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 Shorter Excerpt from AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL by Carley Eason Evans

AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL

Carley Eason Evans

2014 Copyright All Rights Reserved

17 – Hazel Mock

My interview with Mrs. Mock was one of the strangest I’ve done in my career — a career that spans twenty or so years now. She didn’t want to meet with me at first; didn’t want me in her home. Once I convinced her to let me inside, she showed me what I came to see. My interview developed over time — after she showed me the way into her basement, pointing, “The collection’s down there, but it’s boxed up. I always hated those things. Wish I could have talked George into keeping them in the attic instead of the basement. You know, Mr. Peterson, I had to move my washer and dryer into the kitchen ‘cause I couldn’t stand to be down there with those dead things.”
“I can certainly understand that, Mrs. Mock.”
“Oh, call me Hazel, Mr. Peterson.”
“Well then Hazel, you must call me Max.”
“Oh no,” she said, blushing, “I can’t do that.”
“Why not?”
“‘Cause you’re a professional,” she explained. “You deserve your title of respect.”
I remember I raised my eyebrows. I actually felt them lift. Then the now elderly woman pointed again to the dark wooden staircase leading into the basement. She pulled a string to turn on the overhead bare-bulbed light, and said, “Right down there. You can’t miss ‘em.”
When I came back up, she must have noticed my dismay. Hazel Mock offered me a cup of black tea and I took her gesture of kindness to mean she might allow me an interview. I nodded, said, “Please ma’am.”
“Well, I guess you’d better sit down then,” she said, pointing to the lumpy couch near the front window. “I got some cookies, if you’d like.”
“Yes ma’am,” I said. As she stepped from the living room into the kitchen, I added, “That’s quite a collection down there.”
She turned, looked at me, “I don’t want to talk about those dead things.”
“Okay,” I said. “Perhaps we can talk a little about your twins.”
“Maybe,” she said and disappeared behind the wall separating the two areas of the house. I stood up, followed her into the kitchen. She turned, looked at me, said, “I thought I put you on the couch.”
I blushed. “Yes, ma’am, you did. I —.”
“Call me Hazel,” she said.
“Yes, Hazel you did. I thought we could talk while you make the tea.”
She put a silver kettle on the stovetop and turned on the gas — the pilot failed to catch. She took a wooden match, struck it and lit the eye — blue flames shot around the black circle as if to wink at us. “There,” she said, then looked at me. “Damn house is falling apart.”
I glanced around her kitchen. The windows were dirty; a few dishes were piled in the sink. Clean clothes were stacked neatly atop the washer with dirty ones heaped on the floor in front of the dryer. A broom lay across the floor at a back door as if it had fallen and she hadn’t bothered to pick it up. I ventured, “You’re not like Richard.”
“What?” she asked, then said, “Oh, you mean I’m not a neat-freak like my second-born?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“No, I’m not. I’m more like Michael — or should I say, Michael’s more like me. Rich and I are like strangers. I never connected to my son. I wanted to, believe me. But Rich was not — how do I say it? He was not accessible.”
“Accessible?”
The kettle slowly began to whistle. She ignored it.
“Rich was always sure I was going to be mean to him; he anticipated it. Even if my intentions were kind, Rich would see them as mean. If I asked him to take out the trash, I was accusing him of not taking out the trash. If I asked him to feed the dog, then Rich took that to mean I thought he was trying to starve the dog. If I told Rich he ought to do his homework before watching a t.v. program he liked, he would take that to mean he shouldn’t enjoy that t.v. program. Oh god, I could go on and on.”
The kettle was now fully whistling and she turned off the gas. She took a ragged dishcloth and picked up the hot kettle from the eye. Hazel Mock poured the boiling water over the tea bag in a clean white mug.
“Aren’t you having a cup?” I asked.
“Oh no,” she said. “I don’t drink tea.”
“Why not?” I don’t know why I asked her this, but I remember I did.
Hazel Mock looked at me, said, “It makes me mean.” Then she smiled and goosebumps leaped across my forearms. She asked, “Do you take sugar? Cream?”
“Yes ma’am,” I said, “cream.”
“You a Brit?”
“No ma’am,” I responded. “I just like cream in black tea.”
She put half ’n half in my tea, just enough, and handed me the hot mug. Then she gestured for me to sit at the small kitchen table which was pushed up close to a window. On one side was a narrow bench while on the other side were two small chairs. I sat on the bench as she sat in the first chair across from me. I sipped the hot tea. Then I asked, “So Richard tells me Mr. Mock beat him.”
“Yes, Rich always tells everyone that.”
“Is it true?”
“Is it true?” And Hazel laughed, tears forming in her eyes. “George beat me. That’s true, but oddly enough he never laid a hand on either of our children, Mr. Peterson.”
“Your husband beat you?” I asked.
“Whenever George was angry at someone else or something else, he got angry at me.” She sighed, added, “And if the anger he felt was because of Rich, then the beating was particularly severe, shall we say.”
“So, he did hate his son?”
Hazel stared at me. “Mr. Peterson, we both hated our son.”

