Sinful Desperation

“Maureen died last night, Father.”

Picture

Sinful Desperation

Flash Fiction by B R Chitwood-

*****

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

He stared at the ceiling as he reclined on the big bed, his naked body stretched straight, seeking relief from his back pain.

“It’s been years, my son, since your last confession. I hear desperation in your voice. Is the Church your last bastion of hope?”

A mournful smile of contrition and watery eyes looked upward to the ceiling. He would play both parts of this little satire from his soul, not mocking the billions of people who habitually practiced their faith in a Deity, rather, an awkward attempt at an anodyne for his pain.

“Yes, Father, on all accounts…” a back spasm interrupted his soliloquy and he sought another position on the bed. He was too tightly wound and needed to move his limbs in some exercises the cute young lady in physical therapy had insisted he practice each day.

Finally, he found some relief and continued with his conversation with the ‘Holy Father’ there in the center of his ceiling. “Yes, Father, many years, and, in conflicting ways, a lifetime ago, yet, now, here, as the filmstrip of my earthly adventure unveils itself to me, my weekly spiritual visits to your Church seems not so far away.”

The man was almost ready to hear a reply. Not to be, he continued.

“So, on to my confession, Father, one, I fear will take more than a few ‘Hail Marys’ and a heavy penitence to absolve.” The man closed his eyes and his face took on a grimace.

“I confess to one of Man’s oldest of the seven sins, Pride. All my life I’ve taken umbrage with people who sully me, sometimes, in simple remarks that attempt to jest and tease. Perhaps that sin comes from a youthful disconnect with family and a poor quality of life. This sin has cost me friends and love connections. It is also truth to say it is the least of my sins.

“I confess to an earlier life rife with excessive sensual pleasures, Lust/Debauchery of the wicked and most wild, orgy-filled, salacious kind. I sought out and experimented with life’s underworld of Bacchus-plus drug madness. There were moments of intense euphoria, gratification, and immoral depravity.

“And, when the days and nights of playing Nero’s mad fiddle ended, there were tears, self-recrimination, times for soul-wrenching and no resolutions: preparation-time, it could be said, for the next ‘big toot’.

“I confess, Father, to periods of Envy, of Sloth, of Gluttony, and of Greed.

“There remains one more sin, Father, that of Wrath. I have saved it for the final portion of my confession because there was a prelude of most, if not all, the seven virtues before its denouement… a period in my life of happiness so fulfilling, so real, that it seemed my life had found its right and true moral compass.

“Having run the gamut of my ‘fiddling’ days, I sought to find a more righteous purpose in my life. A friend of mine who had been lost in the same forest of shame as I invited me to go to church with him on a beautiful Sunday morning in June. After smiling stupidly at the idea, I decided to go…to see how the ‘moral half’ lived.

“Are you still with me, Father? Have I lost you in my recount of decadence?”

The man could almost see the Father’s smile. “How could I not? What with such an interesting life you present to me?”

“You, Father, speak with a forked tongue. You must know it’s the fires of hell I’m destined for!

“Whatever, at the beautiful church with my friend, I met Maureen, a woman of remarkable beauty I felt destiny had placed in my path. We both felt a Karmic bonding and began a long relationship which ended in marriage.

“Our love was pure and, by any standard, storybook. We danced in the moonlight and worked every day at our jobs, saved our money and became wealthy, mostly by her artistic talent and her huge following. We were together all the moments we were not working or at a painting exhibition.

“We had a baby boy who died in his sixth month of an undiagnosed tumor.

“Maureen and I were devastated by Brian’s death, but, for her, there was an emptiness she could not fill. She began drinking. She stopped painting, and fate pulled her from me into the arms of another man. She was still trying to fill the void left by Brian.

“We began to argue, our spats becoming an ugly, yet another obtrusion to our love.

“Last night, Maureen arrived home after midnight, clearly in the mood for another spat. I pleaded with her to go to bed. She became infuriated with me and began slapping me. The slaps made me angry, and I tried to wrap my arms around her to carry her off to bed. She stomped my foot with the heel of her shoe and pushed me backward. I began to fall and grabbed her wrist instinctively to secure my footing. Then, she, too, began to fall, and I let go so she could get her footing. Her head banged loudly into the granite counter in our bar area and she went down onto the carpet, blood spreading out in a profuse flow from the gash. Maureen died last night, Father.”

The man could almost hear the sorrow in the Father’s voice, see the pain on his face through a small imagined window in a small imagined confessional.
On the bed, as tears flowed from the man’s eyes, he saw a pale shadowy figure, an apparition, Maureen, her arms extended toward him, her sad tearful eyes and still beautiful face beckoning to him.

The man’s face was covered in tears, his voice gagging and pitiful gasps, as he thrust the butcher knife upward into his heart.

The bedroom was silent in its darkness as the two wraiths walked across the room to eternity.

*****

Flash Fiction by B R Chitwood –

-From the Archives-

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Murphy – The Baby Sitter

©Murphy – The Baby Sitter

Fiction

By BR Chitwood

“Your first night, Murphy, want a quick ‘Q and A’? asked Brian Headley.”

“Really, Brian, that’s a bit insulting, don’t you think?”

“That was not in my mind when I asked, Murphy. Cheri and I are just making sure we’ve covered all the bases. Don’t get feisty with me.”

“Yeah, Murphy, added Rob Drawly, father of Brittany, same with Piper nd me.”

I am ‘all the bases’, and I’ve covered everything with all of you…several times. Brian, Cheri, and, Rob, you and Piper, go to your yearly weekend ritual in New York. The children will be fine. I know all there is to know about their likes, dislikes, the food they love and hate, their favorite games…and they already love me. I love them, each and every one – Jordon (the kid who would be King), Camille and Bonnie (who will be famous movie stars and dancers). Now, please, get out of here and leave me with my ‘Charges’!” Murphy did not smile but his voice was frisky and playful.

After a few chuckles and raised eyebrows, the parents looked quickly upon their sleeping children and were gone.

***

After some listed duties, Murphy settled in the den next to the children’s bedrooms, turned on the television – near-muted because his ear-pieces had dual listening capabilities: the children could not hear the television speakers but TV volume defaulted with any crying or needs of the children. Murphy was able to hear their gentle in-and-out breathing with the ‘state of the art’ ear devices.

The TV and den light went off at the prescribed setting time, and all was quiet in the 3000 square-foot house. As the den light brought darkness and stillness to the entire house, Murphy went silent as well…his keen hearing still able to pick-up the sounds of the children.

