Vincent, appearing stressed out, stands on the sidewalk in front of an elementary school. Children swarm past him onto waiting buses. Colin appears, talking to friends. Upon seeing Vincent, he smiles brightly and hurries up to him. “I get chauffeured? What’s the occasion?”

“We need to talk.” Vincent walks off toward the parking lot.

Colin falls into step with him. “What did you do to Jennifer?”


“She seems disturbed.” Vincent gives out a dismissive sigh. “You’re still going to call her, right?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you get her number?” No reply. “I’ve got it at home. I’ll text it to you.”

“Why are you so determined to get us together?”

“You two need each other.”

“Why does Jennifer need me?”

“Her engagement just broke off.”

“She told you this?”

“She wore an engagement ring until Christmas break. After the holidays it was gone and she seemed depressed. The loser broke up with her over the holidays.”

“How do you know HE broke up with HER?”

“She’s the dependent type, like Mom. She’s not likely to break up with anyone.”

“So why do I need Jennifer?”

“You need human contact. All the dummies are making you batty.” They arrive at Vincent’s car. Colin starts to climb in the front passenger side but stops when he sees Vincent isn’t getting in.

“Want to drive?” his father asks.


“You should be able to, kid as intelligent and knowledgeable about human nature as you.”

“Divorced kids grow up fast.”

“So it’s my fault.”

“It’s all your fault.” Vincent awaits an explanation. Colin sighs. “You walked out on Mom. You treat me like a peer instead of your son. You spend more time with your dummies than you do with real people.”

“Am I responsible for global warming, too?”

“You contribute as much methane as you produce.” Vincent climbs in behind the wheel and Colin climbs in the passenger side. As Vincent starts the car, Colin activates the phone plugged into the stereo. “Go Go’s or ABBA?”

“How about Genesis?”

“Katrina and the Waves?”

“Good enough.” Vincent drives away from the school as Colin starts “Walking On Sunshine.” “The Go Go’s and ABBA was a feint, wasn’t it? You know I like Katrina best.” Colin shrugs, getting into the music. “Is there anything you can’t get me to do?”

“Listen to Hall and Oates.”

Vincent laughs. “Yeah.”

“Or kill someone.”

Vincent stops laughing. “Who do you have in mind?” They both fall silent, listening to the music.


Vincent sits at his workbench, his three dummies before him. The doorbell rings. “COME IN, MARSH!”

A moment later, Marsh walks in. “You enjoy freaking me out, don’t you, Vincent?” Vincent shrugs, still focused on his dummies. “How did you know it was me?”

“Must I reveal my secrets?”

“I’m your agent. Reveal.”

Vincent sighs, leaning back from his workbench to gaze at Marsh. “Everybody has distinctive idiosyncrasies. Tells. How they ring a doorbell, how they knock, how many times they ring or knock, how insistently they ring or how hard they knock, how long they wait before they ring or knock again.”

Marsh stares at him. “Are you really that observant?”

“I have to be. I’m a performer who imitates.”

“So I’ll change the way I ring the doorbell.”

“Which I’ll compare against others I know, and when it doesn’t match any of them, I’ll know it’s you.”

“I should drop you cold.”

“And how many clients do you represent?”

“None of your business. You’re not worth it. Especially after last Thursday.”

“So she withdrew the offer?”

“No. That’s what I came by to tell you. You’re on. On the condition you mix in some of your old material with your new.”

“Now that’s interesting.”

“She thought your new show was intriguing, and I showed her a video I’d made of an old show, which she thought was funnier but not as intriguing as your new stuff. So she wants a combination of the two.”

“And you were worried.”

“I’m still worried. This is your big break, Vincent. Don’t screw it up.”

“You mean our big break.”

“Why, yeah, I guess…”

“I wasn’t referring to you.” Vincent turns back around to gaze upon his dummies.

“Don’t weird me out, Vincent.”


Vincent sits at a table in an unchained restaurant with Jennifer. He looks composed for a change, while she looks as nice as she had at the comedy club. “I hear congratulations are in order,” Vincent says.

“Yes? What did I do?”

“Not for you, for me.”

Jennifer laughs. “So you’re telling me to congratulate you.”


“Okay, I’ll bite. What for?”

“I’ll be appearing on Comedy Central.”

Jennifer is surprised. “The TV rep liked your show?”

