Prologue from “Stranger Abduction” (A novel by Billy Ray Chitwood)

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Stranger Abduction is out of the oven – edited, re-edited, ad infinitum, and I wanted to write a bit about the book and present the prologue…you can let me know if you like or don’t like what I’m sharing with you. Just be gentle and remember, I’m part of your reading and writing family…and, your elder.

This is the second time I’ve written this book…let me explain.

In the 1980’s, on an 80-acre non-working ‘Lazy Rabbit Ranch’ in southeastern Arizona near the ‘town too tough to die’, Tombstone, I began writing on a Starwriter 60 word processor my ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’. There were to be seven books in the series, with five inspired by true events. At the ranch I completed three of the ‘BC Series’ (except for final editing), neatly put the manuscripts’ pages in boxes, and moved to the beautiful cobalt waters of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. STRANGER ABDUCTION was to be Book 2 in the series.

In my lovely Sea of Cortez digs, I finished the rest of the books in the series, pulled each manuscript from its dusty box, and started the final draft, editing, and re-editing. The manuscripts were previously stored in a shed at my daughter’s house in Las Vegas, Nevada when we moved to Mexico. My son-in-law drove all the manuscripts down to me – sweet guy, love him, but I was irked because Stranger Abduction was missing. My son-in-law went back to Las Vegas and could not find the doomed manuscript… No, my love for the son-in-law did not turn to hate! (Okay, I thought about it but decided that might be a tad irrational!)

Thus ends the long saga of the lost manuscript, but not without reliving the frustration and anger I felt at losing said manuscript. I finally assumed it was lost in our move…by the movers, likely! A person has to have someone to blame for a loss like that! Am I right? Really, I’m not a cry-baby! Please, do not listen to my wife, Julie Anne! After all, she’s a genealogist! We’re all related, right? (Oh, well, I’ll let it go!)

Because each book in the ‘BC Series’ stood alone and was ready for publishing I forthwith took that action…hoping that one day I would by some stroke of luck and/or karmic event find the missing manuscript. Finally, I decided to totally re-write the book with different plot angles but not as a ‘Bailey Crane Mystery’.

Well, enough of ‘love’s labor lost’…forgive the ‘ramble’… You do know I live in ‘Twilight’? The population there does a lot of that! (Rambling, I mean!)

Stranger Abduction is inspired by an actual mother/daughter abduction two years before we moved to the Lazy Rabbit Ranch…in fact, that abduction took place within a few miles of our ranch, five minutes from the ranch. It is my belief, my hope, that ‘mystery’ and ‘suspense’ readers will enjoy the book that is now available for your serious perusal… It’s really apropos because there was a ‘Blog Talk Radio’ interview segment just this past Saturday (11/18/17) all about STRANGER ABDUCTION. The interviewer was the talented author, Beem Weeks. Of course, I was the interviewee.

Just another small detour…

Beem Weeks is an author with notable achievements, and ‘the thirty-minute interview’ was a fun experience for me. Beem is on Twitter (@BeemWeeks). Check out Beem’s book, JAZZ BABY, a novel that meticulously details the journey of a suddenly orphaned young teenage lady – ‘Baby Teegarten’ – and her remarkable singing voice that takes the ‘Big Apple’ by storm during a vintage era in American history. It’s a book with tons of Amazon 5-Star reviews.

Beem and I are both members of #RRBC and #RWISA, two book clubs that globally carry the torch for hundreds of gifted authors and readers. These two groups are creations of Nonnie Jules, an amazing author who envisioned unique Book Review Clubs that concentrated on presenting the very best INDIE writers, those authors who consistently strive for perfection in their blogs, books, and poetry…for the love of words they string together, not just the numbers. There are hundreds of authors and readers in our two idiosyncratic families, each member giving unselfish support to others in the groups. Hats off to Nonnie!

Nonnie’s books live up to her vision. For example, her novel, DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER, NIGHTMARE’S FRIEND: One Woman’s Journey Through Two Hells, is a book that will keep you awake nights. Nonnie has other best sellers as well. Check Nonnie out on Amazon.

