The Power Merchants

Just released this month, here is the first book review for 

The Power Merchants

A Novel by BR Chitwood 

Book Review by John Dolan (Wordsmith estraidinaire)

Rating: 5-Stars

by Diogenes

Author Billy Ray Chitwood is at his best in this tale of lawless adventure.
Most of Chitwood’s books that I’ve read so far deal with themes of crime, individual purpose and romance, but with ‘The Power Merchants’ there is a political message to the story that I don’t recall in his other works. But of course, this being a Chitwood novel, a healthy dollop of love interest is never far away. This time the main protagonist – advocate Bradley Bennett – finds himself falling for the platinum-blonde police officer Penny Sawyer amidst the surrounding chaos of corporate skulduggery, illicit sex, corruption in high places, the political elite, and rampaging hit men. (In a nod to the present day, Chitwood even throws in Covid-19 for good measure.)
Highly recommended for lovers of action novels with a large helping of romance.
 

Hope you will buy and enjoy this latest novel by Billy Ray:

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BR Chitwood – May 31, 2020

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My Writing Style & Substance

My Writing Style & Substance

by BR Chitwood

For the record: I’ve written twenty books, many of them fictional but based on actual criminal events and my intent was to use as much of the true data about the event, that is, the crime itself, forensics, police data, some author-embellished narrative pieces of media accounts of the crime(s); I’ve written stories of love and romance, mixed with mystery and suspense, some with historical backgrounds, science fiction, some that had fanciful moments; finally, I have written two memoirs that convey my life’s journey – warts and all – and some of that bio-stuff doesn’t embarrass me in the least, though it might have during the time it was occurring, with its romantic and nomadic relevance, my ‘searching period’, as it were.

For anyone who might be interested, number twenty-one’s first draft is getting closer to its second draft, and, maybe, a possible third, yet, by then I can promise myself and anyone there will be no fourth.

‘Style and Substance’ can be a heavy couple of issues to put into a blog post, daunting for the guy writing about S&S, to hold readers, and other writers rapt with some really fancy finger-tapping on the laptop with a plethora of high octane words and phrases describing what those two Esses mean to him.

Might as well add gambling to that romantic and nomadic above, ‘cause I’m going to try’…

For me, Style and Substance in my writing has a rather simple explanation that covers three areas: 1) Plot(s); 2) Pace; 3) Resonance. Mind you, I said I was going to try…what I mean is, I’m not writing a dissertation for a Master’s or a PhD … that’s way out of my league. I’m a pedestrian writer who once taught Advanced Writing to high school seniors who were on their way to college – bright kids who, in the beginning scared hell out of me with their beautiful minds. Those were the days when there was a shortage of teachers, and school district superintendents would hastily make decisions on first impressions, particularly if the ‘good-looking’ guy sitting across from them had great cum laude college credentials and an AB degree.

(Smile, your hyperbole niche is on display…)

*

Generally, I believe most writers believe they do their phrase-turning and word choices as well as authors turning out ‘best seller’ novels…several names of author-friends of mine come to mind, but I won’t dwell there. The fact is, with millions of books printed every single year, and millions of writers who join the horde – see my first sentence in this paragraph. (Talk about ‘glut’ in the market.)

Add to that the seeming aura of mysticism from the publishing world – a la, how to write a ‘query letter’, how to(s) up the grommet from the arcane council – I know, sounds rather like I’m unduly bitter.

Basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that, for me, writing is my therapy – sort of, like, writing becomes a ‘private session’ with my own personal Shrink.

Bottom line, do not stop believing in your ability as a writer. We perhaps never get published, but think about what you leave for your children, family, the few loyal followers, and, who knows, some well-known authors have found publishing homes after all their allotted orbits are complete.

Onward to my enlightening ‘3-course words of wisdom…’

Plot(s):

That parenthetical (s) means to me there are likely a number of sub-plots that will come into play when all is written and final edited…If I’m writing a ‘Mystery/Suspense’ novel inspired by actual crimes, I want to be true to all aspects of data connected to the case via local and national newspapers, special police information, evidence, forensics, television, and library microfiche.

For example, my fictional narrative, “Daddy, No!” of last summer’s true and tragic murders of a Colorado mother and her two small daughters (ages, 3 & 4) by the father/husband. That terrible reality stewed in my mind for some time, and I finally had to write about it.

The first few chapters set in motion that tragedy, those merciless and mindless homicides, but my major fictional story-line covered the ‘Life in Prison time’ that the narcissistic SOB would spend in a bleak and dark Colorado prison…time the killer had not officially started at the time I began writing the book.

So, I opened the book with what I hoped would be a vivid and truthful depiction of the vicious homicides, presumed demented reasons behind them, and the raw and awful evil of a monster.

The remainder of the book, fictional in the narrative, deals with the daily prison time and my own FICTIONAL plans for the beast that could kill so easily.

Pace:

Pace is very important and it is an almost inherent trait in a writer, an ability to keep the reader locked into your words and phrases by the tenor and tone of your narrative voice.

I believe, I hope that I’ve grown in this important aspect of writing. Going back in time and reading some of my early prose and poetry, I can in my mind see the growth in my writing pace. Whether my muse teases me with banal platitude or not, I’m reminded of Edgar Allen Poe’s assertion on the banality of awkward praise: “a passage of platitude which no critical prejudgment can force us to admire.”

*

Do I think pace can be achieved by writers who are devoted to growing and becoming better at their craft? Of course, I do, even, those Writers who will not be talked away from their lofty writing dreams, not even when acclaim and the denouement of a huge publishing house contract finally arrive.

We many writers believe in our skill to turn a phrase, to make words near-musical to readers’ ears, and many of us give-up the fight and return to other dreams. Most of us stay the course and find therapy .in our writing. I know that I do. My long bony fingers will have to be pried away from the laptop when my scheduled passage to another adventure calls me away.

Pace – Pace – Pace. Give it all you’ve got. Fill a line and paragraph with power words and images to keep the reader turning the pages of your book

Resonance:

In the background of the scenes in which you put your characters, good and bad,  are the readers’ hearing the music in their minds you’ve created with your words and images? Are your words in your lines and paragraphs building to crescendo? Are they keeping the readers eagerly turning pages to see what comes next on the ensuing pages? In the next paragraphs and chapters?

No, no, don’t leave! Tis but a ‘play on words’.

