The Outlier

Sheryl brought him to our party, Vern, a guy she’d met in her Psych class.

We were playing Telegraph or Telephone, or some such name indicative of communication.
You whisper something in the ear of the person next to you,
who whispers it into the next person’s ear, and so on,
until the message is received by the last person in the circle, who then says it aloud.
The final version is often quite different from the original.
I’d began it with a couple lines of poetry, and Vern, who sat to my left, was last to start one.
He leaned over and whispered in my ear.
It had all been light matter, except for Carol’s math equation,
but even that turned out funny, because everyone intentionally corrupted it into total nonsense.
“Sorry,” I said, “could you say that again?”  He did.
I hesitated, then said, “I’m really sorry, but I can’t repeat that.”
Vern’s expression was strange, a small, anguished smile.
Saying nothing, he calmly stood, and he and Sheryl left.
Everyone had been silent, finally Bobbie, our host, asked, “What the hell did he say?”
I thought about it, but refused to tell them.
It was really ugly, and he’d scared me.

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