Winter Musings

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Winter Musing

The trees are bare and ungiving

Like the souls of sick minds,

Their dead leaves floating in the

Wind to a winter of indifference.

 

Among the chaos of winter urges

Comes the hope of a white dove,

Spreading its inviting wings of

Devotion to an ancient Deity.

 

Soon the loveliness of Spring and

Fertile minds will convene again

To delve into the mysteries of life,

The primeval phenomenon of Faith.

Billy Ray Chitwood – Christmas day – 2016

 

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Believe It Or Not

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Believe It or Not!

It’s difficult…”

It’s also illegal…”

Can’t tell my wife, my kids, my in-laws, my friends…my country.”

These are the most frustrating moments of my life!”

The Shrink sat in his stuffed leather chair, legs crossed, staring across the short space with imperious blue squinted eyes. Dr. Keeley paused for several seconds, his white hair and beard giving him an appearance of some ancient scholar whose mind held all the answers. “Do you wish to discuss with me these concerns, Mr. Taylor?”

I do. I have to talk to someone, or go nuts…no humor intended. The information I have is smothering me. May I ask, is our conversation totally private and cannot be divulged to anyone?”

That is correct, Mr. Taylor. The information you share with me is private and assured confidentiality. Feel free and secure in sharing your information with me.”

Does that hold true for divulging government ‘Top Secret’ data to which I’m privy and have signed ‘Non-Disclosure’ agreements, under penalty of fines and imprisonment?”

I can only tell you of my ethical standards and ask that you be sure whatever it is you wish to discuss has some medical basis, that is, it is detrimental to your mental and/or physical health. I can say I’ve had no one before you discuss with me any ‘Top Secret Non-Disclosure’ data.”

Well, there’s no one with whom I can talk, or, at least, feel safe in talking…even my good wife. You know, most people likely have a predisposition about ‘Conspiracy Theories’, and what I will tell you certainly qualifies…although it’s the absolute truth. It’s been a real problem for me, watching our country for years go down what I believe is the wrong path, and, now, with me privy to this information, I’m feeling like we are near the Apocalypse stage… Damn, where do I start?”

Take your time, Mr. Taylor, and try to relax,” said Dr. Keeley.

After a few quiet moments, Mr. Taylor spoke. “I will not tell you how I obtained this information, nor will I mention any names or locations. You will listen and perhaps think I’m rational and sensible, yet a big part of you will doubt and presume I’m a fruitcake…”

Mr. Taylor waited for a moment for Dr. Keeley to reply. He did not.

Mr. Taylor proceeded. “There is a new Army being built in our country as I speak, an Army the likes of which the world has never seen, except, perhaps, in ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Terminator’ movies. The machines will indeed take over the world – THAT is my fear! I’m talking about bio-sensitive machines, huge machines that can move at the speed of sound, including human-oriented robots that can take different shapes, robots and machines that cannot be destroyed.

There is a global central command here in our country that will electronically, intricately, with scientific, technological fail safe certainty, control these machines and human robots and send them to the troubled spots of the world… ISIS and all the other terrorist groups will be eradicated within weeks, not months, years, but days and weeks. Talk about art imitating life! This is Science and Technology imitating life – or, maybe somehow more accurately, creating new non-organic life forms and machines.

While I want ISIS and all evil eradicated, Dr. Keeley, my fear is we are creating a human wasteland. We are letting the wisdom of history and the ages fall upon deaf ears. We are messing with an ‘Intelligent Creator’s Grand Plan’…unless we’ve been duped by the tenets of Faith – and, I don’t believe that. Barbarians who behead and burn people alive, of course, deserve their eradication for their ideology is pure evil. What about the emotions of love and compassion? What about that intricate nine-month cycle of birth? What about the beauty all around us, the oceans, seas, deserts, and mountains? Are we…”

Mr. Taylor, lost in his passionate oratory, looked across at Dr. Keeley. He was slumped in his chair, his chin on his chest, eye glasses askew on his face… There was a soft snoring sound, louder with each breath, emanating from Dr. Keeley’s benign face.

Mr. Taylor slammed his right foot down on the lovely wooden flooring.

The noise brought Dr. Keeley upright in his chair, announcing: “We will meet again this time next week if it is convenient for you…”

Have you not heard a word I’ve said?” asked an irritated Mr. Taylor.

