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Running In Plain Sight & Other Stories by Charles R. Butts Jr.

26 Feb

Running In Plain Sight & Other Stories by Charles R. Butts Jr.

A compilation of four diverse and entertaining short stories.

The title story, “Running In Plain Sight” chronicles the journey of Leander Sills Jr. At the age of ten, he was forced to flee after the brutal murder of his parents and his subsequent retaliation. Follow his travels as he tries to stay a step ahead of those seeking vengeance.


“If All Minds Are Clear”
, tells the story of Reverend Brantley Wilkerson II. A young, handsome and charismatic minister on the rise and newly engaged to the pastor’s daughter. But when a potential indiscretion lurks and could possibly derail his dream of being named pastor of Grace Baptist Church, will he reach his dream, or will he fall from grace?


“Home”
, follows the story of P. Randall Spires. Born an albino, he can’t shake the pain of being disowned by his father at eighteen. Now forty-eight and a successful securities trader living in Seattle, he yearns to exorcise a haunting nightmare and reconnect with his family. Can he reconcile the present by healing his past?


“A Balanced Imbalance”
, begins with another failed suicide attempt by Zachary Price, who is living with bipolar disorder and cycling from the highest heights of mania to the darkest depths of depression. With his quality of life nonexistent and everything to live for, is he willing to give his doctor, his medications and therapy one last try, or will he end it all for good?

 

Purchase Running In Plain Sight & Other Stories by Charles R. Butts Jr.
https://www.amazon.com/Running-Plain-Sight-Other-Stories/dp/1988367050
 


Excerpt: Running In Plain Sight & Other Stories

Chapter 1

June 20, 1902 Attapulgus, Georgia

It was mid-afternoon on a sweltering and humid summer day. The sun was bearing down and I was weeding the crops when I heard what sounded like gunshots. Scared out of my mind, I ran to the house as fast as I could to see what was going on.

When I reached the doorway, I froze; both Papa and Tully Bates were lying on the floor covered in blood, holding shotguns. Half of Tully’s head was blown off, so I knew he was dead. Pa was moaning and trying with all his might to move. Mama, seven months pregnant, was lying on her back near the stove. Her clothes were nearly ripped off, she’d been stabbed a few times and wasn’t moving. I’ll never forget that far away look she had in her eyes. Tully’s son, Buddy, who wasn’t much older than me, was standing near the corner holding a blood-covered knife. Enraged, in one motion, I grabbed Pa’s shotgun and blew Buddy clean across the room. His blood bathed the floor and quite a bit of him splattered all over the walls. Everything happened so fast. I stood there catching my breath and trembling. I didn’t snap out of it until I heard Pa calling out to me.

Covered in blood and gasping for air, he said, “Lee, there’s not much time, I need you to listen to me. Run out to the barn, climb up to the loft, look under the second bale of hay and bring me that box.” I did what he asked, and when I came back, he said, “Open it up, put all the money in your pocket, and the land deed in the bib of your overalls. Take my hat and boots too, you’re going to need them. Mark my x on the back of the deed and give it to Reverend Pope. Tell him I’m donating this land to the church so they can build a school, a separate house of worship and a cemetery. This land’s gotta always stay in colored hands, I worked too hard for it. Tell him to bury me and your Ma’s bodies here, and to save four or five plots for yourself. When it gets dark, I want you to go down to the rail yard, and sneak on the southbound train headed for Florida.”

He continued, “Now go on, get going. I’m sure somebody who heard the shots is probably on their way out here now. You’re big for a ten year old, and you have to be a man now. Your Ma and I love you something fierce. You are a product of our love, and no Ma and Pa has ever been more proud than we are. Give me your hand son, and go with God. Take hold of His hand and keep us in your heart always. Be a good man and be strong. Don’t start trouble, but don’t run from it either. Always be willing to stand your ground and defend yourself. Find work wherever you go and keep moving. You’re bigger and stronger than most men, and I believe you can outwork them too. Never stop looking over your shoulder.” He smiled, relaxed his calloused grip and passed from this world to the next. With tears in my eyes, and a painful lump in my throat, I put on Pa’s hat, slipped on his boots – the first pair of shoes I ever owned, and ran into the woods.

