©Sweeny, The Doll

©Sweeny, The Doll

– Short Story – By BR Chitwood –

*

Mr. and Mrs. Holcomb were looking in a toy shop at possible gifts for daughter, Kellie.

 “Oh, isn’t this darling? His name is ‘Sweeny’, and his voice is so sweet… Kellie will love it.”

“You’re kidding, right? Kellie is all ‘GIRL’. I can’t see her playing with this guy-doll at all. She might like its voice – it is soothing, but Kellie would lose interest quickly with this slick-haired bozo. She’s more into the more etiquette-like stuff.”

“Frank, trust me on this one. I know my daughter, and she will be talking to Sweeny on a constant basis. You’re not around so much that you would notice. Lots of girls are wanting male dolls now…it’s ‘the thing’, some toy clerks tell me.”

“Well, Sweeny is kind of cute in his untidy ‘cut-offs’ and flaming red shirt, the sly smile…what are some of the ‘things’ he says in his taped repertoire?”

“His various conversational utterings are here in this pamphlet…”

“I’ve glanced at a few statements Sweeny makes, and I’m not sure the vernacular matches up well with Kellie…are kids really talking like this? About hugging, kissing, silly adult-like language?”

“Don’t go ‘archaic’ on me, Frank. Kids live in different generations and speak for the most part like others in their age group… We still must do our parenting, our monitoring of their lives so they don’t cross into dangerous areas of thoughts and deeds.”

“Well, Gerrie, you’re the ‘Mom’ and you know better about these things than I do. I just want the ‘best’ for Kellie. She’s so sweet, smart, and special and I want her world as free from the ‘ugly’ as we can make it, and I know you do as well. Go ahead and throw ‘Sweeny’ in the shopping basket. I hope they become really good buddies.”

***

(Night-time: Six Months Later )

Wearing new special PJs Kellie’s Mom made, Sweeny lay stretched out on his back next to his mistress on the opposite pillow, eyes open, alert, now and then glancing at his sleeping bed-partner. Only the plugged-in night light gave light to the bedroom.

“Kellie, psst, Kellie, are you awake?”

Kellie was in deep sleep, dreaming of a new boy in her sixth-grade classroom at school. Tommy was the new boy’s name, and his small desk was next to her desk.

Kellie’s eyes twitched and her body quivered under the bedsheet, and a small discernable smile appeared on her face. She liked Tommy at first sight and thought that rather unusual for her to like a new boy in class…girls, generally, yes, but, boys, a bit strange.

 Sweeny’s closed eyes simultaneously twitched as well, and suddenly came fully open. In no way could he explain his awareness to his supposedly non-active environment – a male doll that for some inscrutable reason could remember a special ‘compound’ put inside his combination hard-rubber and polyethylene terephthalate head.

Sweeny only knew he did not like the ensuing disturbance within his tiny body, did not like where Kellie’s thoughts were taking her…he now knew about the new boy in her Sixth-Grade class, and he would not know how to explain it to anyone.

In some manner, Sweeny, with eyes aquiver, his tiny factory-made body thrashing beneath the sheet, caused the bed to rock and sway, made loud noises on the floor and walls. The noise became so loud it awakened Kellie, her mother, and her father.

Amid Kellie’s screams, the parents entered her room and saw lamps on the floor, wall plaster displaced on the walls from the bed-rocking, and other debris spread across the bedroom.

Then a silence so deep within itself came that frightened all in the room but Sweeny.

“Oh, My God! What happened in here, Kellie?” the mother asked.

“I don’t know, Mommy, but it woke me up. I’m scared, Daddy, Mommy.”

Sweeny lay quietly on his pillow, his eyes closed as though in sleep, but listening carefully to what was being said.

Kellie’s parents would not allow such paranormal thoughts to enter their mind, but they did believe their eyes and knew something dramatic and nerve-wracking happened in their daughter’s bedroom.

Kellie slept in her parents’ bedroom that night and the next three nights, only going into her room for showers and clothes changes. When her eyes fell on Sweeny, she thought she noticed angry eyes, and it scared her, but she finally accepted that her little mind was playing tricks on her…the scary episode could be explained in a sensible manner with a sane and understandable narrative.