If you will, remember one of your favorite all-time classic movies, say, Gone with The Wind, or, Sound of Music. Do you remember how the music so beautifully built the scene you were watching? How it brought tears, laughter? How it resonated with you?

If the scene you are writing portrays two in love having a disagreement on some issue until it builds to an intense anger, have you turned the phrases, used your colorful word power, and created the appropriate music for the reader to get the full impact of the scene?

(C’mon, man, music is not part of the writing ‘gig’.)

 

(Okay, just give me a moment to get over my ‘hurt feelings’…okay, they’re over.)

Some kind followers of my writing have indicated there is a literary flair to my prose, and I’ve taken the remarks as a positive reinforcement meant to encourage me to go on and continue to grow as a writer. I like Classical Music with my ballads, so that might account for the ‘literary flair’.

Of the soon to be twenty-one books, over 400+blog posts, poetry, songs, some I humbly believe were worthy of traditional publishing. They are all self-published, and on Amazon and other sales channels.

Finally, I am generally a Pantser, with some Plantser leaning. After I build my good and bad characters with the attributes that come to me, I allow them to create the paths I am to follow – with options to change the course in later drafts. Always, I try to remember the music playing in the background, blaring trumpet, tenor Sax, and soft violin…and I match the words of my players with the music I hear in my mind.

What? You didn’t know?

Well, before you laugh it out of your system, give my idea of resonance a chance. Think of it as focus hocus-pocus if you must, but, be daring, try it, and watch the word count grow.

I’ve got a book to finish.

BR Chitwood – April 16, 2020

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One More Romance

One More Romance

1

The mirror does not lie, my man.

You carry baggage under those tired blood-shot eyes…

There is a gathering of whiskered skin under your broad chin that droops and resembles a small mountain range. You cut your own hair which is a mixture of salt and pepper, and it

can only be okay if you deny your eyes their vision.

Your six feet of height has trouble extending its length in a straight line so you walk with, shall we say, a slight hunch.

Your paunch is not a serious distraction but one that still falls on the negative side of the ledger.

All the years maintaining a milk-chocolate tan has left you with weird vein anomalies and liver spots.

Now, to the serious, most troublesome aspect of this body-check, you claim, hell or high water, to have one more romance, complete with all the fun of night life and sex. Yet, you some days ago conveyed to me that your penile pleasures are few and/or truly non-existent. You confide that beautiful women still ‘turn your motor on’, that you can still get an action-erection, although ‘not as large’ as in the pre-Peggy days of yore, likely, more information than I needed. You also asked about a Penile Prosthesis that inflates and deflates.

Yes, Chuck, they do exist, and, they work, from the studies I’ve read. However, as your friend and Physician for years, I need to ask you a question:

Are you having fun with me? Or, are you absolutely losing every damned brain cell in your head? You’re in your seventies, for God’s sake.

Settle down, good Sam, don’t strain your heart. I can still play a game of golf and beat you by ten strokes, and you’re a young ‘fart’ of 69.

It’s true I don’t move as well as I would like, but when I shave in the morning that mirror shows me the same angular face I’ve been shaving since getting myself too old. With Peggy gone, I’m alone and I’ve got money stored for the kids…that’s important to me. But, here’s the ‘bugger’, I see some of these sexy ladies in their forties, fifties, sixties, even, seventies, and, well, I get to feeling like getting out there among them.

Sure, people can laugh at me, think I’m nuts, senile, laughable, but what the hell do I care. I’ve got some time left. I want to fill that time with beautiful women, wine, and song…

You ever been in one of those ‘homes. Sam, nursing homes, retirement homes, whatever? Well, I checked those places out and can tell you they are not the way to ‘go out’. Oh, they build those homes with beautiful lobbies, nice hobby rooms, dining rooms, library-reading rooms, television rooms, all with the goodies that add to the paunch, all colors for the lovely and modern looks.

But, dammit, Doc-buddy, there’s one thing those facilities can’t hide, and that’s the look and ‘body carry’ of the people living there. They know their time is up. The reminders are always there in front of them, to the side of them, behind them, hell, all around them. There are old men, old women, sitting in their wheelchairs in front of the television soap operas, with their heads lolling over on one of their shoulders, napping and drooling their lives away.

That is not for me, Sam. I’ve been a romantic, a vagabond, a nomad all my life, a lotus eater, and, damn tooting, a faithful womanizer of the first cut. That’s the way I am going out.

Oh, I won’t be boozing it up like the old days. I’ll have to extend my recovery periods and every move will need to be better calculated. Will it shorten my earthly existence? Will it stretch that existence out further? There’s only one source Who can know that, and you and I are both on his team. This is not in any way an insult to my Deity. It’s more a ‘thank you’ for the joy of living.

I’ve been anything but perfect in my time here on the planet, and weakness in certain areas have been with me since my journey began, but I believe my God knows the kind of heart and soul I have better than any of my nay-saying detractors.

There does come a time, good Sam, when a person sees a broad flash of light, feels an uncommon nudge, just knows the best path to be on…

Damn, Chuck, you kept me awake with that little sermon. You’ve always had that special jewelry you wear that brings you right out into the open. Guess it’s a combination of things – your smile, your cute way with the English language, your good looks that can still show a youthful stride, easy comforting words, and… Oh, what the hell, let’s go have a one-martini lunch and I’ll get you started on your road to glory – or perdition.

 

 

2

The low lighting served well for my initial quest into the nighttime bar scene. The Princess Hotel Lounge and adjoining Restaurant were still two of the most popular and most frequented spots in the Phoenix area, and this would be my first visit there in several years. Some of my old oats were sown here as my mind frolicked along that bygone avenue of thought. It was often that Peggy and I came here after a Phoenix Little Theater play, or, a movie, or, for drinks.

The sad Peggy-thought was somehow a mild negative intrusion but soon passed as I quickly became comfortable in my old haunt. I noticed very little change in the lounge. It was still easy for my mind to consider it the finest in all of Phoenix. But, then, I had been absent for some time. The Throne Lounge now seemed larger with more cozy booths and tables added.

My favorite spot, The Piano Bar, was still in its place, and people were already occupying most of the cushiony stools surrounding the large bright and shiny piano. The big round Fishbowl for tips still sat smack in the middle of the Grand musical instrument – already half-filled with the color of greenback money.

