Chapter 87 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

Peter decided it was time to empty the trash. The can was overflowing, and the associated stench was becoming overpowering. So he pulled the corners of the bag together, extracted it (with some difficulty) from the trash can, and wrapped a twist tie around the top. Then he hauled it out of the apartment and down the hall to the trashroom.

Each floor had its own trashroom, located just outside the elevators, where the residents of the floor deposited their trash. Each trashroom had a trash chute, at the bottom of which was a huge dumpster. Trash that was too big or too volatile to be dropped down the chute was simply deposited on the floor of the trashroom.

Peter opened the door to the tenth floor trashroom and was astonished by what he saw.

A mannequin!

With a quick glance down the halls to make sure that no one would see him, Peter grabbed the mannequin and hauled it back to the apartment. He had no idea what he would do with it, but it was too good to let get thrown away in the trash.

Paul looked up at him, greatly surprised, as he dragged the mannequin in.

"Where'd you get that?" he asked.

Peter leaned the mannequin against the wall, shut the door, and quickly tried to catch his breath. "It was in the trashroom," he said, "Someone was throwing it out."

Paul stood up and looked at it, appraisingly. "Hmm, not bad," he concluded. "Her left arm is kind of messed up, and there's this hole in her leg, but otherwise, she's in pretty good shape. What do you want to do with her?"

"I don't know," said Peter. "I just grabbed it. It was too good to ignore. I figured we'd think of something to do with it."

Bert had by this time heard the commotion and had wandered out to see what was up. "Wow," he said, "Where'd you get it?"

"In the trashroom," said Peter, growing tired of repeating himself. "It was being thrown out."

"The question before us now," said Paul, "is what to do with it. Any ideas?"

Bert said "We could dress it up like Dave, and then we'd have a fourth for Icehouse!"

It wasn't very funny, and the others didn't really laugh. But Bert wasn't deterred. "Or," he went on, "we could make it look like Doug, and leave it in the elevator to bug people."

"That might not be bad," said Paul. "Or maybe we could do something similar, like maybe bringing it onto the subway and setting it up in a chair to look like a normal person, to see how long it takes for someone to realize it's a dummy."

Peter was studying the thing. "I wonder if..." he mumbled. Then, with a sweeping motion, he yanked the mannequin's arm off. "Yes! We can take it apart!"

Paul wasn't impressed. "So, what good is that?"

"Well, I don't know. It seems like it might be useful, that's all."

After standing around looking at it for a while, they sat down. They discussed various ideas, but couldn't come up with anything that really interested them. They thought about dropping it off of the roof, but decided against this since it would destroy the mannequin. They thought about putting it outside of someone's window, peering in, but decided it wouldn't be scary enough. They even thought about taking it to the graveyard and burying it up to its waist, rigging it to look like a corpse rising from the dead. But they figured it might sit out there for days, unnoticed, and that it might get damaged by the elements.

Ultimately, they just dressed it in normal clothes and stood it up in Dave's room, hoping it would scare him out of his wits when he came home.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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