her Siamese twin joined at the skull, I know Becca wants to fuck Remus
as soon as she says she’s going to dye our hair. I don’t say anything
yet. I’m not sure she’s even admitting it to herself. The idea doesn’t
sit well with me, but I decide to wait and see just how she plans to go
It’s a warm, clear night, and not a bad walk to Payless Drugs. Becca
picks out a light magenta hair-color that to me suggests heavy drug
addiction. “No, siree,” I tell her.
“I know my complexion colors. I’m a
fall, and that’s definitely a spring.” No spring that ever existed in
nature, I might add.
“Oh, stop it, Rebby. We’ll do a middle part and you can keep your flat
brown and I’ll just liven up my side. I want to get it shaped too
something that falls around my face.”
“It better not fall anywhere near my face.”
When we get home from the drugstore, she reads the instructions aloud
and there are about fifty steps to this process by the time you do the
lightening and the toning. Then she starts telling me which hairs are
hers and which are mine. We’ve gone around on this before. It’s a tough
problem because our faces aren’t set exactly even: I look left and down
while she faces straight ahead and up. For walking we’ve managed a
workable system where I watch for curbs and ground objects and she spots
branches and low-flying aircraft. She claims to have saved our life
“Oh, yeah? And for what?” I always ask her. And she always laughs. But
now I know so she can fuck Remus, the pale scrawny clerk with the
goatee who works at A Different Fish down the corner. Now it’s clear why
Becca didn’t laugh when I pointed out his resemblance to the suckermouth
catfish. Also her sudden decision to raise crayfish. Those bastards are
mean, ugly sons of bitches, but they suit Becca just fine. They’re always
climbing out of the tank to dehydrate under the couch, so we have to go
back to the store for new ones. Fuck I’d rather die a virgin. We
entertain ourself just fine.
It’s two A.M. when she finishes drying that magenta haystack and we
finally get into bed. Then she stays awake mooning about Remus while I
put a beanbag lizard over my eyes and try to turn off her side of the
brain. I know where she’s got her fingers. There’s a tingle and that
certain haziness in our head.
We barely make it to work on time in the morning. Then Becca talks one
of our coworkers into giving her a haircut during lunch. The woman is a
beautician, but she developed allergies to the chemicals, so now she
works at the hospital lab with us.
They’re snipping and flipping hair in the break-room to beat shit while
I’m trying to eat my tuna fish. “Yes!” Becca says, when she looks in the
mirror. Her side is blunt-cut into a sort of swinging pageboy. She
tweaks the wave over her eye, making sure we’ll be clobbered by a branch
in the near future.
We get home from work that evening and surprise she counts the
crayfish and reports another missing. I try to scramble down to look
under the couch in case the thing hasn’t dried out yet, but she braces
her legs and I can’t get the leverage.
“You know how much trouble it is for us to get back up,” she says.
“Anyway, it’d be covered with dust-bunnies and hair.”
At that moment I get a flash of guilt from her section of the brain
she’s lying. There is no fucking anthropod under the couch. She wants
badly to get back to that aquarium store.
I catch Becca smiling sweetly at me in the hall mirror. I forgive her.
She insists on changing into “sleisure wear” that’s what I call it
to walk down the street. The frock’s a short fresh pink number with
cut-in shoulders. I’m wearing my “Dead Babies” tour T-shirt and the
cutoffs I wore all last weekend. Becca has long given up trying to get
me to dress in tandem.
We see Remus through the glass door when we get there. He has his back
to us dipping out feeders for a customer. His shaved white neck almost
glows. The little bell rings as we step in. Becca tugs me toward the tank
where the crayfish are, and I can tell she’s nervous.
Remus turns. Straining my peripheral vision, I catch the smile he throws
her. I can feel this mutual energy between them that I missed before.
He’s not too bad-looking with a smile. I start to imagine what it’s going
to be like. What kind of posture they’ll get me into. Maybe I should buy
earplugs and a blindfold.
Becca heads toward the crayfish, but I halt in front of a saltwater
tank of neon-bright fish and corals. A goby pops its round pearly head
out of a mounded hole in the sandy bottom and stares at us. “Look,” I
say, “he’s like a little bald-headed man,” but she just keeps trudging on
to the crayfish tank, where she pretends to look for a healthy specimen.
Remus comes back with his dipper and a plastic bag.
“What can I do for you two lovely ladies tonight?”
