Richard Gere Effigy
written after reading Richard Gere scandal where he got in trouble and almost arrested and/or beheaded for publicly kissing a woman in public.
I find that shit facinating.
-Dennis Hopper, True Romance
“How the fuck am I supposed to burn this? It looks nothing like him!” Prakash is displeased with me. We are burning effigies of the American actor Richard Gere on account of he kissed a woman several times in public at an recent Aids awareness event. Prakash says such displays of public affection are forbidden. “They are gross and disgusting.” Prakash rages. “And besides that it’s taboo.” Prakash is displeased with me because he believes that the effigy that I have just built for the purpose of burning does not closely enough resemble the likeness of the real life Richard Gere. I have tried to explain to Prakash that I was attempting to capture his image as he appeared in the film Doctor T and the Women, but Prakash says this is bullshit. He insists nobody has seen Doctor T and the Women and will not understand what we are burning if we set fire to this thing that I have made here, if we set fire to it right now as it has been made. “Make it look like he did in Pretty Woman.” Prakash scolds me. “And step on it!” Prakash barks some other orders to his brother Bharatiya and then goes back to beating the burning effigy of Richard Gere (the one that he’d been beating previously before noticing that my own effigy of Richard Gere which I’d worked hard on for the purpose of burning did not meet his approval, causing him to pause in his own beating in order to instruct me on the need for me to make the appropriate corrections to my own Richard Gere effigy, before he’d allow it to be set fire too and beaten in protest and stuff like that) with a stick. “Die Public Lip Kisser!” I hear Prakash scream, his stick striking the life sized figure made from farm straw and borrowed pillow cases that is meant to represent the actual body of the American thespian heathen. Sparks shoot far into the sky as I look around to find that I am almost the only one involved in this angry mob who has not yet lit my own Richard Gere effigy on fire and proceeded to beat the flaming crap out of it with a stick. Quickly I take the magic marker that I have recently inherited from my father and attempt to smug up my Richard Gere’s facial expression by shading a little extra smirkyness around his lips. Also I fix it’s hairstyle. And as an additional touch, one which it turns out that I am extremely proud of and came to me in an inspired rush, I add what is supposed to be lipstick marks on the side of his face. Then I get Prakash. “I am finished.” I tell him. “Could you please bring the torch and set it on fire now?” Prakash is sweating and breathing heavily. He inspects my effigy carefully with a zealous glaze that has covered his eyes. “That’s better.” Prakash tells me. “Yes. I like what you’ve done to the nose as well. It’s nice and big.” “Thank you Prakash.” I tell him, attempting to hide the new pride that I can now feel within myself. “Yes, you have captured the character of Edward Lewis quite well.” Prakash says this, but then he pauses for a moment. “Perhaps too well. We don’t want to confuse anyone into thinking we’re burning the character Edward Lewis that he played in the movie Pretty Woman in effigy. It is not the character of Edward Lewis who has disgraced us. It is the actor who potrayed Edward Lewis that we have the intolerable beef with. Write something like “This effigy is Richard Gere, not Edward Lewis” across his forehead or something. In this way we will be clear. I do as Prakash instructs and as I am doing this he notices the markered lipstick marks that I had previously added to the side of its face. “What is that?” Prakash asks. “Those are meant to be lipstick marks, placed their in pretend earlier days by the infidel’s on screen movie partner the lovely Julia Roberts.” Prakash thinks about this for a couple of seconds. “You say lovely? Do you really mean lovely? Do you not instead think that this Julia Roberts has a face that looks like a Bambi which has been crossed with a horse?” “Yes Prakash, you are right. I meant to say horse face.” “Doe eyed horse face.” “Yes. Doe eyed horse face.” Together we both laugh. Then Prakash stiffens as if he’s just thought of something, because he has. “These lipstick marks that you have placed on the cheek of your Richard Gere effigy, they were not make believe placed their by the lips of Julia Roberts while your effigy and this pretend Julia Roberts were in public, where they?” Holy shit! Why the hell didn’t I think about that? “No Prakash.” I assure him. “These lip marks were make believe placed on this particular Richard Gere effigy by Julia Roberts when the two of them were in a basement or something like that, behind locked doors, where God intended people to kiss one another in the first place.” “Good.” Prakash is visibly relieved. “I don’t know what we’d have done if the effigy that we are burning of Richard Gere for kissing a woman in public was itself kissed in public by a woman. Shit. We’d have to also start burning effigies of the effigy, and that could get weird.” “Do you have your stick?” I pick a large stick from the ground and tell Prakash that I do. “Let’s do this then.” And with that he lights my Richard Gere effigy on fire. “Go to hell grope fucker!” Prakash screams, striking the first blow with his own stick against the side of the now flaming effigy’s head. “Yes. What Prakash said!” I scream, striking the effigy in what would be its scrotal area if it had nuts. As I continue to beat the Richard Gere effigy I can see Prakash watching from the corner of my eye. He seems pleased, until he notices the effigy that Janata is attempting to set fire too behind me. “Wait!” Prakash screams as he storms towards Janata. They are behind me now, so I can not see them. I am beginning to get caught up in my own Richard Gere effigy beating. I can hear Prakash though, scolding Janata in that way that Prakash does. “What the fuck do you have against Matthew McConahay?!” Prakash asks Janata. “Nothing Prakash.” Janata assures him. “Then why the hell does your effigy look like Matthew McConahay?! We are not burning Matthew McConahay today! We’re burning Richard Gere! Now get too it!” Janata gets too it, while the rest of us continue to beat these goddamned effigies, well into the bowels of another strange and holy night.
(a one paragraph fucked up formatted version of something originally published in one of the Fast Forward Press flash fiction anthologies.)