While she could not understand her own reasoning regarding that night, Kellie remotely thought that Sweeny had something to do with it. Giving her seemingly crazy thoughts a rest, she would hold Sweeny and talk to him, but when she placed him somewhere away from her she sensed an anger showing on his face. Then, there came a sense of dread that would drive her out of the room, and she could also sense his staring eyes following her.

Her relationship with Sweeny she knew was over – from a pet toy to any kind of plaything. She could never, would never get over that one night-time episode and the ensuing moments of distress. She talked to her mother, convinced her that she no longer wanted to have Sweeny around her.

Gerrie  placed Sweeny in the original box he came in, took him to the local park, and left the doll with the Park Director, Stu Bruner, to do with what he wished, gift it to one of the children who played there. Gerrie explained simply to Mr. Bruner that her daughter outgrew the male doll and had moved on…Gerrie felt a little ‘white lie’ would not hurt anyone.

*

The Park Director placed Sweeny on his office credenza and left for home later in the afternoon. It was odd, the Director thought as he left his office, the male doll’s face seemed strangely different from the time he was brought to him, and, he thought he had placed him in the middle of the credenza, but he was now sprawled toward the end of the furniture with a scowl on his pale face.

“Ah, I’m just tired… I wasn’t paying that much attention at the time, and those toy makers can now do so much with innovation in dolls…”

At the first traffic light, Stu Bruner almost ran a ‘red light’ which had just recently turned ‘green’, and Stu screeched to a stop, just missing the opposite flow of cars.

‘Darn, am I going blind? I could have sworn that light was turning ‘green’ when I came to it’…

Stu Bruner soon regained his normal happy mood when going home to family and pets.

At the next traffic light five blocks away Stu had to quickly brake again…something, a cat, a dog, an animal of some kind was crossing the road, but, damn, it looked just like that ‘doll’ Gerrie Holcomb left earlier at his office.

‘My eyes are going bad on me. Two lights in a row I’ve almost lost control. Not good, Stu, not good at all, but I could swear it was that stupid male doll.  Then, again, dusk can tease the eyes to believe things that are not real. Lots of accidents occur at this time of the day’.

Again, Stu Holcomb managed to stay alert and began whistling his favorite country song – ‘Put your sweet lips closer to the phone’… (“He’ll Have to Go” – popular country song sung beautifully by Jim Reeves.)

As Stu Holcomb opened his private office door the next morning, he stumbled, almost fell to the floor.

His office, his beautiful mahogany desk, chairs, credenza, wall hangings, awards, trophies, plaster, everything was totally destroyed…but he heard the sound of a voice familiar to his ears – a radio announcer’s voice reporting the news of the day.

Stunned by the destruction, Stu stumbled to the area where the radio was normally setting on his desk, and, below, among the debris on the floor, he pulled the radio from the rubble, held it in his hands, and was about to replace it on the floor when the announcer mentioned names he knew…he cleared a place by the window and listened to a staggering news report:

“The cause of the fire that destroyed the Holcomb house is unknown, but there is a strange footnote to this tragedy – amid all the debris, in the corner of a child’s bedroom was the warped, demonic face of a doll, smiling and absurd in its countenance… To repeat the important part of this fiery news story, the Holcomb Family survived the midnight fire with minimal injuries and will undergo some psychological testing when they have been stabilized to a point where shock has been mitigated – and only God knows when that will be…”

*

The End

©Sweeny, The Doll

By BR Chitwood – June 29, 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

If you enjoy my flash fiction, hopefully you will pick one of my books to read. You can see them at: http://billyraychitwood.com

You can find me at:

IAN – (Independent Author Network): https://www.independentauthornetwork.com/billy-ray-chitwood.html

allauthor.com/author/chitwood/

My Author Website: http://billyraychitwood.com 

Follow my Blog on:

http://www.brchitwood.com

Follow me on:

https://twitter.com/brchitwood

http://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood and http://facebook.com/billyrayscorner 

If you are so inclined, please leave a comment. 

Wordsmith Extraordinaire: John Dolan

From My Archives

An Interview With John Dolan – Author of:

FUN WITH DICK

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-NEW for 2020-

SYNOPSIS:

Twenty-five-year-old Richard Blackheart – geek, wage slave and Superman wannabe – seems destined for a life of dull obscurity.
Then one day he hits upon an idea for the ultimate non-self-help book, ‘How to Die Alone, Smelly and Unloved’, and things start to change …

‘Fun with Dick’ is a heart-wrenching, hilarious and harrowing tale of one man’s struggle against gravity and cats. It is not recommended for people who are easily triggered. If you do read it, keep your shrink’s phone number handy.

