Effigies

When we heard the news, we rioted.

We broke down the double doors of a shopping center. We heard alarms, but didn’t retreat. We sprinted into the dark using the flashlights on our cellphones. We found a display of mannequins and began to kick them over and break them apart. We stomped on them.

Then we had the idea to build an effigy. We stood a male mannequin up and stripped him of his jeans, plaid shirt, and puffer vest. We put a suit and a red tie on him. We looped a belt around his neck and dragged him into the streets. We jeered and screamed at our effigy. We jumped on him and spit in his plaster face.

Someone found a baseball bat and started beating the effigy like a pinata. It was our anger that we wanted to spill out. When we stood the effigy up again, one of his arms slipped out of his suit sleeve. His nose was broken off. But we were not soothed, so we carried him over our shoulders into a nearby park. There were so many of us that the police could not disperse us. Their megaphones barked commands and their sirens whirred while we stood our ground.

We poured gasoline on the effigy and set him on fire. Some of us laughed and jumped up and down because we thought of it as the man we were protesting burning in hell. Some of us cried because we knew he wasn’t. Then came the tear gas, and the crowd began to fall apart. We were arrested. We were beaten with billy sticks. We were sobbing as our eyes burned.

After we woke up and posted bail, we took to the streets mourning our loss. We came upon the park and couldn’t believe what we found. Not only was our effigy unscathed, but it had also been joined by a second mannequin that looked somewhat similar. We felt that the effigies were staring at us, undeterred and pristine. Even more strange, neither looked as though it had been in flames. We doused them both again and lit another fire. We kicked them over and watched them burn. Confused and disheartened, we walked away.

When we came back again, we found that the effigies had grown in number exponentially. We were distraught, but put them in another pile. We watched them burn so bright and so high, the fire could be seen by passing aircraft. More effigies appeared the following day. And the day after that. This continued until the park was filled with them. We were crushed, if not destroyed.

We decided to give up.

It was then that the effigies stood and started working their stiff steel joints. We watched as an army of them moved out of the park together. We were horrified as they began to walk among us. We stood in lines at the grocery store and they waited behind, lurking with diet sodas and ground beef. In lines at the post office and the DMV, they waited. We watched them text, laugh, and check Facebook.

We soon discovered that what some of them really wanted was work. We didn’t know we needed them to build things. Some of us believed we should have worked to make them more employable before we burned them. Some of us didn’t, even though their numbers surpassed our own.

We were surprised when they pulled us out of burning buildings, but not as surprised when they levied large fines from corner offices. We went to school with them. We taught them. We lectured them and pleaded with them. We bought the goods and the services they rendered. And some of us married effigies and were forced to side with them. Many of us didn’t and debated them. We did this because we believed we were still right, despite the fact that we were no longer rioting.

In the end, we found that a number of them wanted to burn themselves because things had turned out much differently than they were expecting. Some of us watched them light themselves on fire in the park where we were arrested. We hadn’t poured the gasoline on them, so we didn’t try to help them.


Justin Meckes is the Founding Editor of Scrutiny. Find out more at justinmeckes.com.

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