Enigma Of The Soul
How often do you use the word, ‘Soul?’ How often do you think about your ‘Soul?’
Mirriam-Webster defines ‘Soul’ as:
1. the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life
2. a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe
So, that’s enough, right? The two definitions pretty much say it all, and there are more definitions there in the dictionary if you want more.
‘Soul’ seems to me, though, such a huge word to be so small. Writers likely get the most use out of the word than the people who really work for a living — no anger, please, just adding a little levity here. Really, it seems to me that ‘Soul’ is not in too many mundane conversations. ‘Soul’ is usually saved for the philosophers, poets, preachers, Romantics, sentimentalists, and writers.
You can almost envision the literary expatriates who gathered in Paris between the period of World War One and the onset of World War Two…wtiters like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Gertrude Stein to name a few — okay, okay, I’m name-dropping — but these were the people I read and studied in college and their lives got somehow interwoven with my own, with my ‘Soul.’ I can see them sitting at the sidewalk cafes talking in the afternoon about their writings, about how the devastation of war had impacted their lives. I can see them drinking the Bacchus liquids and debauching in the evenings, pausing in their fun and frivolity for serious and sober moments to discuss the condition of the ‘Soul.’
These were the people Gertrude Stein referred to as ‘the lost generation.’ Certainly, why not Paris? Why not gather in the great city of lights with so much art and beauty? It was the place to be if you were disillusioned by a world intent on war and destruction. It was the perfect place and time to discuss matters of the ‘Soul,’ and these great writers held those discussions in the finest style and with some of the most celebrated erudition prevalent in those days.
So, why do I post about ‘Soul?’
Guess it’s easy for me, an oldtimer looking back on his life, how he’s lived, somewhat of an anachronism in today’s fast moving digital world. ‘Soul’ is such an all-encompassing word. It holds such a fascination for me in these sunset years, but it has always held that fascination for me — guess ‘Soul’ for me is what writing is all about. We live, we pay taxes, and we die, but the ‘Soul’ offers us so many delectable scenarios of which to consider and ponder.
‘Soul’ is that defining part of us that we can’t pinpoint, can’t know exactly where it is, but we have to know that it is there. ‘Soul’ is everything Mirriam-Webster says it is, but so very much more. There are times when the directions we take as a world concerns me greatly. It is my hope that we can still take time, Paris or not, to discuss the implications of such an enigmatic and beautiful word.
Billy Ray Chitwood – 12/10/17
(From the Archives, 8/12)
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Martin and Sybil
-Short Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood-
When the thought came to me I cannot say. The thought came and stayed, growing steadily through the minutes, hours, and days. It seized an uncommon, unpredictable control of my mind, macabre, mad thoughts pounding incessantly, relentlessly, a drum beat so wildly cacophonous I began to doubt my sanity…
Sybil was everything in my world, her devotion and love the building blocks of my future, our love destined for the scripts of poetry, pretty phrases, and romance novels.
It was a summer day on the white sandy shore in La Jolla, California. I sat on an unfolded beach seat reading one of my favorite books - soulful poetry by ex-priest, James Kavanaugh. Each time I read the book, I became engrossed. The book had me engrossed once again. It was a shattering compilation of soul-rending and searching. It was, and, is, a book that is both compliant and kindred to my own soul. The book’s passages reminded me of my own childhood and young adult life. the words and phrases touching the soft spots of pain and remembrance.
It was but a spray of sand that brought the exhilarating discovery of Sybil Moreen. She almost tripped in the sand. She wore a tantalizing yellow bikini, her tanned body of curves and voluptuousness arousing the gonads and the heart’s pitter-pat. But it was her face, framed by a delicious spill of golden hair, blue eyes and an elegant face that spoke supremely of angelic purity.
Something passed between us, that thrill of something discovered that just might be the defining moment of one’s life, a magical spate of emotions that come but once in a lifetime.
We stared at each other for some seconds before I found my voice. From some source within of clumsy mutterings, my first words to her were: “Are you with someone?”
