Vincent sits at his workbench, his three dummies arrayed before him. He looks even more wild-eyed than before. “So you think you can take over. All of you. Turn me into a dummy.” Vincent pauses, looking from one to the other. “Okay. You win. I abdicate. I’m yours. I’ll be your dummy.” Vincent spreads his arms and legs wide as he leans back in his chair. “Affix the strings.”


Vincent, looking as wild-eyed as the night before, sits alone at a booth in a chain restaurant. Colin sits down across from him. “Mom is so pissed at you.”

“What’s in the box?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m losing control.”

A waitress walks up to them. “Would you like to order drinks?”

“I’ll have a mocha latte,” Colin answers.

“He’ll have milk,” Vincent overrules. “I’ll have a Miller.”

“He’ll have iced tea,” Colin overrules.

The waitress looks in confusion from one to the other. “So that’s a milk and an iced tea?” Vincent nods. “Sweet tea?”


“No,” Colin overrules. The waitress walks away frowning. He looks back to his father. “It doesn’t look like you’re losing control to me.”

“These are strange days.”

“Which makes for interesting people. My teacher’s interested in you.”


“She tries to ask about you without asking about you.”

“Did you lie to your Mom today about where you were going?”

“I wouldn’t say lie.”

“Did you Kellyanne Conway her?”


“The alternative facts lady. You need to get on Twitter more.” Vincent looks guiltily away. “I’m sorry about last night.”

“You should be. They stayed in and sent me to bed early.”

“Maybe the pressure is getting to me.”

“You’ve got pressure?”

“Comedy Central’s going to be there tonight.”

“Cool. So I’ll see you on TV?”

“I’ve got to impress them first.”

“Just be yourself.”

“I’ve never been myself. On stage.”

The waitress returns to serve their drinks. “Are you ready to order?”

“He’ll have the three-quarter pound greaseburger,” Vincent says.

“He’ll have the Caesarian salad,” Colin says. “With afterbirth dressing.”

“I’m sorry, the largest burger we have is a half-pound.”

“So bring him a sandwich and a half.” The waitress glares from one to the other, then walks off muttering. “I’ll be myself tonight,” Vincent continues. “The new me. I’ve been rehearsing some new material.”

“Is that a good idea, trying out new material for the TV people?”

“I’m in a rut, and this new stuff is definitely a rut-buster.”

“My teacher’s coming, so don’t turn her off. She liked the old stuff. What you did in class. Most of it.”

“She’ll see the real me, the me I didn’t realize I was.”

Colin stares warily at Vincent. “Are you sure about this new stuff?”

“I’ve got strings jerking me around in all directions, so I might as well admit it instead of pretending I’m in control.” Vincent sips his iced tea and makes a face. “Not even half a packet?”



A small comedy club, half-filled with a boisterous crowd. Among them sits Jennifer. The high hem of her tight-fitting black dress shows off charms her students never get a glimpse of. Marsh, Vincent’s agent, is seated in the front row. His cheap suit, even with its jacket slung across the back of his chair and his tie loosened, is jarring in such a venue. Seated at the table with him is a middle-aged woman in much more casual attire.

A young MC strides out to the microphone. “And now, without further ado.” The MC abruptly turns and walks off, accompanied by a light scattering of laughter.

Vincent walks woodenly onto the stage. What a change! His clothes are way over the top. He wears an orange fright wig. The makeup on his face emphasizes the moving parts of a dummy. Also, strings attached to his arms and legs are connected to the three wooden boxes he awkwardly carries. Total silence as Vincent completes his jerking trudge across the stage to the stool before the microphone. He slowly arranges the three boxes on a table to the side of the stool. When he takes the lids off, his strings can be seen attached to the hands of the three dummies. Finally, Vincent sits and faces the audience, unmoving and blank-faced. In. Total. Silence.

Until. Finally. Mother speaks. “Pick me up, Vinnie.” Vincent lifts Mother up to his knee and manipulates her. “Someone has to explain what’s going on, and since I’ve been accused of being your mother, I guess it’s up to me.” Mother turns her attention toward the audience. “He denies I’m his mother. He could be right. Babies could have been switched at the hospital.” She turns back toward Vincent. “We don’t really look much alike.”

Theodore speaks up. “Hey, dummy! Pick me up.” Vincent picks up Theodore and sets him on his other knee. “Here I am sitting on your knee with your hand up my butt, and you say I don’t have a sense of humor.”

“Need you be so crude?” Mother asks.

“Hey, lady, I’ve been polished to a higher gloss than you.”

“Humph. It took great craftsmanship to produce these wrinkles. I’ve earned every single one.”

“Yeah, and now I got to take care of them.”

