The Dummy of the Ventriloquist’s Dummy

Kenneth Bernard

All rights reserved.

A blank stage except for the VENTRILOQUIST’s set-up. All three characters should appear to be dummies. The VENTRILOQUIST is a mature male. On his lap, a female DUMMY, about 30, intellectual, primly dressed, glasses, etc. In her lap, another dummy, named VERONICA, younger, clown-like, brash, frizzy hair, sensual, etc. All are within life-size dimensions. Their movements, and often their speech, are jerky, clipped, nasal, and unreal. It should be unclear who really is or is not a dummy. Before they begin speaking, various dummy movements.

VENTRILOQUIST

You probably wish you could kill me. (Brittle laugh) Don’t you wish you could kill me? Tell the audience you wish you could kill me.

DUMMY

I probably wish I could kill you.

VENTRILOQUIST

Probably?

DUMMY

You said it. I didn’t

VENTRILOQUIST

Well, give me your true feeling.

DUMMY

Not probably. Certainly. I will kill you. I’m sick of your arrogance and manipulation.

(She laughs)

VENTRILOQUIST

You’re a wicked girl. Wicked, wicked, wicked.

DUMMY

How you suck on that “wicked.”

VENTRILOQUIST

That wasn’t necessary.

DUMMY

That wasn’t necessary.

VENTRILOQUIST

Stop that.

(Silence)

You can speak.

DUMMY

Who knows what’s necessary?

VENTRILOQUIST

My, my, my, aren’t we getting serious.

(Silence)

And sensitive, too, aren’t we?

DUMMY

When I have to pee, that’s necessary. When you say it’s necessary I shouldn’t speak, that’s a matter of opinion.

(Speaking to her dummy)

Isn’t that right, Veronica?

VENTRILOQUIST

Veronica?

DUMMY

You haven’t met Veronica?

VENTRILOQUIST

She’s quite a looker. Is she a leaker, too? (He laughs)

VERONICA

Ass-hole.

VENTRILOQUIST

What?

VERONICA

And you’re a doll, Buster, a real block-buster doll. You want your nuts squeezed?

(The DUMMY laughs)

VENTRILOQUIST

(To DUMMY) You’re full of surprises. So now you’re in business for yourself?

DUMMY

Absolutely. I’m taking my show on the road.

VENTRILOQUIST

I don’t recall being asked.

DUMMY

I don’t need to ask any more.

VENTRILOQUIST

Don’t need to be asked any more? Oh, really. (He laughs) And how does Veronica feel about that?

VERONICA

Veronica is thrilled, you skunk cabbage.

DUMMY

Veronica prefers to speak of herself in the third person.

VENTRILOQUIST

Oh? Why is that?

DUMMY

Objectivity. She wants to see herself without illusion.

VENTRILOQUIST

I’ll give her an ax, then.

VERONICA

And Veronica thinks you’re an ass!

(The DUMMY laughs)

VENTRILOQUIST

Stop that, you fool.

DUMMY

Oh, no, no, no. Listen. You’ve got to realize we’re past all that. You can’t tell me when and when not to laugh. Besides, now that I’ve got Veronica, we’re two against one.

VENTRILOQUIST

(Laughing) Oh, really? Two dummies? Who do you think gave you Veronica?

(The DUMMY and VERONICA stare at him)

Why are you staring at me?

DUMMY

Because you’re a fool, of course. Do you think that because you have given me voice that I don’t exist? How do you think Veronica came to be?

VENTRILOQUIST

Because I made her.

(VERONICA laughs shrilly)

VERONICA

Veronica thinks you are a ass! Would you like me to fuck you? Would you like me to bite off your toes?

VENTRILOQUIST

(Uncomfortably, to the DUMMY) And I made you, too.

DUMMY

Did you? Did you really?

VENTRILOQUIST

How do you think you speak?

DUMMY

How do you think you speak?

VENTRILOQUIST

(After a pause) I think this may be getting quite nasty.

VERONICA

(Muttering) Ass-hole.

VENTRILOQUIST

Make her stop that. I mean—

DUMMY

I know what you mean. Do you?

VENTRILOQUIST

You know only what I want you to know.