Check out Beem, Nonnie, and the groups. They are amazing… #RRBC (RAVE REVIEW BOOK CLUB) on the Twitter search box for more information…#RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY) OF AUTHORS).

AND, NOW…we go to the REALLY self-serving part of this post May I have a light drum roll, Please? (Oh, stop it, Billy Ray!!! Your mirth makes no magic!)

Without proverbial further adieu, here is the ‘prologue’ from my novel, STRANGER ABDUCTION…

*****

STRANGER ABDUCTION

Prologue

Cigarette smoke slowly swirls around the dimly lit and crowded room. The smell is mixed with spilled beer, bad whiskey, body odor, stale smoke, something nostalgically reminiscent of old Mexico. The men belch, burp and fart when the need comes. The few women of the night, old, young, short, tall, slender, fat, some rather lovely beneath their cheap glitter, are gaudy in their colorful dresses. That is as it should be in Aqua Prieta, Mexico. There is nothing new in this old room, tables gouged and scarred, chairs uncomfortable without padding. The bar is the only area of the big room that has an ornate finish, and the stools are padded – ripped here and there but padded.

At a stained checker-cloth table in the corner of the Casa Orca Cantina three men sit talking. One is refilling the near empty mugs. Two of the men are from the United States, the other from Mexico’s resort cities along the Sea of Cortez. The US pair are mean-looking, swarthy, both with long oily dark hair, ruddy complexions and unshaven for many days, befitting the surroundings. The one called Eddie has a long diagonal scar on his forehead. The other man called Carl is younger and has a long bulbous nose. They are dressed in soiled sweatshirts, faded jeans, and well-worn sneakers.

The short rotund Mexican man sits in stark contrast in his dark suit, mustache, and bald head. He is obviously a man of some power and respect in the Casa Orca Cantina and anywhere else he might be. He does cringe and wrinkle his brow when the crude denizens belch, burp, and fart. The Casa Orca is simply a convenient venue for the type of men with which he must deal. Aqua Prieta is not home to this dignified man of Mexico. He is from the Sea of Cortez cities that offer better cuisine, better manners, and more elegance. Yet, he actually enjoys these short visits to the underclass environments…here, Mexicali, Nogales, San Luis, Tijuana. There is much respect paid to a man of his stature in these border towns.

The Mexican speaks. “My contacts tell me that you have been useful in delivering our products to your Denver, Colorado area. Are you pleased with the arrangement you now have with us?” He puffs his cigar and plumes the smoke upward.

“Yeah, sure, we are pleased,” the ugly American with the forehead scar speaks as the man in charge.

“I am also informed that you might be interested in performing some other activities for us. Are you aware of what I speak?”

“Yes, we are aware.” The American stares sternly into the face of the Mexican.

“It is my opinion that we can together make much money if you agree to our terms.”

“Some of your terms we’re already aware, but please lay them out for us again.” He sips from his mug.

“Of course…” the Mexican pauses, leans closer to the two across the table, takes a long puff on his cigar. “First, you find the product which meets our requirements. Second, you make a phone call to our agent and comply with his directions – you have the name and phone information. Third, upon delivery of the product in good condition to the final destination, you will receive a cash payment of $25,000 US dollars. Upon satisfactory receipt of three such satisfactory products, your payment is to reach $35,000 US dollars. Fourth, in the event of your arrest in the United States, this business of which we speak cannot be revealed under penalty of your immediate deaths. You can be assured that those arrangements can be easily made. Fifth, if at any time it is your wish to betray us, number four is to apply… as you can see, it is a simple arrangement for us both, and, of course, you assume all risks in these matters. Do you completely understand?”

“These ‘products’ as you call them, these females, it is my understanding that you are more interested in younger women?”

“I prefer that you use the word, ‘product’ when discussing our business. Is that a problem for you?”

“That is no problem. Sorry, but I would still like an answer to the question.”

“Yes, that is our preference, but there are benefits to us for products even older… We do pay less for the older products, by thirty per cent. There can be times when one must come with the other. We understand that.”

“Who is ‘we’?” asks the man called Carl.

“Pardon me but that is of no concern to you. Other than the phone agent and possibly others with whom you will speak, I am the only one from Mexico who will have contact with you. I should ask, do you have a problem with that arrangement?”

