So you take a picture of something you see. In the future where will I be? Talk, Coldplay
have u talked 2 her 2day
no just got up
How long had we been texting? I was getting dizzy.
jeez how late were u out, drink much
chk ur lott tix
JUST GOT UP
I put down my iPhone and leaned back in the recliner. I heard it chirp again, my brother sending another text, I ignored him.
It was almost noon but I was still wiped. I was supposed to meet Jessie at Trestles to catch waves, but I doubted I could even get up on a board today. I fell back asleep and dreamed of lottery riches.
Jessie woke me up an hour later. Singing through my cell:
I missed you at the Pacific, the guys were all hot.
I watched my watch - at noon you were not.
So cry for me - you’re still in your cot.
I can’t show you up if you don’t give me a shot.
All was a song to Jessie. She just made this stuff up as she went along. She’d dial, someone would answer the phone, she’d figure out who she had called, and then start singing. No one hung up on Jessie.
When the melody was over we talked.
You still dead?
I’m heading home with goodies, stay awake.
I'll try. Last night?
Good. Meant to come home, but we wore each other out.
Hmmm, that good?
I knew Jessie was at least 30 minutes away, so I spent that time under a lukewarm shower. When I got out and grabbed a towel, I could hear music. Jessie had put her ipod in our system and started one of a million of our mixes. Not too loud, out of respect for my hangover.
While I was toweling Jessie walked into the bathroom. With her standing next to me in her hoodie & sweatshorts, I looked at us in the mirror. I was still slammed enough to be confused for a minute, which one was me? Oh yea, the one with big baggy red eyes & wet hair.
Hey, you don’t look so bad.
Well, I got smoothies.
There’s an advantage to being so close to someone they know EVERY single thing about you. Like when you are feeling your worst, there is nothing you want more than a strawberry/banana smoothie from the Fruit Shack.
Have I told you today I love you?
No, but you can wait until you’ve finished your elixir. And Pedro says hi.
Did he know who he was saying hi to?
No, but I don’t think he cared.
Pedro was the tall, great looking owner of the Fruit Shack. Rich, strong, and a super surfer. Both Jessie and I had been naked with Pedro many times. Its doubtful he knew which sister he was nailing, but like Jessie said, he wouldn’t care.
I wrapped the towel around me and followed Jessie out to the balcony. We sat in high back Adirondack chairs, our feet propped up on the rail, gazing at the Pacific.
~How were the waves?
Who was there?
Everyone. No one. I don’t know. I ran across Paul’s board, I know he was there.
When Jessie and I were surfing, when we were concentrating, we rarely noticed anything outside of a few feet around our board. When Jessie got to the beach, she probably spotted familiar faces, even talked to some friends, but by the time she was finished riding, it was all gone. She was exhausted and carried her board straight for the car. And the Fruit Shack.
Paul? That Marine dude?
Hmmm. Take a photo?
Last night, more info please.
Not much to tell. He was cute, well, you saw him. Entertaining in bed. Between the surfing and screwing him, oh, and we ate. And I fell asleep.
So you spent the night. Thats usually not good.
Yea, I know, but Mr. dude was absent when I left.
Guess that means he has a job.
Yea. How boring is that!
The front door opened and a wonderful voice yelled out: Hey, double Js here?
Josh! Jessie yelled, and ran to greet him, vaulting my legs. I closed my eyes, imagining Josh and Jessie hugging, walking arm in arm to the balcony. Actually, he was probably carrying . . .
Sure enough, he walked into the deck with Jessie on his back. He dropped her when he reached my chair, reached down to give me a rub on my shoulders and a kiss on my forehead.
I could never be happier than when the three of us were together
How's the head, he asked.
Throbbing. Spinning. Swollen. Banging. Roaring. I believe it is actually trying to escape. It sees the Pacific and wants to be amongst it.
Jessie and Josh patiently allowed all the pain to come out of my mouth, letting me feel a little bit better by distributing some of the anguish to the outside world. Josh went to the kitchen, poured himself a diet 7up, bringing back an ice cube. I leaned my head back and he rubbed frozen water back and forth across my forehead. One of my favorite songs was playing, something by Vanessa Carlton. Jessie softly sang the song with Vanessa. The sun cuddled my face, and I fell asleep.
Jessie and Jamie are my twin sisters, 12 years younger. When Mom first told me she was going to have a baby - you’ll have a little sister or brother - I was pissed. I knew what that meant, I’d seen my friends have little siblings, it was brutal. According to Mom, when I first saw them in each of Mom’s arms in the hospital room, I cried. I immediately hated them. But that changed.
Within 3 months of their birth, Mom was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Dad’s attention was quickly diverted to Mom’s health and I was the twins’ new parent. There was a nanny, but when I got home from school I usually sent her home. I made their formula, changed their diapers, dressed them, fed them, put them down for naps, cleaned them up. I remember once overhearing the nanny ask Dad a question, don’t remember what. He just said, ask Josh, he’ll know. That made me smile. But it was very confusing for Jessie and Jamie, they thought I was Dad #1 and Dad was Dad #2. When Jamie was in 2nd grade, and told a girl she had two dads, the girl laughed at her and said, that’s your brother, freak!.
My friend Derek knew the twins through me. I went to high school with Derek and we remained friends through college. I went to Long Beach State, driving distance to home; Derek went to UC San Diego, about an hour and a half away. He was home lots and we hung out often. As the twins got older, they were with us more, the 4 of us doing whatever, usually starting with surfing. As they got still older, it was less Derek with us.
Because of me almost raising them and all, and the fact that friends saw the three of us together ALL the time, Derek and others called us the triplets. But I made it very clear I was not them. Certainly I was in their circle, tightly in, but not all the way. Derek and I never really talked about it until years later, one night when the two of us got a little drunk in a local pub.
We started talking about my divorce. It had been final that day, mostly the reason we were out drinking. The twins were meeting us later, they had a surfing function to go to first. Then we started talking about them. Derek hadn’t seen them in awhile and was just asking about how they were doing.
They’re doing great. Making lots of money, getting laid constantly, my All American twin sisters.
