Night of the Living Dummy

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Authors: R. L. Stine
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herself forward to see the girls from the armchair. She motioned them to the center of the room. “And they both seem to have some talent for it.”
    “Have you girls ever heard of Bergen and McCarthy?” Mrs. Miller asked, smiling.
    “Who?” Lindy and Kris asked in unison.
    “Before your time,” Mr. Miller said, chuckling. “They were a ventriloquist act.”
    “Can you do something for us?” Mrs. Miller asked, picking up her coffee mug and setting it in her lap.
    Mr. Powell pulled a dining room chair into the center of the room. “Here. Lindy, why don’t you go first?” He turned to the Millers. “They’re very good. You’ll see,” he said.
    Lindy sat down and arranged Slappy on her lap. The Millers applauded. Mrs. Miller nearly spilled her coffee, but she caught the mug just in time.
    “Don’t applaud—just throw money!” Lindy made Slappy say. Everyone laughed as if they’d never heard that before.
    Kris watched from the stairway as Lindy did a short routine. Lindy was really good, she had to admit. Very smooth. The Millers were laughing so hard, their faces were bright red. An identical shade of red. Mrs. Miller kept squeezing her husband’s knee when she laughed.
    Lindy finished to big applause. The Millers gushed about how wonderful she was. Lindy told them about the TV show she might be on, and they promised they wouldn’t miss it. “We’ll tape it,” Mr. Miller said.
    Kris took her place on the chair and sat Mr. Wood up in her lap. “This is Mr. Wood,” she told the Millers. “We’re going to be the hosts of the spring concert at school tomorrow night. So I’ll give you a preview of what we’re going to say.”
    “That’s a nice-looking dummy,” Mrs. Miller said quietly.
    “You’re a nice-looking dummy, too!” Mr. Wood declared in a harsh, raspy growl of a voice.
    Kris’ mother gasped. The Millers’ smiles faded.
    Mr. Wood leaned forward on Kris’ lap and stared at Mr. Miller. “Is that a mustache, or are you eating a rat?” he asked nastily.
    Mr. Miller glanced uncomfortably at his wife, then forced a laugh. They both laughed.
    “Don’t laugh so hard. You might drop your false teeth!” Mr. Wood shouted. “And how do you get your teeth that disgusting shade of yellow? Does your bad breath do that?”
    “Kris!” Mrs. Powell shouted. “That’s enough!”
    The Millers’ faces were bright red now, their expressions bewildered.
    “That’s not funny. Apologize to the Millers,” Mr. Powell insisted, crossing the room and standing over Kris.
    “I—I didn’t say any of it!” Kris stammered. “Really, I—”
    “Kris—apologize!” her father demanded angrily.
    Mr. Wood turned to the Millers. “I’m sorry,” he rasped. “I’m sorry you’re so ugly! I’m sorry you’re so old and stupid, too!”
    The Millers stared at each other unhappily. “I don’t get her humor,” Mrs. Miller said.
    “It’s just crude insults,” Mr. Miller replied quietly.
    “Kris—what is wrong with you?” Mrs. Powell demanded. She had crossed the room to stand beside her husband. “Apologize to the Millers right now! I don’t believe you!”
    “I—I—” Gripping Mr. Wood tightly around the waist, Kris rose to her feet. “I—I—” She tried to utter an apology, but no words would come out.
    “Sorry!” she finally managed to scream. Then, with an embarrassed cry, she turned and fled up the stairs, tears streaming down her face.

 
    17

    “You have to believe me!” Kris cried in a trembling voice. “I really didn’t say any of those things. Mr. Wood was talking by himself!”
    Lindy rolled her eyes. “Tell me another one,” she muttered sarcastically.
    Lindy had followed Kris upstairs. Down in the living room, her parents were still apologizing to the Millers. Now, Kris sat on the edge of her bed, wiping tears off her cheeks. Lindy stood with her arms crossed in front of the dressing table.
    “I don’t make insulting jokes like that,” Kris said, glancing at Mr.

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