A Heart Thing

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A Heart Thing

What was I doing here? It seemed a sad inertia was in control of my body.

Beautiful, yes, this sand and sun part of the world! And, it was a promise my heart compelled me to keep…after so many tears and a fragile restoration from the pain and finality of impending death. Those who have lost the warm cloak of love will know of what I write.

Before coming inside to sit on the big bed to write my thoughts of desperation and longing, I stood on the 9th floor balcony of the ‘Royal Tower’ and gazed out over the beauty that is all of Paradise Island Bahamas.

Close to my tower, people and kids watched the feeding of large Manta rays, while, in the next large pool, loud cheering came from children and their parents as brothers and sisters slid quickly down the steep, thick, clear round-tube through water where sharks swam all around them. My wan smile of acknowledgment came and lingered briefly from the shrieks of play and excitement in the large pool below.

I began my writing…

This is for you, Johnny, these words my heart and soul convey, words which I pray will give me sustenance to continue life – a tenuous blur in my mind during the past few days…

We spoke of coming here to the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort just two months ago at our most beautiful first anniversary dinner, one week before your cancer diagnosis came from your doctor. As always, you faced that awful information in your fashion, showing your acceptance and lack of concern. “Hey,” you said, “doctors make mistakes! I feel great and plan on living for many years with my lovely bride.” You kissed me softly on the lips and gave me your brave smile.

On our arrival home, I tried, too, for bravery, but failed. You saw my tears, gathered me in your arms, carried me to our bed and slowly, with moments of playful tease and tormenting delays, made spectacular love to me. You made me momentarily forget the terrible news of the diagnosis.

The days that followed were much the same. You took me with you on your business trip to Seattle, even allowed me to be present during your major appointments. You would not be without me for a moment. My love for you, always at its highest point, came near to eruption, to the degree of silly school girl antics. I clung to you, stopped on the busy sidewalks of Seattle to embrace, kiss you, in such a state of euphoria that I could almost forget the dreadful cancer news…almost! It hovered just above my consciousness, bringing deep dips of sorrow at the prospect of losing you.

Then, there came the Tuesday telephone call from doctor Dearfield’s office. You were to check into the Holy Cross Hospital at 8:00 AM the next day to start treatments. From your soft and inaudible voice while talking to the doctor, I knew the seriousness of the situation. I also saw the momentary closings of your eyes and the dropped chin.

After the phone call with the doctor, you insisted, without allowing my dissent, that night would be our last together. Your arguments were selfish, you said, that you would not allow me to see your declining days of health caused by Cancer’s newest treatments, including sessions of Chemo therapy. You made me promise not to show up at the hospital. You gave me the first-class ticket to Nassau, booked my ‘top priority’ suite at the Atlantis Bahamas for a three-week stay. You said, if the news proved good, you would be joining me at Atlantis. If the news were negative, our Tuesday night would be our last night until we met in God’s eternity. We were locked in each other’s arms all that night, me, saying silent prayers…

I stopped writing when tears began blotting my pages. I was hopelessly lost in my lassitude, laid back on the bed until feelings of anxiety hit me, got up, left the lovely suite and walked aimlessly around the grand resort.

Below ground, I walked along the thick concrete walls of the world’s largest marine exhibit, passing within three feet of all kinds of exhibits, sharks, rays, all kinds of water life, swimming up to the thick glass enclosure where families touched them safely via the glass. Even in a lethargic state, I managed to find some minimal escape from my despair.

After walking up and through the large casino, I returned to my room. It was 5:00 PM. I took a sleeping pill and soon fell asleep among the tear-blotted pages written some hours earlier.

For the next few days, it was much the same for me, ordering room service food, eating only parts of it, picking up the pen to write more thoughts on paper and giving up when the tears came. Johnny’s face I saw as an image on the glass sliding doors to the balcony, on the bathroom mirrors, in my mind when eyes were closed. The weather outside was beautiful, and, even in my grief, I could understand the popularity of this paradise.

Even with the beauty of Paradise Island, the walls closed in on me, forcing my movement, either to the pool area or the beach.

On Friday morning of my second week, I awoke with the same torpid lack of mobility, dregs from the sleeping pills, ordered room service coffee and eggs Benedict, drank the coffee, left most of the eggs Benedict. I picked up my pen to write more about Johnny, and, again, began crying.

