The Maze The Lost Labyrinth - By Jason Brannon

Chapter 1

“For, what other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one's self!”-Nathaniel Hawthorne, ‘The House of Seven Gables’

I went through the usual Monday morning routine. Two cups of coffee and a lukewarm bowl of oatmeal, a glance at the morning paper, a quick kiss to Amy and Peter, and out the door. The day was business as usual. For the first couple of hours at work, I handled some insurance claims, returned a few phone calls, checked my e-mail and met with a couple of potential clients. Both meetings went extremely well, and it seemed like my day was going to be productive.

Until Amy called.

“Why did you take sixty dollars out of the bank?”

“Well, hello to you too!”

“Aren’t you going to answer my question, Jamie?” There was a slight edge to her tone that made me a little uneasy.

“I got the oil changed in the Jeep, and then I took Lincoln Brown to lunch. Why? Is something wrong? There should have been plenty of money in the account.”

“No, it’s fine. I just wanted to know.”

I knew she wasn’t being straight with me-I heard it in her voice. “What is it, Amy? Tell me.”

“It’s just…” She paused as if unsure whether to continue.


“Tara found out that Ethan has been seeing another woman behind her back.”

“Are you serious?” The Buffetts were two of our closest friends.

“It's been going on for quite a while. Tara didn’t start to get suspicious until she noticed that he had been making regular withdrawals from their bank account every Tuesday. He's been using the money to rent a room over at the Sands.”

She let that last little bit of information sink in, and suddenly I understood her concern about the sixty bucks. “Ok, babe, look, I know how your mind works. You make connections that aren't there to make, and before you know it, you've pieced together some unlikely scenario. You think because Ethan cheated on Tara and used cash to do it, that maybe I'm doing the same thing. Listen to how crazy it sounds. People take money out of their accounts every day. That doesn't mean it's to go rent a room for some illicit tryst.”

Amy sighed. “It does sound a little ridiculous when you say it out loud. I'm sorry.”

“It's ok. Besides, I love you. I wouldn't hurt you like that.”

“You should have heard the way Tara was going on and on the other day about how much she loved Ethan.”

“We’re not Tara and Ethan,” I said. “Their problems are not our problems.”

“I know.” Amy sighed. “But I couldn’t help thinking the worst.”

“Well, stop thinking the worst. No good will come of it.”

Amy sighed. “Ok, babe. I'll try to put it all out of my mind.”

“That's my girl.”

“Promise me that you’re not going to turn out like Ethan.” Amy needed that one final reassurance.

“I promise, babe.”

“Call me when you get lunch.”

“I've got a meeting so I can't guarantee I'll have time, but I’ll do my best.”

“Ok, Jamie. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Although I wasn’t cheating on Amy, I felt guilty when I hung up with her. I hadn’t lied to her about being unfaithful, but there were other things I hadn’t been honest with her about. They weren’t big things really. Little white lies mostly, inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

So why was I stressing about them now? Maybe I knew Amy wouldn’t be as nonchalant about my secrets as I was if she found out I was drinking again and bumming smokes from the guys at work, going to a few illicit websites when she was asleep, or taking money out of the account to go to the casino on days I was supposed to be working. I guess when you got right down to it, I was keeping more secrets from her than I wanted to admit. The one thing I hadn’t done, however, was cheat on her. I hadn’t crossed that line, and in that I was steadfast.

So why did I feel so rotten about it all? Maybe because she was so trusting and I took advantage of that trust on several levels. It made me feel like a bad husband.

If I had looked out my window at precisely that moment, I might have seen a throng of demons lined up on a nearby telephone line like magpies, laughing at me and my predicament. Thankfully, I didn't have time to do any daydreaming or demon-watching. I was knee-deep in work and that carried me through