You remember telling me one time the ‘triplets’ moniker wasn’t quite right, that you were not really the same as them? I never understood what you meant. Any time I’ve seen the 3 of you together, you all seem the same to me. Eh, other than, you know, their women.
Cute. Well, don’t get me wrong, they are my two best friends, I’ll probably never be closer to anyone. Its a major reason my marriage fell apart, my wife knew they came first. But still, they’re each other’s twin, I’m just their brother.
I’ll explain it this way. About a year ago we were all in Seattle for a couple weeks. They were doing publicity for that movie, and I was along for the ride, mostly to not be with my wife. Ok, that’s mean, but by that time we were constantly at each other and the end was near. Anyway there was this twins outing we were all going on. We took a ferry to some island where they had a buffet and games/contests set up, volleyball, all that. On the ferry it was cold and windy so we sat downstairs inside. The seating was at these tables, two people on each side, sorta like a picnic table.
The girls were exhausted and almost immediately fell asleep, their heads down on the table. I was on the other side and some guys caught my attention at a table in the aisle next to us and a little forward.
I remembered these guys from another twins function I’d gone to with the Js. The girls got to be close with this set of twins, eh, real close for a couple nights. One of the twins had one arm leaning on the table, talking to some friends sitting on the opposite side of them. His twin brother had laid down on the bench, but it wasn’t long enough to hold him, even with his knees bent. He had his bare feet and most of his calves on the lap of his brothers’ legs. And not only did the brother NOT shove the feet away, he had one arm sorta cradling them to make sure they didn’t slip off.
Can you imagine your sister or brother or best friend doing that? In the first place, even THINKING that would be ok? And then that you’d allow someone’s legs/feet on top of your lap? Head maybe, but legs? But that’s twins for you.
I awoke for the third time that Sunday. Music was playing, the sun was heading for the ocean, Josh and Jessie were not on the balcony. My headache was gone. My sister and brother had cured me. And not for the first time.
I went into the kitchen. It was built in a long, narrow style, with an island between the main part of the kitchen and the family room, the room we spent the most time in when we were inside. Jessie and Josh were sitting on the floor, leaning back against the sofa next to each other, laughing, talking. The music had drowned out whatever noise I’d made coming inside from the other side of the room, and they didn’t know I was standing at the island watching them, smiling at them. My twin sister, and (our joke), our twin brother.
Jessie was my identical twin sister, younger by 17 minutes. We were alike in almost every way: We definitely looked identical; we thought alike; we were both obsessed with surfing; we liked the same music; we loved to fuck muscular surfer dudes (well, we loved to fuck). You get the idea. At almost exactly 25 years old, we’d spent very little time apart. And had had only one argument.
You know all those stories you hear, read about, see on TV; about identical twins knowing what the other is thinking/feeling? Well, its true. Jessie and I have been going to these Twin conventions since we were 6 years old. We’ve made lots of twin friends, many we keep up with, and they all report the same thing: they are two pieces of the same pie. You can see it if you ever watch the Bryan brothers play tennis doubles.
The family room was solid windows overlooking the Pacific. I stood there watching the very animated discussion between my sister and brother, with the sun going down behind Catalina Island and the room glowing like gold. This had turned out to be a pretty good day after all, hangover included.
Jessie, Josh and I made dinner and ate in front of the TV. We watched some stuff off the DVR, a repeat of Angel, one of Buffy, one of X-Files, SportsCenter. Josh was always watching repeats of his favorite older shows, and soon we were hooked too.
But before TV, Jessie told us a story about the guy she had been with the night before. I’m pretty sure most people would think it damn strange how open we were with our big brother about our sex life. But Josh made it a point not to comment on that part of our lives, and that way he got to know more about our day to day existence then he would if he’d constantly been chiding or lecturing us.
JESSIE: WHATS THE WORST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU IN YOUR LIFE
So, after having sex for, I don't know, a couple hours, he says, I'm hungry. And I realized I was starving. So I think this dude is gonna order a pizza or something. But he says come on, we can make sandwiches. So we go in the kitchen and this guy, I keep saying 'this guy', his name is Martin. Anyway, Martin pulls out a turkey from his refrigerator. Josh, James, this guy baked a turkey! Do you know of ANY guys that would, or could, cook a turkey? Yes, I know you could, both of you, but any other dudes!? He tells me a couple days ago he felt like a turkey so he went out and bought one and basted it and cooked it. This surfer cooks! Imagine that? And, It was really really good. We made these rad sandwiches, on whole wheat bread, and he had fresh tomatoes. This was not a White Bread dude. I was blown away, and I’m not talking about the sex!
We both laughed at that.
So while we are eating he asked me this question: What's the worst thing ever to happen to you in your life? I’m looking at this guy, that really, I hardly know, but I start thinking. I'm kind of stumbling and finally I say, I guess it's the fact that my parents were really never my parents. My mom died when I was really young and that kinda made my dad wonky. My brother pretty much raised me and my sister.
Martin tells me he's back in college. He went to college after high school like most of us, but after one year he quit. He said he wanted to just be without responsibilities for a while, surf, just enjoy life in Laguna Beach. Now he's back in college at UC Irvine. He's taking this philosophy class and he loves his professor. He said, I think she's the smartest, no, wisest person I've ever met.
One day in class my professor asks the person sitting directly in front of her, what's the worst thing that's ever happened to you in your life. The guy she asked took about 10 -15 seconds to answer, and I don't really remember what he said, it wasn't memorable. She started walking around the classroom asking people that question. This tall guy, he's on our basketball team, he says not starting during his freshman year. A woman says getting a C in advanced algebra in her senior year of high school.
Finally this one guy sitting right in front of me says, it was the death of my baby brother at one month old from bronchial pneumonia. She asked him how old he was when that happened. He said he was 10. He actually had trouble saying that, he was kinda broken up, I think if I could've seen him from the front he might have had tears in his eyes. She asks him how old he is and he said 24. Now this professor starts talking. If someone asks you what's the worst thing to happen in your life and it takes you some thought, some time to answer that, than you've probably had a pretty good life. Mr. Fineman over there had something happen to him 14 years ago and it's pretty clear that it's still fresh in his mind. Then she turned to him and said, so sincerely, I'm very sorry, I know your Brother’s tragic death will be with you forever.
