“Can we build it now?”
“We don’t have time right now, Lucas,” he explained to the puppy-eyed eight-year-old across the table, “you have to get to school.”
“I’ll tell you what though,” he said and popped open one end of the rectangular cardboard box, “we can sort the pieces right now over breakfast and when you get home from school, we’ll build it together then, okay?”
“Okay,” the boy replied and bounced excitedly in his seat. His father dumped the contents of the Lego set box onto the breakfast table and they alternated between sliding pieces into color-coordinated piles and scooping spoonfuls of Cookie Crisp into their mouths for the next twenty minutes.
Soon it was time to leave. Lucas’ father had the day off work and after he dropped Lucas off at school he returned home and headed to the kitchen to pour himself another cup of coffee and contemplate how to best use his free day.
He passed by the table and admired the Lego bricks lying in wait in their neat little piles. He looked forward to transforming those piles into a Lego Star Wars Y-Wing with his son later.
He poured his coffee and added cream and sugar. He was staring out the window at the lawn, considering using the morning to mow it and just taking his first, loud sip when he heard it.
He cut his sip short and waited to hear the curious sound again. Nothing came. He shrugged and took another sip, which he nearly choked on, when the sound came again.
Pew! Pew-pew! Pew-pew!
He walked toward the direction of the sound, into the dining room, trying to listen and determine if it had come from there or from further off in the living room. He was met with a long silence as he stood. He took another sip from his cup in an attempt to illicit the sound again to no avail.
He glanced at the Lego bricks on the table before he decided to make his way upstairs. Perhaps Lucas had left some sort of toy or game on in his room.
He found himself standing in the second floor hallway and waiting again, listening. When nothing came, he stepped into his son’s room, made a quick visual inspection of the toys surrounding him on shelves and dresser-tops, looked for any noticeable illuminated power lights and, when he found none, stepped back out into the hallway.
“It couldn’t have been in my room,” he thought, yet entered it anyway. Just as he crossed through the doorway, the sound came from further away behind him.
“I must have passed it,” he said out loud and headed back to the top of the staircase.
It was definitely coming from downstairs, from where he had just come. He sighed in frustration and made his way down the stairs. He now stood at the bottom of them and waited while he sipped more coffee.
It was coming from back towards the rooms he had walked through on the first floor, in the direction of the kitchen. He passed through his living room, through the dining room where he looked over at the Lego bricks on the table again and noticed one in particular.
“Ooh, that’s awesome,” he said aloud and turned the piece over in his fingers then, realizing he had been distracted from his mission, dropped it back into its appropriate pile and went back into the kitchen. He wondered if he had misjudged the direction of the sound initially. Maybe it had been in the kitchen with him, or even in the basement. He decided to fill up his cup again since he found himself back in the kitchen and he heard it yet again.
That confirmed it. It was most definitely coming from behind him. It could only be in the living room or dining room. He stepped backwards into the dining room and turned abruptly, half expecting to surprise whatever it was that had been making the noise.
But nothing was there.
He sighed and even more annoyed sigh and looked around. Nothing was in this room that made sense. There were no objects, no toys other than the Lego bricks on the table. Nothing could have made that sound unless…
Suddenly it hit him. The sound had been strangely familiar and he had just finally placed it at that moment. It was the sound of laser cannons. The noise he had been hearing all morning was the unmistakable sound of a star battle, of a ship firing its weapons. It was a sound straight out of the Star Wars movies.
But none of this made sense. There was no television, DVD player or electronic game nearby. They were all in Lucas’ room. In fact the only Star Wars related item in the house he had seen was…
The Lego set.
He stared at the pieces now and could hear the sound in his mind. With each wide-eyed moment, it became more vivid. Soon, more sounds joined. The roaring of incoming Tie Fighters and the low-pitched blasts of turrets mounted on the outer face of the Death Star became audible. He could even hear explosions and the beeping of astro-droids attempting to repair damaged shields.
Without realizing it, he sat at the table, flipped open the instruction booklet and started assembling the minifigures as diagramed on the first page.
He shook his head and wiped his eyes. “What am I doing?” he asked himself. He shut the instruction book and stood up abruptly. “I’m supposed to do this with Lucas.”
He downed the remainder of his coffee and slipped his work boots on. By the time he had made it out to the garage to get the lawnmower the pew-pew-pew-ing was already calling to him again from within the house. He tried to ignore it and continue with his yard work, but even over the blaring engine of the mower he could here and epic star battle unfolding.
He re-entered the house only to retrieve his iPod. He hurried through the dining room, avoiding the urge to look at the table and the bricks upon it, grabbed his iPod and tried to rush back out of the house. To his own surprise, he found himself sitting at the table once again and sliding the necessary pieces for the first step gently out of their piles and into a group in front of him.
“Dammit,” he exclaimed and pushed the pieces aside. He rushed to the back door and shoved the ear buds into his ears and started the music. Between that and the lawnmower, he was sure he could hold out until his son returned home.
But all the while as he walked back and forth in neat little rows on his front lawn, he heard it. Every guitar riff reminded him of the laser blasts. The drumbeats sounded like explosions detonating on the Death Star’s surface. Each and every detail of the music in his ears somehow reminded him of John Williams’ score.
He continued to ignore it and all through his yard work, his organizing after and his shower, he was tormented by the constant sounds of an epic Star Wars space dogfight.
