Tag: Flash Fiction

Love’s Ironic Twist

(From the author’s book: SATAN’S SONG – A Bailey Crane Mystery Bk. 2)

– NEW Re-Launch The Month of June –

The unmistakable alluring aroma of coffee came to me at 8:30 AM that Saturday morning. It was one of the most satisfying smells in the universe.

I sneakily left the bed and went to the bathroom, silently closed the door, brushed my teeth, scraped the tongue, and shaved. Emerged from the bathroom in an old ASU football jersey, faded jeans, and white canvas shoes, went to confront Pam.

She was sitting on the patio, dressed also in jeans and one of my old striped dress shirts. Poured myself a cup of coffee and went out to join her. A closed book was on her lap, and the newspaper on the wrought iron table. Her legs were resting on one of the other chairs and she had a wistful little girl look on her face as she stared at the bougainvillea bushes on the western end of the patio. She was really deep within herself and that grapefruit-size knot returned to my stomach.

Mood swings were part of my reality. For Pam, they were more rare. When either of us was in a mood, we stayed out of each other’s way until it passed. This time, it was necessary for me to intrude into her space.

“Wanna talk?” My voice was soft and meek. Closed the french door behind me, placed my coffee on the table next to the newspaper and sat down.

She looked at me with that cute enigmatic smile that was her trademark. Was it just me or were her eyes misty from crying?

“Hi, how was your trip to San Diego?” Like there was no last night, no scratching record to remove, and no Pam at home with me.

“Trip was fine. Where were you?” No small talk. This was on a definite ‘need to know’ basis.

“Out. With friends. Had some drinks.” Pam looked at herempty cup on the table. “I’ve gotta get another cup of coffee.”

Jumping out of my chair, “I’ll get your coffee. Sit.”

I returned, sat her coffee in front of her, and asked: “Pam, no smoke and mirrors, please. My gut’s in a knot. Why is my gut in a knot, Pam? Why do I wake up at 3:00 AM on the sofa and find my wife in a bed she wasn’t in hours earlier?” I sat erect in my chair, feet firmly on the ground, my arms on the chair supports. Needed a cigarette in times like this.

Pam did a little head bow, hesitated, picked up her coffee and took a sip. “Didn’t want to wake you and have a scene. You were obviously loaded. You seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Even started your classical tape over for you.”

“Gee, thanks!” snidely rendered, “Okay, loaded on the sofa. Sleeping peacefully. Now awake and sober, so tell me about last night.”

“Told you, Bailey. Drinks with my friends, Am I not allowed? Is clearance needed?” She was emoting the damned issue.

“Come on, Pam. Dispense with the rationalizing crap. You know you’re allowed and you know damned well I would want to know. And what’s with the ‘clearance’ bullshit? You know that’s not true. You’re married to a cop, dammit! Don’t lay this stuff on me.”

“Okay, okay! Larry was in the group, and I knew you would be pissed about it.” She looked down at the table.

“Larry Clarkson?” The knot got bigger, and I got angry. “Your ex-lover! Oh, and you thought I’d be pissed? Right? Me, pissed?” The jolt had the adrenaline doing crazy things to me. It was difficult to think, to formulate a response.

“Yes, pissed!” she yelled. “Look at you, you’re …”

“I’m what? I’m sure not pissed. I’m fucking outraged! How could you do that? How could you be with him?” I got up and stomped around the patio. Picked up the newspaper and slammed it back on the table. “How, Pam? How?”

“Bailey, you don’t own me! I have a life. I have a right to see people. My friends. You do your thing. You don’t ask my permission.”

“Bullshit! You always know where I am. And you damned well know I wouldn’t be with an ex-lover. You’re doing a puppet show, Pam. I can see it. I can see it all. The way you’re talking, reacting. It’s bullshit. You know what you did last night, and I know what you did. You got laid by an ex-lover. You got …”

“Bailey, stop it! Stop it now!” She was angry and she was scared, but not of me. I could not and would not hurt her. She was scared for us.

“Okay, Pam, I’ll stop it. But look me in the eyes, straight on, and tell me. Tell me you did not fuck Larry Clarkson last night.” My hands went gently to her shoulders, turning her to face me.

“Tell me you did not, Pam!”

