Tag: Writing

Tanka Tuesday

Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 80, GATHER & SOFT, #SynonymsOnly

Operation: Blue Swans

“Pilots amassed, Chief?”

“Yes, Captain, raring to go!”

“Mission Understood?”

“Yes, Sir, no cranial fluff!”

“Now hear this! God’s Speed, Blue Swans!”

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 17, 2018

https://www.billyraychitwood.com

https://twitter.com/brchitwood

Phoenix Fire

      

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

Questions:

Do you like a love story with suspense?

Do you like characters with complex issues?

Do you like a smooth flow of narrative?

Do you like vivid description with your narrative?

Do you like dramatic and tense situations?

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

Do you prefer ‘Happy Endings’?

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

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

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

*****

Chapter One

[Part of Chapter One]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

[Part of Chapter Three]

Chapter Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****  

[Part of Chapter Eleven]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A funeral …

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

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

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

A camp site in the high desert …

Carlton, Jason, smiling, joyfully playing cowboy games …

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

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

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

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

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Remembering Arnold Palmer – ‘The King’

 

2016-PGA-Arnold-Palmer-Invitational-Free-Golf-PicksRemembering Arnold Palmer -The ‘King’

This is the first day of the rest of your life!

Actually, quite a phrase if you really parse it…regarding what the words convey.

Okay, it’s 5:30 in the AM. I’m up early, chomping on the proverbial bit, with something to say, and, just not sure what’s going to roll out here.

You see, when I can’t sleep, I lie in bed and think, along with other trifling habits – like, finding a comfort zone for Arthur and me…you know Arthur, he’s the ‘itis’ in my bane of existence. Arthur’s been with me since I was a relatively young man, taking me through some painful gout attacks, joint swelling, just plain pain and misery.

However, I don’t wish to make this 5:30 AM post about Arthritis, and, I feel fine – joint-wise! So, you ask, what am I going to ramble about? Well, first of all, it’s not very nice of me to be you, to put words in your mouth and show my latent and presumptuous nature.

My! My! The ramble is off and running…

May I remind you? WRITE, if you are a writer…people, particularly, avid readers, will read anything. So, just get on a ‘kick’ to ramble. You’ll be surprised what you’ve written when you’re all finished and reading over the Pulitzer words.

Actually, someone I revered died recently, and it was my good fortune to spend some time with him – which encompassed all of three meetings and two days. You all know him, and, I hope, love him…well, if you are a golfer, you love him.

Now, look, because you’re NOT a golfer, you will still love this short story, although the dynamics may be missing (no murders, no rapes, no romance, no thriller, no thunderous moments of peril and excitement, and so forth!).

I’m into parentheses this early morning! Here’s another: (Writing is important to me, and it MUST be my attempt to show this early morning, if you just release your mind and let it roll, you might be surprised what you come up with…and, later, you can always edit and polish it to your fancy – which I WILL NOT do with this bit of SOfC!)

Also, part of the job of a writer is to keep people waiting for some ‘punch lines’, that is, like, I was going to tell you about this chance meeting with one of my golf idols…

Now, you can also irritate the reader with the ‘stall moves’, so I’m going to hurry along here.

Some years ago, I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, the ‘Valley of the Sun’, one of the golf capitols of the world, and I was fortunate to belong to the Arizona Country Club. In those days, the PGA ‘Phoenix Open Golf Tournament’ was played on alternate years at the Phoenix Country Club and the Arizona Country Club. This particular year, the ‘Open’ was held at the ACC.

So, it’s a beautiful sunny day (what else could it be?), blue skies, and lots of ‘Birdie Putts’ which golfers know about. Some friends of mine, a buddy and a couple of airline ‘Stews’ were out on the course watching the golfers. One of the ladies wanted to see Arnold Palmer…she thought he was a handsome dude and the sport’s ‘King’. We didn’t see Arnie on the holes we walked, and I boasted: “Hey, we’ll go back to the clubhouse, have a few drinks, maybe we get lucky and meet ‘The King’.

The Clubhouse is crowded. I manage to get us a cluster of comfy chairs together, and we sat, drank, and, because the ladies with us were pretty, we had a pro golfer or two join us from time to time – good golfers, just not the ‘Poster Man’ and/or stature of Arnold Palmer!

At some point, because I was a businessman at the time, I excuse myself, go the bar and use the phone to call my office for messages. As I ended my phone business I turned to return to my group, and (drum-beat roll!), there, standing in front of me, was Arnie and a trio of guys chatting.

I boldly go up to the group, put my hand on Arnie’s shoulder, and, say: “Sorry, Arnie, to interrupt, but, I’m Bill Chitwood, and, if you have time, I have some gents and ladies who would love to meet you.”

Arnie smiled, looked at me kindly in the eyes, and asked: “Where are you sitting, Bill?”

WOW! I mean, WOW! Arnie called me, ‘Bill’! Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s my name, but it was my golf idol speaking it.

