Breaking Up

– Mayhem – Murder – Mystery –

A Short Story by: BR Chitwood

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’rOe 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. Under the street light Tony suddenly noticed that the arresting officer was the man he had seen with Jan Cowper at the swanky restaurant.

Short Story by: B R Chitwood Archives – Jan. 15, 2021

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Sinful Desperation

“Maureen died last night, Father.”

Picture

Sinful Desperation

Flash Fiction by B R Chitwood-

*****

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

He stared at the ceiling as he reclined on the big bed, his naked body stretched straight, seeking relief from his back pain.

“It’s been years, my son, since your last confession. I hear desperation in your voice. Is the Church your last bastion of hope?”

A mournful smile of contrition and watery eyes looked upward to the ceiling. He would play both parts of this little satire from his soul, not mocking the billions of people who habitually practiced their faith in a Deity, rather, an awkward attempt at an anodyne for his pain.

“Yes, Father, on all accounts…” a back spasm interrupted his soliloquy and he sought another position on the bed. He was too tightly wound and needed to move his limbs in some exercises the cute young lady in physical therapy had insisted he practice each day.

Finally, he found some relief and continued with his conversation with the ‘Holy Father’ there in the center of his ceiling. “Yes, Father, many years, and, in conflicting ways, a lifetime ago, yet, now, here, as the filmstrip of my earthly adventure unveils itself to me, my weekly spiritual visits to your Church seems not so far away.”

The man was almost ready to hear a reply. Not to be, he continued.

“So, on to my confession, Father, one, I fear will take more than a few ‘Hail Marys’ and a heavy penitence to absolve.” The man closed his eyes and his face took on a grimace.

“I confess to one of Man’s oldest of the seven sins, Pride. All my life I’ve taken umbrage with people who sully me, sometimes, in simple remarks that attempt to jest and tease. Perhaps that sin comes from a youthful disconnect with family and a poor quality of life. This sin has cost me friends and love connections. It is also truth to say it is the least of my sins.

“I confess to an earlier life rife with excessive sensual pleasures, Lust/Debauchery of the wicked and most wild, orgy-filled, salacious kind. I sought out and experimented with life’s underworld of Bacchus-plus drug madness. There were moments of intense euphoria, gratification, and immoral depravity.

“And, when the days and nights of playing Nero’s mad fiddle ended, there were tears, self-recrimination, times for soul-wrenching and no resolutions: preparation-time, it could be said, for the next ‘big toot’.

“I confess, Father, to periods of Envy, of Sloth, of Gluttony, and of Greed.

“There remains one more sin, Father, that of Wrath. I have saved it for the final portion of my confession because there was a prelude of most, if not all, the seven virtues before its denouement… a period in my life of happiness so fulfilling, so real, that it seemed my life had found its right and true moral compass.

“Having run the gamut of my ‘fiddling’ days, I sought to find a more righteous purpose in my life. A friend of mine who had been lost in the same forest of shame as I invited me to go to church with him on a beautiful Sunday morning in June. After smiling stupidly at the idea, I decided to go…to see how the ‘moral half’ lived.

“Are you still with me, Father? Have I lost you in my recount of decadence?”

The man could almost see the Father’s smile. “How could I not? What with such an interesting life you present to me?”

“You, Father, speak with a forked tongue. You must know it’s the fires of hell I’m destined for!

“Whatever, at the beautiful church with my friend, I met Maureen, a woman of remarkable beauty I felt destiny had placed in my path. We both felt a Karmic bonding and began a long relationship which ended in marriage.

“Our love was pure and, by any standard, storybook. We danced in the moonlight and worked every day at our jobs, saved our money and became wealthy, mostly by her artistic talent and her huge following. We were together all the moments we were not working or at a painting exhibition.

“We had a baby boy who died in his sixth month of an undiagnosed tumor.

“Maureen and I were devastated by Brian’s death, but, for her, there was an emptiness she could not fill. She began drinking. She stopped painting, and fate pulled her from me into the arms of another man. She was still trying to fill the void left by Brian.

“We began to argue, our spats becoming an ugly, yet another obtrusion to our love.

“Last night, Maureen arrived home after midnight, clearly in the mood for another spat. I pleaded with her to go to bed. She became infuriated with me and began slapping me. The slaps made me angry, and I tried to wrap my arms around her to carry her off to bed. She stomped my foot with the heel of her shoe and pushed me backward. I began to fall and grabbed her wrist instinctively to secure my footing. Then, she, too, began to fall, and I let go so she could get her footing. Her head banged loudly into the granite counter in our bar area and she went down onto the carpet, blood spreading out in a profuse flow from the gash. Maureen died last night, Father.”

