Breaking Up

Breaking Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You know what they say!”

“They, being?”

“The smart people of the world…”

“And, how would you know them, Tony?”

“You do that a lot!”

“I do what a lot.”

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

“I put you down a lot?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“There is no way he can know…”

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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Hear My Scream

Hear My Scream

by BR Chitwood – My Archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The time was 12:45 PM.

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

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

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

The next day I looked for work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood (From my Archives)

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*

NOTE:

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

The book: HELL’S MUSIC\

BY Jerry Miller and his fox-hole buddy!

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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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Too Many Gauges

Too Many Gauges

-A Dialogue, PLUS-

 

JH: “Interesting ‘Title’, Billy Ray. Why  do you use that title?”

 

BRC: “Why ‘not’ that title’, John?”

 

JH: “Well, I don’t really know. Maybe it’s nothing, but ‘gauges’ usually refer to automobiles, furnaces, machinery of some sort. Titles of topics should signify interest before the reading starts, don’t you think?”

 

BRC: “Yes, of course, but why would not someone think just looking at the title that it could be probably interesting?”

 

JH: “I said it was an interesting title. I’m just asking, ‘why’ the title?”

 

BRC: “Sure, but you’ve already shown that the title interested you. So, what you’re really asking me is to tell you the ‘dialogue’ so you don’t have to read it, correct?”

JH: “Geez Whiz, Billy Ray, I just asked, why do you use that title, and you’re acting like I broke a commandment or some sacred oath. I mean, it’s a ‘given’ I’m going to read ‘Too Many Gauges’. I’m just asking, ‘why do you use that title’?”

 

BRC: “Okay, okay. What does the word, gauges, mean to you?”

 

JH: “Gauges measure things, like a car’s gas gauge tells you if you’re about out of gas. A thermometer tells you how high your fever is…”

 

BRC: “Right, and you know I would not write something simple like that, and you want to draw me into a long chat about what ‘gauges’ means in this piece I’ve just written, and, you know my ‘gauges’ will be more of a philosophical bent than simple gas gauges and how sick someone might be. You would likely shift into a ‘funny mode’ and want to know if I would be writing about an anal or oral thermometer. It would turn out that my article would become yours. Then, I would have to hide from you and re-write a whole different article. You’re so easy to see through, John.”

 

JH: “Well, would you?”

 

BRC: “Would I, what?”

 

JH: “Would you be writing about an anal and/or oral thermometer?”

 

BRC: “John, you know I love you, but you’re beyond any possible hope…”

 

JH:“Ah, c’mon, buddy, lighten up. I’m going to read your dialogue thingy. Just give me a fast synopsis of your use of gauges in your article. Just, whet my appetite for more, okay?”

 

BRC: “Okay (sigh), I’m in bed, can’t sleep, a toss and turn night, emptying my bad kidneys every hour, and, okay, feeling sorry for myself, thinking about my life and times…why so much romancing and vagabonding instead of becoming POTUS (Yuck! Does anyone really want that job?), the greatest writer in the world, an ‘Oscar-winning’ actor, and/or, just an ordinary ‘picket fence’ guy with family and love…

 

“Yeah, I even thought about you, also like me, playing the ‘Corp Games’, about all your ’Willet Bourbon Intake’, your checking in and out of the ‘dry-out clinics’, your DUI tickets, the shame you carried after spending that time in the ‘slammer’…yeah, you had a tough go of it, John. My heart bled for you – that is, until you took one of my women, after all the lies you told about me. Funny how you’ve stayed together all these years with one of my favorite ladies and the dogs you stole out of the kennel…that really hurt, John…you knew I wanted my favorite lady and those dogs.

 

“Okay, open the fist, John. You know I’m just roasting you because you are a better writer than I, have a better blog than I, prevaricate so much more convincingly than I can (just, kidding). You, John, are  a standard bearer for all would-be ‘gentle-men’, and I love you, Man.

 

“Those were the gauges misread by me, John, those attributed here in this post, the missed opportunities, the chances at ‘greatness’ that I had and never took advantage of – those are the ‘mis-read’, or, ‘did not read’, gauges.

 

“There is some solace in the recounting. While too busy passing up my many opportunities, my life is complete now, with Julie Anne, Lady Gray, and our wonderful children and grandkids. When all is finally written I’ve had a rather fascinating life…

 

“With years left to come…”

 

JH: “You finished?”

 

BRC: “Yep, all done…”

 

JH: “Good. You will hear from my attorney tomorrow.”

 

BRC: “The gorgeous blonde? Or, the wrinkled-faced Methuselah?”

JH: “You giving odds?”

 

BR Chitwood – Feb. 11, 2020

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Now, I Know

Now, I Know

Growing up you get a lot of platitudinal advice on ‘how to live your life and how to settle into Twilight, the euphemism for ‘old age’. You are  smiling while acknowledging all the bromides, like: You’ve reached the ‘Twilight Years’; like, how’s Twilight treating you; like, Ah, Twilight, no more corporate B/S; like, what’s the Tee-Time? Like, honey, can we just stay home and watch movies? (Of course, home/movies are good, inside and outside of Twilight.)

