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}

Please visit my Website: http://billyraychitwood.com Preview my 14 books, some book reviews, and author comments.

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Cloud Dancer

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Cloud Dancer

That’s the title of my newest book – the one I’m finishing as soon as I write this post. The cover is being created in the next few days – not the image above, but one I think the readers will like.

Why Cloud Dancer? Sounds a bit American Indian-like, does it not? Well, it is.

It occurred to me that my writing thus far has embraced the genres of mystery, suspense, and romance. Because it is my wife’s belief, through her genealogy efforts, that I have a smidgen of Cherokee in my blood, I decided to venture out of my normal zone and write through several genres. The result of my efforts will be Cloud Dancer.

So, Cloud Dancer is to be primarily a romance novel, a love story for the ages, set in 2017 and 1838. It is a novel that will have some narrative sequences regarding the ‘Trail of Tears’ – the forced relocation in the 1830’s by our government of the Cherokee Nation and the other civilized tribes located in the Southeastern Appalachian area of our nation. The book will explore to some extent the pain and suffering of the Cherokee along that historic ‘Trail’ and show some bias against Andrew Jackson’s ‘Indian Removal Act’ of 1830. It was, in my opinion, one of the most corrupt and insensitive acts of our country’s government.

Be that as it may, the book also has an endearing, incredible love story, plus murder and suspense – just could not get away from the genres for which I have great interest. It has Déjà Vu, time travel, and some psycho-babble.

You might be thinking that Cloud Dancer might be too big a project to share with readers. However, in my most humble opinion, it’s one of my best novels. Of course, that is not my judgement to make. The readers, and I pray there are many, will make that decision.

Those who follow my blog will be the first to know when the book is ready for publishing and ordering.

I don’t give 100% guarantees on my books – you know, I like them all, think they are well written and entertaining, and, of the fourteen books, Cloud Dancer could very well be my best.

Thanks for your indulgence.

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 3, 2016

*

Visit my website at http://www.goo.gl/nWMXm3 for a preview of all my books.

Hope you will check out my books which cross different genres – mystery, romance, suspense, memoir, thriller. I humbly submit they are ‘fun’ reads, and some are inspired by true events.

http://www.goo.gl/nWMXm3 – My Website.

Other Links:

http://www.about.me/brchitwood

http://twitter.com/brchitwood – Follow me @brchitwood

http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

http://amazon.com/author/billyraychitwood

http://linkedin.com

Proud member of: #ASMSG – #IAN – #AHA

Proud recipient of eleven + blog award nominations.

 

Imagine

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Imagine

Imagine the end of corruption, evil, and greed.

Imagine no need for news and sensationalism.

Imagine hearts and minds filled only with love.

Imagine Peace an unbroken global standard.

Imagine Freedom and Liberty uncompromised.

Imagine honesty and integrity never doubted.

Imagine crime and wars words void and unspoken.

Imagine Happiness an implicit way of life.

“Hey, man, you nuts? You can’t have a world like that! How you gonna know what’s good without some bad? We gotta have opposites in life. You know, ‘hate and love’, ‘crime and punishment’, ‘peace and war’.”

“Why are you looking over my shoulder? This is none of your business. Plus, I’m not finished with this, yet. Sure, I’m presenting some kind of ‘Eloi’ scenario here – you know, it was one of H. G. Wells ‘time travel’ stops. AND, I know what you’re saying…how do you get billions of people in that mindset? The Philosophy Professor wanted the class to write a paper on ‘Faith and Spiritual Disparity’ in the world, while offering an idealistic human condition… Now, buzz off, I have to finish this paper.”

“Okay, pal, but you’re writing that ‘Imagine’ stuff about Heaven or a parallel universe Utopia.”

“Well, now, you are the bright one! That’s exactly what I’m doing… Now, go, and bring back McDonald’s Big Macs, French fries, and coke – to be more exact, Coca Cola!”

Flash Fiction by: Billy Ray Chitwood – 7/26/16

Hope you will check out my books which cross different genres – mystery, romance, suspense, memoir, thriller. I humbly submit they are ‘fun’ reads, and some are inspired by true events.

http://www.goo.gl/nWMXm3

Other Links:

http://www.about.me/brchitwood

http://twitter.com/brchitwood

http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

http://amazon.com/author/billyraychitwood

Proud member of: #ASMSG – #IAN – #AHA

Proud recipient of eleven + blog award nominations

 

Running on Emptiness

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Buy Now

http://www.goo.gl/8vP1Qs

NEW! ON AMAZON NOW!

