Never. The old man told him to never lie. He said, one lie leads to two, then three, maybe four. Then you gotta mess on your hands. Have to back track. Retell your story over and over again. Hoping that it sounds right, he told him.
The young kid didn’t listen to the gray haired prophet. Thought his words were silly. Not realistic for this world. Thinking that sometimes you had to lie. Just had to. Sometimes a lie will protect you, or, others, he thought. Protect you from what? The truth. The sometimes unspeakable truth.
He told her everything. Almost. All about his childhood, messy teen years, and his time now, here and now. A man with a career, a family, grass cut on Saturday afternoons. A man who kept up appearances. Went to church on Sunday. People would never guess, he thought. His secret was safe.
And why would he keep this secret? To protect his wife and family, he told himself. The biggest lies we tell are to ourselves, he remembered the old man telling him this. He dismissed the advice. Didn’t want to hear it. Heard this voice inside his head. Telling him to tell the truth. But, what would he gain from that. This confession. A lot of guilt would be relieved. He’d feel better. Could go on with his life with no compromises. Again, lying to himself.
Sometimes we don’t have to tell the truth. It’s told by others for us. Without permission. Without any deal struck. A phone is picked up. Dialed. And they start talking. Telling the friend, minister, kids, spouse, all about your lie. You cheated on taxes. Unfaithful to your spouse. This phone call at night, or morning from them. Meant to disrupt lives. Hurtful. Damaging. This is what people do. Especially when they are slighted.
She never intended to do that. Until now. He told her he loved her. Said to the young lady that she made his life complete. Said he couldn’t get enough of her. Lied and said he was leaving his wife and kids for her. That’s what he said. And, like all of em, he wasn’t. Had no intention to. Thought he could break it off at any given time. And, so he did. He did.
Besides telling the young man to never lie, the old man also told him to never scorn a woman. Said there’d be hell to pay. She would make your life miserable. Cut you off from society, make you look like a fool. And, they’ll do this just for the fun of it.
Again, he didn’t listen. Dropped the one on the side like a bad habit. She was a bad habit. He knew it couldn’t go on forever. And that’s when he was confronted with truth. The truth. The stories of working late at the office. Business trips in other cities. All night poker games with the boys. All lies.
This truth was told to his wife. And it was mean and spiteful. It was the end of everything.
Now he sat on the bed of a hotel room with a bottle of whiskey and a white rope. He knew his time was over. And it was lies that killed him.