“Here we go again. There is a social contract between the generations…”

“Which you blew out your ass by spending all the money that should have been put away to finance your retirement. So now we gotta tighten our belts, which means WE get screwed, so YOU can keep on living large.”

“Vinnie! Are you going to let this cretin talk like this to your mother?”

“Hey! I’m not from Crete. Do I look like an Arab?”

“Crete is a Greek island.”

“Like Hell. It’s a city on the Nile.”

“Vinnie, inform your friend Crete is a part of Greece.”

“Yeah, Vin. Educate your Mom. A lot of Egyptian cities have Greek-sounding names. Like Thebes. And Alexandria.”

“Alexandria has a Greek-sounding name because it was built by Alexander.”

“Who was a Greek and not an Arab. Right? I rest my case.”


“Yeah, Vin, what’s up?” Theodore turns toward Mother. “Why isn’t the dummy talking?”

“I don’t know. Vinnie? What’s going on?”

“Vince, darling,” Andora calls out from her box. “Pick me up.”

“Ha!” Theodore barks. “If Vin’s got both his hands occupied with us, then what’s he going to stick up inside of Andora and manipulate her with? I’ll give you one guess.”

“Why my son associates with such a crude person…Vinnie?” Vincent replaces Mother in her box. “Vinnie! What are you doing?! VINNIE!” Vincent replaces the lid. Then he lifts Andora out of her box and settles back down on the stool.

“Good move, Vin,” Theodore says. “Dumb broad thought Thebes was a Greek city in Egypt.”

“Thebes is a city in Egypt and in Greece,” Andora backs up Mother.

“You too? Now I could buy Thebes and New Thebes. You know, like York in England, then English people come here and want to name a new city York, so they called it New York. But they didn’t just name it York when there was already a York in England. That would be dumb.”

“Actually, it was the Dutch.”

“Why would the Dutch name New York after a city in England?”

“They didn’t name it New York. They named it New Amsterdam.”

“But they named it NEW Amsterdam, not Amsterdam? Right? I rest my case.” A muffled cry issues from Mother’s closed box.

“What’s wrong with Vince?” Andora asks. “Why isn’t he saying anything?”

“I don’t know. Me and the old lady were just discussing that.”

“Vince? I’m not angry with you anymore. All the work and care you’ve gone to in order to make me look good? That is a form of flattery, like you said.”

“Yeah, Dora babe, you look different. Better. What’s up?”

“It’s my hips.” Andora shakes her hips. “They’re new.”

“Yeah? Plastic surgery?”

“Wood surgery, actually.”

“So what are you pissed at Vin about this time?”

“He was supposed to stay with our son, but he flipped out and ran away.”

“Did you have a date?”


“Me, I would have waited till your scumbag date got there, then I’d flip out.”

“Vince and I have a very good post-marital relationship.”

“Aww, don’t give me that ooey-gooey crap. The only good post-marital relationship is the one between widower and deceased.”

“We have a child to raise.”

“You people want to have your jollies, then leave the rest of us to clean up your messes.”

“You have no right…”

“Sure I do. I’m paying taxes so you can have your child support collected, so your kid can have counseling, so you can get help paying for childcare. The list goes on and on. All the stuff I have to pay for just because you wanted to ditch your husband and ‘find thyself.’”

“Vince, Theodore is getting on my nerves.”

“You think he cares? Just so long as you raise his son…Vin?” Vincent places Theodore in his box. “Vin! I’m on your side! I’m your best friend! VIN!” Vincent places the lid on the box.

“Thank you, Vince.” Andora snuggles up close to Vincent. “Now will you talk? To me? Vince? No one alive knows you better than me. You can say anything to me. Vince? What’s going on?”

“I’m not in control.”

“Of course you are. Whoever pulls the strings decides the rules, not the dummies being yanked around.”

“Someone’s pulling my strings.”


“You. And Theo and Mom.”

“That’s impossible. We’re dummies.”

“So am I.”

“I know you’re not the most intelligent person…”

“I’m a wooden dummy. Just like you.”

“How can you be? You pull our strings.”

“Do I? I think you three are pulling my strings.”

“Was I pulling your strings when you ran out the other night? When you were supposed to stay with our son so I could go out on a date? I really wanted to go out.” Vincent falls silent, considering. “Vince?”

“Maybe it’s Theo and Mom.” Vincent places Andora in her box.

“Vince! We hardly got to talk.”

“See? There’s not that much difference between divorce and marriage.” Vincent places the lid on Andora’s box, then opens Mother’s box and lifts her out.

“About time! Why you’d rather converse with that crude right-wing nut or that hussy you used to be married to, than your own mother…”

“Are you still pulling my strings?”

“Vinnie, I’ve never pulled your strings.”

