Mistakes, Sins, and Other Lies

Fun Scribbles!

Mistakes, Sins, and Other Lies

BR Chitwood

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Where be the truths of all life’s ventures?

Through all the years in trespassing history

Are the arcane mutterings of fools and geniuses…

It is we who must find the true and false meanings

Of the lives we are living, the awkward moves we make,

The effects of the words we say and the steps we take…

It is we who are the final arbiters of our living.

It is we who determine the good and the bad moves we make,

The decisions, good and bad, that determine our ultimate fates.

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We read our Bible and books of ‘Ancient philosophers’.

We study in classrooms, listen to teachers, respected professors

Whom we expect to know the answers to all our questions or

Will refer us to others who might possess knowledge we want.

We choose our paths to wander and discover, only to question

Our wisdom of the choice. So many will find satisfaction with

The direction they’ve taken and will stay the course to success

And a chosen career that makes them happy, feeling they have

Arrived at their special place of comfort and success.

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Others who have not the positive experiences, those who wander in

And out of choices because of low mental acuity and/or a lack of

Ambition, curiosity, and drive…it is from this aggregate that most of

Society’s problems arise, not to say problems do not come from the

Former…or, from our elite group of Politicians, all seemingly coming

From the field of Law and order, the Military – and, a few those from

The business ranks find politics to their liking. For the most part, this

Latter group does wish to perform their duties honestly for the good of

Their particular constituencies and/or for noble reasons.

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Then, there is Joe Biden!

Consider him, unwise and wobbly.

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Then, there is EYE!

A ‘Romantic’ all my life – a member of a group who should ‘rule the world’… Or, NOT!

Me!

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These idling words by: BR Chitwood

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Until the End

Until the End

BR Chitwood 

So, it seems I shall be ending this fascinating life adventure as I entered it, confounded by the sounds of jubilation and tears, yet, without a kindly grandmother slapping my rear end to bring the breath of life to a reluctant new birth in a small clapboard house in Appalachia, a saw mill hamlet of dirt roads and a railroad spur for bringing logs to the primary employer of most of its scant population of farmers, most of whom were in a prolonged ‘Great Depression’.

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As a man ready for his final destiny, a man with precious little of consequence for the reader who might chance upon these few words I write here, the words will have little historic value or any other kind of value that would perpetuate a useful understanding except for some amusing and pathetic experiences. At best, the words herein have been written by many others facing their final breaths of air on this orbital craft that ended up with the name of ‘Earth’.

So, skipping over my apathetic problems with school and teenage acne, some good buddies, and a couple of young ladies I was too dull and dim-witted to approach, and an early entry into the United States Navy, marriage to a ‘Navy Wave’ with her own confused history, college, teaching, and emotional experiences that not only paralyzed me but would put me on the path of unrighteousness…yes, alcohol and lovely women of the night – indeed, a shameful and wonderful foray into an almost every night ‘Whoop-de-do’.

Mistakes of a shameful quality?  

A ‘big time’ Uh-Huh! Years of willful neglect to career and inner peace. Still, it was fun and disaster – now, you know where the phrase came from, wait for it! ‘Honkytonk-Heaven’ or, ‘Neon Madness’.

So much time wasted?

I suppose – but it was my life for a time. Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias wrote and performed the lyrics and music For All the Girls I’ve Loved Before. It is a song I should have written. In other words, I could not have written a better epilogue for my life.

 My good wife of nearly forty years has encouraged me in my writing efforts, always steadfast and loyal. She also with her love and unselfish nature brings a smile to each new day.

Somehow, in the aging process, I found the gift of writing, much of it venting moments of my life.

Twenty books – some based on true crimes, some in different genres, give glimpses into my life…Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Biography.

Short Stories,  FlashFiction., Poetry and over 375 Blog Posts!