***

At 3:10 AM, Murphy heard a distant sound, like broken glass falling to the hardwood floor in the entry hall. The children were still asleep…only the ears of Murphy could isolate the sounds.

Murphy immediately deployed an unseen varnish-like spray-substance on the entry walls and the hardwood floor a few steps from the front door. He heard the door opening, heard the shuffling of feet for only a few seconds. After some minutes passed, Murphy heard two sets of grumbling voices.

Murphy dialed a pre-set police telephone number, gave them a required validation code for house equipped as was this one for Brian and Cheri Headley…a similar pre-set requirement was also in place for Rob and Piper.

***

Within a flash of some moments, the police arrived at the Headley residence and found two terribly distraught would-be robbers rooted to the hardwood floor…two sets of shoes stuck to and occupied a space…two sets of socks stuck to and occupied another space…and blood was coming from bare feet in another space.

Murphy magically made the sticky liquid disappear from the hardwood floor, restored within seconds its original finish, and miraculously replaced the glass at the entry…

Murphy watched the police take the unlucky robbers away.

At no time before, during, and after this incident did the children awaken.

The police shook their heads and waved at the strange-looking robot called Murphy.

Flash Fiction by: BR Chitwood – 7-27-2020

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Gina Malloy’s Secret

[Image Art by: Aziz Acharki – Unsplash.com]

©Gina Malloy’s Secret

By BR Chitwood

Recently… Ah, hell, just yesterday, I made the decision to end a one-year relationship with a lovely lady who within the first few weeks of knowing her gave all systems of body, heart, mind a collaborate indication that my search for a life’s companion was over. Gina Malloy was twenty-six years old, lovely in a Natalie Portman way, and we came together on a daytime ‘Soap Set’. I played the Doctor who would win her heart.

The first six months was as ‘storybook’ as Hollywood could have filmed it. We had a lovely place in Pacific Palisades, always eager after a day on the ‘set’ to get home and enjoy our privacy and luxury. We were quick to cater each other’s needs because we wanted our mutual and natural caring personae to show. It was a fun six months, real, honest, and wholesome, the caring and catering bringing most delightful bedroom tricks and treats, sighing satisfying oohs and aahs.

In the seventh month, Gina seemed to be avoiding contact with me. At first, I thought it was that time of the month when women go through their ‘Menstrual Cycle’, but I began to question my reactions. So, it was my way to ask more harmless questions of Gina which she brushed aside, by my thinking rather cool-like and somehow out of character. “Danny, please, stop with the questions. Everything is fine.” She would then leave the room too abruptly.

So, I, Danny Watts, decided to give her the silent treatment until she came around to her old ‘self’. I was still convinced it was the ‘menstrual cycle’ thing. And, she did show some signs of becoming her old self until I apparently kept a conversation going too long or made some cuddling moves or show too much affection.

In the following weeks Gina took a couple of trips to visit sorority sisters, she said, irritating our film execs because they needed to alter scene selections for the soap. Returning from those trips, she seemed her ‘old self’ and, for a short duration, we were back to our ‘good place’.

By the twelfth month of our cohabitation, Dina was driving her own car to the studio…she seemed always to have some errands to run after the ‘shooting’ was done for the day. When she did not come home on some nights and none of our friends knew her whereabouts I knew that the relationship was in serious trouble, and/or, there was no longer a relationship, period.

When Gina did not come home some nights, and my heart and mind vacillated between dread of accident and/or death. My mind conjured up possible scenarios – car problems, in a hospital somewhere, seeing someone else, raped and murdered (yes, my mind took me there as well). The love we shared in the early months of our time together brought me to tears, to self-recrimination, to a ‘hell’ I could not have expected. More calls, hospitals, police stations, people we knew, there was nothing worthy of good news or bad news.

There were sleepless nights of worry and heart aches that brought more tears.

When I got to the Studio yesterday morning, I was told that Gina was no longer a part of the ‘Soap’ cast. She had apparently called in her resignation to some angry studio executives, and some hasty re-writes of the daily script were made with a lot of cursing.

It would be one of the longest days of my life. Then, when I got home from the day’s filming with a low threshold of hope of finding Gina there, I found the envelope tacked to the door…

My legs suddenly became rubbery. My breathing was erratic and suffocative as I staggered to the ‘love seat’ where Gina and I spent so much of our time petting and staring out the broad plate glass window to the distant waters of the Pacific Ocean, listening to the soft romantic music-making of our favorite Sergei Rachmaninoff. We were so proud when often criticized with insulting ‘Romantic’ qualifiers.

With shaking and reluctant fingers, I pulled the folded letter from the envelope. On the first page of the flowery stationery, a large ‘Red Heart’ was centered in the top-middle of the first page, and something broke inside of me…the tears came, flowing fast down my cheeks because in my hasty glancing at the written words I saw a phrase that caught my eyes and brought the weeping…

I focused on the beautiful heart and could go no further for many moments as my hands would not stop their incessant trembling. My whispered mumblings of sorrow and regret assembled with the slight humming sound of the air conditioner. My mind was filled with the past images of Gina and me in all the activities of our lives. My unsure shaking hands reached for her face I longed to see in front of me but could not tenderly grasp it…

Cowardly I allowed seconds, minutes to pass, knowing there could be no good news coming from her beautiful hand. I closed my eyes for some seconds, felt a short sharp pain in my chest, sniffled loudly, sighed deeply, re-opened my eyes and stared down upon Gina’s words, some now fading and smeared with my tears.

With sniffle pauses, I slowly focused on the words on the pages my fumbling fingers lifted from my lap.

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My Dearest Danny,

How does my own broken heart convey to your troubled mind and heart the awful news which I must share with you in this missive?

For me, and I hope, for you, Danny, our first days, weeks, and months together were the happiest, most incredibly beautiful times of my life. I could never have hoped to meet someone with a heart, a mind, and a soul so remarkable in their tender giving of love and understanding as your marvelous trio.

I love you, Danny, and our special time together represents God’s gift to me, His gift which will stay with me until your arrival in Eternity.

The Cancer came unexpectedly and I’m sorry my mood-changing behavior often upset some of our precious time together. I allowed my self-pity to open the door to bitterness and anger… I loved you, loved the harmony of our lives together, and, at times, I felt cheated and unfairly treated by Fate.

God finally gave me the understanding of life’s slowness and haste, its repetitions, its ebbs and flows, an inner knowledge that finally came to me, not so much by total comprehension, but by some holy, spiritual awareness that was impossible to doubt.

