A Piece of Memory

images (8)

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

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

Please follow me on: http://twitter.com/brchitwood

 

 

 

The Phantom Lady

stock-photo-beautiful-smiling-middle-aged-woman-in-a-burgundy-dress-and-green-hand-bag-on-the-porch-of-an-old-548990332

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.

 Please follow me at: http://twitter.com/brchitwood

Please follow my Blog of some 300+ posts – current and archived: https://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

Sunrise Sonata

dawn-1850105_1280.jpg

Sunrise Sonata

The man’s countenance projected a sorrowful and faraway expression as his body found some measure of comfort against the boulder just below the rise of the hill. The spot was his place of meditation.

 

He came during darkness after the awful TV news of a mob’s protest turned violent killing innocents and destroying property over several city blocks.

 

In the dark quietness he lifted his tenor saxophone toward the starlit sky and filled the cool air with soft mellifluous notes, springing from a well of remembered love songs. The soft notes floated upward toward a Deity the man could never forsake, to the Omniscient and Omnipotent King of Kings, the golden instrument praying in its way for the miracle of Love and Peace.

 

Tears came to dry upon his face time and again as the agony of soul sought release. The anger and hate of hooded protesters could not stop the madness that plagued the Earth. Only the merger of kindred minds could bring the world together.

 

The man watched the sunrise from his spot of somber solitude, and a spiritual stirring came to his body, a feeling of some respite, a sense of Designed Expectation.

 

He rose, placed his saxophone in its case and walked from the hill. He was sure he could hear the rapturous sounds of his saxophone in the air behind him.

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 11, 2017

 

Please visit my website, preview my 14 books, read some book reviews, blogs,  and some comments by the author.

Website: http://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter – @brchitwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing Glory

clemson-university-memorial-stadium-1000pc-panoramic-jigsaw-puzzle-by-masterpieces-c13

Passing Glory

PAST

          We practiced all summer, between beach time and part-time work. We worked hard to become Western Rose High School’s best tandem quarterback and wide receiver in the football history of our school and our state of South Carolina.

          We? Bobby Borden is the wide receiver of whom I write. The quarterback is Danny Miles. That would be me. 

          Coach Collins ended our Spring Practice session with this locker room announcement: “I’m already second-guessing myself in telling you guys this, but here goes. The team assembled in this locker room may very well be the best group of athletes we Coaches have had for years. I’m talking about all positions. I’m talking about depth, I’m talking about speed, about execution of plays on offense and defense.”

          The coach paused, did that little lip press and nod thing he does when he’s about to say something big.

          “What I’m saying to you group of young men is that you are potentially as good as any South Carolina State Championship team this state ever crowned…”

          Pause.

          “Now, it’s good if this news pumps you up, but do not, repeat, do not, get your thinking going off in the wrong direction. The teams you will be playing this Fall and Winter will likely be hearing something similar from their coaches. What I’m saying is real, and I mean every word. You can be South Carolina State Champs this year. Keep believing these words! Make them your mantra! BUT, do not ease up on the practice field. Execute your plays, play your positions like you’re in that State Championship game.

          “Remember this point: regardless what you hear and read in the various media, do not go into any game thinking the other team is a ‘lay down’. Each team you play this year will be reading of your newspaper heroics and will be posting their bulletin board hypes, having their pep rallies, practicing hard just to humiliate you. Stay within yourselves, know you’re good, but go into every game knowing that the other team has watched the video tapes, know as well as they can your strengths and weaknesses and are waiting to pounce on any mistake or turnover you make.

          “We Coaches will do all we can to have you prepared for battle, but you are the guys that have to play the game…and, don’t worry, we’ll keep reminding you of this little locker room chat.

          “Remember, football is just a game but it can teach you some important life lessons and lead to bright futures – if not in football, in the business world. 

