The Power Merchants

5-STAR Book Review for:
“The Power Merchants”

The Power Merchants (1)

JUST PUBLISHED IN JUNE – 2020!!!

by BR Chitwood

Here is my first book review for “The Power Merchants” –  A 5-Star Review Beauty!

Diogenes
5.0 out of 5 stars — Chitwood At His Best!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 June 2020
Verified Purchase
Author Billy Ray Chitwood is at his best in this tale of lawless adventure.
Most of Chitwood’s books that I’ve read so far deal with themes of crime, individual purpose and romance, but with ‘The Power Merchants’ there is a political message to the story that I don’t recall in his other works. But of course, this being a Chitwood novel, a healthy dollop of love interest is never far away. This time the main protagonist – advocate Bradley Bennett – finds himself falling for the platinum-blonde police officer Penny Sawyer amidst the surrounding chaos of corporate skulduggery, illicit sex, corruption in high places, the political elite, and rampaging hit men. (In a nod to the present day, Chitwood even throws in Covid-19 for good measure.)
Highly recommended for lovers of action novels with a large helping of romance.

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AND

I give the reviewer:

♥♥♥♥♥

BUY SITE AT ANY ‘AMAZON STORE FRONT’:

Click Here to Buy:

mybook.to/ThePowerMerchants  

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HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Those Romantic Moments

By BR Chitwood

To be sure, there are rare, unique, and special romantic moments in our lives. Some, we will pledge to posterity with all the poetic and prose talent we have…sure, it might come out as gilded prose, but the words will still carry some heart messages that convey what the possessed lover intended.

Being a ‘charter member’ of The Romantic Anonymous Club of Misfits and Sly Scoundrels, I am drawn to the soft violin strings, the meticulous wafting notes of a harp – which, at times, has drawn me to the lovely Harpist – and the gentle soul-seeking keys of a piano. Ask any active member of the TRACMSS, and they will validate my wordsif they do not, they will be heavily fined.

Some readers might question the value, the worth of such a blog post… C’mon, man, who wants to read about this kind of stuff? Man and woman, meet – BOOM – they get it on. End of story.

I will not pigeon-hole my readers. If they are truly too offended by my words here, it will actually please many of our TRACMSS club members…you know, without too many pickers, there are more luscious fruit on the trees.

At this point, allow me to explain the presumptive reason for this particular post…

On July 4, 2020 we celebrate our great country’s ‘Declaration of Independence’. This year, with all that has come upon us – the ‘Covid-19’ Pandemic’, the many deaths, the Isolation, the Masks, the trepidation of our people about future riots and the unrest of tens of millions of people – it somehow seemed appropriate to write about Love and Romance.

It will take a hellava lot from the bad folks who are creating all of this death and destruction to defeat the good people of our country. The good people of this country want freedom and liberty to stay its course, law and order to prevail, and government malfeasance to disappear – to STOP stealing our money.

So, on the fourth of July, My wife and I are going to put on some Mantovani, some harp music, some violin music, and some soft floating piano notes, and celebrate our Independence Day – and Evening – and, we won’t be forgetting candlelight and wine… By the by, that TRACMSS  CLUB is looking for members… We love belonging but it’s just the two of us.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

By BR Chitwood – July 3, 2020

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The Truth of Kay – ‘aka Kate’ –

Image Art by: Christian Holzinger – Unsplash.com

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©The Truth of Kay

AKA Kate’

by BR Chitwood

*

In a post a few days ago I wrote a post entitiled, ‘A Pimple on Her Cheek’. While the short story was all that I wished it to be, a lingering nostalgia occupied my mind…there was indeed more to that story from a past that will stay active in my oft wandering mind until the end of my time.

There was indeed a beautiful raven-haired lady named, ‘Kate’, her real name was ‘Kay’, an actual name, an actual person, with whom I shared in a past time some happy, sad, confused and affecting weeks and months, drinking the nectar of love which I had never ever really known…

I had just left a marriage and three children after ten swirling years of Appalachian Mind Control, that is to say, a mind unable at the time to catalog and make sense of the world around me, a mind too young to make reasoned choices and decisions, a mind too eager to go to the next moronic level.

