THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES
I walked up to the woden shack and peered inside the smoked-glass window. I had a date to meet my writing buddies and loyal followers of my literary journey through the metaphorical woods.
Okay, not so metaphorical. I swung my canoe up and out, stopping briefly at the shoulder, then hip. I propped it against the log building and wiped the sweat from my brow. The woods were hot, as only a humid summer day can be in the Midwest. I needed a drink and a break from the swarm of mosquitoes that had followed me along the path. I was also late for my meeting.
I pushed my way inside and bellied up to the empty bar.
“Tequila,” I said. “With a clamato chaser.”
The barkeep eyed me skeptically. “Odd drink of choice.”
I shrugged. “I’m a writer.” As if that would explain everything. And it did. In a sense. Why else would I be portaging the BWCA? I had something important to reveal and it had to be done in person.
However, a quick glance around the room showed I was alone in the Cyber Cafe. Alone with the multitude of stuffed, porcelain and painted calves that decorated the bar.
“”Three seventy-five.” The barkeep slammed a glass down in front of me. Amber liquid sloshed over the rim and dribbled down the etched likeness of a cow.
It was like a bad omen and I shivered slightly despite the summer heat. I dug in my backpack for some change. Organization had never been my strong suit. Not since my big sister ran over my head with her blue banana seat bike. I sported tire tracks on my forehead for days after that. However, in moments like these, I felt my sis might be right that the damage was more than skin deep.
I sighed and began emptying my bag onto the counter. The barkeep blew out a sigh to rival my own as he watched the growing mound of junk. Hair clips, chapstick, Kindle, trophy, kleenex….
“What’s this, eh?”
I peered out from the depths of my backpack. The barkeep held my blue and silver trophy in his hand. His eyes gleamed for the first time. “Oh, that’s nothing.”
“A tro-phy, eh?” He reverently ran his fingers over the molded calf on top. “Says ro-de-oh.”
My cheeks grew hot and I tugged at my collar, embarrassed that I felt the need to bring my trophy at all. Yet I had a nagging suspicion my cyber buddies would have more than a nagging suspicion if I revealed the truth without proof.
I reached for the trophy and popped it back in my bag. I fished out my cash and dropped it on the counter, stood and scanned the room for my friends. Their lateness had passed rude and was dangerously close to impertinent. “What’s the name of this place?”
The barkeep shot me a look that said he was still unhappy about me pulling the trophy out of his hand. “The Cyber Cafe.”
I paced. Jean’s voice had been exactly how I pictured it when she explained the directions to our meeting place. At the time, she had begged me to divulge my two truths and a lie. I refused to give in. Yet now, as I paced the back woods bar, my imagination took hold. Maybe she was miffed with me for not telling her. I shook my head. Surely that wouldn’t be enough for her to misdirect me.
Eventually, the tequila ran right through me and I made my way to the restroom. After washing my hands, I noted a sign on the door. Thanks for stopping by the Cyber Calf.
A bad feeling settled over me as I made my way to the counter. “What’s the name of this place again?”
The barkeep froze, his rag mid dry on the shot glass. “I’ll tell ya for that neat little trophy you got.”
I weighed my options. I could hand over my championship trophy and figure out where the heck my journey had taken me, or I could stubbornly hold onto the only tangible evidence of my first place win (not second) and stay stranded forever.
After adding to the barkeep’s growing collection of calf paraphenalia, I hoisted my canoe and made double time through the woods. The trail ended beside a well-kept log cabin. The Cyber Cafe.
It was with great relief that when I entered this bar, a crowd of familiar faces sat at a table with an open seat. I dropped my backpack and plopped into the chair.
“Sorry I’m late.” I scanned the crew, putting faces to names in real time.
Jean smiled, raised her margarita and said, “Must’ve made a pit stop at the Cyber Calf, eh?”
Welcome to Canada!