Another sneak peek of AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL, my latest novel in progress

AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL

by Carley Eason Evans

2014 Copyright All Rights Reserved

19 – Salutatorian

Michael and I had our worst brotherly fight when we turned twelve. Michael got the perfect gift from our father — a bb-gun while I got a book on butterflies. I was so angry. I couldn’t take it out on our father, so I took it out on Michael later when we were alone in our bedroom. I didn’t understand why our parents made us share a room; it wasn’t like one of us couldn’t have stayed in the attic or — oh god — the basement with my father’s collection of dead insects and rodents!
I crawled on top of Michael just as he was falling to sleep and pressed my left hand into his throat. He gasped and his eyes flew open. He stared at me in the darkness. I let my hand up slightly so he could breathe. He gasped again, whispered hoarsely, “What? What are you doing?”
“I want to trade,” I said.
“What?” he asked and his eyes widened as he must have realized what I was doing. He whispered, “You want the gun?”
“Yes,” I said, “and you want the book, don’t you?”
He shook his head to indicate he did not want my book, but I pressed my hand into his throat again and saw that my brother couldn’t breathe. I smiled at him, nodded my head several times, said, “You want the book, don’t you?” I let up my hand again, and this time Michael said, “Yes, I want the butterfly book — please.”
I let go of him, stepped off the bed, stood up straight and said, casual-like, “Oh okay. You can have the book. I tell you what — I’ll take that bb-gun for it. Okay?”
Michael sat up in his bed, rubbed his throat, said softly, “Okay.”
“Great,” I said, feeling cheery, “it’s a deal.”
Then I crawled into the top bunk and went to sleep. I knew Michael wouldn’t tell our parents of my attack. I knew this because Michael knew I’d kill him — not metaphorically mind you, but actually kill him.
The next day, I took my bb-gun into the woods behind our property thinking I’d shoot some crows. But when I aimed at one of the birds, my arms began to shake. Within a few seconds of having the bird in my gun sight, I realized I couldn’t shoot a dumb animal. I couldn’t be like my father — I couldn’t kill a living animal. I admit that this inability to kill a dumb thing surprised me. Standing in the woods with the gun, I also realized that a gun was too impersonal. I didn’t want to kill anything with a gun. I would use a weapon that required up close and personal attention. I would use knives.
And that’s when I remembered my grandfather’s knife on the cutting table — so beautiful and balanced. That’s when I decided to purchase my first knife through mail-order. I sold my bb-gun back to Michael and not for the book on butterflies. I made him pay me his whole allowance — five dollars. With those five dollar bills and money I’d earned mowing lawns and raking leaves, I ordered the Colts High Plains dagger.
When the dagger arrived, I showed it to Michael. I said, “With this, I can do anything I want. You know that, don’t you?”
Michael nodded.
“I won’t need my hand on your throat anymore,” I said, smiling. “I need only put this sharp edge against your throat and slice. And you’ll bleed out like a stuck pig —.”
Michael started to cry, said, “Shut up.”
“Make me,” I said, and walked out of our room, the dagger in my left hand. I stopped in the hallway, came back into our room and put the Colts High Plains dagger in my locker. I put the small key in my pocket, and left my brother behind.
In seventh grade, I showed Michael what it meant to be smarter than most other students. I did very well, especially in our math and science classes. Unfortunately for him, we were in the same classrooms for these two subjects and his grades were consistently and considerably worse than mine. But then again, most of the students in those classes didn’t do as well as I did. I had competition from one boy — I’ve been trying to remember his name — I think he was called Lon or Larry. I’m not sure. At any rate, he was smart, did well on tests. He had no trouble with homework whereas I hated homework and sometimes turned it in late which counted against me. Therefore, Lon or Larry was first in our class and I was second. Being second didn’t bother me until graduation; then I was Salutatorian whereas Lon or Larry was our Valedictorian. As he delivered his speech to our high school graduating class, I dreamed of ways to kill him. However, I didn’t kill him. Instead, I killed Steven Miles who I didn’t know except that he was vulnerable on the day I decided to kill someone — even if that someone was not Lon or Larry.
