MY TWIN BROTHER
I seldom mention my twin brother.
For good reasons, of course.
He has only lived ghost-like inside my mind due to a comment made to me by a declaration from my grandfather.
We were in his car and he turned to me non-sequitur and declared with no pretext:
"You know you have a twin brother, don't you?"
At that point, we had arrived at school and I had to exit my grandfather's car. I was too stupefied to hold my ground, ignore the bell (for classes) and demand explanations.
No, sheep-like, I went on to class in a cloud of puzzlements.
You might well have done otherwise.
There was no follow-up, except to say, "Ask your mother about it."
Of course, I did.
Nobody was more slippery (some might say "cunning") than she.
Mother could tie a bagel in knots. Her verbal gifts were beyond measure. A consummate liar, you couldn't step into her arena without the ground beneath you turning to quicksand.
Yes, the more you struggled; the faster you were subsumed.
Try asking the wind why it blows…
Next, I tried my grandmother who was of a different temperament than her own daughter.
I got nowhere.
Some kind of solemn, sacred pact between them had sealed her silence.
Magically the subject changed - transformed in the blink of a blind eye. The subject was roses. Presto!
Finally, one shrugs and moves on. "Nothing to see here - move along."
Life seized my shoulders and pushed me off in other directions. Such is life.
In my now seventy-five years, I've often met people who recognized me, yet I'd never met them. I won't bore you with the instances of those awkward denials - insistence - denial - wary acceptance ritual. Except to say I developed a pearl around that grain of irritating sand: a charming way of information gathering detective work. A little here; a little there. One hopes a portrait - a police artist's sketch of the perpetrator might take form and conjure answers.
A digression here:
There is a legend about eternity that goes like this.
A little bird, every thousand years, pecks on a granite mountain. One tiny peck and flies away. Eventually, the story goes, that impossible task is complete. Having done so, the legend calmly declares: "This is but the first day of Eternity."
My first day of Eternity is finally complete.
It all adds up. Finally.
I glimpsed my Twin yesterday.
Much more than that.
I followed him around. I snooped, spied, eavesdropped, and voyeured at his every movement.
You're wondering - "Why didn't you simply walk up and introduce yourself?"
So great a Mystery over so many decades demands resolution - does it not?
Perversely, I tell you - it was no longer necessary.
I'll tell you why in a moment.
(Judge me harshly if you prefer but keep it to yourself. )
One does what one must do as inevitably as day follows night.
In a lifetime, we eventually become who we are.
The sculptor's chisel at work: some small bit flies off now and then. That block of granite I mentioned is being roughed up in trials and travails. Michaelangelo's obviously spurious declaration when asked how he sculpted DAVID out of cold stone. Thus said to have uttered this famous banality:
"I chipped away everything that didn't look like David."
If you are dull-witted at this moment I suppose you missed my point.
Let me insult your intelligence with further remonstrance.
A TWIN is only "a twin" if the two persons grow up side by side, dressed alike, spoken to as a pair, under one roof parented identically as - not individuals - but as a hyphenated duality; a mystical TRINITY doctrine (minus one) to be taken on faith alone.
You see? My Twin was simply a univocal person. He was unambiguously himself with absolutely no reference to "other."
("Other" means "me.")
We had identical DNA but different experiences, (that little bird pecked and pecked at us day and night for our share of eternity. )
Michaelangelo in-the-sky chiseled our souls quite separately.
We emerged transmogrified. Too stuffy a word for you?
Plainly speaking: I was a cucumber and my twin was a pickle.
Or - have it your way - the other way round.
Where am I going with all this blather?
This does have an endpoint. This mystery IS solved.
Yes, dammit - I DID CONFRONT MY TWIN!!
Why should I tell you about this?
My feeble answer is - I am a writer and that brings with it a compulsion, it means "tell everything." Either way, ready or not, here comes the REVEAL, the denouement.
Take it or leave it.
24 hours plus a bit more to wrap my head around all this now expired. I confronted - or was confronted - with or by my brother.
My Twin brother was a little taller, stronger, and deeper voiced.
His eyes are bluer than mine.
He dresses better and carries himself with bold confidence.
He isn't given to exaggeration or subterfuge. He says what he means and no coloration is necessary. In short, everything I could have been but didn't have the character or ambition to become; he became.
He didn't marry four times; he married once. For life.
He didn't go to prison for religious beliefs; he is a Deist without doctrines. He is obviously well off financially, well-insured, straight teeth and no moles or wrinkles can be observed. In short, I am the cocoon and he is the butterfly.
You should stop reading at this point.
No, really - you should stop.
