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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Phoenix Fire

      

A Phoenix, Arizona entrepreneur and an ad agency director fall in love in a most unusual way. Their relationship is interrupted by sibling clashes, a gambling addiction, a murder, and a matriarch’s secret that ultimately causes emotional chaos and disorientation. This is a book that will draw the reader into the story and compel them to stay glued until the end. The gripping climax to PHOENIX FIRE is powerful, and tissues are recommended. Treat yourself to a marvelous romance, mixed with some suspense and a desert odyssey to save one’s soul. A truly great read.

Questions:

Do you like a love story with suspense?

Do you like characters with complex issues?

Do you like a smooth flow of narrative?

Do you like vivid description with your narrative?

Do you like dramatic and tense situations?

Do you enjoy plots and sub-plots that link coherently?

Do you prefer ‘Happy Endings’?

Do you like authors with a clear, lucid, style?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you will enjoy PHOENIX FIRE! And, you will like it enough to leave a Review on Amazon.

Now, enjoy a few excerpts from the novel… My wish is to give you a sense of my writing style, to introduce you to some of the characters. My promise: you will enjoy PHOENIX FIRE, a love story with some tense moments. Now, the excerpts:

*****

Chapter One

[Part of Chapter One]

She was lost in the brightness, a magnificent static whiteness, alluring and warm. It was an easy place to be, if, it was a place. Perhaps it was a state, a bright and new awareness, a safe and final destination.

She only knew that her essence was etched in the great luminous energy and she did not wish to leave it. The light seemed to be transporting her outward, expanding some awesome truth, recently possessed, and she wanted only to remain and to become whatever the promising ecstasy.

Then, there came a shimmer of interference, vaguely emanating from the mystic fringes, slowly fragmenting the weightless pool of white. There was a rippling which nudged her new awareness, gently precluding her anticipated oneness with the expanding light.

Then came sound, soft and beckoning, like a bird chirping in slow motion, becoming stronger and more strident. She resisted the sound and the fragmenting but she could not pull herself onward into the radiant void. Like a swimmer urgently breast stroking against a strong noiseless tide, she felt herself dipping, sinking, then free-falling from the disintegrating brilliance.

She became conscious of her head shaking in sidelong negation of the interference, her lips silently murmuring, ‘no, no, let me stay! Please let me stay!’

Then she acknowledged the inevitable full immersion back to a solid, contoured reality. The bird chirps became loud concerned voices. The ripples became caring and caressing hands.

The hard ground was cold.  She began to shiver, felt the urge to rise, but was somehow constricted. Her mind made some adjustments and she suddenly knew where she was, how she had gotten there.

Finally, she slowly opened her eyes with a fluttery acceptance of her immediate environment. A man’s face came into focus, hovering two feet above her own. She felt pinned down and quickly discovered that the man was astride her. There was a momentary sense of panic but something about the man’s face made her relax.

A light rain fell, and she was conscious of wet hair matted to her face and forehead. The sky was a dull gray, and skinny treetops came to her peripherally as some surreal apparitions. The man’s concerned face gave her a final focus. She remembered what happened.

The lightning! She recalled an awful clap of thunder, so jarring and harsh, so totally upon her, instantaneously enveloping her in its loud and splintered brightness. She remembered the searing, exquisite pain that so consummately wracked her body and mind.

She was jogging and she must have been struck by lightning. As she blinked from the raindrops and the accounting of the lightning strike, she felt lethargic and without purpose. She was struck by lightning, yet there was no panic, no real sense of urgency.

The man’s hands left her chest and he studied her with a tender and squinted concern. She felt the weight of his body leaving her, felt a great rush of air fill her chest. The man lifted himself from her but his soft blue eyes remained upon her face.

They were beautiful eyes, shrouded by dark cavernous brows. Wisps of his black hair was pasted about his forehead, and he made odd movements with his lips as though making an adjustment.

Her own lips felt strangely tender to the touch of her tongue, and, in a moment of clarity, she understood: the man had given her mouth to mouth resuscitation.