The Book:

Running on Emptiness is Book 4 of John Dolan’s ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series, and, for me, it is the quintessential example of this Englishman’s wordsmith mastery.

Running on Emptiness has government coups, an exciting ‘Capulets and Montagues’ – Romeo and Juliet element – with two Thai drug gangs fighting for supremacy, and David Braddock fighting a dichotomy of emotions… There is something else that makes this novel so exquisite…

That something else is the absolute mastery of the English language. John Dolan is ‘word wizardry’ personified. He is a metaphorical genius, and he will keep the reader glued to the pages with his pen strokes – between some smiles and tears. Perhaps my favorite sections of the book are the ‘David Braddock Journal’ chapters.

David is still the consummate detective, part Sherlock Holmes and part Sam Spade, solving cases, and people he cares about are being killed…he is on someone’s hit list, and that part of the story is most engrossing and tense.

The Author:

John Dolan is truly a Polymath – let us all hope his brain doesn’t burst! John is also down to earth and a jolly fellow. It’s been my pleasure to know JD for a few years. We’ve only met on Skype and chatted a few times, and it is very easy to fall under his charm…even though he talks ‘funny’ – you know, the stuffy, pedantic, talk of an Englishman! (Okay, I’m through with the jesting.) It’s interesting that I feel a strong bond with John and say rather clumsily I consider him my friend.

John, wife Fiona, and family live in Koh Samui, Thailand, visiting often his native England. He travels, is still in the business world, and it beats me how he can have the time to turn out these novel masterpieces. Everything I wrote above about the book is no exaggeration – you will find the same ‘Review’ on Amazon US, UK, and Goodreads. Be assured that my praise of this novel and his other books is not a trivial quid pro quo. My words are genuine and sincere. Running on Emptiness is destined to be a best seller… You heard it here! Get your copy, Kindle or Print, and I’m betting you agree.

I hope Mr. Dolan doesn’t mind but I’m including a few of my favorite excerpts from Running on Emptiness:

***

(There are with this noble work of literature so many delightful metaphors and a display of a giant English talent…)

All around her, people went about their daily business, indifferent to the lonely women consumed by mortal thoughts. A pang of envy shot through Kat; she coveted their superficial contentment, their apparent ability to settle for what they had. She no longer belonged to their society. She was now one of a smaller class of humans who had glimpsed the reality behind life’s mask. The veil had been drawn aside, and daylight allowed to shine in on the magic. She could never again see the world with the same eyes.

AND:

(From David Braddock’s Journal)

 I know what you’re thinking.

 You’re thinking that I accepted Kat’s lascivious offer; that I am a man whose moral boundaries have been long washed away by the incoming tide of selfish indulgence. And, in fairness, I am not far off being that person. However, for now, a faint residue, an unfaded fingerprint of ethical volition remains, and occasionally pokes its way through the clutter of wisecracking indifference that constitutes my habitual behaviour.

 AND:

 I opened the grubby window and lit a cigarette. My watch informed me it was just after two-thirty.

 Below me, Bangkok continued to breathe. Cars puffed out exhaust fumes and multi-coloured sleepwalkers wandered the psychedelic pavements. The garish signs of unloved buildings telegraphed their messages in reds and blues; and the hum of life’s aspirations and disappointments rose up from the streets and lost itself in the night sky.

 AND:

 Chapter 23 is quite a chapter!

 AND: 

 For reasons that are obscure – unless you subscribe to the theory that I can no longer cope with the endless succession of Bad Things Happening, and have lost contact with all human sensibilities (which I admit is a possibility) – I am calm. My brain is as settled as it ever gets. The Samui morning sun shines on a composed, confident private detective; even if later it may shine on a decomposed, panicked, wreck of a man, once the flywheel of my neurosesis again set in motion.

 AND:

 While sprawled across my bed, I fantasise about my fingertips tracing their way down Kat’s naked spine, a rumpled sheet positioned modestly across her smooth bottom, as in some classical art painting. That vermiculate flesh now dust, we go no more a-rovin’. The sweat of lust has dried up, and risen into the air as foetid, organic motes. Our animal movements, and the senses they awakened, now inhabit a fleshy pigeonhole in some semi-truthful compartment of my memory. The remembrances of Kat have already begun to re-write themselves, to open up, to metastasize like her disease, only into something more wholesome. 

