Tag: #Reading

The Final Curtain1

The Final Curtain1

        I’ve always been a Frank Sinatra guy and “My Way” has accompanied me on many romantic adventures. “My Way” has been one of those ‘etchings’ to enjoy with someone special at the end of a candlelight and wine dinner, a song that can be parsed and qualified in so many ways…guess that’s my best reason for the blog title.
 
      It isn’t so much that those lines in the song, “The Final Curtain,” need to conjure up morbid thoughts and ‘let’s all be sentimental’ thoughts. In fact,”The Final Curtain” can conjure up joyful thoughts, those that lift the spirit and put an extra swagger in our strides.
 
          I’m pretty much a ‘romantic’ with some life dreams realized and some that still wish to be. Mostly, these days, my writing speaks to me in so many ways, telling me so many truths about myself. Through the characters pecked out on the laptop, in their actions, reactions, interactions, there are glimpses of me, mini-portraits never seen before. Some are scary. Some are strangely uplifting and gratifying. Some glimpses make me sad. Some make me happy. Some make me confident. Some make me doubt myself.
 
         There is this ‘thing’ that always keeps me rooted to some true genetic spot: we can be no more in life than what we are intended to be. So, what’s with all the gibberish about “The Final Curtain1” and the writing and the glimpses? Truth is, I’m aging with a great deal of reluctance, going through the ‘pages’ past, present, and future, still searching for the elusive and the unattainable, trying very hard to make up for some wasted moments in this passage.
        I’m here in the ‘wings’ and the curtain has not closed. I’m wanting to come out ‘center stage’ and ‘sing’ like ‘ole blue eyes’ my thoughts with wide-ranging themes, present the 17 books I’ve written and tell you a bit about them, perhaps share why I feel that in the fictional stories and memoirs I pen, there is that kid who was I somewhere on and between the lines. 
 
         One of my favorite poet/writers is an ex-priest named James Kavanaugh. Among all his work, he has written two beautiful books of poetry: “There Are Men Too Gentle To Walk Among Wolves” and “Will You Be My Friend?” There is so much of his verse with which I identify. His words speak to me with the most marvelous clarity. With my Appalachian bible-belt roots, there is little wonder. James Kavanaugh is gone now, this gentle man who ultimately quit the Priesthood, got in his little yellow volkswagon, drove to California and beyond, took his voice to the people in the streets, in the pubs, in those places where men and women congregate and among themselves seek reasons for their lives.
 
       Sinatra and Kavanaugh are my two favorite ‘etchings’ with some Kahlil Gibran thrown in, each of them fodder for the romantic and soulful parts of me. There is of course nothing wrong with our different tastes in music. There are those who like the brassy groups, the rappers, and the new gents and ladies of song — most of my soul dances favor the ballads. We can’t all like the same music. And, yes, of course, age, time, and place carry our predictable favorites.
 
         Now, ‘will you be my friend?’ Are you a ‘romantic’ – dreamer – pragmatist – young adult – baby boomer – timid – out-going… How do you approach the page on which you are about to spill your guts — or, your character’s guts? How much of you do you leave on the written pages of your books? You tell me, and I’ll tell you.
 
      I’m going off stage now but I’ll be lurking around the ‘curtain’ to see if someone shows up on stage. I’ll keep hoping you will read synopses of my books at the website address, pick one or two to read. You will find me on and between the lines of those books.
     There’s a lot of time before the final curtain.
 
Billy Ray Chitwood

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The Long Lingering Night

The Long Lingering Night

“So, your answer is, no. You won’t go?”

“Hey, you can go. You don’t need me to go.”

“You said you would go, Charlie.”

“C’mon, Beth, Sweetheart, I’m working here on the laptop, and the final edit is going really well right now. It’s selfish, I know, but I’ll make it up to you. “

“Okay, I’ll go alone. This is the last night ‘The Sting’ is in town and I’m not going to miss them.”

“Good. I don’t want you to miss them, though I wish you would get Carol or someone to go with you.”

