CII | Who's Right

‘Put your gun away,’
the red-haired man snarls.

‘Civilians are not allowed
‘to carry guns.’

The uniformed man snorts
and jabs the gun
between the man’s eyes.

‘Don’t play play.
‘you’re the civilian here.’

He takes his ID out of his pocket.

‘See! I really is policeman.
‘You’re in the way of my work.’

The red-haired man

gun still trained
on the police man.

‘You’re acting like a terrorist.’

‘You’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing.’

They’re just
insulting each other

Not convincing at all.

I think
neither of them
are policemen.

I should call the police.

But the moment
I put the phone to my ear,
the red-haired man

points his gun
straight at me.

My phone


to the ground.


‘All of you customers,’
he orders,

‘Decide who’s the real policeman.’

The uniformed man
seems to agree
with this absurd plan.

He keeps his gun
in its holster

and walks among the crowd,
his arms folded,

ordering the cashiers
to stop working,

to start printing voting slips.

‘Singapore is a democracy,’
the red-haired man declares.

‘So everyone must vote!
‘Whoever you say is the real one
‘is the real one.’

He points the gun
and fires at the ceiling
so a shutter falls

almost knocking down
an uncle trying to escape.

‘Whoever you say is the fake one
‘will be hanged.’

The donation boxes
for a special needs foundation
by each cashier

is turned into a makeshift voting box.

Every customer
has to vote
before they’re allowed
to leave.

People start to vote.

One of the staff,
the man from the toilet paper section,

hands me a piece of
receipt paper.

‘Is this a joke?’ I ask him.

He shakes his head
and continues handing out

pieces of
receipt paper.

I don’t know what to do.

I turn to the auntie
on my right
to ask her what she thinks.

She’s already
scribbling on her paper.

I offer to hold her basket
while she does this.

She smiles at me,

wrinkles multiplying
on her face
for a moment.

She’s dyed her curly hair
a dark black colour

and it sits on the
nape of her neck
in a bun

but white streaks at the roots
expose her real age.

She finishes writing
and secretly shows me
what’s on her
voting paper

as I hand the basket
back to her.

‘You’re a nice young man,’
she says.

‘You’ll live a long life.’

Then she goes to the cashier,
gives the voting slip,
pays for her stuff

and disappears from the scene.

She had written:
on her receipt.

The two men
who got me into this mess

and whose fate

depends on
this absurd situation

patrol the supermarket,
talking to customers
(to curry favour?),

and pointing their guns

at people
who are
trying to escape.

I approach

a young Indian couple
who’s trying a shush
their baby,

worried that the noise
will ignite the temper

of the ‘policemen’.

I hold my receipt paper
out to the baby

and wriggle it
in front of him.

The little one
stops making noise,

staring hard at
wavering paper.

It reaches out
to grab it.

The mother thanks me
and tells me

they stopped by
the supermarket
on a whim
to pick up some things
on the way home from church

so they didn’t bring
any baby toys out

from the car.

I ask them who
they’re going to vote for

and they tell me
probably the

uniformed man.


The man shrugs.

‘He’s got the uniform
‘and the badge to prove it.

‘If we’re going to mistrust
‘authority figures when they do something that
‘doesn’t make sense,

‘then who’s the one
‘deciding what’s sensible?’

His behaviour earlier wasn’t very policeman-like,
I say.

The woman nods.

‘That’s true. But did you see
‘what was happening?

‘He followed that man
‘from outside the supermarket.
‘I think he’s really a criminal.’

‘Then why did he let
‘the guy go

‘when the red-haired man
‘turned up?’

She points at the uniformed man.

‘He’s still keeping an eye
‘on him.’

It may be a coincidence,

but right now,
the uniformed man
is really trailing behind

the man
he almost shot.

She thanks me
for my help again.

I take back
my voting slip.

‘Don’t make a biased
’emotional vote.’

The father of the child
pats me on the shoulder

and they



to the cashier.

I stare down
at my crinkled,

receipt/voting slip.

Why’s the cat
always not around

when I actually

need its opinion?




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