©Sweeny, The Doll

©Sweeny, The Doll

– Short Story – By BR Chitwood –

*

Mr. and Mrs. Holcomb were looking in a toy shop at possible gifts for daughter, Kellie.

 “Oh, isn’t this darling? His name is ‘Sweeny’, and his voice is so sweet… Kellie will love it.”

“You’re kidding, right? Kellie is all ‘GIRL’. I can’t see her playing with this guy-doll at all. She might like its voice – it is soothing, but Kellie would lose interest quickly with this slick-haired bozo. She’s more into the more etiquette-like stuff.”

“Frank, trust me on this one. I know my daughter, and she will be talking to Sweeny on a constant basis. You’re not around so much that you would notice. Lots of girls are wanting male dolls now…it’s ‘the thing’, some toy clerks tell me.”

“Well, Sweeny is kind of cute in his untidy ‘cut-offs’ and flaming red shirt, the sly smile…what are some of the ‘things’ he says in his taped repertoire?”

“His various conversational utterings are here in this pamphlet…”

“I’ve glanced at a few statements Sweeny makes, and I’m not sure the vernacular matches up well with Kellie…are kids really talking like this? About hugging, kissing, silly adult-like language?”

“Don’t go ‘archaic’ on me, Frank. Kids live in different generations and speak for the most part like others in their age group… We still must do our parenting, our monitoring of their lives so they don’t cross into dangerous areas of thoughts and deeds.”

“Well, Gerrie, you’re the ‘Mom’ and you know better about these things than I do. I just want the ‘best’ for Kellie. She’s so sweet, smart, and special and I want her world as free from the ‘ugly’ as we can make it, and I know you do as well. Go ahead and throw ‘Sweeny’ in the shopping basket. I hope they become really good buddies.”

***

(Night-time: Six Months Later )

Wearing new special PJs Kellie’s Mom made, Sweeny lay stretched out on his back next to his mistress on the opposite pillow, eyes open, alert, now and then glancing at his sleeping bed-partner. Only the plugged-in night light gave light to the bedroom.

“Kellie, psst, Kellie, are you awake?”

Kellie was in deep sleep, dreaming of a new boy in her sixth-grade classroom at school. Tommy was the new boy’s name, and his small desk was next to her desk.

Kellie’s eyes twitched and her body quivered under the bedsheet, and a small discernable smile appeared on her face. She liked Tommy at first sight and thought that rather unusual for her to like a new boy in class…girls, generally, yes, but, boys, a bit strange.

 Sweeny’s closed eyes simultaneously twitched as well, and suddenly came fully open. In no way could he explain his awareness to his supposedly non-active environment – a male doll that for some inscrutable reason could remember a special ‘compound’ put inside his combination hard-rubber and polyethylene terephthalate head.

Sweeny only knew he did not like the ensuing disturbance within his tiny body, did not like where Kellie’s thoughts were taking her…he now knew about the new boy in her Sixth-Grade class, and he would not know how to explain it to anyone.

In some manner, Sweeny, with eyes aquiver, his tiny factory-made body thrashing beneath the sheet, caused the bed to rock and sway, made loud noises on the floor and walls. The noise became so loud it awakened Kellie, her mother, and her father.

Amid Kellie’s screams, the parents entered her room and saw lamps on the floor, wall plaster displaced on the walls from the bed-rocking, and other debris spread across the bedroom.

Then a silence so deep within itself came that frightened all in the room but Sweeny.

“Oh, My God! What happened in here, Kellie?” the mother asked.

“I don’t know, Mommy, but it woke me up. I’m scared, Daddy, Mommy.”

Sweeny lay quietly on his pillow, his eyes closed as though in sleep, but listening carefully to what was being said.

Kellie’s parents would not allow such paranormal thoughts to enter their mind, but they did believe their eyes and knew something dramatic and nerve-wracking happened in their daughter’s bedroom.

Kellie slept in her parents’ bedroom that night and the next three nights, only going into her room for showers and clothes changes. When her eyes fell on Sweeny, she thought she noticed angry eyes, and it scared her, but she finally accepted that her little mind was playing tricks on her…the scary episode could be explained in a sensible manner with a sane and understandable narrative.

While she could not understand her own reasoning regarding that night, Kellie remotely thought that Sweeny had something to do with it. Giving her seemingly crazy thoughts a rest, she would hold Sweeny and talk to him, but when she placed him somewhere away from her she sensed an anger showing on his face. Then, there came a sense of dread that would drive her out of the room, and she could also sense his staring eyes following her.

Her relationship with Sweeny she knew was over – from a pet toy to any kind of plaything. She could never, would never get over that one night-time episode and the ensuing moments of distress. She talked to her mother, convinced her that she no longer wanted to have Sweeny around her.