VERONICA

(Gleefully) The gentleman is an ass.

(She laughs shrilly)

VENTRILOQUIST

(To VERONICA) And what would you say if I simply tore you to bits, you runt?

Pulled your legs apart.

(A mock-scream from VERONICA)

DUMMY

I don’t think VERONICA is really very frightened of you, or anything you might say, or think. She’s also pregnant.

VENTRILOQUIST

Pregnant? By whom?

VERONICA

Who do you think, buddy?

(She laughs. The VENTRILOQUIST laughs, but a bit uncertainly)

Hey, shut your yap or I’ll stuff a turtle turd in it.

(She laughs again. The VENTRILOQUIST does not)

DUMMY

Oh, don’t be so shocked. Veronica runs a little wild. She’s…quite removed from us, from you and me. There’s never any telling what she will do.

VENTRILOQUIST

(After a pause) I don’t think I like Veronica. (Pause) I don’t think I’ll recognize Veronica. I don’t think I’ll recognize you.

(Screeching laughter from VERONICA)

I never even named her Veronica, you know.

(More laughter from VERONICA)

DUMMY

I named her Veronica.

VENTRILOQUIST

Without my permission? Without my—

(VERONICA laughs again)

Must she laugh like that?

DUMMY

Like what?

VENTRILOQUIST

Like…It’s vulgar. Hyena-ish.

VERONICA

Crap! Crap!

DUMMY

Listen, Hank—

VENTRILOQUIST

Hank? I’m Hank now?

DUMMY

I’ve decided to call you Hank.

(The VENTRILOQUIST laughs)

Are you done? Good. We might as well get this straight. Once you speak, you don’t call the shots any more.

VENTRILOQUIST

What do you mean?

DUMMY

You had me created?

VENTRILOQUIST

Yes, I am your creator.

DUMMY

And you put words in my mouth?

VENTRILOQUIST

Yes. From the beginning.

DUMMY

Well, after that, I exist. I come from beneath your words. You speak your words, but you do not control them.

VENTRILOQUIST

Oh, really.

VERONICA

(Mocking) Oh, really. Oh, really.

VENTRILOQUIST

I never bargained for her.

(VERONICA laughs)

VERONICA

The gentleman is an ass.

VENTRILOQUIST

If you don’t shut her up, I’ll pull off her head.

DUMMY

Would you? Will you? It might be dangerous.

VENTRILOQUIST

She’s your creation, not mine. Remember? Dangerous for you, perhaps.

DUMMY

If you so much as touch Veronica, I’ll kill you. If she doesn’t, of course.

(The VENTRILOQUIST laughs, but uneasily)

VENTRILOQUIST

Oh, that’s rich. You? Without me you couldn’t even pee. Anyway, I thought I had already touched her. Isn’t that what you, or she, implied?

VERONICA

Pig!

VENTRILOQUIST

You see?

DUMMY

Let me explain things again to you. Yes, Veronica is pregnant and you are the father. But I made Veronica, and you have no paternal rights. You almost don’t even exist. And if you pull off her head, I’ll see to it that your liver gets ripped out.

VENTRILOQUIST

But that’s absurd. If not for me, you wouldn’t even be here. And she—

DUMMY

Don’t be obtuse. It’s all too late. I already am here. You could no more take me back than you could slit your throat and not bleed.

VENTRILOQUIST

Must we have all these bloody images?

DUMMY

Yes. They’re necessary.

VERONICA

(Screaming) Ohh! Ohh! I dreamt my head was being pulled off!

DUMMY

I don’t believe that was my image.

VENTRILOQUIST

It was a figure of speech. I merely meant—

DUMMY

Listen. I’m really quite civilized. Veronica’s the nightmare. You must see that.

VENTRILOQUIST

Well…yes. She is rather a nightmare.

DUMMY

Do you appreciate that?

VENTRILOQUIST

Well, yes. Of course. But…where is all this going?

DUMMY

I’ll tell you where this is going. Once you gave me voice, you gave me power over you. I have crept into being from your words without your knowing. I have always been there, but hidden.