 It was an affair, not some shrieking, humiliating ripping at each other in the darkness. Of course, it was . . . meaningful. Kat Charoenkul: moneyed Thai chatelaine of the Kohl-edged eyes. She with the garish, red gash of a mouth; with the vampiric, white canines; with the wet, pink tongue given to verbal mischief and sensual pleasure. Now dead. Dead: the word exudes inertia, like lead, disclaiming all potentials and possibilities. Of course, it was . . . meaningful. I venture another drink and wonder whether Papa Doc Charoenkul is drinking too.

 (End of Excerpts)

 Here are some links and book covers for John Dolan’s other books, and you can follow him on Twitter.com – @JohnDolanAuthor

DSC_1252A-dolan

http://johndaviddolan.wix.com/johndolanauthor  

http://www.ow.ly/o7Fmz – About Me (John Dolan)

http://www.ow.ly/o7Fte Facebook

EveryoneBurns

http://www.goo.gl/vvXdh

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http://www. goo.gl/dyunVU

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http://www. goo.gl/A6t512

chaos-is-come-again-cover

   http://www.goo.gl/eTp0UC

Blog by Billy Ray Chitwood – January 30, 2016

PLEASE RE-BLOG THIS POST!

My Website – profile and books – http://www.goo.gl/nWMXm3

 

A Parable of Sorts

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Because so much is happening in the world today, I thought I would get 2016 started with a short story I wrote back three years ago. It conveys the ugliness in the world but it has faith and love as well. Hope you enjoy:

It’s curious how the mind can wander off into a story.

During a ‘time out’ from working on my WIP (a new book) my mind began its wandering and somehow settled on some of the world’s more problematic issues – at least, from the perspective of someone living in the USA and being bombarded each day with unsettling news from far away places, news of Syria’s internal devastating turmoil, of Iran’s new leadership, plus a ‘new treaty’, and how it might hold little promise for relieving old angers and hatreds, news of a North Korea that seems always deleterious and scary…

I reached for my laptop and began to type this rather small piece that became a fanciful story. I decided at its conclusion that it had some ‘nuance’ here and there and decided to give it a title, “A Parable of Sorts.” I’m posting it here because I’m a writer who can hardly ever let anything I write, good or bad, go to waste. Hopefully, this little tale will not be too disconcerting to the senses. With this said, here’s the tale…

A Parable Of Sorts

Sasha begged him not to go. “You belong here with me, Leonid. The battle is within you, not with North Korea. What of us?” She tugged at his tattered coat.

He smiled benignly, “You’re a lovely and silly girl. You do not understand the reality of our time. To stay would be to defy my beliefs, my convictions, and, yes, my anger and hatred.”

“You would die for these beliefs and convictions, this anger and hatred?”

“We all must die, Sasha.”

“You brought me here to be left alone in a strange country?”

“Hong Kong is not a strange country, foolish one. We’ve been here sometime now. You know many of our native people. Go to them when your money runs out. Stay with them. Should something go wrong, I will return for you.”

“Please, Leonid, you go to die and you know it. You’ve told me of your plans. You go on a suicide mission. I’ve begged before and I beg of you, now, please stay!”

At the door of the small efficiency apartment, Leonid paused with his hand on the door knob. His dark eyes and handsome face held a strange and wistful look. He removed his hand from the door knob, returned to Sasha where she stood by the tiny dining table. “You are so beautiful, my blue-eyed wonder.” He embraced and gave her a long passionate kiss.

He then quickly twisted her head until he heard the snap. The lips were still in a half-smile as her head dangled and fell to his right shoulder, her blue eyes large and vacant in their death stare. In a whisper, he spoke, to the face he had loved, “Better you go this way, my dear Sasha, than to linger in life’s pain. You cannot know but I did love you.”

Leonid gently lowered her body onto a soiled stuffed chair just a few feet from the dining table, gazed upon her splayed form for some seconds, then slowly left the apartment. Tears welled but he willed them away, a final and essential part of his being had snapped and was forever lost to him.

