I Can Make It to California Before It’s Time for Dinner
I watch the TV for my girlfriend Megan. She’s fourteen and I am fifteen and every day she’s on the show that I watch about her. She’s pretty and I wish we could hold hands and kiss. My brother Josh laughs because I watch the TV for Megan. Josh is seventeen and doesn’t play with me and doesn’t like Megan. His girlfriend is not on TV and she’s not pretty. Josh and his girlfriend call me retard and laugh and I laugh too but if Mom hears us sometimes Josh gets in trouble.
Today I watch Megan, and Josh wants to watch TV, too, but not Megan. Josh pushes me towards the door. “Here’s an idea -- scram and find her.” Josh knows I am only allowed to go to the 7-11 and back but Josh thinks maybe she could live somewhere between our house and 7-11 and that I should look for her. So I go and walk the street to the 7-11 and maybe I will find her and kiss her. But the house Megan lives in on TV doesn’t look like any of the houses on the way to the 7-11 so I think maybe Josh is wrong but then I remember when we go to the Giant to buy cola that the houses between our house and the Giant don’t look the same as the houses between our house and the 7-11 and maybe those houses look like the house Megan lives in. But I’m not allowed to walk to the Giant because it’s too far. But then the man who drives the white truck, Mr. Pete, is on the sidewalk.
“How’s it going, Jimmy?” he asks. I’m not supposed to talk to strangers but Mr. Pete isn’t a stranger. “Do you know where Megan lives?” I ask. “Can’t say I do, Jimmy.” He opens the door of his truck. “Do you think she lives near the Giant?” I ask. “Can’t say, Jimmy. Listen, do you need a ride to the Giant?”
I get in Mr. Pete’s truck. It’s got lots of maps and stuff and smells like smoke. I look out the window for Megan’s house but I don’t see it and then we’re at the Giant and Mr. Pete says he has to keep going to where he works so I get out. I am at the Giant but Megan doesn’t live at the Giant but maybe if I walk a little farther I will be able to find her house. I keep walking and the houses are bigger than the one I live in with Josh and our little sister Susan and my mom and dad and I wonder if they’re bigger because more people live in them. I remember my dad saying all the people on TV live out in California. We live in Ohio. I figure if it I can make it to California before it’s time for dinner I should probably just go because I’m already at the Giant so I keep walking in the direction of the bigger houses.
There is one big brown and white house and it looks like Megan’s house on TV but I can’t remember exactly. I walk up to the door and knock but nobody answers and I am going to leave but I hear music coming from behind the house so I walk behind the house and the house has a deck. We don’t have a deck but this house does and there is a girl lying on a chair in her bathing suit. She has brown hair like Megan and looks like Megan in the body but I can’t remember exactly because Megan doesn’t wear a bathing suit on TV. But it is her house I think so it must be her.
“Hi Megan,” I say and she sits up on the chair but I can’t see her eyes because she’s wearing sunglasses and she says “Who are you?” and I say I’m Jimmy Dembrowski and I live on 890 Dunkirk and I watch you on TV. “I’m not Megan,” she says and stands up. “And you have to leave.” “Are you sure?” I ask. “I watch you on TV every day and you’re pretty and I want to be your boyfriend.” “Do I look like I’m on TV, you retard?” she says like Josh but doesn’t laugh. “But people are on TV are just like you and me living in the real word.” I say to her. “Everything on TV is make-believe,” she answers, lighting a cigarette like Mr. Pete and I get mad because Megan doesn’t smoke on TV. “It’s not real. I’m not Megan. And she’s not real either.” “But you are Megan,” I say. “I see you on TV and my brother Josh says people on TV are real people.” She turns toward the house. “I’m going to tell you one more time to get out of here, and then I’m going to call my mother and the police, retard.”
I am on the deck now and I just want to hug her goodbye before I go home and she hits me in the face and I get mad because she hits me like my little sister Susan does and leaves marks so I put my hands on her neck and twist real hard, back and forth and her face turns all red and it’s kind of funny how red and then she falls asleep on me. She is so heavy I let her fall back on the chair and then I wait for her to stop make-believe because people on TV are always doing make-believe. She keeps playing sleep or dead. I think it is to make me go away the way Josh fake sleeps until I go away but sometimes I tickle him and he wakes up. But she still make-believes her sleep. It is getting dark and I need to get back before dinner or I will get in trouble so I kiss Megan on the lips and tell her I’ll see her tomorrow. I can’t wait to get home and tell Josh I found Megan out in California, that I’m her boyfriend, and that she’s does better make-believe than he does.