“Butterflies And Jellybeans – A Love Story” (A short excerpt)

Billy Ray Chitwood    Butterfly Jellybeans Nook Size

Most of my books are either ‘mystery-crime-adventure’ genre or ‘memoir’.  “Butterflies And Jellybeans – A Love Story” is my first romance novel. While it is essentially a love story, there are some elements that would attest to my penchant for the ‘mystery’ component in most of my books.

Fate plays a hand while two joggers run in the rain. Unknown to each other, a sudden lightning strike will change the lives of Jenny Mason and Jason Prince. I’ve pulled part of Chapter Twenty as a sample of the writing and to show a shade of conflict that is prevalent with the new lovers. Perhaps it will hold some interest for you and make you want more — that’s the unvarnished idea, of course. It is a short excerpt, and there will be information at the end to direct those who might be interested in reading the entire book. Hope you enjoy the section.

Chapter Twenty

Jenny rushed to meet him as he came through the heavy glass entry doors of the ER. She touched his arm and gave him a kiss on the cheek and told him she was sorry about Carlton.

She felt again a remoteness about Jason, as she had earlier over the phone. He was little else but civil as he asked to see his brother.

Police officer Donahue had left the hospital but had given a card to Jenny and asked her to have Jason call him at the precinct office.

There was a new intern tending to Carlton when Jason and Jenny arrived at the IC room. To Jenny, there appeared to be little or no change in Carlton. He still had a jumble of tubes coming out of his body. His face bruises raw and ugly against his pallid skin and the white sheets of the gurney.

The new doctor’s name was Seeley. Dr. Seeley finished his examination of Carlton, checked his clipboard, said something to the attending nurse, then turned to Jason and Jenny.

“You are the brother?” the doctor asked, with the normal hospital solemnity.

“Yes, I’m Jason Prince.” Jason extended his hand to Dr. Seeley and neglected to introduce Jenny. “What is the prognosis, Dr. Seeley? Will my brother survive?”

Jason glanced only briefly at Carlton. It was obviously difficult for him to see his brother so incapacitated and vulnerable. There was something about Carlton’s face that reminded Jason of an earlier time, when they were kids in the desert. The cant of Carlton’s face now had the same wistful mixture of sadness and something akin to fear that was there years ago in their play time. A lump formed in Jason’s throat.

The hospital room was filled with beeping sounds and an offensive malodorous air filled with merging medicines and body fluids. Jason was just noticing the physical aspects of the room for the first time since his arrival.

“He remains stable, Mr. Prince. His readings are consistently in acceptable ranges. We believe he will pull through, but, I must add, we are concerned about his head injuries. We want to run a series of tests and do a spinal tap. There is some evidence of amnesic behavior. Despite his comatose appearance, he has been conscious off and on. The intravenous medicines are keeping him heavily sedated.”

Jenny felt awkward, as though she were intrusive by being there in the room with Jason and the doctor. Their conversation seemed to her mind mutually exclusive, with no acknowledgment of her presence. She excused herself and left the room, informing Jason that she would wait for him in the ER lobby. There were no objections, merely a cursory nod of Jason’s head.

After Jenny left the room, Jason asked: “Are you expecting these tests to confirm that Carlton has amnesia?”

“We don’t really expect them to show any one thing. The tests are rather common, particularly in cases such as your brother’s. They are not necessarily conclusive but they can give us some important information. Actually, Mr. Prince, your brother is a very lucky man. He took quite a beating. All in all, his vital signs are very good and, in all likelihood, he will come through this in fine shape. The tests are merely precautionary. When I say, ‘we’re concerned,’ it just means we’re going to be thorough. With head trauma from a severe beating like this, it’s important to be thorough.”

“Of course, that’s the way it should be. Still, I’m getting what feels like mixed signals. Is there something specific about Carlton’s injuries that make you concerned?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Prince. Perhaps it does sound like mixed signals. We doctors can be vague and inarticulate at times. What I’m saying is that, in cases where there has been serious head trauma, it is common medical practice to run tests and check for possible amnesia issues, permanent brain damage, and so forth. It is also a common fact that the body is an amazing piece of machinery. It rights itself in miraculous ways.”

“Okay, maybe it sounds like I’m not hearing you, but I am. It just seems to me that some sign presented itself to you regarding amnesia. Can you tell me about that sign?”

Dr. Seeley maintained his composure even though he thought he had accurately addressed the issue. “Disorientation … blank, confused staring, sudden tearing in the eyes, a sense of panic and anxiety. Again, these symptoms are natural and can be easily explained away … by the acute trauma, the sudden realization that the body is not where it should normally be, with tubes coming our of several parts of the anatomy. Just by awakening and finding this alien environment is enough in and of itself to cause immediate depression. Anyway, the tests will help guide us to proper treatment. If I were a betting man, I would bet that your brother will recover fully from this. Physically, he should be fine. Mentally, I’m not qualified to say. There is no real reason to suspect that he will be mentally or psychologically damaged.”

Jason had never particularly enjoyed his sessions with doctors. To him, they seemed to specialize in double speak. They rambled and used their fancy words to muddle the brains of people who would never know better. Maybe he was being harsh in his feelings about the noble physicians. Maybe it was simply a matter of him being too dense to understand them. It was difficult for him to listen and understand the doctor when he stood above his brother’s battered body. It was difficult to separate the emotions he was feeling and the reality in this IC room.

Dr. Seeley could see that Jason Prince was himself traumatized. He could see the pain in his eyes and in his body language. The man was reeling from emotions the doctor could not know. Dr. Seeley felt a deep sympathy for Jason, and, with a benign smile, he patiently tried once again to make himself understood.