“No, I’m going alone. Go ahead, work on your book. I know it’s important to you.” Beth leaned down and gave Charlie a kiss. “See you later.”

“So, you’re not mad?”

“No, not mad. Love you, Charlie.” Beth yelled as she exited the front door.

“Love you, too. Enjoy,” Charlie yelled back to the closing door, immediately retreating back into his laptop and his final draft.

*

Having lost all track of time Charlie looked in the lower right-hand corner of his laptop screen and saw the time was 1:14 AM.

He worked six straight hours without a potty-break, without food or drink, all evening, and, now he sat smiling. He finished the final draft of his book, and the ‘dream channel’ began in his head, those wonderfully wild thoughts of acclaim and 5-Star Reviews…

Whoa!

He was so wrapped up in his accomplishment, he forgot Beth.

“Beth,” he yelled loudly, and not a response. Ah, she slipped in, saw him lost in his work and went to bed.

He rose from his swivel desk chair, stretched, and went to the bedroom.

Bed made. No Beth.

Hmmm. The concert would be over by now.

There came a quick stab of alarm and shame. He let Beth go to a concert by herself. Concerts were rowdy, always ultra-loud, with lots of booze and dope being consumed.

Oh, Christ, what kind of man was he? Letting his wife go into the night alone without him? How could he do that to her? His ‘writing’ was more important than his wife? You are a miserable sap!

Okay, stop with the self-recriminations!

What the hell was he to do?

Call Carol?

Wake her up at 1:30 in the AM?

Well, damn, He had to do something! Yes, call Carol.

Carol’s phone rang, Charlie was counting the rings, and, on the ninth, he was about to hang up when a gruff and sleepy voice answered.

“Hello!”

“Oh, Leonard, I didn’t know you were back from your business trip, sorry to wake you…”

“What the hell do you want this time of night, Charlie, for Christ’s sake?”

“Is Carol with you?”

“What the hell kind of question is that at 1:33 in the morning?”

“I’m really sorry, Leonard, but, dammit, Beth isn’t home from the concert, and I’m worried about her. Did Carol go with her?”

Now, with more concern for his friend, “No, she’s here beside me in bed. Hey, Charlie, Beth probably met a lady friend and she’s having after-concert drink. Can’t believe you let her go alone, Charlie!”

“Believe it, Leonard, I’m a bastard… And, no, she wouldn’t do that, Leonard. She wouldn’t stop for drinks. Beth would know I’d be worried.”

“Why didn’t you go with her, Charlie. I thought that was your plan.”

“Well, it was, Leonard, but I wanted to wrap up the final draft of my book.”

“I’m feeling your pain, Charlie, but, damn, you should have gone with her.”

“I know. Oh, how I know!”

“Check hospitals, Charlie. Check in with the police, but they’ll probably tell you they have to wait 48-hours before they can do anything. I’m sorry, Pal, that’s all I got. If anything occurs to me. I’ll call you. Carol’s awake now wanting to know what’s going on. Get back to us when you find out something, Charlie.”

The two friends disconnected.

For the next few hours, Charlie called hospitals, police stations in all jurisdictions in the metro area of Phoenix. Some he called twice.

He was now crying at intervals, beside himself for being such an idiot to let Beth go alone to the concert. He could do nothing but wait … Wait for what?

“Oh, God!” the tears came again.

He was totally lost, his mind blank but sending ugly themes of what might have happened. He tried to be rid of them by walking, making more coffee, drinking more coffee, and his pain was joined by a bone weariness. He was like a man drunk, drugged, without the power of any more thought.

The book. The damned book! His inveterate, his incorrigible addiction to writing had caused him to lose his wife, if not forever, for this time, for this agonizing time…

Wait!

Something about the book. Something in the book about one of the women characters. What was it? Come on, man, you wrote the damned book! What is it?

Then, it came to him, softly at first, then sharply like a razor slice of beard. But, Beth? Not Beth! No, that could not be the answer. Beth would not do that.

