A Sleight of Hand

“Uh-ahh, not so quick. Funny thing happened when we plugged in that thumb drive, Bethy.” He cocks his head. “It is okay if I still call you Bethy, right? I mean, we’re still friends, aren’t we?” A smile, then a tsk. “All we found were pictures. Pictures of you and me, Bethy. Ah, the memories, huh?” He reaches over and grabs a matted strand of her long black hair, rubbing it between two fingers. “I almost started to laugh, I should have known you’d have switched them; that you’d figured me out. You always were too smart for your own good. But, unfortunately the folks I work for didn’t see it quite so humorously.” He leans back against a rock and wipes his forehead with the bottle, another smile breaking across his face. “What say we make a little trade, eh? One bottle of water, slushy with ice, for the real drive?”

She squints her eyes, licks her leathery lips. Why can’t the mirage just shut up and give her a drink of that water? One tiny sip. She can practically feel the cool rushing across her parched tongue, down her baked dry throat.

He sighs. It’s long and impatient. “Where is it, Bethy?”

“Y-You gave in too qu-quick, Mark. I coul-dint trust you anymore. But I st-still l-loved you.” She heaves a sob, but still no tears will come. Why won’t he give her any of that water? “We have…have to let every, everyone kn-know.”

“You know, of course, no one really cares. It’s old news, Bethy. This stuff happened twelve years ago. All anyone wants to hear about now is some juicy gossip on some celebrity. Give me a good divorce or a cheat, now that’ll get you some hits on You Tube.”

She shakes her head. “You’re…you’re wrong, Mark. The people need to know. That video shows they…they were wa-waging a campaign”--she takes in a long, raspy breath—“to convince us there was a connection be-between 911 and Sa…Sadam. It needs to been seen.”





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