Scott idly watched the western sky while Josie drove them to Nashville for her family’s Hanukkah gathering. The sky was dark, save for a deep pinky-purple on the horizon. He had always thought sunsets were more beautiful in the winter—maybe because the sun was at a lower angle relative to the earth, making its rays diffuse through the atmosphere instead of coming directly at the viewer.
He wasn’t sure if that was factual or not, but it sounded impressive—probable, even.
What was it that Mark’s book on lying had said?—if a person believes something strongly enough, it won’t register as a lie on a lie-detector test. Repeat a lie enough times, and the brain will simply reconstruct the memory to accommodate the lie and it will become truth.
It was one of the reasons why witnesses could be unreliable—especially if something happened suddenly or was shockingly violent. The older the memory, the more likely it was to end up altered—not because the witnesses intentionally altered it, but because they internalized other people’s narratives, news reports—hell, even dreams of the incident could introduce things that weren’t there in reality, and those things would get stuck in the actual memory.
That didn’t mean that a person was incapable of remembering something correctly—and some people admittedly had better memories than others—but it did mean that you should be cautious. Two witnesses saying the same thing were better than one—especially if they weren’t in contact. If they were close—family members, friends, or neighbors—then, as they talked about the incident and shared their version of it, their narratives would start to meld until they were more or less telling the same story—even if they had originally remembered two different things. That’s why interviewing witnesses separately and quickly was crucial; the mind did funny things with memories; it corrupted them even as it attempted to save them.
It gradually dawned on Scott that his thoughts had been wandering randomly for nearly a half hour—namely because neither he nor Josie were talking.
He didn’t like the silence; it was foreboding. It could just be because they were heading into the lion’s den, but Scott feared it was because of Josie’s pregnancy. He worried—perhaps justly, perhaps only out of paranoia—that a rift was growing between them. Did Josie blame him? After all, he was the one who was supposed to be sterile. He had put her in this situation.
The appropriate thing to do would be voice his concerns. He ought to ask her, point-blank, if she harbored any resentment towards him and if she was contemplating leaving him.
Instead, he broke the very pregnant silence—no pun intended—with: “Clarice’s birthday is right the corner and I don’t have anything picked out for her. What do you think I should get?”
“She’s going to be ten, right?”
“Yeah.” Just thinking about that made him depressed. He kept telling himself that it didn’t matter to him, since he wasn’t actually getting any older, but it still seemed sad that his daughter’s childhood was flying past. Before he knew it, she’d be grown and probably moved away.
Josie pressed her lips together, looking thoughtful. “She might like makeup.”
Scott shuddered. “She’s too young for that.”
“She’s too young to wear it out, but that doesn’t mean she can’t play with it. Most girls like playing with makeup—like dressing up.”
“I don’t think her mother would appreciate me getting her makeup.”
“Does Maggie not wear any?”
“Not much.” Saying so surprised Scott. He hadn’t ever thought about it before, but Maggie had worn very little makeup. Josie, on the other hand, was always nicely made up. It wasn’t that he felt makeup was a necessity—Josie was still pretty, even when she wasn’t wearing it—but it just further reinforced the difference between her and his ex.
“Is that because she doesn’t want to, or doesn’t believe in it?” Josie asked.
“I’m not sure. That’s why I don’t really want to test it.”
“Of course, Clarice could keep it at your house and Maggie need never know,” she offered.
Scott waved his hands. “I don’t want to get her any,” he said. “It’s a short jump from wearing makeup to being interested in boys.”
“What?” Scott demanded.
“I think you’ve got that backwards.”
“What… boys come first, then the makeup?”
“Are… you just speaking in general, or do you know something I don’t?”
Scott felt a little sick to his stomach. “Who is he?”
“Some boy named Jeremy. He’s a grade older.” Josie said this with great emphasis, as if it was very significant.
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
Josie laughed. “Don’t worry; apparently he doesn’t know she exists. That’s why she was asking me what she could do to get his attention.”
“Definitely no make-up. I don’t want her to have his attention.”
“Scott, little girls get crushes on little boys; it’s normal.”
“At ten years old?” he asked incredulously.
She laughed at him again. “Hell, Scott, my first great love was in kindergarten. Actually, come to think of it,” she said thoughtfully, “I think I had two. I had a crush on David—a boy in my synagogue class—and Ian, a boy at school.”
“Both at once?”
“Yeah. That way, I never had to go too long without seeing one or the other.” She grinned. “David was my first kiss. Somehow, we ended up in the synagogue library together—it was dark because the lights were out—and I told him he should kiss me, and he did. Then I ran out, because I was suddenly bashful.”
“Your first kiss was in kindergarten?” he said, appalled. But Josie’s tone was more blissful; for her, it was a sweet memory.
“Yeah. I seem to recall I told him our parents had arranged our marriage when we were born, so we might as well start acting like a married couple.” She laughed at her own boldness. “I have no idea where I came up with that. I think I might have just lied to get him to kiss me.”
“So, what you’re saying is you lied to seduce a boy in synagogue? And here I was worried about what the boy might do. You’re obviously ten times worse.”
She just laughed unapologetically.
He shook his head. “I can’t imagine what my Sunday School teacher would have said if I had done that. Condemned me to hell, I’m sure.”
“Welcome to the differences between Jew and Gentile.”
Scott looked out over the dark road, the white line reflectors flashing in the headlights. “I have a feeling I’m going to get schooled in those differences a lot tonight.”
Read the entire series–The Bloodsuckers: Vampire Lawyers of Middle Tennessee