Vincent is a speck of a man you wouldn’t easily notice. Mid-thirties, slender and slight, clean-shaven and close-cropped, he is plain of appearance and dress. This is a cultivated look. He is a ventriloquist, and the focus of attention needs to be drawn away from him and toward his dummies. He is at a workbench upon which sit a trio of three-foot by one-foot open wooden boxes. In each is a dummy. Mother is an elderly woman, wrinkled, with heavy makeup and badly-dyed thin hair, wearing over-sized slacks and a blouse with cheap jewelry. Theodore is a male in his mid-thirties with a short-clipped circle beard and a shaved dome, heavy-set, and wearing carpenter pants with a NASCAR printed T-shirt. Andora is a thirtysomething trim and sexy female wearing a thin top which shows off her huge nipples, a short skirt which flashes black thong panties, and dark pantyhose.

Vincent gently touches Mother’s face, slightly smearing her eye shadow.    “Don’t overdo it, Vinnie,” Mother says.

“Just going for realism, Mom.”

Vincent places a baseball cap on Theodore’s shaved head backwards. “Realism, Vin?” Theodore replies. “I never wear my hat like that.”

“Uber-realism, Theo.”

Vincent raises the hem of Andora’s short skirt so her panties can be seen. “Such big words, Vince,” Andora comments. “Who are you trying to impress?”

“The audience, Andy.” Vincent looks up to stare directly into what would be the audience if there was one. “It’s show time, folks.”

“Humph,” Mother harrumphs. “You stole that line.”

“Of course he stole it,” Andora chimes in. “Don’t expect Vince to be original.”

“Yeah,” Theodore says. “Was it Jim Carrey? Or Eddie Murphy?”

“Roy Scheider’s signature line from Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz,” Vincent answers.

“Never heard of it,” all three dummies respond at once.

Vincent is amazed. “Did all three of you just talk at the same time?” He stares from one to the other. “This could get very Orphan Black.”


A real-life version of the Mother dummy sits on an overstuffed couch that is way too large for the small living room it has been squeezed into. This room, along with every room in the tight little condo, is crammed with way too much stuff. The old woman’s heart wasn’t really into the downsizing that has recently taken place.

Vincent walks in cautiously, dodging obstacles. His mother looks up suspiciously at the flowers he bears. “What’s the occasion?”

“Do I need an occasion to bring my mom flowers?”

“You need a guilty conscience, is what you need.”

Vincent rearranges knickknacks on the coffee table to place the vase in the center. “Gee, I wonder why I don’t visit you more often.” He sinks into an overstuffed chair across from her.

“You I don’t concern myself with. Where is my grandson?” She rearranges the knickknacks back the way they were and shoves the flowers off to the side.

“I’m busy, Mom. Big show coming up.”

His mother looks sharply at him as she settles back into the couch. “Am I in it?”

“Of course not.”

“Is that dummy that looks like me and talks like me in it?”

“It’s not you. Where’s your Bible?”

“It’s well hidden. I don’t want you swearing lies on my Bible.” Vincent looks away, sighing wearily. “Humph. Save the performance for your show.”

“It is not you! There are millions of elderly women in the world. Why does it have to be you?”

“It’s me.”

Vincent glares at her. “Want me to get you a ticket? Front and center? So you can see it’s not you?”

“Why would I want to be ridiculed in person?”

“It is not you!” Vincent and his mother glare at each other.


A real-life version of Theodore sits at a sports bar watching a bowling tournament on a large screen TV, a half-filled glass of beer before him. Vincent walks in and sits next to him. Theodore looks over with a scowl. “What?”

Vincent ignores him as he motions to the bartender. “Two more of what he’s drinking.”

“What?!” Vincent produces two tickets. Theodore merely stares at them. “WHAT?!”

“The show next Thursday.”

“So I gotta pay a babysitter to watch Jake? Get dressed up? Talk Barb into getting out? She’ll insist on dinner, too, you know. Just to go watch you make fun of me?”

“Hey, where’s your sense of humor?”

“On the floor of the last shithole where I saw your show.”

“Come on, Theo, you’re my best friend.”

“Yeah? Well, that’s sad, Vin.”