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Perhaps, I have atoned for some of my ‘low spots’ in life… Regardless, my writing speaks ‘Truth’, and it is my hope that readers can find in my books not only the joy of reading but some essence of inspiration. All my writing can be found at: https://brchitwood.com complete with synopses and Amazon Buy Sites.

Wishing everyone a happy and frustration-free 2022, with the scourge of Covid and Omicron all in our rearview mirrors.

Cogito Ergo Sum

What is Real?

by

BR Chitwood

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‘Cogito Ergo Sum’!

You think, therefore, you are!

Or:

‘I think, therefore, I am’!

In the day when Philosophy might have had a more urgent importance and significance, I wonder if Descartes’ singular ‘Cogito’ utterance and treatise would be one of the most recognized phrases in school rooms around the world, particularly those rooms where hungry minds were more inquisitive about their world and their existence in it.

In my Appalachian world of youth, it would never have occurred to me to question my existence…there were enough ‘negatives’ in my early life to keep my mind swirling with confusion and doubts – no intention to gain sympathy, just depicting my early life when our country was going through some ‘trying times’…well, kind of like, NOW!

I can say with certainty that my mind has no problem accepting the fact that I ‘think’ and I ‘exist’! Those days still linger, still bring occasional thought-demons and over-think. Decisions, mistakes have been made in my life, but, overall, there has been happiness and love to offset the bad stuff.

Descartes had some important influence in my college education, made me more aware of my lack of knowledge.

The tiny thesis I am putting forth in this post is that my

problem these days is that I ‘think’ too much in lieu of looking at the beautiful Arizona sky, writing, enjoying life with wife, home, and our wonderful children. So, Descartes brought back to me some simplicity to my life.

Hopefully, I can pass on some of this trivial verbiage to those who can embrace this sequitur nonsense.

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BR Chitwood – December 2, 2021

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Please read synopses of my 20 books, read my over 375 blog posts, short stories, flash fiction, and poetry…

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Thoughts in Time

By BR Chitwood

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Thoughts in Time

Between the ticks and tocks of passing time, the music of my life played the songs of balladeers that somehow knew how to reach my Soul with music and words to make me sad and lonely, to haunt me in my constant search for love and meaning, for the urgency of my quest.

Everyone comes from somewhere with different sets of genes, different time zones and privilege, needs fed by emotions, by disciplined pursuits, purpose and wealth. Some come from the murky depths of poverty, dark thoughts, ugly actions and deceits.

Everyone comes from somewhere!

Almost everyone reads books of different genres, see movies of Laughter, Love, Mayhem, Murder.

Some of us are ultimately destroyed by the nature of our birth and biography.

There are beautiful love stories that warm the hearts of those in love or seeking love.

There are shadowy and sinister crime thrillers where evil is the key ingredient and where the audience can regale in the death of the villain and/or the victory of good over evil.

Reading books, watching movies, writing your own story can answer the need of some nagging element of your Soul.

Everyone comes from somewhere!

Me?

I come from that ‘ugly somewhere’ many people call Appalachia during a time in our history when the world seemed to be going to hell in that proverbial hand-basket. There were enough emotional triggers in my life that, at times, I could hardly find my missing breath…family eruptions, mean fights, blood and tears, as I sat watching my mother and sister being beaten by an absentee father – himself, a product of his time.

I chose writing later on in an attempt to understand ‘where I had been’ and ‘where I was going’… Through all the years, I searched for love, the ‘picket fence’, and the meaning for it all.

After twenty books, over 375 blog posts/poetry, there have come some answers – a lovely wife (after three tries) and some wonderful kids.

You want to know if time has helped in my own mending program?

Beautiful wife? Yeah!

Wonderful kids? Yeah!

All settled? Nah!

Still searching for something that was taken from me!