“What we really need to focus on is …”

The doctor was interrupted by an abrupt movement and sound from the hospital gurney. Dr. Seeley and Jason turned together to look at Carlton, then rushed to his side.

Carlton’s eyes were open and vacant, his ashen face twitching and moving rapidly from side to side. His head began to nod in frantic gestures and his throat muscles constricted and expanded in a grotesque kind of melodic frenzy. The medical equipment in the room seemed to match the human activity on the gurney. The beeps were strident in their intensity, and the gurgling sounds raced to keep pace with the aura of confusion.

Jason eyes, wide with fear, were locked into the same visceral and arcane circuitry of the movement surrounding him, twitched and started in quick jerks, first in one direction and then another, his head swiftly darting from equipment to Carlton to Doctor to equipment. The room was chaotic.

Dr. Seeley moved with haste, mumbled orders to hospital personnel who had rushed into the room. Voices clashed in decibel disharmony. One of the nurses adjusted a knob, something, on the intravenous line, turned a couple of dials on the heart monitoring machine. Standing over the frenetic body on the gurney the doctor pulled the tubes from Carlton’s mouth and nose, began a hurried procedure of resuscitation, pounding his fist onto the sternum. Other rushing bodies in white were wheeling some new equipment closer to the bed, preparing for electroshock treatment.

Jason stood nervously watching the actions on the edge of the hospital group, mesmerized by the organized bedlam of activity. He was conscious of a mad throbbing at his temples. His mind seemed in some kind of paroxysmal state. Then his eyes became riveted to the face of his brother. Like a master calendar for all the years, flashing and flipping its pages backward in time, the flickering cine scenes came to him, unbidden. Faces happy and sad, in play and in loss. His life, Carlton’s life, together and apart, all a steady unraveling of the years. Jason stood among the people who were blurs of white and green, staring at the body on the gurney, helpless and alone. Tears slowly rose and tumbled down his cheeks.

Then, an eerie sort of cessation came to the medical equipment and to Carlton’s thrashing. A relative quiet fell over the room. The nurses, the aids, the doctor, the newly arrived intern, Jason, all looked at the equipment, the patient, and each other in an awkward acknowledgment, temporarily stupefied by the turn of events. The heart monitor beeped normally. The gurgling resumed a steady pattern of sound.

Dr. Seeley checked the pulse and blood pressure of the patient. Carlton’s cheeks had gained some modest color and his head settled quietly into the pillow. His eyes occasionally and lightly twitched as though trying to open. The doctor shook his head and stepped back from the gurney.

After some adjustments were made Jason moved to his brother’s side and looked down upon the suddenly placid face. He felt a warm and uncommon sensation go through his body. He was reminded in a flash of another time in their lives. It was a time when Carlton had been sick with the flu and his face had held the same pink serenity that it did now. Looking down now at Carlton’s relaxed countenance, Jason could see the former youth that had been his playmate. The child showed himself in that quiescent moment. Carlton had been nice to Jason at that time in their youth. He had not wanted Jason to leave his side, and Jason had felt an ambiguous need then to stay, to cater to his wishes. He had felt sibling love and a warm sense of pride and unity. Jason felt much the same now, looking down on his brother’s body.

Jason noticed the silence in the room. It was as though he and Carlton had been all alone there for a time. He looked around and no one was there. They were alone. The doctor, someone, might have mentioned a brief absence but he had not heard. He sat lightly on the edge of the gurney, more a leaning than a sitting, and gazed again upon his brother.

A sadness followed. He wanted to go back in time, really go back, to have another chance with his brother, to change the divergence of their ways. Unbidden, another tear rose and fell down his cheek. Then, another. More tears came and he soon was erupting with great heaving sobs. “Why, God, could we have not been more to each other?” he softly intoned.

Carlton slowly opened his eyes. There was no anxiety or fear, the orbs calm and suffused with a poignant pathos.

Jason stood quickly and leaned to touch his brother’s arm. “Carlton, I’m here.” His voice was tinged with compassion, sadness, and hope.

Carlton stared silently and steadily into Jason’s eyes, a beckoning and sorrowful look. A sad smile slowly formed on Carlton’s lips, a smile of secret knowing. A finger feebly moved, willing his bandaged hand to lift from his side.

Jason noticed and gently placed his hand tenderly into Carlton’s. “What do you need, Carlton? I will get it for you.”

The lips quivered to speak, the smile still there, the eyes watery in their sorrow. Carlton conjured a forgotten will and finally spoke, his voice a wispy whisper of supplication. “Jason, forgive me, my dear brother. Tell grandmother that I love her.” It appeared that he wanted to say more, but his will abandoned him. He seemed to sink further into his pillow, the wistful smile lingering like a fragrant rose.

Jason felt an awful agony in his heart as he neared some heretofore unknown, emotional precipice. Tears flowed down his cheeks and he tried to answer his brother’s plea.

Then, with a soft caress of his hand, Carlton closed his eyes. The smile upon his lips dwindled to a passive serenity. His hand now lay limp on Jason’s palm. A near inaudible sigh escaped Carlton’s lips, a rapturous resignation to his fate.

Carlton Prince was dead.

Oblivious to the noisy sounds of medical equipment being moved and people rushing into the room, Jason remained, staring upon his brother’s face, not believing, not accepting, what his heart knew to be the truth. Jason did not heed the voices and he was finally, physically, unclasped from Carlton’s hand and moved away from the gurney.

{End of sample section.}

For those who are interested in reading the entire book and/or previewing my entire list of books, please go to: http://www.goo.gl/fuxUA . There is some bio information on me and short synopses of the books I’ve written.

Please follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/brchitwood and/or facebook: http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

A further bio sketch is presented on http://www.about.me/brchitwood

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