“Hey, Theo, it’s all in good fun.”

“Fun for who? Screw your tickets.” Theodore returns his attention to the TV. He finishes his beer, then starts in on the one Vincent bought him. Vincent drinks his beer, watching the TV, also. He unobtrusively lays the tickets on the bar. Theodore glances down at the tickets, then at Vincent. “If you piss me off, I’m going to throw a glass at you.” He stuffs the tickets in his shirt pocket as they both concentrate on the bowling.


A real-life version of Andora opens the door to an apartment. She is dressed much differently than her wooden counterpart, in loose slacks and a simple top. She frowns at Vincent standing before her. “You’re early.”

“You should be used to that.”

Andora rolls her eyes. “That’s a good line. You should use it in your show.”

Vincent nods, pulling a small notepad and pen from his shirt pocket and jotting it down. Andora starts to close the door, but Vincent blocks it with his foot. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or something like that. Someone said.”

“There is not a sincere bone in your body.”

“Come on, Andy, I’ve made you famous.”

Andora flings the door open. “And I should sue you!”

“Go ahead. You can’t get much more out of me than you’re already getting.”

“You know what I should do? Find the biggest, meanest boyfriend I can get so he can beat the shit out of you.” Vincent nods as he jots this down in his notepad also. “Damn you, Vince!” She slams the door so hard he barely gets his foot out of the way to keep it from being broken.

“You know what your problem is, Andy?” Vincent awaits a reply, but none comes. “You don’t know the rules.” Vincent waits again. Again, there is no reply. “Do you want to know what the rules are?” After another unanswered pause, he continues. “Whoever pulls the strings decides the rules, not the dummies being yanked around. That’s the rules.” Another pause, with no reply. “Hey, did Colin tell you what’s going on?”

The door opens a crack and Andora peeks out meekly, all anger vacant from her face. “Am I going to be there?”

“No, of course not. You’re his mother. What kind of monster do you think I am?”

“An arrogant, self-centered, egotistical…”

“…immortal trampler totally alone in his own little fantasy world,” Vincent finishes for her. They glare at each other through the crack. “I’ve heard all this before.”

From behind Andora comes a young male voice. “Hey Dad, why do you think you’re immortal? And what’s a trampler?” Andora opens the door wide as she and Vincent look into the apartment to find that their ten-year-old son Colin has walked quietly up behind them. He looks much more exceptional than his bland father, from the sharp clothes he wears to his well-styled hair to his athletic body to the glow on his face and the sparkle in his eyes. This kid is alive.

“I’m immortal because my dummies are immortal. They never age.”

“And he’s a trampler,” Andora says, “because he uses and abuses people who are weaker than he is. He tramples all over them.”

Colin smiles as he looks from one parent to the other. “He doesn’t trample on me.”

“That’s because you’re stronger than me.”

“I’m only ten.”

“And strong as Hercules.”

Colin lights up even more brightly, like a star going supernova. “Hey, if you do a dummy of me, will you make me look like Hercules?”

“Pray he never does a dummy of you, Colin,” Andora says.

“Hey, Dad, are you still coming tomorrow?”


An attractive, modestly-dressed woman in her late twenties, Jennifer, stands at the front of an elementary classroom. She appears prim and proper, yet with a gait and carriage suggesting a restrained sensuality. She must maintain decorum in her realm but is plainly attentive of the adult world. Colin is seated at a desk toward the front. “Class, we have a real treat today. Colin’s father is a professional ventriloquist. He is here today to show us how a ventriloquist does his tricks.” Jennifer claps as she steps away from her desk. Several others clap also, but most of the fifth-grade students remain sullen. A tough crowd.

Vincent walks in bearing two of his small wooden boxes. He sets them down on the teacher’s desk and opens them, presenting Mother and Theodore, then faces the class.

“I’m not very good at throwing my voice,” Vincent says in his own voice.

“But he is very good at throwing other stuff, like what’s in his stomach,” Mother replies. “Believe me, I’ve cleaned it up enough times.” Nearly all the students laugh.

“That’s a cheap shot,” Theodore says. “Gross-out humor always works with kids.”

More laughter.

