AUBURN — It started simply enough: A TV on the side of North Auburn Road left out for a spring cleaning pickup that never happened.
It’s turned into an evolving still life: A legless mannequin watching that TV, tucked up to a table, Monster energy drink in hand, plugged-in lamp at his side.
"People just tell me they think it's hysterical, they have to take a triple-look," said Dan Bilodeau, who lives nearby.
He can take credit for the TV and the lamp, which stays on through the night. Bilodeau owns the mannequin but he’s not the one who set it out there, nor has he been behind its revolving wardrobe.
“One day there was a hard-hat on it, the next there was a baseball cap. Then there was no cap,” said Bilodeau. "Now, I think there's a different cap."
The impromptu display is beside a faded yellow garage on land owned by Danny Gibbs. He’s got signs out advertising the land as a house lot for sale.
Bilodeau said he uses the garage and nearby barn for storage. The TV sat outside, solo, for four to five weeks before one day he found it propped up on a table.
“The man is something my dad had, it’s one of these old resuscitation dummies,” Bilodeau said. Until last month it lived in the family’s New Hampshire lakehouse. He decided to store it in Gibbs’ garage after renting the house to a young family. “I thought maybe it would frighten the kids.”
Someone, he isn’t sure who, pulled the mannequin out of the garage and plunked it in front of the TV. Then a chair appeared along with a drink, a black barbecue grill, a newspaper and a doorknob for a necklace. Bilodeau made the dummy arms and brought over a small potted tree: "It was a plant that was no longer wanted inside my mom's house. I thought, 'We'll bring him some shade.'"
He suspects neighbors have been having fun pitching in.
“Someone mentioned they were going to find a mannequin friend for him,” said Bilodeau. “Eventually we’re going to have to take a trip to the dump, I’m sure.”