I’m sorry, dear Danny, if this all sounds too theatrical, but the truth of life and death will be known. I know that. You will know that.   

I’m in Arizona, Danny, and the medical group keeps my pain under control. It is now just a matter of hours before my life here is over but please know that I am at peace and will be waiting for you in Eternity. I pray that you will go on with your life, find new loves, follow your dreams, and know that I am in a good place waiting for you. You will always have my heart and my love.

Gina

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Sadness came, lingered, as I read and reread Gina’s words, and slowly the tears no longer flowed. The heartbeat came back from its erratic behavior.

Why?

I don’t know, but outside that big plate glass window a beautiful twilight with a magnificent western sunset was showing.

Why?

I don’t know, but there are no timers on the stereo system and suddenly a calming and lovely palliative Sergei Rachmaninoff piece of music began playing enigmatically and peacefully.

Why?

I don’t know, but inside my total being there was a tingling sensation, an awareness, a certainty, and I knew that Gina had reached Eternity…

Why? I don’t know…

***

©Gina Malloy’s Secret

By BR Chitwood – June 23, 2020

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A Pimple on Her Cheek

Image art by: Andriyko Podilnyk – Unsplash.com


A Pimple on Her Cheek

What beauty for the once lonely heart and idle mind to absorb, and, to Karma and its co-workers, thank you for bringing me this gift of the heart and soul – perhaps not the romantic at heart stories one might read about in a book of love clips and poetry, but could easily make those pages.

A major freeway was not the ideal and idyllic storybook place to begin love affairs, and I was one hungry candidate for a love affair with all the fairyland add-ons. Whether it was my fussy and outdated expectations of how an affair of the heart was to begin and guidelines that must be followed to nourish those marvelous moments, I knew when I saw the exasperated lady on the side of the freeway trying to manipulate a flat tire exchange, my initial thought was, ‘I have to help her. There were no ulterior motives to my stopping, knowing there was no appointment I needed to keep. no one waiting for me. My 1:00 o’clock Tucson meeting brought an end to my satisfying day. It was my turn to make another person feel not alone in time of need.

The lady heard me pull in behind her, lifted her body from the pavement, her hand still holding a tire-bolt tool. She cautiously gave me an incipient try for a smile. (She obviously kept abreast of bad news as well as the good news.)

“Please, don’t worry. You seem to need some help…”

She gave a slight showing of some doubt, so I spoke again. “Tell you what: close your trunk lid. Get in your car and lock the doors. I will get your flat tire off and put the new tire on. I will then get in my car and leave. Are you agreeable to that?”

My eyes could have fooled me, but I thought I saw some tear-streaks on her lovely face.

“I’m sorry,” she spoke softly the words , but I heard her. “This is not an occurrence I have experienced, and it is not my intention to be rude.”

“I know, Maam, the world has put up some road-blocks to civility and our people helping each other… I will stand right here while you close the trunk lid and get into your car and lock it. If you get hot in there, turn your motor on and get your air going – it will not take me that long to change your tires. Okay?”

There came a calmness suddenly, and it seemed we both had some sort of kindred acknowledgement. She smiled, “Oh, I’m sorry to be so rude to someone who wishes to help me. Please, thank you, do come and change my tires, and I will be happy to pay you for your good work…”

“No, no, there will not be any fees for my work…I’ll get you on your way before you know it. My name is Curtis Morley. May I ask your name?”

“Katherine Bruce, or, just, Kate, if that’s comfortable for you.”

“Kate is fine. Now, just move away so I can get your tires changed.”

Kate did a barely perceptible dip with her head and seemed now perfectly content with our situation.

We talked while I changed her tires, and it became a most enjoyable span  of work and pleasure.

Kate was, of all the occupations in the Phoenix, AZ metroplex a Para Legal for Barnes and Dunlap, a firm with whom I worked occasionally. Talk of odd possibilities, I am an attorney with Morgan and Morley…”

“Oh, my goodness. Do not tell me, but you are just coming from a meeting in Tucson on the Dexter Weeks case? Am I right?”

“I’ll be darn, this is absolutely nut stuff. With all the millions of people in the metroplex and, this chance meeting on Interstate 10…”

There was an easy transference in play here. I stood from my tire changing from time to time, faced Kate, and we talked easily. It had to be the same for Kate as we passed all the detours, all the mud puddles, became electrically fast in our mood shifts…and something else. In those few minutes we came as close as two people can come in such a short period of time.

Our eyes darted here and there as we talked, assessing our bodies, Kate at points lingering a bit long on my hair, just recently culture-cut, the angularity of my face, the hazel of my eyes, my well-built slender physique, kept that way  with a multitude of exercises on a weekly basis.

The stunning assessment for me? Kate was absolutely beautiful with a bit of English accent, her skin so smooth to the point of perfection, her long length auburn hair that fell six inches from her shoulders, and her figure was an easy ‘Ten’ by any standard of measurement, visible when she turned and allowed her body to more firmly fit into wonderful nicks and crannies of her pants outfit.

*

So, with no shock to the readers, we became live-in lovers and have been in that magical place for two years now, with no demons on periphery trying to harm what our good God made perfect.

Well, except for the small pimple crisis on my love’s left cheek.

My life had its imperfections of the skin – a small outbreak of acne in high school that upset me, certainly not to an anxiety level onto which I placed it.

It was not the pimple so much that caused Kate’s nervous spells. She felt it was perhaps an omen of some kind, the first installment of some cataclysmic series of destructive omens in her life.

Now, I did mention she is English and can certainly, in true Anglo-Saxon form and bona fide heritage make cute little mountains out of cute little mole hills. Remember, they were the German inhabitants that arrived in England in the Fifth Century up to the Norman Conquest.

The pimple did not grow larger, but it did develop more talking points for my sweet Kate. The pimple became at its apex white with a red ring around it, then ugly yellow, but she would not let me squeeze it out, even with my teenage experience on the matter.

“Oh, you must truly hate me,” she would exclaim on the bear rug in front of the fireplace on a winter night.

“Oh, sweetheart, how could I ever hate the love of my life? Please, allow me to get a cotton ball, a bit of alcohol, no, no, not from your Manhattan. We will use the rubbing alcohol. I will most gently squeeze out that little white spot of ‘yuck’, put on the spot some soothing disinfectant, my little ‘star’ bandage, with soft kiss on top, and you will be rid of that pimple forever, no more to make home on your beautiful face… and the truth is, I’ve hardly noticed it being there… I’ve a great idea visiting my head – we can make a beauty mark out of that spot. What say you, my darling?”