I turned and pointed to where our group was sitting, and Arnie says: “I’ll be over in a couple of minutes, Bill.”

WOW! Again! I just pulled off a ‘coup’ with my hero. I was bursting with pride as I went back to join my group. Rather nonchalantly, I announced: “Arnie will be joining us in a few minutes!” Eyes widened, and the ladies became a bit nervous. The anticipation was keen, and I could hardly contain myself.

We sat and drank for a few minutes when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned, and, my heart jumped to my throat. There was the ‘handsome dude’, Arnie Palmer, smiling and grabbing my hand again as I stood and introduced my people. Arnie sat, ordered, if memory serves, a Vodka Tonic, and we sat, drank, and visited for the entire afternoon. Arnie kept us enrapt with his answers to our questions and stories of his ventures, and I shall never forget his kindness and fellowship that day.

Arnold Palmer was/is the ‘real deal’! How do you measure a person’s worth by golf statistics and hero-worship? This man was all, and, MORE, than were the publicity pieces written about him. I’ve followed and loved this man my entire life. I can personally speak to his humility and his warmth. He was, and, is a role-model Supreme!

The morning after our long afternoon gathering, I took my son, Steve, to the club for the Saturday round of the Phoenix Open. We wormed our way through the crowd to where Arnie was putting on the practice green.

Arnie looked up and saw Steve and me, smiled, came over to the roped-off area and asked: “Is this your son, Bill?”

WOW! Arnie remembered my name!

We chatted there at the putting green for some minutes…minutes I shall never forget!

There is no doubt in my mind that meeting Arnold Palmer was a singular event in my life… I would not trade that event for anything in the world!

The ‘King of Golf’ – Arnold Palmer’: I love this man!

Okay, the ‘Ramble’ is over!

Now, WRITE! If you really are a writer!

Here’s something to get you started:

‘The World is my oyster! Where did that come from’?

– BR Chitwood – March 30, 2018 –

Follow me on Twitter: @brchitwood

Visit my Website: About Me – Books -Some Book Reviews:

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From Italy – With Love

From Italy With Love

I thought it was all over!

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

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

I got lucky!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Billy Ray Chitwood – March 14, 2018

Please preview my books – Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Romance – Many Inspired by True Events:

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PLUS TEN OTHER BLOG AWARD NOMINATIONS!

Oft We Look

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

Oft We Look

Oft we look beyond our longing selves

Seeking potions to fill the empty years

We stumble and fall so many times

And magically another dream appears.

 *

Our lives are filled with repetitions,

Dull daily ritual and chore,

Until chasing that newly found hope is

Dashed, we’re desperate, in need of more

 *

As we reach out for nebulous goals.

We despair ‘til comes some magic link

When Love suddenly comes on moonbeams

And Life is much more than we think.

 *

Love is then the totality of Life

Meaning, substance come from Love,

All that is Eternal, Noble and Pure

To find it, we must look Above.

 *

©BR Chitwood – March 9, 2018

Please Preview my books of Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Thriller:

http://billyraychitwood.com

Please Follow my Blog:

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The Clock and the Car

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genesis-homepage-test

The Clock and the Car

-Some Scintillating Dialogue-

(Dedicated to John Howell – My Dialogue Hero!)

***

“What’s with the clock and hammer, Henry?”

“You don’t want to know, Helen!”

“You’re angry! Why are you angry? Stop walking, Henry! Talk to me! Your face is flushed!”

“I told you, you don’t want to know! Move! Out of my way!”

“My God! Henry, you’re going to crush the clock with the hammer? Henry, stop and talk to me!”

Back door slams!

 Guess he’s on one of his rampages! Why bother when he’s in these moods? He has to put his fire out! That’s the way He’s made, God help him!

I’m glad we have a few acres here – wouldn’t want neighbors hearing his pounding and yelling out there! Time for my ear plugs, Social Media and the reading room upstairs.

Poor Henry! In thirty minutes, or less, he will be all loving and sweet again, asking forgiveness for his fiery temper! I love him so much, and it is kind of a comical break to the day… He’s so darned predictable. I’m surprised he hasn’t hammered his laptop…he’s threatened often enough! Oh, well, Henry got his genes at a ‘pawn shop’ back room!

He’s so sweet most of the time! It’s that blasted meltdown he inherited from his father (he owned the pawn shop!). Papa Gregory died of an abdominal aneurism! Henry gets his regular medical tests for those ‘meanies’, but his doctor tells him each check-up all his systems are ‘go’!

It’s been about thirty minutes, and this book is just not wrapping me all up in its narrative. Henry has got me spoiled! He’s an author who can really paint several portraits in a book – he’s written fourteen, working on fifteen. If his anger with the laptop doesn’t kill him first!

Guess I better check on him! It’s really quiet all of a sudden! “Henry! Henry!” (Gotta get that stair-step creak nailed down!) “Henry, are you down here?”

Darn, forgot to take my earplugs out!

“Henry, why are you sitting all alone here in the living room?”