“No, we have no problem,” says the man called Eddie.

“Good! You say you have the number to call regarding the products, yes?”

“Yes… Is it any of my concern as to why you refer to the females as products?”

“No, it is of no concern to you… Just, don’t do it! Is that clearly understood at this time and in the future?”

With a short shake of the head, he answers, “Yes, that is clearly understood, but, listen, we do your work and we don’t appreciate being talked down to…”

“Do you wish out of the arrangement?”

“No, just some common courtesies, please.”

“You present yourself to me unshaven, poorly dressed, and you are common criminals… You are paid well for what you do, and you tell me to act a certain way with you? I ask you again, do you wish out of the arrangement? Think before you give me another frustrated shake of your head and say what you think I wish to hear. This is how I conduct business, and there are others who wait in line to do what you are doing. So, be sure of your answer. You are not dealing here with a Boy Scout Director. So, I await your answer?”

Feeling deflated, Eddie and Carl exchange glances. Eddie answers, this time with more humility of tone, “No, sir, we do not want out of the arrangement. I’m sorry.”

“Good!” The Mexican puffs rapidly on his cigar. “Now, I can tell you the date of the next pick-up for your van…”

When finished with the details of the pick-up, the Mexican takes from his pocket a small pouch and hands it to the man called Eddie. “You will be given directions when the time comes on how and when to use this. Do not lose it and keep it in a safe place.”

*

Sunday breaks with another sunny day in southeast Arizona, the long, wide Sulphur Springs Valley desert stretching out to the mountains east, west, north, and south to the Sierra Madres in old Mexico. It is the way of this Sunizona, Arizona community some forty-odd miles below Willcox, the heat and warm breezes bringing life to a lazy and slow pace for most inhabitants. The land is arid and without showy vegetation. There are only cacti, sand, gravel, sagebrush, and the tumbling tumble weeds crossing the roads for cars and trucks to dodge or splinter. To say the area is rural might not be enough, but it is beautiful and home to many who would not want it any other way.

The valley farmers grow barley, corn, wheat, vegetables, turning the soil often to get maximum value from the land. Great pistachio orchards, bee colonies, Christmas tree farms are part of the valley landscape, and all around the large rotating watering systems provide the irrigation. The big farmers belong to a coop to smooth the operative marketing of the goods. Great herds of sheep and cattle co-exist here in the Sulphur Springs Valley and the sheered wool and meat are significant sources of income for many in the area.

To the near west of this vast valley rise the rocky Dragoon Mountains and the well-known monument known as Cochise Stronghold. Tombstone, the ‘town too tough to die’, sets just over the Dragoons some fifty miles from Sunizona…conjuring up tales of Wyatt Earp, his brothers, bar room brawls, gun duels, and ‘the shootout at the OK Corral’.

To the nearer east lies the Chiricahua Mountains and, farther north, the Dos Cabezas Mountains where Cochise and Geronimo roamed well over a century ago. Much of our cowboy/Indian history was written in this valley and among these rock and cavernous mountains. The people who live here love the tranquil way of life, at least, most of them. Some want more than this somnolent existence and move away to the big cities and towns that offer more in the way of diversity.

Donna Pickering lives now in the East, has a lovely family and remembers well her home of youth here in Sunizona, her many brothers and sisters, her wonderful father and mother, and the crazy and beautiful memories of her young growing years on this quiet sun-filled prairie…the hikes around the ‘Stronghold’, Dos Cabezas, and the Chiricahua National Park.

There is one memory from Sunday, May 23, 1993, that still lingers, haunts Donna and her family – a sleepy Sunday Sabbath afternoon with some dust devils playing touch and go on the desert floor, breezes touching bodies with warm caresses, lemonade under the trees.

This is the backdrop for the story of that tragic and awful memory… Only this sun-scorched and storied land knows the actual events. While this tale gives a fictional account, there is some plausibility as to what could have happened. Some references here have viability, and, just perhaps, the story can offer an alternate truth.