Her tear-filled eyes finally lifted to meet mine, and I could see the awful truth without her uttering it. Oh, her love for me was there, too, and her shame for having hurt me. I could see a little girl lost, abused and frightened, wary yet bold, confused and unable to lock in totally, wanting to but unable to lock in totally to something so rich and promising as the love we felt for each other. I could see my own image in her eyes, tears welling and falling down my cheeks. An enormous hurt consumed me and, in that moment, some atavistic awareness clutched my heart as though this hurt passed well beyond and back from now and on into the yesterdays of tomorrow.

I released her shoulders and dropped my hands. She began to speak, “Bailey, I …”

“No, Pam,” my voice betrayed me, choked, “don’t say any-thing just now … It’s okay … You’re allowed.”

I stood and left the patio. In the bathroom, I turned both faucets on full force to drown the noise of the great heaving sobs, the rending of my soul. Even there, in that painful place of the heart, could grown-up men cry?

Married three and a half years, gloriously happy years for the most part, always on a honeymoon, it seemed.

Our pasts had caught up with us. The raw ugliness of her youth had merged with the senseless bible-belt guilt of my own. Perhaps all along our fate had been inevitable, sealed in the quiet desperation of our search to find one another, seeking to match souls not ready for matching … There was something dark and deep in the lower part of our consciousness that knew all along that we could never be that wondrous storybook love of our dreams.

Here on the surface of flesh reality, away from the deeper unknowable truths of soul, it was true that too much ego and pride can cripple the mind of man. My endowment had been an over-generous amount in those areas, yet I could still fancy myself as having compassion and humility in just as great quantity. Ah, abstract bullshit! I was suffocating on my own self-pity, feeling a lethargy of spirit never known in my adult life until now. Compassion and Humility was at war with ego and pride.

‘A dandy little pitiable pit you seem to be digging for yourself,’ my alter guy kept telling me the next couple of days, over and over until it became rote, feeling perhaps that the repetition of some sane reality-based statement might shorten the excavation period. It worked and it didn’t work.

Pam was near obsequious in her efforts to please me and somehow erase the one event that a man has the most difficult time erasing. This was merely the perception, not her intent. She was truly sorry and in pain herself. There were no screaming and yelling scenes after the truth had been revealed. There were no revenge and get even inferences or thoughts. We even slept in the same bed. Alone. There was just a stifling and onerous apathy. It occurred to me that I should be angrier, more the damaged party. But it simply hurt, more devastatingly than the searing stab of a knife or the stinging bite of a gun-shot. And it hurt to watch Pam go through her own agony, her soulful regret at having caused me pain. Our love was still there, just parked at a spot inaccessible to us.

It was everything I’ve said but it was embarrassingly more: it was the slow peeling away of my being, the fabric of what I conceived myself to be. It was low time, slow time, and second-guessing time. Pam and I walked on proverbial egg shells covering mounds of quick-sand, imitating some inane, inadequate, secondary semblance of life.

Ego and Pride, evil twin brothers in man’s march through life!

Billy Ray Chitwood – May 31, 2018

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Leonid and Sasha

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Leonid and Sasha

 (Flash Fiction/Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood)

Sasha begged him not to go. “You belong here with me, Leonid. The battle is within you, not with North Korea. What of us?” She tugged at his tattered coat.

He smiled benignly, “You’re a lovely and silly girl. You do not understand the reality of our time. To stay would be to defy my beliefs, my convictions, and, yes, my anger and hatred.”

“You would die for these beliefs and convictions, this anger and hatred?”

“We all must die, Sasha.”

“You brought me here to be left alone in a strange country?”

 “Hong Kong is not a strange country, foolish one. You know many of our people. Go to them when your money runs out. Stay with them. Should something go wrong, I will return for you.”

 “Please, Leonid, you go to die and you know it. You’ve told me of your plans. You go on a suicide mission. I’ve begged before and I beg of you, now, please stay!”

 At the door of the small efficiency apartment, Leonid paused with his hand on the door knob. His dark eyes and handsome face held a strange and wistful look. He removed his hand from the door knob, returned to Sasha where she stood by the tiny dining table.

 “You are so beautiful, my blue-eyed wonder.” He embraced and gave her a long passionate kiss.

