Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are?

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BR Chitwood

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“Who do you think you are?”

“What? Who is speaking?”

“You are, Weirdo! You’re talking to yourself.”

“Hmm! Strange! That’s never happened before…”

“Sure, it has, almost daily, in fact.”

“Whoa! Who the hell are you…and, where are you?”

“In your brain, Idiot!”

“Which side?”

“Which side? Which side? What a dumb-ass question… your frontal lobe.”

“Oh, My God! I’m going nuts!”

“Going? You been working on this for some time, dip-shit!”

“Hey, keep it clean!”

“You’re doing the talking, dip-shit!”

“So, I’m going crazy! The ‘Frontal Lobe’ of my brain is talking to me…so, you eavesdrop on everything I think or say. Is that your function? There’s a ‘left’ and a ‘right’ lobe, right? So, what’s your job ‘Lobe-Meister’?”

“Why did I get stuck in your brain? You are a dummy…but, okay, I’m a functionary part of your brain: the ‘left side’ of the lobe controls the right commands; the ‘right side’ controls the left… You’ve never done this before! Why, now? This chat business”?

“’Never done this before’? Hey, Lobe-Meister, this is as new for me as it is for you. It’s not like I requested this meeting…”

“Okay, okay, something is up, and I have to check it out. Are you hurting anywhere?”

“There is a light quaking sound… No pain. Otherwise, I’m sitting here thinking I’m crazy!”

“Don’t take that off the table as a possibility, because I’ve never had this happen before… I will do my ‘due diligence’ and get back to you. For now, go to bed and sleep for hours.”

“Before you go, what’s the difference between the ‘mind’ and the ‘brain’?”

“Huge subject, pardner… The mind can influence the brain, have a ‘mental force’ – check out ‘Neuro Plasticity and The Power of Mental Force’.”

“That’s it? You are leaving me with that? One last thing: Am I going to be hearing from you on a frequent timeline? Do I have a ‘say’ in the matter? If not, please, don’t come at me when I’m making love or out on a date…”

“Sorry, I cannot make any promises…maybe your thought processes will be enough! Bye.”

“Meant to tell you this earlier: your voice sounds really prissy-like…does God include you with every birth?”

“No comment! I said, ‘Good-bye’!”

“Hmmm!”

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BR Chitwood – May 25, 2022

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All 20 of my books with synopses, 500 blog posts, short stories, Flash Fiction, Poetry, and Songs can be found at:

https://www.brchitwood.com

You Are Your Moods

You Are Your Moods

BR Chitwood

You are your moods…just sharing some of mine…

My mother was a gentle, generous, and kind woman from a large loving family of four boys and four girls, the matriarch of the brood fervently involved in her Protestant Faith. The father was a quiet, gentle, corpulent man, a railroad foreman for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, a most pleasant person who seldom interfered with the demands of his pious wife who each day offered a loud, long, tearful, prayer to her Father in Heaven, with all present kneeling for her long wailing wishes for blessings and forgiveness of sins committed by her and her brood. Despite the parental toughness of her ways and the seriousness of her moods, she was a kind and gentle person.

Two of the four boys would serve their country in World War Two, one ferrying our brave warriors to the shore at Omaha Beach. The youngest of the brothers was murdered as he was closing down his ‘Filling Station’ late at night in Knoxville, Tennessee. Stanley was his name and a most wonderful Uncle. Uncle Stanley saw me through some difficult times in my early life. I loved this good man and think of him often through all these years.

Uncle Stanley and my mother were so much alike, both holy of heart, soul, and honorable in their daily living…

My Mom was a boarding house cook and a Bell Telephone Operator/Supervisor. Because of economic conditions at the time my mother had to rely on the state of Tennessee and my grandparents for boarding and financial help – it was a necessary procedure for many families at the time.

My most memorable years came when my mother brought my sister and me to live in a lovely home across from a beautiful college where I played tennis with some of the students and attended elementary school. Times got better for our small family. My sister blossomed early and wanted all that went with a pretty face and desirable body…problems, yes, but the family worked through it.