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BR Chitwood – September 27, 2021

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Life’s Potpourri of Sweet Madness

“The Cracked Mirror” was written as much for me as for the reading public, but the book does go a long way in outlining the not so whirlwind aspects of my existence…

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 Life’s Potpourri of Sweet Madness

By BR Chitwood

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I’ve lived life, some of it given to writing novels, short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and songs, much too much of it given to chasing the illusive butterflies in my mind…a cute euphemistic couplet for looking for love in liquor-juice joints where pretty perfumed  ladies congregate to diminish the aroma of alcohol and smoke and make themselves available if the matching system worked its magic…it was, one might say, a large part of my existence. (Call it a lure to one of my twenty books, a memoir titled “The Cracked Mirror.”)

“The Cracked Mirror” was written as much for me as for the reading public, but the book does go a long way in outlining the not so whirlwind aspects of my existence. If anyone could be interested in a ‘hill boy’s story’, the book is on Amazon. Had the book been available when I was teaching ‘Writing’, I would have brazenly made it ‘required reading’…under the hyped heading of ‘How Not to Live Your Life’.

The truth is, like so many lives, there have been for me awe and wonder, beauty, college, the US Navy, film and acting work, lovely women, marriages, divorces, children to die for – my own and the satellite children as well. The offset: Sadness and too much Regretting. All in all, I equate my life with so many others. Each of us has these elements in our lives. There are good decisions and there are bad decisions, good dreams, bad dreams.

.

So, writing sustains me, gives me a voice in the great scheme of things, and, maybe a few people will read me, feel somehow benefitted by the flow of my words.

I just write and do very little marketing except for blog posts and Twitter.

At least, I’m out there in the ‘Sphere’!

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BR Chitwood – March 30, 2021

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See my 20 books/blog posts/poetry at:

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Follow me on twitter.com/@brchitwood“TheCr

Memory Shadows

Memory Shadows

By BR Chitwood

“Billy, go round-up ‘Bessie’ – it’s milking time.”

Grandma gave me a hug, and I went rushing out the old rickety screen door in the side-room of the kitchen.

Grandma yelled after me, “If you’re going barefooted, you watch where you’re walking, ‘little man’.”

“I’ll be watching, Grandma. Don’t worry. I’ll stay on the lane ‘til I get to Bessie and her cow-buddies.”

I waved and was on my way.

The sunshine and clear blue sky was perfect, Grasshoppers and butterflies were flitting here and there, birds tweeting, and this was my favorite part of the day. Rounding up Bessie was the best part of my day. Truth is, I loved Bessie, and she was the nearest thing to a pet I had. We spent a lot of each day together, mornings before she went to pasture, during milking, and times not even grandma and grandpa knew about. I loved Bessie.

When I reached the pasture area Bessie now favored, she walked to me with a head wave and tacit ‘see you tomorrow, guys’ to the remaining cows. She nuzzled me gently while I put the rope around her neck with the copper bell. She bowed downward to me so I could give my own nuzzling to her blond and brown fur.

Guess my mind was too confused and young when I came to live with Grandma and Grandpa. My Dad and Mom had money problems, finally divorced, Dad taking a job out of state because jobs were not available, and my sister was sent to my Mom’s folks during that time.

When I first went up to Bessie, she lifted her head and looked at me with those beautiful brown eyes and softly ’mooed’. For reasons I could not understand in those moments, I wrapped my small arms around her big neck, kissed her, and my tears fell on her as she gently nudged me. Also, I could not understand in those precious moments, I loved Bessie.

Bessie and I walked the lane, and Grandma was waiting outside the kitchen door at our arrival home. She grinned happily when she saw the great friendship we had.

After leaving Bessie in her special area, Grandma took my hand, led me inside the clapboard farmhouse and treated me with watermelon. She spoke to me while I ate the melon pieces, trying in her way to let me know that I was loved.

