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July 5, 2011
It’s the morning, too early for any sort of concern. The whole world is trivial until Gwen gets her breakfast and coffee. Her dark hair is curled, wavy and knotted, not one strand is straight, though it all will be in a few hours. In her morning haze, she doesn’t have the power to care.
She shuffles into the kitchen and uses her strength to open the fridge. The cool air hits her legs, chilling them and she has to squint against the little light. Her eyes glimpse about the shelves. She finds some left over pizza, picks it out-
“DON’T EAT ME!” The pizza screams, sending a swift jolt through Gwen. She squeals and drops the pizza. In shock, she jumps away from it like it could bite her.
Under her heavy breathing, she hears my mischievous chuckle. The cold goose bumps begin to heat up instantly as she whips her head at the cupboard. Peaking out and laughing loudly now, I’m almost falling over himself being so entertained.
“Nicky! You’re such a jerk!” Gwen snaps at me and picks up her pizza off the floor. “I told you not to do that!”
I am a self-proclaimed ventriloquist. I picked up the trade when I was as young as five, not that I didn’t have any friends or wasn’t paid attention to enough. I just like to be funny, to be laughing, and later I found that if the foul words and racy jokes come out of someone else’s mouth, I can’t get in trouble for it. Besides, it drives Gwen up the wall.
From the little duckie saltshaker on the counter by my sister’s head, I throw a small sad voice that begs her, “Oh please don’t be mad at the boy. He does it out of love.”
On her last straw, with a growl, Gwen snatches the pizza, “Go away!” She hurtles it at me.
Having some intelligence, I don’t stop after dodging it, I keep running. Right out the door, I don’t even stop there. I continue my unplanned jog down the street. Thinking fast, I run into a house four doors down. I know I can go in there because the person who owns it never locks the door, plus I am a friend.
I burst in, the screen door rattles noisily, and being out of shape, I’m gasping out for breath, even though this place always smells like a combination of baby powder, alcohol and smoke, which is not something I like to put in my mouth.
“Nicky,” A voice calls out in a gruff. This person sounds like they’ve been smoking for more than half their lifes and he has. “Is that you?”
Taking a good inhale, I straighten up and from the kitchen, I step into the living room. Albert sits comfortably in his bathrobe and slippers. Those articles of clothing have seen more strife than soldiers did in Vietnam. The man has strains of hairs popping out from his head in no real fashion like his wrinkles; they’re just sort of everywhere.
Happy to see him, I smile and lean against the threshold, my arms crossed at ease. A single hairy gray eyebrow raises at me, “Why are you making so much of a racket? My show is about to come on.”
This makes me chuckle, “Oh Albey, you know your nurse blocked those adult channels.”
“When she do that?”
He’s joking… I think, at least I am. I decide to laugh and not question it, detaching from the wall to the couch. It’s fuzzy and itchy, unlike Albert’s smooth recliner. I ask him, “How are you?”
“Is that why you’re here?” He snorts, pulling the lever by the chair so he’s laid back. The top of the chair smacks into the wall. For no reason he talks loudly, even though I’m right here, “To ask an eighty-three year old man, how he is? You’ve got no life Nicky.” He says that, but he still tells me, “Well if you must know. I’m EIGHTY-THREE! How do you think I feel? I haven’t gone to the bathroom in days and I’m passing a kidney stone that’s bigger than your tiny pre-pubescent hand-”
“Alright!” I say, raising my apparently tiny hands. “I’m sorry I asked.”
“Oh what? Too gross? Well too bad. It’s your future, your glorious future.”
He smiles fiendishly at me before turning on his T.V. I sigh, greatly disturbed, and glance around the room. Not in a hording way, but Albert has a lot of stuff. He’s just too old to sort the stuff out and sell it, so dozens of pictures hang on the wall, some boxes are placed in the empty corners. Little statues and figurines sit covered in dust.
Curious, I stand and walk across the room. Something shimmered and it caught my eye. There’s a long shelf that sits across the wall where Albert also puts his T.V, and in it, a lot of things are lined up past each other. To the end, I move a few mugs away and a few really old 8-tracks. I see a picture of someone I know I recognize and a nice pair of silver cufflinks, ones that match the man’s in picture.
“Albert?” I call, taking the picture and cufflinks out. Kindly, even in his gruff, he turns the T.V off. I inquire of him, holding the stuff up, “Who is this?”
Peeved off for whatever reason, he rolls his eyes and sits up. “That’s Frank Sinatra you ding bat.”
I gape, “What?” I gape in pure shock because beside old blue eyes, shaking his hand is a young Albert with a full head of hair. “How did this happen?”
That put a smirk on Albert’s face as he proceeds to tell me, “Long story short, I came into six grand…”
An old man puppet sits in my hand and on a high table beside me. He’s in a pink bathrobe and bunny slippers with random strands of white coming from his head. I ask him, “Wait. Wait. Wait, Albey, how did you get six grand? You don’t start stories like that?”
From me to him, a hoarse voice comes out from him, though there’s a vibration in my throat, still, his mouth is the one that moves, “I have to start it that way, I’m EIGHTY-EIGHT!” The crowd laughs and he and I go on, “I have to start them that way or I won’t be able to finish it.”
We both stand in front of a descent crowd in a decently popular bar. The spotlights that hit me are dim, but still make me hot. I always sweat on stage. I still keep going, apologizing to the puppet, “Sorry, sorry. Keep going.”
He grumbles and I turn his head from me, “well now I don’t want to.”
The crowd laughs and I act nervous, “C’mon Albey, do it for the crowd. You guys want him to finish it right?”
They cheer, their energy hits me and my heart flutters to it’s beat. Albey fidgets and I make sure he sounds like he’s pouting, “Fine… but it’s not for you.” He snaps at me, but glides his gaze to the crowd, specifically to a girl I know goes to my school, “I’ll do it for the hot babe in the pink top.”
“What? Just cause you’re a virgin, doesn’t mean I have to be forced to be stuck with only your hand day in and day out.”
Again, the crowd cheers and laughs… This is what I do it for, that natural high of happiness. I honestly get my thrills from the pure joy in other people. It’s simple, but I just like being surrounded by happiness. I couldn’t really do it without other people. I think of Albert and go on with the show. If only these people knew the real Albey, then they’d really be laughing.
Their laughs flutter through my adrenaline and I could jump over the moon.

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