Crouched down and hidden in the woods about a mile away from the farm, and scared out of my mind, I watched the orange sun set before making my way over to Reverend Pope’s place. I handed him the deed, along with Pa’s instructions. I also told him everything that happened. Short and thin, with kind eyes and a garbled voice, he was extremely grateful for the land. Grateful, but saddened for Ma and Pa, and scared for me at the same time. He and Mrs. Pope covered me, said a prayer for Ma and Pa before he blessed me, anointed my head with oil and sent me on my way. Before sending me on, Mrs. Pope packed some fried chicken and pound cake for me to take along. A bit taller and bigger than her husband – she was really pretty.

Reverend Pope handed me a few dollars and said, “Go with God son, and be forever blessed. I’ll do everything your Pa asked me to, and we’ll always be praying for you. Find a way to let me know how you’re doing from time to time. Your Pa was right, it’s not safe for you here. I imagine those boys will turn this town and county upside down looking for you.”

( Continued… )

Excerpts: If All Minds Are Clear (Chapter 4)

Tucker and Jada’s wedding day finally arrived, and Tucker was beside himself with joy; nervous, but incredibly happy and excited. According to Viola, so was Jada. During the ceremony, both tears and rejoicing were clearly evident. Even I shed a few, being in the midst of so much love and emotion, how could I not? Watching Tucker and Jada drive away, headed for their honeymoon, excited me a little about our wedding. I suppose I look forward to it because every pastor needs a great wife. I don’t believe I can do any better than Viola. I know she loves me dearly, and will always faithfully support me and stand by my side. I’ve known her practically all my life. Besides my mom and Tucker, there’s no one I trust more.

Before leaving the reception, I was cornered by Monica Hawkins. She is the daughter of Sister Ruby Hawkins, who chairs our board of trustees. Long widowed, she dotes on Monica and her son Robert and is fully immersed in their lives. If that wasn’t enough, she constantly tries to marry her kids off because she’s so desperate to be a grandmother. It’s been long rumored that Robert is gay, so she tries all the harder to marry Monica off. She has no respect for my engagement to Viola. Since Viola’s a virgin, Monica and I fool around from time to time. As far as I know, only Tucker, Monica and Mrs. Hawkins know I’ve deceived Viola. I suppose the only reason Sister Hawkins hasn’t blackmailed me is the fact that she, Monica and Robert would be publicly shamed and possibly exiled from the church. I know that aside from her kids, presiding over the board gives her the most joy. It fulfills her purpose. Plus, she knows I’m going to be named pastor soon, and she and I are going to need each other. My mother dislikes her a great deal because rumor has it she was one of my father’s many paramours.

Anyway, Monica suggested I meet her at her place after I take Viola home. I know I shouldn’t have, but before long, I found myself at her apartment. It was a warm summer’s night, and the black sky wore a full moon woven with a blanket of stars. Monica is a very attractive and sensual woman, so needless to say, the sex is amazing. She claims her feelings run deep for me, and maybe they do, but she’s a grown woman who knows I’m engaged to marry in less than a month. Plus, I’m a couple of weeks away from being named Reverend Cousins’ successor. My mother hates and refuses to acknowledge this side of me because it reminds her of my father. I’m told he was a womanizer to the nth degree, and most of his lovers were members of Grace Baptist….

 

( Continued… )

Purchase Running In Plain Sight & Other Stories by Charles R. Butts Jr.
https://www.amazon.com/Running-Plain-Sight-Other-Stories-ebook/dp/B075H6WL56
 


 

Intimate Conversation with Charles R. Butts Jr.

Running In Plain Sight and Other Stories is a compilation of four diverse and entertaining stories. It’s the second book written by Charles R. Butts Jr., a former soldier of the U.S. Army and a postal employee for over thirty-three years.

When he’s not reading or writing, Charles enjoys spending time with Shawanda, his wife of twenty-one years, and his children Amber and Trey. Influenced by Langston Hughes, Walter Mosley and James Baldwin, he hopes to entertain and provoke thought in the reader.

Q: What made you become a writer? How long have you been writing?
A: Being a voracious reader and lover of stories, I’ve always wanted to write and tell my own. I’ve been writing on and off since high school.

Q: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
A: I’ve discovered there’s potential for a compelling story wherever you look. I’ve evolved more with concepts and storylines.

Q: Do you view writing as kind of a spiritual practice?
A: Very much so, not just spiritual but therapeutic as well.