Outside the weather was all sun and blue skies. I took off my pajamas and put on my bikini, grabbed a beach towel and noticed I was still wearing the last gift Johnny had given to me – a most elegant diamond-studded pendant with a lush heart-shaped Garnet gem. I placed the pendant on the dresser, lingered over it for a few seconds until the tears thought about returning, and walked out the door.

The sun felt strangely good on my body, adding pleasantly to my lethargy. I tried not to think, but it was impossible. Johnny was so solidly in my thoughts, and I truly wondered if I could live without him. I turned my body on the beach towel to the tummy, my back needing some sun.

As I lay there on my tummy, my face upon my folded arms, eyes closed, reliving memories, I felt something drop to the sand in front of my face, a few sprinkles of sand touching my forehead.

Impulsively, I raised my head and glanced at the sand in front of me.

My heart skipped several beats! My head and entire body was tingling with titillating thoughts.

Quickly, I turned over onto my back and sat up.

Standing above me with a wide grin on his face was Johnny!

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” I blurted and jumped from the beach towel and threw myself into his open arms.

“You just buried your Garnet pendant!” he said, with a mock sneer. “That cost me a few bucks, you know! And you leave it on a dresser in a resort?”

“Oh, Johnny, Johnny!” I sighed deeply, “You’re here… Are you cured?” I kissed him so much he couldn’t answer.

He finally disengaged enough to mutter: “You ever hear of ‘remission’? That’s me! The ‘Remission’ man! On a mission to re-claim my lovely, lovely bride. Shall we get a drink and celebrate?”

“Not just a drink, Johnny! I have a lot more in mind for you!” A quick thought hit me. “That is, unless…” in my stuttering way, “there are health issues.” I gave him my raised eyebrows and soft smile.

Johnny slapped me on my ‘buns’, smiled broadly, and said, “Bring it on, baby! I’m up to the task!”

“Make that, ‘tasks’, please, Johnny!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – 6/14/17

Please see comments on the author, some book reviews, blogs, and preview my books of mystery, suspense, romance, memoir at:

https://billyraychitwood.com

 Please follow me on Twitter.com – @brchitwood

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Paradise Island Bahamas

 

The Sea and Me

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The Sea and Me

Some people are born to fret and worry… Yes, even here in this magnificent resort on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

So, what’s the rub?

The scene above was there each morning when I awakened – the cobalt waters, the pale blue skies, the palm trees, the villas below our penthouse, the cobblestone roads that ran through the property, and the nostalgic aromas of old Mexico. Julie Anne and I walked many days on the concha-laden sandy beach and gathered seashells. We watched the young lovers in languid repose on the beach and by the pools. We watched the multi-colored sailboats on the sea and the larger yachts farther out toward the horizon. We watched the banana boats take the squealing tourists on a bouncy ride through the waves, some falling off and gathered back by the gleeful BB operator. Single-engine hang-gliders went aloft with one or two people, dipping low, soaring up again, near the beach and the resort. Most of these happy scenes played out with the background sounds of mariachi music playing on someone’s sound equipment…

Okay, Okay! I got lost in the moments of memory.

The rub?

It came time for an HOA election of board members. Julie Anne, a few Mexican staff members, and some of our American friends/Condo neighbors at the resort thought I should run and lend some support to solving the pesky problems facing the resort…and, NO, I won’t be elaborating on those pesky problems. The truth is, all I wanted to do was write my blogs and books in this most tantalizing environment. However, the prodding of wife and friends PLUS my own stupid ego finally won out, and I put my name in the proverbial hat.

I was elected to the board and subsequently appointed President of the HOA Board. Having never been on any kind of board in my life I tried to keep my enthusiasm and pride in check.

Now, back to that beautiful scene of our resort above – and the fact that some people were born to ‘fret and worry’. The F&W part was all mine, and that beautiful resort environment changed to problem solving – or, attempts at problem solving. AND, my writing went further south toward Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, without me enjoying the journey…you all know that trying to please hundreds of people in one neat bundle is impossible.

Well, my board did solve problems, from an economic standpoint, and took care of many other issues, The credit goes to my great Secretary (who would ultimately become President), my good Treasurer, the resort staff, and the other fully engaged and supportive members of the board. I can say with honesty and honor that there were moments of warm camaraderie, frustration, and consistent efforts to solve those ‘pesky problems’.  