She smiled and did a funny thing with her eyes and answered: “Well, no, I’ve just come from a modeling shoot. Are you suggesting I join you?”
“Look, you’ve staggered my senses here. You must know you’re beautiful… I just sense, uh, something passing through us, and that’s just not an ordinary event with me. But, yes, I am suggesting you join me. Will you consider such a sudden quake of my mind? Please don't be insulted!”
She placed her hands on her titillating hips, gave me a coquettish smile: “Well, may we start with names? My name is Sybil. Yours?”
So, began our relationship, built with the finest intentions and promises two people in love can make to each other.
We enjoyed being together with as little time apart as possible. We were in love, akin to some of the greatest loves of all time. Our adoration for each other bordered on rapture. I’m convinced no other love ever possessed more idyllic space in time.
We married three months after our La Jolla beach meeting, and life was storybook from every angle. Other than time at my Consulting business and Sybil’s modeling, we were at all times together. We wanted a family but not immediately. We were enjoying life too much, our dinners at great restaurants, occasional evening visits with mutual friends, beach time, and some golf.
It was at a golf course that the first sense of trouble arrived. Sybil and I were put with two men to round out a foursome. That was fine with Sybil and me. We liked meeting new people.
These new people we could have done without very nicely, at least, one who called himself, Bryce Cowling. The one fellow, a John Gibbon, was a nice guy who had apparently been paired up with Cowling to satisfy the tee-times and crowds of golfers.
Bryce Cowling spent most of his golf-time looking at Sybil, an inane smile on his lips. He was a rude and brazen individual, showed no golf etiquette. He was always close to Sybil, making insulting non-sequiturs. Sybil gave no encouragement to the brash bastard and moved away from him when he came her way.
My run-in with him came on the thirteenth hole when I overheard Cowling utter an insult to me and to Sybil – her insult a sex-related quip. I grabbed him and shoved him away from Sybil, and he gave me a mean gritted-teeth stare and a menacing smile.
It was my good fortune to go thirty-eight years before meeting a crude and rude playboy type like Bryce Cowling. I told him this and to stay away from Sybil.
Fate can at times be cruel!
Cowling developed a fixation on Sybil, tracked her down at a modeling shoot and began stalking her.
Not only was the guy ugly and mean, he had a ‘rap sheet’ with the San Diego PD that included felony arrests for rape and assault.
It became my habit of taking time away from my work, driving Sybil to her ‘shoots’, but that was not doable on November 8, 2005 because of a consulting conflict.
When she went missing, I was frantic! I called the San Diego PD and was told forty-eight hours needed to pass before they could do anything.
The police found Sybil’s ravaged body seven days later in the hills above La Jolla near our home, near the beach where we met and fell in love.
My anguish became anger and rage. The SDPD questioned Bryce Cowling and cleared him of the homicide of Sybil. The PD said his alibi checked out.
Cowling’s alibi checked out for them, maybe, but not for me. My life became null and void without Sybil. There was nothing that would countervail my rage.
Daily, nightly, I tracked Bryce Cowling and finally gained unnoticed entry into his San Diego condo.
He was with a woman who, unlike Sylvia, gave herself to dancing, laughing, telling of her sex-capades, copulating with this man I hated so much.
I watched from my hidden spot until I retched, but the retching did not rid me of my anger. With my hunting knife slicing and stabbing, I killed them both while they were sexually rapt. I would not know how many stabs, how many slashes I put upon their bodies. I can only say my rage was spent.
A neighbor in an adjoining condo heard the screams and called 911.
The police came.
I was arrested.
Now, I hear footsteps outside my cell.
It is time for my execution. I’ve been here for years and I am ready for my sentence to be carried out.
There are no regrets for what I did. That is perhaps the saddest part. That and the not knowing whether I shall see my beloved Sybil in the next dimension.
Anger and Hate are beastly emotions, but I somehow cannot regret the mutilations of those l savaged...
Even, when the real killers were apprehended later!?
What does that make me?
Short Fiction © by Billy Ray Chitwood
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