Of course, you give me the same ‘conspiracy theory’ every week at this time. I practically have your words memorized. I’m hoping each week that I shall hear additional information about your theory. Are you taking the medication I prescribed for you?”

You have prescribed no medications for me, Dr. Keeley…if you are a Doctor! This is my first and only visit to your office. You are a conspiracy yourself, a real ‘quack’, if you ask me!”

And, you tell me that each week, Mr. Taylor.”

So, why do you take my money? If you can’t help me, why do you continue seeing me?”

Dr. Keeley rose, walked to the exit door, opened it, smiled gently, and bid Mr. Taylor goodbye with these words, “It’s ‘ground hog day’ each week for you, Mr. Taylor, with your monologue and our dialogue repeating itself. Please take the medication. It can help you. As I’ve told you, the original Mr. Taylor died shortly after seeing me the first time. I’ve also told you that at each visit. If you are one of the ‘human-oriented’ and ‘bio-sensitive’ robots, you should have the new army re-program you…you should have the new army re-program you…you should have the new army re-program you…you should have the new army re-program you…”

Mr. Taylor stood mortified. On and on went the would-be Dr. Keeley with monotonic sameness and the same gentle smile.

Oh, my God! The new army has begun its new computerized ‘key people replacement process’. What can I do? What can I do? What can I do? What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?”

Flash Fiction authored by: Billy Ray Chitwood – December, 2016

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The Soul of a Dreamer

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The Soul of a Dreamer

or

Play Me a Tune, Piano Man

With this post I get to show not only some of my ‘warts of longing and wanderlust’ but an abiding romanticism that has tagged along with me through my life. The Piano Bar Is symbolic of some younger years when I was going to live forever, a time when I could play out fantasies and dramatic ‘movie scenes’ of a lonely and desperate man, a time when the amber juices made me not so lonely and desperate…when a young lady fell prey to my somber moans of despair, often leading from The Piano Bar to my hotel or motel room. My symbolism here likely matches well with many a fellow comrade seeking nebulous new beginnings. Those who might ‘wonder’ about a moral character issue, the ‘Romantic’ can quickly dispel the issue – given the time!

I’m not going to write in much detail about those nomadic days, my longings, my searching, my quaint poetry (also known as my etchings). Instead, I give you a song, a composition in my head and heart from some contemplative and mystic area of being I shall never fully comprehend. In some ways the song might remind many of Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ song… That was never my intent to intrude on Billy’s very special material. In fact, Billy Joel’s song never entered my mind until later…besides, Billy Joel is a professional at what he does…and it’s likely okay with him if a guy wants to make a fool of himself.

The reason for my amateurish ballad piece is this: we have a beautiful house which we (my wife and I) have decorated. In our den over the fireplace mantel there is a colorful painting of a piano. As I type away on my laptop the blogs and the current book on which I’m working I constantly pause and look at that painting. At the end of the day I occasionally have one highball (usually a rum concoction of one sort or another), and, with each sip and loss of one or more brain cells, Bacchus stimulates me to sing aloud the words as I gaze at my piano painting…several times, until I feel I’ve captured the soul prompt. Here are those words

Play Me a Tune, Piano Man

Play me a tune, piano man…

Sing me a song from the years.

Play me a tune, piano man…

Bring back the joy and the tears.

Make all the words sad and lonely…

Sung whiskey tenor with heart.

Sing them all warm and embracing.

Keep the crowd rapt from the start.

Now give the keys some gaiety…

Give the crowd reason to smile.

Play ‘til the bar room is closing,

‘Last Call’, folks, for a while.

Play me a tune, piano man…

Sing me a song from the years.

Play me a tune, piano man…

Bring back the joy and the tears.

Song written and sung by: Billy Ray Chitwood – October 23, 2014

Now, if you wish to actually hear me sing the song A Capella, move the mouse on over to: https://goo.gl/FPGYH6. (You Tube)- booing and laughing are permitted since I cannot hear you hurting my tender feelings…my wife left the den when she heard the song – she never told me later that she had a need to retch… 

That’s it, music lovers! Please return to your favorite pastime! (Think I’ll write another song…)

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Flowers and Fate

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Flowers and Fate

“Red or yellow roses, Sir?” the older lady in the flower shop asked.