He rose from his swivel chair, went to the garage. The car was parked in the garage. What the hell?

He went back into the house, scratched his head, went to the guest bedroom.

There, the covers pulled snugly up to her chin, lay his sleeping beauty!

Charlie had never experienced a happier moment in his life. His love, his wife was safe from harm.

He smiled, removed his clothes, tossed them on the stuffed chair in the corner, and slipped into bed with his no longer missing Beth.

She roused.

He wrapped his arms around her, pulled her gently to him, kissed her with softness she could not resist.

They lingered there through their love-making, through the deep sighs of love and oneness…

Just before they faded and fell into their night’s long slumber, he smiled and said: “You know, you might have broken some copyright laws tonight! The very idea, using one of my literary characters as an object lesson for your husband.”

“Oh, be quiet, my darling, and go to sleep.!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood

 

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Portrait in Time

Portrait In Time

Young man, do you not see me as once I might have been?

Is it the wrinkle, the sagging skin Time laid upon me that you see?

Once I stood, perhaps like you, with noble thoughts and dreams

A new bright morning might bring.

Time wore me down with its ceaseless ubiquitous ways and subtle promises.

Time taunted and tempted me with its guile and deceptions,

With its beauty beads of love.

Time gave me its reins to run wild with the wind toward sunrise and sunset.

Time now leaves me here along the sea, better to have had its moments of joy;

Sad to have you see the frail and broken parts of me.

Young man, can you not see me as once I might have been?

(An ending poem in a book by Billy Ray Chitwood, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son”)

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 12, 2018

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The Restless Spirit

The Restless Spirit

(Written in 2012 while on The Sea of Cortez – TN & KY Since!)

Under a pale blue morning sky a long plume of white misty cloud softly touches the Sea of Cortez, and I ponder the spirit of the restless.

In fact, it is my own restless spirit that dictates this post, given energy by the ghosts from an Appalachian youth of mobility and uncertainty, by my own selfish need to describe the nature of my beast. This restless spirit is not something that embarrasses me or shames me in my eyes. It is a constant companion which I have nourished all my life with impulsive, spontaneous acts. It is something I accept as I do the color of my hair, my skin, the whole DNA networking inside my body walls. It is likely not so distinctive as one might expect. This restless spirit, this wanderlust component, must reside in legions of us.

This post began with a description of the beautiful sea that displays its gaudy deep green beauty outside my windows. This sea, this constant sun, this life style is the stuff of dreams. How could anyone be restless watching the sail boats, the ski jets, the parasailers high above the crystalline water, the people frolicking along the long stretch of sandy beach? Grab a Corona, a Tequila Sunrise, and live your dream, right? Well, that great big sea reaches out to a far horizon, and, after a few Coronas and Tequila Sunrises, the restless spirit can start its gnawing litany of thought… What’s beyond that horizon? Where have I not yet been? What have I not yet done? I’ve been here for a few years now. Is it not time to go? Even Paradise has its limits!

Okay, here’s the deal! I buy a new car. In a year I tire of the car and want another make and model. The same with living quarters! After a few years I want new quarters. It does not matter to the restless spirit that it is contemplating giving up ‘heaven’, its life style of which other people can only dream. In this case, it is a stunning, luxurious two-level penthouse where the host of the restless spirit has come to retire, where the only really pressing decisions to make daily are food selections, social media caretaking, and the book-writing periods. There are people who live in the same house in the same town in the same state all their lives. Not me! In the past thirty years, I’ve lived in twelve different places. You do the math! I’ve probably lost count.

Yes, I’ve still got a lovely wife who is a polar opposite. She is calm, patient, puts up with me, would have been happy to live our lives out in that first place thirty years back. Guess she loves me to keep uprooting her the way I do. Is this crazy, or, what?!

So, anyone interested in a 3600 square foot penthouse? I’ll buy yours. You buy mine. I’ll be fair, even leave all the furniture, utensils, everything, totally turnkey — just bring your clothes and a toothbrush. You will have constant sun, constant sea, constant beauty. The only catch is, you need to have something equally as nice, something that turns on my restless spirit, and your place has to be free and clear like my place. Any takers?

