Acceptance

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Acceptance

I was taken from disturbed darkness

 Out into the frantic light of life,

Taken from the safety of the womb

 And an often dark and jarring strife.

*

The humble journey I began came

with incipient turmoil and doubt,   

subtle remorse and terrible guilt

That, with me, I carried about.

*

With youth behind I wore my badges

Of courage, deceit, and self-doubt.

Tasting the beguiling fruits of Eden

And sipping from the Bacchus spout.

*

My Odyssey was not without the

Pain of guilt and sincere remorse.

Oh, no! My mind’s black closet

Choked and stifled me in due course.

*

Then came a forgotten Deity Who

Brought me to my misguided sense,

Gave me another chance at Faith,

And bade new Love to commence.

*

So, here, in the quietness of this

Meadow green, I vow to schemes

Of Worship those worthy paeans

Of Soul on these acres of dreams.

 

©Billy Ray Chitwood – April 18, 2017

 

Please visit my Website, preview my books of mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, history, memoir, read some book reviews and comments by the author. https://billyraychitwood.com

 

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No Longer Relevant

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No Longer Relevant

            Like lonely grains of sand transported by harsh winds and randomly rearranged into symmetrical peaks and valleys, so Time transports the hours, days, months, and years of Man into the peaks and valleys of Memory, there to dwell in Irrelevance of purpose, waiting for his ultimate destiny, moving with the wind through the joy and tears of his yesterdays, wistfully waiting, ruminating on myriad and arcane Mysteries of death’s new birth – to darkness, to another dimension, to be again without knowing if He once was.

There is so much to wish undone, so much to have accomplished, so much to cherish in those places of your life, yet, it is not lost on so many of us the now lack of relevance to our existence – inabilities, pains of the body and mind, forgetfulness, anger and self-loathing. But, then, we have still the passion to live and see another week, month, year, and we have that loved one who is the enabler, the one who smiles and dreams on into the tomorrows of life, not cowed by Time’s relentless passing…the one who brings to you soothing words that chase away for a time the demons that diminish twilight joys.

For me, there is a dear wife who loves me and caters to my needs. AND, there is my writing which keeps a young man wandering around in my body and mind…helping me to create books and characters of worth – at least, that is my consensus. Writing does something else for me. It keeps my mind active, keeps me away from the doldrums of self-pity and reviewing the past. As I’ve said many times, I still find pieces of me in and between the lines of what I write.

Although there might be times when I’m a ‘grain of sand’, irrelevant in the scheme of things, I have my devoted wife, my kids, their kids, and my Writing that keeps me a fair distance from those peaks and valleys.

One last thing, the books I write are fun in the drafting, in the editing and rewrites, and, I’m told, they’re a lot of fun to read. Many of the books are inspired by true events – mysteries, suspense, romance, memoirs, et al (14 books in all). NOW, if I only knew how to market them well, they would likely be well read. It’s my hope you will try one…each book is previewed on my website, along with some author comments and some book reviews. Please, try one of my books, read and review it on Amazon…good or bad. Readers, reviews, of course, are the life blood of authors.

Really, you Readers out there! You could keep me Relevant for a long time to come.

            Billy Ray Chitwood – April 4, 2017

Please visit my website, preview my 14 books, author comments, and some book reviews:

         https://billyraychitwood.com

                   Please follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/brchitwood                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 

 

 

 

Meet Lady Gray

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Meet ‘Lady Gray’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          We consider ‘Lady Gray’ a gift from God…

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 30, 2017

 

Please visit my Website, preview my 14 books, read some book reviews and author comments.

https://billyraychitwood.com

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Grains of Time

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Grains of Time

As young Undaunted men

Courting the Pretty Girls,

Filling frivolous moments

In search of some vague

And haunting Realities,

Time was not a relative thing.

 

We Lotus Eaters thought

Little about life’s Timeline.

For we were going to live

Forever in that misty amber

World of Mahogany Bars

And Tinkling highball glasses.

 

We made love to lovely women,

Came close at times to a

Modicum of Maturity, only to be

Dashed by other pretty faces

In the crowd and those alluring,

Tinkling, highball glasses.

