As we sat in his dusty apartment,
the ventriloquist hacked up a cough, and began:
"There's no point in you being here. You'll just leave
disappointed and…. disturbed."
I answered that I was a world famous magician
and that I wanted to learn a ventriloquist trick,
to help me speak with a voice from offstage
to heighten the climax
of my spooky spirit act.
The old ventriloquist shook his bald head
"You don't want this gift.
The secrets of the Voice
don't belong in your show".
I was drawn to the word "secret".
I had to learn it.
Something inside me wanted to know.
I told him to name his price, any price!
Just teach me.
I didn't realize until later that I had insulted him.
"You're not understanding... but you will.
Ventriloquism is not simply
learning how to throw your voice
and speak with your lips still."
I went to interrupt, but he stopped me.
My art is about losing your real voice
to something horrible,
something that knows what is to be said
and speaks it through all human mouths."
I knew this was crazy,
but his deadly serious conviction
and the unwavering look on his face
made my stomach pitch and churn.
His steely eyes stared into mine.
"We are just the puppets
of the Voice.
It uses us to talk, live,
dream, and die."
He saw I doubted him.
"I knew you'd need proof,
to see a solution of some sort.
You want to see a trick? I'll show you a trick, magician."
Then, he just stared at me and waited for me to speak.
I said "no, I-"
but as the words left my mouth
they also left his.
"How are you- " I sputtered,
but his lips moved too.
"There's no w-"
he spoke with me.
He actually spoke faster than me,
finishing my sentences first,
with no emotion at all
except the purest confidence.
He smiled sadly,
"The Voice knows what you will say,
It is the the hand at your back,
pulling your lever,
and making you dance.
Now that you know this,
I hope your spirit act is improved.
When you throw your voice and wow the crowd,
the world you rule possesses you.
Go home, magician."
His bitter laugh became a cough as I left his apartment.
With nowhere else to go,
I walked home,
with the constant feeling
that I was being tugged along
by tiny, almost invisible strings.
I knew that those little silver tendrils
that stretch through the night
would end at some horrible puppeteer,
some great magician,
whose terrifying trick I now knew
and could not escape.