          “The last thing I’ll mention is also very important. Each time you take the field against that other team, remember to have fun! Practice will be at times very tiring because the Coaches want to hone your skills, have those skills ingrained so they will be second nature, and you will be glad when bedtime comes. Whether a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, the rewards are waiting for you when you finish your academics here at Western Rose, scholarships for some, jobs for others, and I guarantee you that these years of playing a rough sport and learning in those classrooms will have you ready for the even tougher competition in the adult world…”

PRESENT

          Bobby Borden gathers in his large soft hands my long high-floating spiral on Breton High’s 17-yard line. Bobby works hard to make it all the way to the end zone but the Breton safety has the right angle and tackles my best receiver on the 12-yard line…

          Coach Collins predicts correctly about our team. We make it all the way to the South Carolina State Football Championship Game in Clemson, South Carolina.

          Coach is right about something else. We build a 24-3 lead at halftime and come out too full of ourselves in the second half. The Breton Warriors make some good adjustments, stop us cold in the third quarter and score three touchdowns – on our two fumbles near our goal line and a punt return. 

          The coach at the end of the third quarter huddles the players on the sidelines and gives us a reality check. “You’re playing too tight guys and rushing your assignments. We’re here in this exalted stadium with a huge crowd mostly on our side, and they are dying a little bit each time we make a mistake. Look, this is your game to win or lose. You work hard to get here. You believe in yourselves. You know you’re as good or better than the Breton Beavers. The Western Rose Warriors need to take a few deep breaths and rev up for a big finish. Danny, make your reads, audible when you see a one-on-one possibility for Bobby. The Breton safety doesn’t look full-speed to me. Maybe you work on him. Be ready to scramble, Danny, because they are going to keep blitzing you…try a screen pass or two to get them away from the blitz. You linemen are doing a great job. Keep it up. And, Bubba Hopkins, hit them hard up the middle and over tackle…”

          The horn sounds for the third quarter.

          Coach Collins finishes with this: “All the Coaches are proud of you guys. You’ve got fifteen minutes to build some great memories… Love you guys!”

          We all pile on hands, yell loudly, and take the field.

          Well, the fourth quarter goes well for us except for some stupid penalties that stop our drives. Our defense is terrific, holding the Beavers to sixteen total yards. So, now, we’re on the Beavers 12-yard line with nine minutes to play in the game, huddling, and I’m calling a fake hand-off and throwing to Bobby at the post. Bobby fakes the defensive double coverage players out of their jocks and makes our tandem a thing of beauty… The huge, awesome crowd and our sideline goes wild. My heart does little flip-flops!

          Touchdown! Extra Point! 31-24…

          The Beavers take the kickoff on their own 6-yard line, and our special team guys get the runner on the 13-yard line. The Warriors are feeling good. We have the beavers on their own 13-yard line. They try a couple of running plays but our linebackers fill the gaps.

          The Beavers are now facing third down and six yards to go for a first down. The Beaver quarterback calls a screen, and we blitz. The speedy and small motion guy jukes our linebacker, catches a high pass, and outruns our safety and two other defensive backs for a touchdown. Great play! And I hate it!

          Score: 31-31!

          With the football changing hands two times, we now have one minute and three seconds to play in the game. We miss an opportunity to take the lead. We score on a pass play, but the touchdown is nullified because of a holding penalty. After two more dumb penalties, we punt to the Beavers.

          The Beavers have the ball. After our defense holds, it’s fourth down on the Beavers 40-yard line. Their Coach calls the team’s final time-out to go over the options. There are only twenty-one seconds left on the game clock when the players go back on the field.

          The quarterback almost loses the ball from the errant center, but recovers and lofts a long 35-yard pass to his wide receiver who catches the ball.

          On our sideline, there are lots of groans and many heads are hanging low. Our safety hits the wide receiver with a jarring tackle on our 10-yard line and the football goes straight up into the air about fifteen feet. Our safety twirls, looks up, and the ball falls into his arms. He then races ninety exciting yards for a touchdown, dodging, stiff-arming, turning, twisting.

          Happy moments for Western Rose Warriors.

          Score: 38-31!