But the whole point guys is, I really couldn't come up with anything when he asked me that question. What would you say James?
Well, I'd probably say the same thing you did.
Yeah, that's what I thought. Think about it. Did we ever really miss mom and dad? It's not like we knew them and they were these wonderful parents and then suddenly they fell off the face of the earth. Hell, they were never really here. It was Wilma our nanny and our ugly big brother Josh. We never wanted for anything. We've never wanted for anything. We’ve had a pretty perfect life. You know, except for my hair and you being all fat and stuff
Josh left late. I heard Jessie call him when he was on the road, singing him a goodnight lullaby. By then I was in bed, near unconscious. Jessie closed my door, then went to her room.
The last thing I remember hearing was Jessie singing in the shower: girls just gotta have fun.
But soon I was awake again. Jessie was in my room, rubbing my shoulder. When I turned my head up she whispered, can I slip in.
Sure. You ok Jess?
Ok Sis, just . . .
Jessie's counselor called it depression. Jessie hated that. She said she was lonely. Jessie never wanted to be lonely.
Nothing goes as planned Everything will break People say goodbye In their own special way
In my veins, Andrew Belle
I woke up, stretching out in bed, remembering my dream. Looking around I realized I was in Jaimie’s bed. When did this happen?
Jaimie popped in, bright and cheery, like late last night never happened.
Happy Birthday I replied quietly
She flitted around the room, looking for a shirt, then found it. As she pulled it over her head, she looked at me.
What? You’re not yet with us, huh?
Really bad dream. Shit.
Tell me about it.
No, I want it to pass.
I did talk to Jaimie about my dreams, it was way better than talking to that fat counselor. But today was our birthday, I didn’t want anything to bring us down.
Say, where are we going tonight?
I don’t care, where do you want to go?
Lets start at Las Brisas.
Well, you know I won’t have a problem with that. Call Josh?
No, I’ve got to go get my hair cut, text him. We agreed on 6.
You didn’t think I’d want a haircut?
Your hair is perfect. It’s ALWAYS fucking perfect.
Ok, there’s something we are not alike on. Our hair is identical. It’s straight, dirty blond, thick. Jamie likes our hair. But I’m always thinking my hair looks like ka ka.
As I left the house, I saw Jaimie texting. And I got the texts too.
c u there bday grls
I got on my bike to head down to the salon, only a mile away. Once I was sitting in the chair getting my hair cut, I closed my eyes and immediately the memory of my dream returned.
I was on Coast Hwy, I remember passing Main Beach. Then I was stopped at a red light. I looked over at the car beside me. It was an old beat up Civic. It had been slammed into right at the driver side door. Jamie was driving. I watched her face sadden, her eyes water, then a full on bawling. Thats all I remembered. I must have jerked my head, the next thing I heard was a scream from the guy cutting my hair. And then I felt something wet on my right cheek.
Orlando, my hairdresser, had put his scissors through my cheek. Apparently my head jerk had been pretty violent. I didn’t feel anything until I looked in the mirror. Blood was streaking down the side of my face and neck. Everyone I saw in the mirror was thunderstruck, feet frozen to the marble tile floor.
Finally Orlando came to, opened his cabinet and got a clean towel out to put against the side of my face. This woke everyone else up and I heard someone call 911. Orlando’s boss, Antoinette, the woman who runs the salon, came over with another clean towel, ran it underwater and then started cleaning blood off of me and trying to get it off my clothes.
I couldn't talk. I tried, but it hurt too much. The slightest movement of my jaw was sharply painful. I held my hand up by my ear hoping they understood, and Antoinette did. She found my cell phone in my little purse and handed it to me. i found Josh’s contact number and showed it to Antoinette. She nodded, this is your brother, right? I nodded, slightly. I wanted to lean my head back, but the chair wasn't tall enough. I closed her eyes.
The next time I opened them I was on a gurney being wheeled down the hospital corridor. I looked around at the faces and recognized no one, until my eyes fell on my brother, who I finally made out amongst the orderlies and nurses escorting me. I was so glad no one had told my sister, Jamie would lose it. But then I felt a little kiss on her forehead and Jaimie talking in my ear, although I couldn't really hear anything. I smiled and closed my eyes again.
What happened to her?
I don't know James, all I know is Antoinette from the salon called and said an ambulance was taking her to the hospital. Her cheek was pierced with scissors.
Scissors? Scissors in her cheek, that doesn't make sense?
Jaimie, I'm heading to the Presbyterian Hospital. Meet me there. We'll find out what happened.
Then he hung up on me. Okay, I was never known for handling myself well in a situation like this. I always freak out when something crappy happens, especially if it's to Jessie. As my brother has said many times, I handle bad things in my own life better than I handle bad things in her life. Geez, isn't that the truth!
The hospital was just a couple miles away, but those were tough miles late in the afternoon. When I got there I saw Josh getting out of his car in the parking lot at the emergency entrance. We walked into the hospital together and asked about Jessie.
A doctor came over and talked to us. He explained that somehow the mishap at the salon was that a pair of long pointed scissors had pierced her cheek and gone into her gum. The cheek, more than just pierced, was actually sliced and needed to be stitched up. Some work needed to be done on her gums and probably a tooth removed. They were getting her ready to go to surgery. She had been unconscious almost since she arrived and they had given her pain medication the moment she had started to come out of it. Then the doctor said, it's pretty weird to be talking to you right now. When it seems like, just a few minutes ago I was examining you on the table in that cubicle right over there.
The doctor was cute, so I was patient. You're not the first one to be a little thrown off by identical twins. But as you can see, my cheek is okay.
He smiled, and with a little embarrassment walked away.
My brother, as normal, got me calmed down. You know why she had them call me, right?
I looked at him and frowned, bowing my head.
Jamie, by now you probably would have shot every employee at the Salon, and grabbed that Dr by the balls until he promised you he would take special care of Jess and not ever charge you.
