The Face of the People

Two days after the Lantern Festival, he came to my house as a guest and said he had an idea to do some performance art.

I looked at his black-framed glasses, light blue down jacket, dark blue jeans, and white sneakers, and felt that he looked too ordinary to imagine any artistic elements in his body. I asked him why he suddenly had this idea, wondering if it was a midlife crisis.

He shook his head and denied it, saying that he just couldn't accept things as they were.

I asked him how he planned to do it.

He said the first step was to buy a set of coarse clothes that were not thick enough and not suitable for winter. Then he would buy an iron chain and hang it around his neck, just like Lancel Lannister. After that, he would buy eight model babies, spray them with red paint to represent bloodstains, tie them together with a thick rope, and pass the other end of the rope through his crotch, tying it around his waist. He would drag these eight model babies behind him, symbolizing the atrocities of dead infants. He would also hang a piece of cardboard around his neck with bold red letters that read "2000 RMB." Once everything was ready, he would walk in People's Square, bowing his head, trembling, full of fear, and slowly walk a few rounds. He said this was to showcase the face of the people.

I told him he was crazy and that he would never make it to People's Square. They would arrest him and maybe even send him to a mental hospital, ultimately driving him truly insane, beyond help, using his mental disorder as proof of their announcement.

He said, "I have to do something."

I told him not to.

He said, "You have to help me."

I refused.

"You should take a pair of large pliers used for pulling teeth, soak them in pig blood for a while, and carry them on your back. Then, hold the chain around my neck tightly with your left hand, like walking a dog, while holding a stinky whip in your right hand, whipping me as we walk. You should smile all the way, or even laugh hysterically, just like that person named Dong, as if you have gained great satisfaction, as if I have committed an unforgivable crime. Oh, and you can buy some fake teeth, smear them with blood, string them together and hang them around your neck."

I said I couldn't do it. He was my friend, and I couldn't hurt him.

He said, "This is also the face of the people."

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