After the watermelon treat, Grandma took my hand and led me to her old stuffed chair in the living room, put me on her lap, and told me stories about my Dad and the family history. She would stop occasionally to reach her spittle can on the floor to deposit some of her ‘snuff’. Her stories were told from the heart in a solemn tone, and, at times, I could see her eyes getting watery…it was like she wanted me to know the history of my family, the tough times of our history along with the good. Most likely, the tough times would beat out the good

When the time was right, we looked out the south-facing window and down the lane that led to the nearby mountain, waiting to see Grandpa walking home from his day on the railroad hauling logs from the other side of the mountain to our hamlet’s sawmill. Grandpa was the old train’s engineer.

When we saw him his metal lunch pail was swinging with each step he took, and a grin would break on his face when he saw me running down the lane to meet him…he always had a surprise for me in the lunch pail, candy bar, bubble gum, a toy.

Bessie mooed when she saw us nearing the old farm house – her milking would be coming in short order…plus, feeding hogs, Old Fred, the mule, plus spreading Chickens feed, gathering eggs from hens’ nests, and there would be acres of corn to be hoed, potatoes, turnips, and other farm jobs – not all jobs done by Grandpa but by my uncles. Even, I hoed some corn (hating it).

When dinner was finished, Grandpa turned on the floor model radio and listened to HV Kavelborn. If wintry, Grandpa would shave wood for the living room’s large ‘belly stove’ for the next morning’s heat.

When first darkness began Grandma would call me from my time with Bessie for a bath and bed. She would read me stories from the bible.

Some things in life are hard to explain. I loved a cow named Bessie, and, I know Bessie loved me. I loved my grandparents (paternal and maternal), and I know they loved me. They are connected in loving ways to my heart and mind.

I would eventually return to my mother and sister in a home setting, and it was wonderful being with my Mom and Sis. The time with my grandparents and Bessie is one of the most compellingly beautiful memories I have.

But, then, there are so many.

BR Chitwood – Feb. 5, 2021

My Books, Poems, posts, all writings:

My twenty books (mystery, suspense, romance, history, et al) PLUS over 350 Blog posts. Short Stories, Flash Fiction, Poetry – can be found on my website:

https://www.brchitwood.com

‘Books and Writings of BR Chitwood’

Please follow me on:

#twitter.com/brchitwood

#facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

#IAN1 #asmsg #RRBC

#The Writing Community

#books #short stories #flash fiction #poetry #over 359 blog posts

©️Filter Me

The-Cracked-Mirror-Reflections-of-An-Appalachian-Son-original

‘BUY SITE’ for above Author Bio – 90% True: mybook.to/B004ZGWQY8

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©️Filter Me

By BR Chitwood  

Filter from me the sad, weak spots of this Orb’s Voyage – filter away those memories that only reawaken strife, suffering, and thousands of stinging tears…  

The journey began on a lonely bucolic spot in Appalachia, its soil rich with it offerings, its mountains and green space alive with  snakes and wild beasts of prey whose nomadic nights of stealth searching were cut short by gunshots from the peasants who tilled the soil and raised their families with a roiling mixture of nascent anger and distrust both the displaced Cherokee and the stalwart, distrusting immigrants carried in their blood. 

These daring  immigrants who crossed the seas from England for better lives in a land that held the only promise open to them met the disgruntled red men and women and somehow forged a bond of sorts until the massive and deadly ‘Trail of Tears’ march forced by a government of questionable intent would bring the ultimate end of the Cherokee Nation.

That bit of history was important to me as it would be ultimately followed by ‘The Great Depression’ that would mark its time on my generation as it would on my parents. Because of the giant Economic impact of ‘The Great Depression’, no jobs, no stimulus plans in place, families were uprooted. A husband and father would often need to go into another state to find work to sustain his family, often in the process bringing divorces, suicides, crime waves and a societal near-collapse… The wealthy survived this period in our history, but this group was not without the awful tempo of the times.

My life began in the frantic after-period of the depression, a sad mistake I’m sure – not that a loving mother and an absent father would make that admission. I remember some of our living areas being in run-down neighborhoods in Knoxville, Tennessee and some of the terror moments when my Dad beat my Mom or my sister. I remember sitting in a paralytic fear, body trembling, my mind only able to stare catatonically straight ahead in fear. 