Awkward routines swirled in my brain – just take a seat at the piano bar, have a primer or two of your favorite cocktail elixirs and you will ‘lift-off’ and an old energy will return.

Yes, I felt comfortable in my skin and my camel-hair sport coat. I felt the powder blue shirt and navy-blue slacks, black loafers, and healthy dabs of Aramis would generate some attention my way surely. Cleanly shaven and my grayish hair cut short, I felt I had done all that I could possibly do on my gala opening night of Singles Search.

Back in the day I was tedious in my stage craft. When I entered a cocktail-lounge I did a subtle 360 of the room to determine where my many seating options would provide the best vantage point for my playful purposes, where I would best be positioned for my potential romantic conquest.

Oh, I can imagine a reader’s mind going off in hasty, pre-diagnosed, and generally negative thought patterns…My only possible rejoinder? Most movie fans watch a film with a bag of popcorn, or box of Raisinettes, or Bon-Bons? Part of the fun is in the planning of the ‘romantic night out’, reviewing old search patterns… I’m not talking evil ‘criminal intent’ here, more like, ‘hide-n-seek’.

So, without belaboring or enlarging the point beyond its easy recognition, there were some pre-conspiratorial thoughts given to strategy for my evening out. No one would know I chose the vacant stool near the most lovely pianist and singer, billed as, wait for it…Lady Gwendolyn, for the purpose of staring across at my target of the night who was sitting on the other side of the piano next to Lady Gwen.

The also lovely fortyish cocktail waitress came, smiled sweetly, raised her eyebrows, blinked, complimented my dabs of Aramis as it being her very favorite of colognes, took my drink order,

left, and made a fast return with my Manhattan on the rocks and another sweet smile. Her name tag said she was Debbie.

Could Debbie be hitting on me?

Oh, come on, you old lecher, she’s working for her tips!

Sitting, sipping my perfect Manhattan, I listened to Lady Gwen’s lovely voice singing, I Left My Heart in San Francisco. She kept glancing my way as she sang that song – was there a message there? Of course, you Simpleton. She recognizes you’re a dinosaur.

Hey ‘Alter-buddy’, this is my first night out. Cut me some slack.

Finally, the woman in lavender pants suit across the piano bar gave me a glance. But, then, I saw that she was motioning for the cocktail waitress to bring her another drink.

Into my second Manhattan, I started feeling the old me coming out, singing along with the crowd at the piano bar, really enjoying the moments, now noticing people looking my way. ‘Hell’s bell’, maybe I was singing too loudly. Naw, they were smiling.

In any event, I was now part of the group, talking to people, feeling that old me coming out little by little. Lady Gwen liked me so well she handed me the mike and ask me to sing a ballad – yes, I was now into my fifth Manhattan. To add injury to insult the whole lounge broke out with applause. Damn, they like me…booze does some strange things to people.

Debbie left me a note on the back of one of the napkins with the delivery of a sixth Manhattan.

My target in lavender was not giving me the attention to bolster confidence in approaching her for some coffee and me at my residence later.

Then, the evening gets a bit fuzzy for me…but I remember the good parts…

 

 

 

 

3

The morning came with shocks on many fronts.

The first shock was my head. It felt like a bag of hammered snake shit! And, please, I don’t know from whence that came.

The second shock came when I turned my head-quakes and eyes to my left and found Debbie’s long lovely blonde hair spread across a pillow with a sweet smile on her face.

Okay, yeah, now I remember but I thought I had been dreaming.

Debbie smiled sweetly and leaned on an elbow.

How’s your head, Chuck? I’ve made coffee. Can you handle some java?

She rose from the bed, started off toward the kitchen, and yelled back.

You’re quite a lover, Sweetheart.

 

 

OMG. I thought I was dreaming it all, the long sweaty, wonderful duration, and the amazing coda. Wow. Wow. Wow, and, one more Wow.

Debbie returned with coffee and some donuts.

Krispy Kreme donuts. How did they get here?

I went out and got them. You don’t like Krispy Kreme donuts?

Yeah, I love them. My tummy likely needs two or three of those puppies.

Puppies?

She looked at me with squinted eyes.

Ahh, just a dumb qualifier word some people use to explain almost anything…mostly, old people who don’t have some sense of modern jargon.

Puppies. I like it. Well, here, eat some of these puppies while I tell you how wonderful I think you are – and not just in bed, but all the way.

Okay, what does ‘all the way’ mean?

I squinted my eyes as I chomped away on a Krispy Kreme.

It simply means you are a great guy in all respects. And, just so you know, I don’t say that to all the guys I know.

All the guys? How many guys are you seeing, Deb? Okay if I call you Deb?

Yeah, sure it’s okay. Deb is fine. I didn’t mean it to sound like ‘I sleep around’, Chuck. I’m not so free with my body as that, but I know when I like someone instantly and they prove me ‘right’.

How did I prove you right, Deb?

 Into my second donut and coffee cup almost empty.

It’s a ‘feeling’, Chuck, like, last night, I saw how you react to people, how people react to you. Plus, you’re also a handsome man.

Hold on now, if you’re going to call me names…

Oh, be quiet, and eat your donut puppies. You’re the kind of man most women want in their lives. I could tell all that in the Throne Lounge last night, and, one other thing…

She hesitated.

And, ‘one other thing’, meaning, what?

‘One other thing’, meaning, I’m not after you for any darn commitments. I know a good man when I see one, and, for however long as the two of us want to hang together now and then, I’m all for it.

Look, Chuck, you don’t look your age, but I bet I could come close and, I’m sure you could come close to my age. So, we are not ‘spring chickens’, sweetheart, and it’s nice to know good guys like you are still around. I’ll just say it, I’m hoping we can maybe make our coupling last a spell. I lost a husband and father who was top-shelf – lost his life in that Mid-East struggle that just keeps going on and on. It took a while, but I finally began to live again.

I’ve got two sons and a daughter, all grown, living in different places, and we’re very close… You had enough of my gab?

I love your voice, Debbie, and what I’m lying here and wondering, ‘how the hell did I get so darn lucky my first night out since Peggy died’. Peggy was my wife of some years…

So, to make sure I’ve heard you correctly, you would like our affair to last a while, not so much as ‘exclusive’ and ‘honor-bound’ as it is honest on all points. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, Debbie, and if I’ve said those words badly, I’m sorry.