We walked towards the cubicle the doctor had pointed to and as we got there they were already wheeling her to the operating room. She opened her eyes and finally spotted Josh's face. I was on the end behind her head standing next to the orderly doing the pushing. I grabbed her shoulder and she looked up at me and tried to smile. I reached down and gave her a soft kiss on the forehead and said you'll be fine. She was still looking at Josh and he was mouthing words to her. She smiled weakly at him and closed her eyes.
When they wouldn’t let us go any further, we headed to the waiting room to wait. Wait wait wait. I needed a beer, but that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. Josh made a comment about our birthday, and he recalled all the crazy things that happened on our birthday. Like the time when we were in the Bay Area shooting a commercial and the earthquake happened. We refused to finish the commercial until our birthday was over! When we were kids, like five or six, Dad and Josh had taken us camping. Jesse fell and planted her knee right on top of one of the metal tent stakes. Another trip to the emergency room!
It was almost two hours when the doctor came in to talk to us. He said everything had gone fine and she would be in recovery for a couple hours. He said she needed to stay overnight but would probably be released no later than noon tomorrow.
After a short discussion, we decided I would spend the night at the Hospital. Jaimie was dying to go to the salon and figure out what happened there. Even though I was nervous about her being the one to talk to them, I for sure did not want her here in the Hospital all night. And Jaimie could call the insurance agency and their agent to cancel an appearance scheduled for the weekend. And a few friends that were to meet us that night to celebrate the girls' Birthday.
Finally a nurse came to tell us Jessie had been moved to a room and gave us the room number. When we walked in Jess was slightly propped up and had her eyes open. She clearly was relieved to see us walk in. I gave her a big hug and then got out of the way while the two of them hugged and cried. Jaimie moved Jess over slightly and layed down next to her. She had her arm behind Jess, with Jess leaning against her shoulder. I sat on the end of the bed massaging Jess's feet. We both had the same goal, making Jessie as comfortable as possible.
Jessie lasted about a half hour and then softly slipped into sleep again. Jaimie and I hugged and she left in tears. As much as it killed me, there was nothing I could do about that. She needed to get it all out.
The police officer that interviewed me was someone I was acquainted with. I had called the Laguna Beach Police several months ago about a couple stalkers who were constantly getting on to the Twins’ property. They actually arrested the two guys and that had stopped the problem. She remembered me and we talked about that case first.
Josh, I know this has to be hard on you, so lets just get it done. Why don’t you just start with the phone call you said you received from the salon.
I looked at her name tag to remember her name. Jamie Severs. Wow, bizarre. And cute. And no ring. Wonder what Jaimie would think if I went out with Jamie?
By the time I was in my car and started it up, I'd pretty much finished with the crying. I left the Mustang in park and just leaned back into the seat with my eyes closed and the AC blowing into my face. The image of Jess with that bandaged, swollen face would not go away. But of course Josh and I acted like it was no big deal.
Honey, I think you've got a little scratch or something on your cheek.
Actually it looks better. That side of your face was always a little wonky compared to, you know, a normal person's face.
It was hard, and obviously painful, for her to laugh. But she was full of drugs and enjoying the barbs. I think it was the first ime since the Salon she'd felt at least a little like herself, and comfortable in an environment she could handle. Hospital aside, she was with us.
In a moment of sanity that I have no excuse for, I decided not to go to the Salon. Anyway, it was way too late, already after 10. That would surely make Josh happy. Jess had explained to us in pieces of halting soft whispers what had happened there, completely blaming herself. She had nodded off while her hair was being cut and had the bad dream. Waking from it she was startled and jerked her head around. Cheek meet Orlando's scissors. Hey, I was lucky, sorta. He could have been holding the scissors at eye level!!
Neither Josh or I asked about the Dream. It wasn't the right time, we knew. But I for sure as hell was going to make her tell me one day soon, look what that damn dream had done to her. The only thing she had said about it was she found herself real lonely, like I wasn't around. And it scared the crap out of her. Actually scared me a little too.
Then I remembered it was Jessie’s turn to pick up food. Each of the 3 of us one night a week went around to grocery stores and restaurants to pick up leftovers they set aside for us. This was for a growing organization started by a former Mayor of Laguna Beach to collect unused food for needy, homeless people.
I thought back to the day Jessie and I had talked about this. We were both sitting on the couch in the middle of the day in the family room. Music was on and I was reading the newspaper. Then Jesse asked me, you like this song?
I had to stop and listen, I hadn’t been paying much attention to the music, but then thought, yea, I do like this song. It was Better Days by the Goo Goo Dolls. Yeah, I said, I do. Why?
I was just thinking. He's saying, Hey, don't go out and buy me a nice gift. What I really want is the chance for better days, for things to get better. Now when you think about those guys, the Goo Goo Dolls, they got to be pretty rich, Right? Probably richer than us.
Okay Jess, I get that, but what are you trying to say?
Not everyone is like us. In this country, or the whole world for that matter, what percentage of all the people have it is good as us? 1%? One half 1%? And on the other hand, how many people every day wonder where they're going to get enough food just to make it through the day? How many parents worry every day if they have enough food to feed their kids?
Whoa, where is this coming from? I don't think I've ever heard you talk about this.
Remember when we went with Stacy and Melinda up to Bel Air that day, to go shopping? We didn't buy much, everything was so damned expensive. But everywhere we went I just looked at the people in the street and in the shops, thinking these people are REALLY rich. I remember this one woman coming out of a shop that we were about to go into and we had to step aside so she could get out the double doors with all the bags she was carrying. By then we’d been in and out of a bunch of shops and it made me think, how much money has she spent today? $10,000, $50,000? Remember some of those dresses we saw, they were $25 – 50,000 each! And this woman must've had 10 bags in her hands.
Anyway, I just started thinking about all that money she spent on clothes and how many people would have been thrilled for someone to just give them a $20 bill one day, to maybe buy some groceries for their family. I thought, I wanted to do something, or help in someway. But honestly I'd forgotten all about that until I was just listening to that song.
OK, we do give money to some good organizations. But we could certainly do more. What do you have in mind?
