18 Apr

Missed Opportunities (part 3)

“You always introduce them to friends?” It seemed wiser to me to keep the whole thing a secret.

“No. But I’m not gonna let this stuff dictate my whole life, you know?”

I could respect that.

“Julie’s only met one other, about five months ago, right after we started dating. She liked him a lot; she’ll like you, too. Mainly cuz she’ll think you’re him, but also cuz you’re a nice guy.”

Flattery. Nice touch. But was it just part of a strategy? “Can I ask you a question?”


“How many have you encountered?”

“You’re my fifth.”

Five? Shit. “You must be good.”

“Honestly, I don’t think skill has anything to do with how the fight unravels.” He stopped in front of a small apartment building. “Here’s my place.”

We walked up a flight of stairs and entered a second-floor flat. Lying on a couch facing the door was a beautiful blond-haired girl, who looked asleep. She was tall and leggy, which I could tell because she wasn’t wearing pants. Just an oversized t-shirt and some underwear.

“Julie! Guess who’s here.” Jake picked up a pillow and threw it across the room at her.

She stretched her arms over her head, revealing even more skin. “Don’t you have class?” she said groggily.

“I’m skipping out. My brother’s here.”

She looked past Jake and saw me standing there, waving and grinning apologetically. “Oh shit!” She leapt off the couch and ran into an adjacent room, returning a second later in a pair of jeans, pulling her hair back into a ponytail. “Why didn’t you say something?” she said, throwing the pillow at Jake.

“I did say something. You were sleeping.”

She waved at me sheepishly and said, “Hey, Colin.” Her gaze lingered on me a little longer than I was comfortable with. But she had some stunning eyes. Green. Almost emerald.

Jake slapped Julie’s butt, distracting her from staring at me. “We’re twins, Jules. Get over it.”

“I know. It’s just so weird.”

“You’re telling me,” I said. We locked eyes again. I’ve got to admit, the thought crossed my mind. Hot girl can’t tell you apart from her boyfriend. Opens up some possibilities, you know?

Jake cleared his throat. I wondered if he knew what I was thinking. “Can we borrow your sleds?” he said to Julie.

“Sure. They’re still here.”


“In the basement. You want me to get them?”

He glanced at me and back at Julie. “No, I’ll get “˜em.”

16 Apr

Missed Opportunities (part 2)

Jake was a talkative fellow – a philosophy major who was disconcertingly unfazed by having a conversation with himself (I mean, me). But he thought it was an amazing coincidence that my first kill was also named Eric. He actually said, “I’ve never heard anything so crazy.”

When I suggested that the fact of our looking alike was stranger than our coincidental names, he said, “You’re not a philosophy major, are you?”

“You find this normal?”

“What’s normal?”

I shot him a look. “Oh, is that how this is gonna go?”

“No, I’m sorry. Look, I’m just happy to have a real experience. I spend all day in classes discussing the meaning of life, but the only time I ever really feel a sense of purpose is when I meet one of us, you know? I suppose it’s somewhat solipsist, but it’s better than talking about Heidegger’s reevaluation of ontology.”

I had no idea what the fuck he was saying.

He seemed to guess as much. “Listen, you wanna have some fun?” He proposed skipping class, taking a joy ride to Mount Hood and sledding down the snow-capped top. “My girlfriend’s got some sleds. We can be back by 7:00.”

Given the fact that we’d be trying to kill each other soon, I didn’t exactly trust him. I told him so.

“Don’t worry, man. Nothing will happen until our second meeting. You know that, right?”

“Yeah, it’s just that, you know, couldn’t you tie me up somewhere and come back tomorrow?”

He bit his lower lip, which reminded me of Maggie. She does that whenever she’s pondering a question. “I never thought about that.”

“Seriously?” Are all philosophy majors like this?

He grabbed me by both shoulders and looked into my eyes. “I swear to you, on my mother’s grave, that I will not harm you.” He let go. “Until tomorrow.”

“Your mom’s dead?”

“Yeah, c’mon. We’ll talk about it in the car.”

His apartment was within walking distance and also, he pointed out, not far from where he went to high school. On the way, he warned me that his girlfriend Julie might call me Colin. “She thinks I have a twin brother who comes to town unannounced every so often.”

14 Apr

Missed Opportunities: A Sequel

I enrolled at Portland State University that fall as a Zoology major. Ornithology classes would have to wait a year or two, my adviser told me. “And you’re really not going to do much with birds until graduate school,” he said. So I joined a birding club. Keep the fire going and all.

Birdwatchers are total dorks. You go on a Saturday outing with them, and they gush over their rare finds.

“Last week, we saw a king eider!”

“Don said he saw a curve-billed thrasher, but Renee swore it was just a California thrasher.”

“Rumor has it there’s a crested caracara near the inlet.”

They go on and on like this all day until somebody spots a plover or a wagtail. Then they go silent and gaze through binoculars, holding their breath. “See the second pine tree to the right of the rocks?” they whisper. “Look at the bushes just in front.”

They utter exclamations in hushed tones until the bird flies away, and then they erupt into noisy chatter like blue jays. Complete and total dorks.

But it’s contagious. And before long, you’ll find yourself peering at the nearest foliage for winged rarities. You’ll feel a certain compulsion to observe every creature that flutters into your line of sight. Because it’s about opportunities. It’s about not missing out.

One afternoon, just before my Biology class, I was sitting on a bench on Park, looking up at the tall evergreens when some guy stepped into my field of vision and said, “Well, well, well.”

I expected to see another birdwatcher, joking about our skyward addiction, but instead I saw myself – or, you know, another one of those guys who looks exactly like me.

This one had the same haircut, the same backpack, and the same haggard look I’d been noticing on my face in recent months every time I looked in the mirror. The look of the overworked college kid.

“This is so weird. We were just discussing Heidegger’s views of ontology in class.”

I hate college kids who try to impress you. “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” I said.


“See? I’m smart too.”

He chuckled nervously. “I’m Jake.” He offered his hand, and I shook it. It’s such a surreal experience, shaking your own hand.

“Your name’s not Eric?”

“No.” He turned his head like a confused dog. “It’s Jake.”

“Nice to meet you, Jake. I’m Eric.” We both looked down at our still-shaking hands and pulled away.