Always the same dream. There I am, dressed as a queen, in the highest part of the tallest tower. Not as a princess mind you, but a queen. Old and wrinkled. My name may as well be Gertrude godamit. And then suddenly I’m plunging downward in a broken elevator strait to hell. That sense of falling is so real. I still feel it in my heart. All the time. Then I’m down on the ground again, at a party or something, with all these royal wigs and tophats.
And I see her.
Laughing at all their jokes.
Absorbing all their lust.
My twin, my nemesis. That bitch.
And my head isn’t on my body anymore. It’s floating away. Spiraling. Further and further, into nothingness. Into blackness and pain.
Then some prick in the aisle seat on the plane wakes me up somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.
“I’d like a Chianti please,” he says. The slob.
I roll over and give him a dirty look but he doesn’t see.
“I’m sorry sir, we don’t have Chianti, only beer and single serving liquors.”
“Well I wasn’t planning on it, but I guess I’ll have a vodka” I interrupt. Sometimes people need to be interrupted, it breaks the tension.
“Certainly miss,” the flight attendant sneers at me, “and what about you, sir?”
“Umm… The same. Vodka. Thank you.”
“Here you are, enjoy”
“Here you are, enjoy”
So I sit there, and I enjoy my vodka, and I stare at the trey table. And I have a real grand time thinking about those potatoes and all the pain they wet through to be here, now, fermented, in my plastic glass of magical-soothing poison. And he starts talking again.
“Would you like some pretzels? You were still sleeping when they handed them out.”
“Let me give you some advise: every time a woman makes eye contact with you, it doesn’t mean she wants to sleep with you. And every time a woman doesn’t make eye contact with you, it doesn’t mean she’s desperately trying to fight her urge to sleep with you.”
“I just wanted to be polite. But thanks for the “advise” anyways. I’ll let you go back to… whatever.”
“No I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said that,” I say. I can’t stand when a man says “whatever” to me, in any context. Something about it is just so painfully apathetic. So utterly dismissive.
“I’m just really stressed out right now. I’m going to my twin sister’s wedding, and we’ve had quite the odd past. To say the least.”
“You have no idea. It really is… I guess it all started when we err uh born. Something happened. We had the same genes. Identical so they say. But its bullshit because we are not the same.” I finish my drink in a gulp. “Identical. Ha. Identical like humans are 99.8 percent identical to chimps.”
“Oh yea? And what makes you so different?
“Well first of we were born with two wildly different metabolisms. That bitch could mainline an entire chocolate cake and remain light as a feather while here I am eating Ritz crackers and expanding out of my jeans, evermore. Second, somehow, and I’m still meaning to talk to a doctor about this, she has always seemed to have different colored eyes than me. I have these beady shit-mud-colored ones and she somehow managed to cry herself crystal blue eyes. It’s not fair.”
But it’s more than that I think to myself. It’s the way she had managed to have the inside lane of every curve. The way she never doubts herself. It’s the way she can put all her faith into her frail body and poise and have it work out for her. Sail her across the chaotic sea unscathed. I came to project myself to world in a much different way. Most twins do. I wanted to be known by presence of mind. So I read books. And poured my heart into art. Didn’t spend all my money on lip-gloss and furry boots. Introverted. I became rather angsty and pessimistic. Starting smoking cigarettes because they were so damn “punk rock” and dying my hair blue or green or cherry-red just so there would be no way to confuse me with that vain little goody goody bullshit “identical” version of myself. And all the while she just got better and better. “Dazzling,” they said. And what was I? The evil twin they used to joke. The wicked witch to her princess. That bitch.
“So you’re jealous of her.”
“No not jealous… Bitter? Yes. She steals things from me, lots of things. But luckily I have things she can’t take. And soon we’ll be even. Equal I’d say.”
“Interesting. How so?
“Ok well I wasn’t planning on telling anyone this. ANYONE. Hah. But why not? I trust you. I guess… I’m intending to cause a little scene at the wedding. Exact a little revenge. Perfect revenge if I do say so myself.”
“Ha oh yea? What are you gonna do? Lock her in a tomb and take her place? I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you sound completely insane.”
“Yes I do mind you saying. I haven’t even got to the best part yet…” I hesitated there, but not for long, “it’s her wedding, right? Well I’m gonna have a little surprise for her. A little taste of the madness she spawned within me. She’ll be there helpless in front of everyone.”
“I still don’t know exactly what you’re hinting at,” he said with a look so confused and sincere I nearly became sick.
“I’m gonna slip her some acid. LSD. Madness juice. Her mind will collapse in upon itself. The ‘would be’ best day of her pretty little life, shattered. Her social status, perfect in every way, ruined. And I’ll be the only one in on it. Avenged.”
“Oh my god. That’s completely insane. How can I believe you? I don’t even know you. And that’s one of the most terrible thing I’ve ever heard. How could you hate your sister enough to do that?” he swigged the last of his drink. I smile.
“Because she has done terrible things to me. Things you don’t understand. Taking everything from me. Taking him from me.
