Meet Lady Gray

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Meet ‘Lady Gray’

           Our beloved Bengal cat, George, left us for animal heaven some months back after a twelve-year love affair. It was a sad and traumatic moment for Julie and me…we buried George under some trees on our property, and, each morning, we look out the kitchen window at his burial spot and say, “Hello, George, we love you.”

          As though George’s spirit reminds us of our time together in some peculiar ways, he finally put an exclamation point on it all…

          Before George passed away, a small gray and white kitten came several times to our house and looked through the windows. It seemed obvious to us that the two transferred some mutual affection. George was a declawed, neutered house cat and could not go outside so the two enjoyed and passed their furry feelings via empty space.

          After George died, the gray and white kitten came often to our kitchen door. Julie gave her some turkey bits, steak leftovers, and, finally included on her shopping list some cat food and treats. Julie left each food serving just outside the door.

          At some point, with soft coaxing, the kitten timidly entered the house, but left after a brief stay. Julie and I had different views on the kitten. Julie was sure the kitten had a home nearby, and we could not just arbitrarily adopt the cat…plus, Julie was still at an emotional level over George and did not think she wanted another animal pet. I took an opposite view: I didn’t think the kitten had a nearby home and genuinely felt she wanted our home as her home. Of course, we both were likely right – maybe she had a home but was cast aside…and, there were stray cats around 

          As days and weeks passed, the kitten continued her daily visits, and, with each visit, lingered around our property, came into the house on occasion and stayed a bit longer each time before Julie put her outside. Julie was also worried about the kitten having fleas or other ailments, likely having been abandoned either by her previous owners or simply had survived in the wild.

          The young cat was accompanied on occasion by a larger black and white male cat. It was apparent that the gray and white female held dominance over the bigger male, not sharing her food with him, and giving us reason to believe the female was in season.

          Julie and I had e-mailed and called neighbors to find out if they knew to whom the kitten belonged. We got no helpful information. In the meantime, there was concern that we were feeding ‘gray and white’ too much food because the cat was developing quite a girth…and, sure, we considered the fact she could be in a gestation period.

          Finally, there came the day when ‘gray and white’ entered the house and did not want to leave. It was during this time that Julie and I came together in our decision to keep the lovely feline. Her personality was so lovingly tender and timid. We would open the door for her to leave, and she would back away. In short, we fell in love with the little critter…bloated tummy and all – we felt the big tummy could be from all the food Julie was feeding her.

          We are picking her up today at 1:00 PM from the Vet Hospital, where she has been spayed, wormed, and inoculated to boost immunity. The Vet tells us ‘Lady Gray’ is likely one-year old or thereabouts.

          Julie and I are excited about having this little beauty in our lives…

          We consider ‘Lady Gray’ a gift from God…

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 30, 2017

 

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So, Tis An Author You Wish To Be

So, Tis An Author You Wish To Be

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So, Tis An Author You Wish To Be!

So, tis an author

You wish to be!

And, why, I ask,

Do you come to me?

Because, I write so

Much, you say,

So many pretty lines

Throughout the day.

True, it is my passion;

It must be so for you.

                         Yet, with fervent zeal,                        

Words at times flow few,

Bringing fitful malaise,

Wasteful lingering doubt,

 A brain inactive and dull,

And depressing flameout.

I mean not to dampen

Your dream of writing

But there are few who

Will find it requiting.

Then, if you are like me

And write for the soul,

No matter the repulsive foe,

You have ultimate control.

©Billy Ray Chitwood – March 24, 2017

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Finding New Love

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Finding New Love

(A Country Song)

         Okay, call me dumb. ‘loony tunes’. or something more demeaning, but I have this impulse to share with you a country song I wrote some years back.

         A dinner party was just winding down at our Arizona weekend mountain retreat, and we were feeling our oats. A dear friend of mine, Ray Morgan, gone now, but never to be forgotten, loved country music and could get teary eyed when some of our then contemporary C&W artists sung their sad ballads, a la Willie Nelson, Jim Reeves, Ernie Tubbs, and Hank Williams. Now, I loved country music but was more of a ‘My Way’ kind of guy, but this was Ray’s night…

        Because I don’t pick guitar anymore (never did really well), I once sang a song a cappella on YouTube and it just didn’t grab its essence without those strings strumming and a piano accompanying it. So, I’ll be sparing you the ‘gift’ of my voice on YT. When you read below the words to the song, just imagine that great C&W artist, Tim McGraw, picking and singing the words in that sensitive, unique, and soulful way he has that echoes memories from the past.

