Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Falsify

falsify
verb, transitive. To prove or declare false; to make false by mutilation or addition, as a will; to misrepresent; to prevent the fulfillment of.
verb, intransitive. To tell lies.

Mike couldn't keep still as he waited for Mr. Hendricks to end a phone call and summon him. The hard, wooden chair was uncomfortable and he suspected that Mrs. Collier, Hendricks' secretary, was glaring at him when he wasn't watching her. He thought he had been doing well at this job and couldn't imagine why Hendricks wanted to talk to him. Had he been found out after all these months?

Mike knew he shouldn't have falsified so much of the information on his application. He should have known better. It was just that, after all the rejections he received after being truthful, he had become desperate. All he had needed was a chance to prove that he could go straight and do honest work, and he felt that he had done so at this job. What was he going to do after Hendricks fired him? All he could think of was that phrase he had read in some old classic he had been assigned in school before he had dropped out: "Woe is me." Woe is me, indeed, Mike thought in despair. Not admitting that he hadn't graduated from high school was almost as bad as not admitting that he had served time in prison. Both facts would turn up on even the most sketchy background check. What had he been thinking?

"Mr. Hendricks will see you now, Mike," Mrs. Collier interrupted his gloomy thoughts.

He stammered, "Thank you, ma'am," as he rose and entered the boss' office.

"Good to see you, Mike," the man said, gesturing toward an upholstered chair that faced him across his desk. As soon as Mike sat, Hendricks began. "I've been keeping an eye on you lately. You pay attention and work hard. You never try to short me on your hours. Do you know that you're the only man on the loading dock who goes straight to work after you clock in? The others rush to the time clock right after they enter the building. Once they're on company time, they stand around gossiping for fifteen minutes before they lift a finger. Like a bunch of high school girls!"

Mike stared at his boss in confusion as Hendricks paused after that statement. Wasn't he in trouble? It didn't sound as if he was. Why, then, was he here?

"I wanted to ask you something, Mike," Hendricks continued. "Would you be interested in supervising the loading dock? Dave Smith is leaving. He's found another job. You're the only worker I would feel comfortable promoting. If you don't want the job, I'll have to see if I can hire someone to replace Dave."

Mike felt stricken with surprise and remorse. If he accepted the offer without coming clean, the consequences would only be worse when he was found out later. If he refused the offer without explanation, Hendricks would be more likely to have him investigated, something he obviously hadn't done. He squirmed. If he was ever going to confess that he lied on his application, it would have to be now. He took a deep breath.

Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Evade

evade
verb, intransitive. To slip away; to take refuge in evasion.
verb, transitive. To elude by dexterity or strategem; to escape; to avoid facing up to; to avoid the performance of; to circumvent; to avoid answering directly

The man wearing the dark-brown sweater and patched jeans was following her, Emma decided. She stood at the window of a gift shop, watching the reflections in the glass instead of looking at the items on display. The man was across the street, about three doors down. Instead of looking into the window of the store where he idled, he had his back to it. His gaze moved about, but returned to her more often than anywhere else.

Emma leaned closer to the glass as if straining to see something better and weighed possibilities. Was he a cop? She doubted it. He had been too easy to spot. That left one of Holland's underlings, or a mugger. Either way, he was a problem that needed solving.


She rummaged for her compact and opened it, her back still to the stalker. She snickered when she saw him flinch, turn and move two doors further away, spooked by the mirror. What an amateur! Didn't he realize that she had been observing his reflection on the window for several minutes? She snapped the compact shut and knew that he would be easy to evade. The gift shop connected to a clothing store by a side door inside, and that store had a coffee bar with an outdoor seating area in the back. Because Emma had worked there, a long time ago, she knew about the hidden gate in the courtyard wall that opened onto an alley.

Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Deceive

deceive
verb, transitive. To cause someone to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain a personal advantage. As "deceive oneself," to fail to admit to oneself that something is true. To be sexually unfaithful to one's regular partner.
verb, intransitive. As "be deceived," to give a mistaken impression.

She gazed outside at the unrelieved gloom of a rainy winter afternoon and tried not to wonder how she would manage to get through the rest of the day and the evening. She had nearly finished her schoolwork. She could only stretch it so far. Faintly, she could hear the murmur of voices from the lower floor of the house as her parents and her brothers engaged in their ceaseless wrangling.

The fact that all of them still left her alone to study was a marvel. She could only guess at their motives. She was certain that they were founded upon greed. Ignorant themselves, they probably expected her to continue to further her education, then return to this house and take up a teaching position in the local school. That would ensure that the family could count on the steady income she would bring in, no matter how badly the fortunes of the rest of the family went, or the state of their farm.

She had kept silent about her ambitions. She had doggedly worked at her academic subjects, day in and day out, even during breaks and summer vacations, to keep alive the fiction of her intention to become a teacher. They would never guess her true intention, she thought. There were only a few more months to go.

Like clockwork, the sounds of a struggle rose from downstairs. She could hear the thud of a falling body, then the sound of a fist contacting a meaty abdomen. Cries rose and mounted.