(End of ‘Prologue’)

Billy Ray Chitwood  –  November 19, 2017

After reading Stranger Abduction, why not read Book 1 of the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’, An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery – Book 1, inspired by the actual brutal murder of a good friend of mine. The lovely actress and mother was missing for weeks and finally found in the desert northeast of Phoenix, ravaged by denizens of the habitat and the relentless summer sun. An Arizona Tragedy ( BUY SITES: https://goo.gl/L7wwR5 – US and https://goo.gl/UWgQXr – UK ) is my ‘requiem’ for a young lady, mother of two, who had the world in front of her. In my humble opinion, it is a great read – inspired by true events. It is now, after all the years, as is Stranger Abduction, an Arizona ‘Cold Case’.

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BUY SITES for STRANGER ABDUCTION

Amaxon US:  https://goo.gl/KPn1hn

Amazon UK:  https://goo.gl/WMu62d

Some Links:

http://www.about.me/brchitwood

http://twitter.com/brchitwood (@brchitwood)

http://billyraychitwood.com (My Website: books – short bio -some of my book reviews – a few blog posts)

http://amazon.com/author/billyraychitwood

https://brchitwood.com (My Blogsite)

http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

http://facebook.com/billyrayscorner

http://linkedin.com/billyraychitwood

http://googleplus.com/+billy-ray-chitwood

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Leonid and Sasha

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Leonid and Sasha

 (Flash Fiction/Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood)

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

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

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

“We all must die, Sasha.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How could you possibly know such things?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And why do you think that is so?”

“God only knows.”

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

“There is no God!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, the hand left his head.

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

“There will be no vendetta, not ever…”

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

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

Billy Ray Chitwood – Flash Fiction

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

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

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter:

Rhttps://twitter.com/brchitwood

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THE CRACKED MIRROR – Reflections of an Appalachian Son

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THE CRACKED MIRROR – Reflections of an Appalachian Son

“Mr. Chitwood–the author of Bailey Crane novels and works of nonfiction–bares his life from childhood to old age with the skill of a surgeon and the requisite messiness of ER trauma.”

(From the 5-Star Review by Dr. Timothy Tays – Author and Clinical Psychologist who has his practice in Scottsdale, Arizona.)

    Twitter: @timothytays)

 *

“The Cracked Mirror”

A memoir of author Billy Ray Chitwood, AND, 90+% of the narrative is TRUE!

SUMMARY

From Appalachia to neon lights and mind swirls of adulthood. A book worthy of any Book Shelf. A Book of literary quality, life events, and historical significance.

Childhood was the ’emotional pits’ – sucking the clean air of Appalachia from the lungs of a little boy as he endured chronic abuse and steady mobility – the sad and emotional soup would be difficult to digest for a lifetime.

From the boyhood uncertainty to neon lights and sharp contrasts in adulthood, the young man searches to find family and love amid a new world of glamour and ‘lotus eaters’. While demons of the past often visit, the man finds modest hope in the many gin mills, love affairs, and an ultimate prize.

***

THE CRACKED MIRROR

A memoir of author Billy Ray Chitwood, AND, 90+% of the narrative is TRUE!

 BUY SITES:

AMZ US: https://goo.gl/7X1LZb

AMZ UK: https://goo.gl/eLv3zz

AMZ CA: https://goo.gl/nYS5zS

AMZ DE: https://goo.gl/5tzXnq

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PERSPECTIVE ON THE NARRATIVE

Living on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, the deep cobalt beauty all around me, I decided to write the story of my life. Not really knowing why, I determined that characters on the Chitwood side of my genealogy would have fictitious names…while on my Mom’s side, real names were used. So, the reader can assume correctly that, in the memoir, my name is Prentice Paul Hiller. The idea was to liven up the story line, make it more interesting than a ‘laundry list’ of dates and facts, to give the book form and shape, some important historical data, and merge the facts with some titillating, dramatic moments, again, most of them true.”

***

Amazon & Goodreads ENDORSEMENTS (REVIEWS)

4-Stars – The Cracked Mirror

By Beach Lover at Heart on August 17, 2017

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase 

 Billy Ray Chitwood’s “The Cracked Mirror: Reflections of an Appalachian Son” is a brave, soulful read, which is imaginatively crafted (the story being told from the confines of an assisted living facility – the “way station” – while the main character, Prentice Paul Hiller, is recovering from hip replacement surgery).

