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Ode to Lamentation

Ode to Lamentation

 

What is it makes us yearn?

Lonely in peculiar ways?

Is it only hearts of Romantics

That connect to life’s gauzy haze?

 

What of a past we must give up?

Nights in love’s joyous cloud?

Is it so simple to pass and merely

Become one with the crowd?

 

What mocks us most in life?

The mistakes we made in our pace?

The glory that might have been?

Or the wrinkles upon our face?

 

Does dimension lie beyond this orb?

Does Heaven or Hell Await?

Tis written, ‘ours not to know’?

Doth then we yield to fate?

*

©Billy Ray Chitwood – April 6, 2019

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Appalachia and Me

Appalachia and Me

Standing at the window I could see her working in the earth, planting her garden, a plot of ground she alone had created on the hard prairie soil of our eighty-acre ‘Lazy Rabbit Ranch’

My emotions were trade-mark soft and tender with no discernable reason. Tears welled and fell down my cheeks. It was at that time when gout attacks were frequent in my life, had me limping in painful, short steps. I wanted to be there in the garden with my wife, sharing the joy of her moments. The tears lasted for a brief period until I turned them off, returned to the library to render time typing on my Star Writer Word processor.

Time and again my mind slipped away from the characters and plot lines of the book I was writing on the Star Writer, slipping back to my wife in the garden, then, into assessing the emotional source of my tears. Of course, I quickly rid my mind of the gout pain being the root cause of sob-time…it was so much more than that.

My life at the Lazy Rabbit Ranch was rather rich with melodramatic episodic introspections, likely sufficient enough to abundantly satisfy any reclining position taken on a psychiatrist’s sofa. Plus, it would surely be a dead give-away to mention that, yes, I was also born in Appalachia…well, of course, dear boy, that is what Appalachian lads do so very well. How else can history explain our cornball evocative ‘country music’, honky-tonk romances ‘on the fly’, and those multiple divorce court appearances?

Well, sure, I could laugh at myself along with my agents of disregard. However, were my copious life tears simply ‘crocodile’ in nature? Were my myriad emotional tendencies, my basic earthly and inherent needs, so easily explained away?

My hasty conclusion would not necessarily surprise anyone, but I said at the time – and, I say now – No, they were not… they are not.

This may be fundamental to many people, but, hey, I was just getting it – right then, ‘after all those tear-years’, right then, at the Lazy Rabbit Ranch ‘cry episode’.

The ‘gout attack’ was not the sole reason for the crying.

Pardon my flippancy, but it was the south where all those degenerate, debt-owing, thieves in the night were deposited when they arrived from across the pond from Europe. I’m guessing that after a while we had some sweet and pure genteel groups coming into Appalachia mixing with our chromosomic/genetic machinery, getting us all ‘cornfused’ about proper etiquette, language, books, and stuff. Shucks, we could have had our own country by now, just wheeling, dealing, killing, and dying way too young…if the ‘genteel groups’ had just stayed away.

Sitting there that day at my lovely mahogany desk the way I figured it was: with so many low IQ folks, mixing their vulgarities with the stealing and killing, their mindless behaviors, by the time I came out of my Mom’s womb, I was doomed to be a sort of half-breed…that is, part of me got some of that ‘rough and tumble’ stuff, and the other part got some of those genteel qualities.

Just like then, I can’t figure out why I’m crying now.

Hmm, I’m wondering… My wife is outside, working on another darn flower garden. Is she trying to tell me something?

Guess I better get to writing another book.

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 3, 2019

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Two Parrots

Two Parrots

There were two southern preachers, one, an old-time Baptist sermon-master, the other, an old-time Methodist sermon-master.

Now, these two ‘good ole boys’ did have something more or less in common: each of them had a parrot. I’m talking here about parrots that can speak words clearly and often.

The Baptist preacher had this male parrot that spewed ugly words and phrases, did in fact at times take the good Lord’s name in vain. I mean, this parrot was something else, and the preacher was embarrassed anytime people visited him in his parish house.

The Methodist preacher had this female parrot that sat in her cage and prayed all day long. Now, the Methodist preacher liked the fact that his female parrot was all holy and full of grace, but he wanted her to step out of the religious role occasionally.

Well, the two preachers became friends because they both met up at the pet shop where they got their parrots, and had so much in common – with God, sinners, and all…so, they just took to each other and began their friendship.

There came the night the Baptist preacher had his new Methodist preacher friend over for an evening chat. Well, wouldn’t you know, that doggone male parrot started up with all his cuss-words and mini-phrases that were, well, just downright nasty stuff for the ears to pick-up.

Well, the two preachers talked long and hard on the subjects of their two parrots. The Methodist preacher allowed that his female parrot prayed all day long, and that was all well and good. But, the Methodist preacher didn’t want his parrot so full of grace that she couldn’t open up a bit.

The Baptist preacher had the opposite problem and he wanted a little more grace in his male parrot, not those nasty words and phrases all his waking hours.

So, the two preachers talked, as I said, long and hard, and finally came up with an idea they both figured just might work…

What they figured to do was to put both parrots, the female praying parrot and the male cussing parrot, into a bigger cage and see if the two could maybe come out of their different shells and become more suitable in their behavior patterns.

So, one Saturday the preachers went to the pet shop, got a bigger cage, took that cage back to the Baptist preacher’s parish house, set it up with the little seats on each side of the cage, a cute little swinging apparatus, and little seeds that parrots just love.

Well, here’s what happened…

The preachers put both parrots inside the cage and closed the little gate. The male parrot that said the nasty words went to one side of the cage, and the female parrot that prayed all day long went to the other side of the cage…and those two parrots just sat there and stared at each other.

