You could say Newton’s third law had been my guiding principle. That for every action there’s an opposite and equal reaction. You might think it strange for a journalist to apply the laws of physics in their work; but to me it was clear, all you needed to do was follow a series of events and their consequences and everything would all add up like a formula, an equation. A neat sum of facts, arriving at the truth.
I’d succumbed to the seductive powers of determinism. You could say that I was wrong.
You could also say, that I’ve come to understand that lies are facts yet to become reality, though that took me longer than it should have. It’s all a con, another physicist taught me that, he said, ‘What we take to be true is what we believe…What we believe determines what we take to be true.’ We live in a post-fact world. Honestly.
And yet, for a while, I was the purveyor of truth, a crusader for justice- all right, not quite that, but people read my work, they trusted me. I won an award or two. I could swing the polls, shift the vote, bring a corporation to its knees. You’ll remember the stories I broke; they were big news. Sources came to me; I didn’t have to seek them out. I was the good guy, I exposed the corrupt, the dirty, and the unfair. And I believed, completely and totally, in what I was doing. It mattered.
For the record, I was on to something, the St.Clair bank and their links to terrorist organisations; that was real. I say was, because it isn’t now. Now it’s a poorly researched article written in bad faith, for the moment at least. And Melanie? I was seventeen when she disappeared, a kid. She was a figment of my imagination. No one really saw her, not even me. She wasn’t real, I mean she was, she was flesh and blood – alive; what I mean is she became a story, a myth, a series of actions and consequences folded into my own history. That was my fault.
Nothing ever really goes away; isn’t that another law of physics? Entropy. A material version of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, atoms reorganised, reconfigured, but never totally destroyed? There’s only so long before a new version of truth reveals itself, the skeletons in the wardrobe rattle and clack and the body is discovered.
And there’s always a body, dead or alive. Every story needs a body.