My Twin — Excerpt from AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL by Carley Eason Evans

AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL

Carley Eason Evans

All Rights Reserved

2014 Copyright

4 – My Twin

(David’s Journal Entry)

My twin brother, Michael and I used to dig holes in our parents’ back yard and bury our toy soldiers and plastic dinosaurs. We never talked about why we were doing this, but when we went back some years later to try to find our treasures, we couldn’t locate the little graves. Our soldiers and dinosaurs were gone — poof! Maybe that’s why I never buried my victims. Maybe I figured they’d disappear — poof! — just like my toys. Yet, I didn’t keep tokens. I didn’t take clothing or jewelry or pieces of hair or anything from anyone I killed. I didn’t want anything. That’s true — I didn’t need anything anyone of them might have had to give. I wasn’t interested in things. I’m still not. I did brand my victims, however. You know who is interested in things? Michael. Michael is interested in things — in treasures. I guess that’s why he’s a certified public accountant. He likes to take things into account. Somewhat surprising to me that he’s not the serial killer. But my twin doesn’t have the heart of a killer.
I recall a teenager I killed. You should know I didn’t rape him any more than I raped the little girl or any of my other victims, for that matter. Rather, I cut the teen from sternum to pubic bone and took everything out. Then I stitched him back up with fishing line and put him in the back of an abandoned car in a junk yard. I sat him up, leaning his head against the rolled-up back window on the passenger side of the big car. From a distance, it looked as if he was waiting for a girlfriend or a drug dealer. I remember I chuckled. But I didn’t take anything from him. I left all his guts — his internal organs and stuff — in the backseat of the car. I took nothing with me. I just walked away with only his blood on my hands and clothes. I want you to realize I shudder now to think of that young man sitting — dead — in that junk yard. I shudder. But when I killed him, I smiled. I was especially proud of my sewing, having never learned to sew. I know — what sort of a guy learns to sew?
My twin Michael didn’t learn to sew either. He went to a good community college and “made something of himself”, according to our father. Our father threw this in my face repeatedly. “While your brother is studying, what are you planning to do, Richard? I wish to fuck you’d tell me what you are going to do with your sorry life.” My life would have been a “sorry one” from the beginning if my father had had anything to say about it. And, of course, he did have much to say about my “sorry life.” Yes, that’s another joke — perhaps too lame for you. Little did my father know that I would graduate from college with honors.
At any rate, the hospital grounds are huge — the place is like a college campus but the asylum is just this — an asylum for the criminally insane. Michael visits me which is rather odd given our early relationship. We get along now. He seems to understand why I went one way while he managed to go another — a “better way” he says. He outright denies that our parents were abusive to me. The other day, he claimed our mother “loved us equally, Rich.” Then Michael smiled, corrected himself, “I mean, she loved us the same, David.”
I disagreed, shook my head. “No, Michael — she didn’t.”
He used to debate this adamantly but the other day he just teared up a little. I saw the glistening along the edges of his eyes and he sniffled slightly. He said, “I don’t know why you believe that of her. She was so kind to you.”
“No, she wasn’t.”
Michael looked through the bars at the large window of the visitor room, likely at the huge oaks lining the entranceway to the “campus”. He smiled, said, “Let’s change the subject.”
“Sure,” I said. But I had nothing to talk about so I waited. An awkward silence hung there between us. I looked at Michael as he stared out at the world. I waited. He looked back at me, smiled sheepishly — it seemed sheep-like to me — and asked if I’ve read any good books lately. “No,” I said. He waited for me to ask him if he’d read any good books lately but I didn’t oblige. I just stared at my identical twin.
Michael pushed his chair back and stood up. He paced over to the window, actually leaned his forehead against the bars. I imagined getting up, walking up behind him, pushing a knife between his shoulder blades. But — of course — I had no knife and even if I had I wouldn’t kill my only brother. I decided to be generous. “The superintendent showed a pretty good movie last weekend.”
Michael turned from the window, an outline of the iron bar across his face. “Oh,” he said, “What movie was that?”
“Silence of the Lambs,” I said.
Michael groaned, knew I was lying.
So often, looking at Michael is like looking at a mirror image of myself except something different is there — in his eyes particularly. Although they are as blue as mine, the reflections they produce are softer than the ones I see in mine — in a real mirror, that is. Michael doesn’t have that killer look, I suppose.
Dr. Smack met with my twin for several hours early in my stay — in my incarceration. I don’t know all they talked about but Michael did tell me that some of the discussion focused on our similarities — the most obvious one being the exact duplication of our physical traits. Why that mattered to Dr. Smack I’ve no idea. He’s an odd cookie. Michael also said this focus on our identicalness made him uncomfortable. “I wanted to run out of his office,” he admitted to me.
“He gave you the willies, hey?”
“Definitely.”
I remember we laughed and then Michael cried because his brother — me — was a convicted serial killer.
Michael has never asked me why I did it — he’s never asked why I killed little boys and girls, teenagers, middle-agers, elderly sots. He’s not asked me how I tricked my victims or why I chose those particular persons.
“So, did you enjoy Silence of the Lambs?” he asked after he groaned to let me know that he knew I was lying to him.
“Sure,” I said.
“You admired Hannibal Lector?”
“Oh sure,” I said.
“I liked Agent Starling,” said Michael.
“Of course,” I said. “You would, wouldn’t you?”
My twin smiled at me, sat back at the table. At the door to the small room was an armed guard. He was a substitute for my usual guards — Felix and Tom. I looked at the man. He was perhaps forty-seven, weighed maybe two hundred and sixty-five pounds, was around five foot-ten inches in his stocking feet. His hair was thinning and already fully grey. He pretended to ignore our conversation but he was listening. I wondered what he thinks of me — of Michael. If Michael and I were dressed in the same prison uniform (the superintendent denies that we inmates are garbed in prison uniforms but we are) I wondered if the guard would be able to tell us apart. I bet he’d confuse me for Michael and Michael for me. I bet. Then perhaps I might walk out of here, into the world again and find another victim. I know Felix is afraid that very thing might happen one day.
But, it’s not true that I would find another victim if I escaped. I wouldn’t kill again. I am almost one hundred percent certain I’m no longer obliged to take lives. Taking a life used to be — dare I say it? — fun. Fun? Exciting? Yes, exciting is a more accurate description of how I felt taking someone’s only life. Well up to a point, then it became a bore — only a means to an end. But this brings up a favorite truism of mine — there’s only this life, you know. There’s no afterlife. There’s no hell waiting for the bad people, and no heaven waiting for the good people. People are people. Life is life. Death is death. And death is just the end of living. Along that line of thinking, I want to add that perhaps life is just the absence of dying. Now there’s some circular reasoning, if ever there was such a thing.
So, Michael’s visit came to an end and he left me here in the mental hospital. I can’t switch places with him because of the prison uniform. He would never be willing to take my place for a day or two so I could get out among other people — normal people. Michael wouldn’t last one day — much less two — in here.
This morning when I woke up, I decided the time had come to set the record straight. I was tired of the lie and knew it was time for some truth.
D.S. October 9 and 10, 2008

