Polygraph

by Mel Waldman


“Mistress of deception, why do you spin tall tales of Scheherazade? You are not the Sultan’s wife. You can’t save your life in this isolation room, a secret place of doom, or in The Arabian Nights, a lavish flight into fantasy. Trust me! You don’t exist. Why do you spin false tales tonight?”

“I am innocent! A mere polygraph machine that measures respiratory, electrodermal, and cardio responses. Nothing more.”

“Nonsense!” I scream. “You ruin lives!”

“Not I! I’m just a pawn in the Examiner’s chess game.”

“Confess!” I demand.

“Be gentle with me, sir, and I’ll tell you how He does it.”

“How He does it?”

“Yes.”

“Very well, polygraph. Speak to me. And I’ll grant you all the rights of the Geneva Convention.”

“You’re a kind one, sir.”

“Yes, some of us humans still have a soul.”

A storyteller without a brain, an artist without eyes, the polygraph speaks and paints a conspiracy story with her lines, points, and curves.

“The Examiner is a dark wizard. A master of deception, He can’t discriminate between truth and lies. But He makes you believe he can.”

“An illusionist?”

“Yes, sir. People don’t show a unique and universal physiological response when they lie.”

“So it’s all a bluff?”

“Of course.”

“Is that it, polygraph?”

“No, sir. Unfortunately, there’s much more. But in a nutshell...”

“Yes?”

“Here’s the paradox: If you tell the truth, you’re more likely to be found guilty. If you lie, you’ll probably be found innocent.”

“In other words,” I add, “if you’re innocent, you’re guilty. If you’re guilty, you’re innocent.”

“That’s it, sir. May I give you the details tomorrow? Even a machine needs to rest.”

I pull the plug. Tomorrow, I will resurrect her, although she is always dead, no matter what.

Soon I must read between the lines and solve this mystery. And if I can’t? Perhaps, I’ll interrogate the Examiner. Take Him on a journey through Hades. What tall tale will He spin down there?


Copyright © 2008 by Mel Waldman

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