Becca blushes and giggles. Remus reddens. I know he’s thinking about his
use of the number two. He’s got it right, but he’s self-conscious
. . . like everybody.
She points to the largest, meanest-looking crawdad in sight. “This guy,”
she says. I figure she’s after the upper-body strength, the easier he can
knock the plastic lid off our tank and boost himself out over the edge.
“Think you can snag him?” she asks Remus.
He takes it as a test. “You bet. Anything for my best customer s.” He
stands on tiptoe so the metal edge of the tank is in his armpit and some
dark hair curls from his scrunched short sleeve. He dunks the sleeve
completely as he swoops and chases that devil around the corners of the
Remus is no fool. He’s noticed Becca’s new haircut and color. I’m
thinking, get your mind outta the gutter, buster but I’m softening.
I’m tuned to Becca’s feelings, and I’m curious about this thing
although, it’s frightening. Not so much the sex, but the idea of three.
I’m used to an evenly divided opinion, positive and negative, side by
side, give and take. We might be strange to the world, but we’ve
developed an effective system. Even his skinny bones on her side of the
balance could throw it all off.
Remus catches the renegade and flips him into the plastic bag, filling
it halfway with water. He pulls a twist-tie from his pocket and secures
the bag. “You have plenty of food and everything?” Remus asks.
Becca nods slowly and pokes at the bag. I know she’s trying to think of
a way to start something without seeming too forward. Remus looks like
he’s fishing for a thought.
My portion of the gray matter takes the lead. “Hey,” I say, “Becca and I
were thinking we’d try a new brownie recipe and rent a video. Wanna stop
by on your way home?”
Becca twitches. I feel a thrill run through her, then apprehension. She
turns our head further to Remus. “Want to?” she says.
“Sure. I don’t get out of here till nine. Is that too late?”
“That’s fine,” I say. I feel her excitement as she gives him the
directions to the house and we head out.
When we get outside she shoots into instant panic. “What brownie recipe?
We don’t even have flour!”
“Calm down,” I tell her. “All he’s thinking about is that brownie
between your legs.”
“Geez, Reb, you’re so crude.”
“Chances are he won’t even remember what we invited him for.” Suddenly,
it hits me that he could be thinking about what’s between my legs too
a natural ménage à trois. I rethink no way, Remus
wouldn’t know what to do with it.
Becca insists that we make brownies. She pulls me double-time the four
blocks to the Quickie Mart to pick up a box mix. I grab a pack of M&M’s
and a bag of nuts. “Look, we’ll throw these in and it’ll be a new recipe.”
She brightens and nods our head, I can feel her warmth rush into me
because she knows I’m on her side in more ways than one, for a change.
We circle the block to hit the video store and Becca agrees to rent
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? She hates it, but it’s my
favorite, and she’s not in the mood to care. I pick it off the shelf and
do my best Southern Bette Davis: “But Blanche, you are in that
It’s eight o’clock when we get home and the first thing Becca wants to
do is hop in the shower. I’d rather start the brownies. We both make a
move in opposite directions, like when we were little girls. She fastens
on to the loveseat and I get a grip on the closet doorknob. Neither of us
is going anywhere. “Reb, please, let go!” she hollers.
After a few seconds of growling, I realize we’re having a case of
nerves. I let go and race Becca into the bathroom. “Thanks, Rebelle,” she
At 9:10 we slide the brownies into the oven and hear a knock. Remus made
good time. I notice Becca’s quick intake of breath and a zinging in our
Remus has a smile that covers his whole face. I feel Becca’s cheek
pushing my scalp and can figure a big grin on her too. I hold back my
wiseass grumbling. So this is love.
Becca asks Remus in and we get him a Bud. He’s perched on the loveseat.
Our only choice is the couch, which puts me between them, so I slump into
my “invisible” posture, chin on chest, and suck my beer. I know that way
Becca is looking at him straight on.
“The brownies will be ready in a little while. Want to see the movie?”
Becca starts to get up, but I’m slow to respond.
Remus jumps up and heads for the VCR. “Let me,” he says.
“Relax,” I whisper to Becca. I’m thinking, thank God I’ve got Baby
Jane for amusement.
The movie comes on and neither of them speaks. Maybe the video wasn’t
such a good idea. I start spouting dialogue just ahead of Bette whenever
there’s a pause. Becca shushes me.
