Authors: Tim Curran
Tags: #Horror, #dummy, #ventriloquist, #puppet
Table of Contents
© 2012 by Tim Curran
Cover Artwork © 2012 by Daniele Serra
All Rights Reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
P.O. Box 338
North Webster, IN 46555
For Steve Clark
Other Books by Author
Five months after her sister Gloria disappeared, Kitty Seevers got out of the shower in time to hear a pounding at the front door. Throwing on a robe and wrapping her hair in a towel, she rushed downstairs to find the FedEx guy standing there. He looked amused by her appearance as if a situation like that had played often enough times in his private fantasies.
After signing his clipboard, she took the registered letter from him. “Thanks,” she said.
Sighing, she shut the door and plopped herself on the couch. She had no idea who could be sending her a letter. Or why. The white cardboard envelope was sealed with packing tape and she had to use scissors to cut it free. Inside were two things. The first raised an eyebrow. It was just a perfectly ordinary sheet of note paper folded in half. On it, printed in something of a shaky script were the words:
BAMBOO LOUNGE, WICKER PARK
. The second item made her heart drop in her chest. In a plastic baggie, there was a lock of hair. Perfectly golden hair with red highlights. It was Gloria’s hair. There was no doubt in her mind.
There were many things she could have done at that moment.
For instance, she could have called the Chicago police and told them about it, but they’d been little help five months before, insinuating that Gloria was an attractive girl and attractive girls tended to get themselves in
And maybe that was true, but regardless of what situation she might have gotten in, Gloria would call. Because that was the kind of person Gloria was.
No, not the police. Kitty decided she wasn’t putting up with
shit again. She would handle this herself as she should have right from the start.
So, five minutes later, she was on her laptop booking a flight to Chicago.
Ronny M. and Piggy were working the crowd, giving the audience exactly what they expected. Which, went a little something like this:
“Hey, Piggy?” Ronny said. “What’s this I hear about you getting married?”
Piggy laughed. A mechanical, rapid-fire sound. “You don’t miss much, do you, sunshine?” he said in that high, scratching voice. “Romance, you know, that’s my thing. Kind of like naked bodybuilders and crack are you wife’s thing. Ho!”
A few peals of laughter out in the crowd.
“Okay, now. Enough,” Ronny said. He had Piggy balanced on his knee, his arm up the back of his suit coat. He held him as if he was afraid he might get away. “Enough of that.”
Piggy snickered. “Enough of that? That’s my problem, Ronny-boy, I can’t get enough of
I don’t want to brag here, but only a litter box has seen more pussy than yours truly.”
“Well, these good people don’t want to hear about it, Piggy.”
Piggy sat there on Ronny’s knee in a cranberry velvet suit coat with an unlit cigarette in his hand. His head swiveled on his neck as he studied the crowd through the haze of cigarette smoke. “Hey, maybe you’re right, Ronny. Maybe we don’t want to get too personal here. We start that, I might have to admit a few things.”
Ronny raised an eyebrow. “What sort of things, Piggy?”
“Well, I might have to admit to the fat guy in the first row that I banged his girlfriend last night.” Piggy winked. “And let me tell you, buddy, your girl is like Maxwell House coffee—good to the last drop.”
The fat man was red-faced, laughing so hard he started coughing.
Piggy said, “But between you and me, fellah, that girl of yours…what’s her name?”
“Sue,” he managed. “Her name is Sue.”
“Well, Sue there, you wanna be careful of her, pal. I mean, let’s not dance around it here. She’s got more crabs than a seafood salad. She’s smoked more sausage than Jimmy Dean.”
“All right, Piggy,” Ronny said, smiling at the man apologetically.
The crowd roared out in the dimness of the Bamboo Lounge, hands clapping. A few drunks whistled. This is what they wanted. This is what they came night after night to see: Ronny M. and Piggy. Ventriloquist acts were a dime a dozen…but these two? Priceless.
“Now tell me about your marriage,” Ronny prompted.
“Well, I met a girl, Ronny. I thought she was something special.”
“Oh, really, why was that?”
“Well, Christ, she could suck a banana out without breaking the peel.”
“Okay, Piggy, okay.”
More laughter. Drunks repeating the one-liners out in the crowd. That was always a sure sign the routine was working.
“Okay nothing,” Piggy said. “And what’re you doing with your hand back there?”
“Well, I’m just touching your back.”
“Well you keep it on my back and off my ass. Just because I’m sitting on your knee doesn’t mean I want to play altar boy with you.”
“Really, Piggy. You’ll offend the audience.”
