Two Men in Texas
By ice rivers
Shelley Seton was expecting, expecting. Shelley Seton was expecting twins. Why wouldn't she be?
Shelley had an identical twin named Kelley. Kelley and Shelley grew up dressing alike. They were so identical that nobody even bothered to try and tell them apart. They were known individually and collectively as Kelleyandshelley or, depending upon the suspicion, Shelleyandkelley. Or the Macdonald twins.
One fine day Kelleyand shelley met Ronaldandonald. Ronaldandonald or Donaldandronald, depending upon the suspicion, were the Seton twins.
The attraction was immediate, intense and opposite. The only difference between Kelley and Shelley was that Shelley was left handed and Kelley right. The only difference between Ronald and Donald is that Donald was right handed and Ronald left.
The twins began double dating and in so doing gave new meaning to the term double dating. Opposites do tend to attract. Left handed Shelley was attracted to right handed Donald. Right handed Kelley fell in love with left handed Ronald. World War two was raging.
All over the country, young couples were getting hitched just before the males were shipped overseas. Ronald was drafted and headed for war with boot camp in Texas.
The two couples decided to get married.
They gave new meaning to the term double marriage.
They got married in Texarkana. Before the marriage, the couples thought how neat it would be if they were to take the girl's last names. Then the boys could be Donaldandronald Macdonald or Ronaldandonald Macdonald based upon suspicion. After a few laughs, the couples decided to stick with tradition. Shelley MacDonald became Shelley Seton.
After the marriage, the boys went over to the line separating Texas from Arkansas. They got into position like two centers ready to hike two footballs with the line of scrimmage being the state line. Shelley snapped the picture.
Two men in Texas, two asses in Arkansas.
A year before the two asses squatted in Arkansas, Shelleyandkelley and Donaldandronald realized that they had a problem. The old twin switcheroo.
Except this time, the possibility existed for the almost impossible to comprehend double twin switcheroo. Vertently or inadvertently,it was possible on any given night for left handed Shelley to wind up with left handed Ronald and/or for right handed Donald to end up with right handed Kelley.
The couples decided that one way to prevent this problem was a sign-in sheet. The sets of twins could and should demand a writing sample before every date and even during some of those dates, particularly the double dates, before moments of intimacy, after arguments at any time of doubt or joy, of hope or faith.
A request for a writing sample, it was agreed should never be turned down. Obviously, it wasn't the content of the note that was important, it was the hand that was used to write the note.
Donald would make sure that the twin from whom he was getting a writing sample was writing with her left hand and that would prove it was Shelley. Then Shelley in turn would make sure that the guy writing the note to her was writing the note with his right hand and was indeed Donald. Even though the content of the note wasn't critical, the foursome decided to come up with a note that would unite them while simultaneously dividing them.
The note had to be long enough to test writing skills but short enough to not take up much time particularly before moments of passion. This is the note they decided on.
Ronaldand donald would write: i am who i am and that's all that i am, I'm Ronald (or Donald) the Seton twin.
Shelleyandkelley would write: i am who i am and that's all that i am, I'm Shelley (or Kelley) the Mackdee twin.
Let's hope it works because as mentioned earlier, Shelly was preggers.
Shelley had the names picked out for the twins she was expecting, expecting.
If they were girls they would be Helen and Ellen in honor of Shelley's mother Ellen and her identical, dress alike sister Helen, formerly the Tower Twins Helenandellen or Ellenandhelen Tower.
If the expected twins were boys they would be named Merle and Earl in honor of Donald's father Merle and Merle's identical dress alike twin brother, Uncle Earl, formerly Merleandearl or Earlandmerle Seton.
If they were a boy and a girl, the twins would be named Merle and Pearl in honor of Donald's father Merle and his wife, Donald's mother, Pearl.His parents were known as merlandperl.
