Excerpt for Dummy by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Published by Dan Mazur at Smashwords

Copyright 2018 Dan Mazur

Manny was an incredibly shy kid who kept to himself. He barely spoke at school or even at home. He didn't have any friends other than his cat Mr. Marbles. His grandparents were very worried about him.

He had lost his parents in a tragic car crash a year ago. Manny felt incredibly guilty because he was supposed to be going with them to the movies but he had gotten in trouble at school and was grounded.

Manny went to live with his grandparents after the accident. While he loved them dearly, he really missed his parents. One afternoon, Manny's grandpa decided to go upstairs to the attic and retrieve an old friend that he hoped would cheer up his grandson.

"Manny, can you come downstairs for a little bit?" his grandma called out. Manny picked up Mr. Marbles and sullenly walked down the stairs to the living room. She cleared her throat before announcing, "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present to you the comedy team of Grandpa and Chester Fields!"

Manny’s grandpa was holding an old ventriloquist’s dummy dressed up in a black tuxedo with a bow tie and white gloves. "Why thank you young lady. Say 'Hello' to the nice boy Chester." "Hello Manny" his grandpa tried to say without moving his lips. "You're in for quite a treat tonight folks. While I drink this cup of water, Chester will recite the alphabet. A-B-C...." Before he could finish, Manny's grandpa had spilled water all over himself. And for the first time in a while, Manny laughed out loud. He had a sweet, infectious laugh that hadn’t been heard for a long while. It livened up the musty old house that evening.

After dinner Manny brought the dummy upstairs with him. He sat and looked at the wooden figure for a while before picking it up. "Hello Ladies and Germs, my name is Manny" he said with a giggle. Manny wasn't able to able to pronounce certain words without moving his lips which made his routine even funnier. Mr. Marbles hid under the bed, frightened by the life-like dummy perched on Manny’s lap. He continued to try out different routines and songs before bursting into laughter.

"Is that laughter and singing I hear coming from Manny's room?" his grandma asked as she stood in the hallway with her husband. "I think so. Let's go see what he's up to." "I think it's best if we leave him alone May. He seems to have taken to the dummy. I remember his Dad being terrified of Chester when I first introduced them. And then the next thing I knew he was putting on little shows for the kids in the neighbourhood and charging ten cents for admission." "You're probably right. Maybe this is another method for Manny to help him cope with his loss. He’s getting tired of being treated with kids’ gloves and is all talked out at the counsellor’s office.

A few weeks had gone by and Manny's grandparents noticed that their grandson was talking more. He smiled more often and would joke around with his grandparents like he had before his parents’ accident. Manny began to engage them in dinner time conversation and his grades started to improve at school. Manny was a brilliant child but ever since that fateful night, he had lost all interest in his academics. But now he was able to concentrate, study, and do well on his tests. Every night he would practice his routine with Chester until it was time for bed.

It was getting late one night so Manny gently put Chester back into his trunk. Even though Chester wasn't real, Manny always kept the trunk open so his wooden pal could "breathe." "Goodnight Chester." "Goodnight Little Man?" "Who said that?" Little Man was what Manny's father used to call him. Spooked, Manny decided to close the trunk. Chester was just a ventriloquist’s dummy after all. Right?

Manny didn’t speak of the bizarre encounter the following morning although he did seem preoccupied. "Thanks again for helping with the dishes Manny. Manny, are you okay?" "Well it was my pleasure young lady." "You're too funny. You've really been in a good mood lately. And your grandpa and I are so proud of how well you’re doing in school." "Thanks Grandma. Mr. Marbles and I are going to go upstairs and hang out with Chester for a bit before I start my chores."

When Manny entered his bedroom he noticed that the trunk was open and Chester was missing. "Where could he have gone?” Manny asked himself as he searched high and low for the wooden dummy. I can't seem to find him anywhere." "I'm over here!" "Mr. Marbles, was that you?" "It's me, Chester." Manny stood there in shock as the dummy he had playing with for the past few days was talking to him. And this time Manny's lips weren't moving.

"You should've seen how I reacted when your grandpa brought this dummy home. I ran upstairs and hid under my bed like Mr. Marbles. This dummy gave me the creeps but you’ve seen to have taken to him.” How did he know all of this information? He was made of wood and paint. Manny was unable to move or to speak as he sat on the corner of his bed, mouth agape. “I can only imagine how hard things have been for you the past year. It's been tough for your Mom and me as well. We never got to say goodbye." Tears began to stream down Chester’s cheeks. Real tears. “Grandpa? Are you pulling a prank on me?” Manny asked. But nobody was around to answer. This was really happening.

"But we're never going to say goodbye to you. We're always going to be around in some form. I grew up here so every time you think you saw or heard me, you did. We are a part of you Manny. I didn't really get much out of this dummy when I was your age. Guess I was a scaredy cat like Mr. Marbles but you have become quite the performer. We will be watching over you and keeping you safe. Keep making us proud son. We love you." "Dad? Are you there?" Manny shouted as Chester fell limp and silent.

"Listen to him Ben. He's come such a long way. He’s actually able to do two different voices at once. I never thought he'd get so much enjoyment out of that wooden dummy. There must be something magical about him and Manny for that matter." “If you only knew.” “What was that dear?” “Oh nothing May.”

While Chester never spoke again, Manny continued to perform shows for his grandparents. Like most boys his age, Manny’s interests matured and eventually he was ready to move on to new hobbies, pick up a sport, and focus on school. It was time to put Chester back in the attic.

Manny’s grandpa asked him if he was ready to say goodbye to Chester. “I am Grandpa and thank you for bringing him into my life. He’s just what I needed.” “Okay I’m going up to the attic now. If you change your mind just let me know.” “I won’t.” Manny’s grandpa put the trunk up in the attic next to some old dusty records. Before he put a blanket overtop the trunk, he opened it to take one final look at Chester. “Goodbye for now son” he said wiping a tear from his eye. But he knew that no goodbye last forever. We just live on in different ways.


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