I’m really not evil. I just have no feelings, you can’t expect me to. I’m made of plastic for the purpose of displaying clothing, a utilitarian existence for evoking utilitarian desires. There is neither joy nor misery in the things I see, or learn, or experience. Something about Mr. Dixon’s store animates me, and that’s all there is to it.
I can’t explain, therefore, the motivation behind my behavior, or why I one day chose to torment the store owner.
The man combed cream through his black hair to keep it perfectly flat, and he must have trimmed it every day because it never changed in length. He wore the same suit for every shift, solid gray, red tie with beige florets, black socks, and black cap-toed oxfords.
Through his entire shift the man obsessed with the stocked shelves, immediately replacing even one item removed by a customer. At closing time he reopened and shut the door ten times before locking it and unlocking it another ten times. He then walked the perimeter three times, fixing disordered displays and counting the number of items on each mannequin. If he found anything the third time, he would go around three more.
He didn’t trust Fawn, the display artist, and stayed late every night to inspect her work. Every mannequin had to have six items, including accessories, though shoes and other paired items counted as one. The other night she fitted me with a white, hip-length cable-knit sweater, skinny 721 Levis, a narrow metallic belt, and salmon ankle-strap sandals with three-inch heels. It was perfect, but it was only four. She put a bra underneath the sweater—not something I needed, I’m not that exact, if you now what I mean—but according to Mr. Dixon’s brand of insanity, it counted just fine. It still only got to five.
Out of frustration, Fawn placed a blue beret on my head and moved on.
With a cable-knit sweater.
I may not have feelings, but for obvious reasons I have a strong fashion sense, and this was wrong. It was also where the mannequin logic kicked in. The display artist put a beret on my head; therefore, I must torment the store owner. Any mannequin could see the perfect sense that made.
The first night I swapped every item of folded clothing in the store with some other kind so that all the shelf labels were incorrect and displayed the wrong prices.
Mr. Dixon squeaked, hopped, and cried “yuh-yuh-yuh” for more than ten minutes, then barked at his employees in a mad rush to set things in order. As opening time approached, he warbled non-stop from the back of his throat, then changed to a shrill “gah-gah-gah” when they didn’t make it in time.
At seventeen after eleven they were ready, but Mr. Dixon refused to open until the clock said eleven thirty exactly, then relocked and unlocked the door thirty times, opened and shut it ten times, and finally let the customers in, but only when they had a multiple of ten people ready to enter.
Like I said, I have no feelings, so I watched him with no emotion. The sensation that I perceived could only be described as…success.
The employees griped about the morning experience throughout the day, their dissatisfaction with Mr. Dixon’s reaction standing as centerpiece to their chagrin.
The second night, I mixed and matched the clothing on the floor mannequins, they really didn’t care. The result was obscene, which isn’t to say lewd. Any fashion conscious person would know what I mean. They looked ridiculous, but more importantly to my objective, not one of them had six items. Some had only two, consisting of a one-piece and shoes. Some had thirteen, which was guaranteed to send Mr. Dixon into paroxysms.
I wasn’t disappointed. The resulting morning show was twice the frenzy as the day before with even worse complaints from the employees.They opened at eleven fifty.
The third night was my masterpiece. I started with the display windows that shoppers could see from the street. I packed each full with thirteen mannequins, all wearing thirteen items. Mr. Dixon would bleed out of his eyes before he even entered the store.
I hit every mannequin on the floor again, too, dressing all the masculine ones in feminine clothing and the feminine ones in masculine. The real piece of beauty was the tattoo I put on the one in the lingerie section. And, of course, I messed up the stacks of clothing again.
I took my place in the middle where I could watch it all, and I tell you, it was pandemonium for the ages. Mr. Dixon freaked out so badly, he ordered the store emptied out—clothes, mannequins, shelves, racks, everything.
That’s why I’m lying here in a pile of mannequins in a warehouse on the south side. I hear Mr. Dixon turned his place into a bookstore with only titles that have ISBNs divisible by ten. I suppose I would wish him the best if I had any feeling. You know, I almost think I have an inkling of what it might be like to have emotion when I consider the fact that I’m still wearing that wretched blue beret.