My Conversation With Jacob

A Conversation With Jacob

Jacob is my imaginary friend, but he is real to me because he is my resource for living. Today we are sitting on the long deck of my log home, watching the squirrels scurry through the trees, up and down, and all around. An occasional bird drops by as if to say hello and/or to warn the squirrels of some danger nearby… This is the beginning point of my conversation with Jacob.

 “Jacob, why is it that I’m rather fascinated by the activities of squirrels and birds?”

“You give me too much power of comprehension, BR. That’s okay because I know why you give me that power. You want so much to figure things out for yourself, to allow for a natural flow of understanding to come through your own mind…”

“Okay, Jacob, you’ve reminded me of that time and again…just answer my question.”

“Well, of course, I remind you time and again and that is because you seem to be in some haste to find answers which should be obvious to you, yet you seek confirmation from me, your alter ego and closest ally.”

“There you go again. Please, just answer the question.”

“You are looking at the squirrels and the birds to find meaning for your own life. You know that it is September and the squirrels are busy gathering their provisions for the winter. The birds stop by to neighborly check on their progress and to determine when it might be best for them to venture south… Now, ask your bigger question.”

“Okay, Jacob, how am I connected to all of this? And, stop being flippant with me.”

“Being flippant was not my intent, BR, but you must admit it’s a bit ‘squirrely’ when one has conversations with himself… Your connection to all of this? (Ah, a squirrel just skittered down a tree – see it, BR?)”

“Of course, I see it… You couldn’t see it if I didn’t see it!”

“Very good, BR! I’m truly attached to you.”

“You were saying about my connection to all of this?”

“Your connection to the squirrels and birds and all living things with which you come into contact is that ‘Cogito – Ergo – Sum’ thing. You think, therefore you are. You stand and walk where you walk and perceive, react, and assimilate information. The squirrels do so as fiercely as you do. They do what they do to exist – a rather simple truth, don’t you agree? The bears, bees, butterflies, cats, cows, dogs, eels (shall I run the alphabet of living things?), they all do what it is their species do and have done ad infinitum. You are the so-called ‘higher order’ so you make the world more complicated because of that ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ thing. You think things to a point of obsessive behavior…”

“Well, sure, we think. We also get to the moon. We get to Facebook and Twitter, to super sonic jets, to big cities with all the playthings we want. Our knowledge is doubling so quickly that we’re defining and re-defining ourselves at warp speed. Are you telling me we are moving too fast, not fast enough, or, we shouldn’t be creating all the digital wonders?”

“No and I’m reasonably sure you already know that. You did forget to mention that we create ways to destroy ourselves, the big blast thing that’s nuclear. (Remember Charlton Heston at the end of one of those ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies where ‘Lady Liberty’s’ head and torso are half-buried in the beach sand?) All I’m saying is we are doing some things that just naturally come with all our smarts and ingenuity, and that’s good. What bothers me (ergo, you) is that we might very well be forgetting our hearts and souls. In this mad dash for making our lives so much digital and decidedly easier, are we just becoming cold and detached to matters of the heart and soul? And/or, is that the way this existential thing works? Is that really what these squirrels and birds are making you think about?”

“You know me so well, Jacob. Yes, I suppose that’s it. We think. We love. We procreate. We work. We fight in stupid wars. We pay taxes. We die. Is that dying part marking the final exit point of our existence? Do our souls transcend the darkness of dying and really go toward the bright light of eternity and God? Do we reincarnate and get another chance? Is there a God? Is all we see, feel, hear, sense, just a one-time thing?”

“Ah, the most deliriously captivating metaphysical enigma of every age! Do you believe the squirrels and the birds concern themselves with these questions? No, I’m sure that you don’t. They appear to be simply instinctive robotic like creatures that cyclically repeat their actions from one generational pool to another. Do they think of mortality matters, afterlife, and reincarnation? As humans, I don’t suspect that we think they do. Do the mad dictators or corrupted leaders of the world who lead us into wars think of mortality matters? Do people of runaway ambition, avarice, greed, hatred, have pious thoughts? At age twenty-five, did you perhaps think you would live forever, that life stretched out before you like a road paved in gold? Ah, the age-old conundrum, which came first, ‘the chicken or the egg’! Infinity is a thought that mortals cannot wrap their minds around.