-Now Available on Amazon-

BUY SITES:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Fun-Dick-John-Dolan-ebook/dp/B083RW93CV/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=fun+with+dick&qid=1583519142&s=books&sr=1-2

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Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fun-Dick-John-Dolan/dp/1912361078/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=fun+with+dick&qid=1583519691&s=books&sr=1-2

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Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Fun-Dick-John-Dolan-ebook/dp/B083RW93CV/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=fun+with+dick&qid=1583519839&s=books&sr=1-2

Check these books out as well:

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JUST CLICK ON ANY COVER FOR THE BUY SITES

*

AN UPDATE

NEW!

 

A Disclaimer ‘Preface’

Perhaps I’m over-stepping the ‘surly bonds’ of respectability with this archive rendering, but, nearly a decade ago, a jolly fellow from my beloved ancestral England caught my attention with his wordsmith brilliance and his hilariously creative way of interviewing fellow authors, myself included. I’m proud to say that I, in turn, escaping his threats, innuendoes, infringements and lawsuits with promises to glorify him daily with tweets, loving words, and phrases, was permitted to interview the author in question by using the same technique… Without my stale humor attempts, the author being interviewed did indeed make author interviews not only informative but so much fun to read, not to mention the good information delivered.

I’ve gone to the archives and retrieved that ‘Interview’ of some years ago, and I thank him for being here today – at least with his words of years ago – although he appears, as he did then, a bit angry by his mode of transportation.

John Dolan is the author’s name, and I’ve just read his latest ‘jewel fonts’ found in, “Fun With Dick.” In fact, I’ve read all his books – you will see some of them below. This old country-boy is an ‘easy sale’, can be sold just about any item, tech goodies, automobiles with wooden tires, and ice cream on a frigid day, but, when it comes to writing, holding readers captive for hundreds of pages, not wanting an ending, I cannot be fooled…at least, that’s what my good wife tells me.

So, while JD’s check is not in the amount agreed upon, I truly do love his writing. (John, please, don’t go nutsy on me…you’re going to break the orange crate…) I’m just kidding about the check…this time, I shall truly stop with the banal humor.

Here is my long-ago interview of John Dolan, the idea for which came after reading many of his author interviews of the same technique…indeed, HIS very own ‘intellectual property’. For me, those unique ‘John Dolan Interviews’ were ‘golden nuggets’ to treasure…okay, sorry for the trite, sophomoric bromide.  If you’ve never read them, go to John Dolan’s archives. It will be worth your trip. They were truly humorous and informative BLASTS.

Just a final few words about John Dolan’s NEW 2020 novel“Fun With Dick.” This is a book I highly recommend you read. It has elements from several genres, and, I promise, you will not be sorry you read it.

 Here is the 5-Star Review I gave “Fun With Dick” on Amazon:

Billy Ray Chitwood

*

5.0 out of 5 stars – The Author-Wizardry of John Dolan: FUN WITH DICK – 5 Huge Stars

Billy Ray Chitwood

Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2020

Format: Kindle Edition – Verified Purchase

AND, Now, 8-years old, but still relevant:

An Interview:  John Dolan – Author Extraordibnaire

This is a ‘Do Not Miss’ combo for you: an interview with a quality author and a partial review of his 5-Star book, “Everyone Burns.” If you have not the pleasure of reading John Dolan you’ve missed a ‘Wordsmith Extraordinaire’ creating his magic. JD is truly a quintessential author for his times. He is also the man who introduced me and countless others to the word, ‘Galericulate’ — that was once the name of his website/blog. (See end of interview and summary.) He’s the man hidden under the hat and he’s roaming around some continent or another. At last report, he was in Amsterdam…

OOPS – UPDATE: that was 2012…he was just recently released from Foxes and Hounds Tranquility Center! He’s much better now, I’m told! I do so hope my information is accurate…

JUST KIDDING. JD IS JUST FINE – ORNERY, BUT, FINE!

