I don’t think it’s funny; I just can’t stop laughing, Dave’s idea or mine, it still sounds stupid each time we play back the tape, the sound of the furnace on and off behind us because we can’t do this anywhere else but in Dave’s cellar, me, Dave and Dennis taking turns talking into the tiny mic, each of us making up stuff inspired by each other, which one of us thinking up the idea of doing a news cast, I can’t say, or the idea that there is no news with Dave acting as the news anchor who has to make stuff up, or report scores with no names of teams or even some event we don’t know where or what exactly.
It’s not funny, yet tears roll out of my eyes each time he plays it back.
Dave says he’s going to play it for somebody to see if that person thinks ifs funny enough for us to send it to TV.
I tell him he’s crazy and he looks a little hurt. I tell him I don’t know anything about stuff like this, and the hurt goes away.
I want to sake we smoked something or drank something to explain why we sound like we do, me and Dennis anyway, Dave seems so serious he might believe every word is true, his laugh isn’t like our laughs, his eyes glow, proud of giving done something he thinks of as important.
I want to shake him, bring him back to the Dave I know, tell him we’ll all be somebody important someday. I’m too scared to say anything with his father drunk upstairs.
Dave clicks on the tape recorder again, asks me a question, I say anything and we all laugh again, until after a while I start thinking the whole thing is funny, too, and go home thinking may if the guy Dave plays the tape for likes it, we might all be famous.
“Don’t lose that tape,” I tell him over the walkie talkie when I get home.
I can’t sleep thinking about it; I just can’t remember enough of it to laugh, and wish I can listen to it again before Dave plays it for a stranger.
I wait for Dave at the bus stop before school. He doesn’t come. Dennis doesn’t know where he is either. So I search for him at school only to find out from my first period teacher Dave called in sick from school.
I imagine him home, hurt, having listened to the tape in a more sober moment and come to thee same conclusion I have that it isn’t fund and at the same time hearing his father’s drunken snores from the couch.
After school, I meet Dennis in front of their apartment building. Dennis goes up to look for Dave while I wait at the bottom of the stairs, then returns to tell me Dave’s not there and nobody knows where he is.
At home, I press the speaker of the walkie talkie to my ear to hear when Dave comes on or when he makes his calls to the truckers who can barely hear him for all of the static, a voice that does not come on, and I fall asleep and wake to a dead battery in the morning.
And still no Dave at school or after or on the radio that night, and so I sit and watch TV.
Three of my uncles grumble about some variety show they think of as “too liberal” but still watch when a skit comes on, our skit, word for word, right down to sports scores without teams and news that is not news.
I don’t even wait for the commercial. I charge out of the house, heart pumping the whole block down to Dave’s apartment building, my pebbles against his window finally bringing him out.
I ask him where he’s been; he won’t say. I ask him if he played the tape for the man; he says he wanted to play it; he never got the chance. I say the man must have heard it because I just saw the whole thing on TV. Dave says nobody could have heard it because he still has the tape.
I make him get it; I make him play it just one more time.
It isn’t funny; but I can’t stop laughing.
Dave doesn’t laugh; his eyes look sad.
Dennis tells me later Dave went away for two days to some aunt’s house in
Paterson after his
father quit snoring and beat the crap out of him.
This isn’t funny either.
Nobody is laughing about that.