 

We wrote our insipid poetry on

Bar napkins and business cards,

Those droll lines that joined us

In our painful Morning hangovers

Along with black coffee and the

All day ingestion of breath mints.

 

At our ‘Reunion’ last year, all of us

Now happily settled down with

Wives, grown children, grandkids,

And ‘Arthur’, we tipped Highball

Glasses once again and agreed:

‘Our Way was the Only Way!’

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 5, 2017

Please visit my Website, preview my 14 books, read some reviews & author comments. @brchitwood (twitter)

Author Website: http://billyraychitwood.com

‘The Way We Were’ – Then and/or Now

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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:

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

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Flowers and Fate

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Flowers and Fate

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

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

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

“Really! I’m that obvious?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millie obliged, and Stan left the store.

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

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

Love and Time Eternal

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

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

That will last eternally…

Forever, Stanley

– Flash fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood –

December 16, 2016

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

From Italy With Love

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From Italy With Love

I thought it was all over!

There were two problems. My single engine plane coughed, sputtered, and acted like it was out of gas – but the tank was filled just twenty minutes before at the air park in Genoa. The other problem was lack of control – without success, I tried to control the Aileron, that hinged surface in the trailing edge of an airplane wing which is used to control lateral balance…think of a seesaw, keeping it horizontally straight without either end dipping down.

Bottom line: big problem with the plane’s engine out and my inability to glide the plane accurately to a spot for landing.

I got lucky!

See the trees at the bottom of the picture above? Somehow, I managed to land the plane some ten feet to the right of those trees, with the right wing an inch or two from the sand and the nose about to plow into the ground. An abrupt action with the right wing somehow caused the plane to straighten its line and touched down roughly but then slowly moved to a stop with the friction of the sand.

No bruises, no cuts, no radio transmission, and no real damage…just some rattled nerves.

Actually, I sat there behind the stick for some seconds and felt pretty good – hey, I had a story to tell my film buddies back in Santa Monica. We were still young, chasing the ladies, and telling each other our tall stories. Because I looked a bit like Steve McQueen, my buddies gave me the nickname, ‘Cool Mac 2’.

I pulled the leather flight jacket from my near 200 pound, 6 foot frame, flung it over my right shoulder, grabbed my clothes bag from the cockpit, and started walking toward the buildings in the picture’s foreground. Only a few feet into my walk I saw an old jalopy heading toward me. My walk only lasted some three hundred yards before the jalopy stopped and a man and woman threw some Italian at me. Some I understood but the gist I did not.

The woman was beautiful, and the guy, well, he was handsome enough, I guess, but he was much older than the lady…for some obscure reason, I was wishing the duo was daughter and father.

Sorry, I speak very little Italian. Do you speak Enlish?”

Jes, we speak some Engleesh, but you just crash yur plane! Are you hokay?” Such a lovely voice to go with the face and body.

Yes, I’m fine. I got lucky. But I could use a phone and some assistance in reaching people who can help me. Would you…”

The older man stopped me in mid-sentence, “Get in the car. We will take you you to our home where there is phone and food.” His white whiskered face showed kindness and blended in with his white wavy hair. He instantly reminded me of Maurice Chevalier…you know, the French actor who sang ‘Thank Heaven for Leetle Gurls, for leetle gurls get bigger every day’.

Rosina was the lady’s name, and Pauli was the gentleman’s name. I immediately liked them and found them most cordial and friendly. It was particularly tough for me me to avoid glancing at Rosina. Her long dark hair went to the middle of her back, framed a beautifully tanned exotic face, and her bluish green eyes sparkled with flirty coyness. She was wearing a slightly loose tan dress, but, had it been tightly fitting, my heart might have leaped through my shirt. I had worked with some lovely ladies in films, and this Rosina beauty did not take a backseat to any of them.

Pauli asked me what I was doing flying a plane in Italy.

Well, Pauli, my girlfriend and I broke things off, and I was between jobs, never been to Italy and have always wanted to come and see it in person. I’ve been in love with your country ever since Clint Eastwood made those ‘Spaghetti Westerns’, well, actually, all my life. This was a good time for me to come… Oh, my name is Faron Brady. Flying is a hobby, and I just thought I would see some of your beautiful country…didn’t get much accomplished, I’m afraid.”

