Submitted into Contest #156 in response to: Write about two characters arguing over how a past event happened.... view prompt


Fiction Funny Friendship


“You are wrong. It is an urban myth, it did not actually happen that way.”

“That shows how much, or how little would be closer to the truth, you do know. I spoke to Roland yesterday, He should know, he owned the crocodile farm we are talking about.”

“You are telling me Roland Somerville agrees with the version you insist on repeating ad nauseam. What you have to understand is Roland has never told the truth in his life. If you grasp that fact, you might just change your opinion. The ‘couldn’t lie straight in bed’ saying was coined for him. I was living here when it happened. I know the full story, the one based on fact.”

“Why would he make it up?

“Roland is a story teller. Gilding the lily to make his story sound interesting is not new to him. However, in the case of the crocodile park, if he told the truth it would have cost him thousands. He claimed a tree falling on the fence and knocking it over let the crocs out, 150 odd crocs swam away.”

“Well what is wrong with that? He wouldn’t have deliberately let them loose.”

“You obviously do not know Roland. Facts are facts. He did let them loose because he did not have approval to have the farm there in the first place. The flood at the time presented an opportunity. Roland is an opportunist.”

“As well as being a liar?”

“Correct .Has he told you about him and his cousin sitting on the beach watching the lights from the Battle of the Coral Sea?”

“Yes. This time you are definitely wrong. That battle did take place east of Bertha Island so he could definitely have seen the lights of the battle.”

“From six hundred kilometres away? Remarkable eyesight don’t you think. That is the closest the battle got to the shore, six hundred kilometres. Add his other story about Bertha Island being used as a Radar Station during the battle and you start to get the idea he makes it up as he goes along.”

“Wait a minute. It is a fact Bertha Island was a radar station during WW2, so Roland is correct.”

“No he is not. The battle was in May, the Radar station only commenced operation in December that year. He cannot help himself. The safest thing to do is treat anything Roland tells you as a fairy story. Even then I would check he isn’t using someone else’s true story as a basis. The standard rule with him is ‘if his lips are moving, he is lying’”

“He said the same about you. Do you tell lies?”

“Roland said that about me? There you are. Proof positive. He is lying.”

“So you don’t tell lies? Ever?”

“I may have on the odd occasion stretched the truth a little, everyone does at times.”

“You mean you lie?”

“That is a crude way of putting it.”

“But true.”

“Where is this leading? I thought we were talking about Roland.”

“No, we are talking about lying about things that happened back in 1942 and 1985. So far I don’t know whether to believe you or Roland. You are accusing each other of being extremely careless with the truth on multiple subjects. If someone makes a genuine mistake and continues to repeat it, is that lying?”

“That would depend on whether you knew you had made a mistake. If you did and repeated it, you would certainly be lying.”

“Could you tell the difference?”

“I don’t understand your question. The difference between what?”

“Whether someone knew they made a mistake, and were lying, or didn’t know of the mistake so they were not lying?”

“If it was Roland, in that case he would not be lying. He never admits to anyone, even himself, he has made a mistake. You on the other hand could be lying in that particular case.”

“So not all people who lie are really lying? Even you have to admit that sounds contradictory. It’s a bit like Alice talking to the March Hare when he said to her she should say what she thinks and she replied with, ’I do, at least ….at least I mean what I say, that’s the same thing isn’t it?”

“Well it does not follow they are one and the same. I quite often only say what I know people want to hear. It is not necessarily what I think.”

“Then logically by your own admission you are lying. With you it never ends, you have become pathological.”

“Logically?  Contrariwise I ll tell you what logic is ‘if it was so, it might be, and if it were so it would be, but as it isn’t it aint. That’s logic.”

“You stole that from Tweedledum.”

“I didn’t steal it, I quoted it, and it was Tweedledee, not Tweedledum.”

”Whatever. My point is you lie each time you only say what you think is what people want to hear, not what you believe. Compared to Roland you lie far more often by the sound of it.”

“Rubbish. I’ll give you an instance. Humphrey Bogart never said ‘Play it again Sam.’, but when you speak about the movie that is what people expect to hear. If I said Bogart only said ‘Play it’, everyone within hearing distance would think I had made a mistake. I always say what they expect ‘Play it again Sam’. I know it is a mistake but I still say it. That is not lying.”