“I say, ‘I’m cursed, having the man I love look upon me as a sorceress of some awful kind…oh, okay, get the stupid cotton ball, the medicine you plan to use, and put your ‘star bandage’ on the spot. Guess I have made as much hay with that as I can. You do still love me? You said…”

“Forever and any days beyond, my beautiful lady…you sure you don’t want to get married?”

“We can talk about that later. Go get your arsenal of pain and operate.”

“How did I get so lucky to find you on Interstate 10 – out of millions of people in the ‘valley of the sun’, and you chose me. I do so love you.”

“You damned well better…I don’t let just anybody pop my pimples.”

I do hope the readers get it: that my darling and I had such a perfect union she had to practice displeasure more in an artificial and teasing design…it was our way to live within our atavistic tendencies. If it was not ‘a pimple on the cheek’, it would be some other deeply embedded Germanic gift from her history – and we both enjoyed that kind of foreplay rather than actual traits of hate and distrust.

On our third anniversary I talked Kate into a tattooed mauve star for that spot where the pimple had the gall to inhabit for a short stay.

Short Story/Flash Fiction by:

BR Chitwood

©A Pimple on Her Cheek

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First Class

[Image Art by: Victoria Kure-Wu – Unsplash.com]

©First Classphoto-1538391912490-304338a7f94c

by BR Chitwood

“Would you like a drink before takeoff, Mr. Bryson?” asked the lovely blond flight attendant with blue eyes and conquettish smile.

“Do we have time?” flicking my eyes a few times in answer to the smile.

“Sure. We have a bunch of planes lined up for takeoff. I figure you for Vodka, stirred, her sexy voice just above a whisper. You do look a lot like James Bond, you know?”

“Which one?” playing the game.

“Pierce Brosnan, of course. The others couldn’t come close… Be right back with your drink,” and she turned and dipped her hips in walking away.

Ah, could be an interesting flight. Guess I’ll just leave the laptop in the overhead compartment.

I’m Travis Bryson and I now only fly first class since my company accomodates my heavy travel schedule. It likely sounds phony, but I’m an Executive V-P for CCC, a facilitator of sorts, bringing our national branches up to date on some new software for Webinars… Hey, it’s only exciting stuff for geeks like me and my comrades in the field. You’ve met our types. We really love what we do.

Now, don’t get me wrong about the flirting – I’m not married (anymore) so I’m not a bad guy and I’m legal. I’ve got a thick crop of black hair. I’m six-feet tall, work out each day and so far keep that middle paunch non-existent. I’m forty-two years old – that’s the new thirty-two, I’m told – and work out of my hometown in Phoenix, Arizona… That’s where this plane is heading, hopefully after I finish that Vodka Martini. (Speaking of which, here it comes, but, confesssion time, my eyes are really on the ‘Stew’, that face and body with the small tray in her hand. Again, don’t get me wrong… Oh, hell, you’ve got me right. There is nothing in life more beautiful than a woman, that is, a woman who has it all together. The guys know of what I speak, and one of them just arrived at my seat with a ‘James Bond Special’. I’m not sexist. I’m not any of those annoying PC words or phrases. I just appreciate beauty in all its forms.

“Hope this is as you like it, Mr. Bryson. If it isn’t I won’t charge you for it…” This, followed by one more coy flash of the eyes and a snicker. “Oh, by the way, what does CCC stand for?”

’Command Centers Conglomerate’… Okay, look, I know you’ve got another drink there to deliver, but is it okay if I call you Paula, as in Paula Jinx? We are going to be talking, and it’s a long flight from Atlanta to Phoenix. My name is Travis Bryson, as you already know, so call me by my surname, or, Trav…off you go now to deliver your next drink order.”

She spoke as she headed toward the back of the first-class cabin. “I’m impressed you noticed my name tag, Travis.”

Okay, it’s Friday, I’ve been on the road for two weeks, and I have no one waiting for me in the valley of the sun. I was going to get some laptop work done for Monday’s Executive Meeting at the office, bur it can wait. I’m feeling frisky and I’m betting Paula just might be staying over in Phoenix…why, she might be home-based in Phoenix. This flight ends in Phoenix so, at the very least, she will be staying overnight.

The flight is filled and no ‘stand-bys’ made it on the plane. The seat next to me is occupied by a stout bespectacled gentleman in his sixties, earplugs in, listening to music, and reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. My seat row partner has impeccable reading tastes – I did read and love Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. The man is a superb storyteller, and I am eager to read the other aforementioned book. Anyway, the gentleman next to me by the window is lost in his book and couldn’t care less about my flirting ability.

During the flight Paula served me three ‘stirrred martinis’ and I turned down the fourth, making some silly rejoinder, ‘I have three of those and I can feel it. If I have four, anybody can feel it!’

After meals were served and all plates, silverware were picked up, the cabin passengers were reading, sleeping, or using the facilities. Paula and I traded playful quips for a while, Then, as Phoenix got nearer, I thought I should make my move.

“You based in Phoenix by any chance, Paula?” The three martinis wired me for this conversation. I was ready for action. Two weeks on the road and planes can make you that way. ‘All work, no play’ kind of thing.

“Yes, I am. Is Phoenix your home base as well?” It seemed the smile did not leave her face during the entire flight.

“It is, and I’m thinking maybe we should get together this evening, or, soon. Now, I notice you wearing no wedding ring, so I’m brazen enough to ask.” I paused, waited for her to respond.

“That’s sweet, Travis, So sweet! But I can’t.” She touched me softly on the shoulder.

“So, you’re married and don’t wear your rings, right?”

“Not quite, Trav, but you’re close.”

“You’re separated or getting a divorce and want to wait. Is that it?”

“Not divorced. Not getting a divorce. There’s another reason…”

Not giving her a chance to go on, I suggested, “You and your boyfriend are broken up and you want some space. I can understand that. I’ve been there, done that!” I smiled inanely. This lovely creature was turning me down, and I’m ready to ‘bet the store’ we will be in a few hours warm and cozy in my apartment.

“No, Travis, it’s not like that. You’re a handsome man and most girls would be happy to connect with you. It’s just – well, someone is picking me up at Sky Harbor Airport, and you and I are not a possibility, tonight or ever…”

“Ah, no break-up! You have a steady boyfriend. Well, I can tell you this, Paula, the airline trains you well because I really thought we had something going.”

“No, Travis, you still have it wrong – well, mostly, the airline does train us to be nice and friendly with our flying customers. But there is no boyfriend…” She looked down at the aisleway and sadly smiled.

