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.)

Please visit my Website and preview my books, some reviews, and a bit about me:

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter:

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RRBC Spotlight Author: Michael Lynes

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Spotlight Author: Michael Lynes

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So…I hate computers and computers hate me.

I suppose it’s only fair. After all, I have misspent the last three decades of my youth assembling, tinkering, compiling and probing their convoluted silicon innards, and what creation does not harbor hatred for its creator?

My reciprocal loathing is similarly well founded, as the tangible rewards of a career in embedded software engineering are few and fleeting. For instance I’ve long ago given up any hope of explaining what it is that I do to any other normal human being on the planet. Save for the one-tenth of one percent who are either fellow engineers or children, and believe me most days it’s hard to tell them apart, no one has the slightest clue.

I’ll give you an example. When asked, for instance at a casual barbeque party, my best off-the-cuff answer is, “I type for a living.” This earns me a sharp elbow in the ribs if my wife is at hand. I have also responded, “I poke turtles with sticks until they turn into racecars.” said with complete sincerity and a deadpan expression. That gets me an elbow and a dirty look.

Now, if my interrogator just happens to be an engineer, one who has presented me the correct counter-sign identifying themselves as a fellow mage, I can wax poetic about memory leaks and clock duty cycles, pesky stack overflows and the joys of eliminating a sneaky uninitialized variable. But…I digress.

We were talking about hate, and I want to stay on point.

Computers hate me and the feeling is mutual. They are malodorous, vindictive, ungrateful little bastards, who will monopolize your time, waste all your money and leave you nothing to show for it except a sink full of dirty dishes, an empty snack cupboard and piles of smelly laundry.

Hold on a second. That would be teenagers. But, you get my point.

Computers are spoiled and willful. They are also devious and occasionally indispensable, but for the most part hardly worth their keep. The shades of both Babbage and Turing may oscillate wildly about their respective rest states, but I will stand firm by my conviction. In short – computers just suck – full stop.

“But,” you protest, “Computers are our helpers! Indispensable guides, sources of endless amusement and founts of precious wisdom! How did we live before we had them?

“They are our lifeline, pictures, voices and personas. Without computers, we would be lost, less than human!”

“Baloney!”, or some such, I reply with desperate conviction. “Computers are nothing but parasites on the body politic! They go on and on about how they need a bigger hard-drive or bazillion pixel display screen or the latest Windows Eleventy-seven operating system!”

Wild-eyed and spittle flecked I conclude. “Join me! It is not too late! Together, we can expunge this curse from our society!”

My strident call to arms fades to a whisper. It falls unheard, upon bud-plugged ears and mega-pixel-glazed eyes. It is too late.

We have met the enemy, and Pogo my friend you were right. They are us.

*

Just so this post will not be a complete waste of time – below are some time-honored computer care and feeding tips that you are free to use without attribution…your results may vary. Have fun stormin’ da castle…!

COMPUTER TIPS: (for experienced users and/or dummies)

  • Never address computers politely. (They love abuse)
  • Never feed them after midnight. (No one likes FAT16, FAT32 or any sort of FAT)
  • Always rub your lucky mouse pad when you really, really need your install, upgrade or Microsoft update not to fail. Rub harder when this does not help.
  • To encourage good behavior from your computer, lay a loaded carafe of salt water, a ball-peen hammer and a wickedly sharp pair of wire-cutters down in view of it’s built-in-camera prior to starting any important project with a deadline. After all, everybody should have some skin in the game.

When any, or all, of the above paths to enlightenment fail, my advice is find a kid, basically anyone over the age of eight, and throw yourself on their tender mercies. You will learn humility and gain great wisdom, and, your computer will respect you in the morning – I promise.

