After the water balloon fight and birthday cake, my new Charlie McCarthy dummy disappeared along with our Rottweiler, Chompers.
Ventriloquist debut cancelled, Mom entertained everyone with hand shadows and knock-knock jokes. The crickets were deafening.
Later, we found Charlie all over the backyard. No monocle, no top hat—just a limbless torso among uprooted Forget-Me-Nots.
Reassembled with needle and thread, Charlie looked like a lopsided sausage in a patchwork tuxedo—tiny hands sprouting from his neck. Chompers went to live on a farm.
My replacement gift was a transistor radio. Late summer nights, I’d mouth along to whatever was being broadcast.