Then, like a middle linebacker laying me flat out on the football field, it hit me. “You’re…”

“Yes, Travis, I’m gay!”

“Pretty, lovely Paula, will you please bring me one more ‘James Bond Special’? And, will you alert the airline to bring me a wheelchair to the arrival gate?”

©Flash Fiction by BR Chitwood – From the Archives 

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Airlines and Altitude

photo-1499063078284-f78f7d89616a

©Airlines and Altitude

A striking lady stood on her toes in the aisle placing a small brown valise in the overhead compartment. Momentarily, I was stunned by her beauty, by the delicate beige dress of chiffon that surrendered sensually to her curvaceous body in a most delicious way. Her long golden tresses dropped elegantly just below her shoulders. She appeared to me in the age range of thirty-plus, perhaps a model, or, an actress.

I’m an entrepreneur, busily involved in a number of businesses, likely, maybe, aside from money, considered handsome by some…at least, good-looking. I’m athletic, six feet tall with raven-dark short-cropped hair, hazel eyes, a Roman cant, and in my early forties. I hastily married once, but found it too confining, too boring, too confounding, and too interruptive of my business goals.

The attraction was immediate as the glamorous lady in the aisle slammed close the overhead, her mesmerizing blue eyes cast a spell on my own, and her perfectly shaped lips formed a smile as she spoke: “Hi, I have the window seat. You’re stuck with me all the way to Los Angeles.”

I started to unbuckle my seatbelt and stand, but she stopped me. “Please, you’re fine. First class makes flying a treat with its roomy space.”

Still with the soft smile, she moved easily and swiftly between the bulkhead and me to her window seat – we had the first row of seats in the first-class section, lending a feel of coziness and privacy.

The sweet scent of her perfume filled my nostrils, delighted my lungs, as she took her window seat, and I was hoping my nonplussed insides was not simultaneously shaped on my face. The smile I returned to her seemed socially awkward to me as I spoke: “I’m delighted to be ‘stuck’ with such a lovely lady. My name is Stuart (Stu) bellows, and I might as well ask up front, are you a conversationalist or do you prefer privacy with your flying?”

How courteous and sweet, Stu, of you to ask, but I enjoy chatting with people on planes, being nosey! My name is Eve Noblesse. I’m delighted to meet you.” Her perfectly aligned white teeth contrasted marvelously with her sultry lush lips, painted with a subtle non-glaring blush shade.

We softly shook hands as we were interrupted by the first-class stewardess with a gold name tag of Betsy: “You two wish a drink before take-off?” She looked first at Eve.

Sounds wonderful! A glass of Chablis if you have it. Thank you.”

Please make it two, Betsy,” hoping the cute ‘Stew’ would not be able to notice the unusually romantic stirring generated by my brain… This blonde beauty was definitely interrupting my lap-top business date for the next five hours.

The altitude, the Chablis rounds, the inexplicable attraction that we each seemed to have for one another moved us along very nicely. Our chatter became much more personal, disabling subtlety, decrying diary pages of the most personal kind.

Eve and I turned down the lunch offer for more Chablis, and, as the wine unlocked other sinister doors within us, we began ‘touching’, first with the arm touch, then with the knee…but the kicker was the role of the eyes.

It turned out that Evie had indeed been a model, had married once, found the same mediocrity in the different shades of each’s personality. We in fact had very similar takes on life and where it might take us.

Somewhere during the delirium of our awakened senses came a question from me that produced a shock value for each of us.

Do you know about the ‘Mile High Club’?” As soon as I asked the question I gasped and added: “I’m so sorry! I don’t know why I would ask you a question like that?”

She giggled and responded. “Well, I do know of the club but don’t have membership. How about you? Are you a full-fledged member?” She had the cutest grin on her face, her orbs doing a wild display of dance moves.

Betsy brought us another Chablis, then went to her ‘drop-down’ seat next to the flight deck for a nap.

No, not a member at all, ‘fledged’ or otherwise. I do have to say I’m intrigued by the possibility… Please don’t be insulted by my comment. I find you a most beautiful and wise flight buddy, Eve, and it’s not my intent at all to make suggestions. In fact, I do not want to end this ‘relationship’ when this cross-country flight is over. ‘The Mile High Club’ thing just makes me wonder about altitude and airline aircraft. Does that combination do a job on people of the daring and romantic sets?”

Eve got this flushed look on her face, grabbed my hand, and said: “Let’s do it, Stu! But, how do we get away with it?”

Okay, I can’t say who came up with the idea, but one of us leaves the first-class compartment and goes to the tourist-class section. We agree that I will be the first to leave, will wait, if need be, for the very last rest room on the starboard side of the plane. (I pointed across the aisle so Eve would know I meant that side of the plane.) Evie will leave a few minutes later, will either see me waiting or can assume I’m already in the room.

There will be no suspense built here…

The deed was done, and, when Betsy awoke from her nap she brought fresh glasses of wine to two flushed smiling faces, eyes dreamy and staring straight ahead into the carpeted bulkhead.

Now, look, don’t get the wrong idea…

Here’s what my entrepreneur friend wanted me to write under his hand at the end of this post, to wit:

I’ve explained all of this to the writer of this blog post, with his promise of no names – or, fictitious names if he must.

For the record, ‘Eve and I’ have been happily married for many years and have beautiful kids. We love each other with a devotion that is likely rare in marriages.

Just beware of ‘airlines and altitude’!

Eve and I now travel by rail…

Well, that’s another story… I’ll get around to sharing it with my blogpost writing buddy here. Be on the lookout for it.

Flash Fiction by: Billy Ray Chitwood – 5/4/2020

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The Essence of Faith

The Essence of Faith

The Essence of Faith

The freshly painted clapboard church sat near a small creek, its white purity glorified by the neatly trimmed hedges surrounding it and the smell of newly mowed grass. The four big oak trees on the church property added a symmetrical elegance to the pastoral scene. Four Oaks Baptist Church, lined up in a photographer’s lens or portrayed on the painter’s canvas, would present a nostalgic and peaceful essence of faith and Americana.

It was a special Sunday morning with clear skies and a happy sun washed all that it touched with spring freshness and sparkle. There were few cars parked along the country lane as most of the congregation and visitors came on foot to Four Oaks, and today the numbers in attendance would break all records… It was indeed a very special Sunday. One member of the congregation had just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Jimmy Chadwick was fourteen years old when he was baptized in the Four Oaks Baptist Church. He attended elementary and high school in the county school system, played his basketball and football here, married his homecoming queen sweetheart in this prosaic place of worship. Jimmy worked on his family’s farm, plowed fields for barley, wheat, hoed the endless corn rows, and worked on the side for the county’s agricultural cooperative. Jimmy sowed some of his personal oats, played some petty pranks and even tried at times some bitter brews of John Barleycorn. In the total tally of Jimmy Chadwick he was a happy kid, a generous, kind adult, and a near-wholesome human being.

