Family (Vignette #1)

By Emma Redmer

Set the night after the 1st season episode "Knock Knock, Whoís There?" (the pilot)

Rated G (no objectionable material)

Characters: Balki

Synopis: Balki remembers his journey to America and why he left Mypos

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Disclaimer: Perfect Strangers is the property of Lorimar Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

Notes: This is the first in a series of 4 vignettes, each describing the feelings of one of the main characters during a certain part of the series.

"Good night, cousin. Sweet dreams!" Cousin Larry ambled off to bed like a grumpy bear. We were both a little sore after all the work we did tonight. Mr. Twinkicetti made us move boxes all afternoon after I broke the glass in the store with a radio, and used some equipment that I wasnít supposed to use. Cousin Larry and I are in debt now. Only in America!

I took my stuffed sheep Dimintri in my arms. "Isnít it wonderful to be in America?" I whispered to him. "Iím so excited, Iím sure I will never sleep." I lay back in the couch bed, just thinking of all the amazing things I saw today, and in the last few months.

I was born in the village of Bikari-Biti, on the southern end of the Kingdom of Mypos. Mypos is a small island in the Mediterranean, near Greece. Though I love my country and my family, I never felt like I belonged there. I didnít have any brothers or sisters, though I had plenty of cousins who lived with us and felt like brothers and sisters. My cousin Bartok was my best friend in the world. We even look like brothers. People on Mypos used to mistake us for twins.

Iíve always wanted to go to America. It was my lifelong dream. I wanted to go to school beyond the eighth grade, which is when all Myposian schools end. I wanted to see all the things my cousins and friends who had been to America talked about, like baseball games and tall buildings. I wanted to see something besides fields and sheep. I had never been in a city larger than Pignika, the capital of Mypos.

I also got into some trouble with the local women. Itís happened ever since I began to grow into manhood. I donít know why, but several women (including one married woman, another reason I left) kept throwing themselves at me. I was tired of saying that I had no interest in getting married at such a young age. I wanted to live a little before I settled down, and none of the Myposian girls interested me, anyhow. They did not want to talk about art, or sheep herding, or going to America. They just wanted to giggle and gossip and mate.

Mama did not want me to go. She wanted me to be a nice, normal Myposian boy who takes a mate, has children, and does the same job his entire life. I love her dearly, but I told her that I could not stay. I wished to meet the American members of the Bartokomos family that I heard so much from my relatives. I even managed to get the address of a distant cousin, George Appleton, who lived in a city called Madison, Wisconsin.

The day I left was one of the most exciting of my life, and also one of the saddest. Mama wouldnít stop crying. I gave up my position as head shepherd to my Uncle Sithik, a position I was lucky to get. Itís not everyone who can be a head shepherd. I said goodbye to my friends the sheep, and to my younger cousins, who told me to write and tell them all about America. My Uncle Porski drove me to the Pignika harbor, where a friend of my mamaís who had a sailboat took me to Athens.

I couldnít believe all the things I saw in Europe! Athens alone took my breath away. I only briefly got to see the famous ruins. Mypos has ruins of its own that are similar, but not as fancy. The rest of Europe was just as beautiful, from the green fields of France to the hills of Germany. A Greek friend of my familyís stayed with me as far as Northern France, when I took a strange kind of ferry to London, England.

London was dark and gloomy, very different from sunny Athens. The air was filled with dirt that made me sneeze. Even Dimintri didnít like it. If I hadnít known that he wasnít real, I would have thought I felt him shivering when I walked through the streets of that dirty, dank city, looking for a boarding house that I could afford. It took several days, but I was happy to finally get out of that depressing city. When my papers were in order, I boarded the biggest boat Iíd ever seen.

A week later, I was in New York City, the biggest city in America! New York was smaller in size than London and not as old as Athens, but so busy, and so full of people! I got lost looking for the hostel Iíd arranged to stay in, and then for the bus terminal. I never saw so many different people in one place before. I even passed by theaters, with people lining up to see theaters shows about cats and sad little girls.

The bus ride was long, but I loved it. America is a beautiful country, with rolling hills and green fields of wheat and corn. Iíve never heard English spoken in so many ways. Many of the people of New York spoke in a harsh, nasal accent not unlike Mr. Twinkicettiís. The people of the south had soft, breathy voices, and those further inland sounded flatter.

Madison was yet another change. It was very small and cozy, much smaller than New York, Athens, or London, but still a city. I found Uncle George in a nice part of town, with lots of houses that looked exactly alike. (I wondered how the owners could find their way home in the dark?) He was very surprised to see me, but his wife offered me a cup of tea. He told me about his son, Laurence (or "Larry" for short), who was starting out in life, just like me, in the big city of Chicago.

I took the bus there. Iíd forgotten to ask Uncle George where Cousin Larry lived in Chicago, so I asked around. Most people just stared at me like I was my cousin Mikaís two-headed ram. After nearly three hours of searching, a kindly Greek baker told me that he knew Larry Appleton, who often came to his shop to buy rolls and pastries. He lived in the same building as the shop, but on the third floor. I thanked the man, bought two of his pastries (one for me, one for my cousin), and went upstairs.

Larry turned out to be a small, appropriately apple-cheeked young man about my age. He wasnít too happy to see me at first. He told me that he came from a family with nine children, and that he really wanted to live alone. I didnít know what I was going to do! I knew no one else in America, and had nowhere else to go. I was about to leave when Cousin Larry changed his mind. He said I could stay until I could get a job. I was so happy, I would have done the Myposian Dance of Joy if I wasnít also tired. Cousin Larry went to bed, and I got to eat potato crumbs (which I first had in England) and watch color TV! That was very exciting. I didnít want to tell Cousin Larry, because I didnít want to look ignorant, but Iíve never seen a color TV set before.

I figured it would be easy to get a job. After all, I was a professional shepherd. Cousin Larry told me that there was no call for shepherds in Chicago, so he got me a job as a clerk instead. Cousin Larry works for Mr. Twinkicetti in the store next to the Greek bakery, Ritz Discount. Mr. Twinkicetti is not a nice man. He always insults Cousin Larry, and he calls me "Turnip". Iím still glad he gave us our jobs back. He may not be nice, but it is work, and it will help put me (my family will have to wait - Cousin Larry told me how much college costs in America) through school.

I smiled. I like Cousin Larry. Heís a little fussy and blustery, but he saved my life by taking me in, and, deep down, I think heís much nicer than he wants to let on. And Susan...my first American woman! She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw, from her creamy skin to her flame-red hair. I knew I wanted her for my mate the moment I saw her goddess-like loveliness, but Cousin Larry says that American men donít mate by becoming their brideís slave. (Awww, what fun is that?)

I was looking forward to living in America. Cousin Larry and I need each other. I need someone to keep me company and help teach me about American customs. Cousin Larry needs someone to keep him from getting fussy and to show him how to relax. We would be good friends. I couldnít wait to start the citizenship classes Cousin told me about, and introduce him to all the things I loved - and find out more about this new country. Every day was a new adventure, just waiting to be lived! Oh, I missed Mama, and Mypos, but I loved America.

I drifted off to sleep with Dimintri in my arms, dreaming of huge cities, smiling plump-cheeked faces, and gorgeous red haired goddesses...