But, be gone, my foolishness! Here’s a re-blog of my 2012 interview with this important literary figure and an update on his writing and ‘book cover’ changes…

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BUY SITES FOR “Everyone Burns”:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Everyone-Burns-Time-Blood-Karma-ebook/dp/B008I6GXM2/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=everyone+burns&qid=1583442961&s=books&sr=1-1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Everyone-Burns-Time-Blood-Karma-ebook/dp/B008I6GXM2/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=everyone+burns&qid=1583443269&s=books&sr=1-1

Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Everyone-Burns-Time-Blood-Karma-ebook/dp/B008I6GXM2/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=everyone+burns&qid=1583443464&s=books&sr=1-1

 *

NOW – THE 2012 AUTHOR INTERVIEW

‘Burning’ John Dolan, Writer Extraordinaire – An Interview (Sort of!)”

(BR Chitwood=BR)…(John Dolan= JD)

*

BR: Okay, Filbert, take off Mr. Dolan’s  blindfold…

JDHey, not so rough! You just don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, do you?

BR: Why should I? You can leave us now, Filbert, and take Salomé with you.

JD: You kidding me? ‘Salomé!’ ‘Filbert!’ They’re ‘junkies…’

BR: Had no money…they grabbed you for the ‘grass.’

JD: Are you mocking me? Are you stealing my interview ideas?

BR: Show me a legal document!

JD: At least my interview chair is comfortable, and my straps are pure leather, not this cord crap!

BR: You left me no choice, JD, you broke your promise to take my books viral and…

JD: Correction! I said your books were vile and pretentious…

BR: Okay, okay, I understand you’re a bit angry…just some tit for tat, that’s all. I really like your book, “Everyone Burns,” and I’m thinking ‘movie,’ ‘TV series,’ something really big. Can we just relax and talk about the book?

JD: Can you at least put a cushion on this orange crate? You’re not helping my hemmies.

BR: How’s that? Better? Good…Now tell me about “Everyone Burns” and how you came to write it.

JD: Guess I got no choice, but you gotta promise me you’re not going to make a habit of this kind of interview. This is my idea, not yours. Do we have a deal?

BR: Yes, we have a deal…Hell, I thought you would be pleased!

JD: Well, I am, sort of, but this is intellectual property, not something you mess with…plus, I only get one original idea per decade.

BR: Okay, no more kidnaps for interviews! Got it! Can we proceed?

JD: The events in “Everyone Burns” take place over seventeen days while Thailand is still numb from the giant tsunami of December 2004. Like everyone of sane mind this great catastrophe made my emotions run wild, made me think of life like I had never really thought about it. “Everyone Burns” gave me some escape from the reality all around me.

BR: Really?

JD: No, not really. I wrote it for the money and the groupies.

BR: And how’s that working out?

JD: Probably about as well as it’s working out for you, I’d guess. Well … looking at you, probably slightly better with the groupies.

BR: Here’s a quote from “Everyone Burns,” just after a bar fracas scene:

To summarise, my life is one of split personality. I am in two minds about it myself.

 Nevertheless, down these narrow streets a man must walk, even if it is in flip-flops.

But I am no Philip Marlowe, and Koh Samui is not film-noir USA. There is nothing

of Hollywood’s black and white morality on this most colourful of Thailand’s

Islands. And long overcoats just make you sweat in the sun. Here The Postman

Never Rings Twice, simply because he never rings at all. He has better things to do. Lamai’s and Chaweng’s adventurers generally pack a condom, not a gun.”

You open the book with a broken cue stick inflicting injury to your protagonist and it’s like the excitement and action  never lets up after that. I picked this quote because it’s one of my favorites but also because it gives the reader a sample of your splendid writing…

Do you have any disagreement with my assessment here, JD?

JD: Take these cords off and I’ll kiss you. The passage is also a favorite of mine. Aside from the style thing in my writing, it is just basically who I am. But I’m NOT David Braddock, by the way. I want to make that clear in case my wife Fiona is reading this! A book of this genre for me has to move at a rapid pace, the action mostly non-stop. A lot of what I write about in “Everyone Burns” has some factual similarities, the people, the places, the time certainly. And, of course, you know my English is rather precise, proper, as it was intended to be! WHY are you smiling and shaking your head?

BR: Never mind, just me being me! I just like the ‘snap to’ words you love coming off your lips. It’s a great book, JD. Wish we had more time because I’d like to mention “People With Real Lives Don’t Need Landscapes,” a book of poetry you wrote in 2003. You certainly have a way with words, JD, and I happen to love poetry. As Amazon puts it, “This big bouncy collection of contemporary poetry draws on both popular and high culture. The poems have energy, imagination, humor, and lively speech rhythms. They are light, weighty, topical, intellectual, gory, sad, wild, and tender all at once… Why are you vigorously shaking your head, JD?”