Jimmy Chadwick’s real claim to county fame came not on a football field or basketball court at home but on dreary sand and scrub in the distant country of Afghanistan. Jimmy, a marine, was stationed in Helmand Province at a USMC installation where aircraft hangars housed Harrier Jets. One quiet and sweltering night, a group of Taliban fighters dressed in US military uniforms penetrated the perimeter of the camp, killed two US service men, and destroyed a number of Harrier jets with explosives and rocket-propelled grenades. With only his pistol, Jimmy led an attack against the infiltrators and eventually all of the insurgents were either killed or captured.

By the time the Sunday service began, The Four Oaks Baptist Church was filled beyond its capacity for seating. The walls were lined with the simple and sweet inhabitants of the Four Oaks hamlet plus residents of the other nearby settlements. A virtual silence fell upon all those congregated there. Only occasional sobs and soft moans were heard. The preacher stepped to the pulpit and spoke:

Today we welcome home one of our own, Jimmy Chadwick, a young fellow we knew as a freckle-faced kid pulling the pigtails of giggling girls, a handsome lad always with a smile and the rough hard hands of a farm worker. We knew him as the young fellow who usually got the touchdown to win us a football game or a final-second dunk to win the basketball game. We knew Jimmy as a prankster, a devoted son, an honest and good man… So, welcome home, Jimmy. We love you and we are proud of you.

Let me just say that here in this little corner of the world our simple ways will not match the world’s big cities’ glamour and glare, their hectic ways and their belief systems that vary from our own. We hear and read about those who don’t believe in God and in the man, Jesus, who came among us, gave us some spiritual wisdom to live by, and died a cruel death for our sins. Today we see the book of Revelations coming to pass: we have wars and rumors of wars; we have the atrocities of history repeating themselves; we have nuclear weaponry that can annihilate civilization; we have miracle machines that can do so much good but can also wreak havoc upon us; we have enough people enraged by the Satan that runs loose inside of them who are too eager to smite their brothers and sisters; we seem not to have enough time to help and provide for those who truly need our help… We live in a perilous time, a time when a man, woman, and child can only deal with the darkness of the world with the hallowed light of faith. If not faith, if not a belief that transcends these ugly truths, that these mountains we gaze upon, these prairies, these oceans, seas, and desert are there by another’s hand and not our own… If not faith, what can we conclude from the pendulum swings of our lives? That we live but for the folly of a piece of gold and the dark pleasures that can only in the end seduce and leave us wantonly scarred? If not faith, why is there the warmth of sunshine? Why the evening stars upon which to wish? Why the meticulous nine months ritual of our births? Why the love and unity of family upon which to persevere?

Today, here in our little corner of the world, we welcome home our heroic son and brother who went to a foreign land because his nation called upon him, a man who wore his faith proudly and served his country with courage and valor.

May the sobs and tears of this congregation convey not only the sadness of his passing but a joyful recognition of our faith that Jimmy Chadwick has truly gone Home.  

Let us pray…

Flash fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – From my Archives

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A Heart Thing

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A Heart Thing

-Flash Fiction by BR Chitwood-

*

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 blurring 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 – an 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 BR Chitwood – From My Archives

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Paradise Island Bahamas

Breaking Up

Breaking Up

Jan Cowper was a bit late in her arrival at the restaurant for a dinner date with her live-in boyfriend.

“Sorry I’m late, Tony…had some things to do after work.” She sat opposite him at the table for two and placed her purse on the floor beside her.

Tony eyed her… She was a knockout! Beautiful blue eyes and face framed by golden tresses… He hated what he was thinking.

“No, you’re not!” Tony spoke, three martinis up on his dinner date and his mind working at its peak.

“No, I’m not, ‘what’?” She responded, as the waiter took her martini order.

“You’re not sorry about being late…just words.”

“Just ‘words’, huh? Got it all figured out, do you, Tony?”

“You know what they say!”

“They, being?”

“The smart people of the world…”

“And, how would you know them, Tony?”

“You do that a lot!”

“I do what a lot.”

“You put me down a lot, Jan… It’s okay. I’m used to it, but it does get old.”

“I put you down a lot?”

“You do that a lot, too… Why are you always repeating everything I say? Do I have marbles in my mouth?”

“Why do I repeat what you say?” Jan chuckled. “Yeah, guess I do…just a dumb habit. It appears I’m irritating you a lot, Tony. You have any more observations?”

“As a matter of fact, I do… Your eyes wander all over the restaurant we might be in. You stare into the cars we pass on the road.  You watch people walking along the streets. It’s like you’re always thinking and planning something when we’re together. It’s not just annoying…it’s stupid! I’m not a jealous man, and you’re not going to make me into one. So, are you just bored with our relationship or are you a short-term commitment person?”

“Where’s all this coming from, Tony? I’m the same dame you met and gave a moronic pitch at Madison Square Garden a year ago. Maybe it was the Knicks that brought us together, though I admit you got me hot and bothered with your phony come-on and your ‘bulge’…you had that black curly hair and Dean Martin look that turned me on. Everything was great until you got too controlling and possessive…”

There was a short pause as the waiter delivered Jan’s martini…and Tony ordered another.

“Me, ‘controlling and possessive’, with you. You’re nuts! I would never attempt to control a woman, or, anybody for that matter. I thought we had something going when we decided to share living space. You gave me every indication that was so – your little pecks on the upper cheeks and your hands roaming on the lower cheeks… Now, for the past six weeks or so, you’ve changed big time. What is it, Jan? You got a new lover? Got all you want from me? What? Want to trade me in? Is that it?”

“Hey, Tony, lower the decibels! The other diners are looking at us. You trying to get us kicked out of this nice joint?”

“There’s the Jan I know these days! Skirting the questions, bringing it all back on me… Tell you what! It’s all so obvious to me what you’re doing, I’m going to make it easy for you. I mean, Jeez, I’ve seen this coming for weeks – an excuse here and there, working late, or, drinks with the girl-buddies, too tired for any fooling around, all the signs were there. Old ‘Jerk-water’ Tony, too easy on the patience and not wanting to believe what I instinctively knew…”

Tony rose from the table, tossed a fifty-dollar bill on the table. “We never got to dinner so that should handle the tab. If not, you get the rest. Enjoy the martini I just ordered…one of the guys at the bar will likely have the lack of good sense and approach you. I’ll have your clothes neatly packed in boxes for you to pick up outside the apartment door… This train is leaving the station.”

