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Every time I stride into the Green Room after the Leader speaks, I’m met with envious looks from lesser Lie-Makers. The “We’ve Got the Best People” guy with the bad tan, the flat-chested, unfuckable “Fake News” chick? Amateurs. I’m the biggest, boldest Lie-Maker in the room, and everyone knows it.
Jones in International Relations greets me with his usual assessing stare: How did you get so lucky? I nod, offer a quick smile. What a boring loser. He’s got the easiest job of all. Just repeat the same line over and over about “danger at the border.” My lies are poetic, subtle, slipping out between the Leader’s oily lips, a daily dose of fatherly reassurance. The less I believe my words the more everyone buys them. Best job I’ve ever had, better even than insurance underwriter. I was born for this work.
The barman pours a scotch and I settle into my leather wingback by the fire with a sigh. I’ve earned my rest. Usually a gaggle of interns wait for me, eager to pick my brain, bring me another drink. But today people are gathered around a new guy I’ve never seen before. The younger Lie-Makers hang on to his every word. What’s the big deal? Tall, stoop-shouldered like some dried-out scholar, he speaks in a thin, pinched voice. A pygmy pipsqueak. But I see danger in his eyes, creeping like some volatile germ.
“Who’s that bozo?” I ask Rivers from the Enemies Department, reading across from me.
“Him?” Looking up from his New York Post, Rivers smiles, and I glimpse rot in his mouth. “New hire.”
I look over at the new Lie-Maker. His suit is poorly-cut, his tie too narrow. “Which department?”
“The Leader’s Health.” Rivers lifts his glass in a fake toast.
“Oh yeah?” I give a half-salute with my scotch like I give a shit. “What’s his line?”
“You’ll love this,” Rivers chortles. “It’s pure genius – ‘I am perfectly healthy.’”
Genius is right. With a clean bill of health, no one will question the Leader’s rambling non sequiturs, the unprovoked attacks. The Mother of All Lies from which every other falsehood grows. For once I am in awe. My heart skips a beat, and I struggle to take a full breath. Smiling at Rivers, I raise my glass and squeeze out a feeble, “Now that’s a good one.”
The new Lie-Maker says something and the group around him erupts in laughter. I study the thin man’s face. It may take some time, but I will root out this man’s weakness. After all, I made the Leader, and I can unmake this rival.
I signal the barman with the call, “A round for the house.” Raising a glass to the sea of flushed faces, I smile. I was made for this work.