The preachers stood there shaking their heads for the better part of an hour, and those two parrots just sat and stared at each other.

Just when the preachers were about to make a move and put the parrots back in their own cages, the male parrot winked an eye and said to the female parrot: “Hey, baby, how ‘bout a little loving?”

The preachers looked at each other, both a little embarrassed with the situation, but stood and waited…

Finally, after several seconds passed, the female parrot says: “What do you think I’ve been praying for?”

Well, don’t you know? Those two parrots are still together, but they don’t talk that much…the Baptist preacher finally rigged some dark shades for the two parrots’ love-privacy for those moments when there was just no other route to go.

Oh, one last thing, the Baptist preacher became a book editor for whatever in the world the reason, and that fine Methodist preacher became a down-and-out fiction writer…

Go figure…

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 24, 2019

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The House on Guthrie Place

The House on Guthrie Place

[All Dialogue]

“Hi, Sweetheart. Did you see the house?”

“Yes. It was immaculately beautiful, but I was frightened, Barry!”

“Why were you frightened, Edie?”

“It was the realtor’s eyes, I think, for the most part. They were menacing in their hungry stares, with an almost reddish-glow. It was enough to make me shiver with fear.”

“Where were you in the house? Which room in the house?”

“In the master bedroom. He was showing me how to work the on/off gas switch at the fireplace. It was a beautiful room, an awesome home with a rich and wonderful elegance. He bent down to reach the switch, and I bent over to see the spot and accidently brushed his side. When we stood up I had the strange notion he was going to grab me, and I took a step back toward the entry door to the master bedroom. That was the moment his eyes seemed to penetrate me, eyed me with a bold and scary stare.”

“What did you do then?”

“Well, I wasn’t positive my mind was recording the scene as I felt it so I tried to act normal, whatever that means, you know, I said: ‘Okay, can we see the kitchen and the patio area?’ and hurriedly took leave of the master bedroom.”

“And, did he show you the kitchen and patio area?”

“Yes, and as he opened the patio’s sliding glass-doors, he made body contact with me, and, I believe it was his intent to do so.”

“I rushed toward the hallway that leads to the front entrance and mumbled some silly gibberish, like, ‘Well, thank you for showing me the house. It’s very nice. I’ll bring my husband by to see it’.”

“Is that it, then, you just left? Where was the real estate agent when you left?”

“He followed me outside, acted befuddled, and yelled: ‘Are you alright, Mrs. Branson’?”

“I yelled back, ‘Yes, just running late, thank you’, and he had the last yell, ’you have my card, Mrs. Branson. Call me when you and your husband want to preview the house.’ Then, I zipped away from the curb fast, wanting to put distance between me and Nolan Wentz – just in case he planned on following me.”

“Are you sure in your own mind, Edie, that you’re not over-reacting to this encounter?”

“Well, not completely, no, and I would hate myself for the thoughts I had in that lovely house if I’m over-reacting… Call it whatever you will, Barry, but I felt my skin crawl with a ‘danger alert’, I’m convinced of that. His eyes were the ‘danger alert’, along with the touching in the master bedroom and at the patio sliding doors. With all of that, Barry, I loved the house, and you would, too. I know you would. We’ve been looking for exactly this house. I know you would love it. Are you thinking I’m embellishing all of this?”

“No, I don’t think that at all…just running the event in my mind. This could be very important, but it’s surely not enough to alert the police. Let me see his business card.”

“I put it in my purse… here, here it is.”

“Hmm, his name is Nolan Wentz…sounds vaguely familiar.”

“Do you know him?”

“No, I don’t know him. I’ve seen the name somewhere, likely in my travels.”

“What are you doing? Are you calling him?”

“Yes. I want to see the house, number one, because I want to get us out of this high-rise apartment, and, I want to check out this guy.”

“Are you sure, Barry? I do love the house, but do I have to go with you? I don’t want to see that guy again.”

 “Yes, I want you along, just in case we’re both of a mind to buy the place. I told you six months ago when we met and fell in love we would buy our dream house, and I intend to keep my word. The money is not an issue, and, if this is the house of your dreams and mine, we will buy it… shh, the phone is ringing.”

“Is Mr. Wentz in, please?”

“May I say who’s calling?”

“Barry Branson…he had a showing with my wife earlier and I would like to see the house.”

“Thank you, sir. Just a moment, please.”

“This is Nolan, how can I help you, Mr. Branson?”

“Hi, Nolan, call me, Barry, please. You showed my wife a house on Guthrie Place. She likes it very much so we would like to preview it again. When can you be available to show the house?”

“My time is easy, Barry. I can be at the Guthrie Place estate this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon. I have appointments in the morning.”

“Good. We’re easy, too, so can we meet at 3:00 PM this afternoon at the Guthrie Place residence?”

“I’ll be happy to meet you there at 3:00 PM, Barry. Your wife, I believe, has the gate code for Guthrie Place?”

“Yes, she has it, Nolan, so we’ll see you there at 3:00 PM. Good-bye.”

“Okay, Edie, you heard, we’re set for 3:00 PM. I know you’re nervous about seeing the guy, but I’ll be with you. Hey, it just could be our dream home.”

*

“The area is fantastic, Edie, so much greenery, flowers, trees, and the waterfall at the gate is a great selling point. The homes are all custom-built and so lovely.”

“Wait until you see the home, Barry. It’s fantastic. I just hope I’m wrong about Nolan Wentz.”