Memoirs (even ones admittedly fictional, as this one is) are often a good way of learning history. This book manages to do just that, painting a vivid picture of life growing up in rural Tennessee in the 30’s and 40’s. The story is told with frankness and insight – revealing one man’s experiences, thoughts and feelings – warts and all – from early childhood through adulthood, and on into the “golden years”.

Along the way, the reader finds himself empathizing with the author’s quest for inner peace and understanding of his personal life struggles. This book should be an inspiration to all of us – to find the motivation and make the time to pen our very own memoirs to leave for future generations.

***

 5-Stars – The Cracked Mirror

By Timothy M. Tays on May 27, 2012

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

 I approached “The Cracked Mirror” by Billy Ray Chitwood with much anticipation because it uniquely presented itself as “A Fictional Memoir.” A challenge that could have easily been a literary disaster is instead a literary gem.

Mr. Chitwood–the author of Bailey Crane novels and works of nonfiction–bares his life from childhood to old age with the skill of a surgeon and the requisite messiness of ER trauma. He is honest and contrite about youthful transgressions, and is both traumatized and healed. The “Mirror” of the title is an accurate reflection of a lifetime that includes victory and beauty, the “Cracked” an honest ownership of human imperfections.

The fictional chapters titled “The Way Station” occur every-other chapter, and serve as introspection to the memoir chapters. These are handled flawlessly via the protagonist PP Hiller and the clinical psychologist character Greta Fogel. Mr. Chitwood does not make the mistake of leaning on psychobabble jargon to play psychologist, but instead captures the rapport of a friend who is also a retired psychologist sharing some insights with a friend, that we, as readers, get to also benefit. The result is a memoir that expertly handles the arch of a lifetime from childhood poverty and abuse to the bittersweet regrets, acceptance, and amends of a man intensely aware that he is in the autumn of his life.

Powerful writing from an author that now has me seeking out his other works.

 *** 

4-Stars – Billy Ray’s Memoir

By D. James on June 11, 2011

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

 I don’t normally care for memoirs, but Billy Ray Chitwood’s “The Cracked Mirror” was more than a memoir. The author expressed his views and showed his heartache in growing up poor while at the same time loving all of his relatives who took him under their wing.

He points out to the reader all of the “cracks” in our poor misguided world, and he knows what he is talking about. This is not a “poor me” book because the author is quite intelligent and points out where we as a people are going in the wrong direction. He made his own mistakes along the way, but haven’t we all. He suffered greatly from those blips in his life and still does. He and his wife and Bengal cat live a good life now at the beautiful Sea of Cortez. His dreams continue to haunt him and undoubtedly always will. He is hanging on and will continue to do so.

***

5-Stars – A treat of a read!

By Maureen on June 4, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition

 Described as ‘fiction but 90% true’, the author has created protagonist Prentice Paul Hiller as a man reflecting on his life whilst recovering from a hip operation in a nursing home. We follow him from his birth in Appalachia where there were idyllic times, happy childhood days (his mom was a great cook and of course the food tasted that much better because it was served up with a great big dollop of love!) There were traumatic times too during The Great Depression, when his mom and dad would fight in the true sense of the word, with his mom suffering some beatings.

Prentice leads an eventful life, it’s raw and gritty, but it’s written with simplicity and an honesty that ensures there are no skeletons left in the proverbial cupboard. There were times when his life appeared to be spiraling out of control, but he managed to take back that control and carved out a good and comfortable life for himself. He’s an intelligent man, a good person who appreciates the love of his family, though his demons do come back to haunt him at times. There were some deeply moving moments, told with a clarity and candour that was a pleasure to read. It’s clear that the author’s life mirrors that of his protagonist, and it was a great insight into the life of this Appalachian boy…

***

 5-Stars – A Touching and Brave Book

By Diogenes on October 25, 2013

Format: Kindle Edition

 When I reviewed Mr. Chitwood’s novel “Mama’s Madness” last year, I applauded the author’s gritty, literary style and noted he was a writer outside of the ‘usual’ Indie mould – a chance-taker, and one who speaks his mind without pandering unduly to his readership.