“Cause my mistress didn’t show up for our afternoon play-party! Why you asking? I’m relaxing, having a Willet on the rocks…it’s not Maker’s Mark but it gets the job done! Thought you were gone to the store?”

“And, why would you think that, Henry? Told you earlier I wasn’t going to the store until tomorrow.”

“Well, where did you go?”

“I’ve been upstairs in the library, reading, you old fool! Did you get over your anger spell with that clock?”

“Well, yeah, and I’m sorry about that…Time is just flying by! I look at the darned clock and it’s almost 5PM – it seems it ought to be still AM… don’t like clocks not even a little bit! But, hang on a doggone minute, Helen!”

Henry is finishing off his Willett on the rocks in one gulp and getting out of the LazyBoy in a big hurry!

“Now, where’re you going, Henry?”

“Just a minute, Helen!”

He’s going toward the front door!

“Henry, stop! Where are you going?”

He’s looking out the side window at the front door!

“Henry, will you please tell me what you’re doing?”

“Where’s the car, Helen?”

“In the driveway, Henry!”

“Sorry, hissy Helen. There is no car in our driveway!”

“Oh, My God, Henry! The car’s been stolen?!”

“I’m fixing myself another Willett on the rocks, sweet lady, while you talk to the police!”

“What are you mumbling under your breath, Henry? I can hear you here in the living room!”

“Take your best guess, sweetheart! Just keep dialing the phone…the police department, not, 911!”

“The phone is ringing, Henry, at the police department. Come, sit next to me on the love seat while I’m waiting for them to answer.”

“Afraid I might spill some of my Willett on you, Helen. ‘Ain’t’ going to lose a drop of this valuable stuff! You just get our car back!”

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 28, 2018

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

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Flowers and Stone

Watch Nonnie Write!

Flowers and Stone

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

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

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

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The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

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

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The Murder of My Uncle Stanley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The robbery netted the lowlife reject $106.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A prosecuting attorney quickly appealed that decision the next day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 20, 2018   

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Autumn and The Muse

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Autumn And The Muse

 

It was all so different these many years later…

 

The clapboard houses were all gone, replaced by small brick and hardwood homes with indoor plumbing. The dirt and gravel lanes were now paved although still isolated and rural. The old white church with its high steeple, now freshly painted, was the marker that let me know I was really home again.

 

It was like time had abbreviated everything I looked upon. The distance from church to Mama’s and Papa’s old house was hardly a quarter mile. The lanes that branched off the short stretch of road to the old sawmill and the railroad tracks were now unrecognizable, overgrown with brush, trees, and weeds… I could not even determine where the old sawmill and train tracks had been. Where so many years ago there had been Papa’s rows of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, and scallions was now tall green grass for a few grazing cows.

 

I smiled and pointed out to my wife Julie and son Scott where the old out-house had once stood, where Papa had once castrated the squealing hogs. I pointed out where old ‘Fred’ the mule used to lead the plow through the fields with a few ‘gees and haws’ from Papa. The little hamlet of Wooldridge was now all condensed for my memory but the thoughts, good and bad, raced through my aging brain…

 

It was here where some of the first memories were built of my displaced youth, where fear of the unknown and new experiences collided to make me a docile and disturbed little boy. It was here where my microcosmic world was filled with dreams and dark ugly shadows. Here was the nexus that was the foundation for all that I would become – the nomadic drifter in search of illusive dreams, the uncertain master of a fate always to be determined.

 

The tears were not seen through the smiles as I passed on to my son and wife the wisps of yesterday, but they were there…tears for Mama and Papa, their hard lives, yet their devotion to me…tears for the parents who fought, who loved and tried, but were unable to make things right for their family…tears for a life that could have been better in some ways but did, through all the wanderlust, bring me to wife Julie who personifies family, love and patience…tears for my beautiful children of whom I am so proud and love so deeply.

 

This day trip from my middle Tennessee home to the east Tennessee hamlet of my youth inspires this post. While there has to be some sadness – that’s the way I’m put together – it is likely one of the best days to go into my still active memory pages. The day serves to point out for me that, indeed, ‘everyone has to be from somewhere.’

Billy Ray Chitwood – February, 2018 (REV)

 

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Howling at the Moon

Howling at the Moon

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Howling at the Moon

My howl grows weaker as the Summers come and go,

And the Winter’s bitter gales bring harsh realities to my world.

My aging body grows weary in its long seasonal quest to know,

To find in my meandering search the truth unfurled.

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Yet, some abiding glimmer of Faith bids me journey on

As I see the eager and young give rise to the next tomorrow,

To kindle old desires, awaken my mind to a new kinder dawn,

Tease me with truths-bearing wisdom I might better know.

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Then, as years speed by steadily, and my steps limp along,

The world seems more precariously out of its orbital sync

As though some treacherous fate on wicked winds so strong’

Comes to claim its ownership of an orb no longer able to think.

Poem by Billy Ray Chitwood – February 2, 2018 (Prev)

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