I don't know about you, you have your own opinion. But I think all of the money that I want to donate somewhere, I want to make sure it goes to an organization that helps people in poverty, or homeless. We have a lot of money James, I think we could make big contributions that would actually make a difference in a bunch of peoples lives.
I always thought of Jesse as the rambunctious, a little crazy one of us. Josh and most of our friends I'm sure would agree with that. But I also knew her to be terribly sweet and caring, and that was the part of her that was showing now, that great big heart.
Later that night when we met Josh for dinner we talked about taking a look at our money and seeing how much we thought we could give to the organizations Jesse was talking about. He was questioning why we were suddenly thinking about this, and we had to go through the whole story of the afternoon.
OK, here’s one thing you could do that would only cost you some time. I don't think you guys know that every Thursday night I drive a route around the city picking up leftover food from grocery stores and restaurants. I take it to this guys house down at Victoria Beach, and the next day he takes it to some place where they distribute it to needy people. We only do this five nights a week because we don't have any volunteers to do the other two nights. Plus, he's wanting to start other routes in the rest of South Orange County. So we’ve put the word out he's looking for more volunteers.
Starting the next week Jessie and I separately began to go out one night weekly and pick up food. And we began talking about this program with our friends and recruited a bunch of them to help out too.
And that's now where I headed. I needed to go by the house and pick up the truck. I was happy to be doing this tonight. It would keep my mind off Jess laying in that Hospital bed. And it always tired me out, so sleeping would come easy when I finally got home.
I picked up Jessie from the hospital at 11:30 the next morning. A full nights rest had done her a ton of good, she was clearly stronger and even complaining about having to be pushed out in a wheelchair. I got her in the front seat of my car and it was with a huge relief when I started towards their house. Not having Jessie in the hospital helped ease the tension I had fully enveloped. Plus, it was fun talking to her when she really couldn’t respond. Any talking she could do definitely didn’t go above traffic noise.
You've been a bad bad girl. I've warned you about strange men. Who is this Orlando guy anyway? And you're closing your eyes and falling asleep when there are sharp objects around you? Well, you're grounded. One year. No pizza. And no men.
I looked over at her and she had her head planted against the headrest. And she was smiling. Sorta.
As we walked into the house I was a little surprised. I thought Jesse might have dressed the place up, balloons, ribbons, flowers, maybe a banner. There was nothing. In fact, it looked a little messy, like it always did. Then I realized what Jaimie was doing. She just wanted the house to look like it usually did. No big deal made of what had just happened to Jessie.
Once Jessie had flopped down on the couch in the family room and we sat around talking for a little while, I found what Jaimie HAD done. She'd gone to the bakery downtown and bought Jessie's favorite German chocolate cake. When James saw that Jessie was in good shape on the couch, she cut her a piece and brought it out with Jessie's favorite flavor of Gatorade. Jessie's eyes opened wide.
I can eat this?
I don't see why not, that's why I bought it.
I assured her, I talked to the doctor right before we left. He cautioned me that you need to eat things that are soft. You can't press hard with your jaws, some muscles were damaged. I'm not sure that piece of cake is soft enough for you actually, maybe I should eat it.
Both of the girls turned to me and said almost simultaneously, hell no!
Okay, you guys enjoy. I've got to go. I've got an appointment with Roscoe, we're going to go over your schedule and see what we think you can and can't do. Stick around, I'll probably be calling you from there.
As I was walking out of the room I stopped at the hallway and turned back towards them. Jaimie was sitting on the floor in front of her twin sister with her hands on Jessie’s knees. Jess was cramming her face and they both were talking and enjoying each other. All is well in Laguna Beach, I thought. Mostly.
I’m always saying that Jessie and I are so much alike. And I pretty much believe that. But occasionally it's pointed out to me by occurrences that she and I do have a couple differences. Mostly how Jessie is more full speed, carefree and risky. This isn't something that's constant, but it does occasionally rear it's ugly ugly head. She simply thinks all the time things will be okay and she doesn't need to worry, or be in any way careful. I see this often in her surfing. She is constantly getting in other surfers’ way, or actually colliding with them. Although most of the surfers at the places we go and on the tour like both of us, Jess has a reputation of not respecting her competitors because of this attitude.
Later, as we were both getting ready together for our one day after our birthday evening, she was constantly saying ‘ow’. It was painful for her whenever she moved her jaw, or even really moved her neck. It was so hard for her to remember not to do things that were instinctual. At least twice while we were dressing I saw her pop a pain pill and I knew I would have to keep an eye on her drinking that night.
We began the night with dinner at our favorite Laguna Beach restaurant. The manager of the restaurant knew the three of us well and had reserved our favorite table in front of a big window that had a great view down the coast. Josh started everything off with a toast, to his "baby sisters". For the three of us, and especially me and my twin sister, it was a pretty sedate evening. One of our favorite local bands was playing at a bar which was our next stop, where lots of friends including Derek met us. But even before midnight Jessie was complaining about the pain in her mouth and we decided to retire to the house.
Jessie went right to bed and Josh and I sat in the family room talking. The subject came up about Jess and her sometimes poor responsibility. I knew that Josh worried about this more than I did. He said to me as I was making hot chocolate for the two of us, you guys lead a pretty paradise type life, but I’m always waiting for an anvil to fall.
After Josh left I went in to check on Jessie, but she was not in bed. I figured out she must be in my bed, and I was right. She was sitting up, like she had just been awakened.
I had the dream again, almost identical, and it woke me up. I was in James’s room, not sure why I’d gone to bed there. Jaimie was at the door looking at me.
Did I wake you up?
Did you sleep at all?
Yes, a little.
Is it too painful, did it wake you up?
I looked up at my twin sister. No, I had that same fucking dream.
I had to talk so slowly, little movements of my mouth.
Tell me about the dream.
Well, I didn’t really want to talk about it, but I thought, maybe this will help rid me of it!
After I told her my dream, she looked a little worried. But she just said, well, I guess I should stay away from Hondas from now on.
Your eyes, they shine so bright, I wanna save that light I can't escape this now, Unless you show me how. Demons, Imagine Dragons
I woke up late the next morning and was in bed alone. It took me a minute to remember what had happened to my sister. I just knew that I woke up with this weird, queasy feeling in my gut. Something wasn't right in paradise.
