Identical Sins

Detective Abernathy perched on the edge of the leather ottoman, staring in amazement at the most perfectly identical twins he had ever seen in his life.  Attractive brunettes in their mid-forties, they sat close on an expensive sofa, holding hands, exchanging nervous glances and stealing occasional brief looks at the portly middle aged man, dead in the doorway.

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“Now… let me get this straight,” the detective questioned, “You’re saying you’re both Mrs. Roberts?”  His head inclined only the slightest degree, indicating the deceased.

“Well, technically…” began the sister on the left, “… Millie’s married to Carl, but we both, eh…that is, we… took turns… playing the part of wife!”

“But Margaret never had sex with Carl.”  The sister on the right added quickly, as if this detail somehow made the arrangement more appropriate. “Isn’t that right dear?”

“That’s right Millie.” replied the twin.  “Just as we agreed.”

The Detective eyed them curiously.  “And how exactly, did this…” he struggled for the precise word, “…relationship, work?

“Well…” Margaret continued, “…we’ve been swapping places for years, even as children.”  She straightened her blouse nervously. “Whenever Millie or I got tired, or bored with a situation, we would swap.  I’d take her place and she’d take mine.”  Millie sat silently but nodded in agreement. “It was always really quite easy, only mother could tell us apart.”

Abernathy stared at them in wonder.  Their similarities were amazing.  As he sat before the sisters, finding it impossible to distinguish any difference between them at all.

“So you would periodically swap places, taking turns at being the deceased’s spouse?  Living together for weeks or months, then just exchange your lives”

Millie spoke up. “Yes, it worked out wonderfully for us. Whenever we wanted a change, we’d just meet up and… exchange.”

“But surely, your… eh…husband…” Abernathy took quick turns looking from one sister to the other. “Surely, he noticed some incongruities in behavior.  I mean your physical similarities are incredible, but your daily interactions, your on-going conversations, your unique personalities, there must have been inconsistencies… your husband would notice?”

“Oh yes,” Margaret resumed, “…it was an endless source of frustration for Carl.  He never could figure it out.  I like roses while Millie prefers orchids.  Millie loves the Opera, while I detest it.  There were a thousand different little things that left him confused.” Margaret looked to her sister for support. “But I believe we treated him wonderfully, despite our little deception.”

The detective adjusted his tie slowly before proceeding. “And tonight?”

“It all happened so quickly.” Millie interjected.  “Carl returned home early.  We weren’t expecting him until tomorrow.  We didn’t even hear him come in.  We were just sitting here talking and then heard a gasp from the doorway, there.”  Millie pointed to the deceased and buried her face in her hands.

“He just grabbed his chest and fell over.” Margaret finished.

Abernathy struggled to comprehend the twin’s casual attitude towards the whole situation.  “I can see how it would be a tremendous shock for a man to discover that his wife was literally two different people.  He gathered his composure, trying to recover his professional disposition.  “Relationships are difficult under normal circumstances, but surely you can understand how seeing you both together would be a shock!”  The sisters tightened their grip on each other.

Abernathy continued.  “Of course I’m no doctor or psychiatrist, but it’s not hard for me to see how your husband may have had a physical or psychological reaction to this…this… discovery!  It’s enough to drive a person insane.”

“Yes, we know.” cried Millie.  “That’s what happened to poor Randolph.”

“Randolph!  You mean you’ve carried out this deception on another man?” Abernathy was incredulous.

“Well four to be precise!” exclaimed Margaret. “Randolph in the State Sanatorium.  Malcolm – suicide.  And Vernon ran off with a Hawaiian girl.”

“Polynesian!” Millie corrected.

Abernathy sat stunned, taking it all in.  His cell phone vibrated in his pocket.

“Excuse me.” he apologized, glancing at his phone.  “It’s downtown.  I won’t be a moment.”

“How’s it going out there?” questioned the Police Chief on the other end of the call.

Abernathy walked to the far end of the room.  “I’m not sure if there’s been a crime.  But I have a lot of questions about what’s going on at my house.”

 

How Not to Succeed in Business

My wife still believes anything can be accomplished with hard work and perseverance, poor naive soul. Many years my junior, she has not yet come face to face with age discrimination.   I on the other hand, have come to terms with some very harsh realities indeed.  But over time I realized I needed a different perspective.  Although achieving success is usually a product of determination, it occurred to me, advancement could also be accomplished through the process of elimination.  If there is only one horse in the race, it’s much easier to pick the winner.

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At this point, I would like to disavow any implication of mental instability.  I have been tested several times with only inconclusive results. Sure there is a history of mass-murder on my mother’s side, but since the execution of the mentally disabled is a violation of the Geneva Convention, I can only assume a state of complete lucidity at the time of her demise. But, I digress.

Having been passed over for promotion several times by clearly inferior co-workers, I decided to thin the field of competition.  My sights first fell on my cube-mate Ron.  Ron named me Professor Evil since discovering my penchant for writing hate mail to the kids I support through Children International.  Who was he to judge?  He doesn’t know me!  But I knew him. Yes, I knew Ron alright.  I knew about his love for handguns and Bowie knives.  I had just finalized plans for an overly elaborate clown-suited home invasion and disemboweling when Ron accepted a position at a different company.  I wasn’t disappointed to see him go, one down. Two days later, I decided I had expended too much effort on my plan to simply let it go to waste, so I went ahead with it anyway.

Rex was the next to fall prey to my cunning machinations.  He was the office manager, an honorific title at best.  His position on the organization chart fell somewhere between supervisor and lackey.  In addition to a name common to Labradors, he also shared their fascination for tennis balls.  He kept a bright yellow one on his desk for strengthening his grip. He had the habit of bouncing it on the floor as he emerged from his office periodically throughout the day like a deranged cuckoo with his ludicrous announcements.  I dispatched him by taking his ball and throwing it out into the parking lot.  He immediately ran out to retrieve it and was promptly run over by a UPS truck.  It was almost too easy.

Bill I eliminated with African ear mites placed into his headphones.  The deadly parasites, purchased from a leather fetish nun (whom I know strictly on a professional level and recently returned from Botswana), burrowed deep into his brain and eviscerated his frontal lobe.  He went unnoticed for three days, sitting at his desk cursing at himself and asking, “Where the hell am I?”  It was only when he fell from his chair that anyone realized his pathetic condition.  The parasites went completely undetected during his autopsy and his death was ruled as stress related to a recent Volkswagen rebuild gone horribly awry.

Tom went with an arsenic laced Beef on Weck.  Jim starved himself to death as I methodically and subliminally convinced him, the only safe consumables were frozen prunes and water biscuits.  Mike, my final competitor, succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to add yet another cargo attachment to his already over-burdened motorcycle.  I swear I had nothing to do with this one.  The investigating officer could find no good reason as to why the engine was running with the garage door down.  Mike’s wife eventually informed him, in a suspiciously fake British accent, “He just liked the smell of it, Gov’ner”

At last, I was at the top of the promotion list.  At the peak of my potential, where my years of experience in employee relations and dedication to my craft marginally suggested I should be.  Unfortunately, the recent lack of manpower had resulted in the loss of several lucrative contracts resulting in a terrible third quarter revenue report.  The remainder of my group, namely me, was laid off.  Furthermore, I have recently been denied employment at several establishments due to lack of current references.