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7A: Someone lied to you.  
23:59:00, September 17th, 2006
John Henry Holliday, DDS
Write about a time when someone lied to you.

Once upon a time in Denver
I was walking, and I sat upon a bench to rest. On the corner was a newspaper boy, and I watched him a little, selling his papers. My friend Eddie Foy told me once how he had sold papers, long before in Chicago, when his family had nothing, after his papa died. He had not been able to go to school, for raising money for his mama and sisters. He had quietly borrowed a shovel and made enough money once to buy a dollar fifty worth of newspapers at three cents each. He sold them for five cents each - a small profit of a dollar, but a room was twenty five cents a night, and he could eat. I've always liked Eddie. He was so full of light and open welcome - to anyone.

So I watched this boy, on the street corner in Denver, and thought of my old friend. And after a little, it occurred to me that it was a school day, and the boy was surely young. I can let nothing lay - no anomaly, nothing wrong. I called him over to my bench, but he would not take the time to talk to me, for he had to sell his papers. And I knew that Eddie had sometimes been at a loss, unable to sell his papers either, and they could not eat those nights. I bought all the boy had left - such a small sum. Why, I have wagered a thousand dollars on the turn of a card! Such a small thing, but the relief on his face, the astonishment. I have always liked diligent serious children, been good with them. And I have always valued and promoted education. My own was so... wonderful.

And so, struck with what he considered to be his good fortune, he did speak to me, when I asked. And I took him with me and we had a fine lunch, for he was surely hungry also. He had gone to school. He could read and write and do sums. He liked animals and had had a dog. But his papa had died long since, and when his mama died also, he had gone to live with a distant infirm aunt. They were destitute, and as I suspected, only his selling of the newspapers granted them in the poor shelter and repast on which they survived. He spoke wistfully of how he wanted to study, so he could look after his aunt and so he could be a fine man like me. And at that I smiled sadly. He told me he still worked in the evenings, at his arithmetic and writing, so that he could someday return to school.

He took me to the room he shared with his aunt, and I stopped on the way to buy a bag of the coal, a small shovel of which he bought each day to keep them warm. And he showed me his books, the work he did with a candle at night. And I spoke to his aunt. She did not trust to my good will at first, but I am also good with the ladies, and I was clean and well-spoken and of course well-dressed. It was said I looked like a preacher, or a lawyer. John H. Holliday, I told them, leaving it at that. She was full of sorrow at the life she could only give the boy, and I brought her hope, I like to think. I did extract a promise - that I would help them, if the boy would go to school. And yes, I moved them to better accommodations, and I paid for them. And then... I did look after them, paid for the boy's school, made sure they had enough to eat. I received the school reports, and the boy did well. I sent money regularly, to the bank. I visited when I could, took the boy to the fine places a boy should see. My identity remained my property, for I wanted them to feel secure and respectable. I never valued it for myself, but I could never have a child. So much loss, so long ago, had put paid to that dream. And I wanted... something - to do something good. To make the word better for and through... someone. And I thought of my papa and the Mexican boy he had brought home to care for before he had even married my mama, all the children he had adopted and raised afterwards. I suppose he did set me some good example. And I supported this boy, sent money through a bank, kept in close touch, until the boy went through agricultural college. It was his choice, and he made me proud. Proud of him, and proud of myself. He became a rancher and a gentleman.

Now, it happened that I received a letter, when I had supported them for some years, and lived... somewhere. I will not tell you, even now, for we all learned from the Stillwell fiasco. I suppose the man who sent the letter had somehow stolen or found my address and circumstances from the bank in Denver. I never did find how he knew to contact me. In the letter, the man wrote strange things, demanding a large sum of money on behalf of the boy. An additional amount, for the boy's mother was in straights and needed this to pay critical debts that would ruin her and the boy, send them to destitution again were they not paid. He threatened me - me! - with paternity suits, court and all manner of legal difficulties. I looked into it, made a quick trip to Denver, and satisfied myself that the boy and his aunt knew nothing of the matter. Yes, his aunt, for you will recall that his mama had been dead before I had entered their lives.

And I invited the man to visit me where I was residing, for a short time. I intimated, though did not avow, that I was worried and concerned, all responsibility, that I could not come to Denver myself, being on a run of... 'luck.' But of course I needed to discuss the situation, in all its urgency. I extended my hospitality. And yes, he came. There was record that he took the train, that he arrived, collected his baggage. Yet somehow, though I was waiting for him, expecting him, he never arrived at the house where I was staying. And as they say, he was never seen again. Strange. How very strange. How very strange indeed. I cannot now recall another incident where someone lied to me. But my reaction was anomalous as well. I am all for Truth and Honesty.

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 1128
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