During the school years and on into the early adult years, you thought you were going to live forever.

Would age sixteen ever arrive so you could get your driver’s license? Would the beastly acne be with you for all your life? Why did time move so slowly? You wanted to get out into the adult world and make your marks…on and on, what your parents, your that your beloved aunts, cousins, uncles, grandparents, friends, told you – the ever-Doubting Thomas’ – those lovely platitudes with smiles of love on their faces.

Life’s realities could not touch you. You were invincible. You were going on to accomplish so much in your lives.

Some of you did.

Some of you did not.

So, I’m the living proof. ‘Now, I Know’ those truths.

So, maybe the biggest truth of all is our ‘Deaths’, in believing that this entire chaotic business of living and dying is the unfolding of a higher order, a Deity – God – calling the shots on this thing we humans refer to as, Life.

‘Now, I Know’ those truths?

There is a label much of the world uses for believing that ‘God Calls the Shots’.

Faith is that grand label, and there is a plethora of History, including the Bible, that backs up that label. Some of those historical documents many of us have been privy to in life.

Of course, there are naysayers: those who believe in a ‘Big Bang theory’ of how we all got here on this Planet Earth: ‘Big Bang’, apparently meaning there was a huge explosion in the Universe and/or Galaxy and that created you, me, and all the other living creatures… really, that big bang creating all the wonders that we see: day, night, week, month, year, births of humans and all forms of life?

Well, each of us can make our own decision regarding Faith. For me, there seems to me some statistical mention of probability is in order, unless those arguing against Faith in God believe the Big Bang can claim the very same mystical magic as God.

Well, the only truth that matters, or, un-truth, depending on your own belief-system, must come from the individual.

Because I’m the individual writing this post, I’ll take the gauntlet. Here’s the truth as I came up with it:

I was born in Appalachia in a sawmill camp in bad economic times…you can read all about that if there’s an interest in my two memoirs: THE CRACKED MIRROR – REFLECTIONS OF AN APPALACHIAN SON and/or WHAT HAPPENS NEXT – A LIFE’S TRUE TALE (both books are on Amazon and other ‘buy sites’).

Now, Appalachia gets its share of bromidic tease, and that’s fine with me, but, my religious indoctrination dealt with ‘fire and brimstone’ – ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’, meaning one could not reach ‘The Pearly Gates’ if he/she cursed or uttered nasty words and phrases, had thoughts of sexual encounters, danced, smoked, and other daily routines one might have which could be considered unrighteous.

 It was tough emotionally being a kid in that environment, let me tell you, being conscious every minute, every day of everything you said and did. Well, it was just a scary way to live.

The biggest ‘hitch’ I found to the Big Bang Theory was that long nine-month period it takes for a life to begin. My feeling was always: ‘Whoa, there! That nine-month period of birth had some intricacies that was difficult to explain – just think, that Big Bang debris all settling and making everything what it is today. I just find it hard to accept that the Big Bang could create a baby’s birth, with all its complicated and intricate stages over that nine-month period.

So, I found it easier to accept the idea that a Higher Intelligence brought this ‘thing’ called Life. It also became clear to me that, since no one could tell me in any factual and sensible terms I could understand, ‘how a Big Bang carried all that preciseness’, I was just going to believe, have Faith that God was calling the shots…at least, I had a chance at being correct: if I was right, maybe I go to heaven; if not right, well, I was just going to become dust to dust. So, I guess one could say: “What have you got to lose? One way or another, you’re dead and don’t have a lot to say about ‘where you go’ upon death. It did not cost anything to hang onto Faith.

My guess is that this little romp about life and death won’t have much of an audience, but I feel better about things having written it.

Enjoy your living and try a little ‘Faith’ or a lot of Faith.

Don’t see how it can hurt you.

We all must go sometime.

However, everyone should know this: I plan on being around here for a while yet. I’ve got more writing to tap out on this old laptop, say, until around 2038. I surely hope that does not displease anyone. If it does displease anyone, would you mind terribly keeping it to yourselves?

*

BR Chitwood – Feb. 9, 2020

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Mystical Moments

[Image Art by: Chad Walton – Unsplash.com\

Mystical Moments

Mystical Moments must come with age and consent from a source governed by our Deity’s  genetic wiring, with each delicate connection moving our actions and  thoughts in the direction favored by the Holy One.

How else do the memories of love, life’s failures, successes, and emotional impulses invade our present with their melancholic messages, their poignancy, their Joy, their Tenderness, their regrets and sorrows?

How many of us are blessed, or, cursed, with these Mystical Moments? Is it, after all, a Holy Contest? If so, who are deemed the victors?

For example, what are the rewards, for those who spend their lives in a  world of quandaries and romantic ballads?

Do they get to come back to another life and advance their Holy Standing? Becoming more Holy?

Or, do those who go blithely through this life with easy gaits, maybe some with criminal intent, get to come back to have more Mystical Moments and become more Holy?

But, then, why would one be favored over the other?

Is It simply a Holy Epigram, these Mystical Moments, not worthy of the space given in a blog post?

Perhaps that is the quickest way to rid the mind of any such philosophical meandering, and, for some readers of my words here: they will think this is merely all presumptuous B/S.