Around the sixth week of her pregnancy, Shelley experienced some unusually heavy bleeding without much pain or cramping and was alarmed until she visited her obstetrician and was assured that the pregnancy was still viable. The heavy bleeding was nothing out of the ordinary at that stage of pregnancy according to Dr. Rudolph.
This was way back in 1946, well before the advent of sonograms, ultrasound and amnioscentisis. No one knew then what we know now.
This is what we know now.
Women have always carried twins with far greater frequency than imagined. In the old days, those twins were never captured on sonogram so most women never knew they were carrying twins and when they experienced heavy bleeding around the sixth week of their pregnancy, they were unaware that they were actually miscarrying one of the twins. They would go to the doctor the next day and the doctor would say what Doctor Rudolph said to Shelley. "This is nothing out of the ordinary" Which was true.
So the expectant mother would go home assured that her unborn child was still developing according to plan and totally unaware that one half of the in utero twins had already left the building with very little fanfare.
Earl was gone and forgotten not only as a has been but a never was and never even had been.
Merle went full term and was born alone. The only evidence that Earl existed in the first place is the evidence that Merle brought with him. Surviving twin babies have one consistent characterstic. They are overwhelmingly left handed.
As was Merle.
Six years later, half-twin Merle Seton Fell out of the bunk bed.
Bunk beds had quite a history In the Seton family. Merle’s mother and her twin sister had both slept in bunk beds As had Merle’s father and his twin brother. Merle’s grandmothers and grandfathers had also slept in bunk beds. All four of ‘em, always two per bed.
None of them had ever fallen out of a bunk bed before.
Of course, all of them had lived in Dubuque.
Merle and his Mom and Dad were sleeping in Nevada.
His Dad had done his war time stint working on the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan project was only the beginning. The experimenting continued.
The war was over but the Reds weren’t.
They were all over the place. Some were in Nevada. “Spying”, Merle’s Dad said.
Merle’s Dad never said much else ‘bout his work even the morning after the night That Merle fell out of the bunk bed. The top bunk of the bunk bed.
Merle Seton was a dreamin' bout sittin' on a dock Five feet above soft rocks that were covered with warm Lake Water. Merle slipped gently off the dock Feet headed for the rocks but found only air and instead of warm crystal clear water his bare feet found nuthin but floor beneath his six year old soles.
Somehow he landed on his legs before he fell on his ass which was the cause of the crash which woke Merle up uninjured. Merle climbed back up the ladder No wiser and no sadder To the bunk not the dock He took a look at the clock Which was pointing to Midnight. He fell asleep in atomic fright Feeling kinda sore and sad. Where the heck were Mom and Dad?
See, the Setons lived in Nevada as close as anybody to the atomic bomb testing grounds and were in the forefront of American fifties families who learned to love the bomb. Merle's father was involved emotionally and economically with the atomic arming of the Cold war. His great triumph occurred with his contribution to the Manhattan Project which probably saved the life of his twin brother who was stationed in Manila and warming up to be cannon fodder during the inevitable horrific invasion of Japan that would make Iwo jima look like Ding-Dong school But then we dropped the bomb on 'em and all the living brothers came home.
Since then Merle's Dad had labored on various sidetrips, brilliant defense measures that ended up being expensive dead ends. These dead ends included the nuclear bazooka, the F3H jet, the atomic artillery shell and the various pills and nostrums the atomic alchemists devised to cure radiation poisoning. Yeah, Merle's Dad was convinced that the bomb was his friend and the guardian of his family.
Shelley had her doubts but had learned how to be married as the forties turned into the fifties. She kept her big trap shut.
The Setons were used to seeing flashes and minutes later feeling their house rock. Shelley heard the crash from the bunk room. She opened her trap, nudged her husband and whispered, "what's that" Merle's father, worn out from a hard day's night at the plant sleepily replied "Jezzuz, go back to sleep, it's only an atomic bomb . I gotta be at work early tomorrow."
Before shutting her trap and settling back in bed, Shelley whispered to her husband "All right. I was afraid that maybe Merle had fallen out of the bunk".