Well, like many others, this story got started from a prompt. In this case, each writer in class had to come up with an opening sentence for a story and the professor told us to pick one someone else wrote and turn it into a story.

This is another first draft…enjoy…

VFW

The first thing you need to know is that the VFW is full of liars. Trust me on this. This one has seventy-two dues-paying members and every last one of them is a card-carrying purveyor of falsehoods and alternative fact. I should know, I’m the president of this club. I can show you around and introduce you to some of our most prolific prevaricators, men who demonstrate untrammeled skills in the art of perjury.

See that man? The gent at the end of the bar in the ratty flannel shirt, dirty jeans, and work boots? That’s Stan and that, my friend, is a fair representative of the species Fabulis Fantasticus. Note the beady eyes, deep set under the large and furrowed brow and framed by exceptionally large and aggressive eyebrows. See how hard he’s concentrating on the mug of beer? That, my friend, is the look they all have. He’s sitting there, concocting some far-fetched tale about his days as a naval commando while he waits for his next victim. Problem is this. Stan there hates water and, rumor has it, swims like a mob rat wearing concrete boots.

Now look over there. See that man? The short one throwing darts? That one is your quintessential example of a serial fibber. That man—Larry is his name—will try to sell you a bill of goods about anything. Despite the fact that he’s dressed like a bum living out of a dumpster, Larry there claims he used to be colonel for Army intelligence. Claims that the get up is a disguise to protect himself from the Soviets or Stasi or something. Tells some pretty ridiculous sea stories about being a spy in Berlin back in the sixties. That’d make sense except Larry is only fifty-ish years old, which would have made him about three when he was supposed to have worked in Berlin. Hell, Larry even claims to have paid his dues.

Oh. Oh. Look over at the booths. See those two? The two guys with identical beards? Those guys are twins, each of them a pathological bender of reality. Maybe its in the genes for them. I don’t know. What I do know is that their fibs never match. Get either one of them alone and he’ll tell you fantastic yarns with details that are diametrically opposed to the same story told by the other guy. Both of them claim to have been at the first of Ia Drang and both claim to have fought at Hue City. I don’t know about that, but I do know that one of ‘em was Navy and the other was Coast Guard. Pretty unlikely isn’t it?

Here’s one of my favorites. See the guy coming out of the head? Yeah, that one. The clean-cut, well dressed, slightly obese gentleman? That guy is like five four or something and damn near four-hundred pounds. He just joined the club. He’s always dressed nice, almost like he joined one of those clubs that mails you new and fashionable clothes every month. He’s been out of the service for two months and says he used to be a Navy Seal. I’m gonna call bullshit on that, but only because, well, I know Seals come in all shapes and sizes, but I ain’t never seen a four-hundred-pound commando. Have you?

Let’s see. Who else? Oh. The guy who just sat down next to Stan. See him? That guy wears that old garrison cap of his everywhere. Probably wears it in the shower. He’s the elder equivocator here at the VFW. As far as we know, he actually was with the hundred and first airborne at Normandy and stayed with them for the duration of the war. He also seems to be honest about his service after the war. Retired just before we deployed massive numbers of troops to Nam. Problem with him is his family. Never met ‘em. No one here has. He always talks about his wife and kids. Claims his boys went to Harvard and Yale and says he’s got one grandkid playing pro golf and another one coaching the Red Sox. Won’t say who either is. Says its to protect both from fans. Seems kinda shady to me.

So that’s just a few of our connoisseurs of embellishment. As I said, the art of dissemblance abounds at this establishment and I’m the president. I was in the Navy. I was a quartermaster on the USS Ranger in the Gulf of Tonkin back when Saigon fell and I deployed to the Persian Gulf right after Al-Qaeda attacked New York and DC. I just retired five months ago and decided to live here. The dues are a hundred per year, payable to the treasurer. The beer here is cheap, the pretzels are free, and the tales are preposterous. Wanna join?

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