JD: I didn’t write that.

BR: What?

JD: I didn’t write that collection of poetry. That was a different John Dolan.

BR: Are you sure?

 JD: What do you mean, “Am I sure”? I’m not likely to forget a thing like that, am I?Sheesh! It’s scary how your brain can live in such a small space.

BR: That hurts, JD. To think, a while ago you were going to ‘kiss me’… Oh, well, regardless, I loved your book “Everyone Burns” and can’t wait for the sequel. [That would be “Hungry Ghosts.”] People should really take a long look at you, my friend…

JD: ‘My friend!’ My butt is sore here, BR!

BR: Filbert and Salome are ‘napping’ right now. I’ll untie you, but, please, no fracas here. Tit for tat, remember? Be gentle.

End of Interview… [JD: Please, no retaliation!]

 *

 Browse all books by John Dolan: Sign up for his Newsletter, news, articles: johndolanauthor.com

Follow JD on Twitter: twitter.com/johndolanauthor

Visit JD’s Author Website: johndolanauthor.com – you will find information about this unique and wonderful literary genius, his books, his life and times…

You want good reading? Check out the books above, and, more…you will not be disappointed. John Dolan is destined for literary greatness! YOU HEARD IT HERE!

 (Really, follow him AND read him. He’s ugly mean: it took two junkies and me to get him here for this ‘Orange Crate’ interview!)

 

 

 

 

 

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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A Gallery

[Image Art by Julien Cavondoli – Unsplash.com]

*

A  Gallery

A blue so exquisite it brings gentle pain,

A softened gallery surrounds me.

A composite clarity in this desert sky 

Around me of my life, my destiny.

A Gallery that speaks to me of a full

Awkward life of guilt and repent,

A portrait of me in many poses of guile,

A sad man-child, seeking content.

A vast space of clarity, an awesome sky,

A gallery to remind me of bad, of good.

A life, a legacy, both worthy, and, not,

A gallery, all said, I did what I could.

***

BR Chitwood – Feb. 26, 2020

***

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Synchronicity, Style, Substance

Synchronicity, Style, Substance

Okay, what is this guy writing about now? The alliteration is fine, but what are these ‘Title’ words supposed to convey?

If I saw this title occupying space on my lap-tap as a blog post, my first impression would be, “Ah, someone is about to enlighten me on ‘writing’, ‘music’, something about the world of artistic endeavors, fundamentals that might be important for those pursuing careers in those areas.

Well, whatever, I’m going to risk what  barely usable sense I have  to coordinate the title above with my writing, what I perhaps strive for when pecking on these keys…so, here goes…

‘Synchronicity’

With ‘Synchronicity’, I’m loosely using Carl Jung’s conceptual rendering  of what he called  meaningful coincidences if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related…

Don’t worry, I have neither the brain power nor the patience to delve into Jung’s Analytical Psychologist’s mind, but I do like how Jung’s concept fits into my little package here.

So, in my writing experiences, my books, my blog posts,  flash fiction, poetry, short stories,  I brazenly use Carl Jung’s concept of ‘Synchronicity’ to describe my near paranoid need to relate human exceptionalism, foibles, tragedies large and small with the first word in my above title. In building a character, I like to go as deep as my experiential history allows me in bringing out those character traits mentioned above, through the personality and events which deepen the fictional characters’ wonts and personae.

Why?

Because, I believe that most writers seek to find themselves as they pick through the traits of her/his characters. I’m fond of saying: ‘I find pieces of me on and between the lines of what I write’. That is why the first ‘S’ in my title above dips in and out of my stories, embellishing and making the narrative hopefully more readable and enjoyable. For many writers, this ‘S’ is natural and automatic.

For beginning writers, maybe this mind-wandering can help a bit.

‘Style’

‘Style’ is of course an individual thing.

For me, that ‘S’ comes out in my writing as perhaps too personal at times, too humorous, too deep and at the point of coming across too Sophist. too ‘clever’ and specious in its verbiage. I especially enjoy writing in the ‘first person’, and I can get so wrapped up in stylistic ‘cuteness’ at times that makes editing a real chore.