With that, Tony was gone, and Jan showed a half-smile to the other staring patrons and waiters. The smile was not a ‘poor-me’ smile, but more of a ‘victory’ smile. She finished her martini, left the fifty bucks on the table and exited the restaurant.

Jan walked several blocks down Fifth Avenue and entered another upscale restaurant. She was ushered to a nearly hidden table in the rear of the large room, in an area most lovely decorated with exotic plants and special pictures of notable people.

“How did it go?” the handsome and smartly dressed man stood and pulled out her chair.

She smiled and spoke, “Just as anticipated. The doofus is packing my clothes in boxes and putting them outside the apartment door. He will be a bit shocked when he notices my clothes already gone… Hope your end is all set. He will definitely be checking his floor safe in the master bedroom closet sooner or later.”

“It’s all set…don’t worry. Tony will likely booze a bit before going home and won’t have time to think about anything. You’re sure he knows you are not aware of the safe?”

“There is no way he can know…”

The couple smiled sweetly at each other and sipped their martinis.

***

Tony stopped and had a few more drinks before going back to his plush apartment. He was in a strange mood, not eager to eyeball the pretty ladies in the bistros, just mellow and somehow content with the decision he made relative to Jan. No question he was easy going, but he knew when he was being played. He bought her some beautiful gifts but that was his way…he did not second-guess himself, and, for a while, all went very well. Now, it was over, and he was glad it was over. He might feel some remorse in the next few days, but, tonight, he was in a good mood and happy to be free again.

When he finally made it home, he was not so tight with booze that he failed to notice Jan’s clothes all gone. Perhaps she had gotten the clothes during the day or this evening. In any event he was happy that all vestiges of Jan were out of the apartment. He turned on his stereo for some soft jazz, had a nightcap, and went to bed…still fully sober and content.

It was three days later when he discovered the robbery of his safe. Jolted by the discovery, losing a major portion of his financial fortune caused a great wave of distress to settle within him… Oh, he still had funds elsewhere and he would not be forced into great hardship like so many before him. Still, the effort and time to accumulate such wealth could not be simply accepted without some anger and anxiety.

The theft brought immediate rise to thoughts about Jan and her possible involvement. He spent days trying to locate her but she no longer worked with the same company. He visited restaurants and night spots they had frequented but no one had seen her or heard anything about her.

Time moved on – three weeks passed, a month, two months…

It was in the third month that he saw her in one of New York’s finest gourmet restaurants.

She was sitting in a lush leather and gold cloth booth across the opulent room. With her were two men and another woman. They were engaged in an animated argument about something, arms and hands waving in frantic gestures. Jan’s companion appeared really irate, his voice reaching a level that brought the maître d’ to the booth and diners to stare.

Whatever the disturbance, Jan and her companion rose from the booth and left the restaurant in angry haste.

Their dinner at an end, Tony and his business associate separated, the associate moving to the piano bar, and Tony leaving the restaurant. Tony was eager to follow Jan and her angry friend if it were possible to do so…he still felt Jan was somehow the instrument used to rob him of his floor safe finances.

Outside the restaurant Tony was only able to see Jan running after her companion’s car…it was obvious that he decided to leave her behind. She quickly hailed a cab and went into pursuit mode. Tony’s guess was that Jan would not catch him. Tony stood for a moment watching the cab become a tiny twinkle in the night…he felt no urge to hail his own cab and follow her. Instead, he was close enough to walk to his own apartment where he found it difficult to fall asleep – his mind was busy reliving the entire evening. For his part, the night had been successful with a business contract which would during its course give back all the finances lost in his safe robbery.

For a few moments more he remembered some of his good times with Jan, and, in some ways, he felt sorry for her. In her own way she was trying to cope with the challenges of living in one of the most eclectic and electric cities in the world – she loved Manhattan, and as the song so beautifully proclaimed, she was ‘caught between the moon and New York City’. He was no longer angry at Jan. Aside from feeling sorry for her, he wanted her to succeed and be truly happy – without the constant manic urges from life.

Two nights later the late night TV news carried a story about the body of a female found in the East River, later identified as Janice (Jan) Cowper.

Tony Peterson felt a range of emotions with the TV announcement and allowed the tears to flow unabashedly… Sleep was again difficult to attain.

At his office the next day two NYPD detectives visited and asked many questions, indicating to Tony that he was under heavy scrutiny in Jan’s homicide, the cause of death already determined by autopsy and forensic evidence.

Tony answered honestly all of the detectives’ questions and was crushed that they were considering him as a suspect in Jan’s death. They told him not to leave town and departed his office.

For several days, Tony was unable to maintain his ongoing business dealings and stayed home to meditate on possible scenarios for Jan’s killing. He figured it had to have something to do with the night he saw the outburst at the swanky restaurant, saw Jan and her companion leave abruptly. He remembered Jan chasing after the companion, hailing a cab and giving chase. Had she caught up to him? Had the companion killed her? Had the two of them conspired to rob him? Had perhaps Jan’s new lover and killer somehow connected him to her murder?

It was late when Tony retired for the night, restless, unable to sleep, his mind relentless with its pounding observations and questions.

Just when sleep did come, through the fog Tony heard a persistent ringing noise, then loud voices…finally fully awake and aware of his doorbell and the yelling.

Tony put on his robe and answered the doorbell and shouts.

“Tony Peterson?” one of the three policemen asked.

“Yes, I’m Tony Peterson,” came the soft answer from a man who knew that fate was about to take him down some precipitous and unknown pathways.

“You’re under arrest for the murder of Jan Cowper,” said the tall handsome officer.

Handcuffed, read his Miranda Rights, Tony was taken away.

Tony’s heart sank as he was led to the patrol car. Tony suddenly noticed that the arresting officer was the man he had seen with Jan Cowper at the swanky restaurant.

Flash Fiction/Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood – From the Archives

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If you liked the above story, please try one of my full-length novels…actually, please try one of my full-length novels even if you don’t like the above story.  I’m thinking you might like THE RELUCTANT SAVAGE. This novel is a fast-paced ‘noire-type’ read that has a lot of action, a love triangle, murder, romance, and suspense. Please give it a read and leave an amazon review – reviews can be the life blood for authors. PLUS, there are twenty of the Author’s books to choose from – Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Thriller, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Time Travel, Memoirs. Many of the fictional works are inspired by true criminal cases.