Her eyes closed, and she wished her ears could, too. For the thousandth time, she hoped that she had deceived them so well that they would let her go to college the next autumn without argument. She had to maintain her act until then--long enough to get away from this lousy excuse for a family and find a different way of life. She did not plan to return to this farm, ever.

The sound level from below grew louder. It was only a matter of time before one of them would call her name and summon her to mediate--the family peacemaker. She was weary of the role. She thought briefly of Mary, the friend she had made some six years before, who had invited her to spend a few nights with her family. That was where she had learned what a wonderful thing a family could be--not like her own. That was when she had hatched her plan of escape. Mary had suggested that, with more learning, she could grow up to be something more than a drudge trapped by her family's own ill fortunes.

She fought the tears that rose to her eyes. Why had Mary's family had to move away? She missed her so. Her gaze fell to the history book open before her, but she had not had time to resume reading when she heard her mother call her name.

Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cavil

cavil
verb, intransitive. To make petty or unnecessary objections. Also a noun, meaning an objection of this kind.

Josh tore his eyes away from the sunlit view out the conference-room window. Looking at it would do nothing but distract him more than he already was. The weather had been ideal when he arrived at the office forty minutes ago. He could almost feel the breeze now, here, as his supervisor droned his way through his report. Josh would rather have been outside, his legs pumping as his bike began to mount a hill, anticipating the elated feeling he would have when he reached the summit, slicked with sweat, air searing his windpipe as he made that final effort.

But for now, no. Better not to think of that, if he could manage it. He turned not only his head, but his upper body away from the window and tried to focus on the people around the table. Carol had raised a question about a statement Drew--Josh's supervisor--had made in his report. As Josh listened, he realized that, even though Drew's description of the facts had been accurate, Carol was complaining about his wording. What a waste of time! What difference did it make, when everyone knew what Drew had meant? Again, Josh wondered why he had been called to this meeting. He knew he had better things to do than listen to two lower-management types cavil about adjectives.

He kept his eyes away from the view and listened, however. It wouldn't do to be caught daydreaming about cycling when they finally got around to telling him why he was here. He needed this job, no matter how much he disliked it.

Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Bloviate

bloviate
verb. To talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way.

John and Donna settled into their recliners for the national evening news. They had arrived home from work half an hour ago. Donna had turned off the crock pot and put rolls into the oven. Supper would be ready in ten minutes. Both were looking forward to enjoying it while catching up on the day's events.

After a brief introduction, the host announced that the President would be making a special announcement. Donna sighed inwardly and began to cast about for something she could use as a distraction. She was so tired of that man and his empty, self-aggrandizing speeches. How he had gotten re-elected was beyond her. Simply beyond.

John expressed what she was feeling, out loud and in terms no one could mistake: "Not again! He never says anything worth hearing. Why do they give him time on the news when so much is happening in the world that's important--worth learning about?" He settled into his chair, fuming, the bliss of being home after the workday spoiled.

Donna looked at her knitting, but decided to leave it in the basket for now. She would have to get the rolls out in a few minutes anyway.

"Try the other channels," she suggested.

John picked up the remote and clicked through the major networks. All were airing national news now and all were showing the leader making his speech. John set down the remote resignedly.

"Do you want me to turn it off?"

"I guess not. Maybe, for once, he'll say something we need to know."

She might have saved her breath. The man on the screen bloviated, as usual, on a topic she and John had discussed at length over the past two weeks. Despite new information they had taken into account, the speech might as well have been made a month ago. Once this leader fixed on a position, he rarely changed it. To John and Donna's chagrin, his decisions almost never agreed with what they thought would be the best course for the country.

Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Abet

abet
verb, transitive. To encourage or assist someone to do something wrong, in particular, to commit a crime or other offense.

Jill motioned Jason to the window. "Have you ever seen them do this?"

She was referring to the actions of their two dogs, who were trotting across the lawn in what could almost be described as a grid pattern, their noses low to the ground.

Jason nodded. "It's called 'casting.' It's hunting behavior. They found a faint scent and they're trying to find its strongest traces. As a team, they're abetting each other. It's much more efficient than what a dog can do working alone."

"I wonder what they're after," Jill mused, her face leaning close to the glass.

"Probably a rabbit."

"I never had a dog when I was a kid," she told him. "I'm glad we got these two. The more I live with them, the more awesome they become."

Jason smiled and hugged her from behind. "I'm glad you feel that way. I can't imagine living without a dog or two."

"Didn't you have ... like ... six?"

"Oh, sure!" The memory brought out his northern Florida accent. "It wasn't necessarily a good idea. There were times when Mom and Dad couldn't afford dog food. We would feed them okra then."

"Okra!" Jill drew away from the window and half-turned so she could address him face to face. "I've never heard of such a thing. And they ate it?"

Jason was nodding and smiling fondly as he remembered. "They not only ate it, they seemed to like it better than the commercial food, and," he moved forward and pecked her on the lips, "they thrived on it."

Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.