Tag: #RRBC

A Soul Defiled – A Bailey Crane Mystery #5

A Soul Defiled – A Bailey Crane Mystery #5 

I wrote this installment of the ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ while living on the beautiful Sea of Cortez in Sonora State, Mexico in a most lovely resort Called ‘Bella Sirena’. Also, for a period of time, I was President of the Homeowners Association and needed to know the workings of the Mexican system of government and the peso. A Soul Defiled is not total reality but it does give an accurate sense of money transfers and some rather scary aspects of the well-publicized criminal activities.

The characters are my stereotypes, many of whom were built by my imagination and some from the good people who were responsible for care of resort owners’ condos and villas. There is one character in particular for whom I developed a love/hate relationship. You will be able to determine this person’s raison d’être and his Achilles Heel. It’s rather amazing how an author can create a character with all the ‘warts’ of criminality and a ‘distant heart’ that can feel and come to understand his life for what it is. It’s not my intention to be vague here, but I want you to ‘flesh out’ this character with me in the book! I just simply like this character despite what he represents.

A Soul Defiled stays true to Bailey Crane’s character, his rash observations and musings. In this episode he gets kidnapped twice, roughed up, and, in the end, finds himself as always questioning his judgements. Wendy is there with him, his loyal ‘sounding board’ and support system of love and provision.

The current ‘President of the Board’ of ‘Mar y Sol’ is a good friend of Bailey and Wendy. The ‘Treasurer of the Board’ has just been murdered, and the President of the Board enlists the help of Bailey – now a new resident at the resort. It is suspected that there is some sort of criminal operation at the resort.

This relatively short novel provides all the ingredients of a good read – business malfeasance, kidnapping, murder, and love.

Hope you put A Soul Defiled on your ‘Reading List’. It is a book you can easily enjoy at the beach, at the pool, and/or in the evening at your favorite reading spot.

Let me know what you think!

As always, My best wishes.

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 21, 2018

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Satan’s Song

Wherein Be Evil

Is the wolf’s wistful wail to the moon a siren of evil?

A stretch, no doubt, but Hollywood has made a lot of money with Lon Chaney and the Wolf-man…a full moon and a man turning into a werewolf.

Satan’s Song A Bailey Crane Mystery regrettably has no connection with Hollywood where millionaires are made overnight when their books are tailored into screenplays. Of course, I easily salivate with thoughts of that enticing proposition and welcome that ‘producer’s request’ to do just that with any of my books.

Well, that thought remains on a fading ‘wish list’!

Satan’s Song has the ‘evil’ and it has also inspiration from a true Arizona decapitation homicide. Like the first book in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’, An Arizona Tragedy, this title was also a ‘Cold Case’ for many years. Recently, Phoenix Police Department found their killer.

In my novel, the details of that long-ago murder of a young blond lady is fictionalized and turns into a case of serial murders. The suspense and surprise of Satan’s Song deals with the motive and psychotic mind of the killer. The murder spree of the killer includes young ladies in the states of Texas, Ohio, and California, plus a male victim in Pennsylvania.

Bailey Crane’s life undergoes changes as my hero’s personal life becomes complicated and must deal with some emotionally painful realities.

There is a strong ‘women presence’ particularly in this book, and, in truth, all six books of the Bailey Crane mystery series. Please, partake and enjoy!

Hope all your reads are enjoyable.

Billy Ray Chitwood – June 14, 2018

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AN ARIZONA TRAGEDY – A Bailey Crane Mystery – Book #1

Her lowlife killer is still out there after all the years!,

Her?

A friend of mine back in the day! A friend of my wife! When not acting and/or modeling she was a legal secretary to my good attorney buddies.

A lovely actress/model, age twenty-six, divorced, a mother of two children, a daughter and a son! Cheerful, vibrant, high on life with all her dreams of marriage and family ahead of Hollywood on her ‘To Do’ list.

She lived in an apartment across from an elementary school where her car would be found on the side of a road, one car door open, and her open purse on the front seat. It was to be a hot sunny Phoenix Monday morning in August nearly a half-century ago. Cathy (the name I’ve given her in my novel), went missing for six weeks.

Cathy was found under a Palo Verde tree by a wash in the open desert near what is now the Mayo Clinic, her ragged dress faded and in tatters,  her body ravaged by denizens of the hostile desert.

In doing my research for the book, scouring the newspaper microfiche of the brutal murder, it was difficult to imagine what this dear young lady had to endure on that last night of her life so many years ago. Through some tears and memories I wrote “An Arizona Tragedy,” the first book in my six-book ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’. In writing this fictional account of Cathy’s homicide years later, I had some difficulty justifying my effort…she was my friend, my wife’s friend – was I being selfishly commercial in my endeavor to spin a fictional playback of her gruesome murder?