The man could almost hear the sorrow in the Father’s voice, see the pain on his face through a small imagined window in a small imagined confessional.
On the bed, as tears flowed from the man’s eyes, he saw a pale shadowy figure, an apparition, Maureen, her arms extended toward him, her sad tearful eyes and still beautiful face beckoning to him.

The man’s face was covered in tears, his voice gagging and pitiful gasps, as he thrust the butcher knife upward into his heart.

The bedroom was silent in its darkness as the two wraiths walked across the room to eternity.

*****

Flash Fiction by B R Chitwood –

-From the Archives-

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Times Square and Anna

“…when you caught between the moon and New York City”

©Times Square and Anna

By BR Chitwood

Sleep avoided me – could not find that one position that would settle into a comfortable and lengthy dream about a pretty lady and a ‘happy ending’. Since I was unattached and near thirty years of age, finding a Soul Mate had become the number one priority.

Truth be known, I gave up on the evening too early. Nothing turned my motor on in TV land and I concluded the funk was for real.

There was the one lovely lady at the Ad Agency, but we ran our course and found those things about each other that gnawed at us. I was beginning to think, maybe I should have worked harder at the relationship. But, no, when there is an unremovable block in an affair, the chances are nil to none for working it out.

I made my decision, got out of bed, put on some casual duds, brushed my thick short-cut black hair, sprayed on some Aramis, stepped out into the Manhattan night.

It was still relatively early in the evening, and I could hit some of the nicer lounges and dinner houses near Times Square. There were no cabs needed for those places. All were relatively short walks.

Weather-wise it was a lovely evening and the air was filled with restaurants’ steak smells with an essence blend, like, perfumes, colognes, a nice aromatic sensation.

Passing an alleyway near 5th Avenue, my ears picked up a sound down that dark stretch of a woman’s voice. It was not a fun and game kind of noise. There was repetition, panic building in each mouthed word and phrase. Clearly, there was a woman in trouble.

 These are moments for which I am not built. I am basically a coward, not wanting to engage in any kind of dangerous activity.

The woman’s distraught voice came again and again, my mind at war with itself.

Good God! What to do? I can’t just stand here, my body all atremble, like an automaton whose juice has been cut off.

I had to do something!

From whence it came I cannot begin to know. It was all alien to my way of life. Some inner force got me running toward the voice in trouble some 50-100 yards away. The darkness was thick black, the only wisps of light coming from an unclear sky and some old faded wall markers.

Somehow, within my suddenly activated body an unknown reservoir of bravery urged me on.

Fifty yards ahead I saw the man with a glistening object in his hand, holding down the woman with his legs, hitting her with his fist, ripping at her dress with the knife.

My footsteps and screams finally reached the ears of the assailant, and he attempted to get up and attack me, but the lady on the ground hit him full-force with her right foot to his crotch.

The man doubled over, and I rushed in and slammed my fists hard into his face and body. I don’t know how many times I hit the man, but he finally lay inert and completely out cold on the black pavement.

I went to the young dark-haired lady with blood on her cheeks and blouse, helped her to her feet. She held onto me for long moments and muttered ‘thank you, thank you’. As she clung to me with fingers eager for safe purchase, she told me her name was Anna Buckley. She looked to be her late twenties of early thirties…a very lovely lady.

I used my cell phone to call the police and ambulance. They both arrived quickly.

 “I’m so sorry, Anna, you’re hurt, but why were you in this alley way in the first place? My name, by the way is Grant Morehouse.”

“He grabbed me on the street, put his hand over my mouth and dragged me here. I’m sorry to involve you, Grant.”

“Hey, I finally did a heroic act, Anna. I’m as surprised as anyone in my world will be…. Are you feeling okay?”

“I think so. I’m a bit sore in places. Don’t think I’ll be working on society dress patterns tomorrow, however.”

“Ah, would that be ‘High Society, Inc.’?”

“Yes, it would.” She smiled through some pain.

“Good we’ll have the hospital check you out. I don’t think they will find anything major, just some bruising, maybe some cuts where he ripped your dress. I’ll stay with you at the hospital until the examination is over and we get a prognosis and how long they may want to keep you. That okay with you?’

“That would be wonderful, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your plans.”

“I have no plans, Anna. I was just taking a stroll because I couldn’t sleep. I’m just glad I could help.”

The police hauled the bad guy away, asked a few questions, and Anna was taken quickly to the hospital. I sat on a bench next to her as the ambulance swiftly sped through the streets of Manhattan. Along the way, we did some serious ‘Q&A’ and got better acquainted. Her last name went well with her first name – Anna Anselmo.