 He then quickly twisted her head until he heard the snap. The lips were still in a half-smile as her head dangled and fell to his right shoulder, her blue eyes large and vacant in their death stare. In a whisper, he spoke, to the face he had loved, “Better you go this way, my dear Sasha, than to linger in life’s pain. You cannot know but I did love you.”

 Leonid gently lowered her body onto a soiled stuffed chair just a few feet from the dining table, gazed upon her splayed form for some seconds, then slowly left the apartment. Tears welled but he willed them away, a final and essential part of his being had snapped and was forever lost to him.

*****

Night, reluctant to shed its vagueness, was slowly showing its lightened eastern clouds as the sun gave way to earth’s perpetual orbital pattern. Leonid walked in the shadows along streets leading to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. It was still quiet in this city known in its translation as ‘Flat Land’. In his backpack he carried explosives with timer mechanisms that he would plant at key buildings. The explosive carefully strapped to his body he would save for the KMP.

His thoughts were well focused on his morning’s mission but he could not deny the flashing memories that brought him to this point in time…

His father, mother, and brother had been ruthlessly killed here in Pyongyang in 2012 by a squad of government gangsters of the ‘People’s Republic of Korea.’ His family was shown no mercy as they were chopped to death by machetes, labeled spies against the state. Four hours later his older brother and sister were pulled from their lodgings, beaten, and then chopped to death. The government squad had no ears to listen to his family’s protests of innocence, their legitimate reason for being in the ‘Flat Land,’ their labored cries of mercy.

Pyongyang’s government never wavered from their ill-gotten information about his family. Never mind that his mother had pleasantly refused to cater a special luncheon for the squad and their friends, the sole event and motive that brought the hatred and the killings. Never mind that his sister would be raped before she was chopped. The killings were all justified, each query quashed and forgotten by the government.

His marriage to Sasha prior to the family murders made home life an hourly ebb and flow of emotions. When sleep would come there were the hellish nightmares, waking, screaming the names of his dead family, his body slick with sweat and tears, Sasha clinging to him, sobbing, trying desperately to slay the night-dragons that possessed him.

Then came the job loss and it was as though the people of Hong Kong could see the rage in his eyes, the stench of hatred from his body. He became a man avoided and feared. Sasha tried to get him help, would set an appointment for him to see someone who might be able to help him, but he would not arrive at the set time. Sasha was the only person in the large city who could give him moments of relative calm, but then those times of surcease became fewer and fewer.

He would not bathe nor shave, only when Sasha would run his bath and physically pull and push him to the tub and wash and rinse him. For those few precious moments Sasha could almost sense some warmth come to him…but it never lasted long. The strange hatred that occupied him never resulted in personal damage to her. She did the talking, asking questions of him, and he bluntly answered the questions – until the fateful day he killed her! It was only some modicum of revenge that would fulfill what was left of his putrid life…

 

As he walked in the shadowy stillness, a voice came to him from an alleyway just a few feet away: “Leonid, I must talk to you. Come walk with me in the alley.”

Leonid stopped, momentarily startled…no one knew his name, knew that he was here in Pyongyang. “Who speaks my name?” He braced himself against a building corner near the alley, moving his hand near a detonator that would vaporize him and much of the immediate area.

“A friend, Leonid. Please come these few steps and talk to me. There is no harm intended. We will talk, and you can do then what you will.” The voice had a calm and soft cadence, and Leonid knew that the man spoke the truth.

Leonid walked a few feet into the alley until he saw a man’s form. What struck him were the man’s eyes. They glowed in the semi-darkness, matched the tenor of the stranger’s voice. Oddly, Leonid was not afraid of the stranger and walked some fifty feet further down the alley, stopping when the stranger sat on a wooden crate. The stranger bid Leonid to sit on another wooden crate nearby.

“How is it that you know me and what do you want?” Leonid asked.

“I’m just a man who knows the pain you carry within you and the mission that you are on.”

“How could you possibly know such things?”

“I have been with you all the way from Hong Kong, Leonid, mourning with you the loss of your beloved Sasha.”

“I killed her! With these ugly knotted hands, I killed her. How can you know this? Tell me who you are and why you are here, or, I will…”

“Leonid, just a few questions I have and you can be on your way.” The stranger’s voice was mesmerizing, measured in softness and tone. “Why is it, Leonid, that we are here on this spinning orb we call earth?”

