“What? You got somethin’ for me? I told you to can it, Manny, I ain’t in the mood. Now go get us a couple of sandwiches. You know what I like.”
He leaned in and whispered.
“I gotta figure out how to approach these guys. You gotta do it right. It don’t help havin’ a doofus at the table. Now scram.”
Manny picked up his bag and took out the wooden dummy he had carved for himself and put it on the seat.
“What the hell is that? You playin’ with dolls now?”
“Don’t worry about it Kent. Just don’t touch it, okay?”
Kent shrugged and looked over at his prospective employers, his brows knitted in concentration. Manny went into the deli. Kent waited for a break in their conversation and made his move.
“Hey guys, how’s it goin’?”
They looked at him as though he were something one of them had found crawling on their pant leg.
“How’s what goin’? Do we look like we’re wantin’ company over here?”
Kent sized up the questioner. He decided discretion was the better part of valour and shrugged.
“I’m just sayin’.”
Manny was watching from behind a planted shrub by the doorway. He took a deep breath and gave a year’s worth of hard practice his best effort.
“Who the hell would want to keep company with you assholes anyway?”
It was perfect. The voice really seemed to be coming from his dummy sitting opposite Kent, and the kicker was that it sounded just like Kent. Heads turned in unison and Kent was bug-eyed and staring all around.
“What did you say dick wad?”
“Uh, I didn’t…I’m just sittin’ here. Honest.”
The collection of knuckle-draggers looked at each other as if they couldn’t believe what had just happened and looked around.
“I’ll bet between the five of you you’ve got maybe half a brain.”
Now they were on their feet and Kent had gone pale. His heart was racing, his jaw was moving but his mouth was so dry he couldn’t speak.
The largest of the lot made a fist and pounded it into his other hand.
“You got balls, asswipe, I’ll say that for you. Got any more smart ass remarks to make before I pound you into the cement?”
Kent threw his hands up.
“Guys, I swear it wasn’t me. I wouldn’t say that shit. No way!”
“Is that right? So, what, it was your dolly over there, was it?”
This brought gales of laughter from the other four. Manny’s chest swelled with pride. All of his hard work had come to fruition. Years of pent up frustration with Kent came rushing to the fore. Kent was sweating bullets.
“Guys, please, I don’t know what’s goin’ on. I’ll just go, okay?”
They glowered at his and huddled to confer.
“Besides, your ugly mugs are makin’ my stomach turn.”
Kent let out a high-pitched squeal, stared at the dummy for a moment and turned to run. He didn’t even make it ten steps. As they dog-piled on him fists rained down on his face and steel-toed boots made contact with his kidneys. Unholy grunts could be heard above the din. Manny strolled to the table and picked up his dummy, put it in the bag and walked away.
Yes, he was definitely ready for the big time. Tomorrow he would see about getting interviews with some agents to show them his talent. He took out his dog-eared book. Ventriloquism Made Easy. Well, not exactly he thought to himself, but hard work did pay off.