fiction

The Truth? You Can’t Handle the Truth!

LDS templeWhat’s so great about telling the truth? Lying is an art, requiring imagination, guile, creativity. The best thing you can say about the truth is that it’s telling it like it is. And what if “like it is” just isn’t good enough? What if it’s just plain boring? That’s why we lie.

Clayton was brought up by Mormons in Utah, which afforded him a sheltered childhood to say the least. He probably didn’t hear his first lie until he was 9 or 10, and even then he did not know it was a lie. When one of your playmates tells you that his father can put 10 golfballs in his mouth, and you know nothing about exaggertion (or out and out lying), you accept it as gospel. So as far as Clayton was concerned, Mr. Neemeyer really could put 10 golfballs in his mouth. It would be half a lifetime before the physical impossibility of such a feat persuaded Clayton that golf ball in mouthBilly Neemeyer was bullshitting about the golfballs, and just about everything else he ever told Clayton.

If you want to know what it’s like to be so gullible that everyone is always lying to you, ask Clayton. His bullshit meter was no better at the age of 18 then it was when he was 10. Everyone lied to Clayton, because they could and because it was entertaining. His friends in high school used to start off their stories by saying, “you’re not going to believe this,” which should have set off alarms for Clayton, but never did. They would tell him ridiculous stores about going camping and having to wrestle a bear that wanted to eat their dinner, or how they were going to go around the world on their summer break, or how they had the power to read peoples’ minds. Clayton never doubted them for a moment. This could be very embarassing, particularly if he repeated one of their stories to new friends and acquaintances. Even though he was wrestling bearrepeating stories (lies) that others had told him, the stories were so far fetched that the new acquaintance would just assume that Clayton was pulling their leg (lying).

That’s how Clayton began to get a reputation as a liar -- by innocently repeating other peoples’ lies. It got so bad that Clayton’s new friends became angry with him for being what they assumed was a chronic liar. At college, his roomate Bart got so upset about the tall tales, that he locked Clayton in a closet and threatened to keep in there until he stopped lying to everyone.

Clayton can still remember Bart’s muffled words through the closet door. “The truth will set you free.”

“I can do that,” Clayton replied. “Did I tell you about the time Billy Neemeyer had to wrestle a bear to get back his dinner?”

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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