almost real. The metal detectors posed no problem, except for one – an unkempt gent whose ragged underside was held in place by the rusted steel clasp of a belt, fastened from outside around his waist. He waited behind, disappointment evident to the rest on his expressionless face.
It was only as they reached the vault that they came across four men, identical in iron-pressed get-ups, holsters heavy with truncheons and black plastic radios. The guards regarded the shambling horde with a specific sort of fear; a nostalgic, under-the-bed, inside-the-wardrobe kind
of scared. They asked, “what are you doing here?” and the assembled effigies stared, unspeaking, unprepared for the confrontation. At last, their ranks broke; the closest of them unpicked his stitched-sackcloth mouth, and spoke. “We are looking for crops to watch, and fields to stand in.”
The watchmen didn’t know what to say to that. Soon, tripped alarms brought the coppers rushing in, a din of barked orders, officers decked out in riot gear, brandishing firearms. The scarecrows went quietly, remained calm as they were bundled up in car boots, pushed into trucks, to be taken
back to their farms. As the last of those compost-stuffed mannequins was dragged through the doors of a van, he slipped; felt the grips of the men who carried him tighten – had time to wonder, before he slumped to the floor, what type of bird their uniforms had been designed to frighten.