There was rapture in the stranger’s voice that commanded a response. “We are here to live in delusion and to die and be no more.”

The stranger’s eyes seemed to glow more brightly and the long beard he wore was a pellucid whiteness that seemed somehow unearthly.

The stranger spoke, “So, why is it that the moon falls from the sky, the sun does not bring us daylight, and birth has no precise process to follow?”

Still taken by the stranger’s soothing voice, but a bit nonplussed, Leonid responded. “But you know that is not so. What is your motive here?”

The stranger seemed not to hear the question. “Why is there no evil and good in the world?”

“Stop confounding me with your Socratic silliness. Of course, there is evil and there is good in the world.”

“And why do you think that is so?”

“God only knows.”

“You speak His name as though you know him, Leonid. Do you know God?”

“There is no God!”

“Yet, you say He knows about evil and good.”

“Look, your aura wraps me in some kind of spell and I seem compelled to listen to your words. Please tell me what it is you wish me to know.”

“One last question, your response, and I will say my final words to you. “Did you truly love Sasha?”

“Of course, with all my heart I loved her, but my heart and soul are heavy with grief and hatred.”

“Like the hatred of Jesus’ enemies as they crucified Him on the cross? Like the hatred of the Americans for the Japanese during World War Two? Like the psychotic hatred of serial killers?”

“Yes, yes! How else can I answer such questions?”

“You can answer such questions by having Faith that there is more to come beyond this life, by believing that evil only spreads when good people are paralyzed by anger, fear, and hatred. To Love is to have Faith. To have Faith is to have Love. These noble elements of living decide our ultimate destinies. People have choices to make all their earthly lives. They will not always make the right choices, but Faith and Love will make all the wrong choices bearable and inconsequential when the last grain of sand is gathered.”

As more light came to the alley Leonid thought that he understood what the stranger was saying to him. He wanted to say something but no words would come.

The stranger lifted himself from the crate and stood in front of Leonid. “May I touch your head, Leonid, so that it might bless you?”

With tears now flowing, Leonid merely moved his head downward. The stranger touched his head. Leonid sensed warmth on his head and a coursing flutter through his body.

Then, the hand left his head.

When Leonid raised his head, the stranger was gone and daylight streamed throughout the alley.

Leonid was suddenly wearier than ever before in his life. He slid down the wall of a building and fell asleep.

*****

When Leonid awoke, his head was on his own pillow. He was gazing at the adjoining pillow into the wondrous blue eyes of his beloved Sasha, a sweet smile upon her face.

“You look different somehow, my love. Do you still intend to carry out your vendetta against North Korea? Please say that you will not.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled her face to his chest.

He blinked several times, feeling a wondrous presence streaming through his body He first smiled broadly, then giggled deliriously.

A pout showed on Sasha’s face. “Why do you laugh at me, Leonid.

“No, no! my precious love, I don’t laugh at you. I’m so happy, and, one day I will tell you, why!” He hesitated and wrapped Sasha in his arms.

“There will be no vendetta, not ever…”

Leonid tightly wound himself around Sasha and gave her a long and tender kiss.

“I’m torn,” he said, “making love to you, or, bacon and eggs?”He paused only briefly, “Oh, to hell with the bacon and eggs.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – Flash Fiction

(First written in June, 2013 – here with minor changes.)

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Airlines and Altitude

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Airlines and Altitude

A striking lady stood on her toes in the aisle placing a small brown valise in the overhead compartment. Momentarily, I was stunned by her beauty, by the delicate beige dress of chiffon that surrendered sensually to her curvaceous body in a most delicious way. Her long golden tresses dropped elegantly just below her shoulders. She appeared to me in the age range of thirty-plus, perhaps a model, or, a movie actress.

I’m an entrepreneur, busily involved in a number of businesses, likely, maybe, aside from money, considered handsome by some…at least, good-looking. I’m athletic, six feet tall with raven-dark short-cropped hair, hazel eyes, a Roman cast, and in my early forties. I hastily married once, but found it too confining, confounding, and too interruptive of my business goals.

The attraction was immediate as the glamorous lady in the aisle slammed close the overhead, her mesmerizing blue eyes cast a spell on my own, and her perfectly shaped lips formed a smile as she spoke: “Hi, I have the window seat. You’re stuck with me all the way to Los Angeles.”

