“Just ignore my friend here, the proctologist,” said Crackers the dummy. “He’s the strong silent type. About as strong and as silent as the tree he chopped down to make me!”

The audience tittered. It was about all one could expect from a midday crowd at a regional casino.

“But seriously, folks,” the dummy went on, his leering grin waggling as he spoke. “Harold here just got into town, and let me tell you, it was quite a car ride! Of course, we weren’t riding in the car, we haven’t got the budget for that. We just ran near a slow one, and it was brutal. As they say, a man who run in front of car gets tired, and a man who runs behind a car get exhausted.”

The performance continued in that vein for some time, with people drifting in and out in clouds of smoke. The audience dwindled as the Harold and Crackers routine wound down. With the final lame wisecrack, the audience began to break up. Sam, still sitting in the back, came forward.

“Excuse me,” he said. “You don’t know me, but I think you did a show at my middle school a few years ago.”

Harold turned around and waggled his hands at Sam in an elaborate display.

“What?” said Sam.

More hand-waving, more elaborate this time.

“I don’t understand.”

“You’ll have to forgive him,” said Crackers. “Harold doesn’t talk except with his hands, and there’s only one sign everyone really understands.”

Sam jumped. The dummy was ten feet away.

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