Pressing play on the cassette player, he sat down.
“Good afternoon, Sparky,” said Mick. “It’s me, Mick the Magnificent.”
A two second delay occurred. He had made his introductions too soon.
“G’day, Mr Magnificent,”said the cassette player.
He recorded a one sided conversation with Lenny, with measured pauses for pre arranged responses. Children always mingled with the audience, thus he made up routines suitable for them.
“Why did the koala fall out of the tree?” said Sparky.
Mick moved the dummy’s lips in accordance with the recording. He shrugged.
“Because it was dead. Why did the second one fall out of the tree?”
“I don’t know.”
“It was nailed to the first one. Why did the third koala fall out of the tree?”
“Mick shrugged again.
“He thought it was a game.”
The dialogue generated the response Mick wanted; a few laughs.
“Do you know what I can do, Mr Magnificent?”
“No; what can you do?”
“I can read minds.”
“Yes! Would you mind putting on my blindfold?”
Mick took the blindfold from his shirt pocket and slipped it over the dummy’s eyes. He fumbled through his suitcase for the apple he had stashed inside, realising he was running out of time.
“Whats…?” he managed to blurt out once he had hold of the piece of fruit.
“An apple,” Sparky said triumphantly.
“Ok, what’s this?”
Mick said already looking inside the case for his plastic rose. The case overturned slipping from the edge of the table. He tried unsuccessfully to prevent it from falling. It spilled his collection of objects on the floor before he could retrieve the rose.
“A flower!” Sparky said.
A mixed response ensued, groaning with staggered applause. Flustered now, Mick couldn’t remember the next object. He held up a model racing car.
“It’s a teddy bear!” said Sparky.
He held the car aloft, knowing it came next.
“It’s a carrrr….”
Mick ran to the cassette player; of all times for the tape to jam. He pressed stop and opened the lid. Metres of tape streamed from the opening. His audience “booed,” dispersing with a few insulting comments. Within seconds, the centre court hummed with the conversations of shoppers as if he never existed. With hands folded over his head, Mick sat on the table.
“Do you want me to help you pack up?” said Lenny.
Mick removed his hands. “No, that’s alright. I’ll do it.”
He packed everything back in the suitcase and snapped the lid shut, as Lenny returned.
“I thought I’d shout you lunch,” Lenny said.
He handed Mick half a hotdog. Mick chewed mechanically, too broken to savour the meal.
“Can I give you a lift home?” said Lenny.
“At least I got the money up front from the manager.”
Mick hefted the case onto his back.
“I appreciate that, Lenny, but it’s still not going to help. I put it all on the rent, and I’m still two weeks behind.”
They walked out of the shopping centre and into the carpark. Mick found a set of dumpster bins, and shouldered his suitcase into the nearest empty one.
Lenny looked at him quizzically.
“I’m not going to need it anymore.”