“Your questions have answers, depending upon the humility of your soul, BR. Do you look at the stars, the planets, the moon, the sun, orderly galaxies and imagine that they achieved that order by a ‘big bang’? Do you watch a sunrise and sunset, the rain, the snow, the falling leaves, and imagine that there is simply a natural order to such things? When you hold the one you love and experience the supremacy of all ecstasy and joy, do you wish you could stop your world and live forever in that moment? Do you ever think about the magical nine-month period of human birth, of the intricate and delicate patterns that must be formed for life to begin? Do you simply believe that there is but the purpose to live and to die, that during the living, the world is a stage to perform your acts?”

“Okay, okay, I’m getting a migraine! William Wordsworth was right, ‘The World Is Too Much With Us.’ I want to believe, I will believe, that a supreme being made this spinning orb and that I have a chance to leave something of worth behind when I leave it. For ‘it is dark to die, and I fear that I still wish to be’. A good friend wrote that line as he and a war buddy lay in a fox hole during one of our wars. With all my doubts, insecurities, my loves and dreams, I must believe, have faith that Ecclesiastes 3.1 has meaning for us all, Everything Has Its Time. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die. I believe, too, that others have faith, and some do not. It is my way to respect the views of others while it is not always possible to do so.”

 “So, the squirrels and the birds brought all of this about?”

 “Well, yeah, pretty much, I guess. The tea was good, right, Jacob?”

 “Now you know I don’t drink tea… I only listen to you and repeat everything you think… By the way, why is it you’re calling me Jacob?”

 “Ah, you don’t like Jacob?”

 “You expect me to answer that?”

 “Are you reading my mind?”

 “You’re reading your mind!”

 “Okay, I’m calling you, Myopia!”

 “You’re losing it!”

 “Funny! I was just thinking that!”

 “Please, give us a NAP! You’re driving us crazy!”

 BR Chitwood – December 25, 2019 (‘Archived’)

 MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2020!

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Reflections & Projections

Reflections & Projections

Lincoln Town car garaged after its five-day high-speed drive across country, now ensconced in style on epoxy flooring in a laved and lush environment…I could almost hear it sighing as I turned off its soft purring motor. This remarkable beige metal beauty reminds me on those occasions when a ‘new car itch’ settles in for a spell, reminds me of all the miles we’ve accumulated together, from Arizona to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico where some years were spent in a most desirable latitude for Sea, Sun, and Writing, then, back across the Sonoran Desert into the US  for the long trip across country to the beautiful states of Tennessee and Kentucky where the land and its people are generous with their hospitality and caring…where more years were given to writing and allowing my Appalachian ‘back stories’ to collide with the new realities in my life PLUS gather some somber bits from my past to hopefully add sustenance and passion to my narratives.

My life for the past thirty-odd years has been an urgent call to write, to present a record of my existence, to somehow through fact and fiction delineate my segmented journey through space and time as accurately as I can… It is as much for me as it is for my good wife, our wonderful children, and for modest and nebulous book-keeping. On and between the lines my fingers have gouged into print is the essence of my life…emotions shared, many of which the heart and soul of me can still shed tears of regret, too unappealing for readers’ consumption. I have served proudly in the United States Navy, enjoyed a small college atmosphere for learning, made quality-friends, some who have been claimed by the Grim Reaper. My mother, my father, and my sister have passed, and perhaps the broken pieces of our lives can be mended in another dimension.

I have just completed my nineteenth novel, my first attempt at Science-Fiction, and I’m happy with my effort. “Serpent Rock” is an epic battle between Good and Evil, as three enterprising young businessmen find more than their love of fishing on the Sea of Cortez in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. It was an enjoyable writing experience for me, and I can hope that readers will have fun in reading the book. If you like Science-Fiction, if you like fresh writing, if you like thrills and chills, welcome to the pages of “Serpent Rock.”