However, my Corp-life over and living far too much in my active mind, it is a necessary diversion that keeps me awake too long into the night until the thoughts become all too clearly the presumptuous B/S mentioned in the paragraph above.

BR Chitwood – February 5, 2020

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Books Must Breathe

Books Must Breathe

By BR Chitwood

What is he talking about now?

Yeah, I know, I know, I get an appetite for writing these blog posts when I don’t sleep so well…thoughts churning, mysterious flashes on the mountain-top outside my bedroom window, car lights in the night, wakeful dreaming.

So, what the hell’s new?

A Book Must Breathe???

Well, yeah, for me, a book must breathe…

Have you read a book review where a critic says, ‘a little boring in spots, but, overall, a darn good read’? Even gives it  5-Stars?

The ‘boring in spots’ is the breath of the book. It’s this author ‘laying-back’, putting some flesh on her/his characters, giving them their bodies, their faces, their good and bad ideas, their patterns for living, yet, always, keeping those ‘explosive thrill elements’ a page or two away, giving some semblance of routine, daily regimen to the characters and events…

Now, understand, this is coming from a ‘non-Best-Selling’ author who perhaps sold $175.00 worth of books last year, a writer who does not depend so much on book royalties as do others. I had a ‘Corp-Life’ – such as it was – and left my creative urges to languish behind mahogany desks and a whole bunch of B/S and ‘Brown-Nosing Sycophants’.

I was the ideal guy for the ‘Corp-Life’ as I had developed in those years after Appalachia my own brand of life-preserving B/S and humor – not to mention a ‘girl-chasing’ machine ready for action any place, any time…

Back to ‘books breathing’…

Well, for me, there’s always vital information ‘between the lines of a book’, not only on ‘the action lines’ of a book. Yes, I know most people do not want to be bored with all the machinations of a book’s characters, their dalliances, their bad jokes, their ‘nose-picking’ habits, favorite television shows, back-stabbing neighbors, and those peculiar idiosyncrasies they carry with them to bedevil anyone who comes near.

Well, with me doing the writing, and, not knowing how to sell what I’m writing, I allow that pretty ‘Lady Muse’ to take me where she wants to take me. Being a ‘Pantser’, that’s what I do, kill the readers with the marvelous literature along with the merciless mundanity, giving them the thrill of the action but making them suffer along with me to put clothes, mind-sets on my characters, and, of course, to get the page count at a friendly altitude…

So, now you know…I’m going to write you a savory stunner of a story, usually inspired by some unplugged idiot or idiots who have to show-off their evil ways, and the crafty-crusaders who have a particular hatred for the aforementioned ‘bad actors and actresses’.

Now, in the body of all this lively action and brief napping times, I’m going to throw in some romance, some love tokens, that will balance the narrative and send you to a happy place in your mind.

I’m just saying…if you read one hundred books in this year of 2020, my guess is you will rate my books in the upper half of what you read, maybe, even, the upper one-fourth of what you read… You understand? I have to say this – no one else will.

The movie makers can root out some jabbering here and there in my books to make their two-hour films, but the reader gets the full measure of my ‘swing and sway’.

Hey, a book has to breathe.

Because I suffered with a spotty sleep last night, you few people who still go to my posts have gotten the wisdom and wit of it all today.

Oh, incidentally, my just published Sci-Fi masterpiece is ready for the thousands of sci-fi fans out there who are expected to buy it…

Who the hell am I kidding?

I have included a short link for buying “Serpent Rock,” and please be timely before Amazon  sells out.

Okay, okay, I’m going for a nap…

Unless I fell for a prevarication, there’s a Universal BUY link for:

-SERPENT ROCK-

 mybook.to/my-serpent-rock

0001-4465189116

 

BR Chitwood – February 4, 2020

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Welcome to – “Serpent Rock”

 

Welcome to: SERPENT ROCK

[Excerpt #1]

Chapter Two

The first fish was caught by Conrad, a big one we saw come out of the water, stretching the line and giving our buddy a fight for his life, a fight he could handle. Like even seasoned fishermen do, we were yelling at Conny to do this and that. He was yelling back, a simple, “Shut up. I’ve got this whale.”

It was then our story really began…

The bow dipped in the cool green water of the sea, and Conrad lost his marlin with a broken line.

“What are you guys doing to the boat?” Conrad saw us in the stern where he was, so why was he asking, looking at us like a madman. We were no-where near the tiller.

I yelled at him as I rushed to the bow: “Nothing, Conny. The bow is dipping. I’m assessing, Man. Keep your shirt on, buddy. Sorry you lost your fish.”

At the bow, another serious dip, and this one took me off the fishing boat and into the water.

“What the hell?” I heard both my buddies yell in sync, as they came hurtling to the bow. Just as they arrived at the boat’s bow, another serious dip took me under momentarily and brought them into the water with me.

The bow line was hanging over into the water, and I grabbed it as the water was doing some amazing sloshing.

“Get back in the boat, guys,” I screamed as the sudden noise from the roiling sea was drowning out our chatter.

Conrad and Monroe made it into the boat, then helped me get aboard. We grabbed hold of the bow tubular bars and held on as best we could.