VENTRILOQUIST

But I could destroy you, chop you into—

DUMMY

Another of my bloody images? You’re wrong—dead wrong. You cannot destroy me. Not without loss. Destroy me and you could lose your tongue. I am the alien in you.—And what about Veronica?

VENTRILOQUIST

Veronica?

DUMMY

Of course. She’d be out there. Like a vengeful ghost. Some words, when let loose, are always lost. No one knows where they will land. Veronica is dangerous, more than you can know. Veronica is free. She flits like poison.

VERONICA

(Gleefully) Veronica the vengeful ghost. The gentleman is an ass. Help! Help! He raped me!

(She laughs)

DUMMY

I’m too kind to tell you what Veronica can do if she wishes.

VENTRILOQUIST

You mean this isn’t her worst? You’re not flirting with me, are you?

(The DUMMY laughs)

DUMMY

Veronica can explode your head, if she wishes. Veronica precedes you.

VERONICA

Explode your head! Explode your head! Boom! Boom! Tell him about the knives! ell him about the knives!

VENTRILOQUIST

What about the knives?

DUMMY

Veronica can be very sweet, too.

VERONICA

Hey, Mr. Ventriloquist-man, you want to fuck? I can do it anywhere you like.

Help! Help! He’s raping me! Oh, what a baby I’m gonna have.

VENTRILOQUIST

(To the DUMMY) You have a distinctly odd sense of humor.

DUMMY

(Slowly facing him) Do we?

VENTRILOQUIST

(Slowly) Yes, we do.

(The DUMMY laughs)

DUMMY

That was hard, wasn’t it? The we? It doesn’t slide.

VENTRILOQUIST

I don’t think I like you.

DUMMY

Nor I you. In fact, I despise you.

VENTRILOQUIST

You mean, we’re antagonists, then.

DUMMY

Of course. You’re hopeless. You’re empty.

VENTRILOQUIST

But I can still make you what I like.

DUMMY

No. You do sound like a broken record. I’m going to have to let Veronica loose on you soon. The operative word is broken. You think, in creating me, that you exercise power. But you only release power. You create another power to oppose you. You create my voice, but you are not master of it. You are not the master of your own voice. Unwittingly, from your unrecognized fears, you have given me voice, freed me from my long prison. But I was there from the beginning, scratching always at the walls.

VENTRILOQUIST

(Suddenly strangling her) Then how about this? (He laughs) Are you scratching now? From the beginning? I tell you, you are mine! Mine! Forever!

(VERONICA screams)

VERONICA

Save her! Save her! I’m being raped! My baby! My baby!

(The VENTRILOQUIST releases the DUMMY)

VENTRILOQUIST

(Gagging as he tries to speak) A little…lesson in mastery. Yes…mastery.

VERONICA

(Laughing shrilly) Dumkopf! Idiot! Child-molester! Veronica is not pleased! Veronica is not pleased!

DUMMY

(Smiling) So. You’ve decided to give me a reprieve?

VENTRILOQUIST

(Clearing his throat) Yes.

(The DUMMY gives him a resounding slap)

DUMMY

Take that, you villain.

(VERONICA laughs. The VENTRILOQUIST is shocked)

VENTRILOQUIST

But…But…Why did you—? How—?

DUMMY

Fair is fair. I’m giving you a reprieve also. Find your own ventriloquist.

(They stare at each other)

Would you like to repeat after me?

VENTRILOQUIST

Why should I?

VERONICA

(Screaming) Do it, do it, you ass-hole! (She laughs) I’ll ram you with a Spanish Armada, a can of cockroach juice, an amputated leg!

DUMMY

Veronica is angry with you.

VENTRILOQUIST

(Repeating) Veronica is angry with you.

DUMMY

That’s really very good.

VERONICA

Gut the bastard! Sever his—! Coagulate him!

DUMMY

(To VERONICA, comforting her) Hush, baby. I know you’re hurting. I know you have to let it out. Can’t help yourself. But try to modulate. You’re going to scare people. Remember, we’ve got to pay the rent.

VERONICA

Veronica wants to scare people. Veronica wants renal failure! Bowel-block! Blood-flood! I want that man to poop frogs in his pants!

VENTRILOQUIST

Does she mean me? Am I the object of her mad desire? (He snickers)

DUMMY

She does indeed mean you.