Gerrie  placed Sweeny in the original box he came in, took him to the local park, and left the doll with the Park Director, Stu Bruner, to do with what he wished, gift it to one of the children who played there. Gerrie explained simply to Mr. Bruner that her daughter outgrew the male doll and had moved on…Gerrie felt a little ‘white lie’ would not hurt anyone.

*

The Park Director placed Sweeny on his office credenza and left for home later in the afternoon. It was odd, the Director thought as he left his office, the male doll’s face seemed strangely different from the time he was brought to him, and, he thought he had placed him in the middle of the credenza, but he was now sprawled toward the end of the furniture with a scowl on his pale face.

“Ah, I’m just tired… I wasn’t paying that much attention at the time, and those toy makers can now do so much with innovation in dolls…”

At the first traffic light, Stu Bruner almost ran a ‘red light’ which had just recently turned ‘green’, and Stu screeched to a stop, just missing the opposite flow of cars.

‘Darn, am I going blind? I could have sworn that light was turning ‘green’ when I came to it’…

Stu Bruner soon regained his normal happy mood when going home to family and pets.

At the next traffic light five blocks away Stu had to quickly brake again…something, a cat, a dog, an animal of some kind was crossing the road, but, damn, it looked just like that ‘doll’ Gerrie Holcomb left earlier at his office.

‘My eyes are going bad on me. Two lights in a row I’ve almost lost control. Not good, Stu, not good at all, but I could swear it was that stupid male doll.  Then, again, dusk can tease the eyes to believe things that are not real. Lots of accidents occur at this time of the day’.

Again, Stu Holcomb managed to stay alert and began whistling his favorite country song – ‘Put your sweet lips closer to the phone’… (“He’ll Have to Go” – popular country song sung beautifully by Jim Reeves.)

As Stu Holcomb opened his private office door the next morning, he stumbled, almost fell to the floor.

His office, his beautiful mahogany desk, chairs, credenza, wall hangings, awards, trophies, plaster, everything was totally destroyed…but he heard the sound of a voice familiar to his ears – a radio announcer’s voice reporting the news of the day.

Stunned by the destruction, Stu stumbled to the area where the radio was normally setting on his desk, and, below, among the debris on the floor, he pulled the radio from the rubble, held it in his hands, and was about to replace it on the floor when the announcer mentioned names he knew…he cleared a place by the window and listened to a staggering news report:

“The cause of the fire that destroyed the Holcomb house is unknown, but there is a strange footnote to this tragedy – amid all the debris, in the corner of a child’s bedroom was the warped, demonic face of a doll, smiling and absurd in its countenance… To repeat the important part of this fiery news story, the Holcomb Family survived the midnight fire with minimal injuries and will undergo some psychological testing when they have been stabilized to a point where shock has been mitigated – and only God knows when that will be…”

*

The End

©Sweeny, The Doll

By BR Chitwood – June 29, 2020

*

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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

*

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

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One More Romance

One More Romance

1

The mirror does not lie, my man.

You carry baggage under those tired blood-shot eyes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could Debbie be hitting on me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

3

The morning came with shocks on many fronts.

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

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

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

Debbie smiled sweetly and leaned on an elbow.

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

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

You’re quite a lover, Sweetheart.

 

 

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

Debbie returned with coffee and some donuts.

Krispy Kreme donuts. How did they get here?

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

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

Puppies?

She looked at me with squinted eyes.

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

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

Okay, what does ‘all the way’ mean?

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

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

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

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

How did I prove you right, Deb?

 Into my second donut and coffee cup almost empty.

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

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

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

She hesitated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why am I just now registering these facts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re still golf buddies, right?

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

*

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

*

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World View – ‘Mystery Castle’

World View – ‘Mystery Castle’

“There are times when life comes at you with ‘smoke and mirrors’ in a bold challenge to your carefully crafted World View.

“It is okay for you to raise your eyebrows and think, ‘Oh, my! another philosophical genius to enlighten our day and persuade it to go south’.

“However, with that thinking, you will close your ears and mind to a remarkable story that summons all your emotions…”

“Okay, enough with the preface. Get on with it, Milton – after you serve us another round of drinks.”

“You, Brett, and your three juveniles know the rules… I serve the first round, then, you are on your own. There’s my humble bar with beverage choices and mixes. Go for it, then settle in for enlightenment.”

