Flash in the Pan


A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

Lightsaber Maintenance, 1978


by Gregory Gerard

The plastic tube on the front of my lightsaber broke off.

Heading to the cubby holes in the laundry room, I dug out the roll of duct tape from beneath my sister's worn-out gloves, Dad's extra tools, and the sack of soy sauce packets Mom didn't want to throw away because she grew up during the Depression. Picking at the edge of the tape, I tore off a long grey strip and executed repairs.

I needed to test my mended Jedi weapon in darkness. I knew the exact place, but there was a problem.

The afternoon sunlight always struggled to penetrate the firs and maples that clotted our backyard, casting lengthy shadows across the windows of the living room and my grandmother's apartment. Just one year earlier, in 1977, I would have been free to explore the rear of our house in semi-darkness, pretending the hallways were the Spice Mines of Kessel in the late-day gloom.

Now the Opes lived there.

We weren't rich, with six kids and a big renovated farm house to pay for, but I never wanted for meals, or movies, or Star Wars memorabilia. In fact, at ten, the youngest of the six, I cared very little about our family's finances. Which is why the presence of the Opes bothered me so much.

After Gram died just eight months before, Dad saw an opportunity. 'To make this damn house pay for itself,' he told my mother, as he hired a crew to convert the back area of our house into an adult care center. Within weeks, four Old People joined our household. Most of our living room and all of my grandmother's quarters were carved up into private rooms.

Mom said it would help pay the mortgage.

I had other concerns.

Not only did the Opes wander through our part of the house, asking stupid questions like what time dinner was or when their train was arriving, but strangers now knocked on our front door constantly.

"Sorry," they apologized. "We just stopped in to visit our mother/father/ brother/sister/uncle/aunt. Don't mind us."

I did.

Entering what was left of the living room, I swung my saber in a circular motion. Even in the cramped space, I was Luke Skywalker. It was dark enough to feel satisfaction as the yellow glow cut the air.

My repair was successful; the duct tape held. I dodged Storm Troopers from every direction - and rammed my left foot solidly into the chestnut hutch. My pinky toe bent back.

"OW! OW! OW!" I screamed, my cries reverberating off the garden photos Mom had hung as decoration for the adults.

Rose, our newest Ope and retired schoolteacher, poked her head out of her room and squinted into the shadows.

"Just say 'ow' and be done with it," she instructed. Then retreated.

I limped in a circle, my toe throbbing, as I considered the injustice - and my response.

I could blast out her door like Han Solo, turning her grey hair a shade greyer.

I could crash through her window in the name of the Republic - yelling as loudly as I pleased.

I could let her know it was my house.

Instead, I brandished the reconditioned lightsaber and retreated to my bedroom, where The Force was still with me.

Gregory Gerard channels The Force today at www.JupitersShadow.com, a web site devoted to his recently released memoir mystery, In Jupiter's Shadow. Written in a mystery-esque format, the memoir explores how we often work to hide truths from the most important person in our lives: ourselves.

Twentieth Flash


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