IF THE TRUTH BE TOLD

Submitted into Contest #107 in response to: Write about a character pretending to be someone they’re not.... view prompt

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Contemporary Drama Fiction

               As far back as Tobey Stetson could remember, his parents told him he would never amount to much. A sentiment shared by all who knew Tobey. And Tobey did nothing to prove them wrong. He saw nothing wrong with telling a few white lies. As long as they helped get what he wanted. But last Tuesday, Tobey told a white lie that put his and his loved one life in danger.  

Every morning, Tobey posed in front of his mirror, admiring his physique. It didn’t matter if Tobey was, actually short and round; Mr five by five, as his mother called him. In his mind, he was Mr. Body Perfect. He was Mr. World, Mr. Universe, and Mr. Olympia all rolled 

into one.

“Mr. Tobey Stetson,” he imagined an announcer saying, “is the greatest bodybuilder of all time!”

 With his muscular body, of course, the ladies found him irresistible. So he closed his eyes, caressed himself, and dreamed of rolling around in his bed with two beautiful women.

                   “Tobey! Tobey!” His mother called from upstairs.

                   Tobey rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Ma! What do you want?”

                   “I need you to go to the drugstore to get my hay fever medicine.”

                   “Ah, geez. Can’t it wait? I was in the middle of something.”

                   “You aren’t touching yourself again, are you?”

                   “Ma! I don’t touch myself,” he said as he zipped up his pants.

                   “Tobey, please come up and go for me.”

                   Tobey stomped up the basement stairs and into the kitchen.

                   “Why can’t you go, ma? It’s only two blocks away.”

                   “My ankles are too swollen for me to walk.”

                   Tobey reached down to touch her ankles.

                   “No, Tobey, they hurt too much. Please, just go for your mama.”

                   Tobey sighed and shook his head. “Okay, quit your whining.”

                   The best part of going to the drugstore was enjoying the air-conditioning. There was no air condition in Tobey’s mom’s house. And his room in the basement was ten degrees hotter than any other place in the house. As Tobey searched the shelves for the medicine, he heard a firecracker explode.

                   He shook his head. “What idiot set off a firecracker inside the--“

                   Before he finished his sentence, a black-masked gunman stood at the end of the aisle.

                   He pointed the gun at Tobey. “Get up to the front with the rest of them!”

                   Shaking, he rushed up to the front of the store, pleading all the way.

                   “Please, mister, don’t shoot me. I haven’t done anything to you. I got a sick mother at home. I’m not going to tell anyone about this.  I swear.”

                   “Shut the hell up, and just keep moving, fatty!”

                   When Tobey reached the front of the store, four other customers stood too frightened, and with their hands up. A  blue-masked robber held them under gunpoint. 

                   The Black mask asked. “You got the money?” 

                   The other robber nodded.

                    Black masked chuckled.  “Okay, then. Be right back. I’ll go get the car. Hold on to this guy.” He said as he shoved Tobey towards the blue masked robber.  

                   In a few minutes, a black SUV pulled up in front of the drug store. The robber looked out the window to make sure the street was clear.

Two honks on the horn, and the robber said,” Okay. Everybody lay down and bury your face on the floor. If I see your head pops up. I’m going to blow them off.”

                   The robber grabbed Tobey. “Come on. Your scared ass is coming with me. We might need a hostage.”

                   “Why me?”

                   “Why you?” the robber reared back to pistol-whip Tobey when the

Gunman lost his balance and fell through the glass door. Pulling Tobey on top of him. Blood splattered everywhere.

                   “Oh, my God! I’ve been cut!” Tobey cried out.

                   He checked himself with both hands. He didn’t feel any pain or cuts. Looking down at the robber. Tobey gasped. A shard of glass stuck out of the robber’s neck. Witnessing what happened, the robber in the car sped away. The other customer scrambled to their feet when they heard the commotion. They were shocked to see Tobey sitting on the robber. The pharmacist rushed over to help Tobey up.

                   “Damn! That was a brave thing to do. Pushing that guy

through the glass like that. You saved us all.”

                   Still in shock, Tobey stammered, “I-I didn’t do anything. It was--.”

                   “Don’t be modest, Boy. You saved us and my money.”

                   “I don’t think you--”

                   “Oh, Mister,” a young lady hugged his neck. “You were so brave.”

                   All the customers and the pharmacist gathered around to pat Tobey on the back. For the first time in Tobey’s life, he felt like somebody.

                   Two  NYPD  police officers arrived on the scene. The officers spoke to Tobey first.

                   “Can you tell us what happen here, sir?”

                   “This guy,” he said, pointing to the robber still in the doorway, “and another guy tried to rob the drug store. The other robber went to get the getaway car while this dead the robber made those other customers get down on the floor and hide their faces. Then the crook took me as a hostage. I fought

 back. I grabbed him and flipped him over my hip. He crashed through the window

and landed on his neck where you see him now.”