We talked, got well acquainted, and I felt we established a great bond. Pauli knew who to call to handle the plane and the rental company in Cortona.

When Pauli and Rosina found out I had no lodging in Cortona for the night, they insisted I be their guest, spend a few days, and tell them all about America. I had an idea Pauli was perhaps playing matchmaker for Rosina – without her necessarily knowing it.

After Rosina left the conversation to refresh herself before dinner, Pauli showed me to my bedroom. He announced wine and hors d’oeuvres would be served before dinner and that Madame Rosaria would be preparing dinner for serving at 7:00 PM… Madame Rosaria had been Pauli’s mistress and house manager since his wife died ten years prior. Out shopping, I would meet her later.

Suddenly, I was very tired. I took off my shoes and fell across the bed.

The nap came quickly, and I don’t know how long I slept. When I awoke, Rosina was standing in the doorway with the most seductive smile ever put on me. I raised to an elbow.

Is it near 5:00 PM?” I asked, trying very hard to return the seduction.

Jes, you must freshen up and have some wine, the best Italian cheese, and hors d’oeuvres. We await you, Signore Faron.” She turned and left the doorway ‘in a most delightful way’.

Freshened, I joined my hosts in the living room. Madame Rosaria was a lovely lady as well and not a lot older than Rosina. It was a little scary! Both seemed to be putting the moves on me. Now, of course, this was likely an Italian ‘thing’ and not meant to be interpreted in a romantic fashion. Certainly, Pauli was not at all concerned by the actions of the ladies.

We drank, we ate, we laughed, we traded cultural distinctions and idiosyncrasies. It was one of the best evenings I could remember ever having.

In the end, Pauli and Rosaria went to bed, leaving Rosina and me alone in the living room, slightly tipsy and now fully engaged in our sensual maneuvers.

Believe it or not, I don’t remember how I ended up in bed alone. I could remember being sure earlier that being in bed together was a foregone conclusion. A lesson was learned: our cultural distinctions were definitely there and frustrating as hell.

Three days later, Rosina and I decided to be married in Cortona, honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast, then return to California.

Hey, I’m still stunned by the turn of events, BUT I must add, I am one happy ‘Cool Mac 2’… Steve McQueen, we miss you, buddy!

I cannot imagine anything in my life from this point on topping my Italian visit… I do indeed love that country – and, Rosina.

Billy Ray Chitwood – December, 2016

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – Christmas, 2016

 

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Love’s Reunion

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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

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Darkness and Fog

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Darkness and Fog

The darkness and fog are palpable like a viscid sweat crawling all over the body, and my eyes cannot be trusted. Keen concentration is not all it’s made out to be. These dumb-ass images keep popping up all over the space in front, sides, and back of me…and, okay, I admit it – I’m a big boy scared. ‘There’s no moon in the sky – stormy weather’ (ring a bell?). I mean, there is no way this world can be this dark and foggy.

“Why,” Someone might ask, “are you so stupid to be standing where you’re standing?”

The reason is really simple but I’m going to make it as complicated for you as I can.

When I was a little boy, my crippled cousin had to have the light on during his bedtime dark hours. Now, I didn’t tease him about that but if I just mentioned it he chased me up one country road and another. If I didn’t have a pretty good lead he’d catch me. Then, we would end up wrestling until one of us said ‘Uncle’ – usually me! We were best pals and I loved my club-footed cousin-buddy, but he got madder than a frigging copperhead on LSD if anyone brought up sleeping with lights on.

That’s really not part of the complicated story, at least, not in a major way. This darkness and fog just made me think of him. He turned out to be a scratch golfer. He’s gone now, died too damned early in his life. His damned cheating wife was screwing the next door neighbor, and my cousin beat the shit out of the neighbor and threw all her clothes – and her – out of the house. He was club footed but he was no yellow-belly. Nobody gave him any crap, that’s for sure.

Well, again, that’s not part of the complicated story either – but I won’t lead you on any further.