Worried about Mexico and all the media hype? Been coming here from Arizona for over forty years. I’ve felt safer here than any place I’ve ever lived. The people of Mexico are friendly, helpful, kind, and appreciative of our US dollars. Crime, drug cartels? I’m sure they’re around somewhere in the country, killing off themselves, mostly. One could be reminded that my great country, the US, has its share of drug cartels and crime…

But back to this restless spirit thing… Do I wish that it was not there? ‘Yes’ is the honest answer, but there is an honest qualifier. The books I’ve written, the poems, the songs, the posts, all the penning? Are they worthy? Of course, I think so, but the true judges are the readers and the lovers of poetry and song. But ‘worthy’ is not the point I’m making here. The point is, maybe all my words would not have been out there in print and Cyberspace had I not had the restless spirit — not that one cannot write without it. But, me, could I have ‘done all that’ in ‘my way’ without that restless spirit.

I’m just saying…

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 8, 2018

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Writing and Me

Writing and Me

Most people who write and those who wish to write likely know that the libraries of the world are comfortably stacked with the ‘how to’ of creative writing. Guess the thing for me is, I’ve got to do my own struggling, got to find my own way of saying things with these fingers that dance along the laptop keys. The question for me is not so much, how successful can I be financially in my writing? (Don’t get me wrong, would not mind at all cashing a lot of royalty checks!) More important for me at this juncture in my life is finding out about where I’ve been, all the bad things, all the good things, and getting a better idea of who I really am. My books have plots, such as they are, and they have characters. These plots and these characters serve me and give me a chance to ‘muse and fuse,’ to maybe discover some things about me I never knew.

Sure, I want my books interesting enough to be read, enjoyed, and to have people talking about them. The most important thing, though, for me, is being true to me, plumbing my depths, finding the music of my soul, and hoping I discover more of me. Ego? Maybe so. But it has got to be me finding out whether or not I’m any good at this business of writing. You know, I’m beginning to think maybe I am. It’s not that I’m not willing to learn — it’s just, it better be there within me now, this style thing, this appeal to readers, because I’m not necessarily going to find it in the library.

I’m thinking we do it by ‘doing it,’ over and over again… if we’re any good, we need to trust that little voice inside that says we are.

Everyone has to do her and his own thing. I’m old enough to think I’m just as right as some folks who write about writing and maybe too dumb and inflexible to realize I’m singing a song here with a guitar out of tune.

That’s what I’m thinking!

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 4, 2018

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Best Part of My Day

 Best Part of My Day

Ah, it’s Monday! I’ve done my exercises! I’ve shaved, showered, had my one cup of coffee, my English Muffins – crisp, with butter, cream cheese, and strawberry preserves, my glass of milk, and I’ve thanked my good wife. Oh, and I’ve given Lady Gray her ‘Temptations’ treat!

Except for the exercises, shave, and shower, all the rest takes place laid-back in my ‘Lazy-boy’ recliner. Hey, just saying, everybody has to be somewhere!

Then comes my ‘think period’. I’m writing my seventeenth novel. It’s a fictionalized mind-buzz about an actual crime here in my state (my geographic location), and I’m really on a ‘tear’, letting the words fly onto that magical laptop screen. The ‘think period’ comes with a perfect harmony. Julie Anne is reading her book! Lady Gray is taking one of her frequent naps under the coffee table in front of Julie Anne. My strange ‘Musical Ear Syndrome’(MES to doctors) is playing soft music in my left ear, all is right with the world.

The ‘think period’!

Okay, I left my story yesterday with the lead suspect in jail and my ‘good guys’ off for cards and libations at the star-character’s country club.

