Sunday Snippet, It’s You by Bill Chance

That man’s silence is wonderful to listen to.

—-Thomas Hardy

My Toshiba Netbook – rode my bike to a coffee shop.

It’s You

I was behind in my work – the magazine needed some short fiction from me – so it was a good thing I was able to get in my usual Saturday morning two hours of writing at Starbucks.

The voyeurism of overheard conversations at that Starbucks on Saturday morning was fun, interesting, and sometimes a creativity starter. It seemed that there was a penchant for confession – people came to the coffee shop to own up to the sins they had committed on Friday night. Lately, the quality of the conversation overheard at nearby tables has been slack but today it was fairly good.

Behind me two guys were having a long one-sided discussion. When I first sat down one said in a clear voice, “I still love you, and I hope we can still be friends, but there are issues.” I thought this would be really juicy, but it turned out to be a discussion about friction within a local Baptist church.

I could not help it, I had to look. Twisting in my seat I pretended to gaze at the board that displayed the coffee selections but I was really glancing at the two guys talking – well, the one guy talking and the other taking the abuse. I noticed there was another coffee-drinker sitting close to them – she wasn’t pretending, she was staring.

While I wrote, I listened to this guy go on for over an hour. The other guy was leaving the church and the talker wanted him to stay, I guess. The talker was the kind of person I want to bitch-slap. He thought he was a good talker – but he was a terrible listener, which is very important for a church person. He never shut up; never let the other guy get a word in edgewise.

I was able to make out a list of all the people associated with the guy’s church and their failings, weaknesses, and shortcomings. He complained how nobody ever stuck to his or her course, nobody was “a stand-up guy,” and how people were leaving for the big Baptist churches in Rockwall and Garland. He kept saying how the “church world” is the same as “the business world,” and would expound at length on his ideas and theories for expansion and success. He kept using phrases like “fundamental commitment to leadership.” I thought about how he bloviated about a church for over an hour and never mentioned God, Christ, or Faith.

Then, suddenly, a loud screech of a weighted chair rudely scraped across a stained concrete Starbucks floor, a breeze of motion and a gap of very loud silence.

I whipped around to see what was going on. The woman that had been sitting near them had slid her chair back, jumped up, and advanced on the men. She was red as a beet. She began to yell.

“Hey! Dude! It’s you! It’s you! It’s you! They can’t stand you, you run the place, you tell everybody what to do; you don’t listen to what they need… what they want – what the hell do you expect!”

“Excuse me?” the guy creaked out.

“Excuse me? Excuse me! Excuse the fuck you! I’ve been listening to… No, no, I haven’t been listening, I’ve been sitting here trying to enjoy my coffee, the high point of my week, and your bile and self-serving crap has been pouring over me. You are ruining my day! People like you… Men like you are ruining my whole life!”

The man made some quiet clucking noises while the entire coffee shop broke out in applause. The woman stormed out while the two men sat in shoulder-hunched silence.

I clapped a bit myself – but I never said anything. I had a short story to write.

Still I’d Like To Express My Thanks

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.”
Irving Berlin

Thanksgiving Square, Dallas, Texas

Everybody in Dallas takes this photograph. I have several times. Still, it’s an amazing scene and you never really can capture its beauty. It’s a surprise the first time you see it – especially concerning the drab (though interestingly-shaped) exterior of the chapel.

 

Chapel, Thanksgiving Square, Dallas, Texas

Thanksgiving Square Chapel, Dallas, Texas

Thanksgiving Square Chapel, Dallas, Texas, 2003

A Guy, His Girlfriend, and His Uncle

I’ve stolen something. There is a bar that I visited this year, one that had an old fashioned photo booth back in the back, next to the filthy bathrooms. On the wall by the booth was a torn up cork board. A lot of people thumbtacked their strips of four photos into the cork, leaving them for posterity. I picked up a handful that looked interesting and stole them.

I’ve scanned the strips and I think I’ll take them, one at time, four photos at a time, and write a few words about the people in the photographs. Or, more accurately, what I imagine about the two people.

I wrote a story about the first strip here – now I’m fiddling with the second.

 

A Guy, His Girlfriend, and His Uncle

Kipling Butter was in town to meet his long-lost uncle, Sandhurst Myers, and wanted to bring his girlfriend, Sealey Wood for support..
His parents had never even mentioned his uncle. Sandhurst had left The Church at the same time Kipling was born.

Kipling was brought up in The Church and had never doubted its tenets… until he met Sealey.

They met when Kipling’s van broke down in an unfamiliar part of town and Sealey gave him a ride. The Church didn’t approve of cellphones – at least not carried by their members out of control of The Church elders and without Sealey’s help, Kipling was in a jam. He had never met any women socially from outside of The Church and was smitten immediately. He even tried to convince Sealey to join The Church, but she recognized it as the crazy cult that it was and refused. She was a woman of many resources, however, and did her research.

Sealey found Kipling’s uncle Sandhurst, who in the decades since leaving the church had established an organization to help members of The Church to escape the cult’s clutches. He was elated to be able to contact his nephew outside of the control of Kipling’s parents and The Church.

The meeting was in a bar in the heart of the city. Kipling was nervous, he had never been in a bar in his life. Since The Church strictly forbade alcohol or contact with anyone associated with alcohol, Sealey and Sandhurst knew it would be a safe meeting place.

All the stress involved melted away when the three finally sat down and talked. Kipling realized his uncle was a kindred spirit and wondered why he had not done this before. Plans were made to utilize Sandhurst’s organization to spirit Kipling out of The Church‘s clutches and help his set up a new life in another city with Sealey.

The three were happy and giddy and celebrated with four sessions inside the bar’s photo booth. They each took one as a remembrance and left one tacked to the wall as a way to mark the place where all three lives changed forever.