“Mom, you checked the color of my crap. You searched my room. You screened my playmates. You selected my dates.”

“Vinnie, you are right when you say I’m not your mother because I never did any of those things.”

“If you’re not my mother, then why am I wasting my time talking to you?” Vincent puts Mother back in her box.

“Vinnie! I’m being sarcastic. Of course I’m your mother. Was I really that bad? I don’t remember all the details, it was a long time ago. VINNIE!”

“I remember, Mom. It wasn’t so long ago for me.” Vincent places the lid on her box. Then he removes the lid from Theodore’s box.

“So that leaves me,” Theodore says as Vincent lifts him from his box and settles on the stool with him. “So I’m the one jerking you around.”

“You’re opinionated enough.”

“Yeah? Because I think tea parties are for people who want to pretend play like little girls? Because I think Jeff Beck has put the “con” into “conservative” with his gold hawking?”

“I think you mean Glenn Beck. Jeff Beck is a rock guitarist from the sixties.”

“Spare me the boomed-out sixties crap. Why does every social ill in this country have its roots in the sixties?”

“I don’t know about that.”

“The baby-bummers have ruined this country, and now WE have to clean up after them. Like I was telling your mother…”

“She’s not my mother.”

“Whatever. I guess it’s just natural that the Greatest Generation had to be followed by the flakiest one.”

“Let’s talk about something else for a change.”

“Okay, I’m all ears.”

“Why are you pulling my strings?”

“Hey, I hate them all. Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals. I say it’s time we cleaned house and brought in some real people.”

“Like you.”

“Damn straight.”

“But you’re not real. It can’t be you pulling my strings. You’re too stupid.” Vincent puts Theodore back in his box.

“Vin! Ever wonder about Rush Limbaugh’s name? Rush? It never made sense to me. Until it came out that he’s an Oxycontin pill-head. Now it makes perfect sense. R-U-S-H-H-H. The druggie’s always on a rush.” Vincent places the lid on the box.

He settles back down on his stool and looks up to the ceiling. Briefly. “Nah. If HE was pulling my strings, I’d be a better person.” Vincent stares directly into the audience. “Someone’s pulling my strings, and I’ve got to find out who.” Vincent rises stiffly from the stool, collects his three boxes, and walks jerkily from the stage.

Initially, stunned silence from the crowd. Finally, a scattering of applause. At Marsh’s table, Marsh looks nervously at his guest. She smiles slightly, then rises without a word and walks off, while Jennifer sits alone at her table with a frown.


Vincent sits at a make-up table in a back-stage dressing room disconnecting his strings. The three boxes are piled on the table before him. Marsh bursts in. “WHAT WAS THAT?!” Vincent doesn’t take his eyes off the mirror as he begins removing his makeup. “What’s with the wig?!” Marsh snatches it off Vincent’s head. “I’ll burn this.”

“I can get another one at the dollar store for $2.95.” Marsh flings the wig to the floor and stomps on it. “You’ll only make it look better.” Marsh kicks it across the room. “So what did she think?”

“I don’t know what she thought. She left without a word.”

“Did she laugh?”

“Well, yeah, a few times. But they weren’t belly laughs.”

“It wasn’t belly-laugh material.”

“Your old stuff is. Why didn’t you do your old stuff?”

“I wanted something new, something fresh for our guest, not the same stale old thing.”

“It was different. Funny, I don’t know.”

“Paranoia is always funny.”

“If you say so.”

“The voices in my head were laughing.” Vincent stops working and turns to face Marsh. “Do you think it’s possible for a microbe to become aware of the scientist peering at him through a microscope?” Marsh stops in his tracks, staring slack-jawed at Vincent. “And how does the microbe communicate with the scientist?” Marsh, shaking his head, stomps out of the room, slamming the door. Vincent returns to removing his makeup.


Vincent, bearing his three boxes, walks along the side wall of the room, heading for the exit. He hasn’t changed clothes and has only halfway removed his makeup. He smiles, waves, and acknowledges a few well-wishers until he comes to Jennifer, who isn’t smiling. “That was interesting.”

“Can I buy you a drink?” Vincent inquires.

“No, I have to go.”

“You’re not staying for the main act? I hear he’s funnier than me.”

“I came to see you.”

“I’ll walk you to your car.”

“What if I walk you to your car? Aren’t those heavy?”

Vincent speaks in Mother’s voice. “I keep telling Vinnie to buy a dolly, but will he listen to his mother?” Jennifer frowns, then walks toward the exit. Imitating her frown, Vincent follows.

Outside in the parking lot, Vincent leads Jennifer towards his car. “You are very convincing,” she says.

“That’s a good thing, right?”

“To be schizophrenic?”

“In a productive way.”