“What the hell’s going on, guys?” Monroe asked Conny and me. “Look. Eddies are forming all around the boat. Whoa. What’s that coming at us?”

Monroe was looking south. Conny was looking north. Me, I was looking east.

“The eddies are forming over here, too, Conny. What?” Conny and I looked in Monroe’s southern direction at the same time. “Oh, my God, what is that?”

There was a huge madly swirling hole coming at us, weaving this way, that way, seemingly, to build its strength.

“What the hell do we do? Hey, guys,” I’m yelling above the roar, “Let’s work our way back to the stern. The bulkhead back there has a stronger support bar. Let’s all gather there and interweave the stern lines around us for support to secure us to the boat.”

Without words, we hurriedly gathered there in the stern, interwove the stern line between and around us. We tried to yell above the noise of rushing water coming toward us.

Yelling at the top of my voice, “That maelstrom is getting bigger as it comes this way, and there are no conflicting currents that I can see and those are what causes whirlpools, but this is a whole new ballgame. The vortex is getting bigger and bigger, guys, and I’m the first one to say I’m scared as hell. I don’t know if we’re going to make this. Just hold on and pray. That thing is almost here, and it’s way bigger than the boat…I love you guys”

We were all trying to say our emotional and final goodbyes, but words were lost in the maddening noise being made by the huge maelstrom. We were lost, and for sure each of us was praying and saying those things guys don’t want ever to say – you know, endearing things one says on a deathbed.

Suddenly the bow of the boat tipped and went into the vortex of the maelstrom, straight down into a fast free fall, and, in the vacuum created by the vortex, our yells became one huge cacophonous earsplitting tone that would wrack our ear drums with an excruciating pain so unbearable as to render us unconscious in a fall of indeterminable length.

[End of excerpt #1]

*

[Excerpt #2]

Chapter Fifteen

We stayed away from Serpent Rock by design. We truly needed to make this trip simply about fishing and relaxing, allowing the beautiful Sea to calm us, rejuvenate us, make us fit warriors again.

Oh, we truly believed in our new Divine mission. There would never be any question about that. The noble nature of that mission far exceeded a mere fishing trip to Rocky Point, Mexico, but, with Conny’s near-fatal ‘car accident’ and recovery, Julie’s and my late-night broken window incident, the ‘Atheist Jerks’ interference, this trip was most definitely needed. A leisurely hook-up with the sea for fishing and assessment of recent events was our excuse, and, we were sticking with it. Hey, we loved fishing. It was our panacea, our escape from problems of all kinds.

The wives planned a Malecon Day to do some shopping, lunch, and ice cream cones, so they were happy doing their ‘thing’. The wives (and kids when with us) were always in on our fishing the lovely Sea of Cortez. The suspicion, however, was that they didn’t like being on the water as much as we ‘Three Amigos’. The wives and kids were sadly prone to sea sickness.

This trip, we were only interested in fishing, beer drinking, and perhaps in finding some solutions to our current problems. We decided to go farther south on this sea trip, so I steered us out to open sea. Soon, there was only a distant horizon forward and aft.

“I’m anchoring here, guys. There’s sea all around us, and I’m in territory that is unfamiliar. We’re already out a bit farther than we should be. Let’s do some slow trolling and see what we hit.”

Opening a fresh brewski I heard a big splash, heard Monroe make something ugly ‘holy’ that people are liable to do occasionally.

“Good gosh, look at that rod. It’s touching the port hull. What the hell do you have on that line, a giant octopus?”

“Guys, you gotta help me, I can’t hold this rod any longer. Whatever’s on the end of this line is not going to be reeled in. Trust me on that.” His face was as red as a proverbial beet – and, not from the sun.

Conny placed his rod into the rod-grip on the aft hull-rim, moved quickly, carefully, wrapped both his hands around the rod just above Monroe’s hands that were turning white with all the blood rushing upward in the bulging veins of his arm.

“I can’t hold it any longer, guys, I gotta let go. It’s killing me.” Conny was now literally being pulled to the bow and would go overboard if he did not let go of the rod.”

“Let it go,” I yelled to Conny, “You’re about to go over the side. Let it go. Let it go.”

Conny had no other choice. He let the rod go flying over the forward port-side of Chavala, and he fell to the deck of the boat while we watched his rod speedily skip for some feet on the surface of the sea, then disappear into the cobalt water.

“Are you all right, Conny?”

“Give me a minute,” Conny managed to wheeze in gaping breaths.

Monroe was also on the deck, one arm propped on the port bench-seat, taking in great whiffs of air.

The Sea of Cortez suddenly became still, its cobalt surface glassy and hardly moving. There was an eerie cast on the water, like a mirror slowly moving in different shades. If a penny dropped on the deck of The Chavala it would sound like a TNT blast.

We looked at each other, a trio of goggle-eyed rookie sailors lost in total wonderment on a silent sea – at least, for that moment.

“What the hell just happened?” Conny asked.

Before an answer came, Monroe spoke, “What’s going on, Sully? Chavala is turning.”