And, Here is the Really Good Stuff:

♥THIS BLOG AUTHOR’S NOTE: (Mr. Lynes would not say this, but I do) – Really,  how could someone not like this guy? He’s a great author (5-Star Reviews up the ‘Kazoo’) and he’s got a great sense of humor – I’m just saying! Look below at his bio… I’m one of those computer ‘dummies’ to whom he jokingly refers – I’m in ‘Twilight’ now and my laptop drives me crazy (that’s every single day!)… I love this guy. ♥ 

Author Bio:

Mr Lynes is a serial entrepreneur who enjoys dry red wine and single malt scotch. When not occupied with arcane engineering projects he spends his time playing with his two grandchildren, baking bread, feeding seasoned hardwood into his ancient Timberline woodstove, working on his various cars, bird watching and taking amateur photographs. His current menagerie includes one short-haired turtle shell cat and a pair of actual turtles.

His last book, There Is A Reaper: Losing a Child to Cancer, was an Indie B.R.A.G. Gold Medallion Honoree in January 2017, a silver-medal winner of the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards for Memoir, a medalist in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards for Memoir, a winner of the 2015 TISBA (The Indie Spiritual Bookk Awards), and a finalist in both the Independent Author Network 2015 Book of the Year award and the Beverly Hills Book Awards for 2015.

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THERE IS A REAPER – https://www.amazon.com/There-Reaper-Losing-Child-Cancer-ebook/dp/B00XNZW6C4

Mr Lynes was awarded a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and currently works as an embedded software engineer. He has a consuming interest in the science of emotion as promulgated by Dr. Paul Ekman and has made a comprehensive study of his Face and Emotion courses.

Mr Lynes has four sons, has been married for over thirty years and currently lives with his wife and youngest son in the beautiful secluded hills of Sussex County, NJ.

 

*  *  *

Michael’s Books

THE FAT MAN GETS OUT OF BED:  https://www.amazon.com/Fat-Man-Gets-Out-Bed/dp/1938812905

Book Cover

AND:

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THERE IS A REAPER – https://www.amazon.com/There-Reaper-Losing-Child-Cancer-ebook/dp/B00XNZW6C4

Follow Michael Lynes online:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/woodheat

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MLynesAuthor/

Website – https://mikelynes.wixsite.com/mlynesauthor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Requiem to a Boarding House Cook

Maude Inez Balsinger
– My Mom –

Requiem To A Boarding House Cook

 

Don’t guess too many boarding houses even exist anymore, but let me tell you: the best food I’ve ever eaten was in a boarding house setting.

The cook? My dear, beloved, departed mother. In one of my books, I mention that she is up there with angel ‘Clarence’ ringing a bell when some earthly creature does something good — you will all remember ‘Clarence:’ he visits us each year at Christmas time in a re-run of the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

It might seem strange to sing the praises of a boarding house cook in a post, but the mind can carry you to some memory stations that leave a faint, sometime tearful, wisp of nostalgia.

The sleeping room in Mrs. Lester’s Boarding House my Mom and I shared was just across from the big kitchen, and, as a small eight-year old kid, I sat in one of the two rocking chairs in that room listening on the radio to a broadcast of a baseball game or football game, and the smells from that kitchen at dinner time would get me really hungry.

Just before Mom served the boarders at the long large dining table in front of the house, she would bring a heaping plate of food to me in that bedroom across the hall. Didn’t matter what it was, meatloaf, pot roast, pork chops, corn bread, biscuits, mashed potatoes with gravy or home fries, it was always the most enjoyable food I would ever remember eating. And Mom would always smile, give me a kiss on the cheek, and say something like: “You’re the best little boy in the world…”

My Mom was a boarding house cook during some of the most troubled times in our economic history…during the great depression era in Appalachia. East Tennessee would be more precise. Knoxville, Tennessee would be most precise. Mom and Dad were divorced, and my sister was living fifty miles away with my maternal grandparents because of the bad times. Mom worked long hours seven days a week and she always made the time for me, made the time to make me feel like all was really right with the world. Even in my little pea-brain I knew all was not right in our world, that there were things happening in our lives that were beyond my scope of understanding. But Mom tried and she did make me feel loved and very much wanted in her life.

So, when that big plate of food was all consumed and wiped clean with the last bit of biscuit or cornbread, the ballgame ended, I would become wistful about my Mom’s boarding house existence, feeling that she really did not have much of a life. I would sit in that room, stuffed with good southern cooking, Mom doing dinner clean-up duties, and I would try to write a poem…try to write a poem that would convey the love I felt for my Mom, try to say in words on paper what my tiny voice could not say.