Well, I wrote the book, finally justifying the work as a ‘tribute’ to her memory, plus, just maybe, awakening someone’s mind regarding that crime to remember something that would help solve this now ‘cold case’. I gave it the title of “Probable Cause” and sent it out into the ‘wind swirls’ of publishing and got a ‘hit’! A small press ran with the book but years later changed the direction of it’s publishing goals to Sci-Fi, paranormal, and unique ‘fad-type’ books.

Well, you know the story, I did some re-writing, re-titled, and self-published this book and the series, plus the other ten books I’ve written…and, by the way, you might have heard about my glowing successes in marketing my own books! (It’s perfectly okay to have your giggles – I even giggle myself at my ‘under-achieving’ self-promoting!)

So, if there is interest in reading “An Arizona Tragedy,” you should know I did wrap my fiction around  most, if not all, of the forensics attached to the case. Six weeks in an Arizona desert in the summer where temps can reach 120+ degrees fahrenhite did not leave the investigators much to go on. Cathy’s car as well left very little of evidentiary value.

There’s something a good Texas friend wrote in an Amazon review regarding the new edition of my “Mama’s Madness” novel, another work fashioned in fiction from a true crime. He wrote: “The writing in this story is so good the reader feels like a transportation into the scenes has taken place. The descriptions of people, places, and events are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Mr. Chitwood has been blessed with a golden pen (or keyboard). He can show the reader all the sights, sounds, and smells of each scene through a tapestry that only can be woven by a perfectionist literary genius. I think that pretty much describes Billy Ray Chitwood. He has honed his writing art, and there is no more exquisite example of the resulting output than this book. I would recommend Mama’s madness to anyone who enjoys a deeply disturbing story told effectively and with great taste.”

I’ve gotten some really good reviews along with ‘the other kind’ but this one just overwhelmed me… That first night after reading that review, I got out of bed every ten minutes to re-read it. Whatever he was ‘high on’, he passes it right along to me. I’m likely to change my will for that Texas ‘feller’.  Well, yeah, I’m going off the deep-end here, but that review is about as good as an author can get, and I’m thanking that man in an open forum. I’ve never kissed a man before and won’t think about it now, but I’ll sure polish his shoes and walk his dogs… Just saying!

That leaves us with “An Arizona Tragedy.” That’s the first book of my sixteen that was published, and I believe it’s well-written. Why don’t you all get a copy, read it, and let me know what you think. I’m betting you like the writing and my alter-ego ‘punching bag’, Bailey Crane. AND, you can write an Amazon review and try to outdo that Texas feller, but I’m not even considering giving odds on that.

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 11, 2018

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Hammer’s Holy Grail

Hammer’s Holy Grail

by BR Chitwood

-Coming July – 2018- 

 

“Hammer’s Holy Grail” is a relatively short read of 36,000-+ words. It will be published without launch, without fanfare (except for this blog post!) later this month! The book is about a kid who has an emotional family situation – angry father, his critical Appalachian uncertainty, gifted with football talent and a beautiful girlfriend he’s known since junior high.

Wesley Walton is a sophomore at Garden View University in Knoxville, Tennessee, has a great passing arm and faces a great future. The pro-football scouts are already looking at the kid with a golden arm.

Wesley meets a man named ‘Hammer’ who is both a decorated veteran and a person of great wisdom and with a unique hobby. Wes and Hammer become immediate friends.

The short tale follows Wesley’s football season as well as his parental love and woes. The book is not a ‘thriller’ or destined to be a classic by any means, but the pages do carry some interesting moments, and I believe it to be well-written… In any event, it will be an inexpensive read and one I hope the book buyer will like, PLUS, I’m giving you the first chapter free of charge in this post. Feel free in letting me know what you think.

So, no launch, no parades and graffiti, just my usual ‘do nothing’ marketing campaign with a hope some of you will buy the book, give me some ‘reviews’, and ‘PUSH’ it forward.

Here’s the first chapter (working on the cover):

HAMMER’S HOLY GRAIL

Chapter One

The darkness and fog are palpable viscid sweat things crawling all over my flesh! A gentle wind stir comes and my skin does shiver dances. I swallow and it’s like I’m somewhere between passing out and regaining my breath.

My eyes cannot be trusted. I rub my eyes and they project things that are not really there. My mind questions the logic that brought me to that decision. My concentration is drawn to these vague flashing images that keep popping up in spaces to the front, sides, and back of me… I figure it’s the mind doing its reckoning! I’m likely trying too hard to see and my brain is trying to accommodate me.

Okay, I admit it. I’m a big boy, scared. I mean, there is no way this world can be this dark and foggy.

“Why?” Someone might ask, “are you so stupid to be standing where you’re standing?”

The reason is really simple, but I’m going to make it complicated for you…not out of a warped and evil sense, but because this is a story I need to tell and it has some crazy turns and twists. Call it a weird psychological need if you want! That’s as good a description as any, but, please understand, I have not lost all my marbles. Then, again, maybe my bio here is not so unusual a tale after all. Maybe you readers have experienced some of the same events in your life – only, framed differently.

