Conversation With Jacob

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Conversation With Jacob

Jacob is my imaginary friend but he is real to me because he is my resource for living. Today we are sitting on the long deck of my log home, watching the squirrels scurry through the trees, up and down, and all around. An occasional bird drops by as if to say hello and/or to warn the squirrels of some danger nearby… This is the beginning point of my conversation with Jabob.


“Jacob, why is it that I’m rather fascinated by the activities of squirrels and birds?”

“You give me too much power of comprehension, BR. That’s okay because I know why you give me that power. You want so much to figure things out for yourself, to allow for a natural flow of understanding to come through your own mind…”

“Okay, Jacob, you’ve reminded me of that time and again…just answer my question.”

“Well, of course, I remind you time and again and that is because you seem to be in some haste to find answers which should be obvious to you, yet you seek confirmation from me, your alter ego and closest ally.”

“There you go again. Please, just answer the question.”

“You are looking at the squirrels and the birds to find meaning for your own life. You know that it is September and the squirrels are busy gathering their provisions for the winter. The birds stop by to neighborly check on their progress and to determine when it might be best for them to venture south… Now, ask your bigger question.”

“Okay, Jacob, how am I connected to all of this? (And, stop being flippant with me.”)

“Being flippant was not my intent, BR, but you must admit it’s a bit ‘squirrely’ when one has conversations with himself… Your connection to all of this? (Ah, a squirrel just skittered down a tree – see it, BR?)”

“Of course, I see it… You could not see it if I did not see it!”

“Very good, BR! I’m truly attached to you.”

“Cute! You were saying about my connection to all of this?”

“Your connection to the squirrels and birds and all living things with which you come into contact is that ‘Cogito, Ergo Sum’ thing. You think, therefore you are. You stand and walk where you walk and perceive, react, and assimilate information. The squirrels do so as fiercely as you do. They do what they do to exist – a rather simple truth, don’t you agree? The bears, bees, butterflies, cats, cows, dogs, eels (shall I run the alphabet of living things?), they all do what it is their species do and have done ad infinitum. You are the so-called ‘higher order’ so you make the world more complicated because of that ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ thing. You think things to a point of obsessive behavior…”

“Well, sure, we think. We also get to the moon. We get to Facebook and Twitter, to super sonic jets, to big cities with all the playthings we want. Our knowledge is doubling so quickly that we’re defining and re-defining ourselves at warp speed. Are you telling me we are moving too fast, not fast enough, or, we should not be creating all the digital wonders?”

“No and I’m reasonably sure you already know that. You did forget to mention that we create ways to destroy ourselves, the nuclear big blast thing. (Remember Charlton Heston at the end of one of those ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies where ‘Lady Liberty’s’ head and torso were half-buried in the beach sand?) All I’m saying is we are doing some things that just naturally come with all our smarts and ingenuity, and that’s good. What bothers me (ergo, you) is that we might very well be forgetting our hearts and souls. In this mad dash for making our lives so much digital and decidedly easier, are we just becoming cold and detached to matters of the heart and soul? And/or, is that the way this existential thing works? Is that really what these squirrels and birds are making you think about?”

“You know me so well, Jacob. Yes, I suppose that’s it. We think. We love. We procreate. We work. We fight in stupid wars. We pay taxes. We die. Is that dying part marking the final exit point of our existence? Do our souls transcend the darkness of dying and really go toward the bright light of eternity and God? Do we reincarnate and get another chance? Is there a God? Is all we see, feel, hear, sense, just a one time thing?”

“Ah, the most deliriously captivating metaphysical enigma of every age! Do you believe the squirrels and the birds concern themselves with these questions? No, I’m sure that you don’t. They appear to be simply instinctive robotic like creatures that cyclically repeat their actions from one generational pool to another. Do they think of mortality matters, afterlife, and reincarnation? As humans, I don’t suspect that we think they do. Do the mad dictators or corrupted leaders of the world who lead us into wars think of mortality matters? Do people of runaway ambition, avarice, greed, hatred, have pious thoughts? At age twenty-five, did you perhaps think you would live forever, that life stretched out before you like a road paved in gold? Ah, the age-old conundrum, which came first, ‘the chicken or the egg’! Infinity is a thought that mortals cannot wrap their minds around.