The officer noted Tobey’s account of the incident in her memo book.

She smiled at Tobey. “Mr. Stetson, you’re a brave man, sir. It took a lot of guts to stand up to an armed robber.”

 The other officer joined them. “Just took statements from those witnesses. According to them, you’re some kind of hero., mister.”

 All the customers and the pharmacist agreed that Tobey saved them all.

At the end of the process, one thing was evident.

From that moment on, Tobey’s life changed.

                   News of Tobey’s heroics spread throughout the city. The people that knew Tobey couldn’t believe that Tobey Stetson was a true hero.

 People came from far and near to meet with Tobey. Many honors and rewards were given to him. Strangers would visit him and his mom and drop

off gifts and presents. But of all the attention Tobey received, the most precious

one came from his mother. Each day she told how proud he made her feel. That her Tobey was a hero.

                   One night as Tobey and his mother sat eating dinner, the doorbell rang.

                   Tobey smiled. “Probably some more well wishes, ma.”

                   Tobey opened the door, and a deliveryman handed him a large bouquet

of flowers.

                   “How lovely. Do I need to sign for the flowers?”

                   “Are you Mr. Tobey Stetson?”

                   Tobey smiled proudly. “Yes, I am.”

                   “Then, these are for you.” The delivery man handed Tobey the

flowers, then added, “And so is this.” 

                   The delivery man pointed a gun at Tobey’s stomach.

                   “What’s wrong? What did I do?”

                   The delivery man stuck out the gun. “Never mind, hero. Just walk back

into the house like nothing happening, Who’s in there with you?”

“My mom. Please don’t hurt her.”

“Shut up, and keep walking.”

When Tobey and the delivery man walked into the kitchen, Tobey

mother gasped when she saw the gun.

“Sit down!” The delivery man ordered Tobey. Tobey did what he was

 told.

                   The delivery man walked in front of Tobey,  slapped his face, and

then handcuffed him to the arm of the chair.

                   “Not so tough now, huh, punk? No hip flips for me, tough guy?”

                   “Why are you doing this? I’m a hero.”

                   The delivery man yelled at Tobey’s mother. “Stop your sobbing, or else.”

                   Tobey’s mother sniffed back the tears. It didn’t matter. The delivery

 man gagged her with a handkerchief.

                   He turned to Tobey. “You want to know why hero? Because the man

you killed in the drug store was my brother.”

                   Tobey sat dumbfounded.

                   “Yeah. I’m the brother. All you had to do was let my brother get  

away. But you killed my brother protecting the drug store’s money. Damn! You

killed my brother over money that wasn’t even yours. And for that, I am going to

kill the both of you, Mr. Hero.”

                   Tobey begged. “Wait, sir. I didn’t really kill your brother.”

                   “What are you talking about? It’s all over the news and stuff. Local

hero kills the drug store robber. You got big-time credit for killing him. Didn’t

you?”

                   “Yes,” Tobey paused and looked at his mother, “but, I lied. None of what I

said was true. Your brother was taking me out to the getaway car, when he

slipped, fell through the glass, and cut his throat.”

                   “So, you’re telling me my kid brother’s death was an accident? Ha, I

don’t believe you.”

                   The delivery man walked over to the stove and switched on all four

 burners.

                   “This will give you a chance to think of another lie, hero.”

                   Beads of sweat formed on Tobey’s forehead. His mouth was dry. The delivery man pulled a candle out of his pocket. He smiled wryly at Tobey.

 “When as the gas fills the air, and this candle burns for a while. Well,

you know the rest.”

The delivery man grinned at Tobey and his mother. “Have a nice life,

What’s left of it.”

Tears streak down Tobey’s face. He thought to himself, “If he had

only told the truth, he and his mother wouldn’t be in this

predicament.”

Tobey was willing to sacrifice himself for his lies. But he couldn’t let his mother share the same fate. He had to save her. But what could he do?

Looking around, he felt the handcuffs. They were tight around his chubby wrists. He grimaced, closed his eyes. Tobey began to pull his hand through the tight cuffs. The skin on the back of his hand tore.

Tobey screamed in pain, but he kept going. He knew if he stopped,

 he’d never continued. The bones in Tobey’s wrist cracked. Sobbing, he continued as the handcuff scrapped the skin off his knuckles. Grunting, he freed the other hand. He was free.

         Tobey fell out of the chair, crawled over to the stove, and switched off the pilot lights. He took a deep breath, then freed his mother.

Tobey laid his head in his mother’s lap. With tears in his eyes, he looked up at his mother and asked, “Mom, I’m so sorry. What can I do now?

"She cupped his face in her hands, and said, "Remember, to always tell the truth."

August 21, 2021 03:53

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