“It sure does,” Mother says. “I heard you laughing.”

A girl holds up her hand. Jennifer acknowledges her. “Yes, Cathy?”

“I can see his lips move.” Vincent seems to be at a loss as he mutely stares back at the girl.

Colin objects. “That’s not fair.”

“Colin,” Jennifer intercedes. “I’m sure your father is used to hecklers.”

“That’s not it,” Colin presses on. “Normally my mother dummy would make some remark about his mouth, but she’s not here.” Jennifer looks questioningly at Vincent, who shrugs. So Colin continues, “He didn’t bring her because he thought it would embarrass me, hearing my mother say bad things. But hey, I live with her, I hear her say bad things all the time.” Vincent laughs, which draws a scowl from Jennifer, so he attempts to stifle it.

Vincent slips a hand into each dummy, lifting them out of their boxes and facing the class with them. Their faces and limbs begin to move. “Let me tell you about Colin’s mother,” Theodore speaks up. “She is one classy lady.”

“Humph,” Mother objects. “If she had any class, she never would have married Vinnie.”

“Yeah, but she had enough class to leave his sorry butt.” More laughter, and even Jennifer smiles.

At the end of the period, Vincent packs away Mother and Theodore, while Jennifer watches. “Thank you so much. The students really enjoyed your performance.”

Vincent looks up at her. “How about you?”

Jennifer shrugs. “It was amusing.”

“Yeah? You ought to come see the unrated version.” Vincent offers a ticket.

“I’d love to.” Jennifer accepts the ticket, looks it over. “The Sub Cellar?”

“Know where it’s at?”

“Sure, I’ve been there. They have some big-name comedians.”

“They also have people like Vin,” Theodore speaks up. Jennifer laughs as Vincent slams the lid on the wooden box containing Theodore.

Vincent looks up, smiling. “Sorry. Sometimes it’s hard to stop. It’s next Thursday night at eight.”

“Of course it’s at eight,” Mother says. “You’re no headliner.” Vincent slams the lid on the wooden box containing Mother.

Jennifer continues to laugh as she slips the ticket into her purse. “I’ll be there.”

“Good. You’ll get to meet Colin’s mother.”

“Your ex-wife comes to your shows?”

“The dummy ex-wife. The wooden one.” Still smiling, Jennifer watches as Vincent walks out with the two boxes.


A small, frail elderly man, John, is perched upon a four-legged wooden stool at a large workbench fashioned from two by fours. Every nick and paint splatter is easily visible on its well-worn surface under the low-hanging bright work light. A padded vise is mounted on one corner, while across its vast expanse, at least twelve feet long and four feet wide, are scattered exotic woodcarving hand tools, such as wooden and steel mallets, assorted chisels and gouges, wood carving knives with both straight and curved blades, skews and parting tools and a fish tail. Several sharpening stones of different sizes and shapes are scattered about, along with a small bottle of honing oil. Sandpaper of every grit from as heavy as 36 to as fine as 320 is stacked in one corner. Several different cans of lacquer and stains and varnish and shellac and mineral oils are arrayed in another corner, while a rainbow of quart and pint paint cans is stacked in yet another corner. Hanging on the wall is a wide assortment of brushes. On a shelf underneath are other sundries such as paper shop rags and disposable plastic gloves and half-face respirators. On the floor at the end of the bench is a shop vac.

Not much cleaning is required at the moment. John is studying a large block of wood sitting before him on his workbench. He has just begun to fashion something; it is very rudimentary.

Vincent walks in bearing one of his wooden boxes. John looks up from his work with a frown. “Again?”

“Big show this week.”

“They’re perfect.”

“Andora needs to be sexier.”

“I could make her into a fertility fetish.” John picks up a small wooden female figure with huge breasts and buttocks, and a huge stomach swollen with pregnancy.

Vincent looks it over. “Maybe the butt.” Vincent sets his box down.

“Tell me you are joking.”

Vincent takes Andora out. “She needs something. Wider hips?” Vincent pulls up her dress and sticks her butt in John’s face.

John pulls the black thong down and studies the wooden butt. “Andora has hips Beyonce would be jealous of.”

