(Following the weird incident with my ventriloquist doll's arm moving during the night, I was inspired to write a short story from Dale's perspective. If you are scared of ventriloquist dolls, then being inside of one's head will really unnerve you.):
When she bought me, I was sitting inside of a dusty warehouse of antiques. I called to her for a good half hour before the stupid human came over and passed me by. I whistled. She turned. I whispered. She narrowed her eyes. I coaxed. She fixed her gaze upon me.
Oh, I wasn’t much to look at then. You see, the last owners let their child play with me. I’m a vintage doll! They put a baby doll’s threadbare gown on me. Of all the humiliations a doll must endure!
Still, the human seemed to see something in me worth making her laugh. She called to her friend. The friend shook her head. That one was a human who fears us dolls. They should be unnerved. We can do things they don’t know about, have very special talents.
I hooked the first one in. The vintage look of me, the creepy open-mouthed grin, and the pathetic excuse for clothing…She knew her son with his wicked sense of humor and love the macabre would adore me. Adore me? Just wait until he saw me! He would hide me in the closet, no doubt. There, I would torment him just knowing I was inside watching the door, waiting for him to open it to meet him with a grin and a blank stare.
To add to her humiliation, my new owner was forced to go to the baby’s department of the store to find me a proper costume. It didn’t matter what she chose in the newborn aisle, all of it would only make me even creepier. She chose well. After blushing embarrassment explaining her predicament to the saleswoman who backed away from her for wanting clothing for a ventriloquist doll, my owner came home with an argyle vest, kacki pants, and a striped shirt. Oh the bliss! I did it justice. It only made me seem more legitimate, contrasting with my hinged face and painted plastic cheeks to create something just distorted enough from preppy to unnerve.
As I thought, the boy liked me very much. I am extraordinarily unsettling. He did place me in his closet. Left in the darkness, I waited patiently. After all, I am not biodegradable; I will last forever in my mission. I can outwait the humans!
Years pass. The boy grows. I get shuffled from closet to box. The woman decides to have a Halloween party. I put a hint in her ear when she runs across me when cleaning. She sets me aside. She glances at me frequently. My idea plants in her mind.
She prepares lots of baby dolls into creepy distortions of their once beautiful selves to create a menagerie of the macabre for her party. I am the leader of the row of dolls. I keep the others in fear, but mostly I disturb the guests. Ventriloquist dolls are the scariest of all. One Halloween evening under an almost full moon, bonfire glowing, and their eyes upon me, I watch their pagan celebration with delight. I am the star!
My special night must come to a close. I anticipated this. But, now that she has me out in the open, I am curious to see just how much this human can discern of my true nature. She props me up in her bedroom on a grouping of boxes. Her son is moving out. He might want to take his doll. No, I do not think so. This woman will keep me. I watch her sleep at night. She passes by me on the way to the bathroom and does not even glance. Still, I know that she knows that I am here…
The boxes leave, the woman sets me aside on the counter, hoping her son might decide if he wants me. He passes by me many times. Finally, the woman asks him when the last of his things are out of the house. “Do you want this?”
He shrugs. “I don’t think I have room for it.”
The woman sets me down atop of some steamer trunks by her front door. She helps her son finish moving out. When she comes home and turns on the light, I am sitting there, as if prepared to hit the road and do my shows. She smiles. She actually smiles at me. In fact, she finds the little vignette too perfect to disturb. She calls it her nod to the macabre. I am her statement for what is dark and disturbing. I remind her that she writes horror, hunts ghosts, and dislikes dolls, unlike the rest of her happy pleasant house.
And, because she fears me, the woman spends the night on the nearby sofa to prove to herself she is not afraid. Her friends taunt her to see if I move during the night. I have waited years to have this opportunity to let someone know that I am alive inside of here. I exist! She takes a picture of me. She goes to bed. During the night, when she turns in her sleep and is semi-awake, I thwack my hand against the wall with all my might. The woman sits up and studies the dark room for the source of the sound. My hopes are rising. She takes a picture of me in the morning to prove I did not move.
The photograph shows her the truth. I have moved. On my own. In the night. As she was sleeping nearby. She heard it. She saw it. She cannot deny it.
Now, as she passes by me and my little vignette of the macabre, she smiles. I have earned her respect. I realize something I have never known after years of delighting in scaring humans. Finally, I am valued and not feared. And, I admit that I like it.