With the noise of ice bouncing around inside the cocktail glasses, the jolly jokesters humming along with the background music of Paolo Mantovani, the guys reseated in the recliners, Bradley holds up his glass and speaks: “Okay, Miltie, lay it on us…it is your turn this week for ‘Most Remarkable Story of the Week’. Just, please, don’t be so pedantic and professorial in your spiel. We all know of your illustrious credentials…”

“How gracious of you, my once-good buddies…

“Okay, every claim I mention here can be verified on your laptops. In my humble…yes, humble…opinion, this is one of the great Human-Interest stories of our collective lifetimes…

“Bennet R. Chasen lived happily in San Francisco with his wife, Helene, and young daughter, Gabriela – nick-named, Gabbie. They were a close-knit family, took trips, went to the ocean, Bennet spending joyful time with Gabbie building ‘Sand-Castles’ on the beach. Not particularly rich in worldly goods, they loved and enjoyed their togetherness…

“The time was the 1930’s, and this loving father went privately for a medical examination for a condition he could not identify himself. That examination was to change the course of his and his family’s lives…

“Bennet  was diagnosed with Tuberculosis (TB) and given a short time to live. The doctor wanted to place him in ‘Isolation/Quarantine’, but the husband/father spent many hours in his own ‘mind-isolation’, emotions and tears colliding, so many ponderous thoughts turning his heart and mind into a maelstrom of grief and self-pity, into a kaleidoscope of pain and sadness. For days, he stayed away from his wife and daughter, fearful that any contact might transport the TB to them.

“After hours and days of isolation, the tears of sadness, his eddy of emotions, he made a fateful decision…he would, simply, disappear, lose himself in the world, notifying no one of his destination – including, his beloved wife and daughter. What, after all, could words possibly be worth in the final accounting? He knew he was to die. It was better to disappear than to introduce the concept of his immediate death to his wife and daughter. Let them think…he, just, disappeared, wary of his family life. That would be better than allowing them the truth of his decision. All the turbulence of his mind led him to the only solution he could make.

“The family would think what they would…he could not make it better for them with the truth. So, Bennet left San Francisco and would end up in Phoenix, Arizona

“In Phoenix, this incredible husband/father would ‘homestead’ a lovely piece of property in the South Mountain area, and, sand bucket by sand bucket, rock by rock, cacti by cacti, wood pieces by wood pieces, any item he could find on the desert floor, at a construction site to be thrown away. There was an old covered-wagon left on the property that he built into a bar, until, some years later, he had built a huge ‘sand-castle’ for his daughter that would become hers at this death…that event occurred some seven years after his TB diagnosis…

“So, you ‘malcontents’, what say you now? Except for the names I’ve lent them, this story can be verified and proven beyond any doubt. The daughter would live on this incredible land and in this awesome home until her death, known by the guns strapped to her waist she wore daily in this wild and beautiful desert…”

In unison and wide-eyed, the buddies went to the bar and fixed more drinks. Back in their seats, incredulous, Milton met their eyes, and spoke again.

“If you guys can afford a small ‘tour fee’, you can visit this incredible tribute to a man who weighed all his evidence, made the only decision he could make, and created what is now called, THE MYSTERY CASTLE.”

BR Chitwood – January 19, 2020

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Femme Fury Fatality

-Photo art by: Dennis Buchner – Unsplash-

Femme Fury Fatality

The sea from the balcony was glorious in its sunset pose. The brilliant yellow orb slowly dipped in the western sky, creating an unbridled inner stirring where phrases were worn closet clichés, feeble in rendering the poetic wonder of the Malibu scene. The heart and mind could never blend an appropriate coupling in describing a perfect utterance for a California evening in its sunset stages.

A lone couple walked along the edge of the slow-lapping surf with a beautiful Golden Retriever ahead joyfully leaping and romping in the choppy waters, chasing a large hard-rubber bone thrown by its master.

Melody Maybury stood pensively at the balcony’s sturdy stucco railing, engulfed in this splendid moment of another day’s end. There was a plaintive acceptance and gratitude for this ritual splendor. Delicate notes from Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini played softly from the balcony speaker, and Melody could not stop negative thoughts from intruding on this magical view.

“He’s a bastard. I’ve known Jeff Germaine for three years and I’ve never called him that before. Get over it. He could be telling you the truth. If you feel that way, move on. Find someone else. This is a sad story so often told. There’s someone out there who is real and can love you. But, am I being fair to Jeff? We’ve had some close, wonderful moments together. Oh, Damn, why am I doing this to myself?”

 Her thoughts persisted, negative, positive, back and forth, good guy, bad guy. What about the wonderful moments?

The phone ringing from inside broke into her monologue, and she left the sunset beauty and went inside to answer. She closed off the surf sounds by sliding shut the door to the balcony.

“Hello,” she spoke into the speaker.