So, I’m thinking: what’s the next action? You see, I’m a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plantser’ – I’m still deciding. I do fly by the seat of my Bermuda shorts or swim trunks, meaning I don’t plan a whole lot, or wear a whole lot! (You know, there are times when I just give away too damned much information!). I have a general idea of where I want to go, but I let the characters take me wherever that might be. The only real organizing I do is Character names, places, and a general idea of where I want the action and end-point to go. For this particular book the events are familiar to me, so I allow the ‘buzz’ to happen. So far, I’m really liking the pace of it all. Yes, I know! I can dupe myself on occasion!

So, I’ve interrupted my ‘think period’ by this post, and now I’m tired! See, I include you folks out there, invite you into my world, and so many of you don’t buy my books. Tell you what! I’ve got a short 99-cent compilation of some of my short writings, poems, and flash fiction. Like wine, it’s a taster, a sampler of my writing style. Try it out! KENTUCKY KERNELS – https://goo.gl/Nh9scv (US) and https://goo.gl/9gFLNQ (UK) … If you like it, buy one of my longer novels, like, MAMA’S MADNESS, a jarring and frightening story that ruined so many of my days in writing it – about a mother who tortures, kills two of her teen-age daughters. It’s inspired by a true crime event.

So, I’m going to rest maybe five, ten, minutes and get back to my 17th book!

Wishing you all a most enjoyable day!

BR Chitwood – September 17, 2018

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The Park Bench Change of Pace

The Park Bench Change of Pace

The middle-aged man in dark sunglasses walked along the familiar sidewalk, tapping his silver-metal feeler-cane lightly in a tight side-wave in front of him. His faithful and lovely guide dog walked slowly beside him. When he reached the park bench he heard the sounds of pigeons and inhaled a familiar scent. He sat, put the cane between his legs and spoke: “Is that you, Agnes?”

“Of course, it’s me, Jeffrey! I have to ask you … why do you always ask that same question every morning you come to the park? You know I’m here at this time every morning.”

“Does that bother you, Agnes?”

“No, not really! Just a dumb question, I guess … I’ve got a nice surprise for you, Jeffrey.”

“What, Agnes, a new pair of eyes?”

“Don’t do that, Jeffrey!”

“Don’t do what, Agnes?”

“Feel sorry for yourself!”

“You messing with me, Agnes? You know I don’t feel sorry for myself. Just trying for a little levity, that’s all!”

“Okay, levity, it is! Hold out your hand, Jeffrey!”

“What? You gonna chop it off?”

“Yeah, sure, can’t you hear the chainsaw buzzing? Now, hold out your hand, you old fool!”

“Well, here’s my hand, but don’t be calling me an ‘old fool’, Woman. I’m not old!”

“Ha, ha, ha! But you are a fool, huh? Ha, ha, ha!”

“A Donut! Why, thank you, Agnes. That’s right nice of you! Not the ‘fool’ statement, the donut! Pardon me while I chomp on this Krispy Kreme … I love’em – so soft and flaky! What are you wanting from me, Agnes?”

“Now, why would you ask a question like that? What could I possibly want from an old coot like you?”

“Told you, I’m not old, girl! Hell, I’m ready to fire-up this engine and have me some sex! You game, woman? Or, do I have to go to a house of ill-repute?”

“Ha, ha, ha! That’s funny, Jeffrey, you just made me pee in my pants!”

“Well, then, I’m not having sex with you, girl!”

“Ha, ha, ha! You’re sure snappy this morning, Jeffrey. Let’s sit here for a while yet. Then, we’ll go home, and I’ll fix you a fine lunch … I kinda like this ‘meeting on a park bench’ business, Jeffrey. It sort of livens up our day. We’ll do it ‘til we get tired of it, then we’ll think of something new! I’m glad you thought of this, my darling!”

“Okay, sweetheart, but, tomorrow, you bring a couple of soft pads to sit on. My bony-old ass can’t take this concrete!”

“Ha, ha, ha! Thought you weren’t old, Jeffrey!”

“I ain’t, girl, my ass is!”

Tuesday Change of Pace by BR Chitwood – 8/28/18

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