        Now, don’t be getting the idea that this is a great song, although I like it aplenty because it goes to the roots of country music – I think…

        If I’m lucky, some C&W artist will read the words to the song and want to record it. Well, I’ll surely make it easy for him or her. Just give me a jingle…he says with total lack of conviction.

         I’ve written a number of songs over the years, some I think pretty darn good. So, from time to time, I’ll post one or two or three or four… just saying!

*

Finding New Love

In the middle of a love song

I fell out of love with you –

Dancing ‘neath a star-bright sky

I found someone new.

She was everything I wanted –

She was every dream come true,

And she got my heart re-started –

She got me over you.

*

And now I’m happy again –

My heart is singing again.

Ah, yes, I’m happy again

‘Cause now I’m over you.

*

I remember our young love

I recall all the pain…

I remember every time we cried

Every time we tried –

I saw our young love die.

We were so new at love.

We had so much to give,

But all the pain we caused

Made it too tough to forgive…

So, I’m sorry for hurting you

And I know you’re sorry, too…

A part of me will always

Be a part of you.

But, tonight, this star-bright night,

I’ve found a new love,

A warm and a true love,

A love that won’t die.

*

In the middle of a love song

I fell out of love with you

While dancing ‘neath a star-bright sky

I found someone new.

She was everything I wanted,

She was every dream come true,

And she got my heart re-started –

She got me over you!

And, now, I’m happy again.

My heart is singing again.

Ah, yes, I’m happy again

‘Cause now I’m over you.

                             ©by Billy Ray Chitwood

         I totally realize that this post and song is self-serving to the extreme, but, really, what else is new? Aren’t we all just a teensy bit?

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 17, 2017

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Naive and/or Wise Observations

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Naive and/or Wise Observations

A – People who must have their lives constantly validated, politicians, for example, will ultimately become in absentia!

B – Politics was created to satisfy Beatific games!

C – Many believe that life is really simple, not meant to be so costly and Complicated by politicians.

D – Clashing IQs definitely lead to Demented behavior.

E – False and misleading media reportage becomes an Enemy of the people.

F – There is an increasing lack of Fidelity in the would-be leaders of the free world.

G – Too many gremlins of Graft and Greed occupy important seats of decision making for ‘We the People’.

H – Being an optimist, I believe Hatred will disappear when hell freezes over…

I – The road of good Intentions has pot holes on occasion.

J – Lady Justice is not blind but she does wear a blindfold.

K – Politicians are killing me ‘not’ so softly with their words.

L – It’s true! Love does ‘Trump’ all!

M – Ah, sweet Mystery of Life and love!

N – A great spaceman, Neil Armstrong, said: “ It’s a great thing for a man to walk on the moon. But it’s a greater thing for God to walk on the earth.”

O – Here is One quote I love (from Antonin Scalia): “God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and he has not been disappointed…. If I have any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

P – We are Polarized in our beautiful country…but spring and summer is coming! Huh!

Q – I’m a Querulous lad! I want our country to work and get back its greatness!

R – I no doubt Rankle a few Readers with my comments…but, Really, that’s no reason not to buy my books at http://billyraychitwood.com.

S – Pardon my Silliness. It’s not hazardous to your health.

T – Is it not a Thrill ‘To gather’ some words ‘Together’ That Titillate your own emotions. Great Therapy, This writing business!

U – Following the same Thread of Thinking, I’m in Utopia when I get 5-Star Reviews!

V – This letter says it all about me, truly! Vagabond, I am! Some might like better ‘a hopeless hobo’.

W – Or, following that ‘V’ thought, some might like to call me a Wanderlust, a Wastrel, or Worse!

X – Now, this is true! I’m going to the Doctor next week and I will get an X-Ray…and maybe play a Zylophone! Okay, too much of a stretch…sorry.