“I know, I’m turning us. It was my dumb idea to come this far south. We’re not sailors, guys, and we should know by now that this sea knows who we are. I have absolutely no earthly idea what just happened, but I do know I’m an idiot for coming down this far south. We’re heading back.”

“I need a beer,” Conny said. “Anyone joining me?”

We three bemused sea rookies joined in with the beer. I was the only mate sensibly sipping. Conny and Monroe were tantamount to chugalugging.

“Take it easy, you guys. You’ll make yourselves sick.”

“I’m already sick. That was a new and expensive rod.”

“You’ve got plenty of money. Better the dumb rod going overboard than you two guys. That, boys, is a yarn that will just keep on giving, each time we tell it.”

I sipped a cold frosty beer as The Chavala headed back north.

“Hey, Guys, what’s with this crazy sea?” asked Conny. “It’s smooth as silk, but it’s rocking the boat…and, what is that forward of the bow, in the water? Run silent and slow for a minute, Sully, and steer toward that object up ahead. You see it?”

“Aye, I see it, I’m heading for it now.”

When The Chavala was close enough, Monroe spoke, “Hey, it’s my rod. What the hell is going on? I’ve finished one beer and started a fresh one. We’re many nautical miles north again, and there’s my damned rod. How do we explain this, guys?”

“It’s a magical sea, fellows,” Conny said with a head shake.

“Hey, guys, it’s whatever fish you had on the line, Monroe, it worked the hook from its mouth or gill and released it. The rod came up and now floats on the sea. That’s my simple, true Sherlock deductive reasoning, boys. Someone hand me another beer.”

When I slowly steered over the rod, Monroe leaned over the port hull to pull it into Chavala, but the rod jerked away from him just as he was about to grab it.

“What the hell?” Monroe spoke in an awe-puzzled near whisper.

“You didn’t get it, Monroe?” I noticed his puzzled look from my position at the bow.

“No, it jerked away from me. It literally jerked away from me.”

“Yeah, I saw it, Sully. The rod just…just jerked away from Monroe, like it was teasing him.”

“Hey, guys, enough theatrics for the day. I likely hit a mild chop wave. I’ll turn, and we’ll get it this time around.”

“Sully, I’m telling you, it jerked away from me, no chop wave, no nothing. It was something under the water jerking it. I swear. I’m not making this up. Conny saw it as well.”

“Believe it, Sully. We’re not messing with your head. His rod just jerked away from him, like a fish or something under the water was playing with him.”

“Okay, then, say adios to your expensive rod, Monroe. I’m not sticking around this area if something funny is going on. We’re going steady north, all the way to the pier. We’ll be able to see Peñasco soon, straight ahead.”

Thirty minutes later at full speed, it was a relief for reasons I do not fully know when we saw lovely Puerto Peñasco on the horizon dead ahead.

Peñasco dead ahead, guys, and I feel better…but, wait, there’s something in the water ahead. Is that your rod again, Monroe?”

Sprawled on the starboard bench-seat, Monroe sat, stared at the site. “I’ll be damned, it is my rod.”

“Engine stalled and approaching. You should be able to get it this time.”

Monroe reached and pulled his rod into Chavala, looked it up and down. There was no line, no hook, just the rod and reel. “I’ve got it, and it’s fine, but the line is all gone. How the hell did the rod get all the way from the point we first saw it? We have had multiple beers, cruising north for over an hour or more. How do you figure it?”

“Damned if I can,” said Conny.

“Ditto,” I said with a head chocked full of questions but no definite answers. “Does anyone think we will ever have another sane fishing day on the Sea of Cortez?”

Conny and Monroe looked at each other, smiled and shook their heads. “Not in this life, maybe next.” Spoken by a true man-fisher of the sea, Conrad Finster.

As we docked at the pier, gathered our beer chest and all other paraphernalia, I asked Monroe: “What’s that stuck on the end of your rod?”

“Hadn’t noticed.” He turned the rod over, stood on the pier deck and looked. “Looks like a seashell with something inside of it.”

“Let’s take it back to the villa with us. There are people afoot here. We can look it over when we’re safely on the deck with a brewski. Wonder what the sea is telling us this trip?” I gave a half-smile, half-frown.

As we walked on the pier, Monroe dropped his rod. Conny and I walked ahead.

“Hey, guys,” Monroe yelled at us, “come back. We are not through with our trip. We have orders. The Shell popped open.”

Inside the shell was a simple message in a lovely script: “Return now to the Serpent Rock. All will be explained…”

[End of Excerpt #2]

*

SUMMARY:

I haven’t given too much away with these excerpts, just enough, I hope, to have you order an Amazona Kindle or Paperback version of “Serpent Rock.” There are many episodic and thrilling moments in this Sci-Fi novel, but that description is given by the author…it is the readers who truly determine the merits of an author and his words. Please read the book and leave your honest Amazon, Goodreads, et al reviews. Authors have a need to know the ‘good and bad’ of their writing efforts and appreciate the time book lovers devote to their reading and their comments.

AMAZON UNIVERSAL BUY SITE FOR “Serpent Rock”:

AMAZON: mybook.to/SerpentRock

It’s my belief Sci-Fi lovers will find this book to their liking and will add “Serpent Rock” to their short list of favorites. The novel is original, conceptually covering some timely issues in a genre that excels in awakening minds to new worlds of possibilities.