“The Cracked Mirror” reinforces my view of Billy Ray Chitwood as a man of words. The book is a ‘fictional’ memoir, although most of the material is supplied from Chitwood’s own life.

Prentice Paul Hiller, the book’s first-person protagonist, is in the twilight of his years. He is recovering from hip replacement surgery in an old people’s facility. This provides him with the opportunity to reflect on his life; its highs and its disappointments. Hiller uses his enforced leisure time to document a restless, tumbleweed existence from a childhood of poverty in 1930s Tennessee to the present day. He is candid about what he perceives as his failures. In spite of his rationalisations, he remains haunted by his actions and inactions, missed opportunities and unsuccessful relationships. Chitwood presents us with a mind on a quest for meaning and understanding. Above all he gives us a portrait of a man trying to come to terms with guilt; an individual working towards self-forgiveness and peace of mind. This is a touching book and a brave one.

Some of the musings on the state of present-day America were lost on this British reader, but they may well have a resonance for those residing on the other side of the Atlantic.

This is a worthwhile and thought-provoking read. Five stars.

***

 5 out of 5 starsReflections of an Appalachian Son

By Rosalind R on August 7, 2011

Format: Kindle Edition

 I found this book to be a thoughtful, well told story of an interesting life. The author pulled no punches in baring his soul with refreshing candor and insight as well as good natured humor. I’m looking forward to reading his most recent book.

***

 Goodreads Review  – 5-Stars

Christoph Fischer

“The Cracked Mirror” by Billy Ray Chitwood is a thoughtful and reflective fictional memoir. The author’s life is told from one care home inmate to the other, giving us a dual narrative of life story from 1933 onwards and the present day relationship between the friends who are talking.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author

 Billy Ray Chitwood

 Being an Appalachian lad I ate quite a lot of emotional soup and have been trying for all the years to digest it. I’ve taken the easy and the difficult routes to get at this point in life, a point not so different from that confused kid who joined the US Navy to escape the fragmented uncertainty of youth. All the mobility of childhood, all the harshness that comes with a broken and misplaced family, all the ensuing mistakes and successes, all have guided me to this place in time and space.

NOW – The Hard Truth – About Me

About Me:

I’m a young man in an old man’s body, trying to catch up to myself, trying to find pieces of me I left back in a disconnected youth and the early years of manhood. I’m a stereotype of many in my generation who can play the ‘blame game’, yell ‘foul’, and ‘let’s start over’. But, we are what we are, the sum of all the scary kid-emotions we experienced, the gin mills and piano bars that became our sandbox of pleasure – lotus eaters of the best (or, worse!) kind, the love affairs that did not quite settle us down, the sad poetry and songs written in bars and motels along the way… A Dreamer! A Wanderlust! The world needs such fools as we to write our books, our poetry, our songs, to offset the madness that plagues the soul.

I’ve written fourteen books, over three hundred blog posts in search of those pieces left somewhere in many parts of the globe. You can preview my books at https://billyraychitwood.com. If you wish to read some of my 350 blog posts, go to my old blog site at:

https://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

My new domain Blog is: https://brchitwood.com

 

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 2, 2017

 AUTHOR WEBSITE – https://billyraychitwood.com

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How Dare the Inconvenience!

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“How Dare That Inconvenience!”

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

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

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

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

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

For now, though, how dare that inconvenience!

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

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Chasing Sunset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some flash fiction authored by Billy Ray Chitwood 

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It Takes a Hurricane Harvey

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It Takes a ‘Hurricane Harvey’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Ray Chitwood  – August 29, 2017

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Life and Choices

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Life and Choices

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow me to be plain in my words here…

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘So, what’s the point of all this?’

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

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

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

‘Tha-tha-tha- that’s all, folks’!

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 22, 2017

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Bill Sun Room Aug 9 2017

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When We We Were Young – A Dual Sword

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When We Were Young – A Dual Sword

When we were young so many dreams occupied our time and thoughts: some with vivid pictorial views of white sands and soft blue waters of the Caribbean; some with the cowboy West and Johnny Mack Brown; some with heroic gallantry and deeds framed in our minds with technicolor brilliance. Our youth was dappled with the colors of our high school football, basketball, and track colors, young and pretty ladies wearing their ‘steady beau’s’ sweater with the school letters. There were hamburgers, French fries, and milk shakes at the local drive-ins with our pals and sweethearts, filtering through the rumors of the day and week.