It all starts with my sister, Sarah Lou. She’s fourteen going on twenty-four, if you get my drift, built like a brick shit-house, big boobs, long silky brown hair, great figure, really pretty, and she reckons she’s the ‘cat’s meow’. It seems she knows early on she wants to taste some parts of life she is no way ready to taste.

I’m convinced Sarah Lou is the genuine product of her – and, my – dad. He gets madder than hell and beats up on her…and, Mom.

Dad has this fiery temper, and it’s his way or the highway, so to speak. This is when he’s visiting us. He and Mom are divorced, and Dad seems to have these demons inside him that make for crazy flip-outs at any moment. I’ve noticed his behavior changes when Mom mentions her side of the family – they don’t like him and he doesn’t like them. Of course, the corn whiskey could have something to do with it. He likes his hooch! He’s also tall, good-looking, and has a thing for the ladies. How can I know that? Well, that’s a whole different story.

Well, anyhow, the genes running through Sarah Lou have got to be identical to Dad’s.

Moving the story along, Sarah Lou turns sixteen and elopes with an army corporal, runs off to another state when the corporal gets transferred. Mom is heart-sick and scared because she knows she’s got to tell Dad the news.

Mom and I, my now older club-footed Cousin and his big sister (on my Dad’s side of the family) go to the hotel where my Dad is now living to tell him about Sarah Lou’s elopement. In his hotel room, my Cousin and his sister take the two chairs in the room and I sit under a window on an old radiator…you know, those ugly heavy metal rods all in a row as one unit. Now, the heat isn’t on during this visit, but those units are a might uncomfortable to sit on. I just keep alternating my butt cheeks and somehow manage.

Now, Dad knows right away that something is up, and, he knows it isn’t good news – guess our faces and body language give us away.

When Dad hears the news about Sarah Lou, he stomps around the room in a fury, and, abruptly stops in front of Mom who is sitting on the bed. My sweet hard-working, lovely Mom sits there very still with her hands clasped on her lap with a blanched and pitiful look on her face.

My tainted-gene Dad gives Mom a hard looping open-hand slap to the face, so damned hard it knocks her over. My immediate fear is that he’s knocked something loose in her brain or upper body…and he’s getting ready to do more hitting.

I’m petrified and watching it all from this hotel room radiator and l reckon something snaps inside me. I’ve watched this kind of madness too many times before as a younger kid. Now, I’m not a lot bigger now but I rush him and tackle him onto the bed. Crying and mumbling something stupid, like, ‘I’ve seen you do that to my Mom too many times’. I’ll never forget – he’s got this look on his face like a slight smile and surprise all at the same time.

I grab a bedside table lamp and begin hitting him with it. Pretty soon, he’s not moving. I must have connected with a vulnerable spot on his head. It’s like he just turns his head over to the side and goes to sleep.

Only seconds pass and I tell our little group we likely should leave. So, we hustle out of Dad’s room and loudly close the door.

Mom cries all the way down the elevator, and we go unnoticed out a side entrance in the lobby. I drive my Cousin and his sister home, and, except for the sound of the car engine, no one makes a sound. Only tears flow down our faces. We all hug and kiss each other.

Next, I drive Mom to her folks’ place some forty miles away.

We give Grandma and Grandpa all the news about our visit with Dad, and they’re madder than hornets in a wild wind, ‘Is he dead?’ ‘Is he alive?’ I make Mom promise me that she’ll stay with the grandparents until she hears from me. There’s no way Dad, assuming I didn’t kill him, would go around Grandpa because the latter gave Dad a whipping some months back.

After a few more tears are shed, I take off. Mom insists I take the car when she can’t talk me out of leaving.

My blond head is churning with thoughts as I drive back to the hotel. The closer I get, the more tense I become. There’s this need to know about my Dad, whether he’s okay or dead. I’m a sturdy young man now, 175 pounds, playing quarterback as a freshman at Garden View University. It’s difficult to calculate how hard I hit my Dad with that lamp – I feel like a part of me was holding back.

There is no way to forget what happened, and just go back to my grandparent’s house. I have to know, one way or the other about my Dad, Is he alive? Is he dead?