So, this little journey on which I’m taking you, please stay with me. An Epic? Probably not, but it might have some stuff that’ll stay with you for a while after I’m finished with the narrative – up to the point when I run out of words.

***

When I was a little boy, my crippled cousin had to have the light on during his dark bedtime hours. Now, I didn’t tease him about that but if I just mentioned it he chased me up one country road and down another. If I didn’t have a pretty good lead he’d catch me. Then, we would end up wrestling until one of us said ‘Uncle’ – usually me! We were best pals and I loved my club-footed cousin-buddy, but he would get madder than a frigging copperhead on LSD if anyone brought up sleeping with lights on.

That’s not part of this rather complicated story, at least, not in a major way. This darkness and fog just makes me think of JB – JB Hill, that’s his name. He’s the son of my Dad’s sister, Norma Hill.

I don’t want you to think JB is so crippled everyone has to be sorry for him. He turns out later on to be a top scratch golfer. He’s gone now, died too darned early in his life because of some darned rare breathing illness. His sisters and brother were with him when he left us. His wife should have been there with him, but, earlier, JB caught her screwing the next-door neighbor, and my cousin beat the shit out of the neighbor and threw all her clothes – and her – out of the house. Sure, he was club-footed but he was no chicken yellow-belly. Nobody gave him any crap, that’s for sure.

Well, again, that’s not part of the complicated story either – but I won’t lead you on any further.

It all starts with my sister, Sarah Lou. She’s sixteen going on twenty-four, if you get my drift, built like a brick shit-house, big boobs, long silky brown hair, great figure, pretty, and she reckons she’s the ‘cat’s meow’. It seems she knows early on she wants to taste some parts of life she is no way ready to taste.

I’m convinced Sarah Lou is the genuine product of her – and, my – dad. No question about it! He gets madder than hell and beats up on her and my Mom. Well, he did when he was coming around more

Dad has this fiery temper, and it’s his way or the highway, so to speak. This is when he’s visiting us. He and Mom are divorced, and Dad seems to have these demons inside him that make for crazy flip-outs at any moment. I’ve noticed his behavior changes when Mom mentions her side of the family – they don’t like Dad and he doesn’t like them. Of course, that gut-searing corn whiskey could have something to do with it. He likes his hooch! He’s also tall, good-looking in a George Clooney kind of way (sort of!) and has a thing for the ladies. How can I know that? Well, that’s a whole different story, and it’s doubtful I’ll ever tell it!

Well, anyhow, the genes running loose through Sarah Lou must be near-identical to Dad’s.

Moving the story along, Sarah Lou turns sixteen and elopes with an army corporal, runs off to another state when the corporal gets transferred. Mom is heart-sick and scared because she knows she’s got to tell Dad the news. And, me, well, I’m scared right along with her. You see, it’s just Mom and me since Sarah Lou eloped, and I sure have sleepless nights worrying about my dear sweet mother. She works so hard to make ends meet, has no time for socializing and being with her friends. It’s part of her nature to worry and fret about things. Did I fail to mention? My Mom is a beautiful lady, big brown eyes that sparkle and brown hair to go with them. She looks like a famous old-time movie star by the name of Claudette Colbert, famous actress during that golden era of Hollywood. Mom and I are fans of ‘old movies’.

Through some rough times, Mom has done her best to shelter my sister and me from all those emotional ills of divorce and the economic crises that rise from working sometimes two jobs. She has done well by Sarah Lou and me despite the troubles she’s had to bear. Dad’s visits end up most of the time in bad arguments and fights. As a young kid, I saw him too often physically abuse Mom and, somehow, I still love the man.

Enough ugly truth for a few sentences. Suffice it, Mom worked hard and got me through high school where I played quarterback for the football team and got a scholarship to Garden View University. Garden View is part of the greater metro area of Knoxville, Tennessee, and the university sets on a lovely and lush campus of about one hundred acres. It is a university that dates back to the 1940s and has academic achievement awards that any higher institution would covet.

Well, as implied above, here is more ugly truth.

Mom and I, my now older club-footed cousin, JB, and Lulu, his big sister on my Dad’s side of the family, go to the Hooper Hotel in Knoxville where my Dad is living to tell him about Sarah Lou’s elopement.

In Dad’s hotel room, my Cousin and his sister take the two chairs in the room and I sit under a window on an old radiator…you know, those ugly heavy metal gray vertically-elongated rods connected all in a row as one unit. Now, the heat isn’t on during this visit, but those units are particularly awful and uncomfortable to sit on. And, you’re right, those heating units were not built to be sat on. I just keep changing my sitting ‘this way and that’, dictated by my butt cheeks.

Now, Dad knows right away that something is up, and, he knows it isn’t good news – guess our sad faces and body language give us away.

When Dad hears the news about Sarah Lou, he stomps around the room in a fury, the anger and prelude to eruption showing on his face. Abruptly, he stops in front of Mom who is sitting on the bed. My sweet hard-working, lovely Mom sits there very still with her hands clasped on her lap with a blanched and pitiful look on her face, puffy from crying and the awful dread of telling Dad news of Sarah Lou’s rash elopement.

