Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Charity Auction by Bill Chance

sound of a cicada
Shape of the Spitfire’s wings
yellow firefly light
taste of daycare peanut butter
industrial grape jelly
sanding dust from balsa wood
beige and fine
light as air
pins in cardboard
white glue
a path through the nettled woods
ending at a rope swing
over a dry creek bed

—-Armando Vitalis, From Hell’s Heart I Stab At TheeShape of the Spitfire’s Wings

I donated five dollars to the North Texas Food Bank. You swipe your credit card, push the button. There’s an artificial splash and the cash projected on the fountain swirls around in a virtual splash

Charity Auction

The two kids, Sandy and Simon had a charity auction for the new Quest program at their school.

“We’re supposed to bring stuff from home in to auction off,” said Sandy.

“It’ll be really cool,” said Simon.

A week before the auction, their mother helped them pick out possessions they didn’t play with anymore, digging around in their closets for old toys. There were plenty to choose from. They each filled a small cardboard box and off to school they went, proud and excited.

The day of the auction their mother gave each one a ten-dollar bill to spend at the auction. Sandy immediately lost hers (it turned up a few days later in a never-used pocket in her backpack) so Simon gave five to his sister. He was not happy.

They were able to buy some stuff and were anxious to show off their purchases to their parents.

“I bought this Darkwing Duck movie!” said Sandy, “I remember seeing it years ago and liking it!”

“Sandy, that’s your movie, you donated it last week,” her mother said.

“I bought all these Batman Action figures!” boasted Simon.

“Simon, those are all yours, you donated those too!”

“I know, but I remembered how much I liked them and figured they were in there by mistake.”

The two kids had bought the same stuff they had donated to the auction.

Their parents explained they didn’t really understand how a charity auction worked. They suspected that a lot of the kids had bought their own donations.

But later, thinking about it, they decided that the kids understood more than it appeared, maybe they understood more than their parents or their teachers.

Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Outta Wood by Bill Chance

What we obtain too cheap we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

—-Thomas Paine

The Fabrication Yard, Dallas, Texas

Outta Wood

In this modern world we seldom talk to strangers. Think about how rarely you have any meaningful random interactions outside of work.

Sam had plans to convert his garage into a big room for his kids to play in. His youngest was making giant constructions out of these odd plastic connecting pieces. He had a half-finished monstrous roller coaster – the tracks were flexible plastic tubes. It was too large to fit in his own bedroom… or even in a corner of the living room. The kid was upset that he couldn’t finish his contraption because he had run out of space.

Sam didn’t want to admit or even think about the fact that he was changing his house – removing his garage and building out a new, larger room simply to make space for his kid’s toys. He didn’t think about it, but it was true.

He needed somewhere to put all the crap that was in the garage. There was a spot in the corner of the yard up against the fence that he could spare. Down to the Home Depot to look at outbuildings. For years, every time he went to the store (which was at least twice a week) he would walk through the extensive display of demo garden sheds, of many different sizes, prices, and materials, all arranged in the parking lot. It was a small thrill to look through them one more time – but this time with a purpose, and intention to actually purchase one. He chose an overpriced plastic thick walled shed.

Wanting to figure out the best way to do the foundation – Sam went to the library and looked at a book: “A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building Garden Sheds.” He didn’t check it out – simply sat there taking notes. On the way home he stopped at Home Depot again and bought a new shovel, some concrete pillars and a bunch of treated wood – tying the lumber to the roof rack of his car. This stuff was mixed with sweat, a level, galvanized nails, and some string to make up the foundation and floor.

The prefabricated plastic walls and roof were ingeniously designed to slip together and, shockingly, the instructions were clear, accurate, and helpful. It took no time to get it assembled.

He painted the floor of his new tool shed and then needed to install locking door knobs. The kit that he bought was well-made and complete, but didn’t include door hardware. Sam went back down to Home Depot and was outside looking at the demo model at how they did the doors. He silently congratulated himself when he discovered that the “pros” had done exactly what he was planning on doing.

While he was standing there staring at the demonstration shed an old man walked up and shouted at him.

“You can make one CHEAPAH dan dat! From scratch! Outta WOOD!”

Then the old man turned and waddled off and was swallowed by the gaping maw of the giant store.

He didn’t introduce himself. He didn’t ask any questions. He didn’t speak in intelligent, helpful tones. It was spat out like an insult.

Sam kept shaking his head thinking about that guy. If you don’t have something pleasant to say, shut up. If you’re lonely, or want to be helpful, want to talk to strangers, have some respect.

On the drive home, Sam passed by the Lexus Dealership and the highway exit. He had a fantasy that he would stop, get out, walk around, and yell at prospective customers.

“Y’all can buy cars CHEAPAH than that! Cross da street! From FORD!”

Phosphorescent Squid

“The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes.”
—- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Dallas Zoo

There were some rare phosphorescent squid on display at the Dallas Zoo in the tunnel under the DART rail tracks. The poor creatures were hung on racks, strung up with monofilament fishline and flimsy hollow plastic poles. Their huge eyes, used to the inky blackness of the Stygian depths, stared featureless out at the crowd… at the children who screamed and taunted them.

“I WANT one Daddy!” they yelled. Apparently, desperate for funds in this day of official austerity, the zoo is actually hawking these fellows, to raise a needed buck or two.

The brats danced their frenzied waltz of greed in a rough circle around the squid while their procreators stood, horrified, trying to defend their wallets. I could bear no more of this scene and walked on to view some pachyderms.

Later in the day, as I was leaving, I spotted a limp, disconsolate squid being shoved into an open trunk door. It phosphorescent glow all but extinguished doomed to a long uncomfortable trip and a short demeaning captive life after.

I saluted the poor, hopeless beast and turned to board my train.