Vincent shrugs. “People have different tastes.”

“That’s for sure.”

“And people taste differently.” Jennifer laughs. “And some people have no taste at all.”

Jennifer stops laughing. “Are you referring to me?”

“How could I be? I’ve never tasted you.” Jennifer smiles, a bit. “I mean some people, it’s like chewing bologna: no taste whatsoever.” Her tentative smile grows. “It’s the truth. Ask Anthony Hopkins.”

“That was just a role. Fiction.”

“I don’t know, he seemed awfully convincing. Some of these method actors really get into their roles. They do a lot of in-depth research.” Jennifer finally allows herself to laugh.

The waiter arrives. “What would you like to drink?”

Vincent looks to Jennifer. Who shakes her head no. “Water’s fine.”

“Would you like to order an appetizer?”

Vincent nods thoughtfully. “Do you have a nice liver pâté? With fava beans?” Jennifer bursts out laughing, vigorously shaking her head no, while the waiter stands dumbfounded. He is so young that the reference is beyond him.

Later, Vincent and Jennifer sit at the table with the remains of an appetizer between them. “Enough about me,” Vincent says.


Vincent smiles. “I hear you are a very good teacher.”

“Did you hear that from your son?”

“No, actually, I did a background check on you.” Jennifer stares blankly. “Of course from my son.” Jennifer’s stare relents slightly. “How long have you been teaching?”

“Six years.”

“Do you enjoy teaching elementary? Or do you plan to move on to the upper grades?”

“I’m satisfied where I am now. This is still fun. The secondary grades will be more demanding.”

“And more rewarding.”

“What I do now seems rewarding.”

“I meant monetarily.”

“Oh. Yes, there is that.”

“But someone as attractive and interesting and intelligent and enthusiastic as you probably won’t have to be too concerned about that.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I’m sure some rich, eligible bachelor will snatch you up. I’m amazed no one has yet.” Jennifer shrugs, glancing away and absentmindedly fingering her bare ring finger. The waiter arrives with salads. Vincent and Jennifer lean back to allow him to clear their appetizer dishes.

A few minutes later, Vincent raises the last forkful of salad to his mouth to find Jennifer staring at him over her half-finished salad. He touches his lip with his free hand. “Liver pâté?”

“No, you’re good. I just keep waiting. I know it’s coming.”

“What, the bill? I don’t expect you to pay it all, Dutch is fine with me.”

“No, I keep expecting to hear myself.”

“That upset you last time.”

“Not really. I just wasn’t expecting it.”

“Yeah?” Vincent mimics her reaction to hearing him do her voice in the parking lot of the comedy club.

Jennifer laughs. “No.”


“You are merciless.”

A little later, Vincent and Jennifer sit over the dishes from the entrées they have just finished. “You and Colin seem to have a good relationship,” she says.

“Can you talk about that? Isn’t there a confidential teacher-student thing?”

“You don’t want to discuss him?”

“You’re off-duty tonight. You don’t have to talk shop.”

“You two just seem so comfortable together.”

Vincent leans in close to speak quietly. “He wants me to kill someone.”

Jennifer laughs. “Who?”

“I don’t know. He hasn’t told me yet.”

Jennifer leans away as she stops laughing. “That’s really not funny.”

“Depends on who it is and how he wants me to do it.”

Jennifer’s expression darkens. “I hope you’re not kidding with him about something like that.”

Vincent leans back, appearing dead serious. “Murder is nothing to kid about.” Jennifer scowls at him, as he scowls back.

The waiter arrives and begins clearing dishes. “Could I interest you in dessert?” Both direct their scowls at him. “Okay then, I’ll bring your check right out.” The waiter scurries away while Vincent and Jennifer silently glare at each other.


Vincent sits at his workbench, the three dummies arrayed before him.

“Thanks a lot, Dad.” Vincent leans forward to stare frantically at one dummy, then the other. “Back here. It’s not your dummies talking to you.” Vincent spins around to see Colin standing behind him. “You can’t tell if a voice is real or just in your head? Or do you believe your dummies are really talking to you?” Vincent stares mutely. “Either way, you are messed up.”

Vincent finally manages to form words, not caring how much his lips move. “What are you thanking me for?”

“It was a sarcastic thanks. I had to go see the counselor.”


