Mystery solved. It was C.W. in one of his favorite shapes, Lefty and Lucky the conjoined twins. They walked, hip to hip, around an oak tree my late father-in-law and I planted some 25 years ago. It is one of my wife’s favorite spots, and she protects it with zeal.
“Ass****,” Lucky shouted. F****** ratfink.” They pivoted and began walking around the tree in the opposite direction. I noticed a trampled plant.
“Hey,” I said. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Nothing,” Lefty said. “We’re somewhere else.”
“No,” I said. “I can see you.”
“No,” I said. “I can see you.”
“What you see isn’t real,” he said. “Trust me.”
“He’s lying again, Lucky said. “That’s all he does.” He smiled. “And he’s real good at it.”
“Am not,” Lefty said. “I’ve never lied since we’ve been on Earth. I’m the greatest truth-teller my planet ever sent here.” They continued walking.
I say they are conjoined twins, and I speak the truth in a literal sense. A narrow square of skin and muscle joins them. A first-year medical student could separate them with a local anesthetic, but they preferred to be “joined at the hip,” as they put it. Somehow, I fear, this close association feeds and supports the worst instincts in each.
I watched them for a minute. Lefty spent two turns around the tree cursing his attachment. When he paused for breath, I broke in.
“Having an argument?”
“Argument hell,” Lefty said. “I’m letting him know what I think of a ratfink mother … .”
“Stop,” I said. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“Ask him,” Lefty said. “I don’t know anything.”
“You’re cussing like I did when I dropped a link of anchor chain on my foot and you don’t know anything?”
“I know nothing,” he said.
“Ask him about your wife’s favorite jelly glass,” Lucky said. “The one she found in the junk pile and was over a hundred years old.”
“I’ve never touched a jelly glass since I’ve been on your planet,” Lefty said. I wouldn’t even recognize one if I saw it. I use expensive, tasteful glasses, the most wonderful and beautiful ones in the Galaxy.”
“Ask him what happens when one is drinking wine from a jelly glass and drops it on a hard floor,” Lucky said.
“I don’t remember doing that,” Lefty said. “I wasn’t there.”
“You weren’t there when my wife’s jelly glass got broken? What exactly happened, if you had to guess?”
“I’m not going to answer any hypothetical questions,” he said.
“Now he’s in a world of doo-doo,” Lucky said.
“Doo-doo head,” Lefty said.
“Fellows,” I said. “What’s up?”
“He dropped the glass and broke it,” Lucky said.
“I was somewhere else at the time,” Lefty said. He appeared to think. “In Falloonia, yeah, they transfigured me back to Falloonia for a conference. It was the greatest conference they ever had and I was the best speaker, the best speaker by far. Just ask them.”
“So I assume Lucky was with you? He can verify?”
“No,” Lefty said. “He stayed here. I went alone.”
Lucky and I stared at one another.
I had stomached about enough of this. “What really happened?”
“Mrs. Big Dope found out about her broken glass,” Lucky said.
“He jumped in the air and turned over on me,” Lefty said.
“Do mean he ‘flipped’ on you?”
Lefty nodded. “They shouldn’t allow that, not even when someone commits a crime, which I did not, by the way.”
“What happened next?”
“He’s being punished,” Lucky said.
“If he’s being punished,” I said, “won’t you be included?”
“No,” Lucky said. “I’ll still get five meals a day. He’ll only get one.”
“I see,” I said.
“And,” Lucky said, “he’s going to have to wear a sign around his neck that says, ‘jelly glass murderer’ for a month.”
“Turncoat b*****,” Lefty said.
“Guys, stop it.” I said. I looked at Lucky. “You seem to know that he’s nothing but trouble to you. Why do you stay joined to him?”
“Tell him,” you prick,” Lefty said.
“Well,” Lucky said. “He is good at filching snacks and he gives me half of them.”
“He keeps the attention off me. Have you noticed how your wife’s rock collection is disappearing and how I’m getting better at skipping them on the pond?”
“And?” This was getting uncomfortable.
“He makes me laugh.”
“It just cracks me up,” Lucky said “to see you go berserk when he pulls one of his crazy stunts.”