100-Word Fiction: ‘The Populist Trick’

In a pub, the winner of a popularity contest, as captured in a reporter’s photograph, balances an empty pint glass on his head and grins a rubbery wet slop of a grin. In the background, unwitting members of the public, alongside some of the man’s friends, are also grinning. Their mirth has been caused by an off-camera remark, now forgotten. The winner has taken a vow of silence. His agents say it is nothing tactical: let his plastic expression speak simply for itself. He has never said anything and never will. And silence will amplify silence, if he’s truly won.