I went into the ER and stayed with her during a long wait for her examination. I stayed with her until her sister came to take her home – an apartment quite close to my own, as fate would have it.

My part in Anna’s assault still surprises me, how I reacted, and, somehow, I feel very good about myself and can see a quality within my psyche that awakens a proud part of me I never knew existed. It is no doubt natural that I see myself a bit differently now.

You deserve to know that Anna and I are seeing each other with some regularity. We have become quite attached…that’s enough for you to know at the moment.  

It’s still amazing to me that fate came along with me for my stroll that night, keeping me awake to life in Manhattan.

“…when you get caught between the moon and New York City…” For reasons I knew very well, “Arthur’s Song” would not leave my mind.

The End

***

Flash Fiction/Short Story by:

BR Chitwood

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https://www.brchitwood.com

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Short Journey of Steven Bardo

-Image art by: Nick Herasimenko – Unsplash. com-

©Short Journey of Steven Bardo

By BR Chitwood

Steven Bardo stumbles down a sidewalk in Phoenix, Arizona, the front pockets to his soiled trousers turned inside-out, and he bounces into a brick wall of a mercantile building and falls to the sidewalk. Bardo rests his back against the old brick wall, takes a couple of deep breaths of smoggy air, tightly closes his eyes a few times. People walk by the man, showing no care or interest.

The back of Steven Bardo’s head rests uncomfortably against the aged wall as he gazes across the road to another commercial building, his stare locking on nothing of which his eyes are interested, just at a place in his mind where a vacuum of despair fills the historic messiness he has made of this life he owns.

Steve Bardo was not drunk. He had barely enough for two beers and one jigger chaser of liquor at the bar he just left. The bartender refused to give him credit for more drinks and muttered in menacing words for him to leave the bar. The unsteady figure now leaned back and against the building’s wall, staring straight ahead across the street to a locked-in stain spot on the white brick facing, him mind swirling with thoughts of his yesterdays, the work mistakes, the gambling, the ‘extra-women’, all the side-tracks that crushed his marriage.

Tears came with a sad wry smile, and he dropped his head, turned it slightly to his right, and saw stuck in the crevice of the sidewalk what looked like a folded ‘Circle K’ lotto ticket. It was a ticket someone must have thrown there, and he absent-mindedly picked it up and put it in his shirt pocket…

For a moment, his sad smile brought him up to date with this moment, sprawled on a sidewalk with a lotto ticket in his pocket…he slowly shook his head and murmured to himself: ‘Stranger things have happened. Dumb luck was all over the place. Why did I come up this street when I left the bar? That empty shack by the railroad track is my only refuge’.

‘I’m broke, stumbling around like a drunk sailor…my life is the ‘pits’ – hell, the movie people make these tear-jerkers all the time and make millions upon millions of dollars on the well-off crowds who flock to the theaters to feel sad for the poor bastards portrayed on the silver screen’…

Steve Bardo sat on the sidewalk for many moments until he felt somehow bare and vulnerable. He struggled to his feet and slowly began shuffling back down the street toward that abandoned shack by a railroad track that now served as his home.

He passed the ‘Circle K’ on the corner where he turned toward the RR shack, walked a few feet, stopped, and had a sudden urge. ‘Why not check the number on the lotto ticket? The ‘Circle K’ is only a few feet away’.

Inside the ‘Circle K’ he approached the employee behind the counter, an older woman, Marge by the pinned label attached to her blouse,  already showing signs of doubt and worry about the man approaching. Still, she thought, ‘he looks harmless, sad and lonely, and he’s pulling a lotto ticket from his shirt pocket…maybe, he gets lucky’.

 The counter lady smiled sweetly at the man, suddenly feeling sorry for him. “You have a winning ticket there?” She asked cheerily.

He tried to smile, gave his head a short nod and handed her the ticket. The pleasant lady brought a good feeling he wasn’t sure he could explain to anyone.

“Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed.” She smiled and went to a small alcove to run the numbers.

Steve Bardo leaned on a small counter at the alcove watching the nice woman’s face as she did her meticulous check of the numbers. Then, with glowing eyes, she repeated the second re-check of the lotto ticket…

The man watched her moves, and, with every cheerful mood she made, he became more excited…’My Good God! Maybe she’s finding me a new life’… He knew something good was happening.

Then, police officer Gig Weller walked into the ‘Circle K’. Officer Weller watched Two young casually dressed men filling their tote bags with many bottles of liquor, wine, and sundry treats. The taller of the two men saw the policeman, and, when their eyes met, all three knew, one way or the other, the party was over – and all the booze and ‘goodies’ stuffed in the ‘gear bags’ would not be used in frolic and fun…or, resale.

