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Another Dummy’s Story

by Bill Klein

After reading Kenneth Zang’s account about a dummy in “Mischief,” I realized that there are probably no shortage of dummy stories in Gerritsen Beach--both the paper stuffed kind and the living, breathing variety as well.

This is my dummy story.

Back in the early 1960’s there was a Saturday afternoon creep show host named Zacherly, whose TV laboratory abounded with these paper stuffed representations of the human form.  I am sure that many a boy within the TV viewing distance of this show had at least one of these mock-humans in his bedroom.  To my mother's displeasure, I usually had three constructed at any given time.  She said they gave her the creeps, but I found them strangely comforting at night--like the closet monster dare not come out with the posse I had waiting for him.

One time in the early 1960’s, I was somehow privy (I don’t remember who or the exact circumstances, probably some of my older sisters' friends,) to a conversation between some older boys.  The story they told (while now being reprehensible to me since I’ve managed to survive my adolescence, and the Good-Sense Fairy has touched my head with the wand of Common Sense,) seemed at the time to be just about the "coolest" thing I ever heard.

These boys talked about how they had rigged a dummy to fall out of one of the maples at Park End Park, from a branch that extended over Gerritsen Ave, so that the dummy would land in front of an unsuspecting motorist…“Oh! What Good FUN!!”

Now being just a little squirt, I lacked the sophistication and the upper body strength to duplicate the conditions as described by the older boys, so dropping dummies from trees was out. In the plan I formulated, I had to go with the next best thing. I took the most realistic looking of my paper and cloth entourage, and walked from my house on Nova Ct. between Noel and Madoc Ave. to Cyrus Ave. and Noel (I’m guessing that I must have rationalized that it was far enough away from home so that tales of my exploits would not get back to my folks…duh) and there I positioned myself between two parked cars and waited for my victim.

Periodically, I peeked out from between the parked cars looking for an approaching vehicle, and before too long one was cruising my way.  Squatting, I held the dummy close to my chest, ready to thrust it out at just the precise moment. I had to rely on my ears to tell me when the time was right, for fear that I would be spotted spying around the fender of the parked car, thereby ruining the element of surprise.

This day my ears were true: I tossed the dummy just before the front bumper of the car came into view.  The timing was perfect!  The dummy hit the grill and quickly disappeared under the vehicle.  The car's brakes locked with a loud screech, and when it came to a stop I heard the driver's door open and slam shut again.  I heard a man's voice saying/crying… “No! God No!  Oh my God!  Oh my….  Whaaaa the Fu????!!”

At this point I was still squatting between the two-parked cars, looking down at the asphalt with both of my hands clamped over my mouth to silence the squeals of laughter. But I was about to discover the defining flaw in my whole plan: I had made no prevision for, nor given any consideration to “The Get-a-way!”

My convulsions of laughter abruptly ceased, and all merriment instantly drained away when a pair of shiny black oxfords stepped into my field of view.  The vision of those shoes are as clear to me now, forty something years later, as the day it happened.

Instead of taking my hands away from my mouth, my face actually lifted away from my hands as my gaze tore away from those two black omens of ill fate, and traveled up the legs and over the torso until my eyes settled on where my victim's face should have been.  I say, “should have been” because the sky behind his head was so bright that I was blinded by the glare.

Now envision it…a kid about 8 or 9 years old, squatting down, looking straight up…Can you see it?  My jaw was set up for the perfect tag!  A tag, which I might add, didn’t escape my victims attention, because BINGO! It was lights out for me….

When I came to the man was shaking me.  I could hear concern in his voice as he kept asking me if I was all right.  I guess he reverted back to his original emotion…fearing for the second time that day that he may have just killed a kid.  I got to my feet and told him I was all right, and the tears began to well up from my eyes.  He told me that what I had just done was a very bad game to play, and that someone could get seriously hurt.  I was inclined to agree with him after summing up the events, which had led us to that moment.

The man got up and walked back to his car.  Now that I was standing I could see where the dummy had wound up.  Its torso was pinned under the right rear wheel with its legs sticking out.  The man reached down, grabbed the legs and pulled, tearing the dummy in half.  He tossed the legs to one side and got in his car and left.

I vaguely remember being amazed that I wasn’t forced to show him where I lived, whereby catching a beating from my dad that would make the clip I took on the chin seem like a love tap.  Perhaps he feared a reprisal for hitting me.  But, had he known my father, he would have known that there would have been a salute rather than a reprisal waiting.  My father was not a believer in the sort of “shenanigans” that I had played that day.

Through the glare and later the tears, I never did get a good look at the face of that man. To this day I don’t know who he was, nor would I have known him if I ever saw him again, but he did set me straight on that one thing, and I never played that “very bad game” again.

Buddy if you’re still around… I’m sorry, and I don’t blame you a bit for the KO.

Last changed: August 27, 2003