What comes next is too disturbing and personal for strangers' eyes and unpolluted minds to carry around. Some things can't be understood - and in not understanding them must be expelled in a sneeze of repulsion.
I warned you. Don't say you weren't warned.
What follows is the rest of the story…
Earlier (above) I said, "I glimpsed my Twin yesterday."
While true - it is slightly inaccurate. I should have used a more uncommon word: "Yesternight."
Why? Well, the fact of the matter is - I was sound asleep.
What occurred actually happened (for real as real can be) in my dream.
Let me share that experience as it went down…
Dreams have a logic of their own detached from the rigid ways "things are" in everyday living.
I entered my motel room during the day and walked straight over to the closet. I had left my wallet in the coat I had intended to wear but changed at the last moment after seeing a stain on the lapel after putting it on and checking the mirror.
I found the wallet.
I walked into the bathroom and washed my hands, walked out, and only THEN stopped dead in my tracks.
What I saw shook me to my core. Gobsmacked, as they say.
My wife (ex-wife but in the dream, not ex) was nude in the bed with a sheet wrapped around her. Next to her, in bed nude also, was my TWIN BROTHER!
Let's pause while all that sinks in.
My wife laughs. She says, "I was wondering if you'd ever notice."
This struck me like a fist.
In an indirect way, that phrase had way too much implication and it took the wind out of me. I said nothing by way of response.
I stood there in the middle of the room, rather stupidly and staring.
My wife didn't move or feel uncomfortable and it broke my heart.
I began crying.
The abominable Twin put on his pants and shoes and approached me. He took me by the sleeve and guided me outside where we talked.
"You just don't get it, do you, Terry?"
These cold words weren't a question. Not at all. This was a knife-in-the-gut accusation and nothing more. It wasn't even spoken in malice. It was the kind of statement a judge might hand down at the time of sentencing while the prisoner stands quietly listening.
Anger rose inside me. Indignation triggered my words.
"No, but apparently you sure did." I gestured with a jerk of my head toward the motel room.
We started walking and talking.
I asked questions. Twin gave matter-of-fact answers priest-like.
I listened like a three-year-old child.
What he said next stunned me.
"I died at birth, you must realize."
My life gasped!
"I died and you lived, simple as that. You won't understand this but I'll tell you anyway."
I just nodded. We walked around the perimeter of the motel. I was too angry to listen - to really listen. I hated him instantaneously. He told me unacceptable things and our circuit ended back at the motel door.
We parted. I didn't go back inside. How could I?
Instead, I waited across the street.
A long, long time I waited.
Inside my head, murderous thoughts jumbled.
Finally, he emerged, and - as I told you (above) I followed him every place he went all day long.
In my dream, there was only observation and no introspection.
"Died at birth" means nothing if that person is in bed with your wife and walking around all day!
This cognitive dissonance woke me up and a flash of awareness, introspection, and accusation struck me all at once. A slam of vivid mystical understanding struck.
I sat up in my bed with my heart pounding.
I was pulling lots of things together like strings attached to balloons so high I'd never reached them before.
Now they were in reach and I popped them and little messages fell out in front of me. Answers! Answers! Answers!
A blind man's eyes are opened!
A dead man is resurrected - if only in one dream.
There isn't only ONE of me. Not now - not ever!
I and He are/is ME.
The best me and the worst me cheated on each other and I cheated on myself by myself with myself.
I've lived two lives simultaneously - each out of sight of the other.
The IDEAL version of me made Straight A's, became an evangelical Christian, went to prison for my faith, became a full-time minister, married, and created a family with stability inside a community of true believers.
At the same time ...however ...the other me wanted to be a genius, reading the encyclopedia, the Great Books, memorizing poetry, lists of vocabulary words, teaching myself music, becoming an Artist, and showing off how wonderful I was! Notice me and tell me how special I am!!
A famous Messiah once told us: "No man can serve two Masters."
But - how many can quote the rest of that homily?
"...for either he. will hate the one, and love the other; or else. he will hold to the one, and despise the other...")
My Twin hated me. I hated him - yet secretly, each of us admired and longed to be THE OTHER.
If anybody died at childbirth it wasn't one OR the other;
stupefyingly - it was both and neither.
After sitting up in my bed, I grabbed my cellphone and texted my ex-wife in the middle of the night.
The text reads this way:
"Wow! That was weird!"
The next day she responded: "Um...okay."
I texted: "...don't ask!"
She said: "Well now you've got me curious"
I texted: "Just don't."
Her final response: "Lol. Not surprising."
You see, she lived with me for 18 years.
She had all the surprises she needs for the rest of her life.