My ‘tainted-gene’ Dad hovers over Mom, his face distorted with fury like a dragon breathing fire, gritting his teeth, and says, “Damn you, Maureen.”

Suddenly, he gives Mom a hard looping open-hand slap to the face with so much force it knocks her over. My immediate fear is that he’s knocked something loose in her brain or upper body…and he’s getting ready to do more hitting.

I’m petrified and watching it all from this hotel room radiator and l reckon something snaps inside me. I’ve watched this kind of madness too many times before as a young kid. I’m a lot bigger now and I rush him and tackle him onto the bed, crying and mumbling something stupid, like, ‘I’ve seen you do that to my Mom too many times’. I’ll never forget – he’s got this look on his face like a slight smile and surprise all at the same time.

Multiple times I hit him with my fists, lost in my own anger, my tears dropping down on his face. Mom moves from the bed and stands crying in the corner of the hotel room.

Soon, Dad is not moving. I must have connected with a vulnerable spot on his head. It’s like he just turns his head over to the side and goes to sleep.

Seconds pass and I realize what has happened. I’ve attacked my own father and knocked him out. His pulse is okay, and I feel a bit better. After several anxious minutes of trying to revive him, I tell our little group that Dad will be crazy mad when he comes around so we likely should leave.

We hustle out of Dad’s room and loudly close the door. I feel bad leaving him unconscious on the bed, but more afraid of what he might do when he comes out of it and we’re still there.

Mom cries all the way down in the elevator, and we go unnoticed out a side entrance of the lobby.

I drive my Cousin and his sister home, and, except for the sound of the car engine, no one makes a sound. Tears flow down our faces, and the only sounds in the car are from our sniffing. We all hug and kiss each other when they get out of the car at their place.

Next, I drive Mom to her folks’ place some forty miles away.

We give Grandma and Grandpa all the news about our fateful visit with Dad, and they’re madder than hornets in a whirl-wind. ‘Is he dead?’ ‘Is he alive?’ They want to know. I ask Mom to promise me she’ll stay with the grandparents until she hears from me. There’s no way Dad, assuming I didn’t kill him, would want to go around Grandpa because of a fight they had some years back. Grandpa gave Dad quite a whipping.

After a few more tears are shed, I take off. Mom pleads with me to stay but she can’t talk me out of leaving. I’m worried about my dad and want to go back to the Hooper Hotel and check on him.

Beneath my tousled blond hair, my head inside is churning with thoughts as I drive back to the hotel. The closer I get, the more I become anxious and fearful of what I’ll find.

There’s this grim need to know about my Dad, whether he’s okay or dead. I’m a sturdy 6’2” young man now, 185 pounds, playing quarterback as a Sophomore at Garden View University. It’s difficult to calculate how hard I hit my Dad – I feel like a part of me was holding back.

There is just no way to forget what I did in that hotel room. Now, after a few hours, I’m making a return visit to the Hooper Hotel. I need to know, one way or another, about my Dad. Is he alive? Is he dead? Despite losing it and hitting him, I still love my Dad. Guess I should hate him, but I don’t. Seeing Mom so fearful and frozen in place I denied my own fear and went after my Dad.

I park Mom’s car fifty feet down the street from the Hooper Hotel and walk to the side entrance into the lobby.

The elevator is on the lobby level as if waiting for me. On Dad’s floor, the elevator comes to a stop, doors open, and my heart jumps into my mouth as I reflexively take a step forward!

My Dad is standing in front of me, his eyes blinking like he is trying to clear his head.

“You coming off of the elevator, young fellow?” Dad asks in an impatient and impersonal tone.

He wrinkles his brow as he notices the apparent surprise on my face. “You all right, boy?”

“Dad, it’s me!”

He did a fast look behind him like I was talking to someone else.

Dad blinks some more. “You’re mixed up, boy, I don’t have a son. Now, stay in the elevator or get out. I fell and cracked my head…have to get it taken care of.”

“But, Dad, I hit you when you hurt Mom. You slapped her so hard I was worried for her. I must have given you a concussion. I just couldn’t stand by and watch you hurt her. Please let me help you!”

Dad grabs my arm and pulls me out of the elevator onto the hallway carpeting. “Told you, boy, I’ve got no son.” He goes into the elevator, pushes the lobby button on the control panel and is gone.

I can’t say how long I stand rooted to that spot in front of the elevator. I’m aware enough to know that there are other people entering and exiting the elevator while I’m standing there. I’m dumbfounded by Dad’s reaction – He seemed so sure about what he was saying.

Finally, worried sick, I take the stairs down seven floors and walk out the hotel’s side lobby entrance. My befuddled mind is on automatic pilot and leads me down the street to Mom’s car. At least, I know he’s alive. Guess that’s something of a relief.