With the divorce, I began my odd California wandering. Bakersfield was a favorite spot so I decided to settle there for a while in morose mind-handling, feeling sorry for myself, sipping my cocktails, in and out of sorrow with my thoughts about my beautiful kids, when…

Kay Bruce came into my life, and she was a wonderful elixir to my grieving soul, that prior Appalachian Mind Control thing. Not only was she a needed and wonderful tonic, she was also beautiful, so delightfully English, a smart lady with a refined accent, long dark hair, and a sympathetic cushion for my cluttered head filled with bible belt guilt, remorse, and self-serving melancholy.

Kay and I were together for a time and she pampered me with her love and her good cooking, tried to assuage my mind and soul quakes. We went to nice restaurants, even met the great Hoagy Carmichael’s son, Randy, he a pianist of the first order, and we had a few pal-around weeks…even met his father, Hoagy, at an Airport dinner. Hoagy was between stops.

Beautiful Kay, for whom I did care so much, loved me, fed me her wonderfully prepared meals, and I fear I might have broken her heart. Too unsettled, at a crossroad in my life at which I could not emotionally deal or maturely understand. Hmm, perhaps that is still so.

Beautiful Kay, a singer with a lovely voice, while singing a wistful song of love and loss, all the while sadly and steadily looking at me as I sat solemn at the lounge bar of the nightclub. With tears about to come from a place of pain and poignancy on both our faces, I left the lounge and drove off into the night – where the tears did fall and I felt as small as a man could ever be.

That was the last time I saw the lady of beauty and love, but the haunt of her memory is there in the darkness as I try to sleep with all the crowded days and nights of yesterday.

Beautiful Kay, so many years have passed and yet your memory will never leave me.

I pray your life has found much happiness in it… Shortly after our time together I wrote a ballad for you. Were it possible, I would, together with Randy Carmichael, hop the first Time Machine to where you are, and I would sing it for you.

Here are the words…sing them softly, Kay. Bless you, dear Lady…

*

©Eyes That Dance

So beautiful the night

So beautiful and bright

So wrapped up in delight

Am I…

With you here near to me

Then heaven cannot be

So very far away,

Just but a kiss away,

Oh, you,

With the eyes that dance.

Eyes that dance,

Eyes that dance,

Put me in a trance,

I don’t stand a chance –

I’m in love with the night

So beautiful,

And, you,

With the eyes that dance.

©by BR Chitwood

May 22. 2020

[Please forgive my huge Romantic, generational leap back!]

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The Power Merchants

The Power Merchants

I cannot stop writing, so I’m throwing another book out there, and, hey, Twilight and back to my beloved desert in Arizona has given me either a brain-strain or a pleasant sense of longevity.

Whatever the hell it is, I am in step with it. The mind seems to be working well until I miss putting a period at the end of a sentence.

The book is the thing, though, and I’m feeling spry enough to say this novel of over 40,000 words is one of my best, tho I thought “Mama’s Madness” or “Stranger Abduction” or “A Common Evil” or “An Arizona Tragedy” or “Dominique” or – okay, I’ll stop ‘showing off’ – would bring me a small zephyr of success. Coupled with my lack of book marketing sense and my trying to be a comedian at the same time have completely embarrassed me to the point of tears. It is okay if grown men cry…a lot.

The book, dummy, get to the book.

The Power Merchants has a lot of themes about which to narrate: Love, Murder, Love (oops), Political Intrigue (or, Disgust, if most of you prefer), and our ‘Isolation Pet’, Covid-19, and our world today, drawing it all down to Scottsdale, AZ, the US, and, well, the world.

Putting Charlie McCarthy away for the Summer, here, please, just read ‘The Prologue’ and ‘Chapter One’ for free, decide if it might be a novel you want to read further. I am in the final stages of editing, so the book will be out in a week or so.

The only commitment I need is that all 500,000 of you lovely people BUY the book AND write AMAZON REVIEWS, and the first 100,000 people get their costs back. That is not so tough, right?

(Charly, you are down for the Summer. Be quiet, please.)

He is just kidding around, folks.

Can you let me know how you like the book cover?

Believe me, this is my best work since my last twenty books. Without that ‘further ado’ some people talk about, I give you the Prologue and a scary Chapter One

Please, enjoy.