My Mom always encouraged me to follow my heart, to sing my songs, to write my verses, and it was there in those days during World War Two when I first took pencil to paper. Yes, the words were the mutterings of a young unsettled mind, but they meant something to me then.

Today, perhaps my mind is still unsettled, still searching for some ultimate truths, and that is okay. The words still mean something to me. Whatever my writing comes to be, somewhere in those sentences and paragraphs, in those characters and plots, there will be parts of me, and, actually, they are pretty easy to find. I am not a very large mystery in the scheme of things.

My Mom gave me the great gift of writing, the wonderful gift of expressing myself with words. It doesn’t matter so much that the words will or will not ring so many bells down here.

It does matter that Mom and ‘Clarence’ might occasionally ring their bells for me.

Billy Ray Chitwood – 9/25/17 and 8/06/12

 

Please preview my books and some Amazon reviews at: https://billyraychitwood.com – My Website.

If you like what you read, or, even if you do not, perhaps you can leave an Amazon Review… Would be greatly appreciated.

Please follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/brchitwood

My blog: https://brchitwood.com

My two Facebook addresses are:

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AND:

https://facebook.com/billyrayscorner

You lcan find me on Google Plus at:

https://plus.google.com/+BillyRayChitwood

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How Dare the Inconvenience!

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“How Dare That Inconvenience!”

I’m currently working on a new book and stopped long enough to check in with twitter…Twitter had the audacity to be ‘down.’ Like, down for over an hour — and, still down! How dare that inconvenience!

Serves a point in our lives today, does it not? We live in a digital world in which some folks thrive and know everything there is to know about the internet, while others of us just sort of get along. We are so accustomed now to running our lives with laptops, URL’s, RSS Feeds, Streams, et al. When we share bandwidth with others in our community and someone is streaming movies, kids are active on their game boards, and parents are doing their digital thing, the electronic gadgets can slow down dramatically. Then, we get irritable, yell at the wife, kids, friends, and curse all those who are eating up all our bandwidth.

Time for the generational questions! What have we become? Where are we going in this mad digital world? An old anachronistic simpleton like me gets lost in this world at times and spends a lot of valuable time trying to figure it all out…at least, the time is valuable when one is my age. So we hoot and holler until the electronic gadgetry comes back to a sane and sensible environment for work, like twitter tweeting and facebook messaging and goodreads solicitations and book recommendations, etc. Then, at the end of the day when I turn off my computer, sip on my one and only tequila on the rocks, and look out at the Sea of Cortez, I see the folly of it all…well, I sort of see the folly of it all — with the help of the Sea and tequila sipping.

Whatever the generation, we must live in it, accept its technological advances, and move on with our lives. Then, the succeeding generations can claim us ‘nuts’ for leaving them with such a mess to clean up.

Does any of this sound familiar? Is it all part of a bigger picture? Am I just singing to the choir? Of course, I am, and in pretty good voice, I’d say.

For now, though, how dare that inconvenience!

Billy Ray Chitwood – 9/22/17 and 7/26/12

Please preview my books at my website: https://billyraychitwood.com 

Please follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/brchitwood

 

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

Please preview my books at:

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/brchitwood

 