Michael graduated in the middle of our class, having average grades. But our parents were proud of him, of what he accomplished despite not having the mental prowess I had. As for what they thought of me, my mother said something about my Salutatorian address to the class — she said it was “interesting.”
“Thanks, Mom,” I said.
“But that Valedictorian, he was something else,” said my father. “What a fantastic speech.”
“Yes,” beamed my mother, “he was amazing, wasn’t he?”
“He was,” I admitted even though by now I hated Lon or Larry. I remember his name — he was Lon Lancaster and he went on to own a computer software development company in Sioux Falls and become wealthy and powerful in his own right. I never went down to Sioux Falls for fear I’d run into him and naturally murder him. If I murdered Lon Lancaster, everyone would turn to look at me and I’d be caught — caught long before I was ready to confess.
Michael shook my hand after we both received our diplomas. Because the first letter of his first name comes before mine in the alphabet, he was in front of me in line. I stood behind him as he reached for his high school diploma and saw him turn back to watch me receive mine. He was proud. I saw this in his face and I admit I teared up briefly when I realized Michael still loved me despite every threat he’d endured from me over the years. I was embarrassed as I took my piece of paper from our district superintendent for I’d not felt anything when Michael graduated.
After that day, my relationship with Michael changed. I didn’t threaten him again. To some extent, this was due to the fact that Michael and I parted ways — he went to the local two-year community college while I left the state to attend a much better school — the University of Iowa in Iowa City. The four years that I attended university, studying chemistry, I didn’t think about killing. This hiatus went unnoticed by me until much later — it was as if I became a different person the day I graduated from high school.
Unfortunately, the day I graduated from college, something changed again. Standing in the crowd of graduating seniors, I — almost inexplicably — missed my collection of knives which I’d left in my metal locker under my bed at my parents’ home in Rapid City.
The next day, I bought an old heap at a local used car dealer and drove it from Iowa City to Rapid City. I parked on the street, walked up to and unlocked our front door, startling my mother who was watching television in the living room.
“Oh, Rich,” she cried out. “Why didn’t you call?”
“I don’t know,” I said. Then without speaking to her further, I marched upstairs, opened my bedroom door, reached under the bed, pulled out my metal locker, trotted downstairs with it, peered into the living room. “Got what I came for,” I said to my mother who was just turning off her program. “I’ll be heading out now.”
“What?” she asked.
“I got what I came for,” I repeated. “I’m leaving now.”
“No, Rich,” she said. “Come in. Come in. Have a cup of tea with me.”
“No,” I said, “I don’t have time. Besides, I don’t want to.”
“You don’t want to,” said my father who came into the living room from the kitchen.
“No, I’ve got to go,” I repeated.
“What’s that?” asked my father, pointing to the metal locker in my hands.
“It’s mine,” I said.
“That’s not an answer, Richard.”
“It’s mine,” I repeated, “and it’s none of your business what it is.” My father moved toward me, and I threatened him with the metal locker, raising it up as if it were a weapon. “Don’t,” I warned the man who hated me. “I’m going now. Okay?”
My father stepped back and nodded.
Before I left, I said to my mother, “By the way, I graduated yesterday.”
“Yesterday?” asked my father.
“Yes, sir.”
“From college?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Oh Rich, that’s wonderful,” said my mother and for a moment she sounded excited, proud.
“I didn’t know you went to a college, Richard,” said my father.
“I know, sir,” I said. “I went to the University of Iowa. I got a Bachelor of Science degree yesterday in engineering.”
My mother started to cry, said, “Rich, we thought you were in Montana fighting fires or logging or something like that.”
“I know,” I said, “but I wasn’t. I was in Iowa City.”
“Did Michael know?”
I nodded, said, “Yes, Michael attended the ceremony yesterday.” I turned, opened the front door after resting my metal locker on my thigh so my hand would be free to twist the door knob. I turned again, said to my parents, “Don’t blame Michael. I asked him not to tell you. Good-bye.” Then I pushed the door open and walked out as I heard my mother howl like a hurt dog.

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.