Many of my books have fictional narratives but are relevant to actual crimes. For example, An Arizona Tragedy A Bailey Crane Mystery -#1 of 6 was written in memory of an actress friend of my wife and me who was brutally murdered many years ago. The killer is still out there as Phoenix PD still works the case from its ‘cold case’ files. This young model and mother of two was missing for several weeks and finally found in the NE desert area near ‘The Mayo Clinic’s’ current location… With a fictional narrative, I wrote the book with as much as I could glean from scanty evidence – not the fault of the Phoenix PD, as the body and possibly vital evidence was taken by the torrid heat of August and the denizens of the desert. In my fictional account of the case, Bailey Crane solves the homicide, but this novel has not a clue as to whom committed this horrible crime, although the newspaper accounts of the crime were pored over for a certain amount of accuracy regarding forensics and other details.

The other ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ 2-6, with Book 3 an exception, are also fictionalized but taken from actual crimes.

My other thirteen books cover the genres of mystery, suspense, romance, memoir, a small dollop of fantasy and history.

BR Chitwood – December 24, 2019

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ArizonaTragedy3D

I’m Back

I’m Back

*

Back to the open spaces,

Some sense of rebirth,

A yielding to memories –

Some vivid and beautiful,

Some with a winsome

Message to an old man

That softly pulses with

Echoic resonance not

To dwell too near or long…

*

Back to re-capture the

Essence of primordial beauty:

Relentless sunshine, cacti,

Sagebrush and new age

Wonders on a timeless soil

Where great cities speak

Of innovation and change –

Ah, the wonder of this

Capacious and wondrous land…

*

Back for my final days of

Wonder and impetuous desire

To capture yet what it is

I am to possess with the

Written words that come

From nascent recall and an

Errant vagabond’s whispers

Of regret, of promise, and

Of enduring Love.

*

A Poem by: BR Chitwood – December 10, 2019

*

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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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In the Dark of Night

-Image by Mathew McQuarrie on Unsplash-

In the Dark of Night

Sleep eludes me on a nightly basis, the tossing and turning a much too familiar motif, the lyrics seemingly a ritual that has haunted me for so many years, I can almost hear the imagined violin’s soft, undulating rhythm.

This malady stretches long into the night. Hours pass, and my body seems to be rejecting me, near an imploding crescendo, until, in a mad tossing of bed covering, I rise and take a long shower.

I allow the harsh shower stream to pound my body as I sit curled on the tiled seating shelf assessing for the millionth time my life, my brief brush with some modicum of fame and glory, but, more self-indulgingly, my southern heritage and the early bucolic years of my existence.

This midnight maudlinism, this mushiness of a grown man, is captured by a wry grin of acknowledgement and a mere nod of the head in the darkness.

It is a large 8’x8’ steam shower, but I only use the shower’s sharp thrusting streams to quell my mawkish musing, and, to some small extent, it is quelled.

I open the glass shower door, turn the light off, and sit for some moments in the humid enclosure. My manic mind is still active as I consider once again the chance for sleep.

It is in those ultra-quiet moments that an epiphany comes…write…write about your feelings, your thoughts. Let that be your saving coup.

I’m about to rise when the sound reaches me – a sound that resembles a weak roar of a power drill. No, not a drill. Just a metronomic sound like an energy of some sort being applied to a part of the house…OMG, like, someone trying to break open a door.

Still wet and dripping, I almost slip on the tiled shower floor getting out of the enclosure. I don my pajama bottoms and stand at the large opening into my master bedroom.

The sound comes again, a bit louder this time…

It’s difficult to isolate the area of the house from which the noise is coming. Is it the cellar? The back door? The front door?

There is an abatement to the noise.

I sit on the edge of the bed, lost in listening.

Tippie won’t be home until Sunday. She flew to Arizona for a family wedding. I begged off going and stayed home. My body cannot withstand the hustle and cacophony of crowds of people in an airport, some rushing, bouncing into others to catch a flight they’re late for ‘check-in’. Arthur and I cannot abide too well crowds of people…another issue of my manic mind.

I sit on the edge of the bed for several minutes, take some deep breaths of the cool air. The sound does not come…has it simply been an anomaly of sounds in the night?

I return to my ‘undercover’ sanctuary for sleep but more often ‘for distressful thoughts’, turn on my right side to try again for Sandman’s visit , adjust my head to the pillow, and try to direct my thoughts to Paradise Island in Nassau – a memorable trip for Tippie and me early on in our marriage. Atlantis has become one of our favorite memories – along with an NCL cruise with our kids.

