“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 5 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The One-Two Punchline” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 5

Chapter Two

1.

Something no one tells you about show business and superstardom is that it is difficult to attain. It was not by coincidence that every actor on television and every musician you will see dancing around on stage is photogenic and larger than life. This was by design. And, unless you come from fame or fortune, it is almost impossible to capture the zeitgeist.

Maybe it had something to do with momentum, like a snowball effect that saw objects compiling atop one another into something larger. Jimmy didn’t have any insights other than his own speculation

The next couple of months played out a lot like the last, which, in turn, played out a lot like the moths before that. All of it was a grind. Everyday at work, coming home sore from lifting fifty pound bags of dog food, and then, on occasion, his routine appearance at The Laugh Track. This was life, he supposed.

One thing had changed, for the better, however. He had begun dating a woman named Elvira Harkey. She had a big heart, which managed to wedge itself into her petite figure. Her skin was pale and her face was small, with a small nose and a small mouth, met with big brown eyes. She had a tattoo on her chest of an emerald dragon, with fiery breath that traveled all the way up to her neck. Jimmy had never been of neck tattoos, and when she wore a shirt, the dragon was hidden, so it looked like her tits had caught fire. However, he liked Elvira in spite of that. In fact, he liked her an awful lot.

Jimmy bowed to the crowd and waved at them, recognizing their reaction as a sign of a job well accomplished. As he walked behind the curtain and went down the steps, leading straight to the bar, Elvira was still clapping and laughing as he saw her. The adrenaline still coursed through him, and so, he did not even mind that the laughter had lasted too long to be sincere.

My comedian,” Elvira replied, offering a toothy grin.

Jimmy feigned a curtsy and had a seat beside her, snatching the glass of bear at the table and taking a small sip as the perspiration soaked his hands. “Did you happen to see what David Nix thought of it, did he laugh or say anything about it?” Jimmy asked in a small whisper, peeking over Elvira’s shoulder as though he expected David to look back at him and give him a thumbs up or thumbs down for the fact.

He did not, unfortunately.

I, uh, was not watching for him, hon,” Elvira answered with a befuddled expression. “Who is David Nix?”

Nobody,” Jimmy mumbled, then, repeated it again, “Nobody.”

That was not the truth, however. David Nix was, in fact, somebody somebody. Mr. Nix was a talent scout in the Maharris comedy circuit. A former headman in a traveling troupe in Acera called the Magnets, David Nix was a well respected funnyman with a lot of weight in the industry.

The warmth filled Jimmy’s chest now. He had not known David Nix would be here, only discovering him after his performance. If he had, he would have brought his best material. If he had, who knows if he would even have had the courage to perform.

David Nix stood up, smiling at a woman, his wife, maybe, before he kissed her on the cheek and walked toward the stage.

Nix!”

Even if Elvira might not have recognized him, it seemed many regulars in the crowd certainly did, offering him claps and hollers as he brushed past them.

David took the stage and waved at the crowd. He wore an expensive black suit and his hair was short, with facial hair that felt meticulously maintained. He was a car cry from the David Nix of the nineties, whose hair was long and unkempt, and whose mouth was every bit as unpredictable. As corporate as he came across, his black suit could not disguise what Jimmy knew, his signature tattoo of a whoopee cushion on his left bicep.

Thank you,” David Nix said. “Once upon a time, I would do a cartwheel on the stage and yell obscenities like a buffoon. Now, if I tried to do a cartwheel on the stage, I would never get back up again, but still be left yelling obscenities like a buffoon.”

Polite laughter followed.

Times have changed and my days as a buffoon yelling obscenities have come and went.”

The boos from the crowd showed they disagreed.

Now, now, don’t you worry about me. I will remain very rich. The reason I am here is because I have decided to dedicate the next chapter of my life to finding the next line of buffoons to yell obscenities at you. There is a lot of buffoons in Urgway and there are a lot of buffoons right here in Marybeth. Tonight, I am happy to sign one of your finest to a contract that will see their buffoonery taken to the next level, yelling obscenities worldwide!”

Jimmy felt a warmth in his chest. His hands were rattling like maracas and it felt like his anxiety was cutting off the oxygen to his brain.

Rabies and germs, you know him, you love him, put your hands together for Dalton Collier!” David Nix exclaimed with cranked up gusto.

Jimmy’s heart felt as though it sank to the bottom of his stomach. And yet, as the red hot heat engulfed his entire body, he clapped and cheered when Dalton made his way to the stage. Elvira was clapping as well. She looked at him with an oblivious grin. Jimmy wondered if his eyes looked as watery as they felt.

Dalton Collier shook David Nix’s hand and did a half-hug before he grabbed the microphone off the stand.

I wonder how it feels for all of you at The Laugh Track. Some of you have appeared and performed for years, biding your time, scraping and crawling in a desperate attempt at what I have accomplished in months.” Dalton flashed a sly smile.

He was in character.

Some people might think it is unfair, but, I can’t help it. I did not ask for this. People stop me on the street, they tell me I should be in movies. Children walk by those people on the street and hear me speak, they say they wish I could read read them stories before bed at night, instead of their shitty old Dads. I did not ask to be a prodigy! Oh, my pain!” Dalton deadpanned the speech.

Maybe I should be humbler. Someone humbler might thank everyone at The Laugh Track who has nourished me and build me up, like Jimmy, thank you, Jimmy. You have done wonders for my career, and while I am raking in millions of dollars, banging hot chicks, I will think about you, getting your foot caught under the door at this wannabe bingo hall. Have a great night everyone, thanks for coming!”

The crowd was livelier than they had been for the entire night, hooting like a bunch of owls. Jimmy did his best to join them, even if he did not necessarily feel like celebrating at the moment.

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