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[From BR Chitwood’s – May 2020 novel:

“The Power Merchants”]

*

Prologue

She was a dazzling lady with long platinum hair in a perfect rhythmic bounce on her shoulders, without a stray maverick wisp out of place. Her cameo face, a near gemstone carved by a Master, her joyous blue eyes twinkling as she walked toward me. Her tanned body was covered by a soft mauve fabric that possessively clung to every curve of her body with every magical step she took. She could have been a Hollywood starlet made up beautifully for her role in an epic movie, portraying a ‘golden girl’ of Hollywood’s early days.

Watching her approach, I stole a glance over each of my shoulders to see if she was making those erogenous steps for me or someone behind me.

No one behind me, just a wall I forgot was there. OMG, she is walking to me.

With a coquettish smile of full lips made up of a soft and non-glaring shade of red matching her dress, she took loveliness to a completely new standard. She came to a stop at my high table and stools. All eyes in the posh Princess VP Lounge were upon her as she strode elegantly toward me.

She spoke and her voice matched all the rest of her, like mellow harp music in a grand arbor of lilacs and roses.

“You are Bradley Benedict and you match perfectly the description given of the gentleman with whom I was asked to keep company this evening – in a ‘nice way’, of course.” She gave me another erogenous move that I suspected no other woman could ever duplicate.”

I attempted a response, but she was obviously not through with her introduction…

“Do you mind terribly, Bradley, if we go to the lower tables and cushiony chairs in the Princess Dinner Lounge? It is more comfortable, and the music is so soft and pleasant there.”

“I don’t suppose…” The lounge music began its long session, and she was unable to hear me above the rumble of drums, bass, guitar, and horn.

I stood, smiled, loudly told the waiter to transfer my tab to the restaurant lounge, and the lovely lady and I strolled slowly the short distance to the other, more sedate, lounge.

The Princess Lounge was a large intimate room clothed in a magical lighting that seemed to sweep through the room with unobtrusive and delicate alternating shades of pleasing colors – if the shades were colors at all, but only subtle shifts at certain locations of the room. I could never tire of this lounge were I to have dinner with a special someone like the gorgeous lady who just joined me. The room was elegant in its leather comfort and sundry accouterments – fresh flowers, their scents an intoxicating pleasure in breathing, sculptures of high quality, notable portraits of prominent dignitaries on the golden-hued walls. The Princess Dinner Lounge was the epitome of consummate beauty, luxury and refinement.

In this truly magnificent environment, our drinks ordered, I spoke: “This is quite sudden, but then, how could I not accept such an offer from one so beautiful? You have me awkwardly off-balance, lovely lady. You know my name. I don’t know yours.”

“Christie Conway. Oh, Bradley, this lounge takes my breath away in its beauty.”

She paused, about to say something else, so I asked: “Yes, it is a magnificent room, and I’m delighted you like it. May I ask: to whom do I owe for such lovely company this evening? I can hardly wait for the answer to that question.”

With a slight shift in her soft lounge chair and a subtle smile that invited me to end all protocols, to rise from my own comfortable chair, to take a stride to her side, to lean and kiss those luscious lips, she said, “I’m sorry, Bradley, I’m sworn to secrecy.”

When I recovered from that impulsive moment, I responded. “So, are you with an agency that caters to requests like, ‘keeping company’ with men who might be in the throes of divorce, middle-age, or senility?”

“You know, it just occurred to me, we have names that form ‘BB’ and ‘CC’. Can we use those initials tonight?” Ah, she was changing the subject.

“And, pretty Miss, you didn’t answer my question. Are you with an agency, CC?”

“No, BB. I’m an unworking actress.”

“Here in Phoenix? Wait, wait, I have seen you on TV commercials. Did you act in California on one of the daily ‘soaps’?”

“Yes, and yes.”

“Okay, tell me, what is this all about? Is someone playing a colossal joke on me?”

“I don’t know about that, BB. I was just paid to give you company at dinner and to give you an envelope at my departure.”

CC reached into her purse and pulled out a small manila envelope.

I reached for the envelope, and she pulled it out of my reach and said: “I was told to give it to you upon my leaving tonight, so, if you want to skip buying me dinner I’ll give the envelope to you now, and leave.” She smiled sweetly.