          That’s the way the score stays as the ensuing kickoff return is the last play of the game. The runner is tackled on the Beavers’ eleven-yard line as the clock runs out.

          The noise is deafening! People are rushing onto the field. Players are embracing, some crying tears of joy, some tears of defeat.

          The western Rose Warriors are the South Carolina State Football Champions!

FUTURE

          Bobby Borden and Danny Miles got their athletic scholarships and went on to play as a star tandem passer/receiver at Clemson University where they had three winning seasons and bowl appearances. AND, they could have played pro ball but decided a business partnership and marriage was more important to them.

          They married their high school sweethearts, had wonderful families, and built a major sports products business. They stayed friends throughout their lives and occasionally watched a replay of their victory over the Breton Beavers.

          They never forgot Coach Collins and his assistant coaches. They never forgot the glory of winning the South Carolina State Football Championship and their great games at Clemson. The bruises and jarring tackles of past football glory became arthritis and hip replacements eventually. Their football experiences made them competitive in business and they achieved most of their goals.

          Glory came with business more often than football victories, and the elation always came with each goal achievement, much like that championship game in Clemson, South Carolina.

          Glory with all its euphoria fades but can temper the rest of our lives. The football experience often has for some of us a subtle current that never leaves our minds and bodies. When the right Coaches meet the right players, there can be magic in the transference.

         Past glories and the sports’ lessons learned have a place always in the hearts and memories of those who experience them. Those lessons can weave themselves into positive outcomes for life’s problems. When faith, humility, love, and family are added the human spirit thrives.

 Flash Fiction by: Billy Ray Chitwood – January, 2017

Please visit my Website, preview my 14 books, some reviews, blogs, and some comments by the author.

 http://www.brchitwood.weebly.com

 Please follow me on:

 http:www.twitter.com/brchitwood

 CONGRATULATIONS TO CLEMSON UNIVERSITY- NATIONAL FOOTBALL CHAMPS!

 

‘The Way We Were’ – Then and/or Now

cave-mycenae-2-00415

The Way We Were – Then or Now

 We awake in the cave, our minds blurred by realities of living.

 Moira goes deeper into the cave to bathe.

 Somehow, we have ended up here above the land we now see through the opening of the only home Moira and I have ever known. We eat certain vegetation, sweetly sour berries, and meat from the kills of our crude weapons. Over time we have developed a language that allows us to communicate with each other.

 Who are we? What are we? What is our purpose? Are we creations of some bewildering fate that allows us the awareness of thought? We can think and therefore we exist. There must be more than the hunt, the kill, the cave in which we live.

 What of this thing I hold in my hand, heavy and gouged by the passing of time? How is it I know to call it a rock? I throw the rock into the wall of the cave and it bounces here and there, finally landing not far from the great opening.

 Moira’s question breaks into my thoughts.

 “Why do you throw the rock, Meito?”

 Without looking at Moira, I fumble with the dirt and pebbles on the ground where I kneel, I respond. “I throw the rock because of my confusion and our way of living…the rock has thickness, weight, and no feelings. Why can’t we be like the rock?”

 Moira stands a few feet away from me. She has just come from the cleansing water pit deep in the cave, her long black hair wet and stringy. Her pretty face and deep brown eyes show innocence and purity. The meager animal skin she wears clings to her body and does little to hide the sensual fullness of her youth.

 “Because the rock has little function,” Moira answers. “Because the rock has no feeling, cannot hunt, kill, and show love. Meito, we have this same conversation so often. This is where we are and must accept our destiny. We have made our lives better than when we met some years ago, hopeless and lost in this wild mountainside. We will go on and trust in our love. I believe there is some spirit power that will guide us to where it is we are going.”

 As I stand, a smile appears on Moira’s face and her eyes sparkle with an unfathomable certainty. She sees my heavy brown beard part and show its own smile. I go to her, and we embrace.