The man then spoke, softly, his voice conveying a cultured refinement and pleasant resonance. “Can you move your arms and legs?”

She understood the question and lifted her head tentatively, feeling her hands, arms, and legs slowly move to her inner commands. She nodded to the handsome stranger who knelt above and to her side. She managed a small, sad smile of gratitude.

“And can you speak?” He returned her smile.

“Yes, I think so,” came her weak reply.

She noticed for the first time a small group of people standing off to her right, near a park utility shed. She heard a siren off in the distance, its sound increasing in volume. She attempted to rise from the ground.

“Maybe you should stay where you are until you’ve been medically checked. Are you feeling much pain?” The man lightly touched her shoulder.

*****

[Part of Chapter Three]

Chapter Three

Without religious fervor or zeal, Jason Prince believed in fate and serendipity. He felt simply there were fateful events in every life.

At age thirty-three he was the recipient of some good genetic tailoring: a strong Roman angularity to his attractive face and full black hair, minus the imperious and defiant set; a well-built body without flab; intelligent, solid business acumen, with a penchant for fairness and mild aggressiveness. Jason suffered no swollen and insufferable ego problems in his stable environment. He was lucky, and, not so lucky. He carried with him a pleasant humility, no doubt the result of his grandmother, whose doting was subtle but pure. There was also no doubt that the death of his parents when Jason was eleven years old factored into whatever essence was uniquely his.

Although he was shielded by his grandmother, Jason remembered the details of his father’s and mother’s deaths. His parents died in an ill-fated traffic accident. A tractor-trailer semi, its driver asleep at the wheel, crossed a center line on Carefree Highway near Cave Creek, Arizona, and plowed head-on into his parents’ car. The truck was going seventy-five miles per hour at the time of the crash, so death for his parents was reported as instantaneous. His father and mother, weary and anxious to be home, were returning from a dinner party in Oak Creek Canyon.

Grandma Myrena Wimsley was home with Jason and his older brother, Carlton, when the call came from the authorities. There were tears and there was anguish, but Grandma Wimsley was not one to dwell too long in emotional crises. Her strong will prevailed as she sheltered the boys as much as possible from the devastating news.

Carlton Prince was the difficult son to soothe. He somehow internalized his parents’ deaths as his own personal tragedy, intermingling his tears of loss with aberrant fits of selfish tirade. Grandma Wimsley found it necessary at times to forcibly control Carlton’s behavior.

For Jason, the death of his parents brought a period of dull apathy. He seemed for some time lost in a foggy nether world, unable to accept the tragic event yet powerless to deny it. He moved in awkward limbo and was ultimately sustained by his grandmother’s stoic acceptance and patient nudging which brought him to a final certainty and reluctant peace. Grandmother Wimsley became for Jason an anchor and a symbol of stability and safe harbor. In a very real sense Jason adopted his grandmother’s calm and unflinching personality, an alluring stoicism with a slight edge of inner doubt. His tinge of humility and resolve was not an unpleasant anomaly.

It was Carlton who could not resolve his seemingly vindictive grief. He vented anger and hostility. His mood shifts were uncomfortable and unreasonable. Grandmother Wimsley came to an uneasy and wary acceptance of Carlton’s moods, hoping that eventually he would grow out of the negative self-absorption. It was Carlton who inevitably and unknowingly brought a tight bond of love between Grandmother Wimsley and Jason. There was also a decidedly open favoritism shown to Jason by his grandmother. Grandfather Wimsley stayed lovingly neutral in the background, busy in his work, leaving the rigors of child nurturing to his capable wife.

So, fate and serendipity were accepted and important acknowledgments for Jason Prince, and his unusual encounter with Jenny Mason aroused a dormant emotion. He found her image kept superimposing itself in his thoughts. He knew that this woman was somehow meant to be a part of his life. His acceptance of fate negated the fleeting feeling of impetuousness.

*****  

[Part of Chapter Eleven]

“But he is my grandson. Now stop your fretting. You did the right thing in telling me.” The pain was easing. “The medicine is working. Don’t worry about me. I’m a strong old girl. Just got an aging ailment, that’s all. You get old, the old body starts breaking down a bit. I’m feeling better now.”

