Well, this just popped into my head. Sort of Inside the Head of John Malkovitch. (1,000 words)
Joined at the Heart
Brittany and Brianna were the hottest kids this side of heaven last year. Topped the music charts for five weeks running with their single, “Those Aren’t Stars (They’re My Tears).”
I don’t follow music, but my editor at Time told me to get an interview with a different angle. Death of art, he called it. Something about how if pop is the new culture, then the audience must be customers and we’re all glorifying business. You know the arch, cynical way the mass media approaches something they don’t understand.
Brittany Beam was always the wild one. She was first to have an affair, first to try booze, first to be caught by Access Hollywood doing weird stuff. Brianna Beam was diffident, sweet, patient. I knew this from the magazine’s morgue. Also their stats. Born identical twins 18 years ago. Both turned into all-American sun-bronzed, beach babes. Both were inseparable. Peas in a pod, my editor said, which is why I’m a writer and he’s more of what they call a producer. I knew enough not to turn a phenomenon into a cliché.
I got my interview where they were hanging out in Laguna Beach. My by-lined story ran fifteen hundred words and got a cover. Insight. Humor. Pathos. That’s what I delivered. A glimpse into America’s soul, shallow as it is. I headlined the piece, “Let No One Tear Asunder,” giving it a nice spin with the Bible jingle about “What God hath joined together....” Of course, my editor spiked the head. Don’t think he wanted to look up asunder.
Thing everyone failed to understand is that these identical twins were so closely joined that they might have been Siamese, like some pair of kids you see on the six o’clock news joined at the head or the waist and living in Christ-knows-which Banana Republic. Brittany and Brianna were joined at the heart symbolically. Or was it Brianna and Brittany? Hard to tell.
That’s what the investigating cop told me a month after my story had run. “Hard to tell. We got no DNA or fingerprints or smoking gun or....” Words failed him. All he had was the dead body of their manager mortifying in the cabaña.
One or the other of the girls had sprayed him to death with a can of Raid roach killer. The can was clean of prints. One kid—Brittany?—said she was out on the deck working on her tan. The other—Brianna?—was working on her pedicure. I personally think the prosecutor flipped a coin to decide which twin was going down. A coin with two sides—one black and the other white. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Brittany got five years and would be out in three for good behavior. She was the black side of the coin. I think. I was never sure which twin I was talking to.
Of course, Brianna was full of remorse, but the prosecutor turned a blind eye when she confessed to getting rid of the biggest cockroach in Hollywood. He’d made up his mind it was Brittany, who was allegedly getting her tan.
San Quentin marked the first time the twins had ever been separated. I mean it. When the door slammed, Brianna collapsed and was taken to the hospital and stayed in a dark room for a week. She did allow me to have five minutes. There was no manager to stop her now, seeing as how his ashes were being dusted over the waves in Hawaii per the request he made in his will.
“I did it, doncha see. It was, like, Eddie was hitting on Brittany so I did him with the first thing I saw, and that happened to be a can of Easy-Off oven cleaner.”
“Raid. Roach spray,” I said.
“Right. Whatever.” Then she broke down in tears and clutched her pink teddy bear.
I still think of that teddy bear when I look over my notes. Great symbology there.
Next day they found a nurse out cold in the hospital. Literally cold. Her head had been stuffed into the freezer where nurses store liquid nitrogen. It was a block of ice with earrings. A porter tried mouth-to-mouth, but it was too late—for the porter, whose lips became immediately stuck to the nurse.
Enter the same prosecutor running up a murder charge for Brianna. Enter the same judge who asked what our young people are coming to before gaveling her down to—you guessed it—five years in Q. The twins were to be rejoined. The soul mates were now cell mates. The black and the white had both turned black. I wanted to get a quote from one of those philosophers, but I think they’re all dead.
What’s curious, and makes me wonder about the dark motives of people, is that they kicked Brittany out of the slammer one week after the trial of her sister. Eddie the rock star manager had a really complex life going. Seems his ex-wife came to town looking for her alimony, and while Brittany was laying on the SPF 30 and Brianna was playing This Little Piggy with the nail polish, the former Vegas dancer offed him with the bug spray. She had been bragging it up at Caesars Palace how you can solve marital problems with common items found in any household. Meanwhile, Brianna’s on the inside and the duo’s career is on hold for at least three years.
Just goes to show you, people may look the same, but they’re really, really different. Like Brittany-Brianna doing a Jekyll-Hyde.
It shows you there may be a certain amount of performance art in the pop music business, which is better than no art at all.
It shows you the depths of compassion sisters can have for each other as human beings.
It shows you that a Beast may lurk behind every Beauty, and vice versa.
Well, you get the idea. I’m running a deadline and my editor wants to end this with a Big Picture. They’re holding the presses, but I’m damned if I can figure it out.