Pussy Riot: Laugh it off, I dare you

Good evening, I was listening, earlier, to “Laugh it off” by Pussy Riot.

We in the West can learn a lot from these high-energy electro-punk performance feminist shit stirrers – “You cannot play nice with Putin. He is insane. He might open fire on his own people.”

And I got to thinking about how popular music exposes political evils. How populations are reduced to a calamity of helplessness when oppressed by powerful advocates of ruthless depravity driven by myopic self-interest and greed. I have tried to process the swamp of madness the whole world flounders in, and have failed, miserably. However, one thing is certain, humans are at the heart of it. One way or another we are all involved in wrecking everything – our planet, our sustainability, our happiness – us, a uniquely intelligent species, a singular race.

Contemplating this orgy of reckless destruction brought to mind a party I was called upon to attend in Panama.

I was on the lookout for a small man with a thin moustache, a banker with dubious connections. My employer wanted him terminated. The party was at a place like no other I had ever seen. A classical portico mansion nestling in the skirts of a verdant forest on the foothills of the mountains eleven miles outside the city.

The doorman had shoulders like granite slabs and tree-trunk arms scrawled with crude Cyrillic messages inked, no doubt, using a tooth he had wrestled from the jaws of a killer shark. He had an uncompromising air about him.

His fat lips, the size of tractor tyres, parted in a scowl, “Roderick Jarlaith McRiven, what kind of name dat?”

He glared at me for a few long, long, seconds, “Doesn’t matter, nobody care”. He said, finally.

I joined the steady stream of revellers and stepped blithely into a cavernous marble hall – black and white chequered floor, imperial staircase with a deep red carpet and glittering chandeliers. Twenty massive gilt-framed pictures climbed the high curved walls, each a portrait of the same small man in identical poses – dark suit, earnest face, smirking mouth and cold hooded eyes – painted in the Renaissance style. I immediately recognised the artist’s effort to conceal the true extent of the evil behind that steely gaze.

In the centre of the atrium hung a cadaverous ghoul astride a gleaming Harley Davidson suspended from the dome by thick rusty chains. Every now and then its bony fingers reached beneath its robe and threw down bricks of white powder into the outstretched arms of the baying crowd.

I have been to many orgies in my time but . . .

I slipped through an intricately carved doorway into a huge ballroom. The crowd heaved to throbbing Siberian beats. Bodies steamed and sweat streaked down their enraptured faces. Instinctively I patted my breast and felt the reassuring hardness of my Glock 19. Catching my reflection in a mirror I flexed my neck and tried to look mean, as if I was meant to be there, in with the “In-Crowd,” so to speak. Of course, I was content to merely observe. That’s my job, after all, to be alive to situations, to bide my time and then, when every detail is perfectly aligned, strike with deadly force. But suddenly I was immersed in the firm tits of a young girl.

She swivelled her flawless neck close to my face and muttered in a perfumed voice, “My mother has TV for brain.” Hell! I wasn’t in the mood for Freud or Nietzsche – this could be heaven or this could be hell – to make it worse, she smelled of bad apples so I smacked her hard in the eye. As she fell away I managed to steal a fistful of dollars some skinny runts had fingered into her panties. That punch should’ve really hurt, but when she hit the floor she just reeled a little, peeled off one of her faces, grabbed a bottle of champagne from a passing waiter and skulked away seeking her next victim.

I didn’t need the money, but I had a feeling I might need some ready cash to ease my exit from that god-forsaken place.

I moved quickly from room to room. The mansion had a lot of dead ends. A lot of characters lurking behind stone pillars; Burberry macs too long, collars turned up, fat vodka-flushed faces sporting three-day bristles. Blue smudges.

Comic characters in a deadly game.

Dashing upstairs I came nose to muzzle with the smoking barrel of a heavy machine gun installed on the landing, manned, it seemed, by a dwarf stuffed into a sequinned one-piece. While scanning the crowd for likely targets he simultaneously performed a complex “tableau vivant” to charm the sheepish photographers snapping and puffing, pouting and coughing. How bizarre – a surprise, a shock even – but the dwarf must have been on good money, I thought, nevertheless, I was disappointed he didn’t show more teeth although, now I come to think of it, his hair was divine. Then I looked more carefully at his moustache. It had grown riotously wild since his mug shot was taken and the monocle served to disguise him further, but there was no mistake, my mark was the gunner. The single shot I killed him with went unnoticed.

Because a cacophony of rifle fire drowned out nearly every other sound.

The balcony was wide and circled the staircase. All available windows were open and in front of each stood a gaggle of powder-wigged women wearing gowns like the embroidered sails of a Spanish galleon. They were sighing and smoking and pointing at the host of miserable souls climbing over each other, up the walls outside, in a desperate attempt to join the party. The peasants were sitting ducks. One by one, each of the women raised a rifle and took a potshot. Some bullets missed their mark and slapped into the trampled lawn but most hit as intended and severed the limbs of children, exploded the heads of mothers, fathers, sons and uncles. Some blood sprayed the windows, but not too much, as I recall. The stains would have been difficult to erase. Suddenly a siren wailed, one of the ladies had been lucky enough to make a kill. A gentleman spectator, sporting a tall top hat to emphasise his value (in the European style), ran to the fore and groped the gallant woman’s arse, to the merriment of all.

It was time for me to disappear so I began inching my way around the walls and bumped shoulders with a dishevelled young man, grossly misshapen by a beer bloated belly, who was scribbling manically in a notebook. He sniffed when he noticed my distaste at the scene laid out before us, bent close to my ear and explained that the honourable gentlemen were merely satisfying their innate passions. The most important thing, he told me, was that they were seen to be supportive of the man immortalised in the portraits. That way, their women would be at liberty to kill more and kill faster and their consciences would, eventually, be eradicated. No broken nights of sleep by order of the Most Esteemed.

“Quite normal,” he whispered so as not to wake the rest of the world.

Outside, gravel crunched beneath my leather soles as I made my escape. The air I left behind was thick with the sound of lascivious egos groaning and panting, and small voices whining.

By RODERICK JARLAITH McRIVEN March 2022


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© Rod McRiven 2021

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