Enigma of the Soul

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Enigma Of The Soul

How often do you use the word, ‘Soul?’ How often do you think about your ‘Soul?’
Merriam-Webster defines ‘Soul’ as:
1. the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life
2. a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe
So, that’s enough, right? The two definitions pretty much say it all, and there are more definitions in the dictionary if you want more.
‘Soul’ seems to me, though, such a huge word to be so small. Writers likely get the most use out of the word than the people who really work for a living — no anger, please, just adding a little levity here. Really, it seems to me that ‘Soul’ is not in too many mundane conversations. ‘Soul’ is usually saved for the philosophers, poets, preachers, Romantics, sentimentalists, and writers.
You can almost envision the literary expatriates who gathered in Paris between the period of World War One and the onset of World War Two…writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Gertrude Stein to name a few — okay, okay, I’m name-dropping — but these were the people I read and studied in college and their lives got somehow interwoven with my own, with my ‘Soul.’
I can see them sitting at the sidewalk cafes talking in the afternoon about their writings, about how the devastation of war had impacted their lives.
I can see them drinking the Bacchus liquids and debauching in the evenings, pausing in their fun and frivolity for serious and sober moments to discuss the condition of the ‘Soul’.
These were the people Gertrude Stein referred to as ‘the lost generation’.
Certainly, why not Paris? Why not gather in the great city of lights with so much art and beauty? It was the place to be if you were disillusioned by a world intent on war and destruction. It was the perfect place and time to discuss matters of the ‘Soul,’ and these great writers held those discussions in the finest style and with some of the most celebrated erudition prevalent in those days.
So, why do I post about ‘Soul?’
Guess it’s easy for me, an oldtimer looking back on his life, how he has lived, somewhat of an anachronism in today’s fast moving digital world. ‘Soul’ is such an all-encompassing word. It holds such a fascination for me in these sunset years, but it has always held that fascination for me — guess ‘Soul’ for me is what writing is all about. We live, we pay taxes, and we die, but the ‘Soul’ offers us so many delectable scenarios of which to consider and ponder.
‘Soul’ is that defining part of us that we cannot pinpoint, cannot know exactly where it is, but we have to know that it is there. ‘Soul’ is everything Merriam-Webster says it is, but so very much more.
There are times when the directions we take as a world concerns me greatly. It is my hope that we can still take time, Paris or not, to discuss the implications of such an enigmatic and beautiful word.
Why is life if there is no ‘Soul’?

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – Posted on 7/31/12 and 9/13/17

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Chasing Sunset

sunset-473604__180Chasing Sunset

The bright yellow Corvette sped along the Coast highway, flashed brightly in the afternoon sun, occasionally crossed carelessly to the shoulders on each side of the road. The handsome man driving was tensely absorbed in his thoughts, his tropical Tommy Bahama silk shirt flapping wildly in the swirling air, ballooning over his slender frame, presenting a bloated caricature. His deep black hair flowed in all directions. Tears rolled heavily down his tanned sculpted cheeks, his blue eyes blurred by the erupting flow, his lips set in a determined pose. To his left a beautiful and indifferent Pacific Ocean continued its ageless ebb and flow. To his right lovely palms and lush green land joined with deep canyons. 

The news of his mother’s death had reached him in his dressing room after the last scene of a bad B-movie was shot on the sound stage. That news was preceded by a private eye’s photo proof of his wife’s infidelity… And, even with these items of irreversible bad news, Ricky Snow knew in his heart and mind that this was a preordained day of reckoning. His mother died of a stroke. His marriage died of an anemia of sorts, a lividness and weariness of soul. He heard not his fellow actors as he hurried to his car, the semblance of an idea forming in his head. He sped away from the studio lot and was now on the Coast Highway chasing the sunset.

Ricky registered all the beauty around him but it had no palliative effect on his dark mood. He was aware of all that he had in the material world, the sumptuous house in Holmby Hills, more money than he could use, the praise lavished upon him by adoring fans during his film career, the dreams that had come true for him over his relatively short life span. He indeed ‘had it all’ and it had come to mean nothing to him. Ricky gave the gas pedal another downward nudge. 

I’ve been dying for so long. Somehow I know that. All around me my entire life I’ve somehow known I’m dying…not of any medically known disease but of some fatal atavistic flaw in my nature. Up, down, up, down, my emotions have displayed themselves daily in my life… Now, the two women meaning the most to me are dead, and, if not directly responsible for those deaths, my acts and deeds had their hard measure in the outcomes… The thoughts bounce into each other.

It is strange how all the acts and deeds of a lifetime come to me at the ripe age of forty-five as I race down this beautiful highway… Was it the rotten childhood, the broken promises, so many defeats without victories? Was it the first marriage which I corrupted or took part in its ultimate corruption? Maybe it was the second marriage…or the third… Hollywood is a storybook land for all things to happen. Maybe it was the first introduction to booze, grass, or to cocaine…sure made life seem simpler for a while. Why was I so smart to get off the alcohol and dope? Guess it made sense to me…maybe I felt I could clean myself up and be alright.