I found Jessie in the family room, looking down toward the beach. It was pouring rain, a summer thunderstorm.
Damn, she said. I wanted to go surfing. Do you know how long it's been since I was surfing?
Uh, three days?
Of course, we had been surfing in the rain many times. But it didn't matter if it was raining or not, Jessie was not going surfing.
Yes, 3 days! 3 damn days without being in the water.
Jessie, you can't go surfing. Probably not for a couple weeks. You get your dressing changed Friday and the doctor will give us a better idea of when you can get back in the water.
She turned and looked at me in horror. She said nothing. She just kept staring at me. The doctor wasn't there to take it out on, so she was going to take it out on me. She backed away from the window and sat down on the couch, hanging her head the whole time.
Hey, if you are up to it, let's go shopping. You know my theory, that when something bad happens there is no better tonic than shopping!
Jessie looked up at me, her face much brighter. She even smiled. Yeah, let's go. But don't think I'm not still mad at you.
Yes honey, it's very clear you're still mad at me. But you're going to have to get over that if you want me to buy you something. Like that ridiculously expensive bikini we looked at last week.
South Coast Plaza was our favorite shopping mall. People came from all over the world to shop at South Coast Plaza. But the Mission Viejo mall was closer, and I didn't want to have a long drive in traffic. Jessie could act like she was all strong and healthy and perfect, but I knew her body was still feeling the effects of the injury and the surgery.
We held hands as we walked around the mall. It was amazing how many people we ran into that we knew. Everyone, of course, asked about the big bandage on the side of her face. Even without the bandage you could see how swollen everything was there. Jessie made up different answers for different people.
Oh, plastic surgery. I'm so damn tired of being ugly.
Quietly to our friend Nadine Jessie said, I just want to look better than her, pointing at me.
My fucking sister scratched me. Can you believe that? She's so jealous of the way I look, everyone's always telling us I'm way prettier than her, she decided to do something about it!
Ebola, I think. Not sure. Not really very worried.
We went into all of our favorite shops and made a purchase at pretty much every one of them. We went to the food mall to eat lunch, Ziti from the Italian place, our favorite. When we placed our packages on top of the adjoining table, we both looked at each other and laughed about all the purchases we’d made. Jessie said softly, well, I think we've done the mall.
After lunch we headed home and Jessie headed to the couch for a nap. Josh texted me and asked me to call. I didn't want to call, I didn't want to wake Jessie up if she was sleeping. And he thinks he isn't one of our triplets, I thought. He knew she was sleeping.
Josh told me he had canceled just about everything we had scheduled for the next few weeks, including the tournament in Carlsbad. The only thing he kept scheduled was a radio interview next week with an XM DJ. Jessie couldn’t be seen on the radio.
Damn, I sure hope Jessie is ready for the Pipeline tournament. That's what, five weeks? I really don't think I could survive telling Jessie we weren't going to Hawaii.
I have to believe she will be ready for that. But hell, even if she can't surf we can still plan to go there. You guys always have a great time in Hawaii.
I had an early am appointment at the office of the Doctor who did my surgery. His office was in the medical building that was next door to the hospital. When he was changing my bandages he asked me if I wanted to see the wound. Sure I said, stood up and looked in the mirror at my cheek. Jaimie and I were looking at it together, and we were both surprised that it didn't look worse. He pulled the stitches out so it seemed it was healing okay.
When I asked him how soon I could surf he was very noncommittal. Well, I wouldn't do it anytime soon. The ocean can be a nasty place, and we need this to heal more before you go in again.
That was about it. Not, oh in a week, or, in a few weeks. I found him to be completely frustrating, despite what people said about his great reputation. Josh told me he did some research on this doctor and that he was highly regarded. If he was a surfer maybe I would regard him highly. I thought he was more of a joystick!
We were supposed to meet Josh and Derek for lunch at one of Jaimie's favorite places. I begged off telling her I was tired. She of course was alarmed.
Are you feeling ok? Do you want me to stay with you?
James, I’m just tired, ya know, no biggie. You guys go eat up all the scallops and I'll be right there on the couch when you get back.
After she dropped me off at the house I thought about her concern. A lot of people probably would be bugged by their sister being such a nanny! Not me. I love my sister and I love how much she cares for me. I'm the same whenever anything happens to her.
As soon as I saw them drive off I loaded my board and headed for Main Beach. I had seen that my wound was much better and I was going to at least take a few rides before Jaimie and Josh got back. Not only was I missing the ocean, but I really needed to do something active with my body. It had mostly been sleeping and walking with Jaimie around the mall for the past few days.
Jessie and I had often discussed one of us falling in love. What would that mean for the other one. We mostly joked about it, how would my boyfriend/husband handle Jessie popping in bed with us? Would he know which one of us was his wife? Would we have sharing privileges? It was all a joke, neither of us had had a boyfriend longer than a few months. Jessie’s opinion? We were destined to be alone with each other. Fine with me, I’d thought. Mulder and Scully sitting on a porch in the mountains, looking for UFOs in their 80s. Would we surf when 80??
But after lunch with Derek suddenly I was thinking differently. I’d known Derek almost since we’d been born. He and Josh had gone to school together from first grade on. Even when he was away at San Diego State, he was up all the time and often the 4 of us would be out together at night or in the ocean. But Derek had moved to Phoenix for a job, and just moved back.
After lunch, which I’d enjoyed immensely, pretty rare not having Jessie around, he had cornered me near the restroom and asked me out.
Un, Derek, are we talking about a date here?
Yea, unless things don’t go well. Then we can say we just ran into each other and shouldn’t again. What do you think? I haven’t been to Disneyland in years. I was thinking, maybe one weekday next week, it won’t be so crowded. I’m off all week.
I smiled and said, I’m in.