“He wanted to know if you and I were planning a murder.”

“Jennifer ratted us out, huh?”

“Of course she did. Schools take that stuff seriously.”

“I was just joking.”

“I wasn’t.”

Vincent turns around to face his dummies again. “So who are we going to rub out?”

“Not ‘rub out.’ That’s old fogey. Delete.” Colin steps up to the workbench. “Let’s start by deleting Grandma.”


“Didn’t Grandpa leave her set up? You’re an only child. I haven’t seen her will, but it all must be going to you. We can use it. Especially if your Comedy Central debut is a bust.”

“Sound reasoning. Any special way?”

“Whatever works. I’ll leave the details to you.”

Vincent looks up to Colin. “When did you get to be so cold-blooded?”

“Children of divorce can get messed up easily. You know that.”

“You’re certainly not being raised the way I was raised.”

“That’s right, throw more guilt onto the fire. Let it burn.” Vincent slips an arm around Colin’s waist, and Colin leans on Vincent’s shoulder.


Vincent’s mother answers her doorbell to find Vincent dressed all in black. She steps back, surprised. “Are you trying out for the priesthood? Is your career going that badly?”

“My career’s going great, Mom. Marsh has a TV date lined up for me.”

“Am I going to be on it?”

“Of course not.”

“Is the dummy of an elderly lady who looks like me and talks like me going to be on it?”

“Well, yeah.”

She walks away. “Then that’s all I need to know.”

Vincent follows her into the apartment, closing the door behind him. “You really don’t want to see it? My biggest break ever?”

“I already saw your biggest break, when you tried to play football in junior high.”

“When I broke my right leg? That’s not bad.” Vincent pulls out his pad and pen and jots it down.

His mother plops down into a chair. “You drive me crazy, you know that?”

Vincent puts the pad and pen away as he sits opposite her. “How are you doing, Mom? Are you comfortable?”

She sits up, adjusts her cushions. “This is good furniture. I don’t buy that cheap Swedish stuff in a box.”

“I mean did Dad leave you comfortable? To live out your life? Comfortably?”

“Since when did you ever care about that? I hope you’re not looking for an excuse to move back in with me. It’s not going to happen.”

“I just worry about you, Mom. If you’re financially secure.”

“A lot more secure than you’ll ever be, wasting your life in those comedy clubs.”

Vincent grins darkly. “I wouldn’t say ever, Mom. Never say ever.”


Vincent sits by himself in a booth at the same chain restaurant he and Colin meet at. He looks up as Colin walks in and sits across from him. “How’d it go?”

“Okay. Old people are pretty weak.”

“No need to go into details. Did our financial situation improve?”

“I don’t know. Haven’t talked with the lawyer yet.”

“Good thinking. You don’t want to seem eager.”

“I’m just glad that’s over.”

“Who said it’s over?”


“Didn’t you enjoy it? Wasn’t it liberating?”

“No! She’s my mother!”

“WAS your mother. WAS. Right?” Vincent nods dejectedly. “Are you ready to move on?”

“Let it be over.”

Colin jerks his hand, and Vincent’s head snaps up as if jerked by strings. “What are the rules?”

“I know the rules.”

“Who’s in charge?”

“The person pulling the strings.”

“Not the person being jerked around. And who is pulling the strings?”


“And who is being jerked around?”


“That’s right, so listen up. We should be spending more time together.”

“I take you as much as your mom lets me.”

“Exactly.” Vincent’s head drops to the tabletop. “I think it’s time I move in with you.”

“Your mother will never allow it.”

“So what’s the solution?”

“Please don’t say delete.”

Colin raises his hand high. Vincent’s head jerks up to stare into his son’s face. “Okay, how about wipe her disk clean?”


Vincent, dressed in black as before, rings the doorbell to Andora’s apartment. He appears edgy. When Andora opens the door, she is surprised by his choice of dress. “Vince? What is this? All this black?”

“These are the clothes I murder in.”

Andora shakes her head warily. “Your sense of humor is getting way out there.” She stands her ground, not allowing him entrance. “Colin’s not here. He’s spending the night with a friend.”

“I know.”

“Then why are you here?”

“We need to talk.”

“I’m kind of pressed now.”

“A date?”

“Yes, if it’s any of your business.”

“I could have stayed with Colin. You didn’t need to ship him out.”