“Your questions have answers, depending upon the humility of your soul, BR. Do you look at the stars, the planets, the moon, the sun, orderly galaxies and imagine that they achieved that order by a ‘big bang’? Do you watch a sunrise and sunset, the rain, the snow, the falling leaves, and imagine that there is simply a natural order to such things? When you hold the one you love and experience the supremacy of all ecstasy and joy, do you wish you could stop your world and live forever in that moment? Do you ever think about the magical nine-month period of human birth, of the intricate and delicate patterns that must be formed for human life to begin? Do you simply believe that there is but the purpose to live and to die, that during the living, the world is a stage to perform your acts?”

“Okay, okay, I’m getting a migraine! William Wordsworth was right, ‘The World Is Too Much With Us.’ I want to believe, I will believe, that a supreme being made this spinning orb and that I have a chance to leave something of worth behind when I leave it. For ‘it is dark to die and I fear that I still wish to be’. A good friend wrote that line as he and a war buddy lay in a fox hole during one of the wars. With all my doubts, insecurities, my loves and dreams, I must believe, have faith that Ecclesiastes 3.1 has meaning for us all, ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…’ I believe, too, that others have faith and some do not. It is my way to respect the views of others while it is not always possible to do so.”

 “So the squirrels and the birds brought all of this about?”

“Well, yeah, pretty much, I guess. The tea was good, right, Jacob?”

“Now you know I don’t drink tea… I only listen to you and repeat everything you think… By the way, why is it you’re calling me Jacob?

See Billy Ray’s books at:

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A Wise And Witty Lady


Her name is Linda Urbach aka Linda Howard and if you are a reader who enjoys wisdom and wit in the books and passages over which you hover, you must read the blogs and the books by this exceptional author. To use a phrase that might seem time-worn, she is truly ‘the real thing’. Please visit the sites shown at the end of this post.

Linda’s latest blog post, Booking Bad: Author’s Shameless Use of Her Terminal Cancer to Promote Her Novels, gives you a glimpse of that wisdom and wit, plus some heart undercurrents you cannot help but feel – The blog is true Linda Howard Urbach, one of the premier authors of our time. Whether her books are written under Linda Urbach or Linda Howard, you will find lively prose, characters, and plots that will keep you riveted to the pages.

Madame Bovary’s Daughter: A Novel (, written under Linda Urbach, is a masterpiece of writing which goes back to the book by Gustave Flaubert’s classic, Madame Bovary and imagines the answer to whatever happened to Emma Bovary’s orphaned daughter. Here’s amazon’s brief description:

One year after her mother’s suicide and just one day after her father’s brokenhearted demise, twelve-year-old Berthe Bovary is sent to live on her grandmother’s impoverished farm. Amid the beauty of the French countryside, Berthe models for the painter Jean-François Millet, but fate has more in store for her than a quiet life of simple pleasures. Berthe’s determination to rise above her mother’s scandalous past will take her from the dangerous cotton mills of Lille to a convent in Rouen to the wealth and glamour of nineteenth-century Paris. There, as an apprentice to famed fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth, Berthe is ushered into the high society of which she once only dreamed. But even as the praise for her couture gowns steadily rises, she still yearns for the one thing her mother never had: the love of someone she loves in return.

After reading this book, you will want more books from this exquisite writer, in which case you go to: where you will find her other titles under Linda Urbach and Linda Howard.

I’ve wanted to do a post about this fascinating lady for some time. In moving back to Tennessee from the Sea of Cortez and other time consuming matters, it was simply delayed. Her blog post which I just read today (referenced above) gave me the impetus to forego other posts and write this one.