Officer Weller approached the two men. He judged them to be in their mid-twenties, and, at the moment, they were nervously dithering as to what their exit plans should be.

Within ten feet of the young men, the officer saw the signs that spoke of illegal activities.

“You fellows want to show me what’s in your ‘sports bags’?” The officer rested his right hand on his holstered weapon.

“Just some party stuff, officer.”

“Lots of booze coming off the shelves and into that travel bag…you planning to pay for that ‘party stuff’?”

The two men were not so evident of their criminal intent as some he had encountered, but he could observe that nuance he had come to trust over the years…these fellows were committing a robbery – he knew it but would practice decent discourse until they made their move.

The two medium-built men looked quickly at each other, and the shorter one answered: “Oh, sure, Officer, just making it easier on ourselves with the bags, and we didn’t notice any collection carts when we came in.”

The Officer gave a slight smile and pointed toward the entry/exit doors: “You mean those stacked at the entrance? You two bring your bags to the counter, and we will get an accounting.” The Officer’s right hand never left his weapon.

Reluctantly, the two men shuffled toward the counter, closely watching the Officer’s moves. Another male employee had returned to the counter and watched the approach of the two men and the Police Officer some three feet to the side. The counter clerk knew instinctively that trouble was walking toward him, his slow labored swallow giving him away.

“Okay,” the Officer said, “pay the clerk, and we’ll see if we’re done with all this.”

The two men looked at each other, the taller man spoke: “Go ahead Ellis, pay the man…”

The man called Ellis looked quickly at his partner with widened eyes: “Whoa, Jack, I thought you were paying with your credit card…”

“No, it was the other way around, Ellis. I don’t have my credit card or any money. You were to pay.”

“Bull-croppy! You were to pay! Look in the bag…maybe you put your credit card in there.”

Jack grabbed the bag, unzipped the middle opening…

His voice no longer carrying any cordial tone, the Officer Weller spoke in a loud demanding voice as he pulled his gun from its holster: “Drop the bag and raise your arms, you are both under arrest…”

The man called Jack pulled a revolver from the bag and jumped sideways toward a counter end, and pulled the trigger several times.

A woman’s scream was heard from the back at the alcove.

The Officer managed to get off several shots, one shot immediately mortally wounding the man called Jack, and, unfortunately, one bullet from the now dead man crazed the shoulder of Officer Gig Weller, fortunately, not disabling him. The man called Ellis stood shaking, arms raised high and stiff.

Officer Gig Weller cuffed the man called Ellis, made his call to the precinct, described the altercation and aftermath…

The ambulance arrived, put some ointment on Officer Weller’s shoulder and a patch. Ellis was taken to lock-up.

The police ambulance not only carried Jack to the morgue but Steven Bardo, the man who had lost his way in life…until the final moment of his living. He was killed by a stray bullet from the gun fired by Jack.

Officer Gig Weller talked to a tearful Marge as she emerged from the ‘Circle K’ alcove to report the death of Steven Bardo. When Weller saw her tears, he asked, “Was Mr. Bardo a personal friend of yours?”

“No, but in my heart, I know he was a good man who had some very bad luck in life, sad from all the weight he was carrying, the mistakes, loss of family, the ‘boogey-man’ always there inside of him…” Fresh tears began to trickle.

“Why was he in your ‘Circle K’? Sounds like you had an emotional encounter with him.”

“Steven Bardo found a ‘lotto ticket’ on a sidewalk, and, on his way to his humble shack he called home, he passed our store, came in to see if the numbers might have been winning number – a real ‘long shot’ of course…

“Old tear-jerker me, I feel immediately sad for the man and wanted so much for that lotto ticket to give him a new lease on life, and my verification came at the very moment of his death from that stray bullet…

“I got to see him light up with a smile when I told him he was a winner? NOT, the jackpot amount, but enough to turn his life around…his last number was ‘13’, but he knew, KNEW, that he was a winner – finally, a winner. Thank God he was able to go with that knowledge…”

A trio of tears dropped to the ‘Circle K’ floor.

The End

©Short Journey of Steven Bardo

By BR Chitwood – July 22, 2020

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Gina Malloy’s Secret

[Image Art by: Aziz Acharki – Unsplash.com]

©Gina Malloy’s Secret

By BR Chitwood

Recently… Ah, hell, just yesterday, I made the decision to end a one-year relationship with a lovely lady who within the first few weeks of knowing her gave all systems of body, heart, mind a collaborate indication that my search for a life’s companion was over. Gina Malloy was twenty-six years old, lovely in a Natalie Portman way, and we came together on a daytime ‘Soap Set’. I played the Doctor who would win her heart.