“Yea her fiancé. Well he loved me first! And I loved him. But then, eventually, as I knew he would, he met her. Like so many before him he saw a ‘better’ version of me and abandoned me for her skinny-little-body before he even knew her name. Go ahead call me a terrible person. I have nothing left.”
“Still. I don’t think I even believe you. How could you get acid in France for christ’s sake?”
“Ah you see well I’m not getting it there. Of course I planned ahead. I have it here in this eye drop bottle,” and oh how it glistened, when I held it to the amber light and thin air of that pressurized cabin. Rubies? Sapphires? Pebbles in comparison.
“That’s just an ordinary bottle.”
“Oh yea? Wanna put some in your eye?”
“What about your tongue?
“Maybe in my next drink. How do you know I’m not a cop or an Air Marshal or something?”
“Because no Air Marshal would be stupid enough to try ordering Chianti from a godamn flight-attendant. And a cop wouldn’t be that pretentious.” Bing goes the fasten seat belt sign.
Ladies and gentlemen please put your seat in the full upright position and prepare for landing.
We basked in silence for a while, looking out that egg-shaped window at the approaching metropolis, Paris. Of course that skank would get married in Paris. So snobby. So fashionable. So painfully classic. I wanted to release tanker valves of pesticides on all the flowers of her soul. I wanted make her start fresh with less than I ever had.
I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.
“Landing is the most frightening part, ever since I was a child.”
“So you prefer taking off?”
“No I wouldn’t say that, they both suck. But something about the landing make me feel as if I’m crashing back to earth”
“I’m still not sure I believe anything you said. Most people aren’t so forward. Or vindictive.”
“I’m sorry. I just have a bad habit of telling strangers my deepest secrets. I suppose its just because I don’t care who they tell. Also I just think its fun to meet someone on only the most uncomfortable circumstances. It’s the fastest way to get to know them.”
“I’ll remember that. Say, in all seriousness, could I get a drop of that stuff? I kinda feel like starting this vacation with a wave of insanity.”
“Certainly. My pleasure. Just don’t hold this against me. My name is Suki by the way. Suki Ottunoka.
And like the druggie I knew he was within the first few moments of sitting next to me, he took a tongue-full of my magic eyedrops. In the next few hours he would come to realize that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow-moving vibration. Life is only a dream, there is no such thing as death, and we are the imagination of ourselves.
But that’s a different story.
I got off the plane, in a slow, static moment of waiting, waved my psychedelic friend goodbye, and entered the labyrinth of maddening French thought.
A limo was waiting for me.
Of course she would have a limo pick me up. How painfully classic.
My driver was bald as the sun is bright.
“Do you want some complimentary wine?” he says with that deplorably enticing French accent.
“Do I want to breath air?!”
“I hope so madam, I hope so.”
My belly filled with sweet purple poison and we carved through the seemingly endless giftcard of a city that is this fine French capital. I fiddle with my earrings. They never fit right. My body rejects them. My sister and I got them at the same time. Hers were fine. Mine swelled. And filled with puss. Slept on wrong and cleaned the wrong way my body wanted nothing to do with them. But I grit through, didn’t let my body get the best of my dear ol’ mind.
I close the sunroof and light a cig.
I grow weary of the sun, all seeing, all knowing, scorching itself away.
Like my lungs.
I can feel the weight of every single one I’ve ever smoked. Like a mark of tar to express my endless ambivalence. The driver may take offence, but I can just play it off as the old “privileged American” act and throw a few pieces of green paper at him.
Cafes, cobblestone, arches, and more cafes. Most of it blurs.
I erase away the things I find grey, for it is only extremes with me. Only the purest joy or deepest pain. Only the brightest day or most vigorous rain.
The wedding is one day away. Hours from resolution. The complimentary wine reminds me of an important step in my plan.
I roll the down separation window, flooding his compartment with thin wispy smoke and tell the driver to take me somewhere I can buy the finest wine in all of Paris, with a sneer he says le French make the most enchanting wine in all the world and he knows the just the place. He stops smiling when I tell him I vastly prefer Italian and roll up the tinted glass.
We arrive at a place called the “Royal Vinyard”. Must have been where Marie Antoinette went. He parks nearby and I walk in alone.
The place feels like a finely decorated tomb, with dusty red velvet couches and grand crystal chandeliers.
I walk up to what I assume to be a well-dressed employee and say nothing but, “amontillado”. It simply must be amontillado. He smiles and points to one of the many shelves one would find in a wine cellar. I get two $500 bottles. Both are 1982, the year we were born. One for tonight, the other for her.
Once back in the limo I resume the picturesque drive.
Time disintegrates like ash from the cigarettes.
We arrive at the hotel. I tip him decently, no hard feelings.
Slimy French bastard.
Someone with a bowtie retrieves my scarce luggage. I’m not staying long. Before I check in I am beckoned by the bartender strait ahead, beneath the aging ivory arches adorned with cherubs and behind the fountainhead that seemed to be spiting golden rain like blood from a thousand burst veins at once. But I refrain. For there are things to be done. Scores to be settled. And I’ve been drinking all day.