“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 11 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 11

3.

Jimmy was not entirely for certain why he had chosen to take up Dalton on the offer of a second attempt at a dinner sendoff at Buddy’s Diner. Perhaps, it was because Jimmy could not think of any obvious alternatives to him.

Dalton was right to think that he was among one of the last people Jimmy wanted to talk to, but he was not the very last. That would have been facing Elvira after the ass he had made out of himself the night prior.

That did not explain why he could not have stepped outside of his apartment and walked over to the first bystander he found and asked them, plain and simple, whether he was off his rocker.

As a matter of fact, he could have even asked the waitress who seated him, when she asked if he was dining alone, he could have stared her intently in the eyes and asked her what she thought … in unison with himself.

Maybe it was the theatrical side of him, the performer, that wanted another performer’s reaction. He could have done a number of other things, and yet, he did none of them. Instead, he had a seat in the chair opposite of Dalton and smiled at him.

The funniest man The Laugh Track ever had,” Dalton said, making certain the waitress was within earshot as he said it.

Jimmy’s eyes wandered down to the napkins in front of him and then the menu, thinking of how long he had spent becoming acquainted to it all the last time he was here. He laughed a small amount at the thought, even though he did not find it funny in the slightest.

His eyes went back up to Dalton, “And yet, you are the one that David Nix decided to bring onboard.”

Dalton’s smile didn’t fall off altogether, but Jimmy could see the chinks he made in his armor with the comment.

I would not have been able to do any of it without the example you set for me.”

If Dalton was not a comedian, he would have surely been a qualified ass kisser.

How have you been, Dalton?” Jimmy asked, deciding to move past it. “I can imagine it must be a very exciting time for you.”

Dalton nodded his head. He wanted his best to come off as aloof or nonchalant about it, but his own excitement had the better of him, forcing a smile to break free on his face.

It has been everything I have ever wanted and more.”

Jimmy chuckled, “That’s great, Dalton. Just great!” And Jimmy meant that, at least, on some level.

Despite his success, Dalton had never been bad to him. Maybe that was why he wanted him to be the one he opened up with.

Dalton knew the truth about him. Dalton knew that, in spite of all Jimmy’s masquerading, he was no one at all. He was not a comedian and no matter how much he developed and honed his craft, he would never be a comedian. He had seen Jimmy stocking shelves and likely even asked David Nix about Jimmy’s performance at The Laugh Track only to be met with shrugged shoulders. And yet, he was willing to pretend that it was a couple big shots slumming it as they ate at Buddy’s Diner. For at least one side of him, he felt that was why he wanted to tell Dalton first.

Maybe he wanted to be checked into the psyche ward by a friend who cared. The thought scared Jimmy; the thought that this would be it.

I found something out about myself, Dalton,” Jimmy said, glaring over at him.

Dalton’s eyes showed his confused intrigue, “And, uh, what’s that, Jimmy?”

I found something out about myself, Dalton,” Jimmy said again, only this time, he did not say it aloud. He said it with his ‘special’ skill.

Dalton’s confusion only worsened. He laughed nervously for a second, “Are you excited to tell me you bought a tape recorder?”

Dalton looked under the chair, as if he was trying to find a source to the sound. “Or, are you learning ventriloquism, maybe?”

Jimmy held his eyes on Dalton and didn’t waiver, he repeated the question, but, in unison, he asked him another question, “Do you think David Nix could do this?”

Dalton seemed confused, but that was the right response to it. He did not have all the information, after all. Not like Jimmy did.

Jimmy knew all he needed to know – that he was not crazy.

This was real.

And, while one side of him may have one reason for unveiling the hidden skill to Dalton, the other side was much crueler and more conniving, wanting to show Dalton what made Jimmy special and made Dalton all the more ordinary.

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