Thank you…

BR Chitwood – January 31, 2020

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Living in the Present

Image courtest of: Julien Cavonoli

Living in the Present

Some years back I read an interesting thesis on ‘Living in the Present’, or, perhaps the title was ‘Living in the Moment’. Unfortunately, I ran across my old blog post response to the thesis but not the article itself. Apparently, I was having a bad day those years ago, and I reacted to the thesis, thinking it left out some important considerations. It is likely not too courteous or fair of me to submit my response here to that intellectual document, and, in doing so, allows that my reactions could be a bit ‘over the top’, giving no space for rebuttal, building a case that does not fully understand the total significance of the thesis.

While I could understand the core issue of ‘Living in the Present’, it was a bit too ‘heady’ for me, maybe pedantic and without ‘wiggle room’, because I, too, believe that people do themselves harm by too much dwelling on their past misgivings.

So, it is with this bit of timidity that I present the following, an assumption that the past, the future, and the present all play into our personal historical records.

***

Yes, my memories (that never existed or hold no value?) haunt me and compel me to write my blog posts, my books, my poems, my songs, a round-up of moments in my life that, connected to the genetic engineering, pretty much make me who I am today…at times, euphoric and happy in love; at times, sad and sorrowful; at times, feeling the sharp and unrelenting dark cave of anxiety. How else could I write, project the agony and ecstasy of my characters, narrate a truthful set of words that maybe jump off the page and into the lives of my readers? I could not write of the good and evil had I not lived a life that took me to those places that dictate our emotions, our mistakes, our dreams.

 

It is one thing to say, ‘let go of the past and the future for they have no relevance in the here and now’. It is quite another thing to suppose that people can do that very thing, to forfeit the thoughts of any past event that came before.

 

Was Hemingway writing “The Old Man And The Sea” in his present without benefit of ‘lies/memories?’ from his past and ‘lies/thoughts?’ of his future?

 

What of all the paintings brush-stroked across canvas, all the great works of art, written, sculpted, created, all through some modicum of memory’s glory and pain? Those works of Art live today in our present. Are they lies/memories that we must not possess? It is perhaps the case that brilliant minds of Science, Sports, Business can displace their years with a sweeping brain swipe of the negative parts of their lives, or, they simply were devoted to that one ambition, that only life objective that mattered to them. To them, I give thanks, because perhaps there are enough Romantics and Vagabonds among us to write our poetry and prose of Love and Sorrow.

 

Even with the hauntings and loves of this Romantic Vagabond, these ‘lies/memories’ are the only composite picture that I carry of me. And, I surely miss the all-encompassing and equating points that must surely go beyond just telling folks not to live in the past and/or future, only in the present.

 

That is where it becomes much too ‘heady’ for me. How can it be possible to eradicate a person’s being?

 

It was a philosophical conundrum presented, a pseudo-plaything of the mind: ‘Cogito, ergo sum’; I think. Therefore, I exist’. A tree crashes in the forest – if no one is there to hear and see the tree crashing to earth, did the event occur? Surely, scientists of the Brain cannot see all that there is to see.

 

Just my pedestrian thoughts…

 

We are supposed to learn from history so as not to make the same mistakes. It seems we seldom do learn from history. But, then, history must be a lie because it is always written in the present based on written documents and memories of the past…and one must surely wonder how History  texts can differ with so many versions by College Professors and Historians with axes to grind.

 

Did Nero really fiddle while the great city of Rome burned around him?

 

Did Hitler really slaughter six million people?

 

Are the holocaust victims remembering lies? Were there no victims at all? Was it all a hoax? Does anyone truly BELIEVE the survivors and family members of those millions of lives taken by the ‘Hitler-Beast’ are altering history’s documented truth? Who can believe this ‘Hitler-Savage’ with only one ‘Present-mind’, one racial and world domination goal?

 

Did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?

 

Why do we celebrate events from our past? Independence Day? Thanksgiving? Christmas?

 

Yes, I know, we are asking people not to dwell on the past and on the future, to live in the present. It is at times too painful, too wasteful of our time to dwell on negative thoughts, to have our tears of memories, lost loved ones to old age, to wars, to accidents, to criminal events…too wasteful to dwell on matters of the heart.

 

I get that. It does us no good to dwell on the bad stuff of our lives. Most of us can recall a negative memory, stay for some moments, and walk away from it. Some of us dwell too long. But, are you not asking too much of people by performing some sort of intellectual lobotomy? There are many episodes in my life that I would exchange for blissful non-memory, but it is not possible. For me, it is not possible. Perhaps it can be done by the very elite minds among us.

 

That image and over-all statement wraps up lives too simply and narrowly for me, yet I’m sure there is much I am missing in the thesis, so much Science is far beyond me. I enjoyed the writing, and, even with the seeming all-inclusiveness of the statements, it made me think. Perhaps, I put a bit too much authoritarian literacy in its meaning. At least, it gave me this opportunity to espouse some personal perspective on collective experiential fall-out.

 

Yes, I’m a simple man. I ponder and write daily, as a ‘therapy’ and from a source unknown to me.