“Me, too, sweetheart. Hell, I feel at home already…”

“Okay, this is it, Barry, there, where the two tall palm trees stand. The Homeowners Association allows curb parking for possible buyers of property. Just park here.”

“Hey, I like our new house number, 711 Guthrie Drive. That’s a great number on the green felt of a Las Vegas casino crap table. Sounds somehow ‘right’ just saying it. I know, I know. We have a dual-purpose here. ‘Scope out Nolan Wentz and like the house’.

“Ah, the birds are tweeting, welcoming us to our new home, Edie…love the flagstone walkway treatment and drive-way. Hmm, I see Mr. Wentz at the front door waiting for us. Good-looking dude. How nice, big smile and all. Hope you’re wrong about the man, Edie.”

“Hi, folks, come on in. Welcome to your new home…sorry if I’m being presumptuous, Mr. and Mrs. Branson. Just trying for levity. How are you, Mrs. Branson? You left so fast earlier today, you had me worried.”

“Just running late to meet Barry for lunch.”

“Well, why don’t I put away my sales pitch and you two make the rounds inside and out. I’ll be right here in the parlor if you need to ask questions about anything, anything at all…”

“What lovely furnishings! Edie never mentioned…”

“Oh, she didn’t know, but all the furniture stays. It’s ‘turn-key’ and that includes all the kitchen goodies, china, silverware, plates, the whole enchilada, as they say… An unfortunate divorce and neither one wants to come near the house again. Crazy, huh? You, Barry, I’m betting, will fall in love with the exercise room and large steam shower – it will seat at least six people, that is, if there’s a need for that many…but, you two go ahead and make yourselves at home. Each residence in Guthrie Place sets on one-half acre and most of the homes have pools and spas, out-door kitchens, and very lovely landscaping…yell if you need a question answered…”

“Nolan’s a good-looking guy, Edie. He doesn’t look like the kind of guy who would come onto a client…not that I think you were mis-representing anything…just saying.”

“You know, I agree, Barry. It all had to be just me! Gawd! It’s like I’m previewing this beautiful residence for the first time. I just love it…”

*

“Nolan, we…oops, sorry, didn’t see the cell phone…”

“I’m off now… So, what do you think of 711 Guthrie Place?”

“We think you need to get our offer written up and to the sellers ASAP. We want a fast closing, and it’s a cash deal.”

“Oh, be quiet, my heart. It’s thumping wildly. Are you talking a full-price offer?”

“Yes, no, haggling! Everything stays as it is – all things we see here stays here. Understood?”

“Understood, for sure. That is exactly the way the sellers wanted it…sorry if my handshake is a bit moist, Barry and Edie. This is quite a day for me. You just put me in the sales-leader position at the agency. Thank you so very much. I will require a fairly high sum down. Is that a problem?”

“No, that’s no problem. Give me a figure and I’ll write a check. To whom do I make the check out?”

“Langley Escrow Service…you understand I’m sure the mortgage company must do a search for any liens and so forth. It’s routine to check your bank for the rather high deposit amount. There must be a ‘close of escrow’ as well, so it will all take a few days. Is that a problem for you?”

“No, no problem.”

“Again, thank you so much. I’ll be sending you copies of paperwork as we go through this procedure. Mailing stuff can take a few days, or, if you like, I can drop the paper off to you. Mailing it will take up to a week, maybe longer, with real estate transactions running sometimes a bit slow.”

“Mail is fine. No need for the legwork…”

*

“Why did you make the check so big, Barry?”

“Well, they’re going to get the full amount anyhow… 1.5 million! This way, maybe we get into our new home a bit quicker.”

“True, but half the amount, $750,000? Ah, you know what you’re doing. I love you, big guy. It is such a beautiful house. Hopefully, by the time you get back from your 10-day trip to Cincinnati, all the paperwork will be done, and we’ll move in with just our suit-cases. To be honest, I’ll miss our luxury high-rise condo, but all that room at our new place…so much fun in the anticipation. ”

“If the close comes faster and they want the rest of the money, you write the check. Okay?”

“Sure, if you want me to. God! The pen in my hand will shake, writing a check that big. I love you, Barry, and thank you for our beautiful new home.”

*

“Hey, Edie, I’m home. Edie. You here, Edie? Hmm, she knew when I was getting home. Probably, shopping…”

*

“Yeah, operator, how do I get information? I can’t seem to get it on my phone…”

“Hang on, sir. I’ll connect you to ‘information’.”

“Information…can I help you?”

“Yeah, can you find the number for Langley Escrow Service?”

“Just a moment, sir…”

“How are you spelling that name, sir?”

“Langley…L-A-N-G-L-E-Y, Escrow Service, unless there is no ‘e’ at the end of Langley.”

“Just a moment, sir.”

“Sir, are you there?”

“Yeah, I’m here…what’s the number?”

“I’m sorry, sir, I find no number for Langley, L-A-N-G-L-E-Y, Escrow Service listed.”

“No, no, there’s got to be a listing for Langley Escrow Service. I just bought a house that went through Langley Escrow Service.”

“I’m sorry, Sir. I do not have a listing for that company.”

“You must have. C’mon, check again…”

“Just a moment, sir…”

“Sir?”

“Yes.”

“There is no Langley Escrow Service listed in our city, sir. I’m terribly sorry for your inconvenience.”

“My inconvenience! My inconvenience! That company has my money. You have to have it listed.”

“I’m so sorry, sir. Would you like to speak to my on-duty supervisor?”

“Yes. Yes, let me speak to your supervisor. My God, when the phone company can’t help you, what the hell…”

“Hello, Sir, I’m the Supervisor on duty, and I’m so sorry to make you wait. The operator stated the problem, sir, and she told you correctly. We do not have a listing for Langley Escrow Service.”