I have never personally met Linda, only the pleasure of corresponding with her over the months. In all I’ve read by this lady, her magnificent mastery with words shines most clearly. The wisdom and wit to which I keep referring is in each line she writes. The post she wrote today touched me most deeply and on many levels, not only the gallantry she shows in handling the ‘episodes’ of which she writes, but of an indomitable spirit that can seem in short supply these days. Please find time for this lady in your reading life. Read the blogs in her archives. Read her books. You will find a most endearing companion to take along on your life’s journey.

Follow Linda on Twitter: @LindaUrbach and @mylittlepubco

Visit Linda’s website:


You can find me at: and

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Quarter Moon And Venus



Quarter-Moon and Venus

From my new home on the Cumberland Plateau I sit in my Lazy Boy and look out the big great room windows across a canyon of trees to another plateau across the way. Except for a large leaning tree with high branches the sky occupies the biggest portion of the window scene.

On Sunday night last a radiant quarter-moon sat next to Venus in a totally black sky. As the earth rotated, the Moon and Venus lined up squarely in the center of the window, and the beauty of that black sky scene was lucid and spectacular. My thought at the moment was that the scene would make such a beautiful picture to hang somewhere in the house but I was too relaxed to get the camera and shoot the scene – the idea being to have an artist capture via that picture that stark and lovely moment on canvas.

Each night the moon got larger. On Wednesday night it was a near half-moon – luminous and beautiful against the dark sky but no Venus.

So, why all this business about the Moon and Venus out my window? You likely know the answer – scenes like the Moon and Venus perfectly framed in a window can get an artist, a philosopher, even a writer like me to thinking.

Thinking? What?

For me, the thinking was about the upcoming anniversary of 9/11, the day that seemed to change our lives to a great extent, the terrorist trail of blood stains on so many families, the sobering reality road our country was now on. The scene induced a thought about Benghazi, 9/11, one year ago when four more of our great patriots were killed. We still seek answers and hunt for the killers. Was Benghazi a mere unmindful-date significant event of hatred against America? Or, was it a symbolic trophy day for the raging fanatics of doom?

Thoughts continued to roll on the film strips of my mind, school massacres of elementary school children, racial hatred that impelled some to commit awful murders of innocents, a movie theatre that became a slaughter house… So many thoughts did such a beautiful night scene create in my mind. The thoughts were unbidden. They just came.

How does our country, our world, assimilate millions and billions of people of different cultures and hope to satisfy the needs of so many? How does the order of the universe manage to set itself along predictable paths, like the magnificent moon there in the black sky alongside Venus? How is it that the Universe with all of its galaxies and planets, a universe estimated to be ten billion light years in diameter, steadily expanding for thirteen billion years, can present such order to mere mortals, while said mere mortals cannot create in relative terms some sense of order for themselves? We seem to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Our history teaches us of wars and the leaders who take us to war. Our history teaches us how deranged dictators can destroy countries and sacred parts of culture and soul. Why is it we cannot resist the Satanic impulses of greed, hegemony, manipulation, and power? Is there hope for humankind? Is it impossible for a world to orderly unite and thrive? It seems impossible from where I sit, but perhaps that is the unconscious lure of Space. Perhaps it is out there in the void that we find our parallel universe of peace and perfection. Perhaps it is God’s plan, His ultimate heaven. Perhaps for the unbeliever of a Deity it is merely our destiny – to become part of all those billions of years of order where our bones become part of the dark expanding cosmos of infinitude.

William Wordsworth, one of my favorite English poets, wrote in 1802 or thereabout a sonnet:

“The World Is Too Much With Us”

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. –Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Wordsworth was satisfying the cynics of his day by criticizing the first ‘Industrial Revolution’ and claiming the world was too much into materialism and not enough into Nature and matters of the heart and soul. I particularly love the metaphor/paradox line:

“We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon.”

Little did I know when starting this post about a beautiful quarter-moon and Venus that I would end up quoting Wordsworth, but he was a worthy wordsmith of his day, and not too far off the mark for some of us today, dare I say. Then, we will always have our cynics, our dreamers, our scientists, our technical authorities…

See how a little sky gazing can erupt into a post?