“Come on, John. Can’t you see it? She needs something. I think wider hips would do it.”

John slips on a pair of glasses, then takes Andora from Vincent to inspect her butt more closely. His frown softens. “You could be right.” John strips the clothes from her.

Vincent spies the large block of wood John has just started on. “What’s this?”

“A block of wood.” John takes down a large photo album from a shelf and opens it. The pages are filled with photos of the human Andora, most of them nude or semi-nude.

“What’s it going to be?” John shrugs. “Are you making a dummy for someone else?”

John leafs through pages filled with photos of Andora’s bare butt. “Who says it’s a dummy?”

“Then what is it?” John studies these photos, then studies the dummy Andora’s hips, back and forth, evaluating. “What?” Vincent demands.

John looks up, agitated. “Do you want me to work on Andora’s hips? Or talk?”

Vincent motions for John to go back to work. “Work, by all means. Hell, you’re a lot more familiar with my ex-wife’s body than I ever was.”

“Maybe that’s why she’s your ex-wife.” John dabs wood putty onto Andora’s hips, carefully shaping it with his fingers, while Vincent resumes his study of the block of wood. “It’s big enough to be a dummy.”

John glances up at Vincent with a worried expression, then resumes his work on the dummy Andora.


Vincent sits at his workbench studying unclad Andora’s reworked wider, shapelier hips. His workroom is much more modest than John’s, with a small wood-topped table squeezed into a corner of what looks to be a converted bedroom. Yet it is much messier, with sawdust and fine wood shavings and chips all over.

The phone rings. Vincent glances at the caller I.D. It says “Asshole.” Vincent picks up. “Yes, Marsh.”

“I’ve debated whether to tell you this or not.”

“Marsh, I’ve known you are gay for years.”

“Fuck you. This is about you, dummy.”

Vincent sits upright, riveting his full attention to the phone. “What did you call me?”

“I’ve called you worse.”

“What did you call me?”


“Why would you call me a dummy?”

“Do you prefer ‘bastard?’ That works for me.”

“You’ve never called me a dummy before.”

“You’ve never said I was gay before.”


“Well, maybe. I don’t know. Anyway…”

“Do you know of any other ventriloquists in town?”

“What? No. Now listen…”

“John’s making a new dummy. For someone. I didn’t order a new dummy.”

“Yeah? What’s it look like?”

“Nothing, yet. He’s just getting started.”

“So ask him.”

“I did. He won’t talk about it.”

“Who knows, then? Maybe he’s taking up the business himself.”

“At his age? No way.”

“So why are you worried about it?”

“I’m not.” Vincent disconnects the call and sets the phone down. He resumes his study of Andora’s butt. The phone rings. Vincent looks. It’s Asshole again. Vincent answers. “Marsh, I’m kind of busy here.”

“Dammit, Vincent, you got me so crazy I forgot what I called you for.”

“So call me back when you remember.”

“Don’t hang up! Okay? Now just shut up and listen.”

“Is this about John?”

“Shut up!” Marsh draws a long breath over the phone. “You’ll give me ulcers.”

“At 40? I doubt it.”

“I’m 26, asshole!”

“I’m really not at liberty to discuss your ulcers. HIPAA regulations…”

“TV will be there Thursday night.”


“Someone from Comedy Central.”

“Who told you?”

“They called me. I’m your agent. They want to see your show.”


“And if they like it, they’ll offer you a spot on one of their shows.”

“Damn it, Marsh! Why’d you tell me this?! Now I’m freaked!” Vincent slams the phone down and jumps up and stomps out, muttering to himself. “Dummy. Why did Marsh call me a dummy?”


Vincent bursts into his mother’s apartment, hair wild and clothes in disarray. His mother looks up from the game show on her TV. “What now?”

“I got a show this weekend and…” Vincent successfully dodges a plant stand only to be felled by a huge footstool, which brings him down to eye-level with the coffee table. It is covered with fishing line. “What is this?” He motions at the fishing line.

“What’s it look like?”

Vincent picks some up and fiddles with it. “What are you doing with fishing line?”

“Maybe go fishing?”

“Since when?”

“Since I met Carl. At the senior center.”

