(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Big Me” is a first-person narrative, in which thirty-two-year-old Andy O’Day describes an odd series of events that happened when he was twelve years old, the year before his parents’ marriage broke up. Andy explains that he has always been a dreamy child, living in a fantasy world.

In real life, the twelve-year-old Andy’s parents run a bar in the small town of Beck, Nebraska, which has a population of fewer than two hundred people. To Andy, though, Beck is an imaginary town of two million, and he is the detective, protecting his city from crime. In his fantasy life, he performs feats such as saving the town from an evil werewolf, Mr. Karaffa, who in actuality is a high school teacher who dies of a heart attack.

One day, Andy notices a new neighbor is mowing the lawn. As he watches the man, he feels the man looks familiar. He comes to believe that the man, Louis Mickelson, is an older version of himself who has somehow traveled back in time. He does not know why Mickelson has done this and begins spying on him in hopes of discovering his secrets. Andy worries about the future and keeps a journal in which he writes to his future self, whom he addresses as “Big Me.” He hopes his future self is happy, but if Mickelson is his future self, Andy worries that he has come back to warn of a disastrous future.

Andy goes as far as breaking into Mickelson’s house and searching it. One day, as Andy is exploring a box of letters, Mickelson returns to the house. Andy knows he is...

(The entire section is 620 words.)