Now, how do I get out of this post with some relative sanity?

If you like my posts, try one or more of my ten books. You can find them at: – Independent Author Network – Specific Title buy sites

My main website/blog:

Short bio.:

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The Man Under The Hat – His New Book: “The Hungry Ghosts”

The Man Under The Hat – His New Book: “The Hungry Ghosts”

Writing means so much to me. The process of stringing words together to build characters and plots is fascinating. An internal bell goes off when I fancy that I’ve nailed a line, a paragraph, a chapter, that says exactly what I want it to say. While I’m not in the elite family of authors who pump out their ‘best sellers’ I consider myself a pretty good author of books…they are generally not so convoluted as to make them heavy reading, and I’m told they are enjoyable. The writing process helps me in ways a psychiatrist likely could not. My characters tell me much about myself  So, I write my books, some inspired by true events, some from my imagination.

When I chance upon an author who ‘rings my bell’ with lucid and melodious prose, with some fusion of grit and scholarly detours, I am humbled and appreciative of her/his talents. One such author is John David Dolan, better known at twitter as @JohnDolanAuthor. When I read the first book of his 7-book ‘Time, Blood, and Karma Series’, “Everyone Burns” (, I was hooked. John and I began a twitter/facebook friendship and have now corresponded for some time. He is the man ‘under the hat’ and he can ad lib and tease with the best of us…you can see that in his writing. This I can assure you, John Dolan is a masterful wordsmith and will not disappoint.

John is British and lives in Thailand on the little island which he writes about in “Everyone Burns” and “The Hungry Ghosts.” Yes, he is rather ‘proper’ but he also knows how to play in the tough and tumble literary sandbox.

It was my extreme pleasure to recently read JD’s book two of the ‘Time, Blood, and Karma Series’, “The Hungry Ghosts” ( I wrote an amazon review about “Everyone Burns” and this is tantamount to a review of “The Hungry Ghosts.”

John Dolan brings you up close and personal with his characters, and though you might have some possible trouble with their Thai names you will thoroughly bond with them. John’s lucid and melodious writing style has a rather hypnotic effect on this reader and I suspect on many others. He weaves a tale of intrigue, mayhem, murder, and his protagonist, David Braddock, is the quintessential anti-hero: Braddock is caustic, embittered, subtly enslaved by his own self-guilt, and he seeks absolution in his loves and lusts, tiptoeing dangerously on a Karmic tightrope as the ‘ripples from the tossed stone’ connect, interconnect, and become the essence of life. You can expect to find some semblance of an ending with “The Hungry Ghosts” but there is a surprise or two and another beginning. It is a story written with style and substance, crafted brilliantly by this man under the hat. I found myself at times wondering just how much of John Dolan was in the naughty David Braddock. There have to be some genetic identifiers, for sure! Certainly, I found it easy to identify with David Braddock and feel most men will also find something of themselves within this ‘everyman.’ The ladies will also identify with the ruggedly handsome Braddock because of his capacity to doubt himself, the dark secrets he carries within himself, that ‘little boy lost’ component, and his commitment to finishing the task in front of him, and his sometime wavering loyalty.

I can think of no better way to salute a master wordsmith like my friend, John Dolan, than to give you some short random samples of his writing in “The Hungry Ghosts.”

From Chapter 28 – ‘David Braddock’s Journal’

Sometimes we falter. 

The streets of Bangkok move steadily past the car window. All that dusty, gaudy, dreadful magnificence persists regardless. It imprints itself on the observer; making him part of the observed; making him complicit. In my present reflective mood the City whispers to me of daily struggles, of invisible karmic arcs, of older mysteries. It reveals to me an incessant shambling line of humanity clinging to the remnants of fading dreams. Sadness oozes from its very walls. It is a montage that reeks of futility and death; that speaks of a landscape populated by blind ghosts feeling their way along once-familiar thoroughfares. The dead are always with us. And sometimes we falter.

