Twin stories – life saving

My identical twin and I were one, two, maybe three years old, young enough that we were still sleeping in baby cribs. Did we each have a crib or did we share one? I don’t know. My mother told me about this, and nobody who can remember is still alive, except for my sister Lynda, and I’m not going to bother fact checking with her.

It was after midnight. Bill woke up and started crying—loud enough to wake my parents in the next room. They rushed in to see what was wrong. Bill was screaming, screaming. They quickly picked him up, checked to see if a diaper pin had come loose and was sticking him. Remember diaper pins? Nobody uses them anymore.  They tried burping him, walking the floor with him, singing a lullaby. He kept frantically crying. Nothing they did calmed him. And then one of my parents looked into the crib and saw that I was folded in on myself like a ball, silent and turning blue. Immediately they put Bill down and picked me up. As soon as they picked me up, Bill quit crying and went back to sleep. Too young to speak or to comprehend, my brother somehow woke from sleep and sensed that I was in trouble and could not call for help, so he cried for help for me. Once they picked me up and he knew I was being taken care of, he went back to sleep.

They rushed me to the hospital where it was discovered that I had an intestinal obstruction, and the doctor had to remove part of my large intestine.

While I was in the hospital, I refused to eat. Meanwhile, back at home, when our older sisters fed my twin, he ate half his food and set the other half aside to save for me. I continued to refuse food until they brought Bill in to see me. We shared my meals, and I got better and was soon allowed to go home.

Some years later—I must have been four or five by then—it happened again, not my brother waking to rouse my parents but the same kind of obstruction. And again, I was rushed to the hospital and Doc Peegram performed another operation. By-the-way, the hospital had strict rules about allowing visitors under a certain age. They were so strict about it that even our doctor couldn’t allow for an exception, so both times he put my twin on a gurney and snuck him into my room disguised as another patient—or, I guess, disguised as me. Nobody who saw him could tell the difference.

When I was finally sent home, I was sporting a five-inch scar on my lower stomach. I presume it must have been bandaged. It was summertime. I was playing on the sidewalk in front of our house, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. A neighbor, who knew I had been in the hospital, saw me and asked, “Bill, how’s your brother?”

Summoning up the most scathing indignation a four-year-old could possibly summon up, I shoved my shorts down to my knees and pointed at my scar and said, “Can’t you see I’m Alec!”

You might have heard this story before. I used it as a little scene in Tupelo. That’s where it happened, Tupelo, Mississippi, 550 Magazine street, which is now a parking lot, our big house long since razed. Just like in the song; they put up a parking lot.

2 thoughts on “Twin stories – life saving”

  1. Alec,
    I like your story. I have been meaning to write you. ( my phone was dead yesterday). As I had mentioned, I have read all of your books. My sister, Sandy, knew I would enjoy them. One part of your last book that I read took place in a large house overlooking one of the bayous of the Pascagoula River. This sounds like a house in the Hercules fishing camp compound. My parents spent several weeks there with Gene Shepard’s parents every summer with my dad and Shep (Gene’s dad) shrimping most of the day.
    My next door neighbors when I was about 5 or 6 were Barrett and Mike Reese who moved to Tupelo. The three of us spent a lot of time doing what 5 or 6 year old boys do. They were several years younger than me, so they would have been about the same age as you and Bill). Did you know them in Tupelo, and if you did, do you know whatever happened to them? I have thought of them often over the last 70 years.
    Dennis (Wayne was middle name, and I used it until I left Hattiesburg to go to Georgia Tech. For some reason, the middle name did not fit. Later I did not regret it as the names of John Wayne Bobbit and John Wayne Gacey became household words).

    • Dennis, the house you mention was based on a fishing camp on the Mary Walker Bayou a few miles north of the Hercules camp. I once spent a weekend with Gene Shepard and his parents at their camp. The big house where Red Warner lived in both Until the Dawn and Tupelo was the home of the family that owned the camp. We rented one of the smaller cabins. In Return to Freedom, Sonny Staples takes one of his girlfriends to a cabin based on ours. From there we could go by boat to the gulf, passing by the Hercules camp.


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