The oven timer goes off. “The brownies,” I say. “We’ll be right back.”
We hustle into the kitchen and I get them out. Becca tests them with the
knife in the middle. “Okay,” I tell her. “I’m going to get you laid.”
“Shh, Reb!” I feel her consternation, but she doesn’t object.
The brownies are too hot to cut, so Becca picks up the pan with the hot
pad and I grab dessert plates, napkins and the knife. “Just keep his
balls out of my face,” I say.
That takes the wind out of her, but I charge for the living room.
Remus has moved to the right end of the couch. Hmm. My respect for him
We watch and eat. Remus comments on how good the brownies are. Becca
giggles and fidgets. Remus offers to get us another beer from the fridge.
Becca says no thanks. He brings me one.
“Ever had a beer milkshake?” I ask him.
“How ’bout a Siamese twin?”
His mouth falls open and I’m thinking suckermouth catfish all the way,
but his eyes have taken on focus.
I tilt my face up. “Becca would shoot me for saying this if she could
do it and survive but I know why you’re here, and I know she finds you
attractive, so I don’t see a reason to waste any more time.”
The silence is heavy and all of a sudden the TV blares “You wouldn’t
talk to me like that if I wasn’t in this chair ” “But Blanche, you are
in that chair, you are in that chair.”
“Shut that off,” I tell Remus.
He breaks from his paralysis and does it.
I feel Becca’s face tightening into a knot, but there are sparks behind
I suggest moving into the bedroom. Remus gawks.
I’m named Rebelle so Mom could call both of us at once she got a kick
out of her cleverness and I take pride in being rebellious. I drag
She’s got the posture of a hound dog on a leash, but her secret thrill
runs down my backbone. I think our bodies work like the phantom-limb
sensation of amputees. We get impulses from the brain, even when our own
physical parts aren’t directly stimulated. I’m determined to do what her
body wants and not give her mind a chance to stop it. She follows along.
We get into the bedroom and I set us down. Remus sits next to Becca.
Without a word, he bends forward and kisses her, puts his arms around her
and between our bodies. I watch.
It’s an intense feeling, waves of heat rushing over me, heading down to
my crotch. We’ve been kissed before, but not like this. He works at her
mouth and his tongue goes inside.
The kissing stops. Remus looks at me, then turns back to Becca. He takes
her face in his hands and puts his lips on her neck. I can smell him and
hear soft kisses. My breathing speeds up. Becca starts to gasp.
He stops and I hear the zipper on the back of her dress. She stiffens,
but he takes her face to his again and we slide back into warm fuzzies.
This Remus has some style. He pulls the dress down to her waist and
unhooks her bra. She shrugs it off.
“You’re beautiful,” he tells her.
“Thanks,” I say. I get a jolt of Becca’s annoyance.
My eyes are about a foot from her nipples, which are up like gobies, and
he gets his face right down in them, takes the shining pink nubs into his
mouth and suckles. I feel myself edging toward the warm moist touch of
his lips, but the movement is mostly in my mind.
Remus pushes Becca onto the pillow and I fall along and lie there, my
arms to my side. He lifts her hips and slides the dress down and off,
exposing a pair of white lace panties that I never knew Becca had, never
even saw her put on.
He nuzzles the perfect V between her legs and licks those thighs, pale
as cave fish. Becca reaches up and starts unbuttoning his shirt. He helps
her, then speedily slips his jeans down to the floor, taking his
underwear with them. I stare. This is first time we’ve seen one live. I
feel a tinge of fear and I don’t know if it’s from Becca or me.
“Got a condom?” I ask him.
“Oh, yeah,” he says. He reaches for his pants and pulls a round gold
package out of the pocket. Becca puts her hand on my arm while he’s
opening it, and I turn my chin to her side and kiss her shoulder. We both
watch while he places the condom flat on the tip of his penis and slowly
smoothes it down.
He gets to his knees, strips down the lace panties and puts his mouth
straight on her. His tongue works in and I can feel the juices seeping
out of me in response. Becca starts cooing like those cockateils we used
to have, and I bite my lip not to make a noise. Remus moves up and guides
himself in, and I swear I can feel the stretching and burning. I’m
clutching my vaginal muscles rigid against nothing, but it’s the fullest,
most intense feeling I’ve ever had.