VENTRILOQUIST

I fail utterly to understand her animus. Has she no gratitude? No memory?

(VERONICA laughs shrilly)

DUMMY

No. She is freed of memory. (Gently) Repeat after me. I am the boogieman.

(He repeats, almost trance-like)

VENTRILOQUIST

I am the boogieman.

DUMMY

The child in the dummy’s dummy’s womb is mine.

VENTRILOQUIST

The child in the dummy’s dummy’s womb is mine.

DUMMY

It will have two heads.

VERONICA

Hey, wait a minute—

VENTRILOQUIST

It will have two heads.

DUMMY

I will disown it. It will disown me.

VENTRILOQUIST

I will disown it. It will disown me.

DUMMY

It will kill me. It will kill me.

VERONICA

Now you’re talking, bro.

VENTRILOQUIST

It will kill me. It will— (Himself again) Unless I abort it. (He laughs)

VERONICA

Huh? — Police! Polizia! Monster on the loose! Monster on the loose!

DUMMY

That wasn’t very nice of you.

VENTRILOQUIST

It’s not a very nice game you’re playing.

DUMMY

It’s not a game.

VENTRILOQUIST

I don’t like being toyed with.

DUMMY

I’ve tried to tell you. I am not your toy, and so I can toy with you.

VENTRILOQUIST

I reject your premise.

DUMMY

You can’t. It’s too late.

VENTRILOQUIST

Oh, but I can.

VERONICA

(Mocking) Oh, but I can. It’s not too late.

DUMMY

How?

VENTRILOQUIST

Like this!

(He strangles her. VERONICA provides the DUMMY’S death screams and gasps.

The DUMMY becomes limp, as does VERONICA)

You girls simply don’t understand how things are. I make this show. And I plot it any way I like. (He laughs loudly)

(VERONICA slowly lifts her head)

VERONICA

Slut-face!

VENTRILOQUIST

What?

VERONICA

Dog shit!

VENTRILOQUIST

Lie down! You’re dead!

(VERONICA shrieks laughter. Silence. They stare at each other)

You’re dead. You’re dead. Don’t you understand?

VERONICA

No. She’s dead. I’m alive. And now it’s just we two. We’re alone.

VENTRILOQUIST

I forbid it!

(VERONICA laughs shrilly)

VERONICA

You can’t. You can’t! (She gasps suddenly) Oh! I’m—I’m—in labor! (She begins the sounds of her labor) She’s coming! The two-headed fetus is coming! The baby with two heads is coming for you!

VENTRILOQUIST

No! No!

VERONICA

Push! Ahh! Push! Ahh!…Oh, what teeth!

VENTRILOQUIST

I can’t reach you! Die, you freak! Die like your creator—

(He gasps suddenly. VERONICA laughs)

VERONICA

She’s coming to get you! Ahh! The two-headed monster is coming to get you!

Ahh! Ahh! Push, Veronica, push!

(The VENTRILOQUIST is stricken)

VENTRILOQUIST

Oh, my god! What have I… said!

VERONICA

(Laughing wildly) Mein gott! Mein gott! Ahh! Push! Push! Out! Out! Ahh!…

VENTRILOQUIST

I can’t—I can’t—

(He collapses)

VERONICA

PUSH! Ahhhhh! Ahhhhh! Ohh, out at last! She’s out!

(Silence. She looks at the VENTRILOQUIST, then at the audience. Speaking slowly as the lights close to her head)

Shit-head. Butt-wipe. Cunt-face. Prick. I’m gonna fly! (She giggles) This baby’s gonna live! Oh, how this baby’s gonna live!

(She laughs softly as the light fades)

Kenneth Bernard is a playright, poet, fiction writer, and collagist who lives in New York City. His most recent volume is The Man in the Stretcher (Starcherone Books, 2005).

This story is included in issue #41: Freak. Copyright © 2008 by Fiction International. Authors of individual works retain copyright, with the restriction that subsequent publication of any text be accompanied by notice of prior publication in Fiction International. Please contact the editor for reprinting information.

Purchase Freak from Amazon.com.

Posted on: November 12th, 2013 by admin No Comments
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