Funny how you can chase a dream and finally catch it, only to find disenchantment and misery in the end…and the women in my life…so many and so beautiful. Why did they end up in the attic of my disappointments? Only Mom seemed to know that mad torturing tornado that was loose inside of me. Melanie for a time seemed to know as well…then she tired of me and sought elsewhere the satisfaction for her own needs. Who can blame her? I cannot.

I’ve been dying for so long…so very long. Psychiatrists are loony…they could never help me. No, it is in my wiring, the weird inscription upon the walls of my being. I’ve desired. I’ve attained…the beautiful women, the lovely homes and cars…but I revert back to thoughts of dying…not always the grave or tomb dying but the withered dying of the self of me… I no longer truly care for life… Was it the early faith of my youth that I lost in the rapacious hungers that gripped me in adulthood? Was it simply that meaning was lost in the mundane pleasures of living? It would perhaps be a comfort to know how my life got so entangled within itself, but there is no longer a desire to really know. Little by little an invisible knife has whittled my life to this day, this hour, this place, and I am enjoined to its purpose.

I’ve been dying for so long…so very long…

A siren began as a lightly heard whisper within Ricky’s mind, became louder and intrusive to his life’s thoughts. His present reality returned to him and he knew that two California Highway patrolmen were chasing him. He glanced at his speedometer… 105 miles per hour. A sad smile came now with the tears, and he wished no one harmed because of his actions and deeds – he had been there, done that.

Ricky slowed the Corvette, and the highway patrolmen got closer and closer.

Just ahead on the Coastal Highway there was long curving rise, a magnificent site to his mind, with the blue Pacific waters off to his left on the outer edge of the curve, and a rocky canyon off to the right.

Ricky slammed hard his right foot down on the gas pedal until it reached the floor of the car. He glanced momentarily in his rear mirrors and saw the highway patrolmen trying to keep his pace.

Another sad smile joined his tears as he left the highway, hit the gravelly space in front of the wide white metal fence guard, tore through, and went sailing through space above the craggy rocks in the canyon below.

So, now I die… I have chased the sunset, my final quest, and it is mine. This is the moment of serenity that I can never explain to anyone… Goodbye, Mom, I shall now see if you were right about that wonderful dimension of which you spoke.

The two patrolmen watched at the broken fence at the highway, saw the flames rising from the canyon below, looked with sorrowful eyes and shaking heads.

“This was not an accident, Herb,” one man said to the other, “this fellow did exactly what he planned to do… He wanted to die.”

Some flash fiction authored by Billy Ray Chitwood 

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It Takes a Hurricane Harvey

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It Takes a ‘Hurricane Harvey’

Amid the chaos, destruction, and devastating rains of epic proportions come prayers, tears, and a true glimpse of the American character – beauty along with heartaches… Hopefully, we all can listen to the harsh lesson of ‘Mother Nature’ and her message to a portion of our republic that believes in political chicanery, deception, and greed.

What else can we call the liberal progressive agenda of hateful labeling? Identity Politics? A haphazard agenda of riots, tearing down historic statues in an attempt to sanitize and erase our history? A public education system where professors indoctrinate our youth with historical perspectives that have no valid promise on the compendium of time?

It takes a disastrous hurricane that destroys life and property, changes dreams, hopes, and creates a ‘new normal’ for so many.

 It takes a calamitous hurricane to show the heroic hearts and death-defying efforts of our citizens to help one another in their times of peril.

It takes an awful reminder from higher intelligence that Love is still the core of existence, caring about family and neighbors, not an indulgence of liberal power brokers in their familiar and steady march toward some global and socialistic Nirvana.

Forgive me if it appears I’m using this Hurricane Harvey to make some points. It’s just, when there is a national disaster like this, one sees so many volunteers, people who lose their homes but also aid their neighbors with an outpouring of love and daunting rescue efforts while still able to smile and say: ‘We’ll get through this’…well, it touches most profoundly this old man’s heart and soul.