“Melody, it’s Jeff. I’ve got a problem.”

Melody was silent.

“Melody, did you hear me? I’ve got a huge problem, and I need your help.”

“Really?” She stiffly responded. “You need my help? You told me you didn’t need me just last night. I’m hanging up, Jeff. I can’t help you, the way we are now.”

“Wait, please wait, Melody. Don’t hang up. I didn’t tell you, ‘I didn’t need you’ – I was talking about our spat: ‘I didn’t need the spat’. I do need you in my life. I love you. Please, Mel, hear me, ‘I need your help’. This is urgent for me or I would not call and bother you with it. It involves you as well as me. Please, hear me out. If you want us to be finished, we can be, but wait, please, until you hear me out. Melody, are you there?”

“Yes, I’m here, and I’ll listen but I’m not promising anything.”

“That’s okay, Melody. I’m a ‘heel’, I know, but I do love you. I hurt you and I’m so sorry. It was just the heat of our argument. Please try to believe me. Here’s why the call. I’m in the Santa Monica PD locked up on a bogus charge, and you are the only one who can help me. Please, Melody, help me.”

Melody heard loud voices and a scuffle in the background.

“Jeff, where did you go? Jeff?”

“I’m here. There’s another guy wanting me off the phone. Okay, here’s the story… Last night, when I left – at your request – I went to see Donna Grayson to ask her to call you, to tell you we were not an ‘item’, never had been, and that she was being a bitch for letting you think I was playing house with her…it never happened, Mel, truly, it never happened. But she wasn’t home, so I stayed last night in a motel off the Hollywood Freeway, and today, after…”

“Jeff, Jeff…”

“I’ve got to get off the phone, Mel, this guy here is nuts, but please believe me. I love you and only you. Donna was dead when I arrived at her place, and the cops think I did it. I did not kill her. Don’t even think that, Mel. I promise you, I did not. Can you make some calls for me, Mel? Try to get Les Baxter to get me bail, to get me out of here, let the studio know. I just tried to reach Les and could not. I’ve got to go. This guy is all over me, wanting the phone. I love you, Melody. Always have, always will…”

There was a loud crack in the phone, apparently dropped to the floor. “Hey, whoever you are, get off the damned phone so I can get a dial tone.” A gruff and nasty voice, not, Jeff’s.

Melody put the phone back in its cradle, and her thoughts came jumbled, all disjointed for some seconds. She sat on the long sofa for several minutes digesting what she heard from Jeff. Was his story the truth? Was it true he has not been seeing Donna? Donna was dead. My God, Jeff’s in jail for killing Donna. What to do? Call Les Baxter for help. Santa Monica PD. Get Jeff out of jail

After several attempts, she reached Les Baxter and gave him the information from Jeff. Then, she called her Dad and Mom in El Paso just to talk, to tell them she loved them and missed them. She never mentioned the bad news about the fella she was living with.

*

Later, the next day after Les Baxter posted bail, Jeff and Melody sat in their lovely Malibu home, looking out the glass doors to the balcony and on farther west over the gentle incoming waves to another incredible sunset.

“Do you want to talk about Donna’s murder, Jeff?”

They sat on the sofa sipping cocktails.

“I’d like to talk, Mel, but civilly, not in angry bursts. You say you now believe that Donna and I were not an item. Do you honestly believe that? If so, I want to talk.”

“Just remember, there were some strong suspicions and…” She shrugged, “yes, yes, I believe you. Now, tell me what happened.”

“Hmm, okay, from the beginning. I left the studio early yesterday because the script lady misplaced the scene and Jackson Argenté wanted the scene perfectly projected so we were not allowed to ad lib the dialogue…it would have been easy to ad lib as it was not that long a script. Argenté as a director can be a real ass, funny guy at times, really serious other times. I rather suspect Jackson had some amorous monkey business up his sleeve, if you know what I mean.

“So, I left early and went to the ‘Club’ – wanted to play nine holes of golf and occupy myself with thoughts of you, how to convince you of my fidelity. At the club, in the Men’s Grill looking for a pal to play nine holes with me, I joined Avery Bascomb for a drink and forgot about golf. Avery’s the new guy from San Francisco. I introduced you two last week. He likes ‘Hollywood Gin’ as do I so we played away much of the afternoon until thoughts of you and our spat got into my brain. I began losing concentration and money. You know me, I don’t like losing, got a little angry, broke a cocktail glass, and cut my hand.

“I called Donna from the ‘Men’s Grill’ and asked her if she would call you and make you understand there was nothing going on between her and me. She said she would but needed to see me to show me something important. I balked but there was something in her voice that sounded most urgent. It was on my way to Malibu, so I decided to stop and see what her urgency was.