The young man in his early thirties smiled and raised his brow. “Now, how did you know it was to be roses, Millie?” He knew her from a name tag.

“It’s the body language, young man. Your step, your face, the happy gleam in your eyes.”

“Really! I’m that obvious?”

“You’re that obvious,” she teasingly grinned, “plus I’ve had this shop too many years not to know when love walks through the door.”

He put his hands on the counter and gently asked, “And, do you know how many roses I’ll be sending FTD today?”

“You’re a two-dozen fellow, I’m betting.” She pursed her lips.

“And, does my step, my face, and the happy gleam in my eyes tell you which color I’ll pick?”

“Red, of course! You’re obviously in love and you want the red roses to convey your love for the young lady.” She tilted her head slightly in a positive gesture.

“Why would I not choose yellow roses?” the man asked, amused by the conversation.

“Yellow roses would be fine, but you wish to make a deeper statement. Red gets the point of love across rather profoundly. They say, ‘I love you’. Yellow roses convey happiness and joy in more of a friendship fashion… My goodness, listen to me, giving you information you likely already know.”

“No, you’ve actually tagged me perfectly, and I thank you. It will be two dozen red roses, and I trust you will pick out twenty-four of your very best.”

“It will be my pleasure, plus an extra red rose to accentuate the strong statement. I shall make it a very special arrangement for you. You will wish a card sent with the roses…”

His name was Farris Stanley Ballanger. The flowers were going to Johnnie Ballanger, his wife. On a short business trip to help out one of his service station managers, he would be home tomorrow and wanted Johnnie to receive the flowers before his arrival.

Stan spent some time in thought at the counter as to the words he would put on the card. Smiling, finally satisfied with his choice of words, he placed the card in the accompanying envelope, wrote ‘Dear Sweet Johnnie’ on the front, and handed it to Millie.

Stan paid for the flowers and chatted a few moments more with Millie.

As Stan was about to leave the store, he asked: “Do you mind if I hug you, Millie? You are such a great person.”

Millie obliged, and Stan left the store.

Later around midnight as Stan closed and locked his service station, he was robbed at gunpoint, prodded to the ‘Men’s Room’ and shot to death at close range. His body was not found until daybreak when the service station attendants arrived for work.

Stan’s roses arrived the next morning before news of the robbery and homicide reached Johnnie. Her heart filled with love overflowing as she read what Stan had written on the card:

Love and Time Eternal

It matters not the hours, the days, the years, the lifetime we spend together!

What matters is all the love we have gathered in our hearts

That will last eternally…

Forever, Stanley

– Flash fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood –

December 16, 2016

In Memory of my Uncle Stanley Balsinger who lives forever in my heart! 

Reality and Truth

 

There Must Be A Better Way

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There Must Be A Better Way

 

Hey, Man, this is great stuff! Wow! The sky’s amazing! Look at all the colors… Awesome, dude! What’s this stuff we’re doing?” A teenager named Beasley was speaking.

 

Another teenager named Freeman spoke, “It’s sensimilla, bonehead, and those colors are natural colors this time of day. It’s not the sensimilla you’re feeling, and you just took your first two drags…after a few more drags you’ll be seeing those dark clouds swooping down on you. Depending on your tolerance level for sensimilla, you’ll be catatonic and unable to tell me your name.” Freeman chuckled.

 

What about you, all-knowing one? How’s your tolerance level?”

 

I know how to control it. You’re going after it like you’re trying to reach Nirvana in ten minutes. You have a surprise coming. You just don’t listen. I told you, take it easy with this stuff.”

 

Hey, this stuff is legalized now in several states…it can’t be so bad.”

 

I don’t know what the legalized states are using, but I seriously doubt it’s sensimilla…it’s heavy grass, and costly, man, but, what do I know?”

 

Two ‘joints’ were consumed within thirty minutes.

 

How you doing, Beasley?” Freeman glanced at his neophyte friend.

 

Beasley’s eyes were opening and closing, wanting to stay with the narcotic effect. He was in a limp and listless waste land. He heard the question from his recently met friend, but he could not bring himself to answer. He was without energy and the ability to think.

 

Beasley fell back on the upper fringe of the hill, waggled his head occasionally, but was essentially motionless and useless.