The first six months was as ‘storybook’ as Hollywood could have filmed it. We had a lovely place in Pacific Palisades, always eager after a day on the ‘set’ to get home and enjoy our privacy and luxury. We were quick to cater each other’s needs because we wanted our mutual and natural caring personae to show. It was a fun six months, real, honest, and wholesome, the caring and catering bringing most delightful bedroom tricks and treats, sighing satisfying oohs and aahs.

In the seventh month, Gina seemed to be avoiding contact with me. At first, I thought it was that time of the month when women go through their ‘Menstrual Cycle’, but I began to question my reactions. So, it was my way to ask more harmless questions of Gina which she brushed aside, by my thinking rather cool-like and somehow out of character. “Danny, please, stop with the questions. Everything is fine.” She would then leave the room too abruptly.

So, I, Danny Watts, decided to give her the silent treatment until she came around to her old ‘self’. I was still convinced it was the ‘menstrual cycle’ thing. And, she did show some signs of becoming her old self until I apparently kept a conversation going too long or made some cuddling moves or show too much affection.

In the following weeks Gina took a couple of trips to visit sorority sisters, she said, irritating our film execs because they needed to alter scene selections for the soap. Returning from those trips, she seemed her ‘old self’ and, for a short duration, we were back to our ‘good place’.

By the twelfth month of our cohabitation, Dina was driving her own car to the studio…she seemed always to have some errands to run after the ‘shooting’ was done for the day. When she did not come home on some nights and none of our friends knew her whereabouts I knew that the relationship was in serious trouble, and/or, there was no longer a relationship, period.

When Gina did not come home some nights, and my heart and mind vacillated between dread of accident and/or death. My mind conjured up possible scenarios – car problems, in a hospital somewhere, seeing someone else, raped and murdered (yes, my mind took me there as well). The love we shared in the early months of our time together brought me to tears, to self-recrimination, to a ‘hell’ I could not have expected. More calls, hospitals, police stations, people we knew, there was nothing worthy of good news or bad news.

There were sleepless nights of worry and heart aches that brought more tears.

When I got to the Studio yesterday morning, I was told that Gina was no longer a part of the ‘Soap’ cast. She had apparently called in her resignation to some angry studio executives, and some hasty re-writes of the daily script were made with a lot of cursing.

It would be one of the longest days of my life. Then, when I got home from the day’s filming with a low threshold of hope of finding Gina there, I found the envelope tacked to the door…

My legs suddenly became rubbery. My breathing was erratic and suffocative as I staggered to the ‘love seat’ where Gina and I spent so much of our time petting and staring out the broad plate glass window to the distant waters of the Pacific Ocean, listening to the soft romantic music-making of our favorite Sergei Rachmaninoff. We were so proud when often criticized with insulting ‘Romantic’ qualifiers.

With shaking and reluctant fingers, I pulled the folded letter from the envelope. On the first page of the flowery stationery, a large ‘Red Heart’ was centered in the top-middle of the first page, and something broke inside of me…the tears came, flowing fast down my cheeks because in my hasty glancing at the written words I saw a phrase that caught my eyes and brought the weeping…

I focused on the beautiful heart and could go no further for many moments as my hands would not stop their incessant trembling. My whispered mumblings of sorrow and regret assembled with the slight humming sound of the air conditioner. My mind was filled with the past images of Gina and me in all the activities of our lives. My unsure shaking hands reached for her face I longed to see in front of me but could not tenderly grasp it…

Cowardly I allowed seconds, minutes to pass, knowing there could be no good news coming from her beautiful hand. I closed my eyes for some seconds, felt a short sharp pain in my chest, sniffled loudly, sighed deeply, re-opened my eyes and stared down upon Gina’s words, some now fading and smeared with my tears.

With sniffle pauses, I slowly focused on the words on the pages my fumbling fingers lifted from my lap.

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My Dearest Danny,

How does my own broken heart convey to your troubled mind and heart the awful news which I must share with you in this missive?

For me, and I hope, for you, Danny, our first days, weeks, and months together were the happiest, most incredibly beautiful times of my life. I could never have hoped to meet someone with a heart, a mind, and a soul so remarkable in their tender giving of love and understanding as your marvelous trio.

I love you, Danny, and our special time together represents God’s gift to me, His gift which will stay with me until your arrival in Eternity.

The Cancer came unexpectedly and I’m sorry my mood-changing behavior often upset some of our precious time together. I allowed my self-pity to open the door to bitterness and anger… I loved you, loved the harmony of our lives together, and, at times, I felt cheated and unfairly treated by Fate.