He made his way through the house. He dragged his feet as he walked, unable to get the sounds from his head. He was delirious, exhausted and bleary-eyed. As his head pounded, he decided it was no longer any use. He sat down at the table and decided he would build a few steps, just to make the sounds in his head subside.
The result was more than just relief. It was euphoria. The sounds continued in his head, but now they seemed to have a purpose. They drove him forward as he took brick after brick and assembled them. His fingers flew from pile to pile, occasionally flipping an instruction book page. The bricks aligned and connected with ease and before he knew it all four hundred and fifty-eight pieces were just where they were meant to be. He leaned back in his seat, admiring the fully assembled Lego Y-Wing with the score from Episode IV’s medal presentation blaring in his ears. He wished Lucas could be there to see it.
He glanced at his watch and saw it was nearly past the time when he was supposed to pick his son up from school. He ran out of the front door to the car and hurried off to pick up his son. In his haste, he had neglected to think about how seeing the set already assembled might affect the boy until they were already walking up the steps to the front door.
“Can we start building the Y-Wing right away?” asked Lucas.
He stopped for a moment, key frozen in the lock. “No,” he suddenly said with a stern expression. “You need to get changed and do your homework. Then, you should clean your room. I was in there earlier today and it’s a mess.”
“Awwww, but dad, you said we could…”
“No whining or you’ll have to go right to bed.” He swung the front door open and ushered the boy up the staircase, away from the set o the dining room table. “Now get up there and tae care of all that.”
“Dad, I always do my homework at the table.”
“Do it in your room today, then clean up after,” he said. “Don’t come downstairs until it’s done.”
As Lucas ascended the stairs, his shoulders sagging, he headed for the dining room and began disassembling the Lego set. With each removed brick he heard a loud pew and glanced over his shoulder expecting the sound to attract his son’s attention.
“Da-a-ad?” came Lucas’ voice down the stairs.
“I don’t know what that sound was,” he blurted in response.
“What sound? I wanted to know where my Angry Birds shirt is.”
“It’s downstairs in the basket of clean laundry,” he said and removed a tiny single stud piece from another brick. Then he heard his son’s footsteps coming down the stairs. “I’ll get it,” he shouted as he jumped up and ran to the stairs. “You go back up and I will be right there with your shirt.”
“Stay upstairs,” he shouted over the laser fire. “Do not come down until I say it’s okay, understand?”
“Fine,” groaned Lucas and he headed back up the stairs.
As he went to the basement, the sound of the lasers continued. As he dug through the shirt, he tried to pick up a distinct pattern in their firing and coughed loudly to mask them. Finally, his throat raw from forced coughs, he found the shirt and ran up to his son’s room to hand it to him.
“Are you okay,” asked Lucas as he pulled the t-shirt over his head. “Were you choking?”
“No, why? Why do you ask that?”
“You were coughing a lot.”
“Yes, I was…coughing. A lot. Yes. Is that all you heard, my coughing?”
“Good, er, I mean, sorry. Now do your homework.” He slammed the door to the boy’s room and went back to his work. Taking the bricks apart was proving more difficult than putting them together.
“Da-a-ad?” came Lucas’ voice again.
“I cleaned my room. Can you come see if it’s okay?”
“Oh crap,” he whispered to himself, observing that the set was still nearly completely built. “Yeah sure,” he shouted back up the stairs and headed to take a look.
He reached the door and opened it to find the boy’s room looking nearly identical to how it had looked earlier in the day. Since it wasn’t really messy to begin with, he supposed there wasn’t much he could say to delay his son. “Yes, this looks alright, but did you do all your homework?”
“I cleaned my room first.”
“Oh, thank God,” he sighed. “I mean, I think it’s good that you took cleaning your room so seriously and, um, now you should do your homework.”
He nearly sprinted out of the room then paused just before he closed the door behind himself to add, “And take your time. Go, like, really slowly to make sure you do it all the right way.”
With that it was back to taking apart the set as quickly as he could. All the while he heard the laser blasts and continued to try and cough over them. The din in his head was so overwhelmingly loud that it wasn’t until he heard his son’s footsteps his the living room floor that he realized he was about to turn the corner and see what his father had done while he was away at school.
In a panic, set in his hand still close to half complete, he did the only thing he could think to do to hide his crime. He threw it to the floor where the pieces flew in all directions.
Lucas gasped in the other room as he witnessed bricks flying everywhere, some sliding under the couch. “What happened?” he asked and peeked around the corner into the dining room where he saw his father hurriedly collecting bricks from the floor. What he didn’t notice was that he was separating the few still connected ones as he did so.
“I bumped into the table, buddy,” he said then coughed again as he heard pew-pew. “Sorry.”
“That’s okay. I’ll help pick it up,” said Lucas as he crouched to help his father collect the mess. He scooped pieces up as his father watched him carefully and intercepted any connected pieces before he could see them.
When everything was back on the table, Lucas smiled and asked, “Can we build it now?”
“Sure,” his father replied and breathed a sigh of relief. “I’ve been waiting for this all day.”
Just then Lucas frowned, reached across the table and picked up a piece. “What the heck, Dad?” he asked and held the minifigure Gold Leader in front of his face. Then he grabbed the assembled R5-F7 astro-droid and held that up too. “You already assembled the minifigs? That’s my favorite part! You could have put the whole rest of the thing together and just left the minifigs for me. Thanks a lot.”