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Monday, January 23, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Chiara Barzini

Dead Prime Minister

The news arrives: “The Prime Minister is dead.” We scramble to mourn him. As a public figure, his corpse is on display for all to say goodbye. The casket is on a stage in the chapel. Benches placed asymmetrically in front of the altar accommodate a disordered crowd. The people are puzzled by the empty casket.

Instead of resting in peace, the Prime Minister sits on the steps beneath the altar slumped over like a limp puppet. Journalists whisper about how he got caught with a transsexual prostitute, how his sweet wife had no idea he had such preferences.

He is brownish and flaccid. A trace of his stoutness remains in between the folds of his skin. Though he is dead he can still speak and move in small measures. His arm lurches forward as he raises his index finger begging to be heard.

“I am here!”

Nobody else in the room takes notice that, though he is dead, he is also partly alive.

“Excuse me,” I say to the Prime Minister, “please understand we don’t quite know how to look at you. You’re a corpse but you’re moving.”

The Prime Minister is impressed, “That’s correct! Thanks for noticing”

I rejoice over my accurate assertion, and shake him.

“Hey! I’m dead," he says. "If you shake me I’ll be deader and will have no more words to speak.”
His voice is barely audible and he has stopped all movement except for a slight nodding of the head. His skull bares a long scar.

I hold his hand. “What happened with the transsexual prostitute?”

“I like chicks with dicks,” he admits.

The journalists in the chapel note his statement. “Finally, a real piece of news!”

“And what about your wife? There are rumors of spicy trysts with an underage girl!” someone else blurts out.

“None of that matters anymore. When you’re dead you don’t even know you’re married.”

His mother, slightly ashamed, steps forward and leads him back to his casket. The crowd sitting on the benches is ready for the ceremony to begin. The Prime Minister lies down, but his arm keeps creeping back up out of the coffin.

“Don’t worry,” says the mother. “These are the last little bursts. It’ll take years before he can move again.”

Chiara Barzini is a screen and fiction writer. Films written by her have been distributed in Italy, Spain, Japan, and Latin America. The most recent one, “Into Paradiso” premiered at the 67th edition of the Venice Film Festival. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Noon, Bomb Magazine, Sleepingfish, Or, The Encyclopedia Project, The New Review of Literature, The NY Tyrant as well as The Village Voice, Rolling Stone Italy, Flair, Italian Vanity Fair, and Marie Claire. For samples of her work and more information please visit www.chiarabarzini.com.

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