Billy Ray Chitwood  – August 29, 2017

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Life and Choices

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Life and Choices

Which end of the rainbow holds the magic that will transform our lives? That proverbial ‘Pot of Gold’?

How far do we have to travel to find the elusive ends of those rainbows? It looks as though the ends are within our reach.

‘Okay, enough of the philosophical gibberish! We are a new generation and don’t grab hold too easily these metaphorical nuances. What’s your point’?

‘You are the point! Your generation is the point’!

Of ‘The Greatest Generation’, I’m a part, that pristine era that encompassed World War 2 and its aftermath. We helped to finally absolve a lingering malaise of ‘The Lost Generation’, the era following World War 1. We in my generation held no exclusive trademark on ‘sense and sensibility’. We had some blunders and gaps along the way.

However, for the most part, there was the pride and remembrance of those who gave their lives in the great war to preserve our freedom and liberty. Our military heroes paid the ultimate price.

Allow me to be plain in my words here…

I live now in ‘Twilight’, writing my fiction and observing the nature of the world around me, chaos and insanity across the waters as countries vie for power and dominance, as new forms of immorality charge closer to our shores in barbaric numbers. I watch our young people stray farther and farther away from the principles in our political bible called the ‘United States Constitution’, that document codified so clearly by our ‘founding fathers’… ‘United States Constitution’ and ‘Founding Fathers’, now seemingly phrases that edge slowly away from our consciousness.

I watch some of our young people caught up in a frenzied delusion imprinted on their brains by monied power groups, misdirected media, and political groups…tearing down statues that have historical meaning for so many, trying to sanitize and erase from memory life and death struggles in our storied past.

I watch a brash, plain-speaking billionaire business man elected president of our nation, a neophyte politician, a man with a wide-spanning agenda to cure some economic and security ills in our country. His platform speaks to immigration reform, job creation, foreign policy shifts, infra-structure clean-up, tax-reform, repeal and replacement of a most disastrous health program, better and more viable educational options, et al.

Despite the allure, charm, and eloquence of Barack Obama, he made, in my opinion, so many terrible foreign policy decisions, domestic miscues, and mysterious spending of tax payers’ dollars that it might be a while before we figure it all out. A few already have but can’t get any real traction from a biased media. Actually, it was my initial thought that Obama might be good for America. No racial thing! No bias! No hate! Just the way I see it…

The new President Trump starts enthusiastically and quickly in his new job, surrounding himself for the most part with a cadre of intelligent and qualified people. He issues ‘Executive Orders’ to negate many of the previous president’s directives. He makes successful trips to troubled parts of the world and elicits support for his foreign policies. He takes a strong position on North Korea’s missile launches and unveiled threats against our nation. The fixation by the media on ‘Russian Election Collusion’ truly becomes tiring and a thorn in President Trump’s side as he tries for comity with our adversary.  

His efforts find great support from his politically conservative and independent base, but the liberal leaning media and distressed democrats challenge him at every turn. His tweets on Twitter draw ire, and he is reviled by the so-called establishment groups in Washington, DC and by some in his own party.

‘So, what’s the point of all this?’

For the first time in my long life, the feelings for me are visceral. Watching the riots at Berkeley, the destruction of property there and other states, the professorial leanings toward guided liberal thinking of their students, I feel Democracy in my country shifting from its long freedom and liberty roots to a more open and socialistic society. I’m not an avid student of history but have studied enough to know that Communism and Socialism have never worked. When Large Corporations, Big Money, and the Power Elites make decisions for the working classes, it’s the beginning of the end. When freedom-loving people are duped by the liberal revolutionists of our times, beware the ‘Ides of March’.

You might very well differ in your thinking, and that is the American way. We can debate issues and come to different conclusions without hating each other.

I started life in Appalachia and poverty, and that buys me a ticket nowhere…still haven’t made any ‘best seller lists’ with my books. I’m no longer in poverty, but neither am I rich and/or an envied one-percenter…just want my kids, grandkids, and great grandkids to have their freedom and liberty.

‘Tha-tha-tha- that’s all, folks’!

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 22, 2017

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Bill Sun Room Aug 9 2017

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