My parents were divorced, but my Dad came frequently to visit, and these were the times to dread and to fear. My Dad did not like my Mom’s family, felt they had caused a lot of the problems in the marriage, so he embedded those thoughts inside his head. I loved my Dad, and he never hurt me, but he did beat my Mom and my Sis…he was a product of the times, working out of state at times, always wanting to work for one of the rail carriers – which he did ultimately.

During the depression, I was sent to live with my Dad’s folks, and my sister, to Mom’s folks. It would not be too long until my Mom was able to bring my sister and me into a family environment. Mom worked as a telephone operator, in war assembly plants during WW2, and as a Boarding House Cook.

As one might easily conclude from this ‘Filter Piece’, life does indeed shape us. I have had a full life, so much for which to be thankful, beautiful ladies, love, acting, serving my country in the US Navy, and I’ve written twenty-one+ books. There, in that story-land world I find my ultimate peace and full satisfaction. Being fascinated by how life shapes us all, I have a fetish for fictionalizing true crimes, getting inside the heads of people who walk down those perilous roads.

My latest book, THE POWER MERCHANTS, was just released in May, 2020. It is a novel for our times, complete with the World Pandemic, Political Crises, Love, Murder, and a Billionaire’s evil penchant for ‘underage girls’ and currying favor from top-level politicians in the Federal Government.  

I hope you will buy a copy at your Amazon Location and leave a book review. The following AMAZON BUY LINK should take you to your own Amazon BUY location:

The Power Merchants (5)

YOUR AMAZON BUY SITE: mybook.to/thepowermerchants

BR Chitwood – June 5, 2020

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All of my books can be previewed at: http://www.billyraychitwood.com

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Learning

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https://booklaunch.io/billyraychitwood/59553847c4cab27328cf4aaa

 Learning?

 Today, Brandon is a PhD, teaching at a mid-west University. My son, Brandon, ‘A Phud!’ Really!

The older mind, mine, hearkens back to his baby-days when he was playing with his plastic toys in front of a television screen. A commercial would come on interrupting a drama series we might be watching, and Brandon would stop his playing and look at the TV screen…we finally realized it was sound, voice, and color-flash differentials that caught his attention, but he kept his eyes glued to the set until regular programming continued.

Like many parents we were sure that Brandon was a precocious child and were thrilled that he picked up quickly small tidbits of learning.

Late afternoons, when I arrived home from my marketing office, Brandon and I went to the master bedroom. From the bedside table, I took a pack of playing cards and a book – usually, a novel I was reading. I would daily toss playing cards on the bed and ask my son what number he saw. It was ‘fun learning’ for him, and, soon, I would grab the novel and point to a ‘letter’ at the beginning of a chapter – you know, many novel formats are such that the first letter of the new chapter is a larger type than the ensuing text.

So, slowly, through the days, Brandon learned his letters and his numbers. He began to read early and found great enjoyment in the process, proudly giving me a capsule description of what he was reading. It was obviously such a delight to see your child still in the baby range, reading.

Then, there came a separation through no cause of his or mine. I went to Los Angeles for one week on a business trip, and, upon my return there was no wife and no Brandon.

What had escaped my notice through the months was my wife’s lack of interest in doing things, like, I would suggest we drive to the park for the day. She seemed lethargic to a point where she did not wish to go, to do… She just wanted to stay at home.

Her parents knew what I did not know, that the wife had a mental condition, a phobia for being in crowds, a psychological condition that rendered her not attentive and seemingly uncaring. I did not help her situation as I was so professionally busy and time spent at home was usually with Brandon…with only light conversation with his mother, my wife.