I’m not suggesting here that I do not like my sometimes folksy ‘Style’, my attempts at a modicum of humor, and/or my serious in-depth look at the evil doers of the world. I like my style of writing and it won’t be changing until my next Life…

Now, that’s a ‘happy thought’.

Beginning writers will find out at some point in their careers if they have the manuscript of which those main-streams publishers are searching, or, they might prefer going the self-publishing route.

‘Substance’

‘Substance’ is the liquid in my ‘bottle of wine’, my words that fill the reader’s eyes with real or fictitious occurrences that make the mind quake and the heart rise or slow in palpitations… my words that are the emotional events that cause a reader to stop momentarily in mid-paragraph, to re-read a line, a section that moved them with either smiles or tears.

‘Substance’, together with ‘Synchronicity’ and ‘Style’, if woven in a believable tapestry of drama, humor, emotions, events that give the readers’ Souls a chance to cry, to laugh, and/or rejoice, you are a writer, my friend.

Even as you read your manuscript, make your editorial changes, given it all the ‘spell-checks’, diction-checks, reality-checks, re-read again and again, and know in your own heart and mind that it is better than good, then, send it off to an agent and/or publisher only to be rejected, remember, you are but one writer of millions who must wait for your turn on the publishing ‘wheel of fortune’.

If you know your writing is good, do not give up.

Go to your next writing project.

Write for you!

One day, it could be for the world.

*

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 22, 2020

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Back to the Valley of the Sun

 – Image Art by: Luiz Felipe Silva Carmo – Unsplash –

BACK TO THE VALLEY OF THE SUN

*

Back to the valley of the Sun

Where much of my life was spun,

There among the bramble bush,

The Cacti thorns and desert hush…

Back to memories both sad and true

Clashing with Salvadore’s sunset hue

*

Still, the mind’s alive with dreams

Of the morrow’s golden themes

Of endless morns of skies so clear

Een walks with a love that’s pure,

And cocktails on the back patio

While dinner awaits a hungry duo.

*

Thus, the days will pass too fast

As Time speeds on to form our past,

Yet, we have this precious hour

And minute to yield and prepare

For the most joyous voyage of fate,

That meeting at Heaven’s Gate.

*

A poem by BR Chitwood – 12/3/19

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The Cracked Mirror…

THE CRACKED MIRROR – Reflections of an Appachian Son

If anyone could possibly, hopefully, be interested, this book tells MY story – at least, 90% of it is true! 

