Friday, July 21, 2006

A.W.I.A, Part 6: He Tells Me Stories

So far, in our interview, the man who was supposed to be a doctor had caught me in an elegant trap, but he was perhaps too polite, or too canny, to acknowledge this victory.

He did not even acknowledge that I was blushing. Instead, he said, "I am going to tell you three stories I heard today, and then I'll ask you which one sounds most plausible."

I watched him.

"All right?" he asked. "You understand?"

"Perhaps," I told him.

"Good enough," he said. "I'll number the stories, for easy reference."

I nodded.

Then he held up a hand--fingers folded to the palm, thumb out--so suddenly that I flinched. If he's adding hand signals, I thought, I don't know what I'll do. But he was indicating the beginning of the first story.

"One. A woman was sitting quietly in her home. Authorities came and removed her for no reason at all."

I nodded.

With a crisp little flick he extended his index finger from his palm. With his thumb, it made an L. I wondered if that meant something; if he was spelling, as well as counting. "Two. A woman threw a chair through a second-floor window, hitting her neighbor's car. Authorities came and removed her." This, then was the second story.

Another crisp flick and his middle finger was up, his fingers forming a trident, a tilted K, the Hebrew letter shin. "Three: A woman was removed from her home following the receipt by a certain party of a number of threatening letters. She told the people who came to remove her that she had mailed the letters in self-defense, as a response to certain coded, televised messages."

I nodded again. These were the three stories, and now I understood. They were all equally plausible, and of course, that was what made it such a clever question. But I could only say for certain that one of them was true, because it was mine. To the man who was supposed to be a doctor I said,
"The first is the one that I know to be true."



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