“That’s not even funny after last time. Make it quick.”

Vincent barges in, forcing Andora back. “I will: quick and painless.” Vincent closes the door behind him.


Vincent, dressed normally, sits parked at the curb. He appears nervous, drumming his fingers on the dash as Katrina and the Waves play “Going Down to Liverpool.” The passenger door opens and Colin slides in. “I need to go by the apartment and pick up my things.”

“You can’t.”

“Why not?”

“It’s a crime scene.”

“What am I supposed to do?”

“You should have thought of that.”

“I’m ten. Am I supposed to think of everything?”

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

“Don’t quote Uncle Ben to me.” Colin looks out the window in disgust.

Vincent studies his profile. “You’re not even going to ask?” Colin looks back at him, seething. “If she suffered much?”

“I’m sure she suffered as much as you wanted her to.”

Vincent glares at him. “This isn’t easy for me.”

“Now you know how your dummies feel.”

“If my dummies could feel.”

“You’re right, they can’t. And neither should you. I’m in control here.”

“And that makes me not responsible? I don’t think that argument would stand up in court.”

“Then let’s make sure it doesn’t go to court. Do it right and it won’t.” Vincent and Colin stare darkly at each other. “Now, let’s talk about Teddy.”

Vincent looks away, massaging his forehead.


Vincent, dressed in black, sits at the bar in a crowded pub by himself, but there are two bottles and glasses of beer, one set before an empty stool next to him. He appears mesmeric in the intensity of his stare as he watches a sloshed Theodore stumble up. “I was about to dispatch the St. Bernard,” Vincent says.

“I couldn’t find the bathroom!”

“It’s in the same room with the urinals and toilets.”

“They moved them!” Theodore collapses into the vacant stool.

“I doubt that.”

“They did! I’ve been in Stoney’s enough times to know where the bathroom is.”

“We left Stoney’s two hours ago.”

“We did? Then where are we?”


“Jiggers? Yeah?” He looks all around, trying to get his bearings. “What happened to Stutz?”

“We left Stutz one hour ago.”

“Oh. Jiggers. Yeah.” He tries to focus on Vincent. “What are we celebrating?”

“My imminent TV appearance.”

“Oh. Yeah. Congratulations.” Theodore raises his glass and drinks deeply, then abruptly stops, staring at Vincent. “Shouldn’t you be celebrating instead of me?”

“I don’t drink that much. You know that.”


“And why waste a good celebration? Drink up. I’m driving.”

“Yeah.” He finishes his beer in several gulps.

“Ready to roll?”

“Yeah. Where to?”

“How about Lintbelly’s?”

“Yeah, Lintbelly’s. I know where the bathroom is there.” They both stand. Vincent quickly steadies Theodore, who falls into him, grinning. “I don’t know about your new look. Feels like we should be singing.” Vincent leads his staggering friend across the room. “I keep a close watch…” They crash out the door.


That night, Vincent sits on the pavement in the middle of Sub Cellar’s empty parking lot, not a car or person in sight. It is very late. Vincent sings softly as he stares down between his feet. “Red blood and whiskey all the time…” He digs into his pocket and pulls out his woodcarving knife. “…we blew it down the line…” He holds out his left arm and lightly drags the tip of the blade across, producing a few drops. “…we haven’t got a dime…”

“It’s wine, not blood. You’ve listened to that Katrina song enough to know that.” Vincent looks up to find Colin standing above him. “Shouldn’t waste that stuff. You can get twenty dollars a pint at the bank.”

“What are you doing out this time of night?”

Colin squats down on the pavement beside him. “Because I’ve got you for a father.” Vincent digs deeper, drawing more blood. “I’ve got a phone. I’ll call 911 if I have to.” Vincent eases up on the blade. “Besides, you don’t know where that blade’s been.”

Vincent holds it out, studying it. “Yes, I do. It’s been in my mother, in your mother, in Theo.”

“Speaking of Teddy.”

“Theo! Call him Theo. He hates Teddy.'”

“Theo, then. What’s happened to him?”

“Theo got drunk and fell in the river.”

“Poor Theo.”

Vincent lowers the blade and wipes his bloody forearm on his pants, singing softly. “Thunder and lightning…”

Colin joins in. “…five cents each…”

Vincent and Colin sing together, “…used to ride in style…”


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

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2