One last point, it is no secret that you and I have some years between us. I’m in my seventies. You are more a ‘spring chicken’ than I figured. I don’t want you for a caregiver, waiting on me and waiting for ‘Charon the ferryman’ to haul me across the River Styx. I want to be as alive as I can be up and until that time comes. I’ve slowed down a might from the yester years, but I want to love and be loved. I figure that’s a rather natural feeling to have – it is at least for this old geezer.

So, sweet Debbie, I love your honesty and I’m hankering a bunch for you to crawl back in this bed so we can replay some recent moments, and, then nap for a few hours… By the way, I’m all in with your analyses of where you’d like to see us go.

You feeling ‘up’ for that crawling back to bed line, ‘spring chicken’?

Quack, quack, quack, you ‘old rooster’. Let’s just cuddle until the spirit moves us into other areas of exploration.

You know, Chuck, that Deity of ours must look upon us with good favor, and I thank Him for the beauty of you in my life.

Amen to that. Now, please, get into bed…I don’t want to lose what I’m hiding from you.

 

 

 

 

4

Those stories narrated by the Old Testament scholars, kings, holy men, and prophets are rich with anecdotal truths, fallacies, and great love affairs.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting this itsy-bitsy tale of Debbie and Me can stand up to those early Christian tales of love and lust. Why, they can make King David’s actions for the love of another man’s wife seem somehow proper and near-sacred. You remember, King David sent a woman’s husband off to a war for killing so he, the King, could romance his wife.

No, I’m sure this love affair of mine will not necessarily be so sanctioned by society, but I see some turned-up noses coming my way from a few morally and uppity folks. Now, there is no way on this earth I can, or, want, to justify my way of life to a judging community of Nabobs – the word just came into my mind, and when a word checks in with me I will not offend it by changing it. A few of my uppity neighbors the past few days have been overtly rude to me and Debbie, and I don’t like it – not even a little bit.

Hey, this is the twenty-first century. Living in this informational and ‘warp-speed delivery of knowledge’ generation, one would surely think the snobs, the wiser and holier than thou Nabob representatives of life’s intelligence gathering would have learned that my own screen-blips of living does not have to match their screen blips of living. One would think that august group would chill out and not deliver their Victorian nuance-judgements.

Their holier-than-thou attitudes does eat at my conscience. I do not like dwelling on the societal stuff that irks me but it’s there and I live with it. I’m a Christian and I believe my life has a right to play out the way it’s intended, and it won’t be altered by those Nabobs, those who got wealthy in India and went home to England or some other country and flaunted their wealth and ‘do good mumbo-jumbo’ blathering to others. I’m stretching it a bit, but I like the word, Nabobs, so it stays.

What all those ‘do-good’ people living in my community would be better served in doing is minding their own business. I don’t mind them not returning my unsolicited ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ greetings when strolling in the neighborhood. It’s that wrinkle of the nose and strong guttural harrumph noises they make in their throats.

If my neighbors could visit for some minutes with Debbie, they would see what I see in her, not only her physical beauty but her world view. In fact, I’m suddenly stunned as if my mind is flashing the information to me for the first time.

Debbie is so much like my Peggy. Damn, the thought just hit me.

It’s like I’m just being dumb struck with facts I never considered. Now, my mind is reeling off the similarities – her stature, her pretty face with the cute dimples, her hair blonde and coiffed just like Peggy, her cute mannerisms-seem to mimic Peggy.

OMG, have I been dreaming and walking in my sleep? Has some truly remarkable, miraculous coincident occurred in my life that I have failed to acknowledge?

Why am I just now registering these facts?

Have I used a ‘defense mechanism’ against my knowing these truths? Why is my crowded mind now pounding out these reality-checks?

I picked up the phone, dialed the number I’ve used through the years for comfort, release, and a good game of golf.

I did not need a ‘Hello’ from the wise and old curmudgeon who answered my call, but I got a reasonable facsimile of one.

This better be good, teeny-bopper chaser. This is my afternoon off.

Yeah, yeah, I know, good Sam, and you were sitting there just waiting for my call… So, get on over to the ‘Club’.

While I’m giving you an 18-hole golf lesson, I’ll tell you something remarkable that is taking place in my life.

Oh, glory-be, I can hardly wait. I’m on my way and if you’re not there in thirty minutes I’m giving you a full-treatment, very painful, rectal exam and billing you for two of them.

Ouch. Do you talk to your other patients with such vitriolic torture-talk?

Since you mention it, ‘Vitriol’ will be added to the foregoing rectal procedure…anything else you would like to add?

Of course, I always get the ‘last word’. See you in fifteen minutes. We tee-off in thirty…

 

 

 

 

5

After hurried tee shots on the first hole, good Sam was in a good mood…he out-drove me by twenty yards. Rushing always affected the flight of my tee shots, but, at least, my good friend and family doctor was in a good mood.

Aw, Chuck, you’re off today. I must be close to two-hundred seventy yards down the fairway. Looks like I got you by some forty-fifty yards.

I love it when you start on the first hole with your good humor and exaggerated chatter, Sam. Get in the cart, and I’ll begin my ‘good news’ report.

Anything to spoil my good drive of 3-hundred yards…

Now, it’s 3-hundred yards? Are you going to ‘talk’ that golf ball into the hole for an ‘Ace’ on this first par-5 green? I’m in such a special mood, I might let you get away with it.

Your mood says it all, Chuck. You met a lady of the night some days ago, and you’re on a ‘high’ I’ve not noticed in you for some time. It pleases me, and it also concerns me as your doctor and good friend. This kind of quick-fix replacement of Peggy worries me for your emotional load.

The golf cart chugged down the first fairway as I breathed deeply, smiled, savoring the words I was about to say to my best friend and doctor.

Sam, my good friend, you are sharing this blue-sky afternoon with a man gifted with a special second lease on life. You are correct. I met a lady, not, of the night, but, during the night, and this remarkable event reawakens within me something miraculous and divine.

You are meeting Debbie tonight at the club for dinner. If you’re the wise family doctor I think you are, you will find her everything I’ve told you she is.

Sam, she is so much like Peggy, and, no, I’m not putting lace trimming around that honest statement of fact. You will see for yourself tonight, and she knows you will be there with Charlotte. I’ve told her all about you guys, and she is anxious to meet you.

Sam birdied the first hole, went on to beat me by five strokes after 18-holes.

