Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Panel by Bill Chance

“Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”
― Clint Eastwood

Fog in front of my house, Richardson, Texas


Craig went back to work today. On the drive home, he thought, ” Hectic day, plenty ‘o stress. Quiet panic, nothing big, little things. Hey! Hey! it’s about to be a new year! All that’ll change, Right? Yeah, and monkeys will fly out of my butt.”

When he made it home his wife had broken out the overhead light panel in the kitchen. So it was off to Home Depot for him, mister home repair handyman dude. As he left the house in the minvan it looked hazy, some ground fog, very humid. It happened as he was driving, supersaturated air, more water vapor than it can hold, gas wanting to condense to liquid, giving up the day’s solar heat, the sun gone, over past the west coast, traveling across the Pacific. Polluted urban air, dust particles, stirred up by car tires, car exhaust (“I’ll get it tuned up next week”) jagged microscopic particles of carbon, every facet a condensation seed, a point for the liquid water crystals to begin forming, the molecules to line up along the surface. Oxygen, each with its hydrogen couplet, randomly spinning, vibrating, doin’ the Brownian jig, not enough energy to stay aloft, random movements bring the trio alongside the dust mote where millions of millions (Avogrado’s number is really fuckin’ big ya know) of its twin brothers now sit, lined up. He joins the line, relieved to be out of the air, safety in numbers, condensation, droplets, driplits, lets see where y’all feel like goin’, hitch a ride on a mote. This dance, this lining up, bringing into focus, making a little sphere, a little lens, refraction machine, forming of millions of millions, is itself repeated millions of millions of times across the city, plenty of dust to go around, no shortage of seeds so. WHAM!

Fog so thick you could cut it with a knife. Pea soup. Clouds on the ground at night, no white fluffy furry “hey it looks like Zanzibar” cloud this, but clingy hot and yet cold, “who selected the blend tool?” green blinding scary fog-cloud. It’s a big electric Texas city so the cloud glows from within. The fog captures oncoming cars, streetlights, leftover Christmas displays, store neons, RedGreenYellow traffic indicators, all give their light to the fog. The fog gives it back as a glow, as a hint, “There’s something there, but damn it if I can tell what it is” luminescence in the distance – actually not the distance, a lot closer than is comfortable. Car lights are tungsten white, Town East Mall Lights glow mercury vapor blue or sodium yellow, Christmas lights are -well you know what color they are.

Craig drove slow, careful, of course this is Texas so everyone else is driving like bats out of hell – who are these people? why are they always in such a hurry? there’s nowhere to go nowhere to hide a good song on the radio so why not take your time, slow down and smell the diesel exhaust. Craig wouldn’t mind if a few took the whole pipe in for awhile, they scared the shit out of him. Someone even creeped out into the foggy intersection… maybe to get a better look at an oncoming pickup before they get smacked on the passenger side door.

But Craig got there all right, picked out his transcucent panel, he had a small piece of the broken one in his pocket so he was sure that the new one matched. Home Depot at night, a guy in front of him was buying an entire cart of broken odds and ends of wood, no piece whole, no piece straight, they gave him a good deal on it, he also buys four tubes of caulk. His hands were covered with white dust, cement or wallboard-sandings maybe, so Craig figured he must know what he’s doing.

When Craig left the Depot, the fog was even thicker. He crept home, put up the panel. When they built the kitchen they made the light fixture a tiny bit too big so the panels barely fit in the frame. Every now and then one pop’s out. Craig thought, “Maybe I’ll add it to my things-to-do-list somehow shim the damn thing so they don’t fall. Maybe I’ll use duct tape, hoo boy, that’ll piss her off. Duct tape on the ceiling, might as well put a big sign out front – –White Trash, come on in, eat some Ding Dongs, we buy Mrs. Baird’s Pecan fried pies and to heat ’em we fry ’em again . Wash it down with Mountain Doo if yure under age, or Meister Brau if yure old enough, or some peppermint schnapps if yure cold and yure heart needs some healin’. Never mind the cars in the yard, they don’t run anyway, have a sit in the ARVEE out back – put a tape in the boombox we got both kinds – country and western. We’ll play some Yatzee and then UNO when we get too drunk to roll dice. Then it’s movie time, we got Rambo, we got Anyway but Loose (love that Orangutan), but that’s it, hard to get them Beta tapes nowadays.– – On second thought better put the duct tape away and cut some wooden pieces, finish them up real nice.”