The Second Take

On a gust of wind, a leaf and its identity, two personas that could as easily be a fogged mind doubling its vision. Jason had seen this before, two leaves dancing to the wind’s rhythm, and he was quick to catch one, if only so the other could know that it wasn’t a product of its own trailing self.

Sure, it was fun being an identical twin when they were kids, at least for Jason. They were best buds then, but Jason suspected he was the only one who knew it. He liked to pretend that one of them was a cyborg and the other a real boy. It was up to their parents to figure out which was which. His brother would sit, ignore, a quiet refusal to this scenario’s mirrored glimpse. So it was usually a wash. Anyway, Mom never loved that game. Jason wondered if it reminded her of when she was a girl. Maybe there was some bitch from her past who had always tried to mirror her. Then Jason’s imagination deepened the fold: maybe Mom actually wasthis phantom double, and the real Veronica Meyers was living in the basement of her childhood home, desperate, begging the silence to ring a song for the deaf. Did Dad know? Dad may have been in on it, or if nothing else, encouraged it. He was a horror buff after all. I mean, he’d wanted to name his twin sons Jason and Voorhees, trying to throw a kink in the expectations of any family member who’d assumed, as they bore the last name Meyers, that he would name at least one of them Michael. Veronica felt that naming their son Voorhees would render it impossible to discolor a grotesque humor’s mask, so they met halfway. Guess what they named him instead? Michael. It’s true.

But as they grew up, Jason found himself wishing that Michael had retained the reflected whispers from Crystal Lake. It may have made him a little bit more electric. He was okay, but his pigment refused attention. And this was why Jason was never all that in love with being an identical twin. He had to bend over backwards (sometimes literally) to show the world that not only did he have his own fingerprint, but that if there was one thing he wasn’t, it was Michael Meyers. He had to show all the women in their lives that he had a dimension that stepped beside if not beyond his resemblance. He had to, back when he got a job at the movie theater for example, show that he had style and flare and would provide the kind of outlandish customer service that tipped toward the brink of annoying.

That was when he first created, then questioned, then jogged into a sprint with themes. It was fun and it cast waves into the mirrors of their identity.

So it started: Michael had worked in the same plaza as Jason’s movie theater. He was over at this piss-poor sandwich place that resided in a building that was a new business every other year. (Maybe it was Michael’s way of aspiring to bond with, or understand, a character that bore only temporary personality. Of course, he also may have been drawn to fleeting aspirations, as Michael had also applied there when it was a Little Caesars.)

One day, Jason went into Sub-Stitute Sandwiches when he knew his brother wasn’t working, and pretended he was Michael. Just to say whattup. He found his most boring outfit and drag-stepped a head nod through their front door. “Hi guys. How’s sales today.” The best part was, no one batted an eye. It was believable to them, which made Jason feel a touch of pity for his brother. But this was overshadowed by the exhilarant feeling of invisibility. As of now, Jason Meyers wasn’t inside this place, talking to the employees of a shitty-ass sandwich place. No, Michael Meyers was, and it gave Jason a breath of identity. Pretending he was someone else made him feel even more like himself.

He’d do this kind of thing every now and again all the way through high school, and he never told a single person about it, not even Michael. Not even Amanda, his first love, with whom he shared every (other) shred of himself. No one knew, and this gave it an eternity of mirrors whenever he played Michael. There were a couple times when he’d be there to hear someone talking to his brother about something that had happened while Jason was playing him, and he would just watch as the gears turned inside Michael’s head. It was like watching the organic movements of his own work of art.

It also gave him a new perspective of his brother, and although Michael held Jason in a clear contempt (the pity a wise man feels for the idiot), it made Jason feel a new closeness to him. Jason used to love saying that Michael was his bestie, but mostly because the sentiment was far from returned.

But, like all good things, the game had to end. They grew up.

Jason had to paddle into the current of adulthood and it felt like he was trying to find the direction of a mysterious and ever-changing stream. There were suddenly so many expectations that he didn’t even have time to plot something as brilliant and beautiful as assuming anyone other than himself. There were bills to be paid and jobs to be had and wives to be appeased. That was when his tolerance of being a twin grew another face, a fresh double to misery. Now, his only midlife technicolor was every so often when someone thought he was Michael, the faded still-life of himself.