Sipping beer on the ‘Nineteenth Hole’, Sam gave me the words I wanted to hear.

Well, not because of my beating you for the first time in our long golf history together, but for finally hearing and seeing the Chuck I’ve known for years back among the living, I’m going to do you a favor…actually, two favors.

Good Sam put a grin on his face and held it there until I finally spoke.

Okay, Sam, I’m biting. What are the two favors?

Thought you would never ask… I’m cancelling the ‘Rectal/Vitriol Procedure…

That’s only one favor in my way of counting, good Sam. Are you going to sit with that smug smile stuck on your face? What’s favor Two?

Doc Sam took a large swig of beer, puckered his lips in a peculiar way, and said:

Can’t live with myself. Just have to tell you – I fudged on three golf holes: hole number six, my ball was ‘out of bounds’ – should have taken a two-stroke penalty; hole number twelve, I kicked my ball out of a sand trap before you reached the green, but gave myself the par 3; the par-5 eighteenth hole, I didn’t par. I double-bogeyed. My second shot went into the water, but I kept it to myself.

I sure hate mentioning those dirty little secrets, but it was mostly for these moments to confess. I had to gloat for a little bit.

We’re still golf buddies, right?

Sorry, Doc, you’re buying dinner tonight, but I do still love you…I knew you would own up to those three holes. You know, good Sam, you’re not very good at being ‘sneaky’!

*

Short Story ©by BR Chitwood – 01/25/20

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Darkness and Insomnia

(Image Art by Andrew Neel – Unsplash)

 <*****>

Darkness and Insomnia

By BR Chitwood

*

Sleep waits with me until

Insomnia might mercifully

Quit its nightly routines,

The tossing and turning

Becoming an unbearable

Stir of stupid body scenes.

*

How to position my hands?

My head? My legs? My feet?

My brain goes hither and yon.

The grandfather clock ticks

Off its steady pulsations

As thoughts pound on and on.

*

Now, I sit in my Lazy-Boy

Typing out my wariness

With words that rhyme.

My head begins to nod,

Drowsiness comes to tease,

Off again to bed I trod.

*

Again, beneath the covers

My body comfortably in

Tune with my mind,

The damned cat pounces

On my naked form and

Decides it’s time to unwind.

*

A Restless Poetic Effort by BR Chitwood – October 4, 2019

*

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Corrupted Memory

Corrupted Memory

*

Through the worn pages of a simple Past

My slow and labored steps wander

With memorable moments no longer

Relevant or necessary to invoke,

Always to return to Now, this moment,

Passing as I breathe and wonder…

What was it all about, these cluttered,

Fanciful swipes of frivolity and time?

What Muse am I to discern follies and loves?

The mere poetic nothingness in the more

Noble distribution in years of memory?

Still, the mind continues its laborious stroll

Down through the trough of Time

Beckon me onward down these dusty paths

To the utter halls, I fear, of Madness.

*

BR Chitwood – September 12, 2019

*

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Who Am I?

‘Collecting restless moments…’

Photo art by Henk van de Goor (Unsplash)

 

Who Am I?

A mere presence of blood, bone and flesh,

Collecting restless moments of time and

Memories in a swirl of delusion and desire…

A damaged derelict recording with all the

Misspent nights of neon lights and wonder,

In Bacchus search of some nebulous Nirvana.

A casual fool of vacuous vector shaping images

Fraught with a dilettante’s dribble and dash

For a delectable dalliance in Delilah’s domain.

Who Am I?

A Mockery to the wise and worldly. A clown

Dressed in gaudy colors, shouting his foolery

To all who would listen in the Devil’s Den.

Who Am I?

Surely by now you must know me!

Who Am I?

Come, sweet damsel,

 join me in a drink,

 and I shall tell you all!

 

-Billy Ray Chitwood – August 12, 2019-

 

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Believe

©Believe

Believe in the miracles inside you,

Have faith in the God who shapes your dreams,

Walk tall, to yourself be true.

 

Abide obstacles strewn along your way,

The nagging naysayers of folly,

In confidence walk each day.

 

Should not your wishes find

Fulfillment at the journey’s end,

Look skyward with peace of mind.

 

You have given in honest measure

That most noble part of your tender soul

And, in reward, heaven’s treasure.

 

So, believe in wonders yet to be,

Passing through life’s many gates

On your way to eternity.

 

©Believe

 

©Billy Ray Chitwood – August 6, 2019

 

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Dream

Photo art by Aaron Andrew Ang – Unsplash

 

Dream

 

To dream is to escape!

To escape is to free yourself!

To free yourself is to disappear!

To disappear to visit your Soul!

To visit your Soul is to create!

To create is to dazzle your senses!

To dazzle your senses is to be bold!

To be bold is to be new with yourself!

To be new with yourself is to view life on your terms!

To view life on your terms is to give the world a piece of you!

To give the world a piece of you is to go beyond imposed limits!

To go beyond imposed limits is to find a magical you!

To find a magical you is to give expression…

To the magical you!

In a chosen Art!

Go beyond imposed limits!

Show a piece of you!

On your terms!

Being bold with the new you!

Dazzling even yourself!

Creating what you find beautiful!

Calming your soul with your creations!

Disappearing in that new, free, world of Creation!

Escaping the world’s mock-up and foolery!

In those dreams to which you have escaped!

A marvelous revelation that comes for your salvation!

To Dream is to live and escape the surly bonds!

There, high above the clouds of reality and Man-made truth!

 

B R Chitwood – July 14, 2019

 

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©The Chameleons

©The Chameleons

By

 Billy Ray Chitwood

 

Beware, the chameleons!

 

They’re everywhere…

 

Classified as ‘highly specialized clade of Old World’ lizards’ adept at changing colors to blend into different environments, but I’m writing here about the human ‘chameleons’, that deceptive and manipulative breed of seemingly common folks who can play and often prey on our good, honest, and innocent Homo sapiens.

 

Take the case of Jeffrey Bullock and Catherine Santos…

 

Now, it is true that Jeffrey is a handsome man with a Grecian face punctured and set with blue eyes and an automatic upper and lower lip that can be in turn persuaded to change with the course of a conversation. Those blue eyes and remarkable lips can turn a conversation into a thing of academic beauty, with his alternating simulations of eyebrows, eye intensity – or, lack, thereof – in sync and on pitch with every word conveyed by and to him. He is without question a master in the art of listening and speaking. Jeffrey is also a pleasingly muscular six-feet height, his smooth ‘copper-tone’ complexion virtually glows in any light, and his body-fat repellence completes his ridiculously excellent physique.

