Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Solid Piece of Wood by Bill Chance

“Certainly in the topsy turvy world of rock and roll, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is quite often useful.”

― Ian Faith, Spinal Tap

Wood grown into the fence.

Solid Piece of Wood

“This plan of yours, Shelly, is getting too damn complicated,” Mabel said as she gazed with her two friends at the maze of scribbled papers now almost covering the kitchen table.


“Uh, Shel, not only that, but where did you get this Cab? It’s delicious,” said Alice as she sipped her third glass, stared at the liquid, then took a full gulp.


“Alice, you won’t believe it, but it’s from Aldi. It’s dirt cheap but mostly drinkable. And Mabel, I know it’s complicated, but that bastard Craig is not going to get away with this and it will take a careful plan to pull it off.”


“We won’t be able to do this ourselves,” Mabel said.


“We have to keep it secret,” said Shelly. “We will put the plan in motion and people will help us without even knowing they are.”


“Hey, pour me another glass,” said Alice.”I can’t believe this is from Aldi.”


“What if it doesn’t work?” said Mabel.


“It’ll work. That rat bastard Craig is into so much stuff, stealing money, dealing drugs, lying, cheating and everything else. We know that better than anyone because he did all that and more to all three of us.”


“Hey, the bottle’s empty,” was Alice’s only answer. “How late is Aldi open?”


The rack held nine Cricket bats at one time, all held vertically. Craig had one, so there were eight left. He could feel the blood running down his leg as he stared into the dim glow from the store’s emergency lighting system. Water dripped from the suspended ceiling in a dozen spots and something electrical was buzzing. The wet floor must be shorting out some sort of extension cords because Craig felt an occasional shock from his one bare foot soaking in the damp. He tried to stand on the foot that still had an insulating shoe, but that was the leg he was cut on and he’d wince at the pain from the extra weight.

Craig had no idea who had jumped him after luring him down to this third rate sporting goods store. He ran his list of enemies through his head – drug deals gone bad, real estate scams left in tatters, plenty of women left with broken hearts and negative bank accounts – and realized it was too long to recall. He had borrowed the money to buy the failing shop, specializing in European sports equipment (no wonder it was going broke), spent a quarter of the loan, then declared bankruptcy and was ready to turn the now-worthless real estate back to the bank – pocketing the balance. Someone had called him down to the store, and he would never have come, but she sounded sexy and desperate – and Craig had always been able to deal sexy and desperate to his advantage. Instead, this.

There was a crash from the darkness off to his right and Craig held the solid chunk of British wood as firmly as he could. He couldn’t imagine what kind of game was played with this damn thing, but it was all he had. Whimpering in pain and fear, he limped off in the quietest direction he could find.


Paul walked down the sidewalk on his way home from working a double shift when he came across the shattered windows of the sporting goods store. The glass across the sidewalk looked fresh and smashed out from the inside. He knew he should have kept going, gone home to get a good night’s sleep, but he had always been curious so he stepped through the broken threshold. He immediately stumbled into the rack of Cricket bats, knocked over. Looking down, he saw there were five in a jumble on the floor. He picked one up, feeling its firm strength. He swung it a bit and liked it’s balance and heft.

He had played baseball for decades and still had the shoulder muscles and fast-twitch nerves to move a heavy piece of wood through the air at high speed and pin-point accuracy. The feeling made him smile. Paul heard a noise off to his left and, swinging the Cricket bat back and forth with both hands, strode off to find out what it was.

The Before Trilogy

“Listen, if somebody gave me the choice right now, of to never see you again or to marry you, alright, I would marry you, alright. And maybe that’s a lot of romantic bullshit, but people have gotten married for a lot less.”

— Jesse, Before Sunrise

Bachman Lake, Dallas, Texas, after sunrise

1995 was not so long ago – what? twenty seven years? That may seem a long time ago to you, but it doesn’t to me.

Even in 1995 it was hard to see odd, independent, or foreign films. It was before streaming, before really diverse rental options, and sort of after the death of repertory cinema. Also, I had two small kids at this time – so I was not able to go out searching for unique cinema.

I was still watching movie review shows at the time (I have since quit, too many spoilers). I remember seeing a review, probably on Siskel and Ebert, of a movie called Before Sunrise starring July Delpy and Ethan Hawke. It sounded unique and interesting and I wanted to see it, but never was able to pull it off. It apparently was a conversation movie – sort of like My Dinner With Andre – except with a young couple meeting and spending one single night (before sunrise) in Europe walking around and talking to each other.

Over the years I read that a sequel was made… and then a sequel to the sequel.

A few days ago I noticed that there was a set of three movies on The Criterion Channel titled The Before Trilogy. It was the Before Sunrise and its two sequels – Before Sunset and Before Midnight. I’m not a big TV bingeing person, but I decided to watch the three movies one day after another. I had to skip one day because I felt like shit and couldn’t even get up the energy to watch a damn movie streaming on The Criterion Channel. I realized that the two sequels were both made exactly nine years apart from each other.

The second movie was better than the first. It was about the stripping away of a person’s facade – and the first movie was about getting around a person’s facade – although the facades were very strong with those two. The second movie was much more complicated with more at stake – mostly because the characters were nine years older and forced to be more serious and introspective and their choices were more important with more at stake.

I’m afraid that I was disappointed in the third film. It was well made – but I felt it was a re-hash of the same sort of arguments every long-term married couple has on a regular basis. Maybe an important subject – but not entertaining to watch. It could be seen as the answer to the more interesting second chapter, but again, not worth the nine years’ wait.

It’s been more than nine years now since Before Midnight was made. There has been talk of a sequel, but the three Linklater and the two stars seem to have run out of ideas.

Shame.