So, while in Los Angeles, she left me, returned to Phoenix, AZ where we had lived prior to my transfer to California, and her mother checked her in to the hospital for psychological evaluation and treatment… She left me a letter which I still have to this day, her ‘why and wherefore’ of deserting me. For her, it was her only way, departing without confrontation, without the obvious ‘hurt’ I would feel for her and Brandon leaving…

Long story short, she got better, left the hospital, but we never got back together. My mother lived in Phoenix at the time and cared for Brandon while his mother was in the hospital, and there I would visit Brandon during free space at work in California.

Brandon’s mother died too young and would not live to see his attainment of a PhD. When they moved to Minnesota where her life began, there were years I heard nothing from Brandon, knew little about his life, except helping with a monthly check for child support.

There is an inscrutable, lamentable disassociation we’ve had over the years…we talk only occasionally, when he calls, or, when I call him. It is perhaps a sad situation, but neither of us suffer too much from the absence. Our love is there. It’s somehow ‘parked’ in a place we each never want to meet. My pride at his accomplishment is there, and, somehow, we both know of our love for each other. That has to be enough.

Of my other three children, Scott and Shelley are my pride and joy, and we do communicate on a regular basis. Steven Ray died while in a Las Vegas nursing home.

So, I’ve written much of this in two memoirs, and won’t be writing another. There is some burning wish to make people aware of my personal life when there is no damned reason to do so. I figure it must be further effort to cleanse somehow my soul.

Why did I write this?

Damned if I know!

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 18, 2019

 

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Appalachia and Me

Appalachia and Me

Standing at the window I could see her working in the earth, planting her garden, a plot of ground she alone had created on the hard prairie soil of our eighty-acre ‘Lazy Rabbit Ranch’

My emotions were trade-mark soft and tender with no discernable reason. Tears welled and fell down my cheeks. It was at that time when gout attacks were frequent in my life, had me limping in painful, short steps. I wanted to be there in the garden with my wife, sharing the joy of her moments. The tears lasted for a brief period until I turned them off, returned to the library to render time typing on my Star Writer Word processor.

Time and again my mind slipped away from the characters and plot lines of the book I was writing on the Star Writer, slipping back to my wife in the garden, then, into assessing the emotional source of my tears. Of course, I quickly rid my mind of the gout pain being the root cause of sob-time…it was so much more than that.

My life at the Lazy Rabbit Ranch was rather rich with melodramatic episodic introspections, likely sufficient enough to abundantly satisfy any reclining position taken on a psychiatrist’s sofa. Plus, it would surely be a dead give-away to mention that, yes, I was also born in Appalachia…well, of course, dear boy, that is what Appalachian lads do so very well. How else can history explain our cornball evocative ‘country music’, honky-tonk romances ‘on the fly’, and those multiple divorce court appearances?

Well, sure, I could laugh at myself along with my agents of disregard. However, were my copious life tears simply ‘crocodile’ in nature? Were my myriad emotional tendencies, my basic earthly and inherent needs, so easily explained away?

My hasty conclusion would not necessarily surprise anyone, but I said at the time – and, I say now – No, they were not… they are not.

This may be fundamental to many people, but, hey, I was just getting it – right then, ‘after all those tear-years’, right then, at the Lazy Rabbit Ranch ‘cry episode’.

The ‘gout attack’ was not the sole reason for the crying.

Pardon my flippancy, but it was the south where all those degenerate, debt-owing, thieves in the night were deposited when they arrived from across the pond from Europe. I’m guessing that after a while we had some sweet and pure genteel groups coming into Appalachia mixing with our chromosomic/genetic machinery, getting us all ‘cornfused’ about proper etiquette, language, books, and stuff. Shucks, we could have had our own country by now, just wheeling, dealing, killing, and dying way too young…if the ‘genteel groups’ had just stayed away.

Sitting there that day at my lovely mahogany desk the way I figured it was: with so many low IQ folks, mixing their vulgarities with the stealing and killing, their mindless behaviors, by the time I came out of my Mom’s womb, I was doomed to be a sort of half-breed…that is, part of me got some of that ‘rough and tumble’ stuff, and the other part got some of those genteel qualities.