A happy home with loving family members made the journey through youth joyous and unforgettable… For some…

When we were young so many dreams came in dark and gray flashes of angry parents, or, an itinerant alcohol-laced father visiting over a weekend, serving up ugly fights with Mom, spanking the kids with a hickory switch, and leaving indelible black holes of terror in the memory cells. Yet, there were the moments for wakeful dreaming about those heroic deeds and pretty damsels waiting for their hero to come and save the day.

When we were young there were friends to envy and respect, friends who somehow intelligently knew the difference in cultural divides and stood by the emotionally anguished and made youth enjoyable and still a viable part of life. There was a football mate, a school-skipping pal who ran all the laps the next day at practice that they knew would come from their absence the previous day. There were the summer pool plunges and competitive dives off the highest board.

And, there were some when we were young who just couldn’t make it through youth, through some corruptible lawless channel, an anger that could not be subdued, or an awful vengeance curse.

So, ‘when we were young’ was similar for many of us on several levels, and, while we cannot forgive those who are born of bad DNA seed, we might be mindful of that old and now tired bromide, ‘We all have to be from some place’!

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 14, 2017

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Forever Love

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Forever Love

The day was sunny and without clouds as I arrived at her new residence.
The setting was beautiful, quiet, and serene with the deep green grass, sugar maples and oaks offering canopies of shade against the ultraviolet   brightness.

I sat on the ground next to her as if we were on a picnic and began my soliloquy…

There were so many times I could have said, should have said, these words to you, sweet Pamela, but my fragile ego got in the way and…no matter, the disclaimers I would add have no real relevance now.

Here is what I wish you to know…

“Our romance began when each of us had clinging vulnerabilities: you, finishing your university education, beginning your career in teaching; me, ending a marriage – and other baggage. Our meeting was not so subtle as I attempted my alcohol-induced pitch to you in the popular nautical-themed restaurant where you worked as a waitress while going through your course load at Wichita State. We were both bitten and smitten by the Love Dragon, delirious in its domination of our hearts and souls.

Then, when your full-time teaching in Iowa took you from me, I wallowed in my own self-pityYou called me. I called you. Finally, the last time we talked I muttered my insecurities, ‘you’re there, I’m here’, and told you we had to put our love on hold. It wasn’t fair to you or to me.

You met a younger man, a student studying Theology and he wanted to date you but you would not. You said you were desperate to see me, and I flew to Des Moines the next day. The ‘Love Dragon’ awoke from his nap and we again were delirious in our reunion and could not deny our love. We recommitted and would stay with our romance. I shall never forget the trips I made to Des Moines and to the memories I cherish.

The ‘war’ came to Iraq, then to Afghanistan, and my National Guard unit was called up to relieve other troops on duty there. Injured by enemy grenade shrapnel, I lost my left arm and was sent home.

You immediately came to me, and our love was brighter than ever. You would not allow self-pity and kept reminding me of comrades who did not make it home at all.

We planned a summer wedding, and it was a magical few weekIs we were together in our planning for the big event. Our love virtually glowed, and, in our hearts, we knew the flame would never go out of our union. We were like kids at a circus, the excitement of being in love and never being apart again…”

The tears came and I could not continue.

I placed the flowers on her glazed monument of stone, allowed the tears to drop on the grass in front of her heart-shaped grave marker.

With my good right arm, I embraced as much of the stone as I could. With my lips, I gently touched the inscription for a long moment and tearfully mumbled the words on the stone:

“My heart and soul are yours, sweet Pamela, to be rejoined with yours in eternity.”

As was my daily wont I sat again on the grass beside Pamela and waited for night to fall. My tears came with the bittersweet memories…

The drunk driver who killed my Pamela was himself killed in a fiery blaze as his car spun out of control, over sidewalk curbing, and into a wall of stucco.

Flash Fiction by: Billy Ray Chitwood

July 24, 2017

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