God finally gave me the understanding of life’s slowness and haste, its repetitions, its ebbs and flows, an inner knowledge that finally came to me, not so much by total comprehension, but by some holy, spiritual awareness that was impossible to doubt.

I’m sorry, dear Danny, if this all sounds too theatrical, but the truth of life and death will be known. I know that. You will know that.   

I’m in Arizona, Danny, and the medical group keeps my pain under control. It is now just a matter of hours before my life here is over but please know that I am at peace and will be waiting for you in Eternity. I pray that you will go on with your life, find new loves, follow your dreams, and know that I am in a good place waiting for you. You will always have my heart and my love.

Gina

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Sadness came, lingered, as I read and reread Gina’s words, and slowly the tears no longer flowed. The heartbeat came back from its erratic behavior.

Why?

I don’t know, but outside that big plate glass window a beautiful twilight with a magnificent western sunset was showing.

Why?

I don’t know, but there are no timers on the stereo system and suddenly a calming and lovely palliative Sergei Rachmaninoff piece of music began playing enigmatically and peacefully.

Why?

I don’t know, but inside my total being there was a tingling sensation, an awareness, a certainty, and I knew that Gina had reached Eternity…

Why? I don’t know…

***

©Gina Malloy’s Secret

By BR Chitwood – June 23, 2020

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A Pimple on Her Cheek

Image art by: Andriyko Podilnyk – Unsplash.com


A Pimple on Her Cheek

What beauty for the once lonely heart and idle mind to absorb, and, to Karma and its co-workers, thank you for bringing me this gift of the heart and soul – perhaps not the romantic at heart stories one might read about in a book of love clips and poetry, but could easily make those pages.

A major freeway was not the ideal and idyllic storybook place to begin love affairs, and I was one hungry candidate for a love affair with all the fairyland add-ons. Whether it was my fussy and outdated expectations of how an affair of the heart was to begin and guidelines that must be followed to nourish those marvelous moments, I knew when I saw the exasperated lady on the side of the freeway trying to manipulate a flat tire exchange, my initial thought was, ‘I have to help her. There were no ulterior motives to my stopping, knowing there was no appointment I needed to keep. no one waiting for me. My 1:00 o’clock Tucson meeting brought an end to my satisfying day. It was my turn to make another person feel not alone in time of need.

The lady heard me pull in behind her, lifted her body from the pavement, her hand still holding a tire-bolt tool. She cautiously gave me an incipient try for a smile. (She obviously kept abreast of bad news as well as the good news.)

“Please, don’t worry. You seem to need some help…”

She gave a slight showing of some doubt, so I spoke again. “Tell you what: close your trunk lid. Get in your car and lock the doors. I will get your flat tire off and put the new tire on. I will then get in my car and leave. Are you agreeable to that?”

My eyes could have fooled me, but I thought I saw some tear-streaks on her lovely face.

“I’m sorry,” she spoke softly the words , but I heard her. “This is not an occurrence I have experienced, and it is not my intention to be rude.”

“I know, Maam, the world has put up some road-blocks to civility and our people helping each other… I will stand right here while you close the trunk lid and get into your car and lock it. If you get hot in there, turn your motor on and get your air going – it will not take me that long to change your tires. Okay?”

There came a calmness suddenly, and it seemed we both had some sort of kindred acknowledgement. She smiled, “Oh, I’m sorry to be so rude to someone who wishes to help me. Please, thank you, do come and change my tires, and I will be happy to pay you for your good work…”

“No, no, there will not be any fees for my work…I’ll get you on your way before you know it. My name is Curtis Morley. May I ask your name?”

“Katherine Bruce, or, just, Kate, if that’s comfortable for you.”

“Kate is fine. Now, just move away so I can get your tires changed.”

Kate did a barely perceptible dip with her head and seemed now perfectly content with our situation.

We talked while I changed her tires, and it became a most enjoyable span  of work and pleasure.

Kate was, of all the occupations in the Phoenix, AZ metroplex a Para Legal for Barnes and Dunlap, a firm with whom I worked occasionally. Talk of odd possibilities, I am an attorney with Morgan and Morley…”

“Oh, my goodness. Do not tell me, but you are just coming from a meeting in Tucson on the Dexter Weeks case? Am I right?”

“I’ll be darn, this is absolutely nut stuff. With all the millions of people in the metroplex and, this chance meeting on Interstate 10…”

There was an easy transference in play here. I stood from my tire changing from time to time, faced Kate, and we talked easily. It had to be the same for Kate as we passed all the detours, all the mud puddles, became electrically fast in our mood shifts…and something else. In those few minutes we came as close as two people can come in such a short period of time.