From Chapter 31 – ‘David Braddock’s Journal’

Perhaps, while the dead are always around us, they are not always with us. Perhaps they only appear when we need them or they need us; and in the meantime they wander the earth in the same state of confusion as the living, in search of something that remains forever elusive.


Interconnection … 

I recall the Old Monk’s Zen lessons – how nothing exists in isolation – and I view my own situation now through that lens. My father’s past, Nang, the Lamphongchat family, my presence in Thailand, the ‘burning murders’, the Chaldrakuns, the employment of Jingjai, and, last of all, me … The Web of Indra forever expands, enveloping us all, penetrating and triggering so many emotions and intentions; in turn creating ever more complex actions and reactions. Like trapped flies we cannot move far yet our vibrations resonate in others as their movements resonate in us.

Blood begets blood. 

The unseen forces of karma connect and cross-connect to each other and to every sentient thing. The vehicle of time propels us forward remorselessly. There is no returning, and yet everything returns. 

Oh, Claire, how I miss you. 

Come back. 

Save me.

Just one more excerpt: From Chapter 35

For the rest of us, we tread the path of Daedalus. We create labyrinths in which to hide away our monsters or else we fashion wings that will carry us too close to the sun. We are the artisans of avoidance, the fabricators of falsehoods. We sell ourselves snake-oil and we call it medicine. As Teresa of Avila observed, not only do we not understand ourselves but each day we move a little further away from that which we really need. The spirits of the dead are all around us, but it is we, the living, that are the true hungry ghosts.

(End of excerpts)

Hopefully, the reader will pardon me for picking some of my favorite excerpts.

First and foremost, “The Hungry Ghosts’ is immensely entertaining, chapter after chapter. There are great characters. There is mayhem, murder, and there is love. The dialogue is crisp and lively, at times inducing chuckles – other times, germane, serious, and in the moment. The plot lines will resonate. In short, “The Hungry Ghosts” is a 5-Star read, and the movie reel will be turning in the minds of readers. You do not want to miss this exciting read!

I’ll end with more about John Dolan and his links…JUST REMEMBER:

David Braddock returns in A POISON TREE The third book in the Time, Blood and Karma series – There are to be seven books in the series. Watch for it.

ABOUT JOHN DOLAN, THE AUTHOR: “Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants.” John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between the UK and Thailand.

You can follow John’s ramblings on Twitter @JohnDolanAuthor or see his website or see his blog (‘ Galericulate’ – or see his Author Page on Amazon or Goodreads or Smashwords.

The ‘buy links’ for “The Hungry Ghosts”: (Amazon US) and (Amazon UK)

One final piece of business: 

You can find Billy Ray Chitwood at twitter @brchitwood and at:

Meet my new book: “The Reluctant Savage”

The writing process itself satisfies me immensely and, as most authors feel, I am gratified when a book I’ve written is bought by readers. Having just published my tenth book, “The Reluctant Savage,” it is now that difficult time to market the book, to let the world know that it exists and, more importantly, the world should buy it. Of course, it is a ‘hit or miss’ situation. So, here is my new book, fully clothed, ready for your preview.

First, I present to you the cover:


“The Reluctant Savage” embraces several genres, including mystery, romance, suspense, and, yes, it is the content inside the cover that will make or break the book.

For those who like brevity in book descriptions, here’s the short description of the book:

High school sweethearts, Billy Jay Campbell and Marcie Dangino reunite after many years apart. They discover the fire of their young love still glows brightly. With the Air Force behind him, Billy now works as an investigator for a law firm,

Two problems threaten to spoil his homecoming. Marcie is now married to a junior partner at Clarkson and Dangino, a firm that has occasionally employed him for their investigative work. The second problem occurs when Billy’s close friend and boss is murdered.

The Reluctant Savage follows a mystery that connects murder, romance, and a love triangle.

Don’t miss this fast-paced, gritty novel! 