We’re in the hospital again with Jessie. It's been exactly 10 days since her face was injured and it doesn't seem to be getting better. It's more swollen than it was before, and now she's not feeling good. She has a fever, she's getting headaches, and she has absolutely no energy. Jaimie took her to our family doctor, and he said she should take Jessie to the Hospital. He said he was calling ahead to an Internist, Dr. Schofeld, he knew there. Jaimie, he is a very smart Doctor, he will take good care of your sister.
Jaimie and I are waiting while the doctor examines her. I keep reassuring Jaimie that everything will be okay, but that doesn't leave anyone to reassure me. I realize neither of us even thinks of calling Dad. He didn’t call the girls on their Birthday, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d talked to him.
There was a time when I thought of the Twins as my daughters AND my sisters. It was strange, I might say sister, and sometimes, Oh yeah, those are my little sisters. But I was so much like their father, they depended on me as they would a parent. Neither of our parents were around or had that much to do with their upbringing. They were either in the hospital because of Mom's health, or she was in their bedroom with Dad constantly at her bedside administering to her. When she passed, Dad was inconsolable. He was never much of a Dad to any of us after that. The drinking started, lots of problems with police and neighbors. Finally, when I graduated college and got a job, I rented a house nearby and the girls came to live with me. Probably not really legal, but who was going to say anything? I'm sure Dad was thrilled not to have us around the house all the time bugging him. He could now get drunk freely, cry, scream, break a window, and no one would complain.
I sit here in this waiting room on the verge of completely losing control if there's something seriously wrong with Jessie. And it all comes back to my father, and his inability to handle his responsibility. But, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can’t imagine a life where they weren’t the most important things in it. Those years raising them made me who I am. I’m sitting in the waiting room while my sister is being examined. My sister is sitting next to me, leaning against me with one arm around my shoulders and the other tightly squeezing my hand. She is sobbing but I’m here with her.
Dr. Schofeld finally comes in to talk to us. As he makes his way to where we are, I again am amazed at what I see. He is a short black man who is at least 100 pounds overweight. I just don’t get fat Doctors.
We stand up to greet him and he suggests we sit. He sits across from us and says Jessie’s cheek is infected. That’s where the fever and her illness is coming from. Her temperature is spiking and we are going to aggressively attack her infection. We’ve started her on an IV of antibiotics. I’ve also given her something to help her sleep, her body needs to concentrate on getting well.
Jaimie asks the Doctor where the infection came from? Did it come from something used in the operating room. I don’t think so, the internist says. I looked at her chart and saw the notations from the Doctor who did the surgery when he saw Jessie for the follow up 4 days later. Everything looked good then, no signs of infection are noted. If she was contaminated during surgery, it would have presented itself earlier than this. Then he looked at James, I know you guys are surfers, has she been in the ocean?
We both agreed that’s not possible. She’s been with one of us pretty much constantly since Surgery, there’s no way she has been surfing. Jaimie asks, would that really matter, being in the ocean?
Well, the ocean has some pretty nasty stuff in it. No telling what could have affected her if she’d been in it.
And I’m thinking of all the times I’m paddling out to catch a wave, need to piss, and just do it in the water. Yea, nasty stuff. The second Doctor to tell us about the ‘nasty stuff’ in the Pacific.
Your sister is going to be asleep for at least 10-12 hours. Its almost midnight, go home and get some rest. If you come back late in the morning, you’ll likely be here when she wakes.
Jessie never woke up.
I got back to the Hospital just before 10 am. There were nurses and doctors busy in her room and they asked me to wait in the little waiting room me and Josh had been in last night. I asked, what’s going on, is she ok? But a nurse just led me away to the waiting room and said someone would be out to talk to me soon.
Not that soon a Doctor I hadn’t seen before came over to me. He introduced himself and I knew it was bad. Your sister is in a coma. Her infection has not been affected by the antibiotics. Dr. Schofeld has tried different drugs, but nothing is successfully fighting the bug, and we can’t identify it. Her fever is very high, and honestly we are very worried for her. Dr. Schofeld just called in a new drug we’ve started her on, so we need to see if this will stop it.
I had no questions. I didn't know what to ask. These were the doctors, they were supposed to make her alright. Who else could we turn to? Why wasn't Josh here?
I don’t remember much after that. Josh came in at some point, found me sitting forward in a chair, my arms around my drawn up legs, chin resting on my knees. I told him what the Doctor has said, and he wandered off to find someone to talk to. I started thinking about life without my sister. Apparently my brain just couldn’t work with that apocalypse, and I went to sleep.
I kept falling asleep the rest of the day, sitting in different chairs all around the waiting room, that damn waiting room. Doctors and nurses would come out to talk to Josh, and he would update me. When it had been long between updates, he’d grab someone. I don't really remember any of it, except none of it was good news.
I think it was after midnight when I was talking to Josh and realized we were talking about my identical twin sister being dead. My brain was shutting down, but the tear ducts were working just fine. I just couldn't think about it. Hell, hell, hell. Help me.
James, we need to figure out what arrangements to make. I had no input. Thinking back to that night I don't know how we were expected to function during this experience. Who preplans the funeral of a very healthy 25 year old sister? Where ever they took her, Josh made that decision.
About noon the next day, I was finally able to get Jamie to talk to me about what type of service we should have for Jess. We both agreed it needed to include our surfer and other friends. There will be very little Family. We had an uncle and aunt, my mothers brother. And two cousins, their son and daughter, who were close in age to the girls and we're good friends with them. They lived in Palm Springs but our cousins loved to come out to the beach and go surfing. It was always fun when they stayed with Jaimie and Jessie.
We decided on cremation. We didn't want to have a service inside the church or other building. None of the three of us felt any closeness to any religion. We thought gathering on the pier with all our friends and all of them having ashes to scatter in the ocean would be appropriate. One decision that Jaimie was firm on was that we should dress up. This really surprised me as it was very rare to see the girls dress in anything other than sweats or bikinis. Jamie had this in her head and as we called friends to let them know about the service and ask them to spread the news around, we both mentioned that the two of us would be in suit and a dress.
Two days later Derek, our Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins arrived at Jessie and Jamie's house in the afternoon. The service was scheduled for 8 PM. At this time in the middle of June the sun was going down about 830, and Jaimie wanted us to be gathered around sunset. Given the parking situation downtown we all squeezed into our relatives' van. Amazingly he found a parking place near our destination. As we approached the pier we were thrilled to see a collection of at least 50 or 60 people, dressed up and waiting for us.