*****

Night, reluctant to shed its vagueness, was slowly showing its lightened eastern clouds as the sun gave way to earth’s perpetual orbital pattern. Leonid walked in the shadows along streets leading to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. It was still quiet in this city known as ‘Flat Land’ in its translation. In his backpack he carried explosives with timer mechanisms that he would plant at key buildings. The explosive carefully strapped to his body he would save for the KMP.

His thoughts were well focused on his morning’s mission but he could not deny the flashing memories that brought him to this point in time…

His father, mother, and brother had been ruthlessly killed here in Pyongyang in 2012 by a squad of government gangsters of the ‘People’s Republic of Korea.’ His family was shown no mercy as they were chopped to death by machetes, labeled spies against the state. Four hours later his older brother and sister were pulled from their lodgings, beaten, and then chopped to death. The government squad had no ears to listen to his family’s protests of innocence, their legitimate reason for being in the ‘Flat Land,’ their labored cries of mercy.

Pyongyang’s government never wavered from their ill-gotten information about his family. Never mind that his mother had pleasantly refused to cater a special luncheon for the squad and their friends, the sole event and motive that brought the hatred and the killings. Never mind that his sister would be raped before she was chopped. The killings were all justified, each query quashed and forgotten by the government.

His marriage to Sasha prior to the family murders made home life an hourly ebb and flow of emotions. When sleep would come there were the hellish nightmares, waking, screaming the names of his dead family, his body slick with sweat and tears, Sasha clinging to him, sobbing, trying desperately to slay the night-dragons that possessed him.

Then came the job loss and it was as though the people of Hong Kong could see the rage in his eyes, the stench of hatred from his body. He became a man avoided and feared. Sasha tried to get him help, would set an appointment for him to see someone who might be able to help him, but he would not arrive at the set time. Sasha was the only person in the large city who could give him moments of relative calm, but then those times of surcease became fewer and fewer.

He would not bathe nor shave, only when Sasha would run his bath and physically pull and push him to the tub and wash and rinse him. For those few precious moments Sasha could almost sense some warmth come to him…but it never lasted long. The strange hatred that occupied him never resulted in personal damage to her. She did the talking, asking questions of him, and he bluntly answered the questions – until the fateful day he killed her! It was only some modicum of revenge that would fulfill what was left of his putrid life…

As he walked in the shadowy stillness, a voice came to him from an alleyway just a few feet away: “Leonid, I must talk to you. Come walk with me in the alley.”

Leonid stopped, momentarily startled…no one knew his name, knew that he was here in Pyongyang. “Who speaks my name?” He braced himself against a building corner near the alley, moving his hand near a detonator that would vaporize him and much of the immediate area.

“A friend, Leonid. Please come these few steps and talk to me. There is no harm intended. We will talk, and you can do then what you will.” The voice had a calm and soft cadence, and Leonid knew that the man spoke the truth.

Leonid walked a few feet into the alley until he saw a man’s form. What struck him were the man’s eyes. They glowed in the semi-darkness, matched the tenor of the stranger’s voice. Oddly, Leonid was not afraid of the stranger and walked some fifty feet further down the alley, stopping when the stranger sat on a wooden crate. The stranger bid Leonid to sit on another wooden crate nearby.

“How is it that you know me and what do you want?”

“I’m just a man who knows the pain you carry within you and the mission that you are on.”

“How could you possibly know such things?”

“I have been with you all the way from Hong Kong, Leonid, mourning with you the loss of your beloved Sasha.”

“I killed her! With these ugly knotted hands, I killed her. How can you know this, Tell me who you are and why you are here, or, I will…”

“Leonid, just a few questions I have and you can be on your way.” The stranger’s voice was mesmerizing, measured in softness and tone. “Why is it, Leonid, that we are here on this spinning orb we call earth?”

There was rapture in the stranger’s voice that commanded a response. “We are here to live in parables and to die and be no more.”

The stranger’s eyes seemed to glow more brightly and the long beard he wore was a pellucid whiteness that seemed somehow unearthly. Leonid quickly considered whether of not he was awake or in a dream.

The stranger spoke. “So, why is it that the moon falls from the sky, the sun does not bring us daylight, and birth has no precise process to follow?”

Still taken by the stranger’s soothing voice, but a bit nonplussed, Leonid responded. “But you know that is not so. What is your motive here?”

The stranger seemed not to hear the question. “Why is there no evil and good in the world?”

“Stop confounding me with your Socratic silliness. Of course, there is evil and there is good in the world.”