Our eyes darted here and there as we talked, assessing our bodies, Kate at points lingering a bit long on my hair, just recently culture-cut, the angularity of my face, the hazel of my eyes, my well-built slender physique, kept that way  with a multitude of exercises on a weekly basis.

The stunning assessment for me? Kate was absolutely beautiful with a bit of English accent, her skin so smooth to the point of perfection, her long length auburn hair that fell six inches from her shoulders, and her figure was an easy ‘Ten’ by any standard of measurement, visible when she turned and allowed her body to more firmly fit into wonderful nicks and crannies of her pants outfit.

*

So, with no shock to the readers, we became live-in lovers and have been in that magical place for two years now, with no demons on periphery trying to harm what our good God made perfect.

Well, except for the small pimple crisis on my love’s left cheek.

My life had its imperfections of the skin – a small outbreak of acne in high school that upset me, certainly not to an anxiety level onto which I placed it.

It was not the pimple so much that caused Kate’s nervous spells. She felt it was perhaps an omen of some kind, the first installment of some cataclysmic series of destructive omens in her life.

Now, I did mention she is English and can certainly, in true Anglo-Saxon form and bona fide heritage make cute little mountains out of cute little mole hills. Remember, they were the German inhabitants that arrived in England in the Fifth Century up to the Norman Conquest.

The pimple did not grow larger, but it did develop more talking points for my sweet Kate. The pimple became at its apex white with a red ring around it, then ugly yellow, but she would not let me squeeze it out, even with my teenage experience on the matter.

“Oh, you must truly hate me,” she would exclaim on the bear rug in front of the fireplace on a winter night.

“Oh, sweetheart, how could I ever hate the love of my life? Please, allow me to get a cotton ball, a bit of alcohol, no, no, not from your Manhattan. We will use the rubbing alcohol. I will most gently squeeze out that little white spot of ‘yuck’, put on the spot some soothing disinfectant, my little ‘star’ bandage, with soft kiss on top, and you will be rid of that pimple forever, no more to make home on your beautiful face… and the truth is, I’ve hardly noticed it being there… I’ve a great idea visiting my head – we can make a beauty mark out of that spot. What say you, my darling?”

“I say, ‘I’m cursed, having the man I love look upon me as a sorceress of some awful kind…oh, okay, get the stupid cotton ball, the medicine you plan to use, and put your ‘star bandage’ on the spot. Guess I have made as much hay with that as I can. You do still love me? You said…”

“Forever and any days beyond, my beautiful lady…you sure you don’t want to get married?”

“We can talk about that later. Go get your arsenal of pain and operate.”

“How did I get so lucky to find you on Interstate 10 – out of millions of people in the ‘valley of the sun’, and you chose me. I do so love you.”

“You damned well better…I don’t let just anybody pop my pimples.”

I do hope the readers get it: that my darling and I had such a perfect union she had to practice displeasure more in an artificial and teasing design…it was our way to live within our atavistic tendencies. If it was not ‘a pimple on the cheek’, it would be some other deeply embedded Germanic gift from her history – and we both enjoyed that kind of foreplay rather than actual traits of hate and distrust.

On our third anniversary I talked Kate into a tattooed mauve star for that spot where the pimple had the gall to inhabit for a short stay.

Short Story/Flash Fiction by:

BR Chitwood

©A Pimple on Her Cheek

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First Class

[Image Art by: Victoria Kure-Wu – Unsplash.com]

©First Classphoto-1538391912490-304338a7f94c

by BR Chitwood

“Would you like a drink before takeoff, Mr. Bryson?” asked the lovely blond flight attendant with blue eyes and conquettish smile.

“Do we have time?” flicking my eyes a few times in answer to the smile.

“Sure. We have a bunch of planes lined up for takeoff. I figure you for Vodka, stirred, her sexy voice just above a whisper. You do look a lot like James Bond, you know?”

“Which one?” playing the game.

“Pierce Brosnan, of course. The others couldn’t come close… Be right back with your drink,” and she turned and dipped her hips in walking away.

Ah, could be an interesting flight. Guess I’ll just leave the laptop in the overhead compartment.

I’m Travis Bryson and I now only fly first class since my company accomodates my heavy travel schedule. It likely sounds phony, but I’m an Executive V-P for CCC, a facilitator of sorts, bringing our national branches up to date on some new software for Webinars… Hey, it’s only exciting stuff for geeks like me and my comrades in the field. You’ve met our types. We really love what we do.

