An aberrant virus has arrived on Earth. This disease was airborne and extremely contagious. When a human’s brain was activated as that person articulated a lie, the virus was aroused and quickly multiplied. Its target, the liar’s nose, now infected, became elongated, slowly or speedily, depending upon the depth of the deception. No other part of the body was affected. The researcher who first discovered the virus christened it, The Pinocchio Virus. Soon mankind was infected and afflicted.


Rumor says Sarah Jessica Parker was the first victim.

During its first months here, the virus’s spread was slow. Missing cookies added a small bump to the tip of Little Johnny’s nose. The corrective his mother offered included a warning that, if he continued to lie, the stork would return to take him back. The tip of her nose separated slightly away from the mouth that told that fib. The nose of Ted’s wife could detect the scent of expensive alcohol escaping from that orifice immediately beneath his slowly extending snout. For each reiteration, he offered of “A beer with the boys”, she noticed his nose approaching her. After several months of getting together with the girls, Molly’s husband had to help her remove her necklace. A shopper, when confronted by a massive snout had to decide if the salesman was very successful at his job or if it was the sign of a Romeo’s nocturnal triumphs. Medical journals were slow to report on this growing problem.

Within a year after its arrival, mankind was radically transformed. Most shocking was when the world’s hierarchy was infected. While they could, politicians hired actors who could be made up to resemble the pols. Eventually, the actors couldn’t keep their heads up. Cameras were prohibited at the doors and within the walls of government buildings. The noses of CEO’s of major corporations became so enlarged that these billionaires could no longer fit comfortably within the confines of their private elevators. In desperation, many of them moved their offices from the top stories of skyscrapers, closer to God or Mammon, to the lower floors of mere mortals, where climbing the stairs gave them some anonymity. Speaking of God, religious leaders conducted their services in darken churches, temples, and mosques. Their intent, they said, was to illustrate how the Eye of God could find sinners in the darkest corners of the world. Heaven help these spiritual leaders, if their sacred spaces became illuminated during a service.

pinocchio tatto

Some guys tried to fool girls. It didn’t work.

There were radical changes in the commercial world also. As used car salesmen could no longer fit comfortably into older cars, their business was in danger of becoming extinct. That the potential customers could not squeeze into the cars either was the final blow. There was a small market for convertibles, but they were now too expensive for most shoppers. Women’s clothing stores began to employ very, very young girls who were taught to memorize certain laudatory phrases. These children were trained to repeat the phrases when flashed on panels on the stores’ walls. As the children were reading, rather than talking, their noses were not affected.

There were radical changes in the humans’ physical world also. Once it was accepted that the human body had changed, men had to design spaces so people could again be comfortable again. The standard improvement had to be enlarging spaces so that people’s proboscises would not collide in public. Tables in restaurants were expanded. In a once busy and noisy restaurant, people now ate in silence. Passed food cooled more quickly. Seats in airplanes and other forms of public transportation were spread further apart. Consequently, these changes reduced the number of diners and riders, which caused prices to rise.

In men’s restrooms, a solution was found to a new problem created by the longer nose. Previously, men, while standing at a urinal, would stare fixedly at the wall until they finished eliminating. Then they would quickly turn about and speed to the sinks. Now, because the nose was the only body part to expand, a solution had to be found to this new problem of men’s distance from the urinal. The solution proved to be simple. Signs were placed slightly above the urinal. When read and heeded, the user would elevate his head and turn it to his left. At a concert’s intermission, the men’s room seemed to contain experimental dance troops, who moved their noses while they bobbed up and down before moving on. Privacy was thus restored.

Eventually, it was discovered that the virus could be forced to retreat when a consummate liar retracted his lie to the person who was injured or betrayed by it. The cure was much slower than the onset of the disease. Often liars could not correlate their lies to the recipients of the lie. Thus, instead of reducing the size of their noses, the misplaced apologies added inches.

Plastic surgery offered no aid. Rather it complicated the problem, for now the liar had not one nose, but two of equal length. Wisely, people stayed away from a third operation.

Ultimately, the virus won. Now proud parents would smile and accept the compliment from a friend on the growth of their child’s nose. This became a sign of growing maturity. Consequently, his parents and his teachers helped to form the child. Self-sacrifice was implicit as the noses of the child’s teachers were extended as well as the child’s. As years were added to the age of the well-education child, inches were added to this most favored feature, the nose.

And so approval of the extended nose was accepted by humanity. The length of this feature became the distinguishing sign of a successful liar. Someone you could trust to run the government or a business. With the sizable nose of a nation’s leader, an elephant would never need to bow his head to pick up a peanut. What had originally been a stigma was now considered an attribute of integrity.

hillary clinton pinocchio

Hillary finally got the respect she deserved.

A small distribution of individuals scattered around the world were immune to the virus. The small two-holed bump above their mouths was considered a negative characteristic, both physical and moral. The well-nosed majority discriminated against them. Unfortunately, these small nosed people became a lower caste and we know what happens to them. After all, who could trust a person who didn’t lie?

William Metcalfe has been writing all his life, without ever finishing a story. Because of poor handwriting, any attempt would become undecipherable within 3 months unless it was abandoned in 2. Instead, he spent ten years in a darkroom after work creating arty photographs. His life is now quieter and, as an iMac sits on his desk, he is returning to story telling. He often tempted to have iMac read his stories back to himself, but claims not to have found a voice that he wants to hear. This year, four of his stories have been published in four magazines— Country Magazine, Work Literary Magazine, Clever and Drunk Monkeys. A fifth is scheduled to be published in Bird’s Thumb later this year.
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