Eventually, I got back to ‘sea shells at the seashore’ and my writing…

Speaking of my writing (and you knew I would be bringing my writing into this post!) the final book 6 in my ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series, books 1-6’, A COMMON EVIL, was loosely inspired by my sojourn at that beautiful Mexican resort… It is a thriller and there are truths therein – regarding the cartel business and some of the resort’s problems. There is murder! Suspense! It’s a Thriller! (Oops! I said that!)

You should read it and leave an Amazon review…the book has several 5-Star reviews, and, of course, I would be happy to see more (honest reviews, of course!). You can preview the other 5 books in my BC series at the Website (address below) and eight other titles that bear my name.

Please contact me if you wish to know more about the resort…it’s in the state of Sonora in Mexico, an easy drive from Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

 Billy Ray Chitwood – April 14, 2017

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BUY SITE at Amazon Worldwide:

https://goo.gl/kM3ict

Just pick the ‘flag’ of your country!

 Please visit my Website at: http://billyraychitwood.com To preview all 6 of the ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ and other books inspired by true events. There are also some comments by me and some reviews of my books…even some recent blog posts.

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

 

 

 

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 

 

 

 

A Piece of Memory

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A Piece of Memory

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

Uncertainty?

How did I know this was Campers Creek?

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

Why did I have a flashlight?

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

Why am I here?

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

What is my name?

I can’t think of who I am!

Who do I know?

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

Did I just say that?

Why do I not know where to go?

Who is the woman whose image keeps flashing before me?

What do I do?

My God!

Has the world gone mad?

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

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

 

 

 

Passing Glory

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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:

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 CONGRATULATIONS TO CLEMSON UNIVERSITY- NATIONAL FOOTBALL CHAMPS!

 

Where The Dreams Are

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Where The Dreams Are

There on the horizon
Where the clouds
Where the Sun
Where the mountains
Bring shimmering shadows
On the placid surface
Of the deep blue sea –
Dreams live in all
These converging elements
From the melodious music
Of hungry souls,
Those who somehow
Know that the thief of night
Cannot for long defy the
Precious treasures that
Await us in that dazzling
Merger of colors out there
On the horizon

Where the dreams are.

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Billy Ray Chitwood – July 2, 2016

I’ve written thirteen books in the genres of mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, and memoir, some of which are inspired by true life events…hope you will preview the books on my website: http://www.goo.gl/nWMXm3 . My JUST RELEASED romance novel, PHOENIX FIRE, was a real joy for me to write. and I’m betting (praying, really!) that readers will enjoy this book immensely…with one caveat – keep the tissue handy. I know tissues were needed when I wrote it. So, please give it a read and leave an Amazon and Goodreads review = reviews are the life blood of authors. But, then, you’ve heard that time and again. Here are the BUY SITES for PHOENIX FIRE: 

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Amazon US: https://goo.gl/StvwLq 

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MORE LINKS TO AUTHOR:

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

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http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

http://google+/billyraychitwood

http://linkedin.com

Proud member of #ASMSG – #IAN – #AHA

Proud recipient of eleven plus blog award nominations

 

 

I’m Alone

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I’m Alone

With only my memories –

I sit alone on the hill and watch the sunset…

Faces float by in surreal silence

And,

In words only I can hear,

each tells a story of

My life, unadorned with gratuitous

Words of praise and solicitude…

With each face,

    With each story,

I know where I have failed and

Corrupted my own existence.

Where ‘could have been’ echoes

Through the lonely caverns

Of my soul.

I sit alone as the Sun hastens

The night and the demons

Of regret and remorse.

A Life so frivolously wasted

On Wanderlust and Longing.

So it must be that a life be lived

In such disarray no matter

The Cause…

For it is fodder for the

Fools to come.

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 29, 2016

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My books tell the longer story – they can be found at http://www.goo.gl/nWMXm3

And these links:

http://www.about.me/brchitwood

http://amazon.com/author/billyraychitwood

http://twitter.com/brchitwood

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

http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

http://facebook.com/billyrayscorner 

http://linkedin.com

Proud member of: #ASMSG – #IAN – #AHA

Proud recipient of eleven Blog Award nominations.

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Song of Summer Love

A gentle zephyr touches her face

And she smiles sweetly in the sunglow

A thousand unspoken words of Love

Deep into my soul, and my heart

Begs only to stay in this moment of wonder

(Billy Ray Chitwood – February 14, 2016)

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

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http://about.me/brchitwood

My websites: http://www.goo.gl/nWMXm3 and http://www.goo.gl/fYRhX1

Remembering ‘The Rock’

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Remembering ‘The Rock’

‘You Are Now Entering – and Leaving Adak National Forest’

The trees were eighteen inches high when planted on the tough tundra plot. The young men were pleased with their efforts. They made a special trip to Kodiak for the saplings – I forget the number of trees that they bought, but they covered less than an acre of the island’s land.

