The Criminal Politician

By Kristen Goetz

Every day Dave walked to work. Every single day he walked down the same road, and passed the same shops, never once stopping in. Until one day, while trudging along, Dave actually took his eyes off of his feet and looked up. Slightly surprised, and slightly amused, he noticed that a new shop had made its home on this street. The store was called Masquerade and sold Halloween masks and costumes. Noting that he had a few minutes to spare, he stepped into the shop.

            “Hi there!” called the man behind the counter. “First customer of the day, welcome to my store. Anything I can help you with?” He smiled warmly.

            “No, thanks. Just wanted to take a look around.” Dave thought that the man looked much too normal to be the owner of such a crazy shop. He had never seen so many masks in his life. The store looked so small from the outside, but now it seemed to go on forever, the masks were never-ending.

            “Sure thing, just wanted to let you know that the masks are all up front, and the costumes are through another door at the back. Holler if you need anything!” The man winked and walked away.

            Dave wandered through the store, killing time before he had to be in to work. He tried on a few masks and looked in the mirror, thinking maybe he should buy one and freak out his girlfriend Carly. He thought better of it, knowing that she would never forgive him. He left the store and headed to work.

            After a tiring day at the office, he went home to his apartment and made himself dinner. He sat in front of the TV as he ate, watching the 6:00 news.

            “…witnesses say that this man was wearing a George Bush mask, and black clothing,” the anchorwoman reported. “If anyone has any information on this man or the robbery, please call the police.”

            Dave had a little chuckle about the robber’s choice of mask, and changed the channel. Even criminals were out for laugh, apparently.

The next night, Carly came to his apartment and cooked him dinner. While she prepared the food, Dave sat and watched TV.

“...yet another story about the criminal now known as The Politician. He has been caught on videotape, holding up three different convenience stores, and it has been reported that an elderly lady was mugged by him early this morning. Police are baffled as to how this man has been able to evade them”

“Horrible, isn’t it?” asked Carly. “This guy keeps robbing people, and he probably thinks he’s so funny with that stupid mask. It’s sick”

            Dave agreed. “Yeah, it is pretty sick. But don’t worry, they’ll catch him. It’s not our problem. Come on, let’s eat!”

            Much later that night, Dave got a wake-up call from Carly.

            “Dave! He broke into my house!”

            “Wha…?” Dave shook his head to clear it. “What are you talking about, who broke in?”

            “That man with the George Bush mask! I stopped at the neighbour’s house for a drink after I left your apartment, and as I was heading home, I saw him run past me on the street. When I got to my house, it was completely ransacked! The police are here already, I don’t know what else to do…” Carly was hysterical.

“Ok, I’m on my way.”

At Carly’s house, Dave looked around at the damage, trying to see what was stolen. According to Carly, nothing was missing. The police had already left, asking her to call the station if she noticed that anything had been stolen. As Dave looked around, he got the strangest feeling of déjà vu. Before he even walked into a room, he already knew exactly what kind of mess he would find. It didn’t make any sense.

He started getting nervous, and fidgety. For reasons he didn’t understand, he left Carly’s house immediately and ran back to his apartment. Still confused as to what he was doing, he wrenched open his bedroom closet and rummaged through it. He found a black hatbox shoved in the back, and when he opened it he jumped up.

“No, NO!” he screamed. “There is no way!” But he knew it was true. He remembered everything. The scenes went flashing through his mind. The bank, the three convenience stores, the lady crossing the street….Carly’s house.He remembered robbing it all. He looked down into the box again in disbelief.

The rubber face of a George Bush mask looked up at him.

The next day Dave grabbed the mask and stormed down to Masquerade. He barged in and threw the mask at the owner.

“Well hello, Dave! All done with the mask, are we? Well, I suppose your job is done. You did quite well for a beginner.” The shopkeeper picked up the mask and put it back in its place.

“How did this happen? How did you and this…this mask…make me do all of those things? Why did I not know I was doing them?” Dave was furious.

The shopkeeper smiled. “Dear boy, your mind is too simple to ever comprehend what has happened… or what you have done. Masks give you the ability to be someone else while you wear them. Haven’t you ever dressed up for Halloween? When in costume, didn’t you feel like someone else? My masks are the same…but they make you who I want you to be. Whoever dons these wonderful disguises does whatever I desire, and has no idea that they’re doing it. I really must thank you, Dave, for being such an easy target. You did quite a fine job, I’m very proud. But I think it’s time that you be on your way.” And with that, the shop owner pushed Dave out of the store, and onto the sidewalk.

Furious, Dave picked himself up off the ground and turned around, ready to barge back into the shop. But he couldn’t.

All he saw was a bare brick wall. The mask shop had completely disappeared.