“Her entry chimes went crazy on my third attempt at getting her to answer the door, and they wouldn’t stop…kept on chiming. Why wasn’t she answering? We had just talked on the phone. She would not have left, knowing I was coming to see what it was she wished to show me. The chimes were driving me nuts. They just would not stop chiming.

“So, I looked through the side door-window and saw her lying in a pool of blood there on the edge of the ‘great room’ and the entry hall. I was reaching for my cell phone to call the police when the siren wailed loudly just a few yards away, like, the cops turned the siren on when they saw me stepping away from the entry.

“I looked down and saw the blood from my cut at the ‘Men’s Grill’ and so did the two cops who were answering an apparent ‘red alert’ call from Donna. The cops opened the unlocked entry door and went to the body, checked for vital signs and there were none. The cops arrested me on the spot and took me to the Santa Monica PD. I screamed all the way about the ‘Men’s Grill’ glass breakage and my cut hand. They listened intently to my ‘Men’s Grill’ story, my calling Donna, but they had to take me in. They believed me but had no choice, they said… I’ve got no idea what it was Donna wanted to show me.

“That’s my story, Mel, and it’s the honest-to-God’s truth. You’ve got to believe me. I couldn’t do anything like that. I don’t even like playing bad guys in our movies.”

“I believe you, Jeff. We will get through this. I’m sorry I doubted you. The mind can do some crazy meandering at times. The cops can easily check the ‘Men’s Grill’ for proof of your alibi. That should be enough for them to drop the charges, don’t you think?”

“Hopefully. They won’t find anything in Donna’s place that can incriminate me. I was only there the one time with you.”

“It’s all going to work out, sweetheart. You’ve told me everything, right?”

“Of course, I have. I’ve never lied to you, Melody. I love you.”

*

As trials go, Jeff’s was a breeze. The judge appeared, called the two attorneys to the stand, whispered a few words – actually, quite a few words – and the lawyers returned to their respective seats.

The judge picked up his gavel, slammed it down on the wood and announced: “This case will not be heard for insufficient findings. Case dismissed.”

Later that day, movie director Jackson Argenté was arrested for the murder of Donna Grayson, his longtime secret paramour. His fingerprints and other evidence had been found at the murder scene. It was believed by most reports that Jeff just happened on the scene at the wrong time.

It was later noted in newspaper articles that the movie director had managed through extortion and payouts to keep other affairs and angry dispositions from print and media in general. Jackson Argenté was known to have a violent temper, with eruptions quite often.

The final chapter was written when Jackson Argenté was found hanging from a crude tangle of clothes tied around his neck and somehow connected to a ventilation duct.

Jeff Germaine and Melody Maybury became husband and wife in August that year and honeymooned in the south of France.

Of course, they lived happily ever after.

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 20, 2019

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©The Chameleons

©The Chameleons

By

 Billy Ray Chitwood

 

Beware, the chameleons!

 

They’re everywhere…

 

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

 

Take the case of Jeffrey Bullock and Catherine Santos…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

*

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Just, ‘what’?”

 

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

 

“So, what’s the problem?”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“And?”

 

“And, what?”

 

“Are you one of those things?”

 

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

 

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

 

“Gonna behave?”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

*

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Nice couple, really. It seems…”

 

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

 

*

 

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

 

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

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

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

 

“What! Don’t do this…it’s not funny!”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

There was an insistent ringing of the front doorbell.

 

“I’ll get it,” he said.

 

She followed him to the door.

 

He yanked the door open!

 

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

 

*

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

TaleEnd!

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 11, 2019

 

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Brotherly Love

 

Brotherly Love

“So, what’s up, big guy?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Okay, I know what’s next. My ‘You’re right, I don’t want to know,’ is not going to mean a twit to you, and you’re going to spend the next unquantifiable seconds telling me anyhow. So, again, what’s up, big guy?”

“Oh, you think you know me so well, but you don’t. Unquantifiable? Really! What does that mean? Never mind, I don’t want to know. I have a pretty good idea what it means. Look, this will take only a minute…I need to borrow $500 so I can get this remarkable deal on a laptop that has all the ‘goodies’ and the mega high numbers on everything – it’s got mega-bytes up the grommet.”

“So, why the hell are you asking me to give you $500. It would be, giving you, $500, because you would never pay it back. We’ve been there, done that before.”

“Aw, come on, you’re my big brother. You’re a handsome dude with a wife ‘to die for’ and you love me. You want to see me succeed, and, with this web puppy, I will succeed. I’ll pay you back when I get my income tax ‘money-back’ check…stop laughing, I mean it, I will pay you back.”

