“There was a man,” I said. That wasn’t a lie, there had been a man. I mean, there had been men on Earth for thousands of years. I was telling the truth. It wasn’t a lie at all. Now to stop talking. When people lie they embellish their stories, they talk too much. Too many words, words that will come back and trip them up under cross-examination.
Maintain eye contact.
Don’t rub your nose.
“What man?” Asked Graham. Graham my volatile boss. He wasn’t letting this go. I’d hoped the fact I’d mentioned a mysterious man might make him stop with this witch hunt and move on.
“Just… out there.” I gestured out to the car park.
There had been a man out there. He was out there. Not now, he wasn’t out there now. He was out there before. Earlier. I had seen a man out there. I marked him because I was worried he’d see that what I had done. The bad thing.
Rui went outside. I hoped he was going to look for evidence of this man as that would show he believed me. Footprints perhaps. If Rui could find trace of a man then they couldn’t blame me. Rui was excellent at fishing. Perhaps he was also great at tracking humans? Like a Native American? Rui was from Portugal. I felt Graham staring at me as I stared out at Rui. Shit, Rui was looking at the back of the trucks. What are you doing, Rui? Rui was measuring something.
“Same height as the trucks,” announced Rui on his return. He looked pleased with himself. Fucking Rui. Rui who got a calendar and wrote PAY RENT on all 52 Fridays. Rui who had got a metal pen stuck to his lips in the freezer. Rui who put a fish hook through his cheek. Rui whose dog had eaten his false teeth. Suddenly Rui was Sherlock Holmes.
Rui had deduced, by means of elimination, that the damage done to Claire’s car was the exact height as the rear corner of the trucks we all drove. Not all of us, just me, Rui, Paulo and… what was his name? Small fat guy. Seagull broke his windshield. I forget his name. Steve!
Rui was right and all. The reason the damage to Claire’s car was at the exact height as the rear corner of the trucks was because I’d hit Claire’s car with the rear corner of the truck while reversing nonchalantly. The damage hadn’t been enormous, just smashed her back light and her car was a wreck anyway. I didn’t think she’d notice. Or care. I’d been wrong. The screams at quitting time announced I’d been wrong. She cared very much and at that point I realized I should have admitted what I’d done immediately. It was no big deal, Rui crashed all the time, but I didn’t, my record was unblemished and when I realised nobody had seen me crash I’d decided I wanted to keep it that way. And now I couldn’t admit to it. Too much time had passed. About two hours.
“It was probably Rui,” I said to Graham as he went to inspect the rear of each truck. He did mine first. He found something. Evidence. A mark. “Dunno,” I told him when he pointed it out. I was doing some very good lying. The others gathered around and stared at the rear of my truck. “What kind of a bastard would do it and not say anything?” I added.
This kind of bastard, that’s who.
“There are marks on that one, too,” I said, pointing at the rear of Rui’s refrigerated lorry. There were marks all over his. There were marks on all the trucks. They were pretty old. The fridges in them didn’t work so when out on deliveries we just drove quickly. Graham scratched his head. We stood for a while longer and then left Claire picking up the broken plastic shards of lens. The case unresolved and with more improbable and unprovable theories than those left after the death of Princess Diana in that tunnel in Paris.
The next day Rui crashed the forklift into the freezer door. The large door was knocked off its tracks. I told him not to worry and that I wouldn’t say anything. Graham, face reddening, found us trying to lift the door back on.
“What the fu-”
“Crash test dummy over there,” I said, pointing to Rui.