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”

“I’m sorry, Sir.”

*

“Can I help you, Sir? You look like you could use some help.”

“I need to talk to one of your detectives…

“What’s the problem, Sir?”

“I’ve been swindled out of one million five hundred thousand dollars.”

“Geez. That is a problem… When did this swindle happen?

“Two weeks ago.”

“Two weeks ago, huh?”

“That’s what I said. I didn’t stutter. I’m hurting here! Get me a detective.”

“Hey, don’t get snappy with me, Pal…(hmm, if this guy has just lost one and a half million dollars, I’m Queen Elizabeth without the sex-change…) Hold on a minute, Sir. I’ll get a detective.

©Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood – March 5, 2019

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Misty Lee and the Miracle on Ames Street

Misty Lee and the Miracle on Ames Street

– A Short Story –

Misty Lee Weaver closed the oven lid on a Pot Roast dinner, smiled with satisfaction as the warm aroma reached her nostrils. Soft violin music came from the ‘great room’ speakers, and she suddenly thought of Alex and their lives together after only five months of marriage.

The smile widened. Her eyes closed as the memories came to her from their honeymoon in Cabo, the suite at the Hilton, the magnificent views from their large deck of the cobalt Sea of Cortez and the frothy surf gently, rhythmically lapping the beach below their stately quarters. In her mind she could see them on the winding path down to the sea, laughing, pausing to kiss and momentarily aroused by the touching of their bodies – almost returning to the suite to once again couple in the joy of their love.

Misty sat at the kitchen bar, still smiling, still lost in the thoughts of early months of marriage, when she felt a slight twitch to her body, just enough to take her away from her thoughts…

What was that?  She thought aloud. She stood, looked around the large room, thinking perhaps a painting had fallen from a wall. Nothing out of place. Just one of those foundation-settling moments, she thought, remembering Alex mentioning that at another time in their brief residence on Ames Street.

Back in the kitchen Misty retrieved a large bowl from a cabinet and began to gather the fresh lettuce and other ingredients for a salad. She relaxed again. It was only 3:15 and Alex would not be home until 6:00 or later. Being the Chief Executive Officer of Spartan Software Inc left his arrival-time home sometimes at odds with home plans. However, he convinced her that his arrival home would be no later than 6:00 or 6:30 max. She smiled again as she chopped her salad mixings into chewable bites, the way Alex preferred.

She washed two Idaho potatoes for baking, wrapped them in aluminum foil and placed them in the large fridge until baking time. She checked again her Pot Roast, modified the heating, and was ready to relax on the patio for some Arizona sun. She would still have time for a shower before putting final touches on dinner.

Misty climbed the stairs to the huge master bedroom and changed into her bikini. She looked briefly into the big ornate mirror that covered one complete wall of the sitting area in the suite. Well, Misty, you’re still a ‘babe’ as Alex referred to you admiringly that very first night of the honeymoon. It was good they waited until their wedding night…the build-up to that night was torture for both of them, but they did not give in to their sexual desires.

She put some lotion on her body, wrapped her long, lovely blond hair into a ‘bun’ and went out into the backyard oasis, complete with flower gardens, large boulders, lush green grass, a meandering pool, and a fulgent Sun. The Weaver property sat on two and a half acres, as did all the homes in this luxurious and high-end neighborhood.

Just as Misty reclined into a soft beach chair, she felt again that twitch to her body. If not a twitch, it felt like she might be losing her balance. Am I pregnant? Is the twitch I’m feeling about my being PG? Oh, my God! It’s too soon to have babies. Besides, I’m taking the pill. So what the hell is it, Misty Lee?

A lovely cardinal flew close by her chair as if to say ‘hello’ and that brought her mind back to the nice thoughts of Alex getting home, having cocktails out here near the rose garden, then a bottle of red wine with dinner. After the cardinal flew away a humming bird flew up and lingered for a while. She thought it was the same humming bird that was her regular visitor when she came to the pool and garden areas.

The humming bird flew off, leaving Misty to think about life’s connections to all living things. Her lips formed another smile with the thoughts, and, as she settled again in the recliner, the ‘twitch’ came, this time not so subtle as before, this time she could not dismiss her thoughts so easily.

Misty brought her chair upright and stared at the pool. There was a crack in the house-side of the pool that was of significant width. That crack was not there before. That crack was not there when I came out a few moments ago. What is going on? Earth-quake?

Now she was really focused and alarmed. She went back into the house, and, over her bikini, put on soft blue boutique jeans and beige top-wear. As she descended the stairsteps she again felt the twitch, the shudder, that sudden feeling akin to vertigo. Her concern was reaching a fever-pitch. She was nearing hysteria. She needed contact with the outside world.

She picked up the telephone in the downstairs hall-way and punched the digit that would automatically connect her to Alex. The phone gave up no sound. It was as though her ear was picking up the sound of pure silence, dark, deep, and foreboding. She felt a suffocating tightness to her breathing and fought for air.

Misty dropped the phone on the hall table and willed her feet toward the front door. She needed to be outside where there was space. She took two steps when another head-swimming sensation made her fall to the polished wood entry floor.

On hands and knees struggling for air she crawled to the large heavy door. She had to get outside to fresh air. The air-condition equipment was off as well as the phone, and her fear was giving way to a suffocating anxiety. She knew she was close to passing out if she did not make it outside.

The door. The heavy extra-large door was obtrusive and unwieldy. She could not reach the lock-switch and door handle from her knees. She tried to stand and fell again to the floor as she heard a thunderous roar from somewhere in the house behind her.

