The Chain of Lies - By Debra Burroughs
Undeniably, the first lie is the easiest to tell. After that, one finds himself having to tell the next and the next in a desperate attempt to cover the first, until he finds he has told a chain of lies and is praying none of the links pull apart under the pressure.
At twilight, a young redheaded woman stood pensively on the bank of the flowing Boise River, pulling her black jacket tighter around her chest against the crisp autumn air. Maybe she should cut her losses and get out, before it was too late. She looked to the water, wishing for a sign. Something caught her eye and she began to scream wildly, her arms flailing about.
From the walking path, her lover dashed to her side. “What’s wrong?”
She continued to shriek, pointing frenetically toward something large and dark bobbing in the river, caught in the thick branches of a low-hanging tree.
“It’s probably nothing, someone ignoring the no-dumping sign, just a black trash bag. Stay here.” The man zipped his leather jacket shut and cautiously crept toward it, gingerly nearing the river’s edge to discover what it was.
The woman’s clenched hand was pressed hard against her lips, fighting to stifle her cries, watching him with rapt attention as he inched closer, closer.
Once he was near enough to identify the floating mass, all composure was lost. His feet stumbled and slipped in the mud as he desperately scrambled to back away—this was not mere rubbish caught in the brush. It was a woman’s lifeless, half-naked body.
“What is it?”
“A body,” he huffed, straining to catch his breath.
“I’ll call the police,” she said, frantically digging her phone out of her jeans pocket.
“No, let me,” he argued, reaching for his own cell phone. “I’ll stay and wait for the cops.”
“Then I’ll wait with you.”
“No! You have to go,” he snapped, dialing nine one one. “No one can see us together.”
“Afraid your wife will find out?”
Emily Parker shot up straight in her bed, her eyes clamped tight.
“No!” she screamed, both arms outstretched, hysterically reaching for him. Her eyes flew open and she sat frozen in the dark for a moment, her arms still extended in desperation.
She dropped them. It was all a bad dream—the same horrifying dream she had been having night after night. The anniversary of her husband’s murder was right around the corner, and the nightmares were plaguing her more often, and with growing intensity.
She buried her face in her hands as she sat sobbing, drenched in perspiration. Her damp nightgown clung to her slender body and her honey-blonde curls stuck to her sweaty neck and forehead.
Having convinced herself that she was finally recovering from her loss, she had begun to date again, but these terrifying visions were evidence she was not as over Evan’s death as she had tried to believe.
It was nearly a year ago now since Emily’s husband had been shot, close range, in the back of the head. He was found dead, in a pool of blood, lying next to the steel file cabinet in the corner of his office. The police detective that had investigated postulated that Evan had gone to retrieve something from the cabinet.
Something vital enough to be killed over.
Evan Parker had been a private investigator in the small, affluent town of Paradise Valley, not far from the state capitol of Boise. He’d had a great track record for unraveling mysteries—ironically his own case was never solved.
In her recurring nightmare, Emily is standing in the corner, observing Evan’s interaction with a vague, shadowy figure, but she can never make out who the person is, not even their gender. She can see her husband sitting at his desk speaking amiably with someone dressed in dark clothing, seated across the desk from him.
Evan is smiling his engaging, crooked smile, running his hand through his sandy-blonde hair as he leans back in his chair, casual, as if the person across from him is someone he knows—or perhaps a new client he is getting acquainted with.
In the dream, Emily watches helplessly as Evan rises from his chair and steps to the file cabinet. She sees the muzzle of the gun rising as he turns away from his visitor and reaches for the drawer handle. She is screaming, warning him, but he never hears her, never turns around—never survives.
The crack of gunfire, a blinding flash, and Evan drops to the floor, hard. Blood begins to stream from the back of her husband’s head.
And Emily wakes up, drenched in sweat and