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Hear My Scream

Hear My Scream

by BR Chitwood – My Archives

Lost my family! A devoted wife and two sons who cherished me!

Lost my job! Lost the right to call myself a responsible family man of Faith and Fidelity!

Lost it all to the fickle finger of fate and, more likely, a sinister weakness within my genes!

What happened to this man of ideals and noble purposes? With a work promotion to a corporate low-rung Vice-President of ‘Acquisition Management’ came a salary boost. There came, too, that exhilarating sense of pride and accomplishment. For months, we, my family, enjoyed our new luxurious living. We went to the park on weekends. We took trips to historical landmarks. We got a spacious new van, and our Russian Blue cat, ‘Vlad’, and our Golden Retriever, ‘Toby’, were as thrilled as the kids on trips.

We even built up a tidy rainy-day fund in our bank. Life was so good!

Then, the company merged with a larger corporation that was global and had a financial sheet far exceeding our own, a ‘Pac-Man’ hungrily gobbling up many big, small, and medium businesses at a voracious pace. The rumor mill made work difficult…people were going to be dismissed. It took six months for the head honchos to announce that my position was no longer needed as the buying behemoth had their own people in place.

For the first time in my working life, I was unemployed. Trying to keep my family worry-free I put on a happy face and left the house in the morning as was normally my wont. I job-hunted all day, every day, for months, even tried executive head-hunters, but I found I was ‘too qualified’ for some jobs and ‘not qualified’ enough for others. My patience at a low level, our rainy-day funds going down rapidly, pressure mounted. Frustration became an emotion I couldn’t hide and it filtered down to the family.

A huge Indian Casino opened a few miles from our house in Chandler, Arizona. It sat on two hundred acres and looked like an ‘Arabian Nights’ apparition in the desert. It was lunch time, and I thought, why not have some lunch and see if the casino could use my corporate experience. It took a while before I found the executive offices and someone in authority, but it became immediately clear that all of their executives had the Indian connection and there could be no position for me.

In the dining room I ordered a hamburger, fries, coke, and thought about my dilemma.

In the background I could hear simultaneous shouts of joy out in the gaming areas. A thought stirred in my mind, dumb in hindsight… Why not try a few turns at ‘21’? Not much of a gambler, but my Dad taught me how to play the game, what to do, what not to do, and I became good at ‘21’. Just maybe I could build up the ‘rainy day’ account and buy more time in looking for a job.

I hurriedly finished my hamburger, fries, coke, and walked around the casino’s rows of ‘21’ tables. I was now excited about the possibilities – people won big in gambling because they knew and practiced certain rules. My Dad told me he always found a table where he felt the people playing knew what they were doing – watching a dealer’s ‘show card’ to determine whether or not to take a card: if the dealer’s ‘up card’ showed a possible 12-16 and the players’ down cards amounted to 12 or above, players stayed ‘put’, hoping for the dealer to bust.

Of course, ‘21’ – Black Jack – was an automatic winner – unless, of course, the dealer matched with his own Black Jack…the player didn’t win the bet but gained a ‘push’ with the dealer. Tied hands with the dealer meant no loss of the bets.

Dad also told me about the psychological aspects of ‘21’ – know when to play, know when to quit. Dad felt there was a time of the day or night when a person could win but that person needed to follow their self-imposed rules.

So, I found a table, watched the players and dealer for a while. Satisfied the players knew the game and would not make stupid moves, I sat and exchanged three hundred dollars into chips of various colors – $5 chips, $10 chips, $20 chips, $50 chips, $100 and so on.

The time was 12:45 PM.

In the next few hours I learned the highs and lows of gambling. I reached a euphoric stage when my neatly piled chips amounted to $6900…including the original $300 buy-in. People gathered behind our stools to see how far I could go. Surprisingly, the time was 6:00 PM. (Dad’s rule about knowing the time to quit had somehow by-passed my mind’s circuitry.

By midnight the $6900 was gone back to the casino, along with another $3800. My face was flushed, my stomach was in knots, and my mind was numb with anxiety and regret. I cashed too many checks at the casino and was also feeling the consummate moron.

With my head reeling with uncertainty, I left the casino and drove home. My wife was frantic. She tried to call me several times during the afternoon but I never answered the cell phone. She cradled me in her arms as I told her about the day, about the frustration of looking for work, and my stupid behavior at the casino. She was not happy but she told me I was entitled to a mistake…a lot of bad stuff landed on me in the past few weeks.

The next day I looked for work.

In between stops, I thought about the gambling…had I stopped when I was ahead, there would be $6600 added to our ‘rainy day’ fund. Thus, my mind told me, you need to know when to stop while you’re ahead – good luck cannot last forever.

Back at the casino that afternoon, I stopped gambling at the ‘21’ table at 6:25 PM, my winnings totaling $3200. I left the casino feeling good, having gotten back almost half of the losses the previous day. I did not tell my wife about the gambling, and I took her and the boys out for pizza.

Without giving a day to day count, I’ll sum it all up.

In the next six months I looked for work in the mornings and gambled in the afternoons. My wife knew what was going on and pleaded with me. The boys sensed there were problems and walked around the house in a timid slow motion. The ‘rainy day’ account was gone. Suffice it, my marriage could not survive the constant arguments, my excuses and broken promises. My lovely boys were cautious and fearful to be around me. The wife could not take it any longer and took the boys to live with her sister in Oregon.

What about me? What about the tattered and torn fabric of my soul? What about the man who used to be?

I’m in prison, serving time for robberies…had to have money to gamble.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone feeling as small and insignificant as I do. I don’t need a mirror to see a man with a prison pallor and a broken heart. I know the damage I’ve caused, the other hearts broken, and two wonderful boys growing up without a father.

Several days ago two inmates attacked me in the yard, cut me up pretty good, broke some ribs, and I kept pleading with them to finish me, to get me out of my misery. I truly wanted to die, but no such luck, and I’m too much of a coward to find a way to kill myself.

The wife and the boys will never know how much I love them and regret the terrible mistakes I made. I only hope they find happiness, love, and forget their terrible wretch of a husband and a father. Perhaps in some other dimension I can make atonement.

For now, “I long for death…death longs for me, but it is dark to die and I fear that I still wish to be.” *

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood (From my Archives)

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*

NOTE:

* The last line quote in italics (above) is from a book of narrative poetry by a good friend from my publishing days.

The book: HELL’S MUSIC\

BY Jerry Miller and his fox-hole buddy!

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