Saturday, January 02, 2016

Mannequin Musings: Man of Steel

Here's a writing exercise where the assignment was to present the point of view of an inanimate object such as a doll, a statue, or a mannequin.


Joe Stalin, mass
murderer extraordinaire
Here I stand in the middle of the square, the Man of Steel cast in bronze. Cars drive by, and pedestrians walk near me without a flicker of the fear I once inspired. Once I ruled this godforsaken country—that’s only a figure of speech, of course. Even though I attended a seminary as a youth, I’ve always been a godless communist. Lenin was not bad as mass murderers go, but I could make my countrymen’s blood flow like a river bursting through a dam. The siege of Leningrad, the battle of Stalingrad—my men never retreated, and the cowards who ran from the Germans fell to our own machine guns. No one ever questioned me and survived. Once, hundreds of millions revered me, feared me, starved to death in the fields for me. And still they sang my praises. Didn’t I save them from Hitler’s invasion? I knew he was coming, that the fool would betray our treaty.

Of course I died, so what? I knew that after death there was no heaven or hell, no eternal punishment by a vengeful god. All I expected was nothingness. Generations of comrades would praise my name, and I would be oblivious. Fine.

So I never expected this: an afterlife stuck inside a statue of myself, staring out at the busy boulevard, not even in Red Square. Nearby, I can see a capitalist restaurant called McDonald’s, and I demand to know why. Sometimes a tourist takes a photograph of me, but where is the awe and reverence? The terror? Several times a day, pigeons roost on my hat or shoulders and take a shit. Last month, a hooligan spray-painted me. A policeman chased him away, but I still have the paint. No doubt, the boy hasn’t even been sent to a gulag. It’s been months since anyone has given me a proper cleaning, and as soon as I get out of this confining cast, a lot of people are going to Siberia.