When Truth Lies

by Terry Garahan

Excerpt - Prologue





It was late in the morning when the Satan bug left his body. It came out through his stomach near his navel making a popping sound. It left no marks, its passage noted only by a flicker of tiny feet leaping to the dirty sheet and Kevin's gaze upon it. Several peaceful weeks had passed since anything like this had happened. He slowly sat up in bed, smoothing the bedclothes, and then scratching a sore on the top of his head. He found that contact with the sore gained entry to the thought process. He wandered through his brain, seeking the reason for the Satan bug. Finding the cause, he dragged it forward to examine it and justify its power. It was a formidable reason, the kind that had made things happen in the past. Kevin glimpsed an angel out of the corner of his eye and crawled out of bed. His appointment was at 2 o'clock and he needed to clean himself before he left his room.

This room was his room, the first that had been his in a very long time. It had things that belonged to him: a radio, books, a pair of boots, clothing, now enclosed with him in this space. It was small, about eight feet wide and twelve feet long, almost twice as big as jail cells he had been in. Its length was defined by a door on one end and a window on the other, its width bounded by bare walls. The door was cheap, hollow, modern, scarred by the placement of locks, chains and bolts that must have been of little use, since they were long gone. It was as if gravity had dragged them from the rippled veneer. The brass colored doorknob was stained black by dirty palms. The window was wooden and old, like the house it opened into. Paint peeled from it exposing multiple colors giving a history of interior decoration. Its bottom pane was cracked, letting frost onto the interior surface in a fan that glimmered in the slanting sun of a mid-winter's day. The room's dirty walls suggested handprints and smears of long forgotten meals.

In the heart of the room between the door and window was a sagging bed with thin blankets bought on sale long ago. A battered dresser with ill-fitting drawers completed the décor. Kevin stood upright looking at the sun's reflection on the window. He continued to scratch at the sores on the top of his head. The sores were a longstanding problem, related to his being clean, or more often unclean. Whenever water ran, whether faucet, shower or river, the voices got worse. Although, most of the time now they did not accuse him, they often murmured threats. Fear of what had come from the spigot kept him from getting under a shower. Sitting in a bath was less intrusive, although sometimes the warm water held him in its grip until the life ran out of it and the cold water released him.

The clock on the radio had somehow made the time move too fast, so Kevin, unclean, dressed himself in jeans, a T-shirt and sweater. His arms and legs seemed to appear at the ends of the long tubes of fabric surprising him with their shape, size and texture. Black, military style boots appeared on his feet over formerly white socks. He dragged on the short shabby gray coat and black watch cap he had gotten from the Salvation Army on Christmas Day, and left his room, not bothering to use the hasp and combination lock given to him to secure his belongings.

His room was located in a once-proud Victorian home, on a street of similar homes on a hill overlooking the lake in Laketon. Kevin did not know how many rented rooms were in his house, only that there were many carved from the dining room and library, recently created with two by fours and sheetrock. He had been told that all the rooms were paid for by welfare. Two doors down from the room he occupied was the bathroom. He entered it reluctantly and put two fingers up his nose to fight off the smell of someone else's recently flushed shit. Pulling aside his coat, breathing heavily through his mouth, he unzipped and peed while looking at the moldy ceiling lighted by a bare bulb. He did not flush, knowing, that in the past more than his waste had been removed. He went down one flight of stairs and out the door into the sun. The snow reflected the light into bright arcs temporarily blinding him. He inched his way down the snow-covered icy steps, searching for footholds. As he reached the sidewalk, he saw the Satan bug smiling, peering from a crack where the concrete had heaved. Kevin stepped over it and walked down the hill.

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