Q: How has writing impacted your life?
A: Growing up extremely shy and quiet, it’s made me a more reflective and outgoing person.

Q: What was the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
A: The most surprising and rewarding things I’ve learned are how well the readers know the story and sometimes relate to the characters.

Q: How do you find or make time to write? Are you a plotter or panster?
A: At first, I’d just write whenever I had some spare time, during breaks at work and even in my phone. Now I try to set a schedule so that I do some writing every day.

Q: How did you choose the genre you write in? Have you considered writing in another genre?
A: I chose fiction because it’s my favorite to read. Yes, I’ve considered other genres. i have written poetry, children’s books and some non-fiction stories that I’ve yet to publish.

Q: Tell us about your most recent work, Running In Plain Sight & Other Stories. Available on Nook or Kindle?
A: My most recent work to be released, Running In Plain Sight & Other Stories, is a compelling compilation of four exciting, breathtaking and page turning short stories. It’s available in print on Amazon and on Amazon Kindle ebook.

Q: Give us some insight into your main characters featured in Running In Plain Sight & Other Stories. What makes each one so special?
A: In the title story, “Running In Plain Sight”, the main character, ten year old Leander Sills Jr., is forced to flee for his life. His story unfolds through decades while chronicling his near misses along the way. His instincts, determination and resourcefulness make him so special. He literally ran and adjusted in plain sight for seventy-four years.

The second story, “If All Minds Are Clear”, the young, charismatic and handsome minister matures and finds his conscience. Eventually, he does what’s right before it’s too late. I would say his special quality is redemption.

In the third story, “Home” P. Randall Spires, or Paul as he was affectionally known, has carried the pain of being rejected by his father for thirty years. He seeks healing through closure in hopes of a new beginning. His ability to forgive and heal are his special qualities.

The fourth story, “A Balanced Imbalance”, finds its main character, Zachary Price wanting to finally put an end to his life due to the cycles of mania and depression he experiences. Living with bipolar disorder, he commits to one final try at treatment. He then finds his mood stabilizing and his burdens lighter. Being compassionate towards other battling mental illnesses and addictions make him special.

Q: What was your hardest scene to write, the opening or the close?
A: I’d have to say the opening, because for some reason, it’s easier for me to know a story’s ending first.

Q: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
A: I’d say I can relate the most to Paul Spires in ” Home “. Like him, I’ve learned how forgiveness helps the forgiver as much, if not more than the person being forgiven.

Q: Is there a place/space/state that you find inspiration in?
A: Being from the south, I tend to use southern settings.

Q: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d like to work with?
A: Yes, my first novel, For Only A Season, was about the Flood family. I’ve already begun its sequel, entitled, The Storm Is Passing Over, to continue their rich saga.

Q: Do you want each book to stand on its own or do you prefer to write series?
A: Preferably, I like to write books that stand on their own, but I left my first novel open to becoming a sequel. Afterwards, the readers demanded a sequel.

Q: Does writing energize you?
A: Yes, time flies when you’re doing what you truly love.

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?
A: It’s definitely real for me. Whenever it happens, I just step away from the story for awhile until the inspirations returns.

Q: Do you try to deliver to readers what they want or let the characters guide your writing?
A: Both. The characters guide me, and I listen and solicit the readers to tell me what they’d like.

Q: Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
A: I like to read about everything, but it’s difficult for me to write about romance. I like reading it, I’m just not good at writing it.

Q: Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
A: Yes, I struggle mightily with intimacy/romantic scenes.

Q: Have you written any other books that are not published?
A: Yes, I have written poetry, children’s books and a couple of non-fiction books.

Q: What projects are you working on at the present?
A: Presently, I’m working on The Storm Is Passing Over, the sequel to For Only A Season.

Q: How can readers discover more about you and your work? 
A: Readers can visit my website at https://www.charlesrbuttsjr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CharlesRButtsJr
Twitter: @Charlesrbuttsjr – https://twitter.com/charlesrbuttsjr
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Charlesr.butts
LinkedIn: Charles R. Butts Jr. – http://bit.ly/2zlmrWi

 

Purchase Running In Plain Sight & Other Stories by Charles R. Butts Jr.
https://www.amazon.com/Running-Plain-Sight-Other-Stories/dp/1988367050

 

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