Ventriloquism pt. 1: Cecelia

Vocational Ventriloquism: The Story of Who You Thought She Was

Pt. one.

"There is no future in ventriloquism. I can tell you because I know from experience. And from the scars it gave me all over my hands and wrists from too much puppeteering.

I find my ventriloquism most clearly in the night over candle flickers and the smell of whiskey. Suddenly my words unfurl into something like a cocoon around me, and my lies make me strong, spitting me out as a newly decorated creature. On 13th street I become wise with drink, and fashion new dummies from the same fleshy wax.

The first one is called Cecelia. She has dark hair and a manner of speaking that requires all five senses of her listener. She gesticulates fluently to her own diction, kneading the air with her fingers, touching her collarbone gently with the pads of her fingers as she searches for a word. She wears scented lip glosses or sucks on strawberry candies that make the air around her head feel pink and edible. Her voice is falsetto and sometimes almost too soft to hear, like a small music box that does not have adequate surface to vibrate and mature to its full volume.

When it is your turn to speak her eyes meet yours in full concentration. Her full lips pout and she looks foolish for it, but you forgive her immediately when you realized it is only because she is wrapping herself around each of your words, so attentive and focused that she’s lost all awareness of her own composure. She is a graceful and an accomplished academic (you learn later), but when you ask of her pedigree she will only say that she "loves books." Cecelia has a charm that runs so deep it was not even her own.

Because in fact, it was mine, the ventriloquist."


Fiction, excerpt from journal, The Ventriloquism, pt. 1 short story

The film between

It wasn’t sorrow or defeat or hopelessness. 
It wasn’t even exasperation. 
It was distinct, sharp, and bubbling rage.

In a dream, screaming is not so different than underwater, muffled and blunted by the film between the dreamplace and waking—
like screaming in a phone booth made of warped plexi. The sound reverberates in nearly visible waves, climbs up the walls, does a pirouette and rattles back again.

The release starts deep in your belly and fires up through your diaphragm, growls
up and up through your chest, 
up and up through your neck, 
up and up through your face, 
and you feel yourself flush as the blood builds with your sound. The air billows in a slow-motion aftershock still following behind. The heat fills your cheeks, and then all at once the sound spills from your lips with gravel in your throat like leftover gunpowder. It’s such magnificent release, catharsis, bliss, orgasm—
but so much shorter, 
not even a half life.
The body can only overtake the mind in bursts and gulps. By the time you know it’s happened, it’s already gone again.


In a dream, the scream never feels finished. The waking mind has mapped out a proxy—a playbook from life to play over in your sleep, but the sound is not real, and neither is the satisfaction. It can never escape, just ricochet and vibrate—
or shoot straight out, then freeze and drop flat like a pin.

This, of course, is deeply frustrating, deeply unfulfilling, 
arriving all the way to the edge but never leaping. 
The rage is reabsorbed, trapped in the dream shell, 
which is also your body.

This was the constant state of the dream, a spinning top of rage. 
Rage at my captors, 
rage at myself for being captured
(though in the dream I could never recall how), 
rage at mankind that this cruelty was even a possibility of the human spirit, 
rage for not possessing the facility to free myself (or the other girls). 
Just Rage.

In a way, I was grateful for the rage to let me know I was not dead yet. It had no sophistication, no rationalism, but at least it was not resignation. At least I could feel.

The moment I wake the dream is already miles behind me and the narrative has fled my mind. The rage is gone, replaced in an instant with relief. But there is a new feeling that trails as a slinking ellipsis. 

Some feral hunger for that self-made fire.

If not rage, give me any other flavor:

Love or lust, a Picasso, a da Vinci, 
drums that match the frequency of my heartbeat and make me topple like a high-rise in an earthquake. The mountains, the sea, the full moon, the fuck. 
But if those are all out, I’ll take the rage again too. 

Why do I feel so deep in a canyon with no shelter or food, but no will to get home?