Finding New Love

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Finding New Love

(A Country Song)

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

Finding New Love

In the middle of a love song

I fell out of love with you –

Dancing ‘neath a star-bright sky

I found someone new.

She was everything I wanted –

She was every dream come true,

And she got my heart re-started –

She got me over you.

*

And now I’m happy again –

My heart is singing again.

Ah, yes, I’m happy again

‘Cause now I’m over you.

*

I remember our young love

I recall all the pain…

I remember every time we cried

Every time we tried –

I saw our young love die.

We were so new at love.

We had so much to give,

But all the pain we caused

Made it too tough to forgive…

So, I’m sorry for hurting you

And I know you’re sorry, too…

A part of me will always

Be a part of you.

But, tonight, this star-bright night,

I’ve found a new love,

A warm and a true love,

A love that won’t die.

*

In the middle of a love song

I fell out of love with you

While dancing ‘neath a star-bright sky

I found someone new.

She was everything I wanted,

She was every dream come true,

And she got my heart re-started –

She got me over you!

And, now, I’m happy again.

My heart is singing again.

Ah, yes, I’m happy again

‘Cause now I’m over you.

                             ©by Billy Ray Chitwood

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

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 17, 2017

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Naive and/or Wise Observations

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Naive and/or Wise Observations

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

B – Politics was created to satisfy Beatific games!

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

D – Clashing IQs definitely lead to Demented behavior.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L – It’s true! Love does ‘Trump’ all!

M – Ah, sweet Mystery of Life and love!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 11, 2017

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A Piece of Memory

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A Piece of Memory

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

Uncertainty?

How did I know this was Campers Creek?

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

Why did I have a flashlight?

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

Why am I here?

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

What is my name?

I can’t think of who I am!

Who do I know?

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

Did I just say that?

Why do I not know where to go?

Who is the woman whose image keeps flashing before me?

What do I do?

My God!

Has the world gone mad?

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

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The Phantom Lady

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The Phantom Lady

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

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

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

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

            “Thanks.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            “What’s up?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            “We don’t know her, Cliff!”

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

            “Hope you’re right, good buddy.”

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

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

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

            Both men ran across the street to the other sidewalk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sleeping with Dragons

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Sleeping with Dragons

No forked tongue,

Only the truth.

I slept with dragons

In my youth.

 

Lust and Ladies,

Along with booze,

Their fiery breaths

Bade me to choose.

 

Now, the end is near,

And I seek redemption.

Hot dragons whisper

Harshly, ‘No exemption’.

 

Flashing before me in

Giant reptilian themes,

I toss on a rumpled bed

Of ignominious dreams.

 

So, brothers of the bond,

Hearken to my broken life.

Seek love and nobility

In the arms of your wife.

 

Avoid the paths before you

That lead to Dragon caves

And sleep not with them

To reach dishonored graves.

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 17, 2017

 

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Sunrise Sonata

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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

 

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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

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Junkyard Philosophers

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Junkyard Philosophers

From whence came this yearning of my soul?

It’s only a question I ask every day of my life, fitting, I suppose, of one with dubious genetic structure and a mangled environmental beginning marked by too many turns and twists of emotional enigmas. Of course, my portal in the scheme of time must say volumes. Am I ‘matter’ that does not matter?

Who am I?

In thinking about the question, I’m an amalgam of insecurities and dreams. I love people but cherish my private times of aloneness and my writing for self-discovery plus self-therapy. I fail. I succeed. I get angry when the computer cannot keep up with the thoughts I’m typing, some words moving to paragraphs up the page from where they should be.

Who am I?

I’m a dreamer, too lost to a past of incredible joy and love, of business victories and defeats, of consuming despair, fears, and regrets, with the painfully stark acknowledgement that more sags and wrinkles visit my body and refuse to leave. I love people but love more being at home alone with my wife…writing watching a movie. I’m a lusty fellow when it comes to moving to a new locale – that makes me a wanderlust and my wife a haggard packer of boxes.

Who am I?

I’m a piece of ‘Everyman’, spread too thin to be a consistent devotee of something good and mostly reasonable. My writing is the one constant in my life, for it allows me many personalities to sketch and get to know. Those sketches give me glimpses of who I am.

It’s my belief I must have brothers and sisters of the bond out there – not depraved and lost souls, just junkyard philosophers.

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 26, 2017

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A New Destiny

Washington DC Prepares For Presidential Inauguration

A New Destiny

     On Friday, January 20, 2017, the United States writes the first chapter in its new destiny – what should be the peaceful transition of National power, the swearing-in of a new president, Donald J. Trump.

    With this inauguration, America ushers in a new destiny with a man who defies all the odds to become our Commander-in-Chief. Donald Trump at this point in our history is a ubiquitous figure throughout the world, and people of different persuasions are busy weighing in with their appraising thoughts.

    Some in our Democracy believe, or, know, that, once in the White House, then President Trump will challenge the long-standing status quo and bring about changes that will damage the national and global profile of our great country, that he will bring changes to our entitlement programs that will harm the elderly, the poor, and the needy, that his total lack of political experience will bring chaos and a national deficit which will devastate our economy, that he is too brash and self-centered to have the high privilege of serving in this high office.  

    Some in our Democracy believe, or, know, that then President Trump is truly going to make ‘America Great Again’, altering our political landscape by eliminating stifling regulations, lowering taxes, growing jobs, getting immigration under control, building up our military, changing and/or localizing our education system, giving parents more possibilities for their children to better learn at the skill levels that fit and are important to them, helping the elderly and poor handle their health needs, introducing new health plans that are more affordable, and to halt the terrible tide of terrorism in all its forms.

    You can choose your side…some of you likely know where I land between the two above suggested scenarios, and that goes along with our Democracy’s freedom of expression.

    Personally, I would hope we could all embrace the time-honored tradition of a peaceful transition. After all, it is not the president we honor on inauguration so much as it is the process – a democracy changing its governance, dictated by the will of the people.

    Some people still wish to talk about the ‘popular vote’ being the best way for choosing a president in lieu of the ‘electoral college’.

    It is hard for me to remain silent on this issue. The states of New York, California, and Illinois will generally supply enough liberal votes to elect their preference under this system. What about the other states – the heartland, those people who work our fields for food, laborers who lay the brick and mortar for our buildings, the folks who would be forgotten in a ‘popular vote’ democracy…that would mean just a few states would decide our elections. I’m not saying the states mentioned who want the ‘popular vote system’ do not have these people. These states do have the ‘crop producers’ and ‘skilled laborers’, but, they are traditionally outnumbered by the liberal left. It just seems to me an unfair system when we make the votes of so many in other states meaningless.

    Okay, I’m just one voice speaking up for a peaceful transition of power on inauguration day… Tomorrow! You have your ‘free speech’ and ‘assembly’ rights. It is my fervent hope and prayer that all is peaceful on this day of our time-honored traditional transfer of power. That is what our great Democracy and Freedom is all about, what our founding fathers intended, and what so many of our brave patriots have fought and died in wars to protect.

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 19, 2017

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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

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