“Listen to you. You are insulting me, little brother…Elaine has gone grocery shopping so it’s a good time to have my chat with you. Sit and let’s allow me to give you some facts…

“Mom and Dad have been gone for a while, and I admit I’ve been over-accommodating you and your spurious needs. Elaine was the vote that got you living here with us, but there is a time-limit for you, Axel. I know you had tough emotional times, but so have I, and you need to put your life back together quickly. Elaine and I are not your mom and pop. God bless them, they’re gone. I love you and want you to succeed in your writing. However, your job at the tire factory pays you enough to be on your own, but you prefer living with us and partying way too much. Elaine must clean your messy room, pick up food droppings, do your maid duties for you, and that stops NOW! No more eating in your room for the remainder of your stay with us. No more messy room. No more mooching money.

“So, Axel, you get no more money from me or Elaine, and you have thirty days to find your own place and be out of here. As for your request for $500, that is a non-negotiable, NO! You’re my brother and I do love you, but your stay here is over in thirty days. If you are not out of here in thirty days, you will find all your meager belongings gone, given to Goodwill.

“Do you understand the ‘program’ I’ve described, Axel?”

“You really would do all that, Matthew?”

“Yes, and I might and will add, at twenty-four, a college drop-out, and a real presumptuous ass, I’ve put up, we’ve, Elaine and I, have put up with you too damned long. The thirty days can and will be moved up based on your attitude. We have simply had it, Axel. You are a brother I don’t recognize anymore. Mom and Dad would be so ashamed of you during these months you’ve been with us. I doubt if you would have left on your own terms, so I’m making that decision for you. You have taken advantage of us and our home for too long. Family love is important, but not so much under these circumstances. Please understand, I mean every word.”

“Wow! Why don’t you tell me what you really think, Matt! Damn, I never knew you felt like this. I just assumed, you know, family and stuff… Suddenly, I feel sort of dirty, you know, like a homeless bum. But, yeah, I understand. I thought you were grumpy at times, but I never thought the grumpiness was about me… Well, my being sorry won’t hack it, but I’ll say, I’m sorry, very sorry, for the way I’ve acted. I’ll be out of here before using up those thirty days. A buddy has been wanting me to move in with him. That suddenly sounds like a winning offer. Don’t misunderstand, Matt, I’ve heard you loud and clear. I will change – for the better, I promise. I needed this ‘Big Brother’ session. Believe me, it all makes perfect sense to me. I really have been an intolerable ass. Thanks, Matt, good ‘Bro’, I’ll surprise you. Wait and see. I love you, big guy. Is it okay if I hug you, Matt?”

“Sure, it’s okay. You’re still my brother. I just played Dad for a few moments, but I still meant everything I said.”

“I know, Matt…guess this is not the right time to mention my affair with Elaine, huh?”

Billy Ray Chitwood – June 17, 2019

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The House on Guthrie Place

The House on Guthrie Place

[All Dialogue]

“Hi, Sweetheart. Did you see the house?”

“Yes. It was immaculately beautiful, but I was frightened, Barry!”

“Why were you frightened, Edie?”

“It was the realtor’s eyes, I think, for the most part. They were menacing in their hungry stares, with an almost reddish-glow. It was enough to make me shiver with fear.”

“Where were you in the house? Which room in the house?”

“In the master bedroom. He was showing me how to work the on/off gas switch at the fireplace. It was a beautiful room, an awesome home with a rich and wonderful elegance. He bent down to reach the switch, and I bent over to see the spot and accidently brushed his side. When we stood up I had the strange notion he was going to grab me, and I took a step back toward the entry door to the master bedroom. That was the moment his eyes seemed to penetrate me, eyed me with a bold and scary stare.”

“What did you do then?”

“Well, I wasn’t positive my mind was recording the scene as I felt it so I tried to act normal, whatever that means, you know, I said: ‘Okay, can we see the kitchen and the patio area?’ and hurriedly took leave of the master bedroom.”

“And, did he show you the kitchen and patio area?”

“Yes, and as he opened the patio’s sliding glass-doors, he made body contact with me, and, I believe it was his intent to do so.”

“I rushed toward the hallway that leads to the front entrance and mumbled some silly gibberish, like, ‘Well, thank you for showing me the house. It’s very nice. I’ll bring my husband by to see it’.”

“Is that it, then, you just left? Where was the real estate agent when you left?”

“He followed me outside, acted befuddled, and yelled: ‘Are you alright, Mrs. Branson’?”

“I yelled back, ‘Yes, just running late, thank you’, and he had the last yell, ’you have my card, Mrs. Branson. Call me when you and your husband want to preview the house.’ Then, I zipped away from the curb fast, wanting to put distance between me and Nolan Wentz – just in case he planned on following me.”

