“In the Attic,” by Alexei Kalinchuk

Apr 20th, 2013 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

I found a ventriloquist’s dummy in a felt-lined box in the attic of my late uncle. Upon lifting the lid, its eyes snapped open and it began moving its jaw. He was glad to see me, he said. Living in a box is no living. He wanted out. He wanted to do new things. Would I help him, he wanted to know, then turning his eyes towards me, he assured me that he meant ‘would’ not ‘wood’ because he detested the broad humor of puns. I understood. My late uncle loved slapstick, puns, any kind of joke that didn’t involve reflection. I wanted better for myself, he said, I really did, but you knew him. You knew his company. Authentic wit just soared over his head. Remember your tenth birthday party? As a matter of fact, I did. It was shameful. It hurt me. I couldn’t look at any of my classmates in the face the rest of the school year. We held the party, of course, in my uncle’s backyard. I’d thought my sickly aunt would protect me, but she couldn’t save me from his robust vulgarity. Memories of taunts in the hallways of school thereafter lingered with me on certain days. From below, my trembling aunt called out if I was finished getting everything together for the estate sale. Or was there anything I wanted to keep? Anything? Because I remembered the dummy’s complicity in my public shaming, I said no, no, there was nothing. Then I put the lid on the shrieking box along with a price sticker.


Defenestration-VikingAlexei Kalinchuk says, “I’ve been published in Amoskeag Journal and The Bitter Oleander, and am a well-regarded Master in the art of Ukrainian Massage.  Also, I’m a former Mouseketeer-one of the ones they arrested for wire fraud.”

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