“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 12 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 12

Chapter Six

1.

Everything changed for Jimmy the moment after the words fell out of him; he had a new lease on entertainment and life itself.

He bid adieu to Dalton with a newfound confidence and determination.

This was it.

Everything he had ever dreamed about was now within his reach.

Everyone has an opinion any more,” Jimmy said as his boots stamped on life’s eggshells with ferocity. “In fact, it has become so out of hand, I find myself with more opinions than one,” Jimmy smiled as he winked at Elvira from across the bar.

Do I wear boxers or briefs?” In unison, Jimmy answered himself, saying both answers at once.

The crowd were more confused and perplexed by the ordeal than they were mesmerized.

Some of you may not know what to take what is happening before you,” Jimmy’s eyes looked around the crowd at The Laugh Track.

No one famous might have been in attendance, but David Nix and every other performer who ever held a microphone would hear about him.

If I am honest with you, I don’t need to explain it. Sometimes you reach a level at comedy, where it no longer fulfills, and it no longer challenges you, and I am at that level, ladies and gentleman. As a matter of fact,” Jimmy chuckled as the audience clapped in agreement.

He knew it was not likely that any of them agreed with that. They were locals who knew him and they only wanted to be polite and considerate to his act. Nevertheless, he smiled, and let them cheer for a moment.

As a matter of fact,” Jimmy said again, harmonizing his voice as he spoke. He found it very easy to make his ‘second voice’ sound like a different person. “I don’t even need to do this comedy special, I will let him do it!”

The crowd did not respond to his remark, if only because they did not know how to respond. Jimmy had expected no different. He walked behind the curtain and appeared before the crowd again as he hurried down the steps and off the stage, carrying the microphone in his hand.

Elvira stared at him with as much confusion as the audience had. It was not like he had clued her in on the bit, after all.

Her surprise, like the audience’s surprise, needed to feel authentic.

He offered a cocky grin while he strutted his way to her, brushing passed the different people that filled The Laugh Track. He noted the white lights of people’s cellphones as he neared her.

She was still angry with him after their last encounter, that much was obvious the very second he looked at her from the stage. She had not expected to attend his comedy show. They would work through that though, and the life he earned for them after this moment would be enough to make it all better.

How are you doing?” Jimmy said, offering her a small smile as he did, meanwhile, his other half was busy away, reciting lines from his act.

In the end, it all had to be theatrical. Jimmy didn’t look at Elvira so much as he looked through her. All of it required too much concentration to focus on her response, almost all of his mind focused on that other voice. He had to focus on how to project himself, how to enunciate in such a fashion that both of them could be distinguished without it sounding like a shouting match. It was a balancing act, but it felt good.

Jimmy exploited its absurdity. As surreal as it was, since it was not from his mouth that the voice came, he found himself able to project it in other parts of his body; like a set of vocal cords that could squirm about his body freely.

Jimmy continued mouthing half heart small talk at Elvira as he held the microphone up to his elbow and continued the performance undeterred, as though the sound projected through his pores.

The crowd seemed to have noticed that. It was about time they understood. There were no hidden tape recorders, no speaker sound systems. It was two unique voices coming from within the same body.

The rest of the performance went off without a hitch. He returned to the stage and took a bow in front of the crowd. They both thanked them for coming out.

2.

Did you see me out there?” Jimmy exclaimed, following Elvira out the back exit of The Laugh Track. “I had them eating out the palm of my hands. Did you see all of those cellphones? They were all recording it! I will be on every person’s feed by the time morning arises, I can just feel it!”

Elvira did not seem to grasp the levity of the situation, too hung up on the prior night’s event.

What the hell even was that?” She asked.

Jimmy could not remember a time when he had ever seen her this upset, either with him or otherwise.

Night before, you tell me I slept my way to become an orthopedic doctor, one of the most specific things to ever sleep your way to, and now, you are all buddy buddy, actin’ like it is all alright?”

Did you see it though?” Jimmy could not hide the excitement he felt, “This is it! This is the moment I will always come back to, the moment I come back to when they ask me when it all started!”

I saw,” Elvira stopped for a second, clearly seeing how interested Jimmy was in her response, “I don’t even know what I saw. I saw something at the very least, but that is not what matters.”

You are not getting it though, that is what matters, it is the only thing that matters. In one whole swoop, my whole life is going to change.” Jimmy looked over at the individuals that left from the front of The Laugh Track and entered the parking lot.

He ducked his head down and shielded his face with his hand. Guess he would have to get used to being spotted from now on.

Jimmy, I don’t understand what is so wrong with the life you have.”

Jimmy considered her words and thought through a reasonable response to them, and then, threw that out the window in favor of something different: “My life sucked, are you kidding with this? This,” Jimmy flung his hand forward and swatted toward the glorified bingo hall. “This is not me. This is not the person I am supposed to be. I am not the person I was born to be.”

But, I like this person,” Elvira countered, “And everyone here, they like that person. Your friends at work, they like you too.”

Oh, I am quitting that, you can take that to the bank,” Jimmy replied, the high of performing still coursed through him with every passing second.

This was the best he had ever felt.

What do you mean you are quitting?” Elvira asked. She still was not understanding him. “Because you have a new gimmick for your act?”

In a single swoop, all the excitement and energy that once pulsated through Jimmy had went away. He looked over to Elvira with a shocked expression, “My, … my gimmick?”

Jimmy stared at her for a few seconds, waiting for an explanation she was not willing to afford him, and so, he merely continued to speak: “That was not a gimmick you saw back there, that was the real deal. I have two sets of voices inside of me and I can use them both, and, … at the same time.”

That is not medically possible, Jimmy,” She replied, her voice sounding defeated and disinterested.

You may know a lot about feet, but you don’t know everything, doctor,” Jimmy countered, offering as condescending a smirk as he could muster.

Oh, well, then, really, go ahead then. Let’s see your second voice that is going to catapult you into superstardom, since you are so very proud of it.”

Jimmy nodded his head, agreeing with her, “Let’s see it, indeed.” And, like that, Jimmy prepped himself and began, but, this time, his second voice was not compliant.

It had been so easy and effortless only a short time prior, and yet, now, he could not force out even the slightest sound.

He smiled nervously at Elvira, whose face carried an expectant frown, he began to reassure her: “…,” However, no words followed. Instead, he felt a choking sensation in the back of his throat.

Jimmy feigned a chuckle that had no sound behind it, then, turned his back from Elvira, and walked away.

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