Billy, his fifteen-year-old brother, enjoyed getting lost in the tools, lingering over the washers and brackets, pieces he might add to a new work of “art”. He wasn’t much help around the garage.
But it was summer and he’d promised to keep Billy busy from ten until four o’clock during the week while their parents worked. Billy spent more time studying his surroundings than actually participating in them. “Did you find the torque wrench?” Mike held out his hand.
Billy’s green-laced black doc martins were planted next to Mustang while he waiting for the wrench to fall into his hand. “Any time now.”
“Thank you," he said when it landed.
Billy walked away. A kid of few words unless it was a subject he obsessed over, like Wars and Spirits, a video game, that had to be peeled out of his hands or spend his life eating intravenously at the console. At least he wasn't talking about Magic cards today or subjects Mike didn’t really understand.
More than a decade younger, a surprise, just when his parents thought their Golden Years were ahead. Mike shook his head. At least Billy could bring the tools he needed while he was under the car.
Crashing noise echoed throughout the garage, like hubcaps smashing to the ground, the sound rattled the tin walls.
Mike slid out from under the car. Wiped the grease off his hands on a bandana and then made his way in that direction. “You okay, buddy?” he called.
A dozen hubcaps circled the floor and Billy wasn’t there. Probably scared off thinking he was in trouble. Billy usually retreated when the hint of a confrontation arose but Mike knew how to tread lightly.
“It’s all right, Billy, nothing’s broken! No harm no foul.” Mike laughed because he sounded like their father. “Where are you?”
Not seeing his brother, he began picking up the hubcaps and stacking them against the wall. He checked his watch. “Looks like lunchtime!” Mike shouted, sure that would get Billy out of his hiding place. “I’m ordering a pizza unless you want to go for a drive?”
No answer. He checked the restroom. Billy wasn’t there. “Well, I’m starving,” Mike made a beeline for the phone on the wall and as he dialed the number for pizza delivery, Billy ran past.
“Hey, wait. You want pepperoni?”
Billy stopped. He turned and shook his head vehemently before continuing on his way with a determined expression. Mike rolled his eyes. It was going to be a long day. “I’m ordering the usual," he shouted and then muttered, "You’ll eat it eventually.”
Mike organized the desk in the office while waiting for the delivery and Billy walked in, his eyes skimmed the desk. A collection of items from the garage and junk from the dumpster were strewn across the room.
“Whacha looking for?” Mike asked.
Billy opened a cabinet drawer. “Just need ...” He pulled out a coil of copper wire.
Mike gave him the eye as he darted out of the room, not even asking what the pizza toppings were. He didn’t mind if his brother kept busy with another project. Maybe he’d get more work done with Billy entertained.
When the pizza arrived Billy wouldn’t respond to his calls. If he wasn't hungry now, he would eventually. Mike finished his lunch and got back to fixing the Mustang.
Billy’s Doc Martins pass by. Back and forth rattling and clamoring and now he was dragging a long metal pipe. What’s he up to? “Are you building a spaceship?” Mike chuckled.
Billy passed by again and again.
"You must be building a masterpiece!"
Mike scooted out, he was finished correcting the alignment of the wheels.
Cold pizza waited in the office. He shook his head and went to find his brother. "Must be some work of art you’ve got outback,” Mike said as he trudged through the exit door.
“Hey, Van Gogh, you aren’t eating?"
A disk of light materialized before his eyes and lifted above the ground but with the sun beaming in his eyes, it was hard to determine what he saw.
Below the spinning orb, a mound festooned with assorted metal links, wrenches, hammers, and bolts held together with twisted copper wires pointed up into the shape of a pyramid.
The spinning orb hovering above the mound expanded and retracted. Mike turned to his brother, eyes trance-like, staring at the orb and it zipped away.
“What was that?” Mike asked.
“They came after I made it,” Billy said. “They said the pyramid is a phone."
“Yeah, they heard the signal.”
“My brother doesn’t believe me," Billy shouted up into the coiled cone of wires and gadgets.
The orb returned.
Out of nowhere.
Hovering at the point.
More arrived, until the sky pulsed with flocks of white orbs competing with the sunshine.
“Now what?” Mike asked.
“The others can't enter unless we build more communication systems. It's the way they used to visit a long time ago.”
Mike rubbed his chin, and his eyes shifted toward the disk fading in and out of visibility.