Much of my life was molded from those early days, still given to thoughts of a past with too little good and a lot of ugliness. I served my country, got through college, taught writing to high school seniors, did some acting, commercials and film, married a few times, sired three beautiful kids who constantly amaze me with their goodness, settled at last with a lovely lady who is all a man could possibly want.

Oh, and I have written twenty books, many based on true crimes, mystery and romance, a couple of memoirs, some 375 blog posts, many ‘flash fiction’ pieces, short stories, and poetry.

Okay, had this quiet afternoon of reflection, felt like writing some of it down, and I feel better…and, I just felt like sharing it with people who might be reading my posts.

All of my books are on: https://brchitwood.com

Hope you can read some of my books…and perhaps leave an Amazon review if so inclined…

The Party’s Over

©The Party’s Over

By BR Chitwood

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Friday nights became a weekly

ritual at my apartment in the

Lovely ‘Spanish Gardens’ –

My drinking pals were there with 

‘Lady prizes’ of the evening, plus

Some Male and female loners…

They usually matched up quickly.

At party’s end I was alone.

While soft Frank Sinatra ballads

Floated among the low lights

And polluted air of booze and smoke

I lazily reclined on the sofa,

Allowing my mind to wander

Down its normal paths of

Romantic memories of pretty faces,

Love affairs in Time’s vacuum.

As I stared at the shadowy ceiling

It came clearly vivid to me…

Stark, plain as the mind can

Render and a ‘hobo heart’ can

Pump its Romantic sadness…

No matter the attempts to

Rebuke the world for my failings,

I was a man ignoring his destiny…

‘His destiny’? I smiled at my hubris…

An author who wrote of his small

Accomplishments, his Loves, his idiocy,

His books, his poetry, were to bring

A new name to literature – my name!

‘His Destiny’? Really! ‘His Destiny’?

A fool at the journey’s beginning – 

An enlightened fool at journey’s end!

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BR Chitwood – June 28, 2021

Website/Blog: https://brchitwood.com

https://Twitter.com  – @brchitwood

https://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

Why Am I Writing?

Br Chitwood

Back in the days when I was rocking and rolling, acting, doing television commercials, film work, even live plays on stage, living in a world I could never have imagined, a horrible murder caused me to turn to writing…

An actress friend of mine was brutally murdered and went missing for two weeks. Her name was Catherine Gibbs (book name – not real name) a ladyresponsible for my fun and frivolity in the acting world. When Cathy’s body was found in the NE desert area of North Phoenix on a record heat day in August, there was little left for the police and forensic people to go on. The heat of August made her unrecognizable.

We, Cathy’s sad gals and pals, were busy missing our good friend but also playing detective on the case. We knew some of the men who dated Carmen, and there was one she preferred over the rest. She was hopeful of marriage and family. That man and several other men were given ‘lie detector’ tests and all passed.

The method used to kill Cathy I hesitate to give the gruesome details of what the detectives and forensic people compiled from what slim evidence they had.

At least, one of Cathy’s friends wrote a book about the case.

Some time later I wrote my own book about the murder, a fictional account of what possibly happened that long-ago night some fifty-odd years ago. The title of the book is: An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery #1.

There are six books in the series, 1-6, each book having kernels of truth in them. If the reader has further interest in these books, please find them on my Website/Blog:

https://brchitwood.com

(Under ‘All my Books’) – Synopses and BUY SITES given.)

In all, I’ve written 21 books, many of which are based on true events – e.g.,

Mama’s Madness – Amazon

Stranger Abduction – Amazon

(For the other books, see my Website/Blog)

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In writing, I found an outlet for exposing to myself WHO I am – at least, to the extent that is possible. The reader can find me there on and between the lines of what I write.

In ending this short post, let me wish you good reading and a very good life.

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BR Chitwood – Author -June 14, 2021

Author’s Mission – Writing to Discover Me

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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download (1)

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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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download (1)

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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…

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©Gina Malloy’s Secret

By BR Chitwood – June 23, 2020

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A New World Order?

