twins at loggerheads
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by KJ Hannah Greenberg




Redoine and Rocket were twins. Although Rocket, the younger by five minutes, had enjoyed an unmisspent adolescence, his brother, Redoine, contrariwise, had squandered those same years.

Even among his likeminded associates, Redoine was notorious for his mismatched socks, untucked shirts, mangled hair styles, and bad breath. His look, however, was no fashion statement, no declaration of belligerence, and no assertion of toughness; Redoine, simply, was sloppy. Thus, it wasn’t so much the blowsy girl with whom Redoine spent long hours or the out-of-kilter way in which Redoine managed, or, more exactly, failed to manage, his studies (after all, many young men require three attempts to pass Algebra I), but the mess that he made, daily, in his and his brother’s bedroom that foretold him morphing into a full-fledged reprobate.

In the space that he shared with Rocket, Redoine forsook: congealed ramen noodles, fetid laundry, which reeked of mildew and of locker rooms, random, multi-legged, extremely dead subjects of misguided science experiments (math was not the only course that tripped him up), and other higgledy-piggledy artifacts. Nevertheless, his tendency to “borrow” his sibling’s well kept things was the problem. More accurately, beyond stealing Rocket’s polo shirts, allowance, homework answers, and girlie magazines, Redoine regularly nicked Rocket’s smartphone.

To Rocket, a handheld personal computer, complete with touchscreen and Bluetooth capability, was an access to the sorts of ideas that his Calculus BC teacher, Mr. Flasey, and his AP Chemistry teacher, Ms. Turshen, discouraged him from sharing during class. By dint of his mobile operating system, Rocket, whose given name was actually “Rodney Timothy,” could access: Nautilus, which was supported by the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research; Quanta, which drew other “deep thinkers” to its chat pages; Undark, which spoke to geeks in their “native” language; and Science News, which was as accessible to science enthusiasts as it was to authentic scholars.

As of late, Rocket had glommed to webpages about CMB, cosmic magnetic background, i.e. electromagnetic radiation, which, theoretically, was left over from an primitive stage of the universe’s evolution. Delving into ideas about CMB titillated him more than did his cheesy images of women, yet Rocket kept his explorations of intergalactic radiation as secret as his stash of “lifestyle and entertainment” magazines - his parents, who were theologists, would have demanded that he surrender both. In the end, anyway, he lost his web browser/video game player/flashlight/clock/audio recorder/magnetometer.

Rocket’s appointment scheduler/address book/atlas/notepad got confiscated because Redoine had been pointing its flashlight near the family’s kitten. Mom, who misunderstood, had supposed that Redoine was lasering their helpless baby feline. That: the device in question belonged to Rocket, the kitten was having harmless fun, and Redoine ought not to have possessed his brother’s goods, were lost upon Mom.

Fortunately, Mom was as able to access that smartphone’s apps as she was to cook roast without burning it (theirs was a family whose dinners were a roulette of takeout offerings.) She never learned what Rocket was researching.

Afterwards, Rocket, who ordinarily was a forbearing lad, became fierier than a heightened black body spectrum, more dynamic than the microwave range of photon energy, and more irregular than the anisotropies of distant galaxies. Namely, he combusted. 

That night, when Redoine was sleeping, one arm dangling uncovered over his bed, Rocket took a real carbon dioxide laser, which he had purchased on Amazon to remove a few of his bothersome freckles before senior picture day, and engraved a lemniscate on his brother’s arm. Reddish burn marks evidenced where the trail of electromagnetic radiation had passed.

Redoine screamed.

Rocket smiled. Even without his smartphone, he’d find means to study radiation’s frequencies.

Unfortunately, His and Redoine’s parents were adverse to “sparing the rod and spoiling the child.” In short time, Mom and Dad had Rocket on antipsychotics. They shipped him to a locked facility, too.

With Rocket away, Redoine invested in play. His pile of soiled laundry grew deeper; the sale of Rocket’s stamp collection, which Redoine had seized to facilitate his purchase of new tighty whities, meant he could skip bothersome laundry chores. Also, small rodents’ corpses soon joined the bodies of bugs left over from Redoine’s earlier biology investigations.  To boot, Redoine failed Algebra I, again. Nonetheless, he graduated because he had been willing to drive the principal’s daughter, whom he had impregnated, to a nonprofit, out-of-state medical facility.

Time passed. When the twins reached legal majority, Rocket signed himself out of the hospital AMA. Although pickled from his medications, Rocket quickly located his brother at a community, multi-residence, assisted living unit. Redoine was mopping the floor.

Redoine’s close call with paternity had impacted him. Whereas, to no one’s surprise, he did not enroll in a community college or in a trade school, he did become an orderly at the local old age home. Mostly, Redoine was relied upon to help restrain combative elders. Even so, he had gained a reputation for carefully moving patients around the facility’s grounds.

While Mom and Dad deemed that their elder son had had an epiphany. Redoine, though, knew that he wanted to be: recast as a hero, in relationship with his former principal’s wild child, and reliant on birth control.

When Rocket espied his lookalike, that twin was dipping a mop into a bucket of sudsy water. Redoine’s arm still bore the Emblem of Gerono. Then again, surrounding Redoine were smiling elders. That cadre, which had parked its electric wheelchairs at a proper spectators’ distance, indeed, had already crowned his brother.

Saying nothing, Rocket left the building.


It’s believed that Rocket: took up with members of a special motorcycle club, all of whom worked in astrophysics, was slotted as their staff assistance despite his lack of a high school diploma, and suffered a cruel fate given a mechanical error, not a cosmic mistake. All that’s known about Redoine is: he eventually earned a degree as a Certified Nursing Assistant, and he married the principal’s daughter, who remained a drummer in a grunge band.




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