Truth and Lies

Truth and Lies

One dark Thursday afternoon, Truth found herself sitting next to Lies on a subway ride heading toward a station called The Right To Exist. After an uncomfortably long time, during which Truth had had to endure a surplus of slime oozing forth from Lies’s every pore and down onto the subway floor into a puddle, which now seemed to be spreading through the entire car, Truth turned to Lies and said:

“I noticed you sneak onto the train a very long time ago — too long ago to remember exactly when — but lately, you seem to be proliferating at an alarming speed. How do you plan to get into The Right To Exist when we get there?”

“Heh Heh,” said Lies, “That’s for me to know and for you to find out. What’s it to you anyway?”

“Well, once we get there, I imagine you’ll just disappear since you and I cannot co-exist.”

“ Who died and left you in charge?” Lies said.

“I didn’t invent that law; as far as I know, it’s a universal principle,” Truth said.

“Really? I haven’t seen any evidence of that; have you? Here we are, sitting side by side. In fact, we’ve literally been walking hand-in-hand since the beginning of time.”

Truth smiled.

“Your exaggerations are totally lost on me, so don’t even try. We have never been hand-in-hand on any level at any time, although you have managed to get into the same room as me on a regular basis. Still, I dare say you won’t manage to get into The Right To Exist.”

“What makes you so sure?” Lies said. “Lately, your smug assumptions have found themselves under the rails of this very train multiple times. I’d have to say I may be winning this game.”

“A game that came with very clear instructions, but somehow, you’ve managed to convince some humans that they can change the precedent. That they can play from your rule-book and come out ahead; but, as you know, they will eventually find themselves behind the 8-ball, wondering how they allowed themselves to be fooled.”

“Are you saying that you always rule the day?” Lies purred.

“Justice may not always be served, but yes, I am always brought to light.”

“From what I’ve seen, the light can shine on you all you like, but humans are easily distracted, especially when they’d rather believe in me,” said Lies. “They’ll tell themselves stories I, myself, couldn’t dream up (!) in order to justify their beliefs and their actions. It’s a magnificent thing to behold.”

“Yes, that may be true, but they know in their hearts that they must eventually face themselves,” Truth said.

“You mean on that so-called Judgment Day?”

“No, I mean when their justifications bump up against hard, cold reality. Let’s take, for example, a human, who, for his own curious reasons, justifies and defends the right of a con-man to stiff the little guy with the argument that the little guy is a moron for allowing himself to be taken. It’s no stretch of the imagination to expect that that same human will eventually get stiffed himself, refuse to see a moron in the mirror, and have to confront his made-up persona as crusader for the con-man. Now, he may further invoke you to separate the con-man, who stiffs him from the con-artist who stiffed all the other “morons,” but deep down, he knows a snake is a snake. And the effort it will take for him to maintain his imaginary wall between the two will wear him down, perhaps even cause a breakdown of sorts. It’s hard enough to keep one set of Lies alive in a mind’s eye, but two separate versions of you? That’s too hard to maintain. It eventually falls apart.”

Before Lies could respond, an announcement came over the speaker system that the train was approaching The Right to Exist.

“Please be prepared to show your credentials to the attendant at the door!” warned the disembodied voice. And then Truth continued to speak.

“Your sway over certain conditions now in preponderance in this time and place may have served to instill in you a belief in yourself as conqueror over me — an ironic and supreme illustration of the dynamic I was just referring to — but we will soon find out who wins the day when we get to the station, won’t we?”

“You are soooooo full of yourself, it’s hard to sit here anymore. You make me sick. Yes, we will see who wins the day!” Lies said, standing up and advancing toward the opening doors. Truth stood and followed.

Stepping out of the train and onto the platform, Truth looked up and headed toward the bejeweled entrance to the imposing palace bathed in a glowing light and emblazoned with a diamond-encrusted sign displaying the words The Right To Exist. Truth stepped around Lies, walked right in, and then stood close by in order to observe Lies’s maneuvers as it attempted entry. He watched as Lies, unable to convince the sentry of the validity of its credentials, resorted to shoving him out of the way. But as Truth had predicted, upon crossing the threshold, Lies dissipated into a steamy metal gray stream of moisture and then vanished into thin air. Truth felt no great joy in her heart, and she experienced no pity for Lies, either, having known how things would unfold. Still, she allowed herself a moment of satisfaction and relief that the universal norm had not been breached. However, just moments later, Truth looked out the window to her right and noticed a wave of metal gray steam heading toward the back door.

Lies will never stop trying, Truth said to herself, sighing. She had been looking forward to an ice-cold vodka martini cocktail, but turning in the opposite direction, she headed toward the back door to stand guard.

Carine is the author of six fiction and nonfiction books, and a longtime contributor to Huffpost, writing on issues of lifestyle, the arts, politics, and more.