 

In writing this post, I wonder what solid context I might have missed and was meant to grasp by reading ‘Living in the Present’.

 

BR Chitwood – January 30, 2020

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One Last Romance – Part Two

One More Romance – Part 2

 (I was forced into writing!)

*

6

One should never have to compromise himself (male, presumption, me!), to be verbally bullied, coerced, cowered, manipulated, threatened, vilified into adding to a story already written, filed, and, presumably, in a secret, private vault.

(One side note: my lovely and most curvaceous writing coach advised me not to hesitate in showing off an extensive use of qualifying words and phrases to show the readers my total command of an excitable vocabulary.)

So, it is with these statements that I begin the second part of “One More Romance.” The person who did all the nasty ‘force-thingies’ in paragraph one of this Part Two will not be mentioned by name, but, will, in some future and unsuspecting moment, be placed in a compromising, utterly embarrassing, and dreadful position of shame…

*

At the last moment, my Debbie was called into work at the Throne Room for a special gathering of some college fraternity dignitaries. She was filled with dismay in missing the dinner at the Arizona Country Club and meeting Doctor Sam and his wife, Char, a cute and endearing shortening of her full first name, Charlotte.

So, good Sam, Char, and I enjoyed best we could dinner without Debbie, and the alcohol gave us uplifting glows. It was determined after dinner that we would go to the Throne Room, meet Debbie, and enjoy the wonderful piano styling of Lady Gwendolyn.

Our Arizona Country Club was having a relatively slow night. Our lone piano player kept playing and singing our old-time memory melodies, and we reminisced and let the glows grow into a miasma of melancholy. We talked about Peggy, about Debbie, how they resembled each other in so many ways.

Sam, Char and I were feeling no pains as before-dinner libations and vintage Cabernet through our gourmet meal did their jobs well. In short, we were not ready to call it a night. We chided ourselves that prospects for morning hangovers were viable possibilities, so with the vestiges of youth mixing well with the drinks, we hauled our asses to the Throne Room in Scottsdale.

On the way we were pulled over by a motorcycle cop, and, for a moment, oh, oh, the rain was coming to fall on our parade. (Side Note: that curvaceous writing coach also explained that it was an occasional coup d’état to use a cliché.)

No driving ticket was issued from the pretty brunette motorcycle cop for a dysfunctional rear light… Yes, it was a female M/C, and the kind lady re-energized particularly me by issuing ‘no ticket’.

We drove onward to the Throne Room.

“I think the lady cop was looking you over beyond the scope of her duties, Chuck. Should we be telling Debbie about this driving incident?”

“Doc Sam, control your wife, please.”

With more time-killing, tantalizing teasing, we soon arrived at the Throne Room.

There was a deepening, dissociative disorientation of sorts as we walked toward the lobby entrance, a rather awkward feeling of unrest, and I was restless and disturbed by the feeling. My guess was that we all have those moments from time to time…as well as the recurring need for alliteration.

The mind can have strange diversions, can bemuse the hell out of me

Ah, but it was all to become clear to me in just moments.

7

Entering the lobby just off the Throne Room the emanating noise level in the lounge had a too loud and raucous element which surprised me, and apparently good Sam and Char who was visiting my drink din for the first time. They looked at me curiously with the raising of their brows.

Besotted folks did not stay long at the Throne Room, and I looked around for Tommy DiGrazio.

Tommy was a big guy who kept order in the Throne Room, usually stationed himself at the entrance to the Lounge, his quick thoughts determining the mind-set of the people entering: were they looking to cause trouble? Had they already had their limits of booze? Were they men ‘feeling their oats’ looking ‘to score’ before the evening ended? (Ah, love the clichés.)

This hotel and this up-scale Throne Room was not the typical pick-up bar. It was a hotel and lounge that catered to the Movers and Shakers of the Corp and Entertainment world, but anyone with a sane and sound-working brain knew that trouble could happen at any time and any place, regardless of its resumé.

So, where was Tommy?

Maybe he was inside the lounge, and there’ an easy way to find out. Go into the lounge, Dummy… I like kicking myself with an occasional verbal jibe.

Tommy was every bit the look of what a person might consider labeling a man true to the Mafioso element, not too keen on smiling, slow moving and a ‘hulk’. He was not a good friend, but we did like each other, and, through the years, except to know and to kibitz, we maintained a buddyship. A new joke was shared here and there, and there was always the feeling on my part that he was looking out for me – in a good way.

Somehow, my senses were suddenly alerted to danger, and I could see the same transformation taking place on Sam’s and Char’s face.

“There’s no piano music, Chuck, just a lot of noise, with some sharp yells. Are we going into the lounge?”

We were standing in the lobby, just outside the lovely statue-entrance to the big Room.

“Why don’t you two relax in one of the love seats while I go in and see what’s going on. I won’t leave you sitting out here too long. It’s more than likely there’s something special going on for the frat people, people just having fun.”

Just as I entered the lounge, I heard loud tinny whistles behind me, voices, screaming, “Police. Out of the way. We’re coming through.”