Oh, my dear God! Please help me!

From some hidden reservoir tears came, falling from her cheeks onto the lovely beige and mauve entrance rug. She tried desperately to rise from her knees and finally managed to grab at the ornate door fixture and pulled herself to an awkward stance as another roar erupted behind her.

In a final desperate tug at the heavy door, it opened with just enough space for her to squeeze through to the outside mat and flagstone. Somewhere in a far-away recess of her mind, cymbals clashed with loud clarity and a great rumbling. Then, a total heaviness clung to her entire body accompanied by darkness and finally nothingness.

*

The entire house had crumbled into a shallow pit, a massive pile of brick, concrete, stucco, wood, and broken, scarred, and twisted household furnishings.

Just the Weaver house! No other houses in the city’s most exclusive gated community was sacrificed to the horrible devastation. The air was filled with the clinging dust, bits and pieces of what was left of the furnishings.

The fire trucks arrived.

The police arrived.

The EMTs arrived.

The News reporters arrived, wanting, getting a huge scoop.

All entities to arrive were caught in the end-of-day traffic of workers going home. Freeways east and west, north and south, were always busy at this time of the day, and this enclave was fed by all of those road-arteries.

Neighbors gawked and were petrified at the site, with underlying concerns for their own dwellings. The sounds from the Weaver house collapse were heard in a five-mile radius and had people thinking thoughts of bombings, of riots, of the evening news finally unfolding into reality in an ugly way.

The neighbor nearest to the Weavers, Jeffrey James, was the first to talk to the police and fire department personnel. Mr. James had little to share, was alerted by the loudness and shocked by the visible remains of his neighbors’ dwelling… ‘Yes, they were friends with the Weavers, but they had no idea of any trouble with their property. It just went sinking into the earth. Crazy!

Mr. James was asked by both a policeman and the fire chief: “Was anyone at home? Is someone under all of that?”

“I’m afraid Mrs. Weaver was home. At least, I said ‘hi’ to her when I walked the dog around 1:00 PM. My God, I hope I’m wrong. She was…is a very lovely lady – and a good neighbor. They both are. My wife, Lily, and I enjoy their company with some regularity…”

Talking to his fire crew, Chief Andrew Appleton announced: “Okay, people, we have a couple of hours, maybe more, of good daylight. Let’s use our best efforts in finding Mrs. Weaver. Take particular care in moving the obstacles on that pile, ladies and gents. We could very likely have a lady underneath. There could also be ‘space spots’ and some wedging spots, so it’s worth repeating, BE CAREFUL! Yell out when you find the…when you find Ms. Weaver. We need to have an ambulance standing by. Be quick in case she’s still alive, but be extra careful. Also, I don’t believe that hole can be too deep. However, at this point we have no way of knowing for sure.”

Andrew paused, looked over at the small group of neighbors.

“Do any of you know if someone contacted Alex Weaver?”

Jeffrey James spoke, “I called him as soon as I heard the noise, Chief. He’s on his way, but he’s likely jammed up in the freeway traffic.”

When all the words from the gathered were spoken, sounds of quiet activity came from the rubble.

Ten minutes later, there came a soft rumbling at the site.

A fireman yelled out from the pit. “It’s okay, I just disturbed a wedge-spot. The pile only dropped a few inches. No problem.”

The only sounds over the next thirty minutes came from the fire crew removing debris.

A white BMW came racing to the site, Alex Weaver’s face a mask of distress as he hurriedly slammed his car door and walked to the small group supervising the clearing of debris.

Alex didn’t speak. He only gazed in amazement and agony at what was once his home. Soon, tears fell slowly down his cheek. The two men and one woman in the gathered debris site all looked at Alex Weaver, about to say something, but stopped. Instead, Lance Cahill, the Chandler, AZ Police Chief, wrapped an arm around Alex and whispered, “I’m so sorry, Alex.”

Police Chief Lance Cahill was also Alex Weaver’s friend and high school buddy from years back. They were on the Chandler High School’s football team and both vied for Misty Lee Sproul, a most lovely majorette in the marching band. The vying for Misty Lee’s hand was a serious ‘contest’, but there would never be a jealousy in the two men’s relationship.

Alex, tried to speak, choked up and could only take deep breaths of air. He closed his eyes and slowly nodded to this friend.

A lady fireman yelled out, “We’ve found her!”

“Stay back, please!” Jeffrey James yelled to the small crowd, allowing only Alex and Lance to advance to the site edge.

“I’ve got a pulse,” the lady fireman smiled as she spoke the words. “She was protected by space yielded by the big entry door that was resting on a big chunk of furniture between her and other debris. It looks like the entire house miraculously disintegrated over that door and Ms. Weaver was somehow clinging or pinned to the door. She’s ‘out’ but there doesn’t appear to be any broken bones, even, cuts and bruises on her body. Wow, Chief! This is truly a miracle.”

A loud cheer went up from the neighbors and all those present at the pit.

Alex fell to his knees, sighed deeply, quickly recovered, and wanted to go to his wife but was held back by his friend. “Please, Alex, let the medics do their work. They know what they’re doing.”

When Misty Lee was lifted safely from the big pit of debris, the EMTs began their examination, passing along their information to a doctor at the Chandler Hospital. After thoroughly checking Misty for cuts, breaks, breathing anomalies, Alex and Lance were given a ‘thumbs up’ while Misty was placed into the ambulance.

Alex followed Lance and his sirens in the BMW to the hospital unimpeded by traffic.