“Are you sure in your own mind, Edie, that you’re not over-reacting to this encounter?”

“Well, not completely, no, and I would hate myself for the thoughts I had in that lovely house if I’m over-reacting… Call it whatever you will, Barry, but I felt my skin crawl with a ‘danger alert’, I’m convinced of that. His eyes were the ‘danger alert’, along with the touching in the master bedroom and at the patio sliding doors. With all of that, Barry, I loved the house, and you would, too. I know you would. We’ve been looking for exactly this house. I know you would love it. Are you thinking I’m embellishing all of this?”

“No, I don’t think that at all…just running the event in my mind. This could be very important, but it’s surely not enough to alert the police. Let me see his business card.”

“I put it in my purse… here, here it is.”

“Hmm, his name is Nolan Wentz…sounds vaguely familiar.”

“Do you know him?”

“No, I don’t know him. I’ve seen the name somewhere, likely in my travels.”

“What are you doing? Are you calling him?”

“Yes. I want to see the house, number one, because I want to get us out of this high-rise apartment, and, I want to check out this guy.”

“Are you sure, Barry? I do love the house, but do I have to go with you? I don’t want to see that guy again.”

 “Yes, I want you along, just in case we’re both of a mind to buy the place. I told you six months ago when we met and fell in love we would buy our dream house, and I intend to keep my word. The money is not an issue, and, if this is the house of your dreams and mine, we will buy it… shh, the phone is ringing.”

“Is Mr. Wentz in, please?”

“May I say who’s calling?”

“Barry Branson…he had a showing with my wife earlier and I would like to see the house.”

“Thank you, sir. Just a moment, please.”

“This is Nolan, how can I help you, Mr. Branson?”

“Hi, Nolan, call me, Barry, please. You showed my wife a house on Guthrie Place. She likes it very much so we would like to preview it again. When can you be available to show the house?”

“My time is easy, Barry. I can be at the Guthrie Place estate this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon. I have appointments in the morning.”

“Good. We’re easy, too, so can we meet at 3:00 PM this afternoon at the Guthrie Place residence?”

“I’ll be happy to meet you there at 3:00 PM, Barry. Your wife, I believe, has the gate code for Guthrie Place?”

“Yes, she has it, Nolan, so we’ll see you there at 3:00 PM. Good-bye.”

“Okay, Edie, you heard, we’re set for 3:00 PM. I know you’re nervous about seeing the guy, but I’ll be with you. Hey, it just could be our dream home.”

*

“The area is fantastic, Edie, so much greenery, flowers, trees, and the waterfall at the gate is a great selling point. The homes are all custom-built and so lovely.”

“Wait until you see the home, Barry. It’s fantastic. I just hope I’m wrong about Nolan Wentz.”

“Me, too, sweetheart. Hell, I feel at home already…”

“Okay, this is it, Barry, there, where the two tall palm trees stand. The Homeowners Association allows curb parking for possible buyers of property. Just park here.”

“Hey, I like our new house number, 711 Guthrie Drive. That’s a great number on the green felt of a Las Vegas casino crap table. Sounds somehow ‘right’ just saying it. I know, I know. We have a dual-purpose here. ‘Scope out Nolan Wentz and like the house’.

“Ah, the birds are tweeting, welcoming us to our new home, Edie…love the flagstone walkway treatment and drive-way. Hmm, I see Mr. Wentz at the front door waiting for us. Good-looking dude. How nice, big smile and all. Hope you’re wrong about the man, Edie.”

“Hi, folks, come on in. Welcome to your new home…sorry if I’m being presumptuous, Mr. and Mrs. Branson. Just trying for levity. How are you, Mrs. Branson? You left so fast earlier today, you had me worried.”

“Just running late to meet Barry for lunch.”

“Well, why don’t I put away my sales pitch and you two make the rounds inside and out. I’ll be right here in the parlor if you need to ask questions about anything, anything at all…”

“What lovely furnishings! Edie never mentioned…”

“Oh, she didn’t know, but all the furniture stays. It’s ‘turn-key’ and that includes all the kitchen goodies, china, silverware, plates, the whole enchilada, as they say… An unfortunate divorce and neither one wants to come near the house again. Crazy, huh? You, Barry, I’m betting, will fall in love with the exercise room and large steam shower – it will seat at least six people, that is, if there’s a need for that many…but, you two go ahead and make yourselves at home. Each residence in Guthrie Place sets on one-half acre and most of the homes have pools and spas, out-door kitchens, and very lovely landscaping…yell if you need a question answered…”

“Nolan’s a good-looking guy, Edie. He doesn’t look like the kind of guy who would come onto a client…not that I think you were mis-representing anything…just saying.”

