The Duffel Bag

“What do you think of that, eh?” I leaned back and rippled my fingers impatiently over the arm of my chair.

“I think that I don’t believe a word of it.” My companion poked at the fire on which his gaze was fixed. I would have scorched his soul with the pain in my eyes if he’d have just turned his head.

“It’s true!” I wailed, “You have to believe me!”

He turned fiercely to me and spat, “Well now, what do we know about the truth?”

I stammered my confusion.

“That’s a poor start indeed, but I’ll forgive it.” He narrowed his eyes and slowly, malignantly, opened them before he bestowed upon me the old saying he’d just invented: “The fire of interrogation will burn up the lies; only truth can remain.”

The desperation that had been propping me up sharply from the inside retreated in the face of weary despair. I hadn’t a chance.

“What do you feed it?” he demanded.

“What? I don’t feed it; it just—”

His face bulged in triumphant outrage. “You monster! Perhaps it’s a bit out of line, but to starve it? If you’re going to lie you could at least do it with some decency!”

I tried to defend myself, but it was like trying to save yourself with a shield when your guts are forming a lost-and-found pile on the ground. He turned his back on me and alerted his extensive network of paranoids what kind of a person I was. Read more