In a moment of crowded clarity, I saw three things that scared the hell out of me: Tommy was on the lounge floor in front of the Piano Bar, face bloody and gashed, still fighting two stout young men in suits, the police rushing to aid Tommy; Debbie was kneeling on the floor, blood coming from her brow at her hairline with an unmoving Lady Gwendolyn cradled in her arms; one of the bartenders was crawling over the shiny mahogany bar trying to reach and help Tommy.

I rushed to Debbie’s side, knelt, yelled her name and lamely asked: “Are you okay? What happened to Gwen? You have blood on your brow? What just happened here?” My questions rushed from my lips, sounding inane and with pitiful urgency.

Debbie looked up at me and almost in a whisper, said, “Later, Chuck, when we’re alone and you can hear. I’m okay so don’t worry. A piece of glass flew into my hair. I’m okay.”

Medical help soon arrived, and the police returned the lounge to some semblance of order and whispering voices.

I talked briefly with the bar manager, Artie Pierson. He told me the lounge would be closed when the ‘suited bastards who caused all of this are hauled away’.

Artie told me to get Debbie out of there, that she would be reliving Lady Gwendolyn’s attack – One of the young suited apes went wild, threw several cocktail glasses when Gwen screamed in her mike trying to restore order. One cocktail glass knocked her out.

“What caused all of this, Artie?”

“The Frat Apes caused it, flirting with guys’ dates or wives, grabbing their breasts, their behinds… They went crazy for no reason I could tell you. Lady Gwen did plead with them to stop their crazy behavior, and you can see what she got for her efforts.”

“Artie, these guys are too old to be ‘Frats’ in college.”

“Oh, no, these guys are the big shots in their luxurious Corp-Offices. College kids have their own hangouts for booze and girls.”

A doctor was working on Lady Gwen –now stirring – and announced she would be okay.

I lifted Debbie from the lounge floor and gently led her out to the lobby. The police somehow knew that I was not part of the problem.

Doc Sam and Char met Debbie under a full-moon sky, and they liked her.

Debbie and I drove Sam and Char back to the club and their own car.

It was almost 12:30 AM when we were settled enough for bed.

I hated the ugly events at the Throne Lounge, but I loved pampering Debbie all through the night, a strong stamina stud, you might say – OMG, where is all of this coming from?

The next morning, I made breakfast for us – a new cereal so good we had two bowls, each. Debbie and I would never be as close as we were that sun-filled morning.

We had such an emotional yesterday and a hard day’s night, we decided to take a nap in mid-morning. Well, say what you will, but, unaccountably, we were still exhausted after a bologna sandwich and took another nap.

The afternoon nap produced another period of ennui that we found difficult to understand, and, with a left-arm- stretch, I was able to reach the TV remote. It just happened that a Spider-man movie was on, and, with all his ‘webbing-zips’ from one tall building to another, we got tired again.

So, again, we napped!

8

It was Debbie’s final decision to make, and I’m glad she made it.

She was fired from the Throne Lounge.

‘Fired’ is a bit strong. She was  given a choice.

Reason for ‘no job’? She screamed obscenities at the bad International Frat-A-holes during their bad bar behavior, and management felt she exacerbated the situation.

She joined in a Class Action Lawsuit leveled at an International Fraternity Consortium, and, waited – okay, if you insist – and, waited – oh, okay, one more time – and, waited.

Now, the story, weird from the very beginning, got more weird.

That International Fraternity group was in a ‘blind trust’ – that is to say, it was so damned blind that it was not at all visible, to anyone, ever, any time, never.

The few people arrested that night at the Throne Lounge were mysteriously released with large bail sums which was also a thick mist of mystery – just love my alluring alliterations. In college, I was named, wait for it, Always Alliterating Ad Nauseum Nerd. The college officials promised to use only the acronym – AAANN – and award scholarships to any-student interested and smart enough to figure out the words those big Cap-letters represented. Is it just me, my ego? I’m thinking that AAANN sounds rather impressive… Just, Saying.

Enough about me and my, uh many, college honors…

Oh, yes, the Class Action Lawsuit? Or, if you like acronyms, CAL.

There were several unamused lawyers who could not find any associations with the appellation, International Fraternity Whatever, or, for that matter, any of the signatory names used for room reservations, rooms that were stayed in, many that were damaged and/or vandalized, for rooms badly used but for which the hotel was never paid.

It is to this day one of the ‘not talked about’ Arizona anomalies in its long history of jurisprudence. It is likely best not to mention this story’s subject matter if you should be in an attorney’s office, particularly one who spent time trying to find out just who the hell were ‘those people’ of the International Fraternity Whatever and where their offices might be located.

The good news?

Debbie and I are still together, getting old together, making our naps a bit longer and more ‘strenuous’. We are both losing weight, and good old doc Sam tells us to “keep on doing what you’re doing, keep eating whatever you’re eating, keep doing your body exercises every day.”

Well, I can tell you this, good Doc Sam is now legitimately out-driving me every damned drive on every hole, sinking unbelievably long putts, and taking my money like he needs a vacation home in Aruba. And, he’s not being sneaky about it.

So, why am I smiling every day of my life now?

If you have a clue, let me know…

The End

©One Last Romance – Part Two

By Billy Ray Chitwood

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