Super Action Excite Team Go!
by Matthew Shean
I introduced Jesse to Super Action Excite Team Go! in the experimental medicine wing
of the hospital that summer. Mom was always chasing down nurses or visiting Dad in his regular
room two floors down, so I got stuck babysitting Jesse while his arm regenerated. He spent most
days streaming shows on the tablet we got for Christmas, while I group-texted with Dave and the
guys on my phone. Our last summer before middle school and we planned it all out over text.
Bikes and jailbreak and jungle-gyms and cool apps, all day, every day.
After two days, Jesse was already bored of the stuff he used to watch and wanted to play.
I had seen an episode of Super Action Excite Team Go! at Dave's house once and showed him
that instead. It shut him up fast. It was one of those cartoons from Japan they put English voices
on, where the people had big watery eyes and posed with their fists on their hips. They had this
complicated salute, and Jesse begged me do it all the time. He couldn't on account of his arm.
Mom pulled me out into the hallway that afternoon and crouched down, sitting on her
feet. It's always bad when they bring their grown-up world down to you. This time it was worse.
"Sam," she said to me. "We have to circle the wagons this summer, buddy. Your Dad's
going to be on his butt at least six weeks, and I'll have to start taking double shifts to pick up the
slack, so I'll be leaning on you pretty hard. I'll get Mrs. Kulsziski to come take care of Dad and
the cooking, but Jesse is going to need a lot of help, and that'll be your job. Think you can handle
that?" She didn't even wait for an answer, just pulled me into a big hug, then kinda hung on me
for a while. But I couldn't answer anyway. I hate it when parents ask if you want to do something
when you all know you can't say 'no.'
It was scary seeing Dad and Jesse laid up like that, and sometimes I started crying out of
nowhere that week. But right there in the hallway hugging Mom, in my head all I could see was
Dave and the guys playing jailbreak without me.
Mom and I had been waiting at the dinner table when the crash happened. She was
glaring and tapping her foot, and I was watching the mashed potatoes get cold. I hate them cold.
Dad was supposed to pick up stuff to grill on his way home but forgot. So they got into this big
argument about who works harder and started slamming stuff. That's the only time Jesse ever
gets quiet, when they fight--we both shut up and keep real still. Dad drove off to the store, and
of course Jesse can't ever let anyone leave without him coming along too.
So they were gone, the potatoes were cold, and there were little pools of cup sweat around
the bottoms of our cups. That's when the phone rang. Mom answered and then started crying. We
spent the rest of the night in the ER waiting room. By the time we made a dinner of peanut-butter
crackers and orange soda from the machine my eyes were burning from tired. I laid my head on
Mom's lap and tried to sleep. It bounced and hitched while she cried and the room was really
bright and loud, but it made me feel warmer and less scared than when I was sitting up.