The island of Adak in the Aleutian Islands was (is) a barren and cold wasteland with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Bering Sea on the other. There were a lot of pet names for the island but ‘The Rock’ was perhaps the most favored. Beauty of course was in the eye of the beholder, and I suppose there was some beauty to behold in watching the Pacific waves crash into the rocks along the islands’ eastern flank. I suppose as well that the Bering Sea conjured up images of Russia, and, after all, the city of Vladivostok was visible from Attu, the last island on the Aleutian Chain. There was beauty in the sun that made an all too infrequent appearance. For those few precious moments, moods shifted and there seemed a palpable cheerfulness in the air.

I was in Section Three of the three sections that governed our small piece of paradise we called ‘Radio City’. Radio City housed 150 men and was isolated and some miles from the Naval Operations Base (NOB), a much bigger facility with dependents quarters and many more activities…where we only had beer, NOB had any drink order anyone would want – in relatively fancy and lush surroundings.  Each section at Radio City worked three shifts and took a couple of days off – an evening shift 4:00PM to Midnight, a morning shift 8:00AM to 4:00PM, and a night shift Midnight to 8:00AM. Each section had its bar – or, Gedunk – manager and its snack bar manager. There was an arts and leather crafts hobby room, a small library, and a photography room.

Some of my Navy School buddies arrived on ‘The Rock’ prior to my arrival so they got the ego trips of showing me the ropes and getting me drunk on green beer my first night aboard…my great upheaval of which caused quite a stir later in our barracks. Being the popular fellow that I was, I was appointed to the beer bar management team – well, more or less…I bartended and got to stay after closing hours, helped clean up the joint, and stayed in the ‘hideaway bar office’ all night drinking with my buddies, telling jokes, pausing, getting a little sad when we talked about home, our girlfriends and/or wives.

So, you get the drift of the routine… The radio work – the ‘di-da-ditting’ and other prime duties – was interesting and kept us busy during our work shifts. It was during those days off when we got a little crazy – as in drunk and rowdy, creating issues that didn’t really exist, then fighting about them – just temporary insanities that were fabricated and fleeting. Actually, there was a camaraderie that came during that Naval tour of duty, and, years later, I’m finding myself at times thinking about Mel Smunk, Billy Oaks, Billy Barrett, and so many other of my drinking pals whose images are locked in my memory vault. We forged an alliance that saw us through some tough days, weeks, and months. We saw the withering will of many take them to the edge of some awful darkness. ‘The Rock’ could do that to you, and maybe some of that wasteland dreariness and loneliness made us less or more of what we became later in life.

As much as ‘The Rock’ left its bitter green beer taste I can still look back with a fond recall of some chaps who made my life bearable. And I wonder where they are now. Are they still among the living? Do they remember as I do those long nights of drinking, of consoling one another, of the dreams we shared, and the long walks back to the barracks and a fitful sleep? Do they remember some of the made-up incidents just to get our juices flowing – like, the time the story was made-up that a group of naughty girls were flying in from the states to give us special service? We even began to believe our own made-up story. Do they remember how many times we wrote in a letter home that ‘There’s a girl behind every tree’ on Adak?

Okay, no girls, no trees (except for the planted saplings that have maybe grown tall by now), just tundra, cold gray skies, and a small piece of an island called ‘Radio City’ that either added to our growth as men, or, took a piece of us to which we cannot put words. We saw no real war on Adak, but we did some play acting and maneuvers. And, we did see a little bit of hell in the uncaring snows, tundra, williwaws, and in the unrelenting repetition of days…just one hundred fifty men emotionally counting the days when they would leave ‘The Rock’ for home.

If you’re still around, guys, I’m thinking of you here in ‘Twilight’…

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 14, 2015

Thought I might mention one of my titles which in some ways is shameful, and, hopefully, in other ways, soul cleansing. The title, What Happens Next? A Life’s True Tale looks back on my days of romance and my search for a deepening faith. It is honest, true to my memory, and perhaps touches on some important parts of each life. Hopefully, you will give it a read and an amazon review.

What Happens Next - 9

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