For those who want a deeper grasp of “The Reluctant Savage,” here is the very first chapter:

Current Time – Now

“You read this stuff a lot?” His wry smile mocked her while she found the musk from his body diametrically pleasing. He knew there would be no answer to his question as he turned the book over several times in his hand, then tossed it absently on the bedside table. The book skidded over the table and fell to the floor out of sight in the dark corner.

He stood and paced in the small bedroom, smacked himself on the right hip as he walked. “You really don’t like me very much. Know how I can tell? Want to know how I can tell? Just give me a nod. You don’t need to talk, even if you could…Oh, Christ!”

He stopped pacing, pulled a tissue from the box on the bed table, and wiped her nose. He threw the tissue on the floor in disgust. “Stop with the sniffling and the runny nose mess. Got me feeling like a nursemaid. I’ll let you go in a bit. I’ve got some thinking and talking to do. Then, I’ll let you go. Not much longer now, so try to relax.”

He looked down at the young woman on the bed, slowly ran his left hand through her golden hair, saw the redness around her eyes and cheeks. Gently he guided his fingers along her forehead and sat next to her.

An involuntary tautness came to her body but she felt no panic.

The man fingered the edges of the wide white tape that covered her lips and suddenly stripped it away.

The girl gasped, her eyes widened, and she began to open her mouth.

“Now, listen up,” the man said as his right hand closed over her lips, “I took the tape off but you can’t yell and scream. You got me? Blink if you do.”

The girl blinked and let out a deep sigh. “I would never scream and yell… you should know that. Can I have some water?” she asked weakly as the man took his hand away.

“In a minute, I’ll get you water, but now you have to listen. Will you listen to me, Marcie? I don’t want to put this tape back on you.”

“Yes,” her voice barely audible. “Can you please untie me? I hurt so badly.”

‘Maybe…Yes, I will, but you have to listen first. Will you listen?”

“Yes, I told you I would,” her voice weak and just audible.

The man hesitated there on the bed for several seconds, stared steadily into the pleading eyes of the young woman.

“Ah, what the hell, I’ll get your water now.”

The man left the room quickly, and the woman called Marcie closed her eyes and breathed deeply for the few seconds he was gone. As best she could she slowly arched and moved her body and wondered how long all of this would last. She in fact wondered how all of this had really begun.

When he returned, he stood silently in the doorway with a tall glass of water and watched the girl’s torpid stretching of her body, her face wrinkled with the aches of her moves. There was no attempt to escape. She was only after some degree of comfort from the bindings. He came to a decision. Fateful or not, he had to do it.

He hurried to the bed, placed the glass of water on the bedside table. “Okay, I’m going to take away the bindings, but you have got to promise me you won’t try to get away from me…not until you’ve heard me out…not until you have completely heard me out. Do you understand me? Do you promise? You won’t have to try to escape when I’m finished. I’ll let you go. Do you promise, Marcie?”

“Yes, Billy,” came her soft broken reply, “I promise. I don’t want to escape from you. I wish you knew that. Just let me have my body back.”

Billy undid the bindings from the posts of the bed, then from her arms and ankles. When he laid the white rubber-corded bindings in four separate loop piles on the floor next to the bed, he held out the glass of water. He held the glass while Marcie squirmed, turned, and he could hear the sounds of her body responding to their release from bondage.

For a while Marcie lay curled in a fetal position on the bed, silent, moaning in near orgasmic release. Finally, she began to unfold herself, limb by limb, opening and closing her fingers, moving the various joints, until she ended up with her back against the headboard of the bed. Her short gold and lavender dress hiked up to show the gold bikini panties, and she made no attempt in her weakness to hide them. Some of her previous fear had left her. An uncertain calmness spread through her.

“Here, drink some water, Marcie.”

She took the glass, spilled some drops on her bared thighs, and sipped cautiously at first, then gulped the water down. She sat uncertainly holding the empty glass until he took it from her.

“You want more?”

