A writer friend of mine recently told me about a Reader’s Digest writing prompt to write a story that begins with the phrase, “The difference is, I lie for a reason.” I found the idea inspiring, and below is my second story based on that prompt.
“The difference is, I lie for a reason.”
Jane sat there, a contented-looking smile on her face while she listened to her husband boast to his coworkers at a corporate dinner party. They’d had some hard times recently, a few lean years, but things were turning around for the two of them. And with the way things were at Tom’s law firm, the two of them weren’t in any danger of decline.
“Our clients do the most ridiculous things, and then they start mouthing off to the first person who will listen to them. But me – I lie to get them out of the messes they make for themselves. I say, ‘Your Honor, my client would never be so foolish,’ but in reality, they’re probably already digging themselves a deeper hole. I swear, some of them are probably making their next mistake before they ever even leave the courtroom.”
Tom’s coworkers laughed at this, and the closest of them gave him hearty slaps on the back. All but one of them were Partners – her husband’s peers. But they were joined by Robert Mullivan, Senior Partner and one of the members of the firm’s Leadership Committee, and it was his endorsement that catapulted Tom to his position ahead of more tenured employees. And with the way he was laughing along with the others, Jane’s husband still had Robert’s support.
“You crack me up Kid,” Robert said with a guffaw. “I had a hunch you had something significant to offer this firm, and I was right. Congratulations on your success!” Robert raised his glass, and the others joined him before swallowing their drinks in a toast.
After finishing his drink, Robert checked his watch. “And as much as I’d like to spend the rest of the night celebrating with you youngsters, my old bones and this watch are telling me I need to be on my way. If you’ll excuse me?”
“Of course Sir,” Tom said, shaking Robert’s hand in farewell. Robert turned to leave, and the remaining partners turned back to Tom to talk shop. As they closed ranks, Jane leaned in close to her husband.
“Honey,” Jane said, “I’m going to go powder my nose.”
“OK Jane – you’ll be back soon?”
“Of course Love,” Jane said, planting a peck on Tom’s cheek before walking away.
Jane heard her husband’s coworkers teasing him over that kiss as she walked away. She didn’t look back, but kept walking: past the buffet, the bar, the restroom, and out the front door. She kept a brisk pace, and caught up with Robert just as he was getting to his car.
He startled, but quickly recovered. “Jane – you surprised me. What can I do for you?”
“I wanted to thank you for all you’ve done for my husband,” Jane said with a smile on her face.
“Oh – oh, you’re quite welcome,” Robert replied, looking a little anxious.
“Do you have a few minutes to spare, before you have to leave,” Jane asked, lowering her head and looking at Robert through her lashes.
“No, I really have to go,” Robert said
“We won’t be long. I promise.”
“No Jane. Tom needs to make it on his own. If I intervene every time there’s an issue, it will get out and reflect badly on all of us.”
“But there won’t’ be any issues, will there Robert?” Jane asked in slow, measured words as she approached him.
“He’s a fucking idiot! Did you hear him in there: insulting his clients in the middle of a very public setting?! It’s a miracle he’s come this far! I refuse to be a part of this any longer!”
“Now Robert, we’re just so grateful for your support. I only want to thank you on behalf of the both of us,” she said, beginning to stroke him lightly.
“Jane – we can’t…”
“Shh. Don’t worry. Everything will be OK,” Jane said, as she lowered herself to her knees and reached for Robert’s fly.
“I promise you Robert: I’ll make everything OK.”
Fifteen minutes later, Jane returned to her husband – her makeup as immaculate as her smile.