name is Sybil. Yours?”

“Martin Hoover.’

So, began our relationship, built with the finest intentions and promises two people in love can make to each other.

We enjoyed being together with as little time apart as possible. We were in love, akin to some of the greatest loves of all time. Our adoration for each other bordered on rapture. I’m convinced no other love ever possessed more idyllic space in time.

We married three months after our La Jolla beach meeting, and life was storybook from every angle. Other than time at my Business Consulting and Sybil’s modeling, we were at all times together. We wanted a family but not immediately. We were enjoying life too much, our dinners at great restaurants, occasional evening visits with mutual friends, beach time, and some golf.

It was at a golf course that the first sense of trouble arrived. Sybil and I were put with two men to round out a foursome. That was fine with Sybil and me. We liked meeting new people.

These new people we could have done without very nicely, at least, one who called himself, Bryce Cowling. The one fellow, a John Gibbon, was a nice guy who had apparently been paired up with Cowling to satisfy the tee-times and crowds of golfers.

Bryce Cowling spent most of his golf-time looking at Sybil, an inane smile on his lips. He was a rude and brazen individual, showed no golf etiquette. He was always close to Sybil, making insulting non-sequiturs. Sybil gave no encouragement to the brash bastard and moved away from him when he came her way.

My run-in with him came on the thirteenth hole when I overheard Cowling utter an insult to me and to Sybil – her insult a sex-related quip. I grabbed him and shoved him away from Sybil, and he gave me a mean gritted-teeth stare and a menacing smile.

It was my good fortune to go thirty-eight years before meeting a crude and rude playboy type like Bryce Cowling. I told him this and to stay away from Sybil.

Fate can at times be cruel!

Cowling developed a fixation on Sybil, tracked her down at a modeling shoot and began stalking her.

Not only was the guy ugly and mean, he had a ‘rap sheet’ with the San Diego PD that included felony arrests for rape and assault.

It became my habit of taking time away from my work, driving Sybil to her ‘shoots’, but that was not doable on November 8, 2005 because of a consulting conflict.

When she went missing, I was frantic! I called the San Diego PD and was told forty-eight hours needed to pass before they could do anything.

The police found Sybil’s ravaged body seven days later in the hills above La Jolla near our home, near the beach where we met and fell in love.

My anguish became anger and rage. The SDPD questioned Bryce Cowling and cleared him of the homicide of Sybil. The PD said his alibi checked out.

Cowling’s alibi checked out for them, maybe, but not for me. My life became null and void without Sybil. There was nothing that would countervail my rage. Daily, nightly I tracked Bryce Cowling and finally gained unnoticed entry into his San Diego condo.

 He was with a woman who, unlike Sylvia, gave herself to dancing, laughing, telling of her sex-capades, copulating with this man I hated so much.

I watched from my hidden spot until I retched, but the retching did not rid me of my anger. With my hunting knife slicing and stabbing, I killed them both while they were sexually rapt. I would not know how many stabs, how many slashes I put upon their bodies. I can only say my rage was spent.

A neighbor in an adjoining condo heard the screams and called 911.

The police came.

I was arrested.

Now, I hear footsteps outside my cell.

It is time for my execution. I’ve been here for years and I am ready for my sentence to be carried out.

There are no regrets for what I did. That is perhaps the saddest part. That and the not knowing whether I shall see my beloved Sybil in the next dimension.

Anger and Hate are beastly emotions, but I somehow cannot regret the mutilations of those l savaged…

Even, when the real killers were apprehended later!?

What does that make me?

Short Fiction © by Billy Ray Chitwood

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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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