Y – Another truth! My tomorrows and my Yesterdays are flying by!

Z – As in surprising, ‘Zounds’, I ran the alphabet! Can I hear from someone: “Zuper job, Billy Ray!”

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 11, 2017

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A Piece of Memory

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A Piece of Memory

The flashlight fell from my feeble fingers into the fast- moving current of Campers Creek. In the moonless darkness, my body trembled with the awful cold and uncertainty of the moment.

Uncertainty?

How did I know this was Campers Creek?

I was here with my club-footed cousin so many years ago…why do I remember that piece of my past and not this part of my present?

Why did I have a flashlight?

How did I get to the middle of this fifty-yard wide swirl of water?

Why am I here?

Why do I hear faint screams in my ears that sound demonic – and, yet, somehow familiar?

What is my name?

I can’t think of who I am!

Who do I know?

I was here with my club-footed cousin so many years ago…why do I remember that piece of my past and not this part of my present?

Did I just say that?

Why do I not know where to go?

Who is the woman whose image keeps flashing before me?

What do I do?

My God!

Has the world gone mad?

Flash Fiction by: Billy Ray Chitwood – 3/6/17

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The Phantom Lady

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The Phantom Lady

            Unnoticed, the lady came quietly into the store and stood in front of the counter. She had about her an ethereal quality, dressed in a soft burgundy and gold outfit. Her face professed a youthful beauty, yet, mystical and serene with a quiet mysterious attraction.

            It was some seconds before the store owner became aware of her standing directly across from him.

            When he looked up, she simply uttered one word with a stoic, “Thanks.”

            The store owner looked to his left, to his right, and spoke to the woman across from him: “How can I help you?”

            “Thanks.”

            “Yes, I heard you but I’ve yet to do anything for you.” He smiled amiably. “Are you alright?”

            The store owner squinted and stared at the woman across from him. She was beautiful! Her eyes were fixed steadily on him, and he began to get a creepy feeling, like the woman was under some sort of emotional distress. She appeared dignified along with her beauty and without any outward sign of physical injury.

            “Thanks!” This time her voice was more strident, more impatient.

            The store owner was in an unknown territory, not able to think beyond ‘weird’ and ‘odd-ball’ but was sure this lady definitely had some sort of mental condition. The owner saw ‘hop-heads’ all the time, could see their glazed over eyes and their stupid behavioral patterns. This lovely lady gave no indication of being on drugs. She was more prim and proper than most people who came into his store. There was also an inexplicable quality about the woman he could not identify.

            The owner opened a counter fridge and took a bottle of water, and spoke, “Here, lady, drink some water. You could be dehydrated. Come, sit for a spell.” He pulled a straight-back chair from behind the counter and gently guided her to a sitting position.

            “Thanks.” The lady never blinked, her eyes locked in one position. The bottle of water she loosely held fell from her hand to her lap to the floor.

“Lady, can you tell me what’s wrong with you? I don’t understand what your ‘Thanks’ is saying to me. Can you say more than ‘Thanks’?”

            “Thanks!” The lady was back to a more forceful, yet, perfect enunciation.

            The store owner shook his head, frustrated with this turn of events. ‘Yes, the woman was enunciating perfectly’ but there was no context. ‘What am I supposed to do here?’ he mumbled.

            It was afternoon slow time so the store thankfully was empty. The owner knew most of the people in the small town of Green Valley, but this lady apparently just got off the bus heading to Macon.

            “Are you hungry, lady? Can you nod your head if you are?”

            “Thanks.” She was back to the low-key ‘Thanks’. There was no nod of her head.

            “Hi, Ken,” it was the town sheriff’s deputy walking his beat. He noticed through the store window in passing that Ken was seemingly carrying a worried expression. The deputy walked into the store and asked, “Things going okay?”

            Ken sighed, “Hey, Cliff, I’m glad to see you, darn happy to see you, actually.”

            “What’s up?”

            “This nice lady, Cliff, she’s in some kind of trouble. She comes in, stands across the counter and says, ‘Thanks,’ rather matter-of-factly, and every time I try to offer help, she says the same thing, ‘Thanks’, and at times she’s a bit more forceful the way she says it. I can’t figure it out. She looks physically fine, very pretty, but must have something going on in her brain…you know her?”

