Tag: #IAN1

The Old Red Barn

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The Old Red Barn

Years ago, driving on a two-lane highway from Decatur, Illinois to Springfield, Illinois, I found myself stuck behind a semi-truck. After several attempts to pass the truck failed, my patience was on the thin side. (So, I’m a ‘mover’ in life! Not necessarily a ‘shaker’.)

Impatience can lead to bad decisions!

On a long inclined straight-away I decided to make my pass, jammed the accelerator to the floor and went into the oncoming lane. Abreast of the Semi, I saw a fast-moving car coming into view over the distant rise. It was coming straight at me. The semi-truck seemed to pick up speed, and I remember thinking at the time the driver was being spiteful. I slammed on the brake, screeched, got back behind the Semi but going too fast to slow down. So, I was either to hit the truck’s rear-end or go off the road…I took the latter choice, went off onto a grassy knoll and slid sideways past the Semi, looked into the shocked driver’s eyes, and came to a stop by an old barbwire/wood post fence.

I turned off the ignition and sat stupefied, my whole body quaking from within my sweaty skin. Nerves scrambled, I looked across a green field of daisies and saw an old red barn…

Suddenly, déj vu moments came: “My God! I’ve been here before!” Aloud, I mumbled to myself. That red barn, this land, has something to do with my life, not in its current human form, but, maybe, as a cow grazing in this green field of daisies…

These bits of thought brought deeper cognition: was it God’s plan that we entities were to keep incarnating until we reached some quintessential level of growth? Live our lives in other  forms, perhaps, a bird, barn owl, cat, coyote, dog, rabbit, squirrel, an ape, a bear, different human forms? Was it God’s plan that, at some point in these incarnations, we would reach a level of purity at which point we would become part of the great light and glow with happiness forever?

I sat there and wondered how scientists would assess such thoughts? Surely, they would laugh and dismiss such notions as nonsense, silly aberrations of the mind that go against fundamental scientific inquiry. But, there, at that rotting fence post and barbwire, I sat and argued within myself: Wait, God gave me a mind to think my thoughts! Can I not be rational in an irrational world? Or, is it that I am irrational in a rational world? ‘Cogito ergo sum’! I think, therefore I am! Certainly, in this body I’m allowed to follow the course of my linking thoughts to the limited ability of my intelligence quotient.

I even remember laughing at myself as my body and mind came back more to the ‘real world’ in which I was living: cars passing on a hightway; business meeting to attend; a banquet to attend, et al.

Of course, I knew this near-death interruption of normalcy was likely a factor in this instance of mind skittering, but it was all so very real to me at that time, the strong sense of some force pulling me back in time. Those moments of neuronic madness spread before me my early life of family displacement, mobility, and emotional confusion, and I sat, only peripherily noticing the passing cars and its occupants staring at the strange car and driver. I’m sure it was but a momentary distraction for the passing cars and occupants, likely thinking someone just pulled off the highway for a nap.

For me, though, the incident brought so many questions and metaphysical thoughts. I sat there behind the wheel for thirty minutes feeling relief from what could have been a highway ‘death pass’ accident, trying to equate my near death to moments that spoke to me so clearly.

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 23, 2018

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Where the Dreams Are

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Where The Dreams Are

Where The Dreams Are
There on the horizon
Where the clouds
Where the Sun
Where the winds 
Bring shimmering shadows
On the placid surface
Of the cobalt sea…

 
Dreams live in all
These converging elements
From the melodious music
Of hungry souls…

 
Those who somehow
Know that the thief of night
Cannot for long defy the
Precious treasures that
Await us in that dazzling
Merger of colors…

Out there
On the horizon
Where the dreams are.

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 19, 2018 (ARCHIVES)

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The Light Must Be On

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The Light Must Be On

After all the years it’s still with me,

That fear that clutches in the night

The vulnerable spots of my Soul –

And there must be constant Light.

*

There even into the morning’s sunrise

The room which is my only world

A table light must continue its glow

To feed ravenous thoughts unfurled.

*

Whence came this awful curse of mind?

What mockery didst I make of Life

To cause thought demons to visit me thus?

To bring such monsters of strife?

*

Was it a childhood devoid of care and love?

A child’s witness to life’s vulgar showing?