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A short excerpt from AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL

AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL

Carley Eason Evans

copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved

14 – Marked Tree Arkansas

We started out in Rapid City, South Dakota but when my brother and I were six years old, our father moved us back to his hometown, Marked Tree, Arkansas. His parents owned a small town restaurant on Marked Tree’s main drag. Money problems drove their son back to them. We stayed in a back building off the main house, and my mother hated it and probably her husband for landing us there. At least we had some privacy which my mother apparently failed to notice and appreciate. On the other hand, my brother and I loved the cotton fields behind our grandparents’ house — and the three huge pecan trees in their back yard. Our grandmother grew watermelons, green beans and corn right behind her house in a tiny garden. She also kept chickens and squirrels. I don’t remember if we ate squirrel; I know we had chicken on Sundays after church.
My church-going began and ended in Marked Tree. My grandmother would rouse us from bed early Sunday mornings, make us gussy-up and go off to the Baptist church with her. We had to attend Sunday school and then the big people service as well. She wouldn’t put up with fidgeting or fighting or whispering in the pew. She insisted — with her iron grip — that we listen to the preacher and stand up to sing the hymns and close our eyes and move our lips during the prayers. “Just look like you are listening, Richard,” she told me and then she’d pat Michael on top of the head because Michael was listening. I hated church. I hated the perfumed women all around me in their idiotic hats and clutch purses and high-heeled shoes. The men smelled — well, not much better — with after shave lotion and colognes of their own. The preacher droned on and on, sometimes for a half-hour! The hymns were impossible to follow and the prayers — to me at six years of age — the prayers were mumbled petitions to a man in the sky who never seemed to hear.
But after church my grandmother would lay out a spread on her large dining room table that included fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn, biscuits, turnips and apple pie! My mouth would water so much I had to suck my spit back into my mouth before I sat down next to Michael.
Michael always volunteered to say grace, every Sunday noon. He waved his arm when our grandfather asked, “Who wants to say grace?”
“Oh, me, grandpa! Me.”
“Do us the honor, Michael,” said our grandfather.
And Michael obliged with “now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take” and looked at me with a wry smile.
Our grandmother protested, “That’s not grace, Michael.”
Michael laughed, winked at her, and said the correct blessing of our meal. Then we all dug in, cleaning our plates, asking for seconds, even thirds. Only then did our grandmother dish out the apple pie served with a dollop of ice cream. After dessert, Michael and I cleaned off the table and I washed the dishes while he swept the dining room and kitchen floors with a broom too long for him. I remember laughter in that kitchen.
On Mondays we attended first grade at the Marked Tree public elementary school. After school, our grandparents expected us to help at the restaurant. Although we were young, I washed dishes for them while Michael swept the floors, again with a broom too long and too heavy for him. I stood on a small metal stool to reach into the deep porcelain sink to wash the pots and pans, glasses and plates, and silverware. The only items my grandfather kept from me were the knives —the butter knives, the sharp steak knives and the carving knives. He washed them separately.
The first time I saw one of the long carving knives, I remember wanting to touch it but my grandfather said, “No, Richard, it’s too dangerous. Never touch these knives. These are my knives. You are to leave them alone. Do you understand?”
I understood. But I wanted to touch that one knife — the longest, sharpest looking knife that grandfather owned. His insistence that I stay away from his knives made me want to see and touch them even more. I watched for opportunities to see them in action. Grandmother baked a big turkey — Grandfather carved it. Grandmother grilled rib-eye steaks — customers sliced into them with sharp serrated steak knives.
One afternoon at the restaurant, I saw grandfather take out a big cleaver and chop the head off a dead chicken. I almost screamed with excitement. He saw me watching, and I went back to washing a plate, pretending I hadn’t seen the cleaver. My grandmother called out for her husband; she needed him. He put the cleaver down on the large cutting board next to the head of the chicken. He wiped his hands on his butcher’s apron and walked out of the prep-area. I took my own hands out of the sudsy hot water in the deep sink, dried them on my little apron, climbed off the stool, dragged it over to the high cutting table. I climbed up, reached out to touch the bloody edge of the cleaver. I touched the black wooden handle, then laid my head down next to the blade. I looked along the edge and sighed. The knife had to be the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my whole — albeit young — life.