            After carefully eying the woman, Cliff said, “I think I saw her get off the bus at the Drug Store Stop. A cute lady like her, you can’t miss noticing. She seems to be ‘out of it’, like walking in her sleep, or, hypnotized.”

            “Did she have any baggage? All I see is that purse she’s hanging onto.”

            “Nope, didn’t see any baggage… You have no idea what she means when she says, ‘Thanks’?”

            “Not the foggiest, Cliff… Excuse me, I have to wait on Mrs. Barnes.”

            Ken gathered a few articles for Mrs. Barnes. She gave a ‘You’re welcome’ to his “Thanks” and left. Ken ‘smiled’ at the parting exchange and went back to Cliff and the puzzling woman.

            “So, what do we do, Cliff?” Ken asked.

            The woman began to tremble and her purse fell to the floor, as though she was nudging it to fall.

            The two men looked at each other, shaking their heads with wrinkled brows

            “Maybe we need to look into her purse, Ken… I don’t know what else to do – other than take her to the Sheriff’s office and see what ‘Sheriff Goose’ has to say. I mean, this is crazy, she seems well enough within herself, more or less calm about her presence here… It’s like someone has hypnotized her to say ‘Thanks’ over and over.”

            “Maybe that’s a reasonable assumption, but, for goodness sake, why? Why would someone do that?”

            “Gee, I don’t know, Ken, just thinking off the top of my head.”

            “Thanks.” The stiffly aberrant lady spoke again the familiar word that was now cryptic and out of place. She uttered the word sternly, almost in the form of a rebuke, her face showing no strain, her body perfectly erect and proper, almost surreal in her burgundy and gold outfit.      

            “This is nuts, Ken!” said Cliff as he grabbed her purse from the floor.

            “Wait, Cliff, don’t open her purse yet. We could be opening ‘Pandora’s Box’. You know the World today. It’s got a lot of ‘Crazies’, people angry with the government, fearful, frustrated, out of work, ugly mass killings by illegal immigrants or just bad people. I’ve never seen the country with this blind kind of runaway madness. This woman could be part of a plan, like, we could be one of those ‘soft targets’ that the newscasts are always reporting. Maybe she’s been programmed or hypnotized strictly for that purpose…”

            “Ken, listen to yourself! This is quaint little Green Valley, Georgia. We know everybody in town…”

            “We don’t know her, Cliff!”

            “Well, right, Ken, but come on! Who’s going to get off a bus in Green Valley, Georgia, particularly a neat looking lady like this and just start killing people? She’s simply got a bad mental problem of some kind.”

            “Hope you’re right, good buddy.”

            “Thanks,” now a steady monotonic stream from the trance-like woman in the chair, at five-second intervals, her stare, her body in a more sustained tremble.

            “Cliff, don’t open that purse! Let’s get out of here now! I’ve got a really bad feeling!”

            Cliff dropped the purse on the lap of the chanting and robotic-like lady, allowed Ken to pull him out the front door of the store onto the sidewalk. Ken slammed closed the door behind him, took a final look through the plate glass and saw the woman’s mouth still moving in a mechanical-like way.

            Both men ran across the street to the other sidewalk.

            There were a dozen people on either side of the street but they sensed danger and all ended up near Cliff and Ken. They knew only that something was happening outside their understanding. They instinctively followed the deputy’s and store owner’s actions.

            Across the street, the crowd was growing slightly as people emerged from other stores and offices and saw the anxious deputy and store owner. They waited and no one spoke. There was a fearful anticipation of some awful event about to happen at Ken’s store. The people followed the eyes of the deputy, could see the depth of his own fear, and made it their own.

            Cars slowed near the crowd and sped away with the rapid waving of Cliff’s arms. The car people could read the distress gathered on the sidewalk and considered it their best decision to be away from that location.

            The seconds ticked away and became long minutes of stress. Cliff finally spoke to the crowd: “All of you stay where you are. I’m going across the street to assess the situation. This could be nothing more than an odd moment in our town’s history, but we have to be safe and err on the side of good judgement.”