“And the paranoia? Do you really think some unseen person is controlling you?”

“Lately, it seems that way.”

“So the paranoia is progressing?”

“If I was sane, I wouldn’t have an act.”

“And Colin seems so normal.”

As they arrive at Vincent’s car, he responds once more in Mother’s voice. “Humph, nobody insults my grandson like that.”

Jennifer frowns once again, but she presses on. “I mean, he seems to be so well-adjusted.”

“So in control?”


“I’ve wondered about that.” Vincent unlocks his car and loads the boxes into the back seat. “Could he be the one?”

“The one what?”

Vincent locks his car. “Where are you parked?”

“I’m just right there.” Jennifer points to a nearby car.

Vincent speaks in Theodore’s voice. “I’ll walk you. Good-looking broad like you…”

“That’s my least favorite character.”

“He’s meant to be. To women. Most men like him.” They walk toward Jennifer’s car.

“What does your ex-wife think about her character?”

“She loves it. She says it’s a form of flattery.”

“It doesn’t seem very flattering to me.”

“You didn’t care much for my act at all, did you?”

“Humor is elusive. What one person thinks is hilarious might leave the next person cold.” They arrive at Jennifer’s car.

Vincent speaks in Andora’s voice. “If I lick your face, will my tongue stick to you?”

Jennifer laughs. “I’m not that cold.”

“Was that a laugh?” Jennifer’s laugh quickly fades. She unlocks her door. “So why don’t you get to know us better? Let us take you out to dinner.”

“Do you realize how strange that sounds?”

“We won’t be boring.”

“I don’t know. I’m your son’s teacher.”

“He’s okay with it.” Still, Jennifer hesitates. “I’ll call you. Give you a chance to think it over.” Jennifer nods and opens the driver’s door. Vincent speaks in a good mimic of Jennifer’s voice. “Boring is elusive.” Jennifer looks strangely up at Vincent, standing in the open door. Vincent speaks in his own voice. “I pick up voices quickly.” Jennifer closes her door and starts her car. Vincent steps back and watches her drive away. Speaking in Theodore’s voice, he says, “Way to go, dummy. You freaked her out.”


Vincent sits at his workbench, the three dummies arrayed before him. “It’s Colin.”

“You can’t be serious,” Andora answers. “Our son?”

“He set me up with his teacher.”

“Which you screwed royally,” Theodore says. “And I don’t mean in the enjoyable sense of the word.”

“He talked me into doing some new material.”

“Now, how did ten-year-old Colin accomplish that?” Mother asks.

“Oh, he’s devious beyond his years.”

“You’re crazy,” Andora proclaims. “You’re worse than crazy: you’re insane.”

“That box he’s got? It’s for the new dummy John’s making for him. That Mom’s got the strings for.”

“I’m going fishing!” Mother insists.

“Yeah, right. That new dummy is me.”

“You’re right there, buddy,” Theodore chimes in. “But there’s nothing new about you.”

“And you never used to call me dummy. Not until Marsh started. Why did you start calling me dummy?”

“If the Dutch shoe fits, wear it,” Theodore replies.

“That line’s not funny, Vince,” Andora complains. “Just because we’re wood doesn’t mean we wear wooden shoes.”

“Yes,” Mother says, “for once, I agree with my daughter-in-law. We wear doll shoes.”

“All right,” Theodore whines. “I’ll lose the line, for Christ’s sake.”

“I’ll run it by Colin,” Vincent says, “see if he thinks it’s funny.” Total silence. Vincent looks from one dummy to the next. “What?”


John is cleaning up his workbench when Vincent walks in. “How did it go last night?” Vincent holds out his right hand and waves it from side to side. “The ventriloquist is speechless. That bad?”

“Where’s that new dummy you were working on?”

“Who says it’s a dummy?”

“You finished it?”

“I finished what I was working on.”

“Who’d you make it for?”

“Afraid of some competition?”

“No, I’m afraid of the new dummy.” John stops to stare at him. “Who does it look like?”

John resumes cleaning. “No one you know.”

“It’s me, isn’t it?”

“I just said…”

“And I just said it’s me.”

John puts his cleaning utensils down. “So you’re saying you don’t know yourself? Oooh, we’re getting deep here.”

“Did you make it for Colin?”

John hastily turns away. “Colin couldn’t afford me.”

“It could be a gift. You like Colin.”

“Everybody likes Colin. He’s a likable kid.”

“Too likable?”

John steps up to peer into Vincent’s face. “I think you’re losing it.”

“I think Colin is jerking me around. With help from you. And others.”

“Seek help yourself, Vincent.”

“I’m not seeking your help any more.” Vincent storms out.

“I mean it, Vincent. You need help.” A door slams.


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

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1