“And why do you think that is so?”

“God only knows.”

“You speak His name as though you know him, Leonid. Do you know God?”

“There is no God!”

“Yet, you say He knows about evil and good.”

“Look, your aura wraps me in some kind of spell and I seem compelled to listen to your words. Please tell me what it is you wish me to know.”

“One last question, your response, and I will say my final words to you. “Did you truly love Sasha?”

“Of course, with all my heart I loved her, but my heart and soul is heavy with grief and hatred.”

“Like the hatred of Jesus’ enemies as they crucified Him on the cross? Like the hatred of the Americans for the Japanese during World War Two? Like the psychotic hatred of serial killers?”

“Yes, yes! How else can I answer such questions?”

“You can answer such questions by having Faith that there is more to come beyond this life, by believing that evil only spreads when good people are paralyzed by anger, fear, and hatred. To Love is to have Faith. To have Faith is to have Love. These noble elements of living decide our ultimate destinies. People have choices to make all their earthly lives. They will not always make the right choices, but Faith and Love will make all the wrong choices bearable and inconsequential when the last grain of sand is gathered.”

As more light came to the alley Leonid thought that he understood what the stranger was saying to him. He wanted to say something but no words would come.

The stranger lifted himself from the crate and stood in front of Leonid. “May I touch your head, Leonid, so that it might bless you?”

With tears now flowing, Leonid merely moved his head downward. The stranger touched his head. Leonid sensed warmth on his head and a coursing flutter through his body. Then, the hand left his head.

When Leonid raised his head, the stranger was gone and daylight streamed throughout the alley.

*****

When Leonid awoke, his head was on his own pillow. He was gazing at the adjoining pillow into the wondrous blue eyes of his beloved Sasha, a sweet smile upon her face.

“You look different somehow, my love. Do you still intend to carry out your vendetta against North Korea? Please say that you will not.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled her face to his chest.

“No, my precious love, there will be no vendetta, not ever…” Leonid tightly wound himself around Sasha and gave her a long and tender kiss. “I’m torn,” he said, “making love to you, or, bacon and eggs?” He paused only briefly, “Oh, to hell with the bacon and eggs…”

[END of ‘short story’]

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 2, 2016

Bill Chitwood

(Story was first written in June of 2013)

Please follow me here on my blog and at http://twitter.com/brchitwood

See my main website and blog at: http://brchitwood.weebly.com – I hope you will read my books…there is definitely entertainment value and clarity of style. Amazon reviews are always helpful to purveyors of books.

There is a short bio sketch and further links at: http://www.about.me/brchitwood

My thirteen books can be previewed at the above mentioned site:

http://brchitwood.weebly.com (Go to ‘books’ menu and scroll down the page).

I’m proud to have been nominated for eleven-+ blog nominations. 

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Millions Do It – Why Should I?

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Millions Do It – Why Should I?

Look at the blank pages!

I’ve looked at blank pages for many years, even managed to fill enough of them to write thirteen books, books of mystery and suspense, some inspired by true-life events, even filled some of those blank pages with romance and books about myself. You can find those thirteen books on http://goo.gl/nWMXm3. While I’m at it, I lay claim to roughly 250 blog posts, many tracking emotional events and moments, serving up comments on some of the world’s crazies. There are flash fiction goodies and short stories. My blogs and archive appear on Goodreads and on https://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com. I’ve been very gratified in receiving eleven blog nominations. Hopefully, some of you will find reading pleasure in these blog posts.

There are a few book sales, some great amazon and Goodreads reviews, and, humble as I am, I believe the books should be reaching more readers. One of the big problems is my ineptness in the digital world, how to extend the reach of my blogs and books to a wider audience. I rely on Twitter tweets, promos added to my posts, Amazon, and Kindle KDP. I’ve never been adept in electronics, mechanics, and have a problem keeping up with the social media flow. Another problem is I’m ‘cheap’, don’t want to spend thousands on advertising and/or a publicist. AND, with millions of writers across the globe, I’m a needle in the proverbial hay stack.

(Yeah, I know, you’ve heard all of this in previous blogs and private conversations…there are great numbers of us!)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love to write and consider much of the social media a distraction to filling more blank pages. If truth be known, the writing is enough for me. But, there’s a small selfish part of me that would like to see some monetary rewards for my efforts. Now, notwithstanding my humility, I know my books, blogs, stories, have an entertainment value and a clarity of style. Sure, the process is long with the first draft, the editing, rewrites, the proofing, and the re-reads. Even with all involved in the writing process, I can almost guarantee, after one of my books is published, there will be a minor typo or errata. From Indie writers to traditionally published authors, one generally can find errors in some of their published pages.