The family doctor, Dr. Victor Dawkins, arrived at the hospital before the ambulance and worked with the intern to stabilize Misty Lee. When she finally came out of her brief coma, the shock became secondary to another problem. There appeared to be what the intern and Dr. Dawkins described as some form of temporary amnesia.

Misty Lee was awake but was completely unaware of what happened before or after her house collapsed all around her.

Alex was now jubilant to know that his beloved wife was alive and breathing but had an obvious concern over her amnesia.

The ensuing days brought various medical tests and specialist consultations. Eschewing work save for phone connections, Alex was there with Misty as she endured her frustration and her elation when bits of memory returned.

Through some unconscious assimilation of mind quakes Misty was able to put Alex together again, to understand how and why she came to love him. His attentiveness and devotion to her was constantly there before her, and, without a total recall of all events in her life, she was able to fall in love with Alex all over again.

Finally, all of Misty’s memories were back. She could vividly remember the day on Ames Street when the house crumbled around her but it brought no angst, no emotional wreckage. Her life returned pleasant+ly to the halcyon days of jogging, shopping, and lazily sun bathing by a pool.

A new home came available on Ames Street, and Alex purchased it. The house was smaller, less grand than the one that collapsed from an underground water anomaly. The new home was indeed elegant, but smaller, less pretentious to public viewing than the other, though that was never necessarily a qualifier for Alex. He was an intelligent man made from his own unique qualities of hard work, a charitable man who carried inside a compassion for those who had less than he and Misty.

Eventually, the lives of Misty Lee and Alex Weaver would re-establish its peaceful, romantic essence. For anyone who knew the Weavers, the couple was the paragon of love and married bliss. And, so, it truly was.

Then came some issues at work that kept Alex at his office late into the night. He was trying to hold his company together, traveling more to visit old clients he did wish to lose. Alex did not know for sure, but he thought someone in the company was trying to sabotage him.

*

It was two years to the date that the Weaver home collapsed on Ames Street when Misty Lee slipped, fell at the new pool, and hit her head on the hard tile surface. She lost consciousness for several minutes. Disoriented and frightened when she came around, not sure what happened and where she was, she saw blood drops on the tile surface.

Misty looked all around, trying to find knowledge of this place she found herself. Her soft blue-green eyes released tears that fell softly down her cheeks. She sat on a stuffed recliner, tried to get her bearings, nervous, scared by her disorientation. She took deep breaths and felt around her lovely blond hair to assess further damage to her head until she finally remembered her fall.

She went into the house. In the powder room she saw the damage done to her head, a small cut at the brow of the left eye. She cotton-swabbed the area with alcohol, dabbed it with iodine, and applied a band-aid. She carefully showered, dressed in jeans and a denim blouse, and felt better. The cut was not so serious, though it might leave a small scar. She was fine. Nothing to worry about.

When Alex arrived home around ten o’clock that evening, she was overjoyed to see him. She rushed to him, kissed and embraced him.

“Hey, what’s with the band-aid?”

“Fell at the pool, nothing serious… You’re late again. Is everything okay at work?”

“Ah, Misty, it seems to get more complicated with each new day, but I don’t want to worry you about business at the moment. Let’s have a drink.”

They talked for a while, had cocktails, and watched an old John Wayne movie.

Later, preparing for bed, Alex said, “I’ve got to go to Los Angeles tomorrow for a few days. I’m trying to get this madness at work straightened out. I’d take you with me, but there would be no time for us to be together. You know, meetings during the day, group business dinners, you know the routine. Sorry, Misty Lee.”

“It’s okay, but I’ll miss you. Hope you get all this worked out so we can get our lives back.”

“It will happen, Misty. You feeling okay after that fall at the pool?”

“Yes, I’m fine. I’m a Klutz. What can I say?”

“You’re not a Klutz. Just, be careful. I don’t want to lose you. I love you, Misty Lee.”

“I know. I love you, too, my dear sweet Alex.”

*

Misty Lee returned home from shopping and lunch with her long-time friend, Alicia, around 3:20 PM. After putting her bounty in the Master Suite closet, she retrieved her latest Nelson DeMille novel and went to the Sunroom. It was a beautiful day, but she didn’t wish to lounge at the pool. She preferred her reading at this particular time of the day, and the Sunroom was her favorite spot in the house.

Pausing momentarily in a ‘meaty part’ of the novel, she sighed…such a good writer, she thought. At the same time her thought came there was an insistent chiming of the front door. Stop with the ringing. I’m coming already…

When she reached the front door, opened it, she found no one on the portico.

On the mat below the big door there was large Manila envelope. A bit wary but recognizing her gated and safe habitat, she picked up the envelope and carried it to the Sunroom. The envelope had some heft and on the front was printed in neat lettering her name: For: Misty Lee Weaver. There were no stamps, so someone left the envelope and dashed away – either on foot or in a car… She had taken very little time getting to the front door.

Ah, a mystery to solve, she idly thought.

Back in the Sunroom she put the envelope on the coffee table next to her stuffed chair and stared at it for some minutes. With a mild whispered rebuff to herself – Ah, open the darned thing! – she quickly grabbed the envelope and ripped it open, spilling its contents onto her lap.

There was an 8×10 sheet of paper wrapped around a black video tape. She looked at the dainty, neat writing on the sheet of paper.

Mrs. Misty Lee Weaver

You will no doubt be interested in the

Content of this video tape.

Sorry but you needed to know!

Unwelcomed thoughts crowded her mind, wild imaginings crossed and re-crossed, numbing her with a reluctant fear. She could not, would not, like what was on the video tape. Enough books, movies, the personal note itself, had left that indelible impression with her.

