This story was written for the Six Sentence story challenge with the prompt word of ‘filter’.
You know that filter that’s supposed to intervene between what you think and what you say, that filter that weighs up the consequences of honesty versus the need to be polite and to consider the future consequences for your relationship with that person?
Liam didn’t possess such a filter, even though he wasn’t autistic or intellectually disabled and he didn’t have a penchant for saying hurtful things just to revel in their effect; the idea that his truthful answers may interfere in some way with his ongoing friendships just never occurred to him.
The fact that Helen’s breath frequently smelled of alcohol, Don’s wife was having an affair with his accountant, Charlene was posting nude pictures of herself on Tinder, Ernie was in debt up to his eyeballs because of his gambling habit and Glenda was raking off a percentage of the collection at her church were to Liam simply facts of his known universe, just like his inability to filter information he received before sharing it.
In fact, Liam didn’t think that possessing such a filter was necessarily in the best interests of anybody because he believed that it led to the disappointment of people missing out on jobs, not being invited to certain events, not being trusted with the petty cash and experiencing divorce on non-specific grounds and never knowing why these things occurred, let alone being given the opportunity to refute an allegation or to mend their ways.
So, imagine his surprise when the Secret Service came to call to enquire as to whether he’d ever thought of a career in espionage, including working deep under cover in remote but sensitive locations, the reasoning being that, because of his reputation for unfiltered frankness, whatever he was told (which of course would be inaccurate) would end up in the hands of foreign agents and muddy their waters.
Liam was delighted to accept and knew that none of his friendships had been affected in the slightest by his unrestrained, unfiltered responses and he knew this because Helen, Don, Charlene, Ernie and Glenda all came to wave him off as he departed for his new career in a Secret Service car disguised as an ambulance.