C.E. Morgan, “Twins,” June 14/21:
Allmon and Mickey are twins, but they are of different races: one white, one black, as a result of a black mother and a white, Irish (drunk) father. The drama, spiked with heartache and a good dose of humor, is set up quickly by showing us how difficult childhood has been for the two boys—teased by other kids, feeling like they don’t belong anywhere. When they play jump rope with some older girls in the neighborhood, out on the street, they’re subject to the nickname “the Oreo babies,” and to questions like “How you get white if you got a black mama… Your daddy white?” to which: “Mickey’s eyes found Allmon, and he said, loudly, like a dare, ‘My daddy black.’” This is terrific writing. I was gripped, and moved repeatedly over the course of the story.
It all comes to a head when Mike, the absent father, comes to visit. It’s an occasion heralded by their mother. He’s supposed to take them to the circus, but he gets hammered on the couch and passes out. That turn of events may sound unoriginal, but it doesn’t feel that way and if it is something that’s been done before, it’s because that really happens. Another fabulous bit of dialogue comes when he’s on the couch, right before he passes out, drinking and mumbling to the boys, and he begins telling them about football player Bart Starr. He describes a famous QB sneak Starr pulled off, and then says “Best moment in football history right there… Best moment of my fucking life right there.” That just about says it all, doesn’t it.
The twins sneak out and go to the circus alone, which is dangerous since they’re so young, but they make it back and Mike is so drunk he never even knows they were gone. The story ends when he stirs a bit and tells Allmon, “Don’t be so sad.” The callous bastard. This was a great, great story.