Neighborhood Association

Today's Writing Prompt: You've been living a life filled with lies and it's time for you to come clean. There's one lie in particular that's been eating at you and you have to make right. Start off your response with: "I have a confession to make. I never really . . . " and explain the harm the lie caused and how you intend to rectify it.

        Mandrake heard his name called, but didn’t move a muscle. “Maybe they’ll just move on,” he thought to himself, staring intently at the scuff marks on his new shoes. As he continued to look down he could hear his friends and neighbors turning in their chairs, scouring the room for him. “I know he was here a few minutes ago, he was digging though the cob salad,” said Mrs. Grackle. “They’re ready for you,” said John, nudging Mandrake’s foot. Mandrake looked up, feigning ignorance, then took a deep breath and made his way through the Elgar’s crowded great room now stacked with chairs for the neighborhood meeting.         Mandrake made an effort to examine the floor as he went, and a greater effort to make such an activity seem important. As he reached the front of the room Mr. Elgar handed Mandrake the small PA mic. “Don’t worry, you’ll do fine. If you get stuck start with this.” With that Jerry handed Mandrake a small piece of paper, folded over once. He took another look out at the small audience. The Elgar’s, Jerry and Linda had staked out a corner near the front and sitting around them were Marty and Sam from next door and Mrs. Grackle. As his gaze panned over the rest of the neighbors in attendance the support and good will quickly faded until his eyes met with Mr. Bacchus on the far side of the room. Mandrake cleared his throat and began.         “Good evening ladies and ahh . . . gentlemen. Yes well.” Sweat began to form on Mandrake’s brow, collecting in his eyebrows and pooling on the top of his glasses. “I suppose I have a confession to make.”         “Tell the joke,” came Jerry’s voice from somewhere in the back, quickly by a swift rebuke in hushed tones from Mrs. Elgar.         Mandrake glanced down at the paper, now crumpled in his hand. He unfolded it and glanced over the hastily scribbled words. There was something about a nun and a boat full of ducks and Sigmund Freud. Mandrake quickly though better of it and put the paper in his coat pocket.         Mr. Bacchus began rising from his seat. “If he’s not going then maybe we’ll just see what the police have to . . .” Before he could finished his threat Mandrake raised his hand and continued.         “Well like I was saying, I have a confession to make to all of you. I never really know what to say in these situations, but then again I suppose no one does. I’m not sure that anyone has been in this particular situation to begin so I guess this is a first for everyone.” Mandrake began to laugh nervously and pick at the buttons on his coat. “Right, well, suppose the best thing is honesty all ‘round, right. So ahh, well I’ve gone and lost all of your souls. There, I said it.”

        The neighborhood meeting lasted well on into the evening, and it was well past midnight by the time Mandrake stumbled back to his front door. He fumbled though his pockets for the key, but found only the crumpled joke Mr. Elgar had slipped him. He held the paper up to the light, and spun in place so that the street lap on the corner cast its dim glow over the messy writing. Now that he finally read through the whole joke it was actually quite funny. Mandrake wondered for a moment if he had told it after all things might have gone better.         He began thinking back over the series of events, his pronouncement, the derisive laughter from his neighbors, the insults shouted in muddled Greek from Mr. Bacchus, and finally the shower of deviled eggs from the neighborhood boys, that was the worst part. He considered each event and how it would logically have played out differently if he had told the joke. It was a weak argument at best and Mandrake knew it. This was probably why all the mad scientists in moves had secret layers in large castles and hollowed out volcanos, so they didn’t have to deal with all the neighborhood association.         Mandrake’s head was swimming with the disappointment of the evening. On his way out the door Linda had tried to cheer him up while brushing bits of egg out of his hair and off of his coat. “Up until the egg thing I think it was going pretty well,” she had said, “Just give it a week or so. I’m sure Jerry and I can drum up a few more votes and you’ll get the permit to build your . . . well you know, your little project. Just try and focus on the positive.” Mandrake turned the evening’s events over and over in his mind, but they only seemed to pose further annoying questions. “Why do hors d’œuvre always have to be so easy to throw anyway?”