Twinos - Part 1

twinwinosA short story told in three parts from three perspectives.

Uncle Mike said it best. A full house beats two of a kind. If they had a choice, Leonard and Ronald might not have chosen to come into this world, only to suffer at the hands of their own kin. Cuz this house was full of unhappiness, and this two of a kind was beaten almost from the day they was born. We all lived off Division Street then, on an alley called Kelty Way. I was ten or eleven when the twins was born and what a commotion everyone made when Mrs. Pelter come home with them. Mr. Pelter was nowhere in sight, but then he was always disappearing. Irene, that was Mrs. Pelter’s first name, she come home with the twins and a new “man friend” as she liked to call them, by the name of Carl. Mean looking fellow, but Irene practically glowed like a Christmas tree when he was around. Carl drove Irene and the twins home in his new Studebaker and that
added even more excitement to the homecoming. It was one of the first cars we had ever seen where you couldn’t tell whether it was coming or going. Irene, she gets out of the back seat and Carl comes around to help her with the twins. They’re all bundled up in blankets, but they was screaming to beat the band. When I think of them growed up, cursing at everyone all the time, I think back to the day they came home from the hospital bawling. We should have known then.

There was already seven kids in that house along with Irene’s mother and her invalid father. The elder Mrs. Pelter was always chasing Irene’s kids out of the house, screaming that they were no good trash. One time she came after me with a broom when I tried to help one of the little ones get back in the house. I hated her as much as they did after that. In the summer heat, she sat on the stoop next to her husband who was in his wheelchair and talked nasty about everyone who passed their way. The old man never spoke and I’m not even sure he could. Elder Mrs. Pelter made up for him though, running her mouth all the time. I think Irene was afraid of her too. I know they all hit the kids a lot, because you saw them do it, and when you couldn’t see them, you could hear the kids screaming the way kids scream when they get a licking. I didn’t know any child on Kelty Way who didn’t get a beating once in a while, but the Pelter kids got knocked around every day. Nowadays, someone would call the police and turn you in, but back then, it was nobody’s business but your own. The Pelter kids had more than their share of black eyes, missing teeth, ugly bruises and strap marks. If old Mrs. Pelter didn’t hit them, it was Irene, Carl or some other man friend that was slapping them around.
twinwinosBeing at the end of the line, little Ronald and Leonard were just easy targets for everyone. The older kids was just as guilty of hurting those twins. Seemed like it was two for the price of one when you hit one of them, because the other one would cry too. By the time they started school, they reminded you of puppy dogs that run away every time you raise a rolled up newspaper close to them. The twins was always ducking, trying to get out of the way of their family. By the time I was in the eleventh grade, Leonard and Ronald was going into the third grade for the second time. Teachers didn’t know what to do with them and I’m sure some of the mean ones whipped them, but even the nice teachers would get the twins in trouble by calling Irene in to talk about them. That used to make Irene madder than hell, that she had to come to the school about them twins, so you can be sure they got a beating when she got them home. You could hear it all around the neighborhood sometimes, the twins squealing like pigs going to slaughter.

It’s no wonder the twins was rotten from day one. The world sure was treating them rotten, and they gave as good as they got. I guess they figured they was getting beat for doing nothing, so they might as well get away with something. Usually Leonard was the one that had the idea, but Ronald would go along fast enough. They stole anything that wasn’t nailed down–candy from the little store at the end of the alley, fruit from the market, toys from the five and dime –you name it, the twins could boost it so fast, you blinked as though you weren’t seeing it right. It helped being that they was identical twins, because the shopkeepers thought they were watching Ronald while Leonard was somewhere else in the store filling his pants, shirt and pockets. What a couple of bandits they were. What they didn’t eat when they got outside the store they sold on the street.

Christ, they couldn’t go home with the stuff. Mrs. Pelter would kill them on the spot! You have to picture this dirty duo, white trash clean through, fencing goods in back of Division, like it was their regular location. And it was. By the time they was thirteen or fourteen years old they hooked school all the time, did their stealing at lunch when the shops were busy, fenced to the adults in the early afternoon, and sold the rest to the school kids on their way home. The teachers and principal of the school didn’t come looking for them because the twins just stirred up too much trouble and the school was a whole lot better off without them.

Nothing was sacred to them, they even stole from the church. And their foul mouths amazed even those of us who had heard the words before. I was still living at home and working in a typing pool at an office downtown, but those little bastards would follow me down the street wanting to know if they could feel my titties, lick my you-know-what, and a lot of other stuff I don’t need to repeat here. They were smoking cigarettes they had stolen by the case and I do believe that’s when they first started drinking. They’d get that cheap wine somehow, probably by getting some wino to buy it for them and then share it. God help you if you came up on them when they was drunk. They would be slurring their words but the meaning was still clear. They called me a hillbilly whore, white trash bitch, and a lot of other names I’ve been called before, but the twins was meaner. And then they would ask me for money. I never understood that about the twins. When they was drinking, they would insult you up one side and down the other, and then they would ask you for money. It made no sense, but then like I said before, it made no sense that these two should have ever been brought into the world in the first place. The day they was born you could not have knowed that both of the Pelter twins would grow up to be winos.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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