Read “His Splintery Smile” in Fear and Trembling

Two ridiculous things really terrify me: zombies and ventriloquist dolls. Blame the zombies on my dad, who–on a night when my mom was out of town–let me watch Return of the Living Dead. I was eleven. Trash’s graveyard striptease aside, I couldn’t sleep for six months because of that movie. It was as scared as I’ve ever been, except for maybe once.

When I was seven or eight, someone gave my brother and me a couple of ventriloquist dummies. His was Charlie McCarthy and mine was W.C. Fields. We thought they were pretty cool, I guess, though I always thought Charlie was a little grotesque. A mockery of humanity in that face somewhere. W.C. was alright. It actually kinda looked like a human being.

Well, sometime shortly thereafter, I watched an episode of the Twilight Zone entitled, “The Dummy,” which is still my favorite episode of this all time great series. The dummy in the show, Willie, looked a little too much like Charlie McCarthy for my comfort, and what followed more or less became the basis for “His Splintery Smile,” which is now available in Fear and Trembling Magazine.


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