Authors: James Scott Bell
THE WHOLE TRUTH
Also by James Scott Bell
Breach of Promise
No Legal Grounds
Sins of the Fathers
The Nephilim Seed
City of Angels (coauthor)
Angels Flight (coauthor)
Angel of Mercy (coauthor)
A Greater Glory
A Higher Justice
A Certain Truth
Glimpses of Paradise
The Darwin Conspiracy
Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure
Sin has many tools,
but a lie is the handle which fits them all.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
THE WHOLE TRUTH
Copyright Â© 2008 by James Scott Bell
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ePub Edition January 2009 ISBN: 978-0-310-54358-9
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bell, James Scott.
The whole truth / James Scott Bell.
1. Lawyers â Family relationships â Fiction. 2. Threats â Fiction. 3. Fathers and daughters â Fiction. 4. Teenage girls â Fiction. I. Title.
813'.54 â dc22
All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means â electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other â except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
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This is a novel about brothers.
I dedicate it to mine.
Tim and Bob, this one's for you.
THE WHOLE TRUTH
They put Robert in Stevie's room when Stevie started getting night terrors. He was five and the terrors came hard one night when he woke up sure that a monster was trying to get him. He woke up screaming in the dark and when no lights went on he screamed louder because he thought the monster heard the screams and would try to kill him
His mom flicked on the light that first time, and Stevie saw through sleepy eyes his older brother, Robert, seven, rubbing his own eyes with his hands. He was in his train pajamas. Stevie would never forget that. All those years later, he would think of Robert in his train pajamas wondering why his little brother was screaming.
The terrors came three nights in a row. The third night was the worst and Stevie wet the bed and cried.
Stevie's dad yelled at his mother the next night. Stevie could hear them in the kitchen, arguing, like they usually did. His dad yelled, “You're not putting Robert in that room with the baby bed wetter.”
His mom yelled right back at him. “You're not the one who has to get up! You don't even hear him, you're so bombed. Robert's going to sleep with him for a while, and that's the way it's going to be.”
Then Stevie heard a noise and thought it was somebody falling hard to the floor in the kitchen. He never found out if it was his mom or his dad.
Robert didn't have a problem moving in with Stevie. The little house in Indio had three bedrooms. Four if you counted the living room as one, because that's where his dad slept most of the time. He'd drink beer and watch TV and usually fall asleep with the TV on.
That first night, Robert said he'd tell Stevie a story. That was way cool. Stevie loved his big brother, because he was athletic and fearless. Stevie wanted to be like Robert in every way, even wishing his brown hair was sandier like Robert's, and his eyes blue.
And he loved hearing Robert tell stories. Robert could tell the best ghost stories. But tonight Stevie hoped he wouldn't tell one of those, because they were too scary. Then Robert said he was going to tell a monster story and Stevie said maybe not, and Robert said just hang on and listen.
“Once upon a time,” Robert began â the room was dark except for the moonlight, and Robert's bed was close enough for Stevie to touch with his foot â “there were two baby monsters. Their names were Arnold and Beebleobble.”
Stevie cracked up.
was a funny name, but
was even funnier. Funny names for monsters. A funny monster story, he could deal with.
“One was green,” Robert said, “and one was blue.”
“Which one was green?” Stevie asked.
“Arnold. Beebleobble was blue.”
“Listen to the story.”
“One day Arnold and Beebleobble decided to go to the store.
Arnold wanted some peanut butter and Beebleobble wanted some gum. So they went into the store, and the man screamed, âMonsters!' and ran out of the store. But Arnold and Beebleobble didn't want to scare him. They were friendly monsters. They just wanted some peanut butter and some gum.”
“Was anybody else in the store?”
“No. So Arnold got some peanut butter and Beebleobble got some gum and they left without paying for it. Then the police came and said, âWhy did you scare that man?' and they said, âWe didn't mean to. We don't want to scare people. We just want to get some thing to eat. We have money.' So the policeman scratched his head and said to the man, âIf they have the money then everything's okay.' And the man said, âI guess so. I'm sorry. I thought they were trying to scare me.' So they paid him and went home and ate the peanut butter and chewed gum.”
Stevie smiled in the moonlight. “I didn't think monsters did that.”
“They were baby monsters,” Robert said. “They didn't know about scaring people yet.”
That night Stevie didn't have the terrors.
A week later, at kindergarten, it occurred to Stevie that Robert told the story that way just so he wouldn't be afraid of monsters trying to get him.
The terrors never came back. Until the night of the shattered eyes, when the real monsters came.
It was good to have Robert in the same room when Mom and Dad were fighting. Robert would say, “Don't worry. They'll get over it.”
Then Robert would tell another story about Arnold and Beebleobble. And even though Stevie could still hear the voices yelling in the kitchen, he'd get lost in the stories about the two baby monsters and everything would seem all right.
Of course, Stevie knew that Robert was Dad's favorite. Robert could throw a baseball almost across the park. He was built like Dad, strong and stocky. Stevie took after his mom, who was kind of skinny.
Lots of times Dad took Robert to the park to play and left Stevie at home.
Once Stevie cried about it and his dad took him outside and whacked his butt with a piece of kindling.
The night of the shattered eyes started with a hot wind from the desert. It blew into Stevie's room like a pair of hot gloves, pressing his face. Stevie's window looked east toward Highway 86 and across the valley, to the brown desolate mountains, sun-baked in the distance. There wasn't much but undeveloped land between the house and hills. Sometimes Stevie thought they lived at the end of the world. Because all he could see from his window was a whole lot of hot nothing.
This night, there was something on the wind. Stevie tried to tell Robert about it.
“It's hotter,” Stevie said.
“It's not so bad,” Robert said. “Sleep on top of the sheets. Sleep in your underwear.”
“I will if you will.”
In the darkness they took off their pajamas. Stevie wore underwear under his pajamas like Robert did.
Then Robert said, “Once upon a time, Arnold and Beebleobble decided to sleep on top of their cave. They looked up in the sky. They saw a shooting star. Some of the shooting-star dust fell on them and made it so they could each have one wish and it would come true. Arnold wished he could go to an Angels game. Beebleobble wished he could fly to the moon and back. And they got their wishes.”