 

It is likewise true that Catherine is a beautiful lady, her long auburn tresses with a lovely flow below her shoulders, her eyes as green as the verdant rolling hills of ‘The Emerald Isle’. Her body is a molding befitting a Goddess, and she too has that copper-tone skin so devastatingly delicate that surely makes her apparitional and beyond any earthly description. Her voice is like a box of music that issues forth a softness of melodious and mellifluous sounds to hold captive any male suitor or enviable and doting female. Catherine stands tall and glorious at her five feet, eight inches, making all shorter men want to kill themselves, the taller men, salivating and ignominiously servile.

 

These two would-be Mythical-like Grecian Deities ostensibly meet on the first afternoon of their ten-day luxury cruise in the Caribbean Islands, she, apparently finishing a ‘jog’, coming to the pool deck bar for a thirst quencher of vodka-tonic, accidentally stumbling, spilling her newly acquired libation in front of our aforementioned Adonis who is enjoined in conversation with another pretty young lady much too young and naïve for any kind of Adonis bonding.

 

In a believable, gallant display of nonchalance and brevity with the young lady, Jeffrey stands from his kneeling position and apologizes vigorously to the modestly attentive Catherine who turns and returns to the bar for another vodka-tonic. Following, insisting on his buying her drink for his knee-bending chatter with the young lady, Catherine shakes her head negatively, and speaks with a near timorous response. “No, I can pay for my own drinks. It was a simple accident. No harm done. Thank you for offering.”

 

Her drink order fulfilled, she brushes past Jeffrey and finds a seat in the middle of chatty sunbathers.

 

The sunbathers are a steady hum of noise and many eyes are following Catherine’s moves, either, openly without deception, or, with. In truth, no one can reasonably fault the onlookers. Catherine Santos is a rare beauty among so many who could be counted among the simply, beautiful. She sits alone for some moments, staring at the enormous cobalt sea that stretches as far as the eyes can see. Only the most daring of handsome men would seek an entrée to Catherine Santos…only Catherine would know the loneliness that came with her incredible loveliness.

 

Then, there is one qualifier that makes a fool of many men, perhaps, in more ways than one. That Qualifier is alcohol – drinking alcohol, that is. A most reasonable sequitur from that conclusion is an imbiber with too much juice running through his veins will find enough courage from a ‘high’ on booze to enter that world of beauty and glamour. Three such inebriates approached Catherine Santos there by the pool, the last of the three causing quite a stir and an embarrassing security escort back to his cabin and his sober wife. The first two sobered fast, left Catherine’s presence meekly and was soon gone from the pool area – either, losing a buddy bet, or, embarrassed by all the snickers in the crowded pool area.

 

Though her drink was only half-finished, Jeffrey brought another drink to her table and requested a brief chat. To the crowd, Catherine showed a nod of ‘no’ and a solemn but pleasant enough dismissal. Yet, he lingered briefly with something said that made her smile. Then, he left.

 

Later, sumptuous dinners were served in a cozy, softly lit gourmet restaurant that only served those passengers who had purchased that cruise option. The wealthier cruisers preferred the more intimate personal service given at The Golden Interval in lieu of the big dining rooms with hundreds of people vying for service. Romantic violin music played slow, delicately even strokes just beneath the conversations in the lovely adorned Crimson and Gold room.

 

Among the diners was Catherine Santos. She sat alone at a small table, conspicuous in her attempt not to be so, dressed in a lovely rose-colored sarong, her beauty accentuated even further by the simple hint of roses. Also, there seated some few tables away was an attractive couple in their forties, smiling, being amused by none other than the charming Jeffrey Bullock. The couple had been poolside earlier in the day to witness the farcical Jesters in their sophomoric attempt to woo Catherine.

 

Jeffrey finally noticed Catherine and stopped abruptly in his monologue. “Please excuse me, Reggie and Deb, would you mind my inviting a lone soul to join us – that is, unless she would prefer being alone?” The couple smiled and nodded an approval.

 

Jeffrey rose and went to Catherine’s table, but was back in very short order and announced to his two recently met friends, “The lady prefers to dine alone and I’m reluctant to admit my embarrassment.”

 

“Don’t be embarrassed, Jeffrey,” was the quick and cheery reply from Deborah Weeden, wife of Reginald, aka, Reggie.

 

“It’s her misfortune, my boy. We enjoy your company. In fact, after dinner, we hope you can attend with us the ‘Special Art Auction’ on Deck Seven’. There are to be some recent original oils by Evan Sloan Glasgow in various nouveau and original ‘scene-sets’ and some Landscapes, Seascapes by Luther Blankenship. We would really enjoy having you with us at the auction…”

 

“Unfortunately, I was not invited. I understand the auction is by ‘Invitation Only’, though I thank you so much for the thought.”

 

“Bosh! Jeffrey, we’re inviting you. We can bring anyone we wish. You will come with us. I shall pull ‘age-rank’ on you, young man and treat you as we might our own son… Now, one more Gibson before dinner. The food is quite marvelous here, Jeffrey, as you might already know, and the Cabernet will add to the overall enjoyment of our meal.”

 

Deborah added to Reggie’s command, “We are so glad we met you, Jeffrey, in the gaming room earlier. By the stack of chips in front of you, it appeared you did quite well for yourself. For some inscrutable reason, I love gambling on these cruises…something about the sea, I suppose. But, then, that’s part of the fun of ‘Cruising’, gambling, meeting new people. I know Reggie and I have continued friendships with those we’ve met on our many cruises…”

 

So, the three talked through their dinner, nodded to Catherine as she had to pass their table in exiting the Golden Interval. She smiled sweetly to Deborah and Reginald but barely acknowledged Jeffrey.

 

One hour later, the trio exited the glass elevator on Deck Seven and entered the ‘Private Invitation Only Art Auction’. Seating was arranged by name of attendees and the comfortable chairs were given numbers to match the guest roster. Some thirty-one people were in attendance for the auction and these were without doubt the wealthiest of all passengers on board.

 

The big surprise for the dinner trio was the presence of Catherine Santos at the auction. She was seated just behind the three new friends. With a quick phone call, Jeffrey’s name was added to the attendance list and seating next to his two new friends was arranged.