The vagaries of unbridled behavior?

The bleak, lonely child’s unknowing?

*

Didst come with nature’s random imprint?

This ugly mistake with no remedy?

Whatever its symptoms my life goes on

And I fear that I still wish to be!

 

@Billy Ray Chitwood – April 15, 2018

*

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Do [Command] the Two-Step [Dance]

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Do the Two-Step

 

Just two-step for me…

Desire the warmth of bodies,

Anticipation,

Sensuous, Edgy, Pleasure,

The awesome feel of romance!

Billy Ray Chitwood @ [R-RATED!!!] 🙂

 

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Lucky Old [Silly] Sun

Ray Charles That Lucky Old Sun – YouTube

 

Up in the mornin’
Out on the job
Work like the devil for my pay
But that lucky old [silly] sun got nothin’ to do
But roll around heaven all day.

Fuss with my woman, toil for my kids
Sweat till I’m wrinkled and gray
While that lucky old [silly] sun got nothin’ to do
But roll around heaven all day.

Dear Lord above, can’t you know I’m pining, tears all in my eyes
Send down that cloud with a silver lining, lift me to Paradise

Show me that river, take me across
Wash all my troubles away
Like that lucky old [silly] sun, give me nothing to do
But roll around heaven all day

Send down that cloud with a silver lining, lift me to Paradise
Show me that river, take me across
Wash all my troubles away
Like that lucky old [silly] sun, give me nothing to do
But roll around heaven all day

  • Songwriters: Beasley Smith / Haven Gillespie

That Lucky Old Sun lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Courtesy of – Billy Ray Chitwood – April 10, 2018

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Love

[COLLEEN’S 2018 #TANKA TUESDAY #POETRY CHALLENGE NO. 78, GROW & HONOR, #SNYNONYMSONLY]

LOVE 

Love can SPROUT slowly,!

Love can appear suddenly,

Its course heart-divined…

Two Souls rejoice in GLORY

Ever, eternal, as one…

@Billy Ray Chitwood – April 3, 2018

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The Clock and the Car

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The Clock and the Car

-Some Scintillating Dialogue-

(Dedicated to John Howell – My Dialogue Hero!)

***

“What’s with the clock and hammer, Henry?”

“You don’t want to know, Helen!”

“You’re angry! Why are you angry? Stop walking, Henry! Talk to me! Your face is flushed!”

“I told you, you don’t want to know! Move! Out of my way!”

“My God! Henry, you’re going to crush the clock with the hammer? Henry, stop and talk to me!”

Back door slams!

 Guess he’s on one of his rampages! Why bother when he’s in these moods? He has to put his fire out! That’s the way He’s made, God help him!

I’m glad we have a few acres here – wouldn’t want neighbors hearing his pounding and yelling out there! Time for my ear plugs, Social Media and the reading room upstairs.

Poor Henry! In thirty minutes, or less, he will be all loving and sweet again, asking forgiveness for his fiery temper! I love him so much, and it is kind of a comical break to the day… He’s so darned predictable. I’m surprised he hasn’t hammered his laptop…he’s threatened often enough! Oh, well, Henry got his genes at a ‘pawn shop’ back room!

He’s so sweet most of the time! It’s that blasted meltdown he inherited from his father (he owned the pawn shop!). Papa Gregory died of an abdominal aneurism! Henry gets his regular medical tests for those ‘meanies’, but his doctor tells him each check-up all his systems are ‘go’!

It’s been about thirty minutes, and this book is just not wrapping me all up in its narrative. Henry has got me spoiled! He’s an author who can really paint several portraits in a book – he’s written fourteen, working on fifteen. If his anger with the laptop doesn’t kill him first!

Guess I better check on him! It’s really quiet all of a sudden! “Henry! Henry!” (Gotta get that stair-step creak nailed down!) “Henry, are you down here?”

Darn, forgot to take my earplugs out!

“Henry, why are you sitting all alone here in the living room?”

“Cause my mistress didn’t show up for our afternoon play-party! Why you asking? I’m relaxing, having a Willet on the rocks…it’s not Maker’s Mark but it gets the job done! Thought you were gone to the store?”

“And, why would you think that, Henry? Told you earlier I wasn’t going to the store until tomorrow.”

