"Let's put on a variety show!" Mummy said enthusiastically.
Tobbias was the first to respond. He was the happy go lucky sort most of the time. That is, when he wasn't throwing a temper tantrum. The rest of us looked around at one another silently hoping that someone would protest and give the others a chance to pick sides, like we always did.
Then Shane opened his big mouth and agreed. I think my jaw dropped since I usually sided with him, but the last thing I felt like doing was showing off some talent I knew I didn't possess. I felt betrayed somehow.
Since no one opposed, out loud that is, Mummy decided what was to be done and everyone crowded around to hear. There was a great fuss being made over who would sing and who would dance. I remained seated in my chair across the room with my arms folded.
"What's a matter Stanley?" Mummy asked.
I looked away, toward the window and said nothing.
"Come on Stanley, we'll let you do whatever skit you want," Shane said with his whiniest voice encouraging me to join in.
"He's just a scaredy-britches! Aren't you scaredy-pants?" Tobbias said laughing.
"Now now, let's be nice to one another. We're trying to have fun," Mummy said.
Tobbias snickered at me cross-eyed and giggled some more.
In the end, they decided for me what part I should play. Then everyone went to sit and think about what they would do or say. I remained seated where I was and continued looking out the window, in silence, but I was thinking about it. The role I was supposed to play, the one they chose for me didn't seem to suit me at all.
I was never a clown, even when I felt most comfortable or had funny thoughts about Shane or Robert or Alex. They were the only ones I seemed to feel comfortable around. Why then did they all agree with Mummy and Tobbias that I'd make a great clown? Oh I am betrayed forever more, I thought.
My quiet disposition here in the chair looking out the window was useful after all; and I began to visualize just the type of clown I would be.
Yes, a mime suited me just fine, but I would have to move about like a robot and gingerly withdraw something like a flower to give to Mummy. What could I use, I wondered that resembled a flower. There were certainly none outside beneath the blankets of white snow, and none that I could ask for. I would have to find something else.
Our chairs were put into a big circle and Mummy decided that we should go around the circle taking turns. Robert was first. He stood up nervously and walked to the center of the circle. He cited a poem that Mummy liked very much, but I did not. When Robert finished we all clapped.
The second actor to take center stage was Alex. He told us a ghost story that he swore was real! I believed him because I was with him when it happened. Everyone was quiet, even after he finished and when he was done, no one clapped but instead, rubbed the goose bumps on their arms and looked around half expecting to see the Inspector's specter. I thought this was kind of funny in a novel sort of way.
It was good that Tobbias came next because he was really amusing and made the others laugh. He entertained us with his stand-up comedy and the jokes he told were ones he hadn't told us before.
My turn followed, with the crowd warmed up. I rose and wiped my sweaty palms on my pants. I began my act by feeling my way along an imaginary wall and finding a doorknob, which I tried and tried to open but could not. I decided to think about it and sat in an imaginary chair; then I got a brilliant idea, which I displayed with every facial muscle I could and proceeded to knock on the invisible door. I pretended to be impatient while I waited; then happily greeted the person who wasn't there, opening my arms for a big hug, which I evidently received. The next thing I did was really quite sly. You see, I scooted around while hugging this transparent soul in an amusing sort of way. Once I'd changed sides with him, I quickly bid the invisible bloke goodbye as I went in, shut the door and locked it. This made everyone laugh. When I was done I didn't go back to my seat immediately but went to Mummy.
I reached behind my back and pulled out a napkin that I had scrunched up to look like a flower. I smelled it first then handed it to Mummy. Mummy took the dandy flower and thanked me. After this I pretended to be bashful and took my chair. Everyone clapped.
Alex and Shane couldn't agree on who should sing so they did a duet. Of the two I think Alex has the better voice. The song they sang was very old and Alex introduced it as an actual Vaudeville number that used to be sung back in the early 1900s. I had never heard it before but it sounded nice. The two interlocked their arms and did something of a can-can dance before raising their arms high above them and dropping them utterly in the biggest bow thus far. For it, they got the biggest round of applause mostly because we had to clap for two people. After they took their seats we all looked at the empty chair next to Shane.
There was no one left. The last chair being empty, there was no one left to sing or dance and be merry for our entertainment, least of all Mummy. He'd seen to that. I didn't want to think of him today. In fact, I didn't want to think of him ever again. It's funny that no one noticed the extra chair earlier, but now that are eyes were going around the circle, it highlighted the fact that his chair was still there. I looked cautiously at Mummy to see whether Mummy had noticed this empty chair. It was very quiet, then Mummy stood up.
"I think you all did a wonderful job! I'm so proud of each and every one of you that I'm going to reward you. Tonight, there will be an extra half-hour of television and free time," Mummy said.
Of course, this made everyone happy. Mummy too. I think she was smiling underneath all the gauze bandages because her eyes seemed to sparkle. It was nice to see her happy again. Though I doubted she would ever look the same, what with all the cuts he'd given her with the scalpel he'd stolen from the infirmary when he pretended to be sick.
I had already decided when the bandages came off, I would call her Dr. Frankenstein. That is, if I ever spoke again. I hadn't for years.
Mummy thinks I am capable of speech. She and another doctor took a look at my voice box and vocal chords while I was sleeping, or at least that's what Mummy told me. She also said she hopes that one day I will speak to her.
But I wonder if she would feel that way if she knew the words I would say to her. For one, I would have to tell her that the ghost story Alex told today was true and secondly I would have to tell her that my name isn't Stanley. I'm just borrowing his body while I sit and think; and try to solve the mystery of my own murder.