She meekly, negatively shook her head, and painfully raised her arms above her head two times. She then leaned again against the headboard.

Billy moved the chair closer to the bed just a few feet from where Marcie now sat. With his nearness, her legs were drawn tightly together and she pulled at her dress to hide her gold silk panties. It was more a gesture than a concern. He looked in her eyes softly and steadily until the silence between them prompted him to speak: “You’re so damned lovely, Marcie, I…”

“Billy, why…”

He didn’t allow her to finish the question. His mood subtly shifted, as though reminding himself that he could not go back to where his thoughts were taking him. “You are to listen, Marcie, remember?”

She nodded her assent, but added, “I’m queasy, Billy. Can I have some crackers?”

“When I’m finished you get your crackers. The water will hold you. Now, be quiet and listen to me…”

“Just a few crackers, Billy, that’s all, and another glass of water… Please! I’m feeling nauseous. Maybe it’ll settle my stomach.”

He sighed, blinked his eyes, shook his head and almost smiled. He got up, grabbed the empty glass off the night stand, and left the room. Going out the bedroom door, he looked back at Marcie and gave her a thoughtful nod.

He returned shortly with a paper napkin holding several saltines and the glass of water. Putting the water on the bedside table he handed her the napkin and soda crackers. “Now, eat your crackers and don’t talk. I’ve got to get this said…”

He watched her daintily nibble at the crackers, pausing to swallow with some effort. She almost choked with her first swallow, but he handed her the water to help force the food down. She managed to finish the crackers, more water, and appeared to be feeling better.

Then Marcie closed her eyes for a moment, reopened them, and leaned back against the headboard. “Thank you, Billy,” she muttered weakly as she tried to clear her throat of any lingering crackers. “I’ll be quiet now and let you talk.”

He bowed his head briefly as he picked a start point for his monologue. “You know none of this had to happen, and it’s so stupid to even hear me say that! Christ, give me a time machine. Let me go back and get a second chance at all this… But, damn, it did happen! You, I, Jerry, Albert, the frigging finger of fate. You’re beautiful, Marcie, and you know it, and you use it. You drove me crazy with it. You wanted too damned much from Jerry and me, and when you got it you turned it all inside out and made this happen…”

“But, Billy, you know…”

“Shush, Marcie. I’ve got to get it out, so be quiet. That night, after the big dinner banquet, that night began this whole thing. Jerry drunk, you and creepy Albert half-drunk and playful there in our little corner of the Eastside Tennis Club Lounge, and, yeah, I had a little buzz as well. It was Jerry, feeling his booze, who was dredging up the ‘fun game’ he got from the comedian. He was like a silly schoolboy about his idea. I can still see the wrinkled look on your face when he brought it up, the way you looked sort of embarrassed, the way you looked at all of us at the table. You gave him that, ‘Oh, Jerry, don’t be silly’ look. You put on a good show. Albert was the only one who didn’t have a clue. He was still up for more fun and games with you…the bastard! Guess I could have lived with it all, Marcie, but your part of setting me up…”

“But, I didn’t, Billy…”

“Shush, I’m talking here. Yeah, maybe I could have lived with it all until my ass was on the line, until I was the one to take the fall for something that was all ‘Swahili’ to me. Me, I was a really ripe country pumpkin ready for the pie bowl.”

“But it wasn’t that way, Billy. You have to believe me. It was Albert.”

“Bull, Marcie, Albert hardly knew what was happening.”

“That was all an act, Billy. Albert knew much more than he let on. It was his evil doing all along. The little flirtatious business between Albert and me was all just fun and games, something we started at the beginning of my employment there. There was never anything serious between us.”

“Funny how you didn’t sing these songs when I was passed out on the floor, blood all over me. In the end you ran up here to your new cabin.”

“Billy, I thought you were dead. Please believe me! Albert was the only ringmaster for that little ‘solve the murder’ game. He used Jerry just like he used you. I didn’t trust him but I also didn’t know what he was up to.”