So, what do I do? Throw it out? View it and be sorry that I did? The person who left this at the door is for sure a diabolical jerk. Yes, throw it out.

She picked up the video tape, carried it to the garbage chute, and hesitated for long seconds. She had no enemies that she knew of. Surely, the person leaving the tape most definitely felt it important that I know its contents…even if ‘sorry’ that I had to view it.

Darn, life has so many devilish ways to hit people where it really hurts, and this tape is going to hurt. It is not good news someone left at our door, and whoever left it knows my curiosity will get the best of me. Darn it, they’re right…whoever ‘they’ are.

Misty Lee went to the theater room, placed the tape into the DVR equipment, hit the play button, and listened and watched.

What she heard and what she saw made her retch. The tape was both shocking and morally wicked. With tears blinding her way, she went stumbling to the master bedroom suite. Misty looked vacuously out the bedroom window but did not see the sun-splashed pool nor the green of the grass and the long row of hedge, nor the lovely flower garden that always gave joy to her senses. 

Misty retched several times, then dry-heaved until she thought she might pass out. A great sweeping, suffocating, anxiety attack hit her. She could not stop the ferocious ‘tiger’ stalking her, coming unimpeded to consume her. There was no longer caring for her safety and well-being. Inside her lovely body she felt the tiger’s approach and sought only relief from the chaotic numbness in her body. She could not go on. 

With the crying and the retching, she took a sleeping pill…

The tiger still came. One sleeping pill did not work, so she took another…

Then, another…

Then, another…

When the pill bottle was empty, Misty Lee smiled, closed her eyes, and died in the placid fumes of her Nirvana.

©Billy Ray Chitwood – February 20, 2019

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Altar of Remembrance

Altar of Remembrance

All things you are to me I now render unto our altar of remembrance…

No long list this of platitudes and love words written idly…

Our love deserves a solemn, sublime space here in the domains of our souls…

Reach gentle fingers to your heart and watch the wispy thoughts of yesterday rise softly before you…

With caressing fingers hold the moments that filled us with memories for the ‘morrow…

Smile with dreamy eyes the awkward delivery of our first kiss…

Ah, the wafting scent of the fragrances we sprayed on our bodies…

And the blushes we could not hide during the early blooming of our love…

The tedious nourishing of those magical moments when our bodies touched in the night…

The balladeers and violins of enchanting moments at our favorite bistros…

So many endearments…and I must leave you now with a misty good-bye…

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2019

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Oo-La-La

Oo-La-La

I was fixed to the spot, could not move, did not wish to move, my eyes absorbing every nuance of movement her body made. She was without question the most beautiful model ever seen by these aging orbs. Her curves caused me to emit an unexaggerated ‘Oo-la-la’! All my senses were alerted to her beauty, and it no longer mattered that the people standing nearby could see my drool. If ever there was a more exquisite shape of loveliness, lines so perfectly molded…Ooh, be still, my heart! Transfixed as I was in those moments, nothing mattered more than that body in front of me. I had to have it, and have it I would! No one would talk me out of having that body! It was mine! All mine.

I grabbed the nearest hungry-looking salesman and purchased that dream-car on the spot.

Eat you heart out, world!

She’s all mine!

Shiny and New!

All mine!

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2019

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Souls Refreshed

Souls Refreshed

In the vast blue sky a lone, odd cloud shaped in a halo-like pose appeared on the distant mountain, a most unusual configuration, the sun giving it a beautiful glow and contrast along the far amber slopes.

The mule abruptly halted! I was stopped short with the plow handles slamming into my chest.

I stood in the freshly plowed furrow and gazed in wonder as did ‘old Fred’, the mule. It was a sight that came with a trilling sound, not of thunder with trailing streaks of jagged lightning bolts, but a whispering of strange archaic words in a soft musical cadence. The Sun was directly above me yet a broad shadow without darkness hovered just above the plowed field. There came an eerie stillness that filled the air. No longer were the birds tweeting. No longer could I see the bugs and worms of the earth. Never had I witnessed silence like this. Not a sound came to me in those strange moments after the soft trilling of echoic words. It was as though the ground upon which I stood, the air and space all around me was now a vast surreal cathedral. The tweetless birds dipped and flowed above in muted harmony of movement. I stood spellbound on seemingly sacred soil, and an amazing feeling of grace passed through my body. In that still hallowed moment I felt the essence of God.

Millie stopped in her tracks some twenty feet away, dropped the food she was bringing me at lunchtime. Her hands shook, reached, clasped her cheeks, and her face was bewildered, blanched with surprise, her blue eyes momentarily wide with shock from the trilling sounds emanating from the the strange aberration.

Some seconds passed before I realized Millie was in my arms, her trembling body mixing with my own quivering flesh. There had been no movement. She was just…there, in my arms.

“What is it, Lucas? Is it God speaking to us?” Her voice came to me as a quaint melodic tone, but I knew what she was saying. The silence all around us would not be broken.

“I think so,” I mumbled and tightened my embrace, my own words going back to her in the same odd melodic tone. Millie looked at me as a smile came to her face in a moment of holy acknowledgement.

“The paleness, it’s…it’s transparent. The sky is blue, yet there are shadows across our land. There is nothing to bring these shadows but a sheer transparency. It’s like an enveloping sheet of gossamer that we cannot touch, but can only realize that it is there. And, the total silence is all around us. Oh, Lucas, is this the end of days? Is this what the bible speaks to us about?” Her words could have been the soft sound of an orchestral refrain.

I held her to me as though afraid of losing her. Somehow, this anomaly did not bring anxiety or great dread. We were in a state of bewilderment but found there was no panic, no reason to be afraid. It was more an inner awareness of peace, of tranquility, something holy, an aura of sanctitude.

