Later that evening, Rhonda worked up the courage to ask why he arrived home before her. His response did little to ease any lingering suspicions she had. He claimed that he became ill at work and came home early. The contradiction between his story and the known facts caught her off guard. Her mind raced to explain and defend his apparent deception.
She was determined to find a way to give him the benefit of the doubt but for the life of her, she couldn’t. When she was unable to reconcile the two conflicting testimonies, she elected to venture even farther into the mire of deception. Confrontation was scary and she was afraid of what she might find but the journey toward truth was necessary. She wanted to find out how far he would go to cover up whatever he was doing. Ultimately the goal was to ascertain why he was deceiving her. With any luck, it was a ‘benevolent’ lie to hide something positive like a birthday gift or surprise party.
“Did you get a chance to examine that disturbed earth we were talking about in the family plot?” She kept feeding him more ‘line’ to see if he would take the bait and hook himself worse but she never dreamed he would do it.
Without hesitation, Ray lied again. He claimed he had been upstairs in the attic bedroom asleep from the moment he arrived home. Realizing she wasn’t going to let the subject go, he promised to take a look at it ‘when he was feeling better’. Rhonda couldn’t believe her ears.
“Why was he lying about such an odd, trivial thing?”; She wondered. Normally she could tell when he was lying from a mile away and she would call him on it. The fact that he was able to mask this falsehood with no hint of deceit, really bothered her. For several moments her imagination ran wild. Then she remembered that their anniversary was in a few days.
As crazy as it sounded, Rhonda suspected Ray had spent the whole day looking for the perfect gift and had buried it in the plot behind the house. “He’s just sneaky enough to dream up something like that.”; She decided. “He knows there is nowhere inside the house that I wouldn’t find it. I’m on to his little plan but I won’t ruin his surprise for me. Hopefully he has my present in a weatherproof container.”
As usual, the Hobbs watched television in the living room after dinner. The 6 PM news came on and the lead story caught Rhonda’s eye.
“In today’s top story, a 24 year old woman is still missing after her disappearance more than a month ago. Also, a fire broke out in …”.
Ray changed the channel from his recliner.
“Ray, I was watching that!”; Rhonda exclaimed in annoyance.
“I’m tired of bad news. Surely there is something less depressing on than that.”; He defended. The channel he changed to also had the news on. The newscaster was in mid-sentence.
“Last seen driving her car on the night of…”.
Ray instantly switched the channel again to a Public Television Station. In perhaps the least likely event in history, he proceeded to sit through 30 minutes of ‘Madam Butterfly’.
“Why are we watching THIS?”; She asked perplexed. “You told me you can’t stand opera and wouldn’t be caught dead watching it!”
“Watching it IN PERSON”; He quickly clarified. “There’s a difference, you know. I just can’t stand all those stuffy people there, that’s all.”
“They air an opera every Tuesday night on P.B.S.; She sneered. “Why haven’t we ever watched one before?”
“Can’t a guy try to broaden his horizons every once in a while without getting the third degree?”; He snapped defensively. Rhonda just eyed him suspiciously. There was definitely something going on and she was going to get to the bottom of it.