We moved our way down the pier, talking to friends along the way. Jaimie remembered a bench on the north side of the pier where the two of them used to sit and watch the surfers when they were kids. That's where we were headed. When we got to that bench Jaimie leaned against it and prepared to address our group. I looked around and wondered what the strangers on the pier would think of this crowd of gussied up surfers.
Jaimie gathered herself and started talking.
I can't tell you how much it means to me and my brother that all of you are here today. The last couple days with me constantly thinking about times with my sister, so much of them happened at this pier, at this beach, with you guys. Jessie and I surfed all over the world, as many of you have. But we were always happy to get home to trestles and main beach.
In the bag Josh is carrying little packets of my sisters ashes. Jaimie broke down here, and took a few minutes to get herself able to speak.
I don't think there is one for everyone, but if couples and families just take one, that would make it easier for everyone to honor our Jessie. Please, everyone, take your time. There's no schedule here, no rush. But whenever you are ready to leave the pier, please head to our house and help us eat the tons of food my brother ordered. She looked over at me and we were both able to smile. Someone in the crowd yelled out, well you know, surfers don't really like to eat. That got a good laugh from everyone. I didn't know the guy who said that, but the timing was perfect.
Jaimie walked over to me and we held each other as we watched several of our friends come up individually and say something about Jessie. I was looking at the crowd, recognizing faces, but most of these people were good friends with the girls, not me. I also noticed a few faces I didn't expect. The Mayor of Laguna Beach was in the crowd, as was the Congresswomen who represented our district. As people came up and talked to the gathering, I was impressed that neither of these two politicians made a speech. Neither of them knew the girls that well, but they were here out of respect for probably Laguna Beach's most famous citizens.
The other person I noticed was a pretty well-known actress who had been in the surf movie the girls made two years ago. They had all gone out to do publicity together and had become good friends. I didn't know how she found out about Jesse's death, but it was nice to see her there. I pointed her out to Jamie and she walked over to see her. And then I noticed one more face. It was the Policewoman I’d gotten to know. She walked over to me in her dress blues. Just another tangent of thought for my hurting brain.
I can’t imagine a more enriching way to celebrate, remember, and respect such a wonderful person. In the hours I spent on the pier and in the house I heard dozens of funny, heartwarming or silly stories I didn’t know about Jessie. It just made me realize even stronger how hard everything was going to be without her.
I am holding your Torch I won’t hold it no more. You can have it, take it, use it.
Ane Brun, The Light From One
On the two month anniversary of Jessie’s death, Josh showed up at the house late in the afternoon. I was sitting on the couch watching Judge Judy. He had a hoodie, sweat pants and flip flops on.
Hey, come with me, we’re going for a ride.
Nah, Josh, I’m not in the mood.
Oh, I know. Your in the mood for what, soaps, Ellen, (he looked at the TV), Judge fucking Judy??
Oh, this is a good one, she gives that guy shit for stealing his wive’s iPod.
He sat down next to me. You’ve seen it before?! James, this has to stop. You are my beloved sister and I will not sit around and watch you whither away.
He stood up, looking at me.
That’s Jessie’s bikini you have on, right?
I spit out: well, she’s not using it.
He grabbed the hoodie on the back of a dining room chair and said, come on, put this on, WE ARE GOING FOR A RIDE.
I hate you, I said as I stood up.
I put the hoodie on and followed Josh outside. He had both our boards on top of his xterra.
No, no Josh, no.
He opened the car door for me and said Get in.
He got on PCH heading South, and I knew where he was going. I was getting mad.
I hate you, you know that, right?
He grabbed my hand out of my lap and held it as we drove.
As usual parking at Trestles was a mess, but Josh just parked behind another pick up truck. I started to say something, but then I realized it Derek’s truck.
He unloaded our boards and held mine upright for me to grab. Resistance was impossible, so I grabbed my board and headed up the sand dune. When we got to the top, I stood and looked around. Trestles was breaking bad and it was crowded. Lots of bodies in the water and standing around on the sand watching. I walked down the dunes towards the beach, with Josh behind me. There was no escape now and I was scared. It was like the first time we’d surfed Trestles. We were 11. Jess had gone right in, no surprise. But those huge waves, could I do that? I’d hesitated a little until Jessie had yelled at me to come in.
I started towards the water, but stopped when Derek came over to give me a hug. With him was Josh’s new friend, the Policewoman, Nicky. She had a board with her, well, of course Josh would pick a surfer. It made me smile, how long since I’d smiled?
Other friends were coming up to me, grabbing my free hand, hugging me, kisses on my cheeks, cheeks with tears running down them now. Soon there was a couple lines of people in front of me, kind of a tunnel to walk through. Boards standing buried in the sand, with their owners standing in front of them. As I slowly walked toward the water, they’d reach out for me, some of our best friends hugging me, crying with me. A few words, welcome back, go for it, I miss her, along the way. I recognized lots of faces, but some I didn’t know at all. But anyone at Trestles would know us.
I looked back and Josh was following behind me, I could see his tears too. But he had a big smile on his face, and between handshakes he gave me a nod.
I finally got clear of the tunnel, and stopped to look at the waves breaking right in front of me. There was no longer anyone in the water. They had all been in the line. I looked back again, Josh was coming out of the tunnel, and our friends were scattering around to watch us. Josh caught up with me and said, you go get it. I’ll be in.
We hugged. I ran into the Pacific Ocean. Landing on my board, the one Jessie had given me for my 15th birthday, I paddled straight out. Waves crashed over me as I headed for the crest and I could hear Jessie singing to me.
Finally I was sitting on my board, waiting for the next set. Josh and Derek were standing right at the lip of the water, arms on each other’s shoulders. I looked around and there were so many familiar people. This had been so much a part of my, our life for so long. It felt good to be sitting on top of my board, floating again. I caught the first wave to reach me and started into the curl. I was sure I saw Jessie at the other end and headed straight for her.