“You know, I agree, Barry. It all had to be just me! Gawd! It’s like I’m previewing this beautiful residence for the first time. I just love it…”

*

“Nolan, we…oops, sorry, didn’t see the cell phone…”

“I’m off now… So, what do you think of 711 Guthrie Place?”

“We think you need to get our offer written up and to the sellers ASAP. We want a fast closing, and it’s a cash deal.”

“Oh, be quiet, my heart. It’s thumping wildly. Are you talking a full-price offer?”

“Yes, no, haggling! Everything stays as it is – all things we see here stays here. Understood?”

“Understood, for sure. That is exactly the way the sellers wanted it…sorry if my handshake is a bit moist, Barry and Edie. This is quite a day for me. You just put me in the sales-leader position at the agency. Thank you so very much. I will require a fairly high sum down. Is that a problem?”

“No, that’s no problem. Give me a figure and I’ll write a check. To whom do I make the check out?”

“Langley Escrow Service…you understand I’m sure the mortgage company must do a search for any liens and so forth. It’s routine to check your bank for the rather high deposit amount. There must be a ‘close of escrow’ as well, so it will all take a few days. Is that a problem for you?”

“No, no problem.”

“Again, thank you so much. I’ll be sending you copies of paperwork as we go through this procedure. Mailing stuff can take a few days, or, if you like, I can drop the paper off to you. Mailing it will take up to a week, maybe longer, with real estate transactions running sometimes a bit slow.”

“Mail is fine. No need for the legwork…”

*

“Why did you make the check so big, Barry?”

“Well, they’re going to get the full amount anyhow… 1.5 million! This way, maybe we get into our new home a bit quicker.”

“True, but half the amount, $750,000? Ah, you know what you’re doing. I love you, big guy. It is such a beautiful house. Hopefully, by the time you get back from your 10-day trip to Cincinnati, all the paperwork will be done, and we’ll move in with just our suit-cases. To be honest, I’ll miss our luxury high-rise condo, but all that room at our new place…so much fun in the anticipation. ”

“If the close comes faster and they want the rest of the money, you write the check. Okay?”

“Sure, if you want me to. God! The pen in my hand will shake, writing a check that big. I love you, Barry, and thank you for our beautiful new home.”

*

“Hey, Edie, I’m home. Edie. You here, Edie? Hmm, she knew when I was getting home. Probably, shopping…”

*

“Yeah, operator, how do I get information? I can’t seem to get it on my phone…”

“Hang on, sir. I’ll connect you to ‘information’.”

“Information…can I help you?”

“Yeah, can you find the number for Langley Escrow Service?”

“Just a moment, sir…”

“How are you spelling that name, sir?”

“Langley…L-A-N-G-L-E-Y, Escrow Service, unless there is no ‘e’ at the end of Langley.”

“Just a moment, sir.”

“Sir, are you there?”

“Yeah, I’m here…what’s the number?”

“I’m sorry, sir, I find no number for Langley, L-A-N-G-L-E-Y, Escrow Service listed.”

“No, no, there’s got to be a listing for Langley Escrow Service. I just bought a house that went through Langley Escrow Service.”

“I’m sorry, Sir. I do not have a listing for that company.”

“You must have. C’mon, check again…”

“Just a moment, sir…”

“Sir?”

“Yes.”

“There is no Langley Escrow Service listed in our city, sir. I’m terribly sorry for your inconvenience.”

“My inconvenience! My inconvenience! That company has my money. You have to have it listed.”

“I’m so sorry, sir. Would you like to speak to my on-duty supervisor?”

“Yes. Yes, let me speak to your supervisor. My God, when the phone company can’t help you, what the hell…”

“Hello, Sir, I’m the Supervisor on duty, and I’m so sorry to make you wait. The operator stated the problem, sir, and she told you correctly. We do not have a listing for Langley Escrow Service.”

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”

“I’m sorry, Sir.”

*

“Can I help you, Sir? You look like you could use some help.”

“I need to talk to one of your detectives…

“What’s the problem, Sir?”

“I’ve been swindled out of one million five hundred thousand dollars.”

“Geez. That is a problem… When did this swindle happen?

“Two weeks ago.”

“Two weeks ago, huh?”

“That’s what I said. I didn’t stutter. I’m hurting here! Get me a detective.”

“Hey, don’t get snappy with me, Pal…(hmm, if this guy has just lost one and a half million dollars, I’m Queen Elizabeth without the sex-change…) Hold on a minute, Sir. I’ll get a detective.

©Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood – March 5, 2019

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