Well, venting-time is over… I just wanted to share with so many of my writing friends that making money on those blank pages you fill up is wonderful – and you likely go the extra mile, spend much of your time and energy in the promotional stage…not to say you have not written a beautiful book that deserves the big payoff. Indie or traditionally published, I’m happy for you.

If this sounds self-serving, well, it is! I checked the KDP report and saw my modest sales. I would like more sales, but I’ll keep writing, regardless. It keeps me active and alive…and, when I write on those blank pages the particular phrases that bloat me with delight, well, those are the game winners for me.

Now, will all who read this start a viral event and buy my books!!!

Hope springs eternal!

Billy Ray Chitwood – November, 2015

Visit me at:

http://brchitwood.weebly.com

http://www.about.me/brchitwood

http://twitter.com/brchitwood

http://goodreads.com/author/billyraychitwoo

http://amazon.com/author/billyraychitwood

How Do I Get There From Here?

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How Do I Get From Here To There?

I’m a simple man, amazed at the great minds that have given me so many toys with which to play in my adult existence, a man so simple in fact he cannot figure out how to magically utilize the power of SEOSearch Engine Optimization. I’m told that is the meaning of that acronym. If I knew how to use SEO, I’m sure my blog posts and my 13 books would reach more people.

Okay, I’m an ‘old dog’ trying to learn new tricks and beginning to realize that some quaint bromides make a lot of sense.

Now, those ‘widgets’, if I could only drag them to the ‘bar’ that’s mentioned on the page I’d be proud of the accomplishment.

Aw, never mind me! It’s a dreary Monday and I’m just a bit ‘down’…just finished my 13th book, Stranger Abduction, and I’ve not found the formula for a good launch, other than blogging, reblogging, tweets, Facebook mentions, and paid advertising. I know there are ‘Book Launch Tours’ but don’t really know how they work or the value of them. Guess I could run a few giveaway days on Amazon KDP, but it goes against my nature. I mean, working on a book for months, edits, re-writes, etc., all the time spent and give it away? PLUS, it’s a good book with a solid story line and great characters – inspired by an actual event. PLUS, I’m not so full of energy these days…okay, ‘lazy’ might be a more suitable word! PLUS, I did not do enough prep work – beta readers, seeking reviews, press releases, interviews, and the like…maybe I’m a good writer but a lousy promoter.

Anyway, ‘getting there’ (successfully selling my book(s)) from here (‘in La-La Land’) is a problem for me. SO, I must rely on more pleading blog posts and my relentless tweets. Some of you out there in ‘Blogville’ and ‘Tweetland’ have got to take pity on me, pay the dumb .99 cents (or, borrow on KDP free)  reviews. Tell you what, if you don’t like my new book, Stranger Abduction, my fairly popular Mama’s Madness, or any of my 13 books, I’ll give you your money back…just come down (or, up, depending on where you are) to Kentucky, find me, and I’ll return your  .99 cents – or, if you splurge for the book, I’ll return that amount. However, I won’t be able to pay your airfare, car mileage, and food costs…

Well, you think about it while you check out the two books below…and the other eleven books at http://billyraychitwood.weebly.com. You will find summaries there of each book.

You wonderful folks could be my way of getting ‘there from here’! Bless you all! AND, I’m not running for any government office…

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 26, 2015   

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                     http://authl.it/3yi                        http://authl.it/1SQ

Amazon Worldwide

Stranger Abduction just out this month – NEW! Inspired by a true Mother and Daughter disappearance in SE Arizona.

Mama’s Madness has many 5-Star reviews on Amazon. Inspired by an actual Northern California case – a mother from hell tortures and murders two of her daughters and an ex-husband.

SOME LINKS:

http://www.about.me/brchitwood

http://billyraychitwood,weebly.com

http://booksbybillyraychitwood.yolasite.com

http://twitter.com/brchitwood

http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

http://goodreads.com/author/dashboard/billyraychitwood

http://amazon.com/author/billyraychitwood

(Proud to be the recipient of eleven blog nominations!)