Just like then, I can’t figure out why I’m crying now.

Hmm, I’m wondering… My wife is outside, working on another darn flower garden. Is she trying to tell me something?

Guess I better get to writing another book.

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 3, 2019

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A Private Session at the Way Station

A Private Session At ‘The Way Station’

Guess I write quite a bit about my feelings, about my life and times. Thought I

would allow a small portion from one of my books to do the ‘talking’ in this

post… The following is a section from ‘The Way Station’ (a euphemism for a Care

Facility) in my book, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections From An Appalachian

Son.”Prentice Paul Hiller is recovering from a complicated hip surgery, meets and

bonds with a former Clinical Psychologist, Greta Fogel. Over the weeks of teasing and

mental jousting, Greta has encouraged Prentice to write about his life and times,

suggesting that it might be not only good therapy for him but that the end product

should be a great read.

 

It should be noted this memoir is 90% true, and I am Prentice Paul Hiller — but I have never been in a ‘care facility’ (other than hospital stays for hernia and appendectomy operations). The remainder is pretty much true except for names and some places… I might be a bit generous to myself regarding the 90% – but too far off.

Also, this memoir is written on ‘two tracks’ – one chapter for ‘The Way Station’ followed by chapters from periods in my (Prentice Paul’s) life. The section noted below has followed a chapter regarding Greta’s reading of one of my personal chapters.

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EXCERPT – from “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son” by Billy Ray Chitwood:

Having just settled in with my laptop, Greta came into the sun room. Without too much preamble, I moved the laptop to her lap, with the cursor set to start on the last two sections. “See what you think of these two sections,” I said with a doubtful expression, “I’m ambivalent! Don’t know if I went too overboard.”

It took some time for her to read the sections. She paused time and again in very thoughtful poses.

When she was finished, she asked: “You want to talk now or later? Want me to leave you so you can write?”

“No, let’s talk! First, Dorie seems really nice,” I said.

“She’s a really good lady. I’m very impressed. You’re going to like her.” She sat on the wicker chair near the window. Greta was wearing a lovely lavender sweater and beige pants outfit plus a new hairdo. Her eyes glowed with the combination.

“I already do. We had a chance to visit when she got here. She’s a version of you, really!”

Don’t know about that, but I like her and I’m glad you do…” She paused for a second. “Shall we talk about these last two sections?”

“Really! You want to talk about the last two sections? Why do you think I shoved the laptop on your lap? Of course, sweet lady, let’s talk about these sections…you read it and acted like you wanted to leave. You don’t like the sections, do you?”

“Of course, I like the sections! You know I like your writing. You raised my eyebrows a bit, that’s all. You surprised me!” She said with a slight nod and a wry smile.

“Bet I know why!” with a nod and smile of my own. “The ‘Vickie’ sex snapshot?”

“Well, certainly, that raised my eyebrows! And we won’t dwell too long on that bit of memorabilia! However, it might surprise you to know that that kind of experience is not so uncommon, particularly when you consider the environment in which you lived, notwithstanding the criminal implications of Vickie’s complicity in the seduction. No, it is not a pretty snapshot, and  it does surprise me somewhat that you would make it part of your ‘reflections,’ although your penchant for honesty and ridiculing yourself would preclude your leaving it out.” She was about to say more when I interrupted.

“It was such a vivid recall, Greta, like the earlier sex encounter with my pre-puberty aunt. It was somehow important for me to put it in, even knowing that is was highlighting depraved behavior…”

“I understand, Prentice. You need not justify it to me. You want the writing to portray the ultimate true picture of who you were then. It couldn’t be any other way for you.” She paused again, then went on.

“The ‘Vickie snapshot’ is not necessarily what I meant by ‘raising’ my eyebrows.”

“Of what then do you speak, dear lady?” using my chivalrous tongue.