“What is it, Grandmother Wimsley?” Sheila’s voice was tender and genuine in its caring. It was the first time she had addressed Myrena in that way. Sheila’s face wore the knowledge that this was not just an ‘aging ailment’ for Myrena.

Myrena was touched and beckoned Sheila to her small but strong arms. They comforted each other for some long moments.

It was Myrena who spoke. “Child, I’m going to be sorry not seeing you with Carlton anymore. But you’re not to worry. I’m going to work on the problem you’ve talked about. I want you to stay in touch with me. You are like family.”

Sheila soon left. Wardley came to the day room to assist Myrena, but she waved him away. He smiled with affection at her indomitable spirit. With the tray of uneaten finger sandwiches and lemonade in his hands, Wardley left her alone, a painful knot in his gut. She would not be with them too much longer. The trusted employee and friend felt a deep sadness with the thought and would wait until he was in his quarters before shedding the tears welling up inside of him.

Myrena went to the parlor and stood a long time in front of the portrait that she loved so much. Then she reclined on the long sofa, placing herself so that her view of the portrait was unimpaired. She was there staring at the portrait for a long time, her mind playing themes from the long ago past. She pulled the misty old memories from the deep rich tones on the portrait’s canvas. The scenes passed swiftly and poignantly before her clouding eyes.

She and John standing at the doorway to the boys’ bedroom, watching them sleep…

The daughter who bore the boys in her cap and gown at graduation exercises …

A wedding reception so gala, so full of hope and possibilities …

A funeral …

A past and present merging into a wistful place in the heart …

Dusty, rutted roads in Mexico, the smell of frijoles, mariachis strumming their plaintive, discordant guitars …

A flower garden by the sea, the boys skipping along the surf …

A camp site in the high desert …

Carlton, Jason, smiling, joyfully playing cowboy games …

A plot of land, scenes of family gatherings, loving scenes, faces, merging, flowing into a profusion of color …

Tears slowly flowed down the tanned and weathered furrows on either side of her stoic face, and she slept.

[End of Excerpts… – It truly is a great story… – Do hope you read it!]

The excerpts were randomly selected. Again, just giving a sense of style and short shots of some characters. Please enjoy the entire book.

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From Italy – With Love

From Italy With Love

I thought it was all over!

There were two problems. My single engine plane coughed, sputtered, and acted like it was out of gas – but the tank was filled just twenty minutes before at the air park in Genoa. The other problem was lack of control – without success, I tried to control the Aileron, that hinged surface in the trailing edge of an airplane wing which is used to control lateral balance…think of a seesaw, keeping it horizontally straight without either end dipping down.

Bottom line: big problem with the plane’s engine out and my inability to glide the plane accurately to a spot for landing.

I got lucky!

See the trees at the bottom of the picture above? Somehow, I managed to land the plane some ten feet to the right of those trees, with the right wing an inch or two from the sand and the nose about to plow into the ground. An abrupt action with the right wing somehow caused the plane to straighten its line and touched down roughly but then slowly moved to a stop with the friction of the sand.

No bruises, no cuts, no radio transmission, and no real damage…just some rattled nerves.

Actually, I sat there behind the stick for some seconds and felt pretty good – hey, I had a story to tell my film buddies back in Santa Monica. We were still young, chasing the ladies, and telling each other our tall stories. Because I looked a bit like Steve McQueen, my buddies gave me the nickname, ‘Cool Mac 2’.

I pulled the leather flight jacket from my near 200 pound, 6 foot frame, flung it over my right shoulder, grabbed my clothes bag from the cockpit, and started walking toward the buildings in the picture’s foreground. Only a few feet into my walk I saw an old jalopy heading toward me. My walk only lasted some three hundred yards before the jalopy stopped and a man and woman threw some Italian at me. Some I understood but the gist I did not.

The woman was beautiful, and the guy, well, he was handsome enough, I guess, but he was much older than the lady…for some obscure reason, I was wishing the duo was daughter and father.