 “You always lift me out of my depression. We will let life happen as it is destined to happen. The people we see hiding behind trees, fleeing from us – as we flee from them – maybe, one day, we can unite and get out of the caves… You are beautiful, sweet Moira, and your love is enough for me.”

 We soon leave the cave for our hunt.

 It is a beautiful day on the mountain.

 Flash Fiction by:

 Billy Ray Chitwood – January 1, 2017

 Please visit my Website:

http://brchitwood.weebly.com

Preview my 14 books, some reviews, some blogs, and some author comments.

 Please follow me on http://twitter.com/brchitwood

Believe It Or Not

view-world-2907801

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

Please visit my Website: http://brchitwood.weebly.com

Preview my 14 books, some book reviews, and see some author comments.

Please follow me on: http://twitter.com/brchitwood

Flowers and Fate

panorama-1861658_1280

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! 

There Must Be A Better Way

amazing-animal-beautiful-beautifull

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

 

SEE AND PREVIEW MY 14 BOOKS AT:

 

http://brchitwood.weebly.com

MY BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON US, UK, CANADA, AND THE WORLD.

 

Follow me on: twitter.com/brchitwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love’s Reunion

hotel-ziyaLove’s Reunion

A stranger in this Balkan city of Podgorica I felt the cool but comfortable night breeze on my body. My leather jacket and heavy trousers sheltered me nicely in my walk to the Pod Volat Restaurant. Wisps of my thirty-five year old ebony hair gently waved to the people passing. A quite lovely lady with long dark flowing tresses looked me over carefully as she passed, raised her eyebrows and gave me a flirtatious smile. I smiled back not so flirtatiously but quickly diverted my blue eyes, remembering my own blonde beauty awaiting me at the restaurant.

I could see the restaurant in the distance and picked up my gait. I was anxious to see Erica and determine if the passion flame of three years past still held its magical heat. Our romantic encounter in New York had run for six months before her Montenegro family members played on her sympathies to come home. And, home she went, leaving me with an engagement ring in my suit coat pocket that she never got to see. The fact of her leaving did not break my heart but it hurt and gave me some serious tremors. She did not want to leave New York but her family’s arguments were too compelling – mother ill, father and siblings unable to cope, too much for her heart to bear. Our last night together was tearful but filled with incredible love-making. She even told me she loved me, and, yeah, I told her the same.

So, as luck would have it, my attorney work brought me to within visiting limit in Kosovo. We had stayed in touch, so our reunion was planned. Because of my arrival time, it was her idea to meet at the Pod Volat Restaurant, popular for both tourists and locals. With flight uncertainties and because I wanted our reunion to be in a much more romantic setting than an airport terminal I turned down her offer to be picked up at the airport.

My heart picked up its tempo with the Pod Volat looming bigger in the foreground. My ground steps kept pace with the heart tempo as I reached a darkened alleyway.

Movement reached my ears simultaneous to seeing two bulky men figures grab and pull me into the alley. Some light came from the neon lights some distance away but it was difficult to make out my assailants as they pulled me deeper into the alley. The men were dressed in dark clothes and they held my arms tightly and painfully, wedging me closer to their own bodies. I tried to kick up, but they had the leverage and heeled my shins with their own feet.

So, I used my head – literally! Fast and hard I whipped my head from side to side, connecting with their temples. The jolting hits almost knocked me out and I was hoping for that effect with the goons.

My head did just enough damage to loosen their grips on my arms and I bolted from the alley. Thankfully, I heard no running taps on the alley pavement.

Racing fast and hard, far enough to be in front of the restaurant I looked back and saw no one. It seemed a small miracle had canceled out a mugging or something more sinister.

Inside the Pod Volat, I took some deep breaths and leaned for a moment against a wall. The maitre d came to me and asked about my health. I told him I was just winded because of my eagerness to see Ms Erica Vukovich, and had she arrived? At that very moment I looked and saw her at a table toward the end of the big lovely room – made all the more lovely because I had made it there.

Erica rose from her seat at the table and rushed to greet me with a wonderful smile on her face, attached to that fantastic face and body I remembered so well.