When I pull away from the curb, confused and frightened, I drive around aimlessly, turning left here, turning right there, lost in cascading thoughts, my mind reviewing over and over the events of the day.

I drive for miles not mindful of where I’m going. Tears flow until my eyes get all misty and puffy from rubbing them with my shirt sleeve. My brain tells me to pull off the road.

I’m somewhere out in the ‘boonies’. There is an old rutted country farm road, and I turn onto the dirt and gravel, drive a quarter mile and notice that, suddenly, I can’t see. I’m in an ultra-thick cloud bank of fog, suddenly frightened by the swift change in weather and mad at myself for being so self-absorbed I let this happen.

Yes, I know! I know! How does one get so locked onto something in his mind that he doesn’t know where he is? It’s crazy, but it happened!

At this point I’m crawling along, the car barely moving, trying to see, wiping the built-up vapor off the inside windshield, hoping for better vision. After a few moments, I see the futility in my feeble efforts, utter a not-so-nice but appropriate word for the ugly foggy dilemma.

I carefully edge to what I hope is the outer side of the country road, get out of the car, touch the hood metal, holding on to the only reality given to me at the moment.

Standing there, leaning on the car’s hood, my Dad’s face flashes in front of me in the darkness and fog, along with snakes, dinosaurs, crocodiles, and other beasts of the world. I cannot see my hand when I hold it out in front of me. There is a most vivid sense of desperation.

With Dad’s face, there comes to my mind some bad recalls of life with my Dad in it, not long after the ugly divorce. I push those bad thoughts away and force myself to think of the good moments.

Much of those times were rough, but there were tender moments as well – farther back in youth, when Dad bought me the little boy’s gray suit with a gray hat, and he called me his little business man. He took many pictures of me with a cigarette dangling from my six-year old lips, pictures on train-rides, car-rides while on the way to visit his parents, my grandparents, his nearly-blind grandmother, my great-grandmother. They lived north of Knoxville some sixty miles, near the Kentucky border.

On one visit he drove us off the main US highway into the hills of High Cliff, TN. We stopped not too far from the turnoff in an area of open fields and meadows. The bucolic scene presented to my young mind cows grazing in the meadows among huge oak trees, and there was this lonely looking clapboard house setting alone on this small knoll. Dad’s sweet old grandmother sat on an old rickety wooden porch that had an excellent chance of falling plank by plank to the ground below. She had a lovely weathered and leathery face, was almost blind and sat in an old wooden rocking chair. She looked so frail behind the horn-rimmed spectacles she wore.

She was so beautiful sitting in that home-made rocking chair on that wood-warped porch, like a picture in sepia tone, like a scene in an old-time movie. She sat there with a corn cob pipe in the corner of her mouth. She was in her nineties, and Dad had to get within inches of her face before she knew we were there. She squinted and finally recognized Dad.

She formed a sweet smile on her face, hugged him with shaky thin arms coming out of the gingham dress sleeves. “That you, Thomas? Lawdy, mercy me! you are a sight for these sore eyes.” She had a thin, squeaky voice that seemed a whisper. She used up a lot of breath as she talked and maintained that sweet smile.

She then peripherally noticed me, made over me as well, and I felt an awesome sense of history – the events, all the things she had seen in her long lifetime, things I would one day study. In the remembrance, it was all so nostalgic, dream-like, and, looking back, it somehow had a time-travel feel for me, so quiet, serene, like pages of history flipping backward. Those time-worn wrinkles on her bony arms and face, the faded gingham dress, her gray-hair in a bun on the back of her head, and the slow steady motion of her rocking chair as her eyes fixed on the parts of her life that were important to her. Her time was almost used up, but she would keep rocking on that graying rough-plank porch, smoking her corn cob pipe, looking out over the blurry land playing back misty memories.

Funny, how wonderfully that memory is so vivid in my mind, so fresh and firmly planted. A country song by Alan Jackson playing on the car radio is all I need to complete my ensemble of fuzzy thoughts and tears. Guess that might say something about my southern genes.

A few happy times flashed by, those times when we played at being a family, without the tempestuous flares of raw emotions: the Saturday movie matinees; Mom and Dad smiling happily when my sister and I danced to the radio; when I attempted to write a poem; the endless questions I asked of them both – the insatiable curiosity that stayed steady on a little boy’s mind.

I love them both so much, and, now, my father has no son.

The tears do not stop until my mind reminds me of where I am, in the middle of proverbial nowhere with only those scary image-flashes coming at me from too much eye concentration, and those conjured up memories that are both keepers and throwaways.

So, the world can be dark and foggy, and, maybe, reasons for standing in the darkness and fog are not so simple.

Standing at the front of the car, measuring each stride, I take a few steps, pivot, return to the car, do the same strides on each side of the car. Feeling secure enough that the car was far enough off the road, I climb into the back seat, and lock the doors.

Assuming a fetus position on the backseat, I try desperately not to think any more about past events, the present, and the future. I can wait out the darkness and the fog.