Sorry, I speak very little Italian. Do you speak English?”

Jes, we speak some Engleesh, but you just crash yur plane! Are you hokay?” Such a lovely voice to go with the face and body.

Yes, I’m fine. I got lucky. But I could use a phone and some assistance in reaching people who can help me. Would you…”

The older man stopped me in mid-sentence, “Get in the car. We will take you to our home where there is phone and food.” His white whiskered face showed kindness and blended in with his white wavy hair. He instantly reminded me of Maurice Chevalier…you know, the French actor who sang ‘Thank Heaven for Leetle Gurls, for leetle gurls get bigger every day’.

Rosina was the lady’s name, and Pauli was the gentleman’s name. I immediately liked them and found them most cordial and friendly. It was particularly tough for me me to avoid glancing at Rosina. Her long dark hair went to the middle of her back, framed a beautifully tanned exotic face, and her bluish green eyes sparkled with flirty coyness. She was wearing a slightly loose tan dress, but, had it been tightly fitting, my heart might have leaped through my shirt. I had worked with some lovely ladies in films, and this Rosina beauty did not take a backseat to any of them.

Pauli asked me what I was doing flying a plane in Italy.

Well, Pauli, my girlfriend and I broke things off, and I was between jobs, never been to Italy and have always wanted to come and see it in person. I’ve been in love with your country ever since Clint Eastwood made those ‘Spaghetti Westerns’, well, actually, all my life. This was a good time for me to come… Oh, my name is Faron Brady. Flying is a hobby, and I just thought I would see some of your beautiful country…didn’t get much accomplished, I’m afraid.”

We talked, got well acquainted, and I felt we established a great bond. Pauli knew who to call to handle the plane and the rental company in Cortona.

When Pauli and Rosina found out I had no lodging in Cortona for the night, they insisted I be their guest, spend a few days, and tell them all about America. I had an idea Pauli was perhaps playing matchmaker for Rosina – without her necessarily knowing it.

After Rosina left the conversation to refresh herself before dinner, Pauli showed me to my bedroom. He announced wine and hors d’oeuvres would be served before dinner and that Madame Rosaria would be preparing dinner for serving at 7:00 PM… Madame Rosaria had been Pauli’s mistress and house manager since his wife died ten years prior. Out shopping, I would meet her later.

Suddenly, I was very tired. I took off my shoes and fell across the bed.

The nap came quickly, and I don’t know how long I slept. When I awoke, Rosina was standing in the doorway with the most seductive smile ever put on me. I raised to an elbow.

Is it near 5:00 PM?” I asked, trying very hard to return the seduction.

Jes, you must freshen up and have some wine, the best Italian cheese, and hors d’oeuvres. We await you, Signore Faron.” She turned and left the doorway ‘in a most delightful way’.

Freshened, I joined my hosts in the living room. Madame Rosaria was a lovely lady as well and not a lot older than Rosina. It was a little scary! Both seemed to be putting the moves on me. Now, of course, this was likely an Italian ‘thing’ and not meant to be interpreted in a romantic fashion. Certainly, Pauli was not at all concerned by the actions of the ladies.

We drank, we ate, we laughed, we traded cultural distinctions and idiosyncrasies. It was one of the best evenings I could remember ever having.

In the end, Pauli and Rosaria went to bed, leaving Rosina and me alone in the living room, slightly tipsy and now fully engaged in our sensual maneuvers.

Believe it or not, I don’t remember how I ended up in bed alone. I could remember being sure earlier that being in bed together was a foregone conclusion. A lesson was learned: our cultural distinctions were definitely there and frustrating as hell.

Three days later, Rosina and I decided to be married in Cortona, honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast, then return to California.

Hey, I’m still stunned by the turn of events, BUT I must add, I am one happy ‘Cool Mac 2’… Steve McQueen, we miss you, buddy!

I cannot imagine anything in my life from this point on topping my Italian visit… I do indeed love that country – and, Rosina.

©Billy Ray Chitwood – March 14, 2018

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PLUS TEN OTHER BLOG AWARD NOMINATIONS!