We kissed unashamedly until we both felt the eyes of patrons on us. We then took our seats at our table, ordered cocktails, and gazed into the eyes of the other.

After some hand holding across the table and many endearing sentiments, she became serious.

“I made a mistake, Deke, a big mistake. I left New York and should not have. I’ve never stopped loving you. My hope was that you would propose to me, then my family would have to back off.”

“Ah, Erica, I had the engagement ring in my pocket that evening you told me you were leaving.”

We both laughed, and she asked, “Do you still have it?”

I ceremoniously reached into my left jacket pocket and pulled out the small box, left my seat and knelt by her chair: “Will you marry me, Erica? I love you with all my heart.”

With my proposal, Erica stood, tightly embraced me, and gave me one long lingering kiss – until we heard the patrons in Pod Volat applauding.

Just a tad embarrassed we reclaimed our seats at the table and talked of our plans for the immediate and distant future.

Sometime during that wonderful night, Erica apologetically spoke of her brothers. “You know, they threatened to try and scare you away from meeting me tonight. I knew they wouldn’t do it.”

My smile could never convey to her the satisfaction she had just given me.

I got a suite in the Hotel Ziya, and we stayed for three days, time to gather Erica’s belongings for our trip back to New York.

I never got to meet the brothers…well, not really…

Flash Fiction by: Billy Ray Chitwood – November 30, 2016

Please visit my website & preview my 14 books at:

http://brchitwood.weebly.com

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

facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

Ripples

 

sunset

Ripples 

      The lovely lady squinted as she stood on her penthouse balcony, grasped the iron railing and looked at the distant clouds hovering above the horizon.

Standing there in her long powdery blue night gown, her image portrayed a classic Princess-like profile with all the voluptuous and titillating curves that brought men to their knees. Her face was to cherish: lips full of the sweetest imaginable wine that gave kisses long lingering promises of other delights; magical blue eyes that mesmerized and projected a strange mystical sadness.

The sun she gathered from some days on the beach made her glow with some wondrous and nostalgic essence, her long silky auburn hair not bothered by the slight breeze that moved it gently across her face.

She watched the wave ripples shifting the sand and bringing ashore sea glass and ageless plant debris. Two tears appeared, spilled over the lower lids, and fell down her face. A small trembling smile came as her thoughts mixed with the sea glass and plants on the shore…

“Oh, Jessie,” she whispered as a zephyr carried her words out upon the ripples. “Why, why, why?” she implored of her Deity. “Why has the world gone crazy? Why did they send you to Afghanistan? I can’t make it without you. Here at our favorite retreat I hoped to find some semblance of sanity, but there is nowhere to go that will bring peace, a reason to go on without you.”

She sighed a small surrender.

She placed her left foot on the lower stretch of balcony iron and tightened her grip on the top railing. She looked again at the clouds on the distant horizon, at the ripples coming to shore with their cargo. She pulled her body upward on the railing and gave the horizon one more poignant gaze.

From some silent place inside the penthouse came the words: “Cut! That’s a take!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – October 1, 2016

Okay, I’m bad, but aren’t you glad she didn’t jump?! Come on, you thought she would! 

Here I am, pleading again! Please preview my fourteen books of mystery, suspense, romance, memoir, et al, at:

http://www.goo.gl/nWMXm3 

 mamasmadness23d strangerabduction3d-1 reluctantsavage3da PHOENIX_FIRE (1)  crackedmirror3d

PLUS: Books 1-6 – ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series’

Just pick one (or, several) of the books, read it (them) on your Kindle device, or, please buy the paperback edition – you see, that way, you can read it (them) over and over again. THEN, after reading the book, or, books, (insert another please here) give it (them) a review on Amazon. After you read and review my book(s), lots of good things will happen in your lives, and you will feel very good in knowing you’ve helped out this author – a young man in an old man’s body! Just saying! (Insert Smiley Face!) 

Please follow me: http://twitter.com/brchitwood