"Lies, damned lies - and statistics."
“You’re being a hypocrite, Mac,” Joe Dawson admonished, fixing the Highlander with a stern, paternal glare.
Refusing to be fazed, Duncan MacLeod took another swallow of his whisky. It did little to soothe his frustration. Finally, he took a deep breath and reciprocated Joe’s stare with one of equal fervor. “Why? Why do you say that?”
Joe reached out, made contact with Duncan’s upper arm and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Mac – just calm down and think about it. What right do you have to demand that Methos be open and honest when we’re all liars! So he wasn’t where he said he was last weekend! There’s probably a good reason.”
Duncan’s rolled eyes, additional drink and head-shaking denial were not conducive to the attempted conciliatory talk.
Joe refused to be put off. “Think about it, Mac. Given the life we all live and the Game we’re all caught up in, the only thing that's surprising is if someone does tell the truth! Think about your own life. How often are you up front about who you are and what you really do for a living?”
“I try to be as honest as I can, Joe. You know that.”
“Yeah – you lived a lie for three years with Tessa. And I won’t even go there with Ann. Richie knew nothing about his immortality until it literally blew up in his face.”
Duncan stood and paced. “They’re not fair examples and you know it. There were good reasons for all of them.”
“That’s my point Mac! You decide what is and isn’t a good reason and that’s all the justification you need to either tell the truth or conceal it. You obfuscate. Mislead. Admit it – you don’t operate off some universal ethic of truth-telling. You take a hard, cold decision about what people should or shouldn’t know and that’s all the justification you bother with for what you’ll reveal and what you wont. What you’ll lie about and what you wont.”
“But there isn’t a prime motivation to mislead! We’re talking about life and death issues here, Joe. I don’t have a right to compromise life for other Immortals and if we all just blathered to anyone about who we are or what we do there’d be chaos. And a lot more killing.” Joe watched Duncan become more physical in his passionate and eloquent self-justification. Eyes became enlarged and dark. Hands were used as theatrical props.
Joe shook his head and smiled. “Exactly! You have excellent reasons as far as you’re concerned, every time you don’t tell the truth. My point is that that’s as often as you deem it necessary. You don’t see anything morally wrong with lying, Mac – it’s just a matter of whether the reason is good enough by your high standards. So it’s hypocritical to get angry with Methos for doing the same thing.”
Duncan stared at the bartender and collapsed back on to the barstool. “Motivations are important. Even if I accept what you’re saying, I don’t accept that I lie without a second thought. There has to be a good reason for me to conceal the truth and that reason more often than not concerns someone’s life or right to continued life. I choose to bear the guilt that lying causes me because I don’t like it and I don’t do it casually.”
“And you’re saying that Methos does? Is that what this is about? Or is your problem that he lies to you?” A look of understanding came over Joe’s face as Duncan looked down and away. “Oh Mac…Mac. Okay Buddy – I see where you’re coming from.”
Duncan looked back, fiercely, and challenged the man who knew him like no other to now give further proof of that intimate understanding.
“You’re upset not because Methos lies – but because you think that you should be special enough to be the one person he doesn’t lie to.” It wasn’t a question – more a statement of fact.
Duncan sighed. “You can be a real pain in the arse, you know that Dawson.”
Joe laughed. He reached for a cloth to wipe the bar down and threw another at the Highlander. “If you’re going to keep me up late giving you free psychoanalysis you can at least work for your supper. Start wiping down the tables for me.”
Duncan did as directed, saying nothing until half way through the task. “Okay – maybe that is why I’m upset. But damn it Joe – I don’t lie to him. One of the best things for me about this relationship was that I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. I’m honest about challenges I take – where I’m going and what I’m doing.”
“Mac – he’s not you! He’s had five thousand years of covering his back. You don’t just drop habits like that. Besides, it all comes down to motivations – like you said.”
Duncan looked at him, clearly confused.
Joe tried further explanation. “You yourself admitted that the Game imposes a web of deception on all of us – Watchers and Immortals. It isn’t the lie that’s wrong – it’s why the lie is being told.”
“Yeah – and we rationalise everything that way don’t we,” muttered the Scott – throwing Dawson’s towel back at him.
“Yeah – we do. What else is there at the end of the day? Have you asked him why he lied to you about where he was last weekend?”
“Nah. What’s the point? If he wanted me to know then he’d have told me.” He sat back down, clearly miserable.
Joe came from behind the bar and sat next to him. Reaching for the whisky he poured another two glasses. “Mac – did you ever go somewhere different to where Tessa thought you were going?”
“Of course I did. But only when – “
“Exactly! Whatever your reasons, you thought they were good enough to lie. You did it to protect her. Good, sound motivations. Of course, she’d have been as pissed as hell with you had she known – for the very same reasons you’re pissed with Methos. You feel like a child who’s being patronised.”
“Exactly! Joe, I know what you’re trying to say. But it hurts!”
“Mac – did you love Tessa any the less for wanting to protect her?”
“Of course I didn’t. It wasn’t her fault that she didn’t have the experience or skills to deal with what I was dealing with.”