Tomorrow will come, and the sun will replace the dismal darkness and fog with thoughts of hope.

I love my Mom and Dad.

Maybe I still have both to love.

-END OF CHAPTER ONE-

Let me know what you think! My best wishes to all.

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 7, 2018

Please preview my books at:

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter: @brchitwood

 

 

My Favorite Writing Spot

My Favorite Writing Spot

 

Artists find favorite spots to paint, by the sea, in a park, a mountaintop, or a kitchen (thinking ‘still life’ with apples, bananas, cherries because I’m hungry for them). Writers must need their favorite spots as well.

Most of my writing has come in the last twenty years, much of it stored in 8″X10″ cardboard manuscipt boxes until one was published in 1995. The others have been gathering dust until just the last few years. When I reached the Sea of Cortez, it seems my need to write increased along with my desire. And, write I have.

There are sixteen books finished now, fourteen fictional, two non-fiction with just a few final touches left, and another ficttional manuscript just recently started. It has dawned on me, what the artists have apparently known for all these years, that a writer must find a spot that agrees with her or his motivational make-up, her or his health, her or his moods, her or his changing priorities. I’m convinced that the sea is my favorite spot, because I’ve never enjoyed the ‘flow’ of writing that I feel here, the phrases that seem to effortlessly come out and please me. Yes, I know, they ‘please me’, but they might not find the same measure of enjoyment in others eyes.

I find myself wondering why this is so, why one can find a spot where writing becomes more natural and rhythmic in its outpouring. Perhaps it is because I can see from my penthouse deck the horizon there in the distance, and my mind is free to roam toward that far off spot and grab from the passing zephyrs those little gems of words and phrases that go by as though on currents of their own. Perhaps it is because I do not feel hemmed in on all sides so my mind is keenly aware that the horizon and all beyond are mine but for the asking there in my imagination. Pehaps it is because it is so beautiful here by the sea where the villas touch the sand, where the beach hawkers sell their wares among the sun worshipers, where there playing upon the water are jet skis, sail boats, yachts, and the large twin yellow ‘banana boats’ that toss the squealing young adults into the choppy waters.

Whatever it is, the transparency of my delight must indeed be obvious. I’m a wordsmith at his favorite spot, doing what it is that he perceives he does best. My only wish now is to have my writing enjoyed by many, as many as I might be allowed by the God of that distant horizon on the glorious Sea of Cortez.

Billy Ray Chitwood – Written in 2012 on The Sea of Cortez

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Matter of the Heart

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Paradise Island

Matter of the Heart

What was I doing here? It seemed a sad inertia was in control of my body.

Beautiful, yes, this sand and sun part of the world! And, it was a promise my heart compelled me to keep…after so many tears and a fragile restoration from the pain and finality of impending death. Those who have lost the warm cloak of love will know of what I write.

Before coming inside to sit on the big bed to write my thoughts of desperation and longing, I stood on the 9th floor balcony of the ‘Royal Tower’ and gazed out over the beauty that is all of Paradise Island Bahamas.

Close to my tower, people and kids watched the feeding of large Manta rays, while, in the next large pool, loud cheering came from children and their parents as brothers and sisters slid quickly down the steep, thick, clear round-tube through water where sharks swam all around them. My wan smile of acknowledgment came and lingered briefly from the shrieks of play and excitement in the large pool below.

I began my writing…

This is for you, Johnny, these words my heart and soul convey, words which I pray will give me sustenance to continue life – a tenuous blur in my mind during the past few days…

We spoke of coming here to the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort just two months ago at our most beautiful first anniversary dinner, one week before your cancer diagnosis came from your doctor. As always, you faced that awful information in your fashion, showing your acceptance and lack of concern. “Hey,” you said, “doctors make mistakes! I feel great and plan on living for many years with my lovely bride.” You kissed me softly on the lips and gave me your brave smile.

On our arrival home, I tried, too, for bravery, but failed. You saw my tears, gathered me in your arms, carried me to our bed and slowly, with moments of playful tease and tormenting delays, made spectacular love to me. You made me momentarily forget the terrible news of the diagnosis.

The days that followed were much the same. You took me with you on your business trip to Seattle, even allowed me to be present during your major appointments. You would not be without me for a moment. My love for you, always at its highest point, came near to eruption, to the degree of silly school girl antics. I clung to you, stopped on the busy sidewalks of Seattle to embrace, kiss you, in such a state of euphoria that I could almost forget the dreadful cancer news…almost! It hovered just above my consciousness, bringing deep dips of sorrow at the prospect of losing you.

Then, there came the Tuesday telephone call from doctor Dearfield’s office. You were to check into the Holy Cross Hospital at 8:00 AM the next day to start treatments. From your soft and inaudible voice while talking to the doctor, I knew the seriousness of the situation. I also saw the momentary closings of your eyes and the dropped chin.