 

There was a buzz of anticipation in the small crowd, and the noise outside the auction room was audible but not disconcerting. Deck Seven was given to Art Auctions, a Library, Fast Foods of various sorts, and, for the runners, a jogging oval set apart from the strollers.

 

As a result of the ‘Art Auction’, the Weeden couple winning bids bought them a rare and beautiful Luther Blankenship Seascape extraordinaire, a Glasgow ‘Still-life’, and a magnificent Glasgow ‘Lake House’ oil painting, leaving the attendees agog with the colors represented in the painting. Jeffrey Bullock was impressed with the artist-minded couple with whom he had spent the evening. Jeffrey bid a few times but dropped out when the bidding became too formidable.

 

As fate would have it, the same was true of Catherine Santos. She seemed to desperately want the Glasgow ‘Lake House’ oil but was outbid by an elderly lady in the back row of seats, who was herself, ultimately outbid by Deborah Weeden.

 

At the end of the auction, Reggie turned to Catherine Santos and asked her to join them in their huge and high-end expensive suite. Catherine surprised the group with an affirmative response.

 

The opulent suite had a garden area along with its four plush rooms and a large outer deck for night-time sea-gazing. Both Catherine Santos and Jeffrey Bullock commented on the suite’s beauty without too many lavish-laced phrases. It was not lost on the hosts the carefully worded praise of their suite. It was indeed a formidable penthouse of the Sea, and the group enjoyed their time together. Before the consumption levels reached near the foolish folly level, Catherine was the first to leave with gracious utterings and sleepy eyes. Ten minutes later, Jeffrey left the suite, with a ‘glow’ and gratitude for a fine evening.

 

Before the partings from the suite, the group promised to meet next evening for dinner at the Golden Interval.

 

*

 

“So, what do you think? Is it a ‘Go’ or a ‘No Go’?”

 

“Of course, it’s a ‘Go’. Why else are we here?”

 

“Just asking…there are times when you feel uncomfortable. Just making sure you’re good with the ‘mark’.”

 

“I’m good with the ‘mark’. Did you see something I didn’t see?”

 

“No, not really, just that I can smell a ‘con’ a mile off, just…”

 

“Just, ‘what’?”

 

“Well, the guy is talking some ‘investment scheme’ which is a ‘scam’ but he thinks I’m a big hitter with millions. I’ve got him thinking the investment scheme sounds good and something I might be interested in. I’m playing along like it’s a possibility, plus I told him I was in a winning zone at the casino tables. He thinks I’m going for the investment scheme, if not during the cruise, then, at a later date.”

 

“So, what’s the problem?”

 

“You are my problem. I love you, and I don’t want you getting hurt in all of this. Do I think the guy is dangerous, like, a killer? No, but I need to feel that out just a bit more before committing to the scam. I’ll sleep on it, but Im 90% sure at this point. She’s making a big hit in the casino, and I mean BIG. I stood behind her, and, in just those few minutes, she pulled in more than three hundred grand plus. Those winnings will be wired from the ship into an already huge account. She loves gambling on Cruise ships. Don’t ask me, why, because I don’t have a clue. People are funny in their gambling habits. I do know she wins on the sea and she keeps coming back. We get paid off when the ship wires the money to her bank.”

 

“We can’t do it if you’ve got the ‘feeling’. We agreed at the beginning – if we are not 100% sure about a ‘mark’ or something seems weird, we don’t go on.”

 

“Yeah, I know. Let me sleep on it. If the feeling is still there in the morning, we pull it off the table. And, yeah, I know, this might be the biggest ‘hit’ we’ve ever made…and, the last. We’ve got to get serious about our future.”

 

“Why won’t you tell me how you got the wiring transaction numbers on this mark, and, how does it work?”

 

“Because my source knows nothing about you, and I intend to keep it that way. You don’t need to know the operation. It would make you much more vulnerable. I can tell you it’s a simple system that cannot be traced back. We get the money wired into our proxy account and no one knows us and how we did it. It’s a new untraceable electronic wiring program. I couldn’t tell you even if I knew how it works… By the way, I believe our new-buddy thinks I’m either gay or a misogynist.”

 

“And?”

 

“And, what?”

 

“Are you one of those things?”

 

“What…! I’m going to give you a good spanking, lady! Stop giggling and tell me you don’t harbor thoughts like that.”

 

“Well, I’ve been told…” There was playful chase in the limited space. “Stop tickling me, you brute! You know I’m kidding… Stop tickling…”

 

“Gonna behave?”

 

“Yes, master!” There was one more tickle and the playful activity was finished. “Seriously, Sweetheart, make me a promise: can this be our last gig?”

 

“Yes, most definitely. It’s time we began enjoying the fruits of our labors…”

 

More playful activity came, but this time it was sensitive, soft, beautiful.

 

*

 

Four ports of call and ten lazy, lovely sunny days on the briny, the cruise ended in Miami, Florida. In that time Jeffrey and Catherine had become seemingly very close. In the eyes of new friends, Reginald and Deborah Weeden, the sparkle and spontaneity that their Cruise play pals gave off indicated as much

 

The Cruise Ship’s speakers announced disembarking instructions while both Jeffrey and Reggie left the ladies and luggage in The Garden Suite to visit the Chief Purser for the settling of their bills.

 

On the pier, there were hugs and jolly goodbyes with promises to get again together for another cruise, or, simply to visit each other. There seemed a most sincere bonding of the group, and each couple looked back in their strides to wave.

 

“Nice couple, really. It seems…”

 

“Yes, very nice…don’t go there. ‘Sorry’ is a miserable place to visit. Just remember, they were after what we have. We just beat them to the punch.”

 

*

 

The door slammed making her jump with fright. He called her name and she relaxed.

 

When he walked into the living-room she knew there had to be bad news.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“We have no money, that’s what’s wrong!”

 

“What! Don’t do this…it’s not funny!”

 

“You’re telling me, ‘it’s not funny’? Jeez, you don’t see me laughing, do you? WE HAVE NO MONEY! Zilch! Zero! Account empty!”

 

“But you wired the money aboard ship. How can that be?”

 

“How the hell do I know? So? ‘How can that be’, you ask? There is no money in our account! That’s how it can be! There is no money, period. No ship casino money…no millions we had in the account. NO MONEY!