“The Cracked Mirror…” is a memoir with ‘two tracks’ – that’s where the ‘90% true’ comes into play… I’ve never spent time in a ‘Care Facility’ except to visit my Mom when she had a stroke some years ago. The ‘two tracks’ helps the narrative along, ‘track one’ dealing with me (aka, Prentice Paul Hiller) in a care center, and my life unfolding before your very own eyes in ‘track 2’. ‘Track 2’ covers me all the way from birth to moronic adult, ouch, and these two tracks alternate back and forth – well, until I got dizzy from the writing.
I’ve had some great reviews of the book, one from a Clinical Psychologist and good friend in Scottsdale, AZ… His name is Dr. Timothy Tays in case any of the three or four folks reading this live and have a jigsaw buzzing in their minds, and, of course, if you’re lucky enough to live in that delightful state of sunshine and beautiful bronze-bodied females. (Wow, talk about run-on sentences). Dr. Tim praised my writing and caused me to think about hanging out a ‘shingle’…aw, I’m just kidding, of course. In writing this book I used one of my characters, a lovely lady retired from the CP ranks. In the book, Prentice becomes her chat-mate and friend in the ‘care center’, and I can blame her for any awkward mistakes I made as a part-time amateur ‘Clinical Psychologist’. Dr. Tim’s review of the book meant a great deal to me. He is also a fan of my many fictional novels about the evil and perverted minds who inhabit our dark shadows of living.
I’m providing my ‘Forward’ and an opening poem entitled ‘Mirror Images’…I also end the book with another poem I wrote along my vagabond way. I’ll include that poem as well, but you have to read the ‘red-meat sections’ which I am promising, you will enjoy. Actually and obviously, it would delight me for you to read about this life’s journey of a ‘happy-go-lucky’ fellow who, well, who just does not wish to grow up. It would doubly please me if you would read the memoir and give an assessment, uh, a review – that’s the plea. Just by chance, there are ever loving Amazon ‘buy sites’ for you to skip over – unless, of course, you can handle some darn good literature, that being, The Cracked Mirror – Reflections of an Appalachian Son…of which I’m rather proud… Well, I’m proud of all eighteen books I’ve written that are not gathering dust, and there’s no chance of that happening. Amazon is not going to print a copy until the book is ordered. But, then, you already knew that…
FROM THE ‘FRONT MATTER’ OF “THE CRACKED MIRROR…”
FORWARD
Here’s what I think I know… It’s all for you, this stuff you’re writing here. It’s all for you, ‘cause you think writing ‘bout it is going to make it right!
The mistakes! Now’s the time to make your mistakes.
You’re an old withered bastard who can’t hurt anyone anymore. Not much, anyway.
You made your mistakes on the young…when you were young. Your mistakes affected you and all those you hurt – for a frigging lifetime. ‘Then’ was the time NOT to make your stupid mistakes! Make all the mistakes you want ‘now’. It don’t matter none now. You can write it all down, all of it, and see those mistakes you made, but all that fancy writing won’t make it right!
Guess what? You can’t change anything! There are still the people you hurt. There are still the things you did. And, God may forgive you. Past loves may forgive you. Your wife may forgive you. The kids may forgive you. Friends may forgive you. But, know this, the one person you need forgiveness from the most can’t forgive you, won’t forgive you. It’s the person you’ve hurt the most, dammit! 
It’s yourself, poor country-misty hollow boy! It’s you, poor simple sum-bitch!
(A bum on the road to nowhere…from the ghosts of Chetwode)
AND:
Mirror Images
I once looked at men like you,
old men, frail and haunted…
That was when youth declared
that I would live forever.
How hard it was to see then…
how easy it is to see now.
Life was moonlight and promises…
So soon came ecstasy and joy.
When did it get this late?
When did the tree sap harden?
Where is the gold I sought?
Where is the key I held?
Why is the day no longer long?
Why does morning come so late?
What is the mystery to solve?
What day the reckoning?

BR Chitwood

THE CRACKED MIRROR: REFLECTIONS OF AN APPALACHIAN SON

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When Dreams Collide

-Image by: Johannes Plenio – Unsplash-

When Dreams Collide

It was early AM. Darkness still ruled the night, and the dream I was having collided with an aberration, a rather obediant traitor to my sleep on occasion.

Many of my dreams are bleak and dark, depicting scenes of me trying to reach my kids, my mother, my wife for some urgent reason…an example might help me here:

My aged and infirm mother, having finished her day job for the day, is walking laboriously with bags of groceries up a sidewalk in a big city. She is also caring for my children, and I’m rushing to reach her, to help her with her bags of groceries. I’m also worried about my young children, arriving home from school and finding no one home…

So, I’m harried in a hasty rush to reach my Mom and help her with the bags of groceries, but I keep finding my way blocked by some crazy twist in the dream – I’m on the wrong street… I’m out on the outskirts of town, trying desperately to find my way back to the city, and a speeding train is coming toward space that I must cover to reach the city… There are also scenes of the kids, about to end the school day, but it is a bizarre dream laced with anxiety, fear, and desperation. 

This sort of dream comes to me here in Twilight, and I can make a certain deductive reasoning for the dreams, to remind me of something, to make me feel guilty, to mostly agonize about the grayish tone of the dreams…

So, I awake. I’m all fuzzy in my head. My cat, Lady Gray, is at my side in the darkness, obviously concerned about me, with either talking in my sleep or my movements. (I’m thinking she’s prescient, in my life her form but an embodiment of my Mom…) Okay, call me loco en la cabeza.

Anyway, I stroke Lady Gray’s soft furry back and whisper, “It’s okay, Sweetheart.” As my eyes venture in the dark toward the end of the bed, I think I see Julie’s face in the deep gray darkness. “Julie!” I yell.

I hear a weak reply. “Are you alright?” I yell.

“Yes,” she replies.

Then, it occurs to me to pat my side of our kingsize bed and I feel the lump, the lump that is Julie already back into her sleep… Julie can sleep with the best of sleepers – even, standing up, she has informed me.

A few minutes pass and I decide to get up and dressed. I want to see if I can capture this nighttime episode in a blog…you’re reading it.