“Is it six pound?”

“I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like it weighs that much.”

“That’s what John uses.”

“Who is John?”

“Six-pound test line. To connect the moving pieces of my dummies.”

“I’m sorry, Vinnie, but I’m obviously missing something here.”

Vincent clambers up from the footstool he is splayed across. “Why do you have all this fishing line? Why is John working on a new dummy that I didn’t order? Why did Marsh call me a dummy for the first time in my life?”

“Your agent has never called you a dummy before? Amazing.” Vincent turns on heel and heads toward the door. “Vinnie? Didn’t you come here to tell me something?” Vincent rushes on out the door, slamming it behind him while his mother stares after him, shaking her head.


Vincent sits at his workbench studying his three dummies, all out of their boxes and arrayed before him. The doorbell rings. “COME ON IN, TEDDY BEAR!”


“Grab a beer on the way!”

A moment later, Theodore appears with an open beer in hand. “Barb calls me that. I hate it.”

Vincent never takes his eyes off his dummies. “I thought you were talking about how I always know it’s you.”

“I figure you’ve got a camera hidden by your door.” Theodore looks all around. “I just can’t figure where’s the monitor.”

“No camera, no monitor. I’m gifted.”

“You’re special, I’ll give you that. As in Ed, Olympics.” Theodore drinks deeply as he steps up to look over Vincent’s shoulder. “What are you doing?”


“Yeah? Well, go ahead.”

“I am.”

“I don’t hear nothing.”

“It’s all in my head.”

“You mean you’re rehearsing right now? While you’re talking to me?”

“It’s called multi-tasking.”

“It’s called insanity. But your head’s big enough, I can see it.”

“What are you doing?”

“Returning the tickets.” Theodore lays them on the workbench. “Can’t make it Thursday. Something more important came up.”

The dummy Theodore asks, “What? A new fishing program on cable?”

The real Theodore responds, “Cut that dummy crap out! It’s like I’m talking to myself.”

Mother replies, “Now that would be a conversation I could stand to miss.”

Vincent leans back in his seat and finally looks up to the real Theodore, finding him picking at his right index finger with the tip of a small knife. Vincent’s smile quickly dissolves. “What’s that?”

Theodore continues to work with the knife. “I got a splinter.”

“That knife! Where’d you get that knife?!”

Theodore pauses to look it over, then glances down to Vincent. He shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“It’s a woodcarving knife.”

“If you say so.”

“What do you need a woodcarving knife for? You don’t do any woodcarving.”

“I don’t even know what a woodcarving knife looks like.”

“It looks like that. Where’d you get it? Did you steal it from me?” Vincent yanks open several drawers, looking.

“No, I didn’t steal it from you.”

Vincent yanks out a knife identical to the one Theodore holds. “You didn’t. I only have one. It’s right here. So where did you get it?”          Theodore slips the knife back into his pocket. “You are going off the reservation into La-La-Land again.”

“Did John give it to you? That’s where I got mine: John. Did you get it from John?”

“Who the hell is John?” Theodore snatches up his half-empty beer bottle. “Call me when you regain your sanity.” He stomps out.

“AND HOW DID YOU GET A SPLINTER IN THE FIRST PLACE?! ARE YOU WORKING WITH WOOD NOW?!” The front door slams as Theodore leaves. Vincent studies the wood carving knife in his hand. “Damn!” He slams the knife down on his workbench.


Vincent, disheveled and distressed, rings the doorbell to his ex-wife’s apartment. A moment later, Andora opens it. She is dressed identically to her dummy counterpart. The same clothes, exactly. Vincent jumps back with a look of shock. Andora immediately grows apprehensive. “Vince? What’s wrong?”

“Why are you dressed like that?”

Apprehension quickly morphs to anger. “It’s none of your business, but I do go on dates.”

“But like that.”

She looks herself over, the anger dying as she is impressed that her actions can still provoke her ex-husband, yet she strives to sound angry. “I do not need your approval anymore of how I dress.”

“Yeah, but like that?!”

Apprehension rears its head again as she realizes jealousy is not at play here. “What?”

“Show me your panties.”

