John HaskellUSAWriting2010
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To Tell the Truth

I'm on a game show. They're paying me money to be on this show, and to use my name, and before the show we all get makeup. Two other men are part of it. I don't know them; they're actors maybe, or volunteers, and a woman pats our faces with powder for the lights and the cameras. The host of the show is short, a runt like me, and he shakes my hands and wishes me luck, but luck for what? He shakes everybody's hand. He's a hand shaker and I don't care about him. A woman leads us out of the waiting room, they call it the green room, and I'm not supposed to talk to the two other men and we're led onto a stage. The lights are bright and the host sits behind a desk and four people, two men and two women, sit behind other desks and we're all supposed to lie and say who we are. But I'm not lying. A man off to the right is signaling, to us and to the cameras. The announcer's voice says, One of these men is the real Lee Harvey Oswald, and the first man — we're lined up, the three of us, facing the people behind the desks — and the first man steps forward, and then I step forward. Same with the third man. We're dressed more or less alike. I'm in a button-down shirt and one guy has a suit and the other guy is wearing overalls. The people behind the desk crack jokes and ask us questions, and we're supposed To Tell the Truth. That's the name of the show, and they're trying to guess who's really me. I thought we'd be sitting in chairs, but we're standing, not very comfortable, and one of the panelists, a man with glasses, asks me if I'm involved with sports. No. He asks the man to my right if he's in politics, and he's pretending to be me, and he says, In a way, and I think that's wrong. It's not about politics. It's about me. And a lady whose supposed to be elegant asks me if I'm famous for what I did, and I don't answer right away and she adds, Or what you're about to do, and I say Yes, and we're not allowed to elaborate so I don't. Is it something to do with changing the world, and I don't know what she means by the world, but Yes, I say because I'm part of the world. The other woman asks the man on my left, who looks like a truck driver, if he's a religious person and he says, No, and the lady asks me if what I am has anything to do with death, but I'm not stupid. They want to find out who I am but I won't say. I'm not lying but I'm not telling. I thought I would be nervous, but I'm not. Not anymore. The lights feel good on my face. And then I wake up.