            Cliff crossed the street and tentatively stepped to the plate glass window. The sun caused a white-out glare, and Cliff could not make out anything. Carefully, he edged to the door, slowly opened it, and stepped inside.

            There was no one in the store! The mystery woman was not there. The chair was back in its normal spot. There was no purse on the floor, no A/C or electric equipment sounds in the store at all. It was eerily still and darker than usual, even with the sun splashed all across the plate glass window.

            Cliff searched every square foot of the store, and the silence became deafening. The backdoor emergency and employee exit was key-locked by Ken, could only be opened and locked by him. There was a steel bar across the door for added security against robbery or vandalism.

            When his search was completed Cliff returned to the small crowd gathered on the opposite sidewalk.

            The crowd was sent home with the announcement that all was secure. When asked of the crowd what had happened, Cliff and Ken never told the exact nature of the alarm, only dismissing the incident as a misperception.  

            Later, Cliff and Ken re-entered the store, confident that there were no explosive devices, just the unnerving bafflement of the mystical and mysterious woman.

*

            When the dream ended, his body was covered in sweat and cold to the touch. His wife hovered over him with worried words and sympathetic frowns.

            “You were turning and tossing, honey! Are you coming down with something? You’re all sweaty!”

            A full moon from a clear night shone through the bank of windows of the master bedroom and provided light enough to show agony on his face.

            Ken shook his head several times before answering. “Just a bad dream, Dixie…a bad dream that was so very real. I’ve never had a dream so real in my life.”

            “You want to talk about it?” Her blue watery eyes showed concern and love.

            “Not now, Honey. I’ll tell you all about it in the morning. You go back to sleep. I’m going to get a glass of water and try sleep again without riding a nightmare.”

            Over coffee and pancakes the next morning, Ken told Dixie of his strange and mystifying nightmare in vivid detail. Nothing was left out of his accounting. At the finish, he was sweaty again. “I just can’t believe the reality of that dream. When I see Cliff, I’ll find out how and if his sleep was interrupted last night.”

            “Dreams can be weird, Kenny, but you can’t believe Cliff would have the same dream?”

            “Yeah, I know, Dixie, but this one…this one took a lot out of me. I’m left thinking, this one just had to mean something, and I’ve got the gnawing feeling that I need to talk to Cliff.”

            At the store in mid-morning, Cliff stopped during his ‘beat’ walk, wearing a harried expression on his face.

            “What’s up, Cliff? You have a dream last night?”

            “What? You kidding me? How would you know that, good buddy?”

            “So, you did have a dream last night?”

            “A ‘lulu’, an off the wall nightmare! Don’t tell me you had one as well?”

            “Like you said, Cliff, a ‘lulu’…”

            They were stunned! Their dreams were discussed and found to be identical!

            Thus, an ‘urban legend’ was born…and sanctified by strange occurrences in the small town of Green Valley, Georgia.

            Not only occurrences but identical mystic dreams by the citizens as well.

            Green Valley became a virtual ghost town with very little stirring of its people…most stayed closed in and did not stray very far from home.

            The most beguiling effects of the Green Valley anomaly began occurring when other small towns across the country reported disturbances of a pretty lady in a burgundy and gold dress who communicated in strange monosyllabic utterings, then disappeared not to be seen again.

            Soon, the national media picked up the story and ran a steady stream of possible scenarios…’The Phantom Lady’ is reported by ‘Space Mysteries Network’ as a robotic machine sent from an unknown planet to create chaos on earth as a prelude to an outer-space attack’.

            The prime-time TV networks ran various three-part and five-part ‘Strange Cosmic Events’ highlighting an all-women planet invading our country with identical clones’.

             Magazine and major Newspapers ran serial issues suggesting Secret Projects of the United States Supreme Court in collusion with the United States Government.

            Of course, there were some people in the political ranks issuing reports of Political Chicanery, producing elaborate and outlandish reports that staggered the mind even beyond ‘The Phantom Lady’ incident.  

            The year of 2029 was becoming an alarming amalgam of Progress and Uncertainty.

 {Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood – March 2, 2017}

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