 

“Maybe, it’s just not in yet! Oh, you mean, the money we had in the account is gone, too? Oh, my God!”

 

“Jeez, you’re dense! Wired money is NOW-money? Yes, the account money and the casino winnings, all gone! Why…”

 

There was an insistent ringing of the front doorbell.

 

“I’ll get it,” he said.

 

She followed him to the door.

 

He yanked the door open!

 

“Nice place you have here, Mr. and Mrs. Weeden. You two are under arrest! Put your hands behind your back. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney…You…”

 

*

 

“You’re serious? You want to get married?” Catherine – real name, Sherrie Malcomb, asked in disbelief.

 

“Yeah, I’m serious,” answered Jeffrey, real name, Gibson ‘Gibby’ Tierney, “Why would you think I’m not serious? You know how I feel about you, and you say you love me, so let’s do it. We have a major chunk of money now for a huge honeymoon – not too gaudy and/or too showy to call attention to us…”

 

“Wait, no one knows it was us, do they? You said. ‘anonymous’ made it known to the police.”

 

“That’s right! Someone ‘Deborah’ and ‘Reggie’ fleeced on their previous cruise. Not to worry, it’s our pay for getting the job done. Don’t you just love a ‘double-con’?!” The two lovable ‘con artists’ enjoy a chuckle and embrace. “So, do I go to my knees to propose, or, are you gonna save me from bruising my knees?”

 

“You’re not much of a Candlelight and Wine guy, are you?” Sherrie smiled, as they embraced – sealing the deal.

 

“I’m saving that for our first night in The Garden Suite, my love…”

 

TaleEnd!

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 11, 2019

 

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Broker in the Pit

My angst was deep like the hole I was in.

Broker in the Pit

The darkness is overpowering, consuming me with its lava flow of sheer blackness, denying my mind sanity, sequence of thoughts, and viable options for escaping this suffocating imprisonment.

What lunacy brought me to this space of horror? (It can occupy my time to explain this vacuity.)

A combination of anomalous events brought me here.

Where is here? When and Why?

The ‘who’ is I, of course, all alone in this dark dungeon of nothingness…my name’s Freddie Cheever.

I’m a jogger. It is my way to stay healthy and trim. Every morsel of food I eat must be assessed for its calorie count and nutritional value. I’m the obsessive jerk people talk about, the guy who takes each aspect of life to its outer limit, weighing on the mind-scale the logical and reasonable factors.

Okay, I had an appointment cancel on me…no reason, just a rude denial of our pre-set meet. I’m a broker, so I’m guessing the lady whose husband just died and left her with all the ‘e-pluribus-unum’ heard rumors about me that were launched by a competitor three years ago. (I’m blessed with fairly good looks and like women – but in very gentleman ways.) Guess one could call me a ‘womanizer’, because, in my opinion, a beautiful woman (in my ‘beholding eyes’) is truly a work of art.

But I digress…

So, I used that aforementioned appointment time with Ms. Snooty to jog. I had no other appointments on my calendar, so I shortened my day, went to my bachelor pad, decked out, drove out in the country to find new terrain for my jogging, found it, parked my Benz, and jogged.

I was into my second mile when I came to a big swath of leaves, and, as I ran through said leaves, I started free-falling downward akimbo and heard above me a slamming sound. Luckily, I landed on my feet – more or less – and badly sprained my left ankle. Whatever the slamming sound it left me in that pitch-blackness that started this narrative. My fall I judged to be some ten feet, but it was the slamming noise that really got my attention, not so much the fall itself.

This was by my reckoning an animal-trap of some kind, and, it was my hope, not a human-trap laid out by some very weird dude or dudes.

Though alone, I was mortified and damned scared. On hands and knees, I crawled the small space, judged the rounded pit’s circumference to be maybe ten feet or more. Its floor was all filled with the falling leaves and likely gave my fall some small advantage. Below the leaves there was just hardness, and all I received from my effort scratching at the surface was a broken finger-nail.

Along the walls of the pit was the same hardness. My guess was that it was either concrete or bitumen. The pit was likely used as a silo of some kind.

That’s when the utter black of the darkness hit me in a mind-chamber that caused me to inwardly flash, like a spasm passed through me.

Did I yell? No, my pit was so serene! Of course, I yelled until my throat pained me to swallow. It seemed that, with that acknowledgement, I was swallowing more often than I could ever remember swallowing.

Okay, I’m there for, guessing here, some three hours. My angst was deep like the hole I was in. I lay on my right-side for a while, then the left-side, on and on.

I did a lot of praying, not that I expected much relief from a Deity I had ignored badly over the years. Still, I prayed, supplicated, pled with tears my eyes seldom used for any reason – well, maybe a really sad movie could bring tears…if I were alone, NOT on a date, NOT in a movie house.

Then, the miracle!

Thought I heard a motor purring above me. Then, no purring of motor. When I felt almost on the verge of ‘flipping out’ a scraping sound came to my ears from above, then a small stretch of sunlight that got bigger and bigger. A gravelly voice came from above – a farmer’s voice, not my Deity’s voice.

“Who’s down there?” the voice sounded almost angry and impatient.

I tried to yell up to my hero, but my voice faltered. Finally, I found a squeaky refrain somewhere in the sore throat and softly sang out, “I’m down here! I fell while jogging.”

“I ought to leave you down there! This is private land, boy!”

I squeaked, “I’m so sorry, sir. It won’t happen again, I promise.”

“Okay, boy, grab the rope, loop it around your middle and I’ll pull you up.”

Did as I was told, and ‘thank you, my divine Deity. You did hear me after all’.

The farmer became my friend – and my client. Tom Simpson’s his name. I’ll never forget what he said to me when I hobbled with him to my car. He bore most of my weight on that short walk.

Tom said to me: “Freddie Cheever, huh? Well, son I have to tell you, you are one lucky fella! I usually don’t come this route. Just decided the last minute to check out this quarter of land. I saw the leaves all messed up, and they stopped at the silo pit.”

Funny how fate works at times. Maybe I’ll start going to church on Sundays.

For sure, I’m going to be seeing Tom Simpson fairly often…he’s a broker’s dream – big spread of land that feeds a lot of people, plus a dairy that yields lots of milk. That ‘e pluribus unum’ I wrote about just a bit ago? Well, good old Tom’s got enough to fill that darned pit I was in.

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 25, 2019

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