Now, don’t get me wrong about the flirting – I’m not married (anymore) so I’m not a bad guy and I’m legal. I’ve got a thick crop of black hair. I’m six-feet tall, work out each day and so far keep that middle paunch non-existent. I’m forty-two years old – that’s the new thirty-two, I’m told – and work out of my hometown in Phoenix, Arizona… That’s where this plane is heading, hopefully after I finish that Vodka Martini. (Speaking of which, here it comes, but, confesssion time, my eyes are really on the ‘Stew’, that face and body with the small tray in her hand. Again, don’t get me wrong… Oh, hell, you’ve got me right. There is nothing in life more beautiful than a woman, that is, a woman who has it all together. The guys know of what I speak, and one of them just arrived at my seat with a ‘James Bond Special’. I’m not sexist. I’m not any of those annoying PC words or phrases. I just appreciate beauty in all its forms.

“Hope this is as you like it, Mr. Bryson. If it isn’t I won’t charge you for it…” This, followed by one more coy flash of the eyes and a snicker. “Oh, by the way, what does CCC stand for?”

’Command Centers Conglomerate’… Okay, look, I know you’ve got another drink there to deliver, but is it okay if I call you Paula, as in Paula Jinx? We are going to be talking, and it’s a long flight from Atlanta to Phoenix. My name is Travis Bryson, as you already know, so call me by my surname, or, Trav…off you go now to deliver your next drink order.”

She spoke as she headed toward the back of the first-class cabin. “I’m impressed you noticed my name tag, Travis.”

Okay, it’s Friday, I’ve been on the road for two weeks, and I have no one waiting for me in the valley of the sun. I was going to get some laptop work done for Monday’s Executive Meeting at the office, bur it can wait. I’m feeling frisky and I’m betting Paula just might be staying over in Phoenix…why, she might be home-based in Phoenix. This flight ends in Phoenix so, at the very least, she will be staying overnight.

The flight is filled and no ‘stand-bys’ made it on the plane. The seat next to me is occupied by a stout bespectacled gentleman in his sixties, earplugs in, listening to music, and reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. My seat row partner has impeccable reading tastes – I did read and love Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. The man is a superb storyteller, and I am eager to read the other aforementioned book. Anyway, the gentleman next to me by the window is lost in his book and couldn’t care less about my flirting ability.

During the flight Paula served me three ‘stirrred martinis’ and I turned down the fourth, making some silly rejoinder, ‘I have three of those and I can feel it. If I have four, anybody can feel it!’

After meals were served and all plates, silverware were picked up, the cabin passengers were reading, sleeping, or using the facilities. Paula and I traded playful quips for a while, Then, as Phoenix got nearer, I thought I should make my move.

“You based in Phoenix by any chance, Paula?” The three martinis wired me for this conversation. I was ready for action. Two weeks on the road and planes can make you that way. ‘All work, no play’ kind of thing.

“Yes, I am. Is Phoenix your home base as well?” It seemed the smile did not leave her face during the entire flight.

“It is, and I’m thinking maybe we should get together this evening, or, soon. Now, I notice you wearing no wedding ring, so I’m brazen enough to ask.” I paused, waited for her to respond.

“That’s sweet, Travis, So sweet! But I can’t.” She touched me softly on the shoulder.

“So, you’re married and don’t wear your rings, right?”

“Not quite, Trav, but you’re close.”

“You’re separated or getting a divorce and want to wait. Is that it?”

“Not divorced. Not getting a divorce. There’s another reason…”

Not giving her a chance to go on, I suggested, “You and your boyfriend are broken up and you want some space. I can understand that. I’ve been there, done that!” I smiled inanely. This lovely creature was turning me down, and I’m ready to ‘bet the store’ we will be in a few hours warm and cozy in my apartment.

“No, Travis, it’s not like that. You’re a handsome man and most girls would be happy to connect with you. It’s just – well, someone is picking me up at Sky Harbor Airport, and you and I are not a possibility, tonight or ever…”

“Ah, no break-up! You have a steady boyfriend. Well, I can tell you this, Paula, the airline trains you well because I really thought we had something going.”

“No, Travis, you still have it wrong – well, mostly, the airline does train us to be nice and friendly with our flying customers. But there is no boyfriend…” She looked down at the aisleway and sadly smiled.

Then, like a middle linebacker laying me flat out on the football field, it hit me. “You’re…”

“Yes, Travis, I’m gay!”

“Pretty, lovely Paula, will you please bring me one more ‘James Bond Special’? And, will you alert the airline to bring me a wheelchair to the arrival gate?”

©Flash Fiction by BR Chitwood – From the Archives 

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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

*

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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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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’!

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

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