“Would you like to leave now, CC?”

“No. I find you a handsome man, easy to talk to. I think we would have a fun evening, again, in a ‘nice way’.”

“I’m flattered. Thank you. Can you tell me anything about the person or persons who asked you to be here tonight? You are beautiful, and I would love to buy you dinner and spend the evening with you – in a ‘nice way’.” I smiled but I was sure the smile and eyebrow lift conveyed no gallantry at all.

“I was only told by the agency to be here tonight. The agency gets a percentage of the money. I can only say that I would not expect my agency to send me out for anything not lawful.”

Soft romantic music began to flow through the hidden speakers, audible enough to enhance and please any mode of conversation.

We talked, had dinner, and, at our parting in the parking lot we instinctively kissed – not a kiss of lovers but with perhaps a hint of that ‘goal’ in mind. She handed me the envelope and walked away to her car, stopping once to look back and give me a wave. That had to mean something.

Yeah, she was making sure you were not following her.

I absently put the envelope in my sport coat inside pocket and went to my car.

My mind berated me with thoughts…

You dummy. No phone number. No address. You are daft.

I tried, but she changed the subject.

You should have tried again. You are some ‘Romeo’.

*

Chapter One

The bikini-clad blonde on the large billboard looked down on me with a smile that said she loved me, and some uncontrollable part of me had the gall to convince my middle anatomy to get alert for action. That, as a full-body numbing buzz came and filled my total awareness with razor-sharp pains in all parts of my disabled bone and flesh.

First, though, I needed to remember why the hell I was lying in this ditch some fifty yards from what looked like a state highway. The area was too isolated to be a major road. At this point I saw no traffic at all.

Uh-oh, another sharp jolt just sparked my brain, letting me know where the pain was coming from. Just when I figured the pain was coming from the right side of my body and figured it was time for me to move, the left side of my head near the eye urgently warned me, ‘do not move quite yet’.

I closed my eyes tightly as though that might offer some sanity to the moment, but it only added to the pain. After softly touching my rib cage, carefully moving my feet and hands, after touching a spot above my left forehead, I felt the large wide lump with a long gaping valley running along my forehead, I let out a sharp cry when I touched bone some centimeters down, a half-inch above the eyebrow. The exquisite pain threw me back, slamming my head into a boulder I did not know was there, and one more yell came. With the yell came more pain, and some part of the engine inside me was fit enough to allow me some self-pity.

Self-Pity?

How did I get to self-pity when I did not even know my name? For whatever the stupidity, that thought had a consoling effect.

I lay there, not moving because both sides of my body were denying that simple task. So, I lay there, thinking. How the hell did I get here? That thought was swallowed up with the previous jarring truth. I did not know who and what to call me.

I did not know me.

Oh, my God.

The panic now lodged there in my crowded brain made me try again to get up out of the ditch, but I only fell back to my earthen bed of the moment – dusty earth, gravel, and the afore-mentioned boulder.

Some knowledge bade me take long deep breaths and not try to figure it all out. I guess some ruling gene from the cranial pool was trying to settle me down with the fact that my mind and body were going through a totally awesome shut-down, and, again, how do I get ‘there’ when I don’t even know my name and how and why fate put me here?

I lay there, taking deep breaths until sharp stabbing ouches hit me. I tried to calm my thinking. All events have reasons, good and bad. It would come to me. ‘Just relax’, I kept telling myself.

Lying still there, the pain was not so bad, and that bikini-blonde beauty was still trying to get me erected. In this state of pain, how the hell can that be?

Smiling lamely and with pain at my silly thoughts I kept my gaze on the billboard.

At some point, I felt like I was going to pass out, a slow swooning sensation, not pain so much.

That is when I heard movement among the dirt and gravel.

The thoughts came hard and fast. What can I do? I can hardly move.

Then I screamed at what I saw within ten feet of me.

It was a Mojave Rattlesnake.

Once again, how the deuce would I know about Mojave rattlesnakes when I do not even know my name? Then, another weird thought hit me, a movie I saw – Harrison Ford in Temple of Doom. Indiana Jones hated snakes, and he ran like hell from them.

That thought came at me from Hell’s murky furnace, and, hating snakes with good movie company, I rushed on ‘auto-pilot’ to get up, and the excruciating pain took me back to sudden darkness on my earthen bed of dirt and gravel.