 

Freeman eyed the prone body of his friend, laughed, and muttered: “The dumb ass bonehead! Couldn’t take it.”

 

Ten minutes later, Freeman was ready to leave the lovely hill that overlooked the ocean. He steadily lifted himself from the ground and moved to the mumbling, twitching body of his friend.

 

Freeman nudged him with his foot. “Come on, Beasley, get up. We gotta go. My girlfriend’s waiting for me.” Freeman only received more mumbling and twitching from Beasley.

 

With much more force, mixed with a little anger, Freeman roughly shoved Beasley’s body with his right foot, and it began rolling down the steep angled side of the hill toward the ocean.

 

Freeman carefully took measured steps to stop the body’s roll, but he had no leverage on the hill. He would go down himself if he rushed his movements.

 

Freeman waited for Beasley’s body to stop its roll, but, instead, it picked up speed. It was like Beasley was somehow helping the steep hill to propel him down…like, he was, in his mind, on some fanciful flight.

 

Freeman did not go further down the hill. Instead, he turned toward a gravel road where his car was parked on the less steep and shorter side of the hill.

 

Freeman had a moment of worry but it passed quickly. The grass was doing a nice number on him, keeping him calm, cool, and collected. He would check on his friend tomorrow.

 

The roll down the hill likely worked off the sensimilla, and Beasley would be fine tomorrow.

 

***

 

Headline on the local newspaper’s front page the next day:

 

Body of Teenager found near beach at ‘Lone Tree Point’.

 

FLASH FICTION by:

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – December, 2016

 

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From Italy With Love

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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 Enlish?”

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 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 – December, 2016

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS

 

Though it seems likely you were born in April, the date of December 25 has become the date much of the world has designated as the day we celebrate your birth. Here in the United States, most of our citizens enjoy your birthday as a paid holiday. On your birthday, many of us celebrate by gift sharing with our family and friends, participating in a special tradition of giving for which you are so very well known.

 

We do not know of every word you spoke and every deed that was rendered. Much of your living our historical experts cannot account, but from what has been recorded we know that you were unlike any other person on our earth at that time, that you spoke to the masses in parables for living an honorable and charitable life, that you spoke of God, your Father, and His Kingdom. We know that you were reviled and hated by the Roman rulers and were considered an enemy to their pagan icons and political agenda. At the end we know how you suffered from the stones and thorns of hate, how you carried the heavy cross to Golgotha, there to be fixed by nails to that cross and die a slow and painful death.

 

Some among us doubt your message of faith and the Kingdom of God, your Father. Some doubt that you died there on Calvary’s cross for the sins of humankind. Some even mock your words and arrogantly pronounce all your goodness as mere mythology. But they are few, dear Jesus, and there are a great majority of us who have read of your short time among us, believe in your message, who are not without sin but strive to grow our faith and believe in the miracle of creation – that incredible and meticulous nine months of a child’s birth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the great order of the universe.

 

Our world today has changed not so much from the world you entered, dear Jesus. We still have those political and iconic problems throughout all parts of our planet. We have our ‘machines’ now that make our lives so easily disposed to sloth and idleness. We have our poor, our wealthy, and our in-be-tweens. We have created a bureaucratic welfare system that keeps so many of our people dependent on a government’s treasury, that makes it more sensible to stay at home and receive other people’s money than to work for it themselves. Yet, we do have those who truly need the goodness and help that comes from the heart, those teachings you passed along to us.

 

We still have famine and wars, so many prophesied in the Bible. We seem to be coming to some end-point, Jesus. We have terrorists who wish to kill us because they believe it part of their religious mandates. It appears we do not learn from the lessons of history. The world seems to be imploding while the good minds among us seek a paradigm for peace and prosperity.

 

So, in celebrating your birth, dear Jesus, I wish this long birthday card was a testimonial to how far we have come in loving our neighbor and honoring all of your Father’s ‘Ten Commandments’. Our knowledge is exploding. There are lots of new machines and toys for living, maybe even some tiny robots that go roaming around in our bodies to extend our lives, but, for good will and love, I fear we have not come so far since that awful day you were nailed on the cross near Jerusalem.  

 

For me, Jesus, I’m trying to grow my faith, endeavoring to be better than I am, wanting that eternal life in that great Kingdom by your Father’s House.

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – Christmas, 2016

 

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