“Could you make out the sound, Lucas? Was it talking to us?”

“I believe so. Your voice is like the sound that came from the mountain. Is mine the same?”

“Yes.”

“If it was indeed talking to us, I can only feel it was a benevolent message of hope.”

“Your voice is back to normal, Lucas.”

“As is yours, sweet Millie, and the sky is clear and without the shadows that were not there…”

Then, we laughed at my words…’the shadows that were not there’.

“Whatever that most divine sequence I feel somehow renewed, a calmness that I cannot remember having before. Do you feel that as well, Millie?”

“Yes, yes, you describe it exactly, a ‘calmness’ that purifies the spirit and makes life and death a union and constancy. We never die. Our spirits simply move into other kindred souls, in perpetuity. My good Lord, Lucas, did I just say the words I think I said?”

“You said it perfectly, Millie… Tonight, we will have red wine with our supper.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2019

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Fixed to the Spot

Fixed to the Spot!

She was so lovely!

My eyes were fixed to the spot! Never had I felt so much alive, a desire so keen that my blood was rushing to my head and to my heart. I felt on the verge of delirium, with an excitement coarsing through my veins with such intensity it could erupt any moment. If it were a sports competition no one would beat me in the hundred-yard dash. It was all so dazzling, this power surge and adrenaline spill-over.

Okay, I was hypnotized by her beauty and could not pull myself away from  her sexy lure. The thoughts that passed through my mind could get me arrested and locked away for a time. ‘Oh, baby, I would show you some moves’! 

Fixed to the spot, I could not move, did not wish to move, my eyes absorbing every nuance of movement her curvaceous body made. She was without question the most enchanting creation ever seen by these aging but beastly alive orbs. Her curves caused me to emit an unexaggerated ‘Oo-la-la’! All my senses were alerted to her beauty, and it no longer mattered that the people standing nearby could see my drool. Jeez, they had eyes! Why were they not looking at her? Was I some kind of ‘nut’ in a ‘freak show’?

If ever there was a more exquisite shape of loveliness, if ever there were lines so perfectly molded…Ooh, be still, my heart! Transfixed as I was in those moments, nothing mattered more than that body in front of me. I had to have it, and have it I would! No one could talk me out of having that body! It was mine! All mine.

I grabbed the nearest hungry-looking car salesman and purchased that handsome ‘Hunk of Metal’ on the spot.

Eat you heart out, world!

She’s all mine!

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2019

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Life’s Great Conundrum

Life’s Great Conundrum

‘Time flies’!

Remember when the concept of dying didn’t quite register with you and your life? Somehow, we were able to relegate dying to people much older than we. Death was all around us, but we never allowed the possibility for ourselves…dying was simply alien to our ‘think and act’ thoughts.

Now, here in the ‘Twilight’ years, I often consider more seriously the metaphysical aspects of death and dying. The ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’ ends at death, or, much of the world believes that is the case. Most of the time I end up muttering dumbly to myself, ‘I don’t know what I believe’! Many people accept on ‘Faith’ that when death comes for them their essence, their spirit, will go to a place where souls will live eternally, without worries. That’s a lovely thought and I want to believe that is the case.

The only evidence of ‘life after death’ comes from people who will claim they experienced a vivid vision of themselves as their spirit hovered above their death-bed, saw a bright light far-off in the black void, beckoning them to come into the light. Then, suddenly, the vision voids and they find that they are still of flesh and bone and heart-beat.

There are also accounts from some who have had Déjà vu moments, generally when some extraordinary event has taken place. For some seconds these people feel as though they have lived those moments before.

Here’s my take on death and dying.

My take is, you really were not expecting me to give some amazing new updates! One thing I’m not! I’m not an Atheist, for being an Atheist, one has to be first and foremost an arrogant ass if not an intellectual bore! Agnostic at times, I’ll grant, but no darned atheist.

I was born in Appalachia with the preacher pleading with the big congregation to come and denounce their sinful ways…this, during the heart-wrenching hymns, “JUST AS I AM” and “LET’S ALL GATHER AT THE RIVER.” Now, I was a little boy, maybe eight-years-old, and my little heart was telling me I was a terrible sinner and needed to get up and walk down that long aisle to the front of the church and allow the preacher to bless me and see me cry.

Well, as mentioned, now in ‘Twilight’, that ‘easy God’ may be gone but there is still a vestige of faith that has stayed with me through all my sins of a lifetime. The way I figure it, I’m not giving up a ‘vestige’ of Faith that maybe has in store for me a really nice eternal home, or, another chance down here on this orbiting craft of earth. Hey, if I’m right about an ‘After-Event’ of some kind, then, I made the right choice. If I’m wrong, well, hell, I’m not going to know it. Now, am I?

So, maybe a little ‘doubting Thomas’ at times, I’m going to believe those meticulous nine-months of a precision birth came from a divine and intelligent source and NOT A BIG BANG. I’ll just let pass the aggravating conundrum of ‘First Cause’, and believe I’m going to see again all those people I loved – just, maybe in a new form…this form I’m carrying to death with me has been fun at times, but I’m happy to trade it in for a new model.

Right about now, old Mark Twain would have a really funny come-back for what I’ve been trying to write here…oh, I don’t know, maybe: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Hey, you reckon old ‘Mark’ could be in this body and mind of mine writing all this good stuff for me?

Well, Sam Clemons was a damned good writer, and, if he’s in my body and mind and writing my eighteen books, you sure ought to be buying them… Just saying…

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 5, 2019

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