“Offend them? Those lowlifes? Ha! That would be like offending a toilet by taking a shit in it.” Piggy let go with his staccato laughter again. “I hate to be the one to tell you, Ronny-boy, but this place is a dump.”
“Please, Piggy. You’ll get us fired…”
“Fired? In this joint? That’d be like getting kicked out of a whorehouse for exposing yourself.” Piggy leaned forward, put a hand to the side of his mouth. “I do apologize for Ronny here, folks. He’s an ass-kisser from way back.”
“I am not.”
“Oh, but you are.”
“Well, Mr. Collins hired us. I think he deserves some respect.”
“Respect is one thing, Ronny, but kissing ass is another. Your head’s so far up Collins’ ass, every time he smiles I see your teeth. It’s true, folks. Ronny here is so far up Collins’ back door, he’s sucking eyeball.”
The crowd was eating it up raw and with both hands. Laughing like they would never stop. And the staff—waitresses, bartenders—were doubled over, loving some good ribbing and particularly at their boss’s expense.
“Okay, Piggy, now tell me about your girl.”
“Quit rushing me, Ronny.”
“I’m not rushing you, Piggy.”
“Hell you aren’t.” Piggy was looking at him now, staring. “You don’t want to piss me off, do you, Ronny? That’s not what you want to do…is it?”
Ronny looked uncomfortable. He shifted on his wooden stool, like maybe this was going in the wrong direction, but he couldn’t stop it. As if maybe he wasn’t piloting this ship.
“No, of course not, Piggy. It’s just that, well, these people are here for a good laugh.”
“So unzip your pants already. Jesus Christ.”
The laughter out there was nervous, uneven.
Piggy looked out at the audience. “You people ever seen a guy like this? I swear to God, Ronny, sometimes I think the best part of you ran down your uncle’s leg.”
The laughter boomed now, the crowd figuring it was all part of the act. A set-up for the gags and one-liners.
“Now what about your girl,” Ronny said in a guarded voice, almost as if he was afraid to set the dummy off again.
Piggy nodded. “Right. Well, I asked her about her giner and she told me it was tight as a drum. Problem was, it had an opening like one, too. This girl had more wang in her than a Chinese phonebook. I was tempted to shove a couple lemons up there, to pucker that stuff back up. Ah, but she was a good kid, you know? You leave out the biker clubs and football teams, the
OPEN ALL NIGHT
tattoo on her left thigh, she was real class…”
The guy outside the corridor leading to the dressing rooms was cracking his knuckles, working those hands which were big enough to drive tent-stakes through hard-packed clay. He stood there in his blue serge suit, bald head reflecting the stage lights, totally impervious. To the drunks, the noise, the buxom girl shaking her tits on stage.
When he saw Kitty coming, he frowned, placed his hands on his hips and just shook his head. He took her by the arm when she was close enough, pulled her into the corridor and shut the door behind them so he could hear himself think.
“Listen, we go through this shit every night, you and I. It’s getting old,” he said to her, that big mitt still on her arm. “Now I’m going to tell you, honey, what I tell you every night: Mr. McBane and his dummy don’t want any company. All that shit on stage…it’s just an act, okay? They’re not looking for followers.”
Kitty bristled, pulled her arm away. She was small and fine-boned, thin as a peach twig…but about 110 pounds of poison if you pissed her off. “And I’ll explain to
one last time that I only want to talk to Mr. McBane. Nothing more.”
“Listen, honey, I think the guy’s married and the boss here, he don’t like anybody playing around in the dressing rooms. That’s not the kind of place we run.”
Kitty tried not to laugh. No, the Bamboo Lounge was strictly a class act. All those drunks out there had royal pedigrees and the strippers on stage wouldn’t be turning tricks after lights out. “You listen to me,” she said with venom. “And you listen good. I’m not a groupie. I only want to interview Mr. McBane for my college magazine. I’m a drama major and this is my assignment. It’ll take ten minutes. Now why don’t you be a good boy and just ask the man if he’s interested?”
The big man sighed, worn down. “You know, I’ve been in this business a lot of years, sweet thing. And in that time I’ve gotten real good at reading people…and you? You’re full of shit. You’re not with any college rag. We both know it.” He threw his hands up. “But if you’ll quit crawling up my ass every night, I’ll go ask the man. Just this once. And if he says no, that’s it. I don’t wanna see you tomorrow night or the next. I don’t wanna see you again period…got it?”
“I don’t have much time,” Ronny said when Kitty was brought in, the door shut behind her. “That was my last show and I have a late dinner date.”