“But she would have wanted to be there for you wouldn’t she? And you denied her that opportunity – to protect her.”
Duncan started playing with the coasters. “Yeah – well fat lot of good that did in the end.”
“Listen to me Mac – go home and talk to Methos about this. Tell him that you know where he was last weekend and ask him why he told you something different. Don’t brood about it. But you have to accept that it might not be his truth to tell. Heck – maybe it’s something really simple – like buying a surprise birthday present for you!”
Duncan laughed. “I accept what you‘re saying about motivations and my hypocrisy. But when you know you’re being lied to, you stop trusting.”
“Duncan – this is about your insecurity. Lies, untruths, deceptions – they’re just how we all live our lives. Tessa probably didn’t trust you to be telling her the truth a lot of the time. But she trusted your judgment and your love - even if she didn’t like what always resulted from it.”
Duncan rose and reached to retrieve both of their coats. As he turned back, Joe reached out and took him by the shoulders. “Sometimes you just have to be pragmatic. You’re caught up in a game that you didn’t ask for. It imposes all sorts of obligations and a way of life on you that isn’t what you would've chosen. Don’t think of it as a web of lies – it’s more a tournament. And that means, my friend, that you can have rules. Talk to Methos about what those rules need to be. You both need a clear understanding with each other about the sins of omission and commission. The white lies and the black lies. The acceptable deceptions and the totally unacceptable ones. And another thing, Mac."
"What?" queried the Scot.
"In the real
tournaments, both knights were supposed to use blunt weapons. Remember
Duncan smiled and reached across to place one of his own strong hands on top of Joe’s. “Thanks Joe. Mind you – I think that Methos and I are about to have a screaming match but that’s better than not talking about our problems.” As an after thought he added, "And I promise that we'll use blunt swords. Maybe - "
Five minutes later, as Duncan helped Joe to take various items to his car, the two bade each other farewell. “Look on the bright side, Mac.”
“And what would that be?” Duncan quizzed, as he moved to retrieve his car keys.
“The make up sex should be spectacular.”
“There is that,” Duncan smiled.
“Knowing the old man, that was probably his motivation all along,” Joe offered, as he pulled out from the kerb.
Duncan stopped suddenly and stared open-eyed after Joe as he drove into the night. He started to laugh as Joe’s last comment registered. Their sex life was incredible – but, he conceded, lightly caressing his lower lip, there was an extra spark after a fight that always made the fight worthwhile. There was no doubt about it, he chuckled – they were both drama queens! Gods – perhaps Methos had just been spoiling for a good old-fashioned fight with some great make up sex?
Why – why – did life have to be so complicated?
Perhaps Joe was right – perhaps the entire weekend incident had been set up by his lover to get a rise out of him – in more ways than one. Certainly, as Methos well knew – Duncan was not a poster boy for a tolerant new age guy when it came to sharing his lover with anyone. Wondering where that lover had spent the weekend had certainly done its bit to elevate the Highlander's temper, blood pressure – possessiveness and libido.
Methos’ insouciance was in full swing when Duncan arrived at the Loft – a little older and wiser than when he had left Joe’s some ten minutes before.
“So – lover-mine. Been with Joe all evening? inquired Methos – altogether too smug, and complacent for his aggrieved lover’s liking.
“Joe’s? Nah - I thought about going there but decided to go to a club instead,” Duncan lied.
Duncan ignored Methos' predatory body language and sudden interest while he slowly stripped off his coat and sweater, carefully removed the katana and making a show of languidly smelling the coat and sweater before throwing them in the dry cleaning hamper. “Just a place I discovered last weekend while you were at your conference. I tried to call you a few times to tell you about it but you were out of range. Funny that – since when has San Francisco been out of range?” he queried, all innocence.
In the far distance, a chorus sang of payback time.
"Where were you?" Duncan insisted.
"Where've you been then?" Methos snapped back.
Their real whereabouts
were forgotten amidst the shouting match that followed - and the equally vehement groans and grunts that followed
from the bed some hours later as both proceeded to brand the other as private territory.
As Duncan started to finally fall into a deep – albeit somewhat sticky slumber, he reminded himself of the therapeutic value of a good white lie.
“What are you chuckling about Duncan? I’m surprised you have any energy left to even blink,” muttered an exhausted Methos.
“Me? I’m just lying here,” Duncan quipped, taking pleasure in the fact that the double-entrendre would be lost on Methos. And you’re right – I’m exhausted. But tomorrow, Methos, we have to talk. Quietly.”
“Gods – what about? After the computations and permutations we’ve just been through with the fight and the sex I think that we’ve set some new statistical record –and that’s saying something for someone who mentored Euclid.”
“We’re going to talk about something you’re very familiar with – lies, damned lies – and then, we can try to achieve some new statistics in the after-glow.”
Methos groaned and rolled over. “Mac – about last weekend….”
EndNote: It is Disraeli who is credited with saying that there are 3 kinds of lies - lies, damned lies - and statistics! Some also credit Mark Twain, apparently.
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