After the phone call with the doctor, you insisted, without allowing my dissent, that night would be our last together. Your arguments were selfish, you said, that you would not allow me to see your declining days of health caused by Cancer’s newest treatments, including sessions of Chemo therapy. You made me promise not to show up at the hospital. You gave me the first-class ticket to Nassau, booked my ‘top priority’ suite at the Atlantis Bahamas for a three-week stay. You said, if the news proved good, you would be joining me at Atlantis. If the news were negative, our Tuesday night would be our last night until we met in God’s eternity. We were locked in each other’s arms all that night, me, saying silent prayers…

I stopped writing when tears began blotting my pages. I was hopelessly lost in my lassitude, laid back on the bed until feelings of anxiety hit me, got up, left the lovely suite and walked aimlessly around the grand resort.

Below ground, I walked along the thick concrete walls of the world’s largest marine exhibit, passing within three feet of all kinds of exhibits, sharks, rays, all kinds of water life, swimming up to the thick glass enclosure where families touched them safely via the glass. Even in a lethargic state, I managed to find some minimal escape from my despair.

After walking up and through the large casino, I returned to my room. It was 5:00 PM. I took a sleeping pill and soon fell asleep among the tear-blotted pages written some hours earlier.

For the next few days, it was much the same for me, ordering room service food, eating only parts of it, picking up the pen to write more thoughts on paper and giving up when the tears came. Johnny’s face I saw as an image on the glass sliding doors to the balcony, on the bathroom mirrors, in my mind when eyes were closed. The weather outside was beautiful, and, even in my grief, I could understand the popularity of this paradise.

Even with the beauty of Paradise Island, the walls closed in on me, forcing my movement, either to the pool area or the beach.

On Friday morning of my second week, I awoke with the same torpid lack of mobility, dregs from the sleeping pills, ordered room service coffee and eggs Benedict, drank the coffee, left most of the eggs Benedict. I picked up my pen to write more about Johnny, and, again, began crying.

Outside the weather was all sun and blue skies. I took off my pajamas and put on my bikini, grabbed a beach towel and noticed I was still wearing the last gift Johnny had given to me – a most elegant diamond-studded pendant with a lush heart-shaped Garnet gem. I placed the pendant on the dresser, lingered over it for a few seconds until the tears thought about returning, and walked out the door.

The sun felt strangely good on my body, adding pleasantly to my lethargy. I tried not to think, but it was impossible. Johnny was so solidly in my thoughts, and I truly wondered if I could live without him. I turned my body on the beach towel to the tummy, my back needing some sun.

As I lay there on my tummy, my face upon my folded arms, eyes closed, reliving memories, I felt something drop to the sand in front of my face, a few sprinkles of sand touching my forehead.

Impulsively, I raised my head and glanced at the sand in front of me.

My heart skipped several beats! My head and entire body was tingling with titillating thoughts.

Quickly, I turned over onto my back and sat up.

Standing above me with a wide grin on his face was Johnny!

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” I blurted and jumped from the beach towel and threw myself into his open arms.

“You just buried your Garnet pendant!” he said, with a mock sneer. “That cost me a few bucks, you know! And you leave it on a dresser in a resort?”

“Oh, Johnny, Johnny!” I sighed deeply, “You’re here… Are you cured?” I kissed him so much he couldn’t answer.

He finally disengaged enough to mutter: “You ever hear of ‘remission’? That’s me! The ‘Remission’ man! On a mission to re-claim my lovely, lovely bride. Shall we get a drink and celebrate?”

“Not just a drink, Johnny! I have a lot more in mind for you!” A quick thought hit me. “That is, unless…” in my stuttering way, “there are health issues.” I gave him my raised eyebrows and soft smile.

Johnny slapped me on my ‘buns’, smiled broadly, and said, “Bring it on, baby! I’m up to the task!”

“Make that, ‘tasks’, please, Johnny!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – (Rpt)

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Somebody Likes Us!

“Somebody Likes Us!”

We all have our reasons for writing and it’s a good bet that most of those reasons are fairly standard…to fulfill a desire…to become established, famous, successful…to simply tell a story…to scratch an ego itch…for all these and many other reasons. Does it really matter what our reasons are for writing? Any reason is valid and need not be magnified, right? Well, not quite. Some might write to hurt someone, to slander, to libel, to ruin someone or some entity. Let’s just assume for this post that our reason for writing has a noble intent and has no malicious purpose.

So we write a few books and there come the critics, the reviews that can range from 5-Star to 3-Star, even lower. The world of reading seems to thrive on reviews, what someone thinks about her/his reading experience. There are professional review services. There are housewives, husbands, people in book clubs, avid readers who are moved to comment about a writer’s effort. It is a fact of life in the relationship between reader and writer.