“Who is Humphrey Bogart? More to the point , who is this Sam person.? Here we have another example of you changing the rules to suit the situation. According to your first explanation everyone who repeats a mistake, knowing full well they are wrong, is a liar. However this does not apply to you regardless of how often you do it. Does Lewis Carroll have anything to say on the subject? You seem to be able to quote him at the drop of a hat.”

“I do like his stories. Everything has got a moral. It is just a matter of finding it. You don’t like his writings much do you?”

“I would be lying if I admitted to anything more than a passing interest, which is a demonstration of saying what I think, proving I do not lie.”

“Not ever? I very much doubt that to be true. I think that in itself is a lie.”

“Perhaps I am not quite in the cherry tree category, I will admit to that. If I do transgress it would only be a ‘little white lie’, nothing of any consequence.”

“Let me try and understand your thinking. No, it is more your reasoning we need to dissect. If Roland or I do not tell the truth, either by an unknowing fault, or deliberately, we are in the liar category. However when applied to you it becomes a little white lie. Either it is a lie or the truth my friend, there are no degrees between those two. It is a bit like being a bit pregnant, you either are or you aren’t.”

“I’m not.”

“You are not what?”

“Pregnant. This total discussion has been your way of getting around to that very question hasn’t it? You were afraid of the answer, even afraid I might not tell the truth. How do you know I am telling the truth now?”

”Did Roland ask you?”

“You will have to ask him, but seeing you think he continually lies, you still won’t be sure either way. Is that what Tweedledum meant by logic?”



July 25, 2022 04:03

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05:43 Aug 04, 2022

Howdy Brian, I enjoyed your short story. You certainly know how to script dialogue. Many of the comments between your characters were funny. I do wish that some of the dialogue was broken up by action. For example, one of your characters says something and then takes a sip of coffee or looks evasively away during the conversation. As it stands your story is just dialogue which gets a little tedious to read. Also who are these characters speaking and what is their relationship to "Roland?" As I said before you know to craft dialogue and you d...


Brian Bywater
22:48 Aug 04, 2022

Your comments are much appreciated Charles. I have always left the reader to use their imagination hence Roland and the other two protagonists are whoever you imagine them to be, except Roland, tells lies. One of the joys of reading is in your own mind.None of them drink coffee or are inclined to furtive actions or the constant use of swear words to make their point. so the action is all about the prompt. Cheers.


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Brian Bywater
22:48 Aug 04, 2022

Your comments are much appreciated Charles. I have always left the reader to use their imagination hence Roland and the other two protagonists are whoever you imagine them to be, except Roland, tells lies. One of the joys of reading is in your own mind.None of them drink coffee or are inclined to furtive actions or the constant use of swear words to make their point. so the action is all about the prompt. Cheers.


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Jeannette Miller
17:26 Jul 30, 2022

A lesson in semantics in the land of liars... A note: The conversation feels too formal as there are few contractions. This conversation flows well but gets a bit clunky with the "you are" and "it is" and "did not" instead of "you're", "it's" and "didn't" just from the first line as an example. I know, it's a little nit-picky; but when I read it out loud both ways, it flowed more naturally with the contractions. On the flip side, I wouldn't overdo the contractions either. It's more of a balance of casual talking and then using the words indi...


Brian Bywater
23:17 Jul 30, 2022

Thank you Jeannette. My acting background added to my 83 years prevents me from using contractions , except occasionally.' It's a far far better' etc does not resonate with me. My opening line, as I mean it, demands the full words be emphasised. IT IS AN URBAN MYTH. If it does not read that way, the whole tenure of the following argument fails. Not the first failure for me. My understanding of the English language is in the Australian derivative so I am probably behind the eight ball from the start.


Jeannette Miller
14:03 Jul 31, 2022

Ah, makes sense. I only used the opening line as an example; however, I see your point. It was a fun story to read and one which would be fun to see on stage perhaps. Thanks for the response!


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Andrew Bryant
07:37 Jul 30, 2022

Very enjoyable, and much needed after reading the winning entry! (Someone has died) Also it is very realistic, you an play the conversation in your head and see the participants. I now know where to look when I need a lift , or a swing.


Brian Bywater
03:07 Jul 31, 2022

Thank you Andrew. I find dialogue quite easy as I talk to myself a lot. One does at 84 so i practice regularly. (and my wife is away.)


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