Saturday, 24 March 2012

Lego Town

My son is God. Standing by the window, he looms his six-year-old shadow over the town of Lego houses on the edge of the great shagpile plain. The plastic people look up at the dark sky but do nothing.
My son has never left the city. I do not know where he obtained his perception of towns or that the city has an end or that anything exists on the other side. He must have seen it on TV.
He stands on the edge of the little town, glancing over everything he has created with an eagre smile splitting his cheeks.
“So what happens now?” I ask him.
“Now I destroy the town!”
“Why?” I ask suddenly. And I do want to know. I try to be a good father: I bought him the Lego and play with him when I’m not too tired after work; but sometimes I do not understand him, this creature I made.
“I built it,” he says. “So I’m allowed to destroy it.” His foot hangs like a dark cloud over the church on the high street.
“No!” I say, but I cannot think of a good enough excuse as to why he should not drop his foot except that he is God and I hope that God would show more mercy. “It seems such a shame to destroy it.”
“But I’m bored with it. Now that I’ve made the town there is nothing to do.”
“Then why don’t you make something happen in the town?”
“Because smashing the town will be more exciting.”
I wonder whether God really had a gripe with Sodom.
“Look!” I say. “Look at this man!” I kneel down and point to a Lego man standing at a Lego bus stop smiling an infallible Lego smile even though he is waiting for a bus that has not been built. “We could make a whole life for him. Let’s give him a name. What do you want to call him?”
“I dunno.”
“What about Peter? Do you like the name Peter?”
“Peter is a stupid name.” He picks Peter up by the neck between his thumb and forefinger and throws him across the town. Peter collides against the police station and his smiling head falls off and rolls onto the street.
“Don’t do that to Peter!” I pick up his body and reattach his head and place him back at the bus stop.
“You can’t do that, he’s dead!”
“Yes I can,” I say. “I’m your father!”
In reply he rams the toe of his school-shoe through the nearest house. People scatter across the road.
“Go on!” he screams. “Fix that, Dad!”
I stand up to my full height and loom over him.
“Go to your room!” I shout. “And don’t come out until you have learnt some respect!”
“Fine. This is boring anyway!”
I stand there, listening to his footsteps stamp down the hall and his bedroom door slam shut. Then I kneel back over the broken house. Two of the walls are collapsed inwards and the roof lies across the single room. I reach down to pick up the pieces. I think about how to fix the house, where the bricks should go and the people should stand. But before I can pick up a block I’ve stopped. I’ve realised something. I’ve realised that this meaningless destruction was merely an act of God. I’ve realised that none of the Lego people seem to care. I’ve realised I could destroy the whole town and they would still find reasons to smile. Suddenly it all seems so pointless.
So I leave the whole mess on the floor and turn on the TV.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Swanston Street. Midday

At the very bottom

 Down! Down, hand in hand, slaps against the tiles. Pulls himself over me, curls long around me, wet, sweaty, nose in my neck and knees in my knees, hand in hand. Lie still.
            Lying, listening. Listening for trains. Honk. Honk. Honk. Near me. Close. Fragments of bright blue sky fall across my face.
Stops. Looking at me, breath on my lips. Touches me. The damp on my eyes. He says ‘God,’ and then he says I need to get to a hospital and his breath smells like mint. Silent.
Hand in hand. He pulls me up and the sun is on my face and my arms and somewhere an alarm is whirling around and a woman is screaming and screaming and his hand is soft and his arm pulls my arm and out on the street everything is so loud. Alarm. Screams. Ground drops.
Says he is Peter, says it means rock. Coming up Swanston Street where the midday traffic hums and hollers and splits down Flinders and we are running to catch a green light, he says. Says he knows the way.
Clouds blot the sun on my neck and my shoulders and my feet ache and thud and trip-trap and stumble across tram tracks and he pulls me out of the way. Away from the bombs, from the hundreds of bombers I saw on the sky.
Pulls me down. Fingers down my cheek. Bloody and sticky and snot and I want to cry and shout but my throat is bloody and gargle instead. Instead I wipe my cheeks with his fingers, hands, wrists, arms, fall into his chest and it is warm and heaves up and down and all he says is ‘It’s ok. It’s ok.
‘We are in Mc Donalds and it is lunchtime and it is busy and kids and stoners are pulling food from trays and staring at the street, like something is going to happen or something. Anything.’
Fingers in my hair and I convulse and cough into his lap, pulls me in and his ribs poke out and the skin on his neck is dry and his cheeks jut out from his cheeks and he takes my fingers in my fingers and says something. Something like ‘I know, I’m thin. But I sure beat the obesity crisis.’ Laughs. Some hollow laugh. Convulses. Up and down. Scares me, his knee bones and hips and shoulders and he holds me and laughs and says it’s ok.
‘We’ll get up and we’ll walk out of here and down Swanston Street, past the town hall and we’ll get caught in the crowds in the footpath and if we are lucky then we will get a tram and we’ll ride the tram past the Asian restaurants and the hipsters in the alleys and the businessmen and Chinatown and the creeps in Club X (laughs) and QV and Melbourne Central and then on to the university and we’ll walk through the crowds of sleepless students and the buzz of endless conversation and across Royal Parade beneath the big oak trees to the hospital and it will all be okay,’ and he touches my cheek with his cheek in a clap of thunder and his ribs against my breast and his shouders and my palms in his palms and my knees and I’m up—
Running and the doors open into the street and the thunder is falling, between cars, swerving, across the road, up the road, past the adult bookshop and across Collins Street and past the town hall and the claps of thunder and trains and screams and sirens and soon I will lose him in a crowd trying to get out of the rain.