Finally, there comes that roar-sound, this time much more prominent than before in the shower. It sounds like it’s coming from the upstairs guest bedrooms…not the basement.

Again, I leave my bed, grab a flashlight from the bedside table and slowly move to the hallway, into the front foyer, and softly climb the winding steps of the ancient and beautiful staircase…circa 1800’s.

The sound stops upon my rising from the bed. Certainly, my quiet movements cannot  be overheard by a potential burglar.

My gosh! Do we have ghosts who can discern our moves?

Okay, not rational, but with age comes the return to childhood where realities are not always so real.

I make my way quietly up the stairs…no squeaking of the stair steps. At the top of the stairs I turn on the flashlight. We have five bedrooms for family and guests on our large home’s second floor.

No sound.

I go quietly on bare feet down the hallways and shine my flashlight into every room, bath, closet, and there is nothing. No sounds. No evil of any kind awaits me.

Downstairs again, I inspect the den, the parlor, the sunroom, the dining room, the kitchen, and every inch of our master bedroom, closets, and bath. I also check all our back and front doors…locked, secured.

I am stymied.

The sound has not returned.

Just a dumb oddity? It must be. The house is thoroughly inspected in my own Detective Clouseau way.

Back in my King-size bed, my sanctuary, I again reach that point of drowsiness where sleep comes.

The damned roar-sound comes again, like feet stomping down the upstairs hallway.

“What the hell is going on?” I mutter to myself.

I take a few more deep breaths.

The roar-sound stops.

I wait…

The sound returns.

I take a few more deep breaths.

The sound stops.

As I sit on the edge of the bed, the thought comes to me: It’s your own heartbeat you are hearing.

Okay, I have MES, the acronym for Musical Ear Syndrome. My ear doctor informs me that little is known about MES, but I am not to worry… His diagnosis failed to report that a loud roaring of one’s heart is heard quite often in the wee hours.

It begins to make some sense to me. When my music isn’t playing in my ear, my heartbeat can entertain me.

Well, it was some sort of relief. Thankfully, there were no thieves in the night…

Then, again, it’s kind of scary to hear your very own heart roaring loud and clear like hoof-beats in the dark of night!

What a great life! All these wonderful little anomalies I’m learning about.

BR Chitwood – November 14, 2019

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Love

Photo by Filipe Almeida on Unsplash

Love

Love begins with a flashing flicker

Of a dormant heart

Awakened to belonging:

An awesome sense

Of the heart no longer

In search of a home.

Love ignites ambition and wonder

To a world freshly

Awaiting lively minds

Teeming with ideas

Of new and noble creations.

Love moves lives

To a glorious plateau of forever.

So long as Love

Can be sustained,

Succumbing not to greed

Nor evil powers,

Love is All

And

All is Love.

*

A poem by BR Chitwood – November 12, 2019

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You Are

You Are

*

You are the butterfly

That flits furiously

Inside this reckless heart…

You are a soft song

Of love I cannot

Find the words to convey…

You are the pages

Of a romance novel

That tremble with passion…

You are a Paris stroll

On the Champs Ėlysées

Amid sweet scents of Summer…

You are all the wishes

A humble fool can beg

When you are away from me…

You are all my thoughts

Merging, anticipating,

Your arrival home to me…

*

A poem by BR Chitwood – November  5, 2019

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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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Her Eyes Held My Heart

Louvre Museum in Paris, France

Her Eyes Held My Heart
*
It mattered not my direction
Her soft mysterious eyes
Followed each step I took
Until my heart gave pause…
Until I stopped, turned, and
Faced a hint of smile she gave.
*
Not just a smile held me bound
In some exquisite thrall whose
Spell I wished not to break
But her face held me there…
Her eyes seemed to hold many
Secrets, or, were they desires?
Her lips spoke to me of other
Wispy dreams unfulfilled or
Too long delayed or forgotten.
*
Her raven hair fell easily with
No discernable salon-style.
I stood now in front of Her,
This wondrous Objet d’ art
Where countless others eyed
This marvel of Art and History,
And, perhaps, as I do now,
Fall in love with Mona Lisa.
*
©BR Chitwood – October 20, 2019

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