I started to unbuckle my seatbelt and stand, but she stopped me. “Please, you’re fine. First class makes flying a treat with its roomy space.”

Still with the soft smile, she moved easily and swiftly between the bulkhead and me to her window seat – we had the first row of seats in the first-class section, lending a feel of coziness and privacy.

The sweet scent of her perfume filled my nostrils, delighted my lungs, as she took her window seat, and I was hoping my nonplussed insides was not simultaneously shaped on my face. The smile I returned to her seemed socially awkward to me as I spoke: “I’m delighted to be ‘stuck’ with such a lovely lady. My name is Stuart (Stu) bellows, and I might as well ask up front, are you a conversationalist or do you prefer privacy with your flying?”

“How courteous and sweet, Stu, of you to ask, but I enjoy chatting with people on planes, being nosey! My name is Evie Coblessie. I’m delighted to meet you.” Her perfectly aligned white teeth contrasted marvelously with her sultry lush lips, painted with a subtle non-glaring blush shade.

We softly shook hands as we were interrupted by the first-class stewardess with a gold name tag of Betsy: “You two wish a drink before take-off?” She looked first at Evie.

“Sounds great! A glass of Chablis if you have it. Thank you.”

“Please make it two, Betsy,” hoping the cute ‘Stew’ would not be able to notice the unusually romantic stirring generated by my brain… This blonde beauty was definitely interrupting my lap-top business date for the next five hours.

The altitude, the Chablis rounds, the inexplicable attraction that we each seemed to have for one another moved us along very nicely. Our chatter became much more personal, disabling subtlety, decrying diary pages of the most personal kind.

Evie and I turned down the lunch offer for more Chablis, and, as the wine unlocked other sinister doors within us, we began ‘touching’, first with the arm touch, then with the knee…but the kicker was the role of the eyes.

It turned out that Evie had indeed been a model, had married once, found the same mediocrity in the different shades of each’s personality. We in fact had very similar takes on life and where it might take us.

Somewhere during the delirium of our awakened senses came a question from me that produced a shock value for each of us.

“Do you know about the ‘Mile High Club’?” As soon as I asked the question I gasped and added: “I’m so sorry! I don’t know why I would ask you a question like that?”

She giggled and responded. “Well, I do know of the club but don’t have membership. How about you? Are you a full-fledged member?” She had the cutest grin on her face, her orbs doing a wild display of dance moves.

Betsy brought us another Chablis, then went to her ‘drop-down’ seat next to the flight deck for a nap.

“No, not a member at all, ‘fledged’ or otherwise. I do have to say I’m intrigued by the possibility… Please don’t be insulted by my comment. I find you a most beautiful and wise flight buddy, Evie, and it’s not my intent at all to make suggestions. In fact, I do not want to end this ‘buddyship’ when this cross-country journey is over. ‘The ‘Mile High Club’ thing just makes me wonder about altitude and airline aircraft. Does that combination do a job on people of the daring and romantic sets?”

Evie got this flushed look on her face, grabbed my hand, and said: “Let’s do it, Stu! But, how do we get away with it?”

Okay, I can’t say who came up with the idea, but one of us leaves the first-class compartment and goes to the tourist-class section. We agree that I will be the first to leave, will wait, if need be, for the very last rest room on the right side of the plane. Evie will leave a few minutes later, will either see me waiting or can assume I’m already in the room.

There will be no suspense built here…

The deed was done, and, when Betsy awoke from her nap she brought fresh glasses of wine to two flushed smiling faces, eyes dreamy and staring straight ahead into the carpeted bulkhead.

Now, look, don’t get the wrong idea…

Here’s what my entrepreneur friend wanted me to write under his hand at the end of this post, to wit:

I’ve explained all of this to the writer of this blog post, with his promise of no names – or, fictitious names if he must.

For the record, ‘Evie and I’ have been happily married for many years and have beautiful kids. We love each other with a devotion that is likely rarely found in marriages.

Just beware of ‘airlines and altitude’!

Evie and I now travel by rail…

Well, that’s another story… I’ll get around to sharing it with my blogpost writing buddy here. Be on the lookout for it.

Flash Fiction by: Billy Ray Chitwood – 9/15/17

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