Thoughts can be obnoxious – my last bit of thinking as the pain took me again to the nether world of abject unconsciousness: at least I will not see the wiggly bastard finish me off…

*****

Okay, you friends and readers out there, that is all you get for now, so, let me know your thoughts.

 Best wishes to all.

BR Chitwood – 5/1/20

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One Last Romance – Part Two

One More Romance – Part 2

 (I was forced into writing!)

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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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One More Romance

One More Romance

1

The mirror does not lie, my man.

You carry baggage under those tired blood-shot eyes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could Debbie be hitting on me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

3

The morning came with shocks on many fronts.

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

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

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

Debbie smiled sweetly and leaned on an elbow.

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

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

You’re quite a lover, Sweetheart.

 

 

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

Debbie returned with coffee and some donuts.

Krispy Kreme donuts. How did they get here?

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

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

Puppies?

She looked at me with squinted eyes.

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

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

Okay, what does ‘all the way’ mean?

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

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

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

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

How did I prove you right, Deb?

 Into my second donut and coffee cup almost empty.

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

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

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

She hesitated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why am I just now registering these facts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re still golf buddies, right?

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

*

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

*

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Hail, The Neon Beacon of Debauchery

(-Image art: Aziz Acharki – Unsplash-)

Hail, The Neon Beacon of Debauchery!

(Short poetic prose)

*

Hail, the neon beacon out ahead

Guiding, leading the man onward

Toward wakeful dreams aspired.

Hail, the beacon is subtle in its

Duality of promise and purpose.

Its laser flashes In frenetic frivolity to

Elixirs and forlorn witches of the night.

*

So, the shadowy evening passes hastily,

‘Last Call’ too quickly ends the charade.

Awaken, ignoble knight of no honor

To a brutal morn of rueful regret.

Face the gallows of vicious thoughts

Cascading mercilessly against the

Dull temples of intemperance.

*

The new sun gives way dimly to

A pitiable litany of remorseful chattel

And self-indulgent curses to the

Demons of meek, repentant mockery.

Meager, modest work efforts ensue,

A duplicate day of detritus, alas.

Then a misty miracle convenes:

*

Hail, the neon beacon out ahead

Guiding, leading the man onward

To yet another night of wistful witches.

Hail, The Neon Beacon of Debauchery!

*

©BR Chitwood – September 26, 2019

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Who Am I?

‘Collecting restless moments…’

Photo art by Henk van de Goor (Unsplash)

 

Who Am I?

A mere presence of blood, bone and flesh,

Collecting restless moments of time and

Memories in a swirl of delusion and desire…

A damaged derelict recording with all the

Misspent nights of neon lights and wonder,

In Bacchus search of some nebulous Nirvana.

A casual fool of vacuous vector shaping images

Fraught with a dilettante’s dribble and dash

For a delectable dalliance in Delilah’s domain.

Who Am I?

A Mockery to the wise and worldly. A clown

Dressed in gaudy colors, shouting his foolery

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

Who Am I?

Surely by now you must know me!

Who Am I?

Come, sweet damsel,

 join me in a drink,

 and I shall tell you all!

 

-Billy Ray Chitwood – August 12, 2019-

 

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There

-Photo art by: Jakub Dziubak-

There

 

There in that sacred space

Where dreams lay crumbled

From all the yesterdays –

 

There where songs are sung

And stale memories play on

The soft notes of piano keys –

 

There in the unfulfilled dream

Heaps of all tomorrows amid

The rearranged bar stools –

 

There in the Bacchus mist

Among the sad souls of night

Love comes briefly to delight –

 

There in that play parlor for

Lonely souls of poetic pawns

The tortured Romantic sits.

 

Thank you, Romantics of the

World for the beauty of your

Musical notes of such sweet pain.

 

  • BR Chitwood – July 9, 2019 –

 

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Save That Dream

Save That Dream

 The colors were devastating, people sharply defined, the music from the band magically soothing, and my boldness stronger with each sip of the Manhattan on the rocks. It was my third and I was entering that stage of liquid laxity that was both delightful and dangerous, a moment that needs little elaboration for the lotus-eater that controls my moments of merriment, and, good golly, the big band was playing a slow tune. The song was ‘Theme from a Summer Place’, an all-time favorite of mine, one of those marvelous tunes that makes dancing with a lovely lady so very special…so, where was the lovely lady?