I park Mom’s car down the street from the hotel and walk to the side entrance of the lobby.

The elevator is on the lobby level as if waiting for me. On Dad’s floor, the elevator doors open and my heart jumps into my mouth!

My Dad is standing in front of me, his eyes blinking like he is trying to clear his head.

“You coming out, young fellow?” Dad asks in an impatient and impersonal tone.

He notices the apparent surprise on my face. “You alright, boy?”

“Dad, it’s me!”

He did a fast look behind him like I was talking to someone else.

Dad blinks some more. “You’re mixed up, boy, I don’t have a son. Now, stay in the elevator or get out. I fell and cracked my head…have to get it taken care of.”

“But, Dad, I hit you on the head with a lamp because you hurt Mom. Let me help you!”

Dad grabs my arm and pulls me out of the elevator onto the hallway carpeting. “Told you, boy, I’ve got no son.” He pushes the lobby button and is gone.

I can’t say how long I stand rooted to that spot in front of the elevator. I am aware enough to know that other people enter and exit the elevator while I’m standing there.

Finally, I take the stairs down seven floors and walk out the side lobby entrance. My befuddled mind is on automatic pilot and leads me down the street to Mom’s car.

When I pull away from the curb, confused and frightened, I drive aimlessly, turning here, turning there, my mind going over and over the events of the day.

I drive for miles not mindful of where I’m going. Tears flow until my eyes get all watery. Finally, my brain tells me to pull off the road.

I’m out in the ‘boonies’ somewhere. There is an old rutted country road, and I turn onto the dirt and gravel, drive a quarter mile and notice that suddenly I can’t see.

The weather changes suddenly and I take the time to think, ‘What the hell am I doing? Out here in nowhere land?’ The reality of the situation makes me ease to the right off the old road, feeling my way as the darkness and fog come together – seemingly all at once.

I get out of the car, touching the metal, holding on to the only reality given me at the moment.

My Dad’s face is flashing at me in the darkness and fog…along with snakes, dinosaurs, crocodiles, and other beasts of the world.

There comes some recalls of life with my Dad in it, not long after the divorce.

Much of those times are rough, but there are tender moments as well – farther back in youth, when he bought me a little boy’s grey suit with a bibbed hat, took pictures of me with a cigarette dangling from my lips, train rides, car rides to visit his folks and grandmother.

His grandmother was almost blind and sat on an old wooden porch in a rocking chair, frail and beautiful like a picture in sepia tone, with a corn cob pipe in the corner of her mouth. She was in her nineties, and Dad had to get within inches of her face before she recognized him and got a sweet smile on her face and hugged him. She made over me as well, and I felt a sense of history – the events, all the things she had seen in her lifetime. Her time was almost up, but she was going to keep rocking and smoking her corn cob pipe for a while yet.

A few happy times flashed by, those times when we played at being a family, without the tempestuous flares of raw emotions: the Saturday movie matinees; Mom and Dad smiling happily when my sister and I danced, when I attempted to write a poem; the endless questions I asked of them both – the insatiable curiosity of a little boy’s mind.

I love them both so much, and, now, my father has no son.

The tears do not stop until the mind reminds me of where I am, in the middle of proverbial nowhere with only the scary flashes coming from too much eye concentration and the memories that are both keepers and throwaways.

So, the world can be dark and foggy, and, maybe, reasons for standing in the darkness and fog are not so simple.

With measured steps I walk a few paces, pivot, return to the car, get in the back seat, and lock the doors.

Assuming a fetus position on the backseat, I try desperately not to think anymore. I can wait out the darkness and the fog.

Tomorrow will come, and the sun will replace the dismal thoughts with hope.

I love my Mom and Dad.

Perhaps I still have both of them.

Billy Ray Chitwood – 8/28/16

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Hope you enjoyed this short story and/or flash fiction – whatever your preference. I’m thinking I might take this piece and make into a book. What do you think?

I’ve authored fourteen books and invite you to my website to preview them. There are mystery, suspense, romance, thrillers, memoirs, time travel, and other genres from which to choose. They have new covers and some of the novels are inspired by true events.

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