While alone with my laptop I’m wondering if Julie might be worried that I’m… Well, I’m not, but I did cry a little when I read an ‘I Love You’ card she sent to me before we retired for bed last night.

Thanks for the audience. I had to get this out of my mind.

Who the hell needs ‘reminding’ they are getting older?

They know.

They feel.

Into the ‘knowing and feeling’ creeps memories and a life not all bad, but, certainly, the edges are frayed.

Life is still great here in Twilight.

BR Chitwood – November 2, 2019

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And, The Beat Goes On!

And, The Beat Goes On

And, The Beat Goes On is a colloquial expression not heard so much today, and, yet, it says so much. Somewhere in all areas of the world someone’s heart will stop beating. In those same areas, a baby is born, And, The Beat Goes On…rather fundamental truth of life, so why make a blog post out of this one-time hep phrase?

In the darkness, the body splayed out for repose, and the mind is tossing out to you these nuggets of redundancy – Doctor’s appointment tomorrow, Pest Control guy coming tomorrow, ‘how do I get back on track with my new piece of writing? SciFi, no less! Am I in over my head? New genre? New characters that have noble goals? During the marathon of thoughts pounding within your brain, do you ever reach over your body, place a thumb just above the left wrist and feel for a pulse? Ah, the beat goes on.

Okay, nutty professor! Why make a blog post out of, And, The Beat Goes On?

Hey, I’m thinking of the right answer as I write. This is one of those, ‘Pick a Phrase’ and run with it. How am I doing so far? DON’T answer that!

Well, the way I had it figured, living here in Sunset, I was ahead of the curve, living maybe beyond the time I should be joining Mom and ‘Clarence’ – Heaven’s Bell Ringer – up there where angels dwell… Yes, I’m an angel in a gosh-awful earthly disguise!

Now, I must not get started on Angels because I’ve known in this long span some really beautiful women angels who made the beat faster and louder… I digress (but you don’t know for how long!).

Anyway, I figured I was way ahead of the curve, when I’m watching these beautiful 97-year old, 103-year old, World War 2 vets at the celebration of D-Day in France. On Utah Beach and Omaha Beach that fateful day, our American casualties were in the tens of thousands. For the really young ones not very likely reading this, these guys and more like them belonged to the Golden Generation. I was around as a ‘pup’ during those days, had an uncle who was a belly-gunner on a B-17 at Hickam Field in Honolulu during Japan’s surprise attack on a Sunday morning in December. Those B-17s were part of the Flying Fortress that dropped more bombs during WW2 than any other airplane… It’s my prayer that the younger generation will read of our proud history, find out how dear were the cost of lives for our freedom and liberty…And, The Beat ‘Went’ On.

The Beat Went On from WW2 to Scientific and Technological advances that make the head spin. Our human knowledge at the end of WW2 doubled every twenty-five years. Today, human knowledge doubles every twelve months, and it will soon be doubling every twelve hours. Oh, yes! The Beat Definitely Goes On!

Now, when anyone cares to know, this old author-fart – oops, heart. has gone through a hellava lot of beats. And, may I remind everyone of another major point of this fantastic post (he says with tongue pressed in tooth-gaps on either side of the jaw) – NOT both sides at once! The Reminder? I’ve written eighteen books and one shortie with my stylistic wonders – samplings of my Flash Fiction, Short Stories, Poetry, and Book Excerpt. It’s about time you readers out there buy and read a few of my books and leave some Amazon reviews – Do Not Be Embarrassed To Leave 5-Star Reviews. I’ve instructed Amazon not to accept any rating lower than 4. Just saying! Amazon is saying: “Hell, Son, you’re not getting hardly any reviews, so don’t be telling us how to do our jobs!” Okay, sorry, I spoke without thinking, Oh, Mighty OZ of the book world! Ah, what the heck, they’re nice folks over there at AMZ’s place: they let me publish my books, warts and all. Oh, and need I remind you, ‘git ta buyin an reedin’! Then, the beat will go on!

I’m now working on a SciFi novel, having fun with it, and it’s still several months out there… It’s about three young business partners who find their zeal for fishing on the Sea of Cortez yielding more that Groupers and Blue Fins, in fact, world-changing yields. I’m having fun writing it.

Well, I guess the point is made: And, The Beat Goes On…

BR Chitwood – July 2, 2019

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