One Saturday though, he said fuck it. He was walking by his brother’s real estate firm and was startled by his reflection in the window, a whispered reminder that he was wearing an outfit that was boring enough to pass as Michael’s. He’d been at an employee BBQ with his wife. It was her financial office who was throwing it so he’d worn the most flavorless button-up he owned. They were at a park right by Michael’s work and Jason had volunteered to run to the store when their briquettes needed brothers.

As he was passing by, distancing himself from his own eye contact, he saw that Michael’s work was open for some godawful reason. He decided to stop by and see if the old dud was working, grasping against a vague hope that his reflection had actually been Michael on the other side of the glass. He stepped in and didn’t even open his mouth before some lady said, “Oh hi, Michael. Good, you came early. The Wilsons were hoping to take a look at their place today—this morning really, but I told them you’d be in later. So they’re down at the Buzzard Café. Here, I’ll go ahead and call them. It’ll be quick since they’re looking at 129, remember? It’s pretty much next door.” She’d had such an authoritarian demeanor that Jason couldn’t bring himself to correct her. He just stood there like a pigeon waiting for some garbage. Enough time passed for any semblance of confession to wither, while an enthusiastic couple practically kicked open the door. Then he was walking down the street with those Wilsons to show them a blank, home-shaped canvas on which they could finger-paint their future.

Jason noted a tone of superiority in the couple immediately. He wasn’t sure if they were like this in general, or only to moving shadows like his brother, but it didn’t sit well. He toyed with the idea of taking them to the wrong house, or telling them that the house they wanted had been the site of satanic sex parties, but decided to play it straight. He didn’t want to ruin his brother’s life—but Jason also had to wonder if he’d already blanketed his brother’s aura, since Michael was obviously due at the office soon. Either way, Jason went along nicely with the charade and hoped for a fitless landing.

They got to the property and the Wilsons stepped around like it was a farmyard shithouse. Jason wondered why they were even looking at it and suddenly felt for his brother. He imagined Michael having to gag at the taste of his own words while he tried to convince people like this that they were inferior enough to tolerate a suggestion. He began talking:

“So, I have a confession. I’m not Michael Meyers.” The Wilsons gaped, confused. “I’m his twin brother, Jason. Surprised, eh? Well I did that to prove a point. You never know what resides inside something, or someone, simply by looking at their structure. This home looks like a Lincoln Log formation of ding-a-lings, sure. But take it from me, a twin, it has identity—while I have been stripped of my own. If you were to look at its potential, its insides, you would see something completely different. You’d see a totally sweet crib.”

The Wilsons looked at each other and Jason could tell he’d sealed the deal. Mr. Wilson looked at him. “I’m a twin as well,” he said. “I completely know what you’re saying.” He looked over at his wife. “Shelly, I too have a confession. I’m not Donald. I’m Ronald. Donald had to go to a business retreat about a year ago to help better his failing practice at the firm. He was so embarrassed that he asked me to help hide it from you.” Jason looked at them in awe. Mr. Wilson continued. “But as I’ve spent time with you, I’ve come to realized that I love you, perhaps more than my brother. So what do you say? Can you still love me having seen the truth beneath my exterior?”

Mrs. Wilson looked at Ronald, then looked at Jason. “Am I living in a fucking cuckoo clock?” she said, and stormed out. Ronald chased after, calling out for her to wait, to make true the scene through their new lens. Jason followed them and when he saw they were beyond reasoning, locked the door to 129 and made his way back to the realty office. Down the street, Ronald had caught up to Shelly and was obviously remonstrating to his blind audience. Then Jason saw Michael pull into the parking lot.

“Ohshit,” Jason whispered, ducking behind a bush. Michael got out of his car and looked quizzically at the Wilsons as they got into theirs and sped off. Jason waited until Michael was in the office before he crept away to get the briquettes he’d been sent for.

His steps felt the rhythm of a new vibration, walking on their resemblance to ghosts that had faded with his youth. It was the flipside of a coin that bore two heads, but there seemed a new coat of air in that wake. And he felt a revived closeness to his brother, the best friend to Jason alone.

He watched two leaves separate as they blew to the ground, and settled side by side, one askew from the other.