Becca starts with sound effects from The Exorcist, and I join
right in because I know she can’t hear me over her own voice, and Remus
is puffing and grunting enough not to give a fuck about anything but the
fucking. His hip bumps mine in fast rhythm, as the two of them locked
together pound the bed. I clench and rock my pelvis skyward and groan
with the need, stretching tighter and harder, until I feel a letting-down
as if an eternal dam has broken. I’m flooded with a current that lays me
into the mattress and brings out a long, thready weep. It’s like the
eerie love song of a sperm whale. I sink into the blue and listen to my
breathing and theirs settle down.
I wake up later and look to my side. Remus has curled up next to Becca
with one arm over her chest and a lock of the magenta hair spread across
his forehead. His fingers are touching my ribs through my shirt, but I
know he doesn’t realize it. I have tears in my eyes. I want to be
closer, held tight in the little world of his arms, protected, loved
but I know he is hers now, and she is his. I’m an invisible attachment of
nerves, muscles, organs and bones.
It’s after one when we walk Remus to the door, and he tells Becca he’ll
call her at work the next day. He gives her a long, gentle kiss, and I
feel her melting into sweet cream inside.
“Good night I mean good morning,” Remus says to me. He gives me a
salute. Comrades, it means. It’s not a feeling I can return, but I salute
back. I know he sees the worry in my eyes. I try to take my mind out of
the funk, before Becca gets a twinge.
Remus calls her twice that afternoon, and a pattern takes shape over the
next three days: whispered calls at work, a walk down the street after
dinner, a 9:10 Remus visitation. I act gruff and uninterested.
When we go to bed I try not to get involved. You’d think once I’d seen
it, I could block it out, catch up on some sleep. But the caresses are
turning more sure and more tender, the sounds more varied delicate but
strong with passion, unearthly. My heart is cut in two like Becca and
I should be. I’m happy for her, but I’m miserably lonely.
On the third day, I can’t hold back my feelings anymore. Of course,
Becca knows already. It’s time to compromise.
“I think we should limit Remus’s visits to twice a week. I’m tired
everyday at work and I can’t take this routine every night. Besides,” I
tell her, “you shouldn’t get too serious. This can’t last.”
Becca sighs with relief. “I thought you were going to ask me to share.”
I don’t say anything. It had crossed my mind.
“Just give us a few more nights,” she says. “He’s bound to need sleep
sometime too.” I notice her use of the pronoun us, that it doesn’t
refer to Becca and me anymore.
She puts her arm around my shoulder and squeezes. “I know it’s hard, but
“Seems to me that’s your only interest how hard it is.”
I feel the heat of her anger spread across into my scalp. I’ve hit a
nerve. She’s like a stranger.
“You can’t undermine this, Reb. It’s my dream.”
“We’ve been taking care of each other all our lives. Now you’re treating
me like a tumor. What am I supposed to do?”
“What can I do? It’s not fair!” she screams. Her body is shaking.
“It’s not my fault, for Christ’s sake!” I turn toward her, which makes
her head turn away. She starts to sob.
I take my hand to her far cheek. I wipe the tears. I can’t cause her
“I’m sorry. I know I’m cynical and obnoxious. But if I don’t have a
right to be, who does?” I stop for a second. “Well I guess you do . . .
So how come you’re not?”
“Nobody could stand us,” she sniffs.
I smooth her hair till she stops crying. “I love you, Becca . . . Fuck
I’ll get earplugs and a blindfold.”
That night we take our walk down the street. There’s nobody in the store
but Remus. He walks up and I feel Becca radiating pleasure just on sight.
He gives her a peck on the cheek.
I smell his scent. I’m accustomed to it. I try to act cheerful. I’ve
pledged to let this thing happen, but I can almost feel him inside of her
already, and the overwhelming gloom that follows. I put a finger in my
ear and start humming “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” to block them
out. Then it hits me.
“Headphones that’s what I need. I can immerse myself in music.”
“What?” asks Remus.
“Oh, nothing,” I say, and then whisper to Becca, “I’ve found a
solution.” I give her a hug. I can do this.
The little bell on the door rings. Remus turns to see behind us. “Hey
there, Rom,” he calls, “how was the cichlid convention?” He looks back at
us. “Did I mention my brother? He’s just home from L.A.”
Becca and I turn and do a double-take. In the last dusky rays of sunset
stands a mirror image of Remus identical, but a tad more attractive. A
zing runs through my brain. I know Becca feels it too.