“Well, where did you go?”

“I’ve been upstairs in the library, reading, you old fool! Did you get over your anger spell with that clock?”

“Well, yeah, and I’m sorry about that…Time is just flying by! I look at the darned clock and it’s almost 5PM – it seems it ought to be still AM… don’t like clocks not even a little bit! But, hang on a doggone minute, Helen!”

Henry is finishing off his Willett on the rocks in one gulp and getting out of the LazyBoy in a big hurry!

“Now, where’re you going, Henry?”

“Just a minute, Helen!”

He’s going toward the front door!

“Henry, stop! Where are you going?”

He’s looking out the side window at the front door!

“Henry, will you please tell me what you’re doing?”

“Where’s the car, Helen?”

“In the driveway, Henry!”

“Sorry, hissy Helen. There is no car in our driveway!”

“Oh, My God, Henry! The car’s been stolen?!”

“I’m fixing myself another Willett on the rocks, sweet lady, while you talk to the police!”

“What are you mumbling under your breath, Henry? I can hear you here in the living room!”

“Take your best guess, sweetheart! Just keep dialing the phone…the police department, not, 911!”

“The phone is ringing, Henry, at the police department. Come, sit next to me on the love seat while I’m waiting for them to answer.”

“Afraid I might spill some of my Willett on you, Helen. ‘Ain’t’ going to lose a drop of this valuable stuff! You just get our car back!”

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 28, 2018

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Mission of Hope

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The Mission of Hope

  • Where have all the ‘Mother Teresas’ gone?
  • Are there no more Francis of Assisis’?
  • No more Billy Grahams?
  • Can we not see our Nation and our World in crisis? Wars all over the globe? Power brokers in every corner of the earth? Souls void, empty of caring and feeling, cutting off heads, bombing innocents to present their robotic and Satanic message of doom, laughing at their livid liquidation?
  • Where did Love go?
  • Where did Faith go?
  • This is a Sunday of reflection for me on the life of one of ‘God’s Ambassadors’, Billy Graham, a man who found God early and never wavered from his Biblical message of Faith and Hope:
  • “I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.”
  • Billy also believed at our earthly ending our journey was only beginning.
  • I prefer to believe that, despite much of my own life spent in playgrounds of ‘lotus eaters’, chasing ‘white buffaloes’, a cute euphemism for searching in the wrong places for love and family. While at times a dashing life of lovely ladies and booze, actually enjoying that playground, falling in and out of love, I had those days of sad Appalachian regrets, feeling those soul-stabs of remorse and loss, betraying my Bible-Belt inheritance.
  • In no way am I made of the ‘Saintly Stuff’ of Billy and his good son, Franklin, but I still cling to my fragile Faith and believe that this mortal residence leads to something far greater for those of Faith, for those who allow some Biblical relevance to why we are here. This might seem too adolescent to some of little or no faith, but I figure it this way:
  • It seems to me the order in our Universe is too precise to have come from a ‘big blast’. The orbital and angular journey of our planet that bring us days, nights, Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, beautiful sunrises, sunsets, rain and snow, all say to me a divine intelligence is at work.
  • If more is needed, consider the magical miracle of birth, that intricate and precise time-table of growth inside a mother’s womb.
  • Consider the creation of a painting by an artist who has just witnessed stars shooting across the sky, a sunset with a big bright orange globe falling off our horizons, a woman so dazzling in her beauty we call her Madonna.
  • Consider the Bible, words and phrases we don’t always understand, yet a history given to us by the Prophets and Scholars through Time.
  • Most of all, consider your Love for your wife, children, your sweetheart, grandfather, grandmother, all representing our passage and moments in Time.
  • That’s what makes my opening so compelling and resonant. My thoughts might seem anachronistic to the new generation, and, throughout history we have faced similar holocaust-like events (Terrorism, Wars, Self-Doubts, Faith and Soul), and we somehow make it to the next generations.
  • Okay, I’ve had my say, all words fueled by the news of the days… And, really, I’m an upbeat kind of guy, calm, nice…
  • I just won’t watch the stupid news!
  • Billy Ray Chitwood – February 25, 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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Autumn and The Muse

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Autumn And The Muse

 

It was all so different these many years later…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2018 (REV)

 

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