©A New World Order?

By BR Chitwood

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Too much!

Much too much!

Enter, Corona Virus Pandemic!

We have automatic washers and dryers for our clothes when they become too soiled and odorous.

We have become so ‘knowledge-driven’ that we re-double all that we know within weeks and months, NOT years, not decades, not centuries, NOT since ‘Sputnik’ and our frenzy to satisfy every need, want, and wish, NOW!

Enter, Corona Virus Pandemic!

We have RIOTS in our cities by the citizens and denizens when they feel an abuse by our official peace-keeping men in blue defiling the ‘letters of our laws’.

We have convicts released on our streets, some who immediately go back to their ugly criminal activities.

We have countries that vie for a dubious supremacy in the world’s trade economies, countries with totalitarian rule and governance, not freedom and liberty for all.

Enter, Corona Virus Pandemic.

This ‘mind’ with which I work is not of the brilliant shine. My mind roots itself in simple origins, rutted country lanes, out-houses, and kerosene lamps, a prosaic mind that cannot do quantum leaps with his manufacturing of ideas that could solve our country’s issues of so much importance…poverty, equality, parity, crime, punishment, progressive, conservative – the prodigious cycles of thinking that must go into these ‘We the People’ elements.

What will the world elite thinkers devise to solve these most confounding and profound twenty-first century and beyond dichotomies of problem solving: peace/war; high IQ/low IQ; art/theatre crime/punishment; life/death; et al.

Peace/War… Can the world find a common ground in prevention of war? Will there be in our knowledge doubling some new miraculous computer chip to defy those who would start a war? Will there be a United Nations with Teeth? A Constant Standing War Council who will convene regularly to determine through viable computer input what areas of the globe might need censuring and Stop clauses?

High IQ/Low IQ… Will there be an enlightened world where new studies promote new colonies being established for people who can fairly compete for jobs in an environment that places no stigmata on people who are disabled by genetic wiring, and, who can determine of their own Free Will the path they will take – with safe-guards against forcible mandates.

Art/Theatre… Will there be new Civic choices, new voluntary standards for the artists, actors, show performers, who want more options for their talent? Options that are provided by an Artist Commission devoted to the growth of a healthy and communal Entertainment lobby that is non-political by AC Dictate.

Crime/Punishment… Will we have a Justice System with new penalties for particular crimes? Will there be Penal Colonies established for the criminal habitués, those people who clearly show evidence that recidivism is impossible. Will those colonies be in habitats that are unappealing, dark and dreary?

Life/Death… Should our Medical experts determine without a shadow of a doubt that a person is dying in a most inhumane way, will the suffering end for the aggrieved with an injection?

Will multi Micro-Biological Tanks be able to do patrols through our blood veins, bringing new cells to replace the old, bringing cures for cancer, for heart conditions, for arthritis, and regenerate vibrant, youthful new human beings? Are these health crises truly to become extinct with the exciting work of Micro-Biologists?

Enter, Corona Virus Pandemic!

Is the Corona-V-19 with all its calamity and deaths a prelude to all the marvels that will shape this century and other centuries ahead. Are we beginning a new and colossal history forged by our Divine Deity?

Do we leave a chaotic world of our making, a burning cinder in Space for the fusion of God’s and Science’ New World Order?

BR Chitwood – June 1, 2020

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A Day in the Life…

Image Art by: Soroush Zargar – Unsplash.com

A Day in the Life…

This dull-ass job is crap!

I am nothing but a frigging two-bit automatom, stamping tiny numbers onto white plastic wiring that will find their home on passenger airline jets in their electronic gear, but not before I tediously solder the metal wires inside the white plastic to their connecting joints – all to be approved by swilling quality control coffee drinkers in clean white smocks.

This job is the dull-ass pits!

Why do coffee-break times only go for fifteen minutes and lunch-breaks for thirty. This big-ass aircraft plant is for the shits, man, like a sterile prison where wire-stamping machines like the one I am on, pulling endless white plastic wires through a small fixed eye hole contraption on a long, long bench that goes forever down this interior part of the huge building that is called the sub-assembly Building ‘A’ – yeah, there is a ‘B’, a ‘C’, and a ‘D’…maybe, more.