So, you have written what you consider a relatively good book…sure, even you can in the final pre-publish reading find things you could change — extend a section, remove a section, embellish here, there, increase the length, decrease the length, etc. In the end you feel that you have written an entertaining book, maybe not the perfect quintessential novel that you know is still inside you somewhere but a good book. The reviews line up, the 5-Star, the 3-Star, the 1-Star, the fractional Star, and you begin to analyze the reviews, maybe even agree with a point or two the people are making. The emotions begin to swirl. Of course, you gravitate toward the 5-Star, 4-Star reviews and are elated. The bad reviews bring conflicting thought patterns…there is an initial sinking feeling which will likely become anger, and, at some point, you will equivocate, deny, only to finally acknowledge that perhaps the negative points made in the bad reviews have validity.

Your thought processes on reviews run the gamut. ‘What gives this person the right to publicly condemn my efforts, this Hannah Housewife, this Harold Husband’? Hell, I likely gave them the book free on amazon during a free giveaway day! Cost them nothing and they’re critiquing me! You go back and re-read the 5-Star and 4-Star reviews, get some renewed sustenance. But, most of all, you’re in a dither and doubting yourself and your writing talent because you could not please everyone. Chances are very good you are not being controlled by a publicist, someone who shelters you from this wasteful dithering. As an independent author you are a one-person publishing house, writing, editing, marketing, promoting, getting lost in all the digital world’s ‘ways and means.’

Does an established, famous, author get a mixture of critiques? Perhaps not so many because the pros have the reading Pavlov public 5-Star oriented. But the truth is, yes, even these most popular penners of best sellers get their negative reviews as well. They have a much better shield in place to deflect the nasty words that cause the dithering.

All of this is not to say that you, I, and the countless other writers do not have our book flaws. Most probably, we have many flaws in our books, and with each new book we write, we are getting less and less errata. We are, as they say, growing our craft. Will we get to that stage where we live among the giants of our writing world? Some certainly will because talent cannot be denied too long.

It is difficult to separate ourselves from the critics in the writing field, but we can remember what our reasons are for writing. We will still experience the dithering, but it seems to me we have to stay true to whom we are. If we are getting 5-Stars along with some minimal Stars, somebody likes us. And, that is the message: remember your reasons for writing and just know that somebody likes us. My belief is you get better with each writing effort. Just stay committed to your course. Somebody Likes Us!

Billy Ray Chitwood (Rpt)

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I’m Alone

I’m Alone

With only my memories… 

I sit alone on the hill

and watch the sunset…

Faces float by in surreal silence

And, In words

only I can hear,

each tells a story of My life,

unadorned with gratuitous Words

of praise and solicitude…

With each face, 

  With each story,

I know where I have failed and

Corrupted my own existence.

On the still sultry air,

I hear ‘could have been’ echoes

Through the lonely caverns

Of my soul.

I sit alone

as the Sun hastens

The night

and the demons 

Of regret and remorse.

A Life so frivolously wasted

On Wanderlust and Longing.

So it must be

that a life be lived

In such disarray

no matterThe Cause…

For it is fodder

for theFools to come.

*

@Billy Ray Chitwood – April 29, 2016-RW

butterfly

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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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My Way

My Way

My Way

There is so much enjoyment derived from my interface with Twitter followers and my blog family. That said, there is a little voice inside of me to which I must listen. What is that little voice saying to me? ‘BR, your business is writing, and you must get back to it…there’s a book waiting to be finished and more in your mind.

The thing is, I’m only special as an author to myself, but I love to write and have the characters in those words and phrases give me an inkling of who I am. You see, for me, that’s what writing is all about. Sure, it’s a story with plot and sub-plots going somewhere, but it’s so much more than that to me… Perhaps, it is that way for you as well.

Yes, it would be very nice to be a best-selling author, have 5-Star reviews from thousands – ah, make it, millions! Nice to have hit movies made of what I pen. And, I must say, I’ve had glimmers of that sort of praise.

Yet, it is no secret that I’m an octogenarian living in Twilight and I have within this cranial wall more books to write, perhaps, some short stories and poetry. Age is over-rated as a condition for giving up what you love to do, but some of the side-roads of writing can become rather tedious and overly time-consuming.

So, I am going to continue to write my blog posts and occasionally follow and respond to other blogs, tweet and retweet, but I won’t let those activities interfere with my basic goal of exhausting what is left of this mind of mine for story writing. In other words, perhaps it is better to say I’m worn-out from trying to keep up with the blogs and social media that I have not the energy left to caretake my first love – writing in the longer mode, that of books!

I’m aware that this is a selfish position to take, that is, ‘you read my blog posts but I will only selectively read yours’. Of course, I will perhaps lose most of you, and that will make me sad. It is quite remarkable to me that so many blog hosts write so many posts in one day. It’s difficult for me to understand how they do it, unless, of course, that is the only writing they do. Please, don’t mis-read me here. ‘Thirty-One Flavors’ is there for all lovers of ice cream, be it Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry… So, the blog host is writing and satisfying her/his desire to write, and I think that is wonderful.

I figure on living to 105! That gives me yet time to create that best-seller…the only problem with that is, I likely won’t be able to comprehend the worth of it all! Tee-Hee!

My sincere affection for all!

Billy Ray Chitwood – May 18, 2018

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