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“All right that’s it folks, thanks for coming out,” Dan Markinson shouted in a treacley Archie Rice-like display of showmanship to the eager crowd.
He turned to Rajnahish, his dummy.
“Say so long to the nice people.”
“So long to the nice people,” Rajnahish uttered back in that annoying colonial supplicant-lilt.
“That’s enough out of you, Rajnahish.”
“That’s enough out of me Rajnahish.”
“What have I told you about ending the shows nicely,” Markinson shouted at the dummy.
The two argued their way behind the curtain amidst uproarious applause.
Markinson continued to wrestle with Rajnahish backstage. When he realized no one was paying attention he stopped and headed for his dressing room.
“Hey Dan, you going to Small Talk for a few?”
Small Talk -- the premiere ventriloquist club in the city. Only the best made an appearance at Small talk.
“Not tonight, Tommy. I’ve been having terrible headaches lately,” Markinson lied. “Going home for a nice, quiet night with the family. That is if I can get this guy to shut up,” he laughed awkwardly, motioning to Rajnahish.
Markinson opened the back door of his Ford Taurus station wagon and hung Rajnahish from a grocery bag hook. Markinson’s mind wandered into the past as he drove home.
In the Markinson family you were either ventriloquist or you were little people. All the greats went on to believe their puppet had come to life -- from his great-great-great grandfather to his own father, Marty, who was found swaying in the living room hanging limp from a noose next to his puppet Yuckers, a big chair kicked out beneath his dad, a little one next to the puppet.
Markinson shot a furtive glance in the rear view mirror. Rajnahish hung lifelessly. Who was he kidding. He wiped a tear from his cheek.
The Markinson family – wife Shelly, son Peter, and Rajnahish, ate dinner in silence. As usual Rajnahish did not touch his chicken makhani.
After dinner, Markinson walked into his den/studio and slumped into his chair.
“What have I done to deserve this,” his subconscious said without his subconscious moving its mouth.
Then it happened. Rajnahish jerked to life.
“Dan Markinson, pick me up Dan Markinson, right now, or else I will be filled with great disappointment Dan Markinson,” it started in with a full blown sub-continental staccato. “Can I help you Dan Markinson thank you very much Dan Markinson this curry it is so hot it will most certainly catch my mouth on fire for it is dry and brittle and made of wood and thus very, very flammable Dan Markinson!”
Markinson’s jaded heart filled with joy. He had been waiting for this moment since he was a little boy. He’d finally be able to follow in his father’s footsteps, and his father before him.
But just as suddenly, Markinson’s jubilance evaporated. He noticed a pair of feet sticking out of the closet. He leapt from the seat and reached in and pulled out his son.
“I did it for you daddy,” Peter cried, hugging his dad’s leg. “Please don’t be angry.”
“You little bastard,” Markinson slapped his son in the face. “You think this is a joke.” Slap. “You think your old man’s a joke, huh son? Is that it?” Slap.
“I just wanted you to be happy, Pop. That’s all.”
“Stop it daddy!
But he didn’t stop. Not, for like, a half-an-hour, at least.
Date Written: February 18, 2005
Average Vote: 4.4545