“You really expect me to believe that? After all this crap I’ve been through, you’re just going to tell me that this was all Albert. You, sweet little Marcie, had no part in it at all. You’re something else! You want to be tied and taped again until I finish?”

“You don’t have to finish, Billy. I know you didn’t kill the little girl. I know you didn’t kill Jerry. And, you didn’t kill Albert and his wife… I killed Albert after he killed his wife and kid and came after me!”

“Jesus! Will you still use me like this? Have I been in a Grimm fairy tale all along? Do you have not an ounce of decency and feeling in you, Marcie? I’m eager to tell you this story of mine, and you’re telling me I have no story to tell. I was there, remember? The little girl, the woman, Jerry, and Albert, they were all there dead when I regained some senses. Their blood was all over me. They were all dead!”

Billy paused as the image of the little girl came and somehow got stuck in his throat. The memory quakes made him turn briefly away from Marcie. He shuttered and almost cried. Then his brain dipped and swooned for a moment. Maybe some of the brain action was coming from the old air force injury.

“Billy, it was Albert. He easily manipulated Jerry into bringing up the ‘game.’ He manipulated you. He manipulated all of us. That’s the truth, I swear it!”

“Christ, Marcie, don’t do this to me.”

“I swear to you it is true.”

“So why did you run, Marcie? Where were you when I came out of my drugged daze, blood all over me, bodies everywhere?”

“I was afraid, Billy! My God! I thought you were dead! Forgive me for being so weak and terrified. Albert was still making some small movements on the floor. I was afraid – and I’m ashamed that I left you. With all the blood on you, I was sure you were dead. I know better now. I know that Albert made sure you had blood all over you. That had to be his plan, Billy, but I didn’t know his plan. I swear to you, I did not know his plan.”

“Where did you get the gun to kill Albert? Were there guns all over the place?”

“Jerry gave it to me to carry, just in case there was any trouble – he worried about me after he got beat up after that merger meeting. Look, Billy, everyone was dead, or, I thought so, when I came into that room. Shock overtook me and I saw Albert standing over the dead girl on the bed. There was a gun next to him on the bed. He saw me, started to pick up the gun, and I shot him two, three times. He fell, twitched a couple times, and I ran… I’m sorry, Billy, but that’s the truth. I just had to be out of that room. I’m a coward but I would never have left had I known you were alive.”

“Why did you run here to the cabin?” Why not run to the police?”

“Jerry had just gotten this place. Nobody knew about it. People do stupid things in a crisis. The cabin was my first thought…just to be away from everything, where no one knew where I was. There was just so much to explain and I wasn’t up to it. I ran to the car and drove up here. All I’ve said, Billy, I swear it’s all the truth.”

“Are you also going to tell me you love me? Even now, when I’ve had you imprisoned here for all these hours?”

“Yes, I’m going to tell you I love you, because I do.”

“That didn’t seem the case a short while ago, with the tears, the runny nose, and the fear in your eyes. You thought I was some kind of monster.”

“Damn it, Billy, my body was hurting. My brain was working overtime. The tears were not so much from fear as from sadness at seeing you this way.”

“God, Marcie, if I thought you meant any of what you’re saying, your words would take some of the pain away. It would maybe bring back some sanity I fear I’ve lost. It would…”

Suddenly, there were loud crashing sounds and harsh voices coming from behind the closed bedroom door.

Instinctively, Billy rose from his chair with wild eyes, mouth agape, and moved quickly toward the only window in the small room.

Amid a chorus of shrieks the door burst open, and Billy felt a jolting sting to the back of his head as he tried to exit the window. He fell limp and unconscious to the floor.

(End of first chapter.)

So, you now have some sense, some feel, for “The Reluctant Savage.” It’s my hope that you will want to read the book, and, if you do, please feel free to let me know your thoughts, good and/or excellent. 🙂 (Okay, authors are human, too!) Write a review, tweet me, facebook me, e-mail me. With that written, here are the ‘buy links’ for this novel:

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