Oh, and there are the arrogant guys who are referred to as the ‘Union Stewards’ (can you believe this crap?) and they live up to their frigging notoriety. The jerks march up to you while you are working and bark out orders, ‘do this’, ‘do that’, ‘keep your nose clean’, etc. You know what I’m saying here? The assholes are telling us how to breathe and not complain, what to say to the management if we talk to them.

Okay, I am bitter, if you have not gotten that far in this little ring-a-ding I am writing here. I have never ‘til this week worked in this kind of job, a lousy job controlled by a Union. Now, I can understand the rumors, the cold and hardass facts about Unions and big corporations…hey, yeah, it is a free country in which we live, and, hey, if this is your thing, come and get it. It is not for me.

For me, this is only temporary. I am young, just recently graduated from an Electronic Trade School, and this is my first real job of any kind. This is the job the school set-up for me…three hours in this plant and I want to take that bit of paper that I graduated and cram it up someone’s ying-yang at the school. Yeah, I know more about Electronics now, but ‘stamping those stupid white plastic wires! C’mon, it’s for morons, man.

These shifts at the huge jet airline plant affected most of my awake time. (Might have had some nightmares on troubled sleep nights.)

Remember, I was young – twenty-one years of age, so what the hell did I know? I looked at life as being then, as in, ‘NOW’, and I likely figured I was stuck in that horrible environment. To be fair, I am reasonably sure that some people who worked in that ‘Day-and- Night Mare’ perhaps enjoyed the pace the job required.

Yes, young, with some new realities in my life, some devastating to the ego and psyche, not to mention the heart and soul (then, maybe they are all one and the same…but, then, few women and men have lives sustained by all things beautiful, joy, love. peace. Some sorrows must enter at some point, some events that one spends a lifetime trying to understand.

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NOTE:    This was one of my first jobs after my discharge from the US Navy – before college, before any great transformation to social grace. This is most likely how I could have described the job referenced in the post. Thank God I was not there that long before a much better opportunity came up.

College, the English Poets and an English Major for my BA got my life in a reasonable place…not that life did not have a lot more to offer in way of disappointments, successes, and love.  (BRC)

BR Chitwood – May 27, 2020

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The Truth of Kay – ‘aka Kate’ –

Image Art by: Christian Holzinger – Unsplash.com

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©The Truth of Kay

AKA Kate’

by BR Chitwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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©Eyes That Dance

So beautiful the night

So beautiful and bright

So wrapped up in delight

Am I…

With you here near to me

Then heaven cannot be

So very far away,

Just but a kiss away,

Oh, you,

With the eyes that dance.

Eyes that dance,

Eyes that dance,

Put me in a trance,

I don’t stand a chance –

I’m in love with the night

So beautiful,

And, you,

With the eyes that dance.

©by BR Chitwood

May 22. 2020

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

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Stealth of Solitude

©Stealth of Solitude

By BR Chitwood

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These moments come

Where solitude settles

Softly, sweetly  serene

Upon  the selfless air.

 

In this quaint quietude

Along passive trails

The thoughts tumble

In silent speculation,

 

Memory peacefully pulses

With long ago reverie

Of loves and memories –

Treasures lost to time.

 

Slowly, a silent smile

Wistful in its pose

Is joined by tears in

Slow and tender descent.

 

Then, a distant doorbell ring,

Stealing these moments,

Displacing this  golden,

Tender Cache from me.

 

Time, relentless, constant,

Bringing dreams and joy,

Capriciously at its pleasure

Giving and taking away…

 

©BR Chitwood – May 13, 2020

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Hear My Scream

Hear My Scream

by BR Chitwood – My Archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The time was 12:45 PM.

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

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

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

The next day I looked for work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood (From my Archives)

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*

NOTE:

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

The book: HELL’S MUSIC\

BY Jerry Miller and his fox-hole buddy!

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