Oft We Look

Oft We Lookhope-end-tunnel-person-long-walking-towards-light-rays-39872266

Oft We Look

Oft we look beyond our longing selves

Seeking potions to fill the empty years

We stumble and fall so many times

And magically another dream appears.

 *

Our lives are filled with repetitions,

Dull daily ritual and chore,

Until chasing that newly found hope is

Dashed, we’re desperate, in need of more

 *

As we reach out for nebulous goals.

We despair ‘til comes some magic link

When Love suddenly comes on moonbeams

And Life is much more than we think.

 *

Love is then the totality of Life

Meaning, substance come from Love,

All that is Eternal, Noble and Pure

To find it, we must look Above.

 *

©BR Chitwood – March 9, 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

Please Preview my books of Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Memoir, Thrillers at:

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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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Flowers and Stone

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Flowers and Stone

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

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

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

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The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

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

*

The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The robbery netted the lowlife reject $106.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A prosecuting attorney quickly appealed that decision the next day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 20, 2018   

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Flowers and Fate

Flowers and Fate

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Flowers and Fate

(Flash Fiction Inspired by Truth)

“Red or yellow roses, Sir?” the older lady in the flower shop asked.

The young man in his early thirties smiled and raised his brow. “Now, how did you know it was to be roses, Millie?” He knew her from a name tag.

“It’s the body language, young man. Your step, your face, the happy gleam in your eyes.”

“Really! I’m that obvious?”

“You’re that obvious,” she teasingly grinned, “plus I’ve had this shop too many years not to know when love walks through the door.”

He put his hands on the counter and gently asked, “And, do you know how many roses I’ll be sending FTD today?”

“You’re a two-dozen fellow, I’m betting.” She pursed her lips.

“And, does my step, my face, and the happy gleam in my eyes tell you which color I’ll pick?”

“Red, of course! You’re obviously in love and you want the red roses to convey your love for the young lady.” She tilted her head slightly in a positive gesture.

“Why would I not choose yellow roses?” the man asked, amused by the conversation.

“Yellow roses would be fine, but you wish to make a deeper statement. Red gets the point of love across rather profoundly. They say, ‘I love you’. Yellow roses convey happiness and joy in more of a friendship fashion… My goodness, listen to me, giving you information you likely already know.”

“No, you’ve actually tagged me perfectly, and I thank you. It will be two dozen red roses, and I trust you will pick out twenty-four of your very best.”

“It will be my pleasure, plus an extra red rose to accentuate the strong statement. I shall make it a very special arrangement for you. You will wish a card sent with the roses…”

His name was Farris Stanley Ballanger. The flowers were going to Johnnie Ballanger, his wife. On a short business trip to help out one of his service station managers, he would be home tomorrow and wanted Johnnie to receive the flowers before his arrival.

Stan spent some time in thought at the counter as to the words he would put on the card. Smiling, finally satisfied with his choice of words, he placed the card in the accompanying envelope, wrote ‘Dear Sweet Johnnie’ on the front, and handed it to Millie.

Stan paid for the flowers and chatted a few moments more with Millie.

As Stan was about to leave the store, he asked: “Do you mind if I hug you, Millie? You are such a great person.”

Millie obliged, and Stan left the store.

Later around midnight as Stan closed and locked his service station, he was robbed at gunpoint, prodded to the ‘Men’s Room’ and shot to death at close range. His body was not found until daybreak when the service station attendants arrived for work.

Stan’s roses arrived the next morning before news of the robbery and homicide reached Johnnie. Her heart filled with love overflowing as she read what Stan had written on the card:

Love and Time Eternal

It matters not the hours, the days, the years, the lifetime we spend together!

What matters is all the love we have gathered in our hearts

That will last eternally…

Forever, Stanley

– Flash fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – February 14, 2018 (REVISIT) –

In Memory of my Uncle Stanley Balsinger who lives forever in my heart! (Brutally Murdered as he closed his place of business many years ago!) – We played ‘catch’ on the lawn back in the day!)

Please preview my books of Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Romance at:

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