“I speak of your ‘isms’ section, EST and ‘Tao Te Ching,’ and your ‘political views’ section to the larger extent. What raised my brows and surprised me a bit was the length to which you’ve gone to find yourself, your belief system as it relates to your political morality. In other words, you’re a man who strives so hard to find integrity in yourself and in others. You fight in your mind the battles of our times, wanting desperately to find a Utopia which you know does not exist. In some ways, you are an incurable romantic, a Don Quixote chasing ‘windmills’ you think are giants to be slain. You know your sins, Prentice! You know your faults, your errant ways! Your missed opportunities! And you’re trying to make up for it all with the pages of your book.” She paused, eyed me carefully with a fondness she would not hide. “And, you’re doing a damned good job!”

“Whoa, wait a minute! There’s something else you want to say. ‘A damned good job’ doesn’t quite say it all, Greta. Come on, I can take it. It might hurt, a lot, but I can take it. I might never speak to you again, but take it, I shall!” She could see the last bit as mock and tease.

“Yes, a damned good job! I say what I mean, Mr. Hiller. And, yes, Mr. Hiller, there is something else to say…” Again, she paused, looked out the window at the lovely blue sky day. “What you put down is well written. You would be aware that some of your reading audience might not share your views. That, I know you know! Incidentally, I’m not one of those ‘really smart people’ to whom you refer, but I am non-partisan. What you want, I believe most people want. You write about it passionately and sincerely. How could I fault you? The chivalrous battles you fight with your writing are noble, patriotic, and good…” She paused yet again, then wistfully continued.

“Why, I’m not completely sure, but I’m thinking of those two great volumes of Spanish literature.” She waited, pursed her lips in that cute little habitual way she had, and went on. “His neighbors thought him mad for all his dedicated reading of chivalry, but Alonso Quixano gave himself a new name, ‘Don Quixote,’ put on a suit of old armor and went off on his chivalrous quests with wild imaginings. He was at times beaten, ridiculed, and ultimately unintentionally betrayed by his dull-witted squire and neighbor, Sancho Panza. His quests, his imaginings, ended in a great melancholy. Alonso would put away his armor. The melancholy worsened with his age, and Sancho in the end tried to restore his faith. But Alonso Quixano died a broken man, and, with him, his alter ego, ‘Don Quixote.’

“What does ‘Don Quixote’ have to do with what you’re writing? The chivalry part, mostly. Though, at times, you do seem daft and wildlyimaginative!” A pause for chuckles. “You write about many differnet things in yur life. You bemoan at times the sad states of your existence, your life style, your ‘images’ of the good life, your moods, your legacy. And, to repeat myself, you do a damned good job of it. If I have any concern, it comes from my fondness for you. I don’t wish you to become ‘melancholy and broken,’ Prentice.

“Don’t try so hard to make up for your life! This writing business, the process, is good for you. Use it for all the right reasons: the legacy thing, the self-ablution, as it were, the process itself. You are who you are. You will try too hard. You will continue to beat yourself. It’s too late for the couch, not that you really ever needed it, but, if I could push but one button for you, it would be the button that makes you believe in yourself and makes you have more faith in the God who made you and accept whatever it is He intends for you. You are really a dear, dear man, and I don’t wish to see you hurt so much.”

She stopped talking and looked again out the big window, her face creased with a sadness beyond the mere interpretations she had rendered on the sections of my book. That sadness held me for a moment. Then, I decided to revert to my easy tactic of light patter. 

“Well, Greta, you’ve totally blind-sided me! What the hell am I supposed to do with Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and you?” smiling, with raised eyebrows. “Okay, methinks I get it. You’re a sweetheart!” I closed the laptop and got up. “Come on, let’s break out of this joint and find a Big Mac, fries, and coke.”

Actually, ‘Don Quixote’ and I likely had a lot more in common than I might be willing to admit. Then, again, there might be more Sancho Panza in me than I might be willing to admit.

[End of Excerpt…]

Billy Ray Chitwood – January, 2019

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