It was a special ‘Spring Dance’ in honor of the city’s sesquicentennial, and I was a resident author invited because of my philanthropy, that is, spending so much money in the pubs throughout the city, many donations to various civic causes, and in serious search for a wife replacement. Now, that’s rather blunt, but it’s the truth. A successful author in his prime, having divorced one trophy wife for taking her flirting activities too far, searching all anew for another trophy wife… I’m a bit like Brigham Young, you know, I don’t care how you Bring’em, just bring’em young. One other thing, about the resident author, successful author, let’s keep that between us. I wouldn’t want that to become public knowledge. You likely get my ‘drift’, people bugging me all the time for autographs and free books…I’m sure you know what I mean.

Sitting at the bar looking over the crowd, there were a few possibilities that I could see among the bodies standing at those temporary tables that are used for events such as this. My bartender buddy was an old drinking pal by the name of Paulski – at least, that’s what I had always called him, even though his name was, Paul. The noise in the big room was a constant mix of laughter, talking, music, and Paulski had to nudge me to get my attention. He leaned over the bar and spoke, “Don’t look now, but you’re getting the eye of one hellava looker, brunette, starboard.” Then, he moved away to serve a drink.

I dutifully obeyed Paulski and casually raised my highball glass to my lips and ‘took a look’. Good Lord, how did I miss that beauty. Damn, she was right off the cover of a women’s magazine, hell, make that a ‘Playboy’ magazine. All of a sudden, I’m smitten and bitten by an impatient lust…I’m sorry, folks, I’ve got to call it what it is. It is not something new with me. It’s been a life-long struggle for me, some warped genetic-thing that eats me up when I see a lady so confounded beautiful.

Then, she looked at me and smiled. The bar was horseshoe-shaped, and I felt like leaping over all the booze and mirrors and landing on that empty seat next to the lady. I gentlemanly snapped my fingers to get Paulski’s attention, then yelled at him finally because of the roar in the place. He saw me, finished the order he was working on and came to me.

“You saw her?” he asked with a wide grin.

“Saw her? Hell, Son, I’ve already had her twice while attempting to get your attention. Please, go ask her if she is unencumbered and, if so, may I join her for a drink.”

“I’m on it, Gerard. You owe me, son.” Yeah, we were in Texas, where all the Texas gents call a buddy, ‘son’. It just becomes habit after a time. Paulski was heading back my way with his eyes flicking and a grin a Texas mile long.

“She knows you, son, at least that’s what she says, and she’s read all your books. Get on over there. I’m fixing her a drink and another for you. Go, man, go.”

Her name was Terri, and I did not know her but was doggone happy she knew me and had given me the eye. Man, you don’t know what a ‘headwind’ that gives a feller seeking treasures in femininity. Sure enough, she read all my books, and loved them all, she said. She teasingly told me, “You know, I fell in love with your picture that appears on all your books.” Terri was just about to burn me up with all her lovely chatter.

Okay, I’m going to deny you the scenes that are better left to the imagination. After all, an author has his reputation to maintain. I will only tell you that Terri and Gerard spent the weekend together, then booked a cruise on that Norwegian Cruise Line, got themselves the ‘Van Gogh Suite’, and pretty much kept their butler busy with food and wine orders. We stayed in that lovely suite the whole cruise, except when we were out on our big private deck. Funny how food tastes so good on those cruises. Ahem.

Here’s the shocker… The Captain married us while we were docked in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Terri became my fourth and last wife. Remarkable how you can go traipsing through life being ruled by the writing gods and looking for love in so many places. Then, you find the magical one in your own backyard.

People are fond of saying, ‘don’t be looking for love in bars’, but I’ve got news for those folks: I’ll match my statistics with any man looking elsewhere.

We’re in our thirty-fifth year of marriage as I write this. We never tire of each other. Our big nights out are short and uneventful.

We see Paulski at his own bar every anniversary.

Terri still reads every book I write. I’m hoping one of these days, some other people will join her…

Billy Ray Chitwood – May 28, 2019

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