Apprehension is knocked flat as anger roars back in. “I will not!”

“Then tell me what kind you have on.”

“It’s none of your business!”

“You’ve got a date. I’m here to stay with Colin while you go on said date. If I walk away, your date tonight is screwed.”

“You wouldn’t dare use Colin like that?!”

“Then show me your panties, or tell me what kind they are.” Andora’s anger dissolves into mystification. “They better not be your black thong.” Now amazement joins the play of emotions on Andora’s face as she glances down at her skirt. “No, Andy, I can’t see through your clothes. Just tell me why. Why are you dressed like that? Now?”

But apprehension wins out. “Will Colin be safe with you tonight?” It’s now Vincent’s turn to be surprised and confused. “Are you drunk or on drugs? Or have you flipped?”

“No, I’m not drunk or on drugs. At least nothing I don’t have a prescription for.”

“That leaves flipped.”

Vincent rubs his head hard, mussing his already mussed hair. “A lot of weird things have been happening lately.”

“So what’s up about my clothes?”

“You’re dressed just like your dummy.”

Andora escalates past anger up to fury. “That’s so you! Parade me around the stage in slutty clothes!”

“Would you rather I dress you in a housecoat and curlers?”

“I’d rather you didn’t dress me at all!”

“That would be interesting.”

“You know what I mean! One of these nights I’m going to break into your place and burn that dummy.”

“But everyone likes you.”

“They like your version of me.”

“Hell, I like my version of you.”

Andora spreads her arms wide. “Too bad you can’t deal with the real thing.”

“Tonight the real thing looks and is dressed just like my dummy. And I’m crazy about her.”

Andora drops her arms, fury subsiding back down to mere anger. “You’re just plain crazy. So, are you staying?”

“Of course I’m staying. I wouldn’t use Colin like that.”

“He’s in his room.” Andora turns to walk away. “Since you’re staying.” She flips up her skirt to show off her black thong panties.


She halts, letting her skirt fall back down, and turns to face him. “What now?”

“Pull your skirt back up.”


“Your hips look different! Rounder. Fuller. Shapelier.”

Andora shrugs. “I’m getting older, Vince. I guess I’ve put on some weight down there.”

“But why now?”

Fear edges back into the picture. “You’re scaring me. I don’t know about leaving Colin with you.”

Vincent takes a deep, steadying breath. “I’m sorry. I’m okay. It’s just that a lot of weird stuff’s been happening. Like your hips.”

“My hips are weird?”

“Forget it. Go on with your date. We’ll be fine. Promise.”

Andora stares doubtfully. “I’ll call you later. Make sure everything’s okay.”

Vincent waves dismissively as he finally enters the apartment and proceeds down the hall to his son’s closed door while Andora watches fretfully. Vincent raises his fist to knock. “Come on in, Dad.” Vincent drops his fist without knocking and opens the door.

The small bedroom is plastered with playbills and posters and promotional shots of Vincent. Vincent enters but freezes just inside the door at the sight of Colin stretched across his bed and the wooden box, just like the ones Vincent carries his dummies around in, on the floor beside him, with the lid on. “What’s that?”

Colin follows his father’s line of sight. “One of your boxes.”

“It can’t be! I’ve only got three!”

“I found it in a closet. You must have forgot about it.” Vincent still can’t peel his eyes from it.

“What’s in it?”

“My stuff.” Vincent lunges for it. Colin is faster, sitting up in bed and planting both feet firmly on the lid. “My personal stuff.”

Vincent looks up to glare into his son’s face. It is unyielding. Andora appears behind Vincent in the open doorway. “What’s the matter now?”

Vincent spins to confront her. “You are all conspiring against me. All of you. You are all together in this.”

“What are you…”

“You, Colin, Theo, Mom, Marsh, John. All of you, on the eve of my biggest opportunity ever.”

“Vince! Settle down!”

“Yeah, Dad, chill.”

Vincent looks from Colin to Andora and back again. “Just leave me alone! All of you!” Vincent knocks Andora out of the way as he bursts out of the room. A moment later, the front door slams, leaving Colin and his mother staring at each other mystified.


For all installments from Dummy’s Dummies, click here.