Two Fictions
Phil Estes

Return of the Jedi (1983)

I look at it as no small operation to burn the body. Not like the cremation of Darth Vader-- a pile of wood and a little fire consumes plastic so easily. They didn't burn my grandfather; they dressed him in his windbreaker and pajamas. They sewed his mouth into a thin smile. When I was eight, I told him to call me Luke Skywalker. The name cooler than Tommy; he called me Luke for three hours before he pulled a Twix from his windbreaker and said "Jedis don't eat candy bars." I pulled the "but I'm Tommy!" act, like in TV commercials for Twix bars. Now, he's a blue ghost like Vader and sits in my recliner at 2 a.m. He watches basketball on tape delay. "I am scared to miss anything." Men in our family never smile.

Souvenir Hunting

Once, in Okayama, Japan, Tommy dug a hole outside of the record store and covered it with a tatami mat. The old men who ate noodles in the alley didn't want to ask the American questions -- it's better to stick with a nod, a Good Morning if you can pronounce it. The hole swallowed Toshiro; the mat wrapped around him like a tongue. Tommy dropped him a map of America with Dayton, Ohio circled in red. You will live with my sister there; she loves Japanese punks and I thought I'd catch her one. Toshiro stood up, brushed the gravel off his skinny jeans -- his long legs resembled those of a deer. Call me Johnny Thunderclap, he said.