“I guess, what kind of game, Xanadu?”
“I ask you a question about yourself, and you answer truthfully. Then you do the same, ask me a question and I answer truthfully.” The thought of this both intrigued and frightened me.
“But I already know as much as you confessed to me earlier that I would want to know.”
“That’s just the surface, what you can clearly see, and yes I confessed how I got this deformity, which you wouldn’t have guessed in a million years. Are you ready? I’ll start out simple.”
“What happens at the end?”
“If you answer the last question truthfully, you live. But if you lie, even a little white lie, I must kill you.” She smiled at me as if she were kidding.
“Are you serious?” My back went back into defensive posture.
“No, silly, I was kidding, but you will have to do something for lying to absolve your sin. We’ll decide on your punishment later.”
“Okay, I guess there’s no harm in this.” Another thunder boom erupted above us after a lightning strike lit the night sky.
“What is your favorite color?”
“Blue,” I replied. “Your?”
“Violet,” Xanadu said.
“I would have figured brown or pink.”
She ignored my comment. “What’s your favorite season?”
“Summer, and yours?”
“Spring and autumn because it symbolizes life.”
“I like summer because I like to go out and do fun things like camping,” I told her.
“What’s your favorite hobby?”
“I like to cook. Then I create recipes of what I created and put them into my cookbooks.” She appeared intrigued by my answer.
“I thought you were just making up stuff to get my confidence.”
“Do you want to see the book I have so far? Oh duh, we can’t, it’s all on my computer and the power is shut off. When the power returns, perhaps?”
“Maybe, now it’s your turn.”
“Okay, what is your hobby?”
“Playing these kinds of games. I really get to know a person this way. Next question what was your first car?”
“Oh, that was ages ago, when I was in high school. I think it was a 72 Firebird my dad got me. It was old and used and beat up. I learned to fix it up and sold it four years later to go to technical college. You?”
“My first car I got after I graduated from high school seven years ago. It was a minivan. A Dodge I think it was.”
“Do you still have it?”
She shook her head no. “Next question, what’s your favorite food?”
“Pizza with everything on it. It’s in my cookbook. I call it ‘The Garbage Pit.’ And yours?”
“Saulsbury steak with mash potatoes and gravy with mixed peas and carrots. When we had that it meant my parents weren’t fighting like brothers and sisters. We had it rarely, as you can imagine.”
I was intrigued by her answer. I also felt sorry for her because that kind of meal seemed so basic, as if made in a buffet line kitchen and served to the masses. “I got a question for you. Did you have any pets?”
“Once, I found this turtle on the middle of the road. I took it home but I didn’t know what to feed it and released it back to where I found it. The little time I had it, I knew he wasn’t happy. He probably had to feed his family, but later read that turtles are like snakes, once they hatch from their eggs they’re on their own. I never had any desire to own a pet like a dog or cat. I didn’t want to see them grow old and then die.”
“I had dogs and cats throughout my life. I don’t have anything now because, as you said the last one passed a short time ago. I haven’t had the time lately to go and find one.”
“Next question, who was your favorite president?”
“John Kennedy, though he didn’t accomplish as much as he should have in his short time. And yours?”
“Bill Clinton most recently, but also Franklin Pearce because he was so handsome. The only problem I had with these men, until Obama was they were white, and they preferred to pass the buck on the slavery issue before the Civil War, and then didn’t want to deal with the prejudice issue after.”
“Interesting point,” I said to her. “Lincoln was the only one who had the courage to stop slavery.”
“If John Adams had the backbone, he should have signed that emancipation proclamation, and damn the consequences later,” she appeared on a roll now as her eyes danced with the candlelight. I laughed at her sponk. “Why did you laugh?”
“I find it refreshing that you and I share the same thoughts on history. Yes, I agree. If he had done that there would have been no civil war. Granted the southern states might have gone back to England out of pure malice and spite, but it definitely would prevented the calamities later on.”
She looked thoughtful at me, apparently trying to read my thoughts. “What is your favorite love song?”
“ ‘Time in a Bottle,’ by Jim Croce, and yours?”
“I don’t think I have one, though I like ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston.”
“Interesting,” I replied. “Okay, next question.”
“Okay, but I must warn you these next questions are going to be harder and your punishment, more severe if you lie. You must be absolutely honest with me.”
I looked at her with uncertain eyes. “How…I mean how would you know if I was lying?” “Oh, I know. You have been truthful far, correct?”
“Yes, of course.”
“You looked me straight in the eyes, your voice was relaxed and conversational. You were being honest. If your body language deviates at all from how you respond to these next questions, I will know you’re lying.”
“Okay, I have no skeletons in my closet, excuse the cliché.”
“I don’t care about that. Okay here is your first question, In The Wizard of Oz, by Lyman Frank Baum, he portrayed our most base fears on the characters, Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion: Fear of not knowing, fear of not caring for others, and not having the courage to step and do right. Which fear best represents you?”
“I don’t know. I never read the book, I’m afraid.”
“Then the first?”
“No, maybe, I don’t know.”
“Next question, if you were awakened in the middle of the night by a loud crash, would you go and investigate?”
“Yes I would.”
“I’m sure I would feel anxiety and apprehension. It’s human nature, but I would still investigate just for the peace of mind it might bring.”
“What if it did not bring you peace of mind? What if you were confronted by someone or something that could harm you or even kill you?”
I looked at her trying to figure out where this was leading. “I don’t know. I would have to rely on instinct and hope I could defend myself if it came to that.”
“Very good, you are definitely the scare crow here. Next question, going back to high school did you ask a certain girl out to the prom?”
“Why yes, her name was Suzy Best. Gosh that was a long time ago.”
Did you rape her?”
“No! I did not. I was a perfect gentleman to her that night at the prom. We kissed goodnight at her parents’ front porch. Then sometime later that night someone snuck into her bedroom, raped and then strangled her to death. That was in the news.
He was caught by the way and confessed. I think he’s still in prison.” My mind began racing and my eyes darted back and forth to her and to the darkness on either side of her.
“You are lying, aren’t you? You raped her and placed the rope you used on someone else, a nobody with a history of drug and alcohol abuse. You framed him.”
“NO! Where did you get that? It was not me.” I felt my heart pounding loud in my chest. Beads of sweat formed on my brow and under my arms. I began breathing through my mouth.
“Very well, next question, where did you meet your wife?”
“I met her at a job I used to work for back in 2005.” I began to relax.
“Was it a happy marriage?”
“Yes, it was a pleasant time in our lives.”
“Why did she leave?”
“She didn’t give me a reason, but I suspect it was because I lost my mother so suddenly. I guess she couldn’t handle my mourning any longer. I still mourn for her.”
“How did your mother die?”
“It was a heart attack.”
“Did you kill her?”
“No! Why are you insinuating this stuff?” My heart began pounding louder and louder. My mind felt numb and I couldn’t think of anything to say.
“You killed your mother and you killed your wife, didn’t you?”
“For the last time NO!!! I killed no one. EVER!!!” My chest ached and I felt a sharp cramp in my shoulder Oh my God I think I’m having a heart attack!
“What is your worst fear George?”
“What are you afraid of?”
She already knew the answer to that question as she slowly arose from her chair and went to the front door. Just before she opened it, she blew out the candle. The very moment she opened the door the candle blew out on me…