Sister Gemini

No Place
There’s no time like time at the end of the world. And we each woke up one day and found ourselves there. Our own lovely little dystopia.

Ma in her kerchief, ala Farrah Fawcett, miraculously achieved by Lo’s Beauty Salon in the next town over. Pa in his cap, a wannabe actor, a wandering salesman.

This place was the longest winter’s nap. Hotter than any hell I could ever imagine.

Family Portrait
The family photo, hanging. Ma, Mother, Mrs. There in her necklace. Odd gems for a necklace. The strap breaks. They’re crawling down her like ants on an anthill. Keys and parties. Daddy’s fading in and out. Virtues and vices. Valium and values. The writing’s wall papered on the wall.

And Cousin Claire’s there. She’s living with us now. Girlfriend Skipper is beside her. Skipper’s still at that confused state of adolescence. A trooper though, staying with Claire and all.

Skipper, the star majorette. The girl scout pins on her sash will later be replaced by "Miss ______" (I forget the title).

"Fuck them all she’s thinking. I’m the prettiest girl in town, other than Claire. They’ll keep voting for me and hating themselves for it, because every time they look at 17 or Vogue or Cosmo they see my face. A man in town, a devout man, confessed to me that the first time he saw me he wrote in his journal he’d seen the face of God. Prostrate at my feet he is -- prone and vulnerable before the altar. A wretched face as I take Claire’s hand in mine and step over him.

I am there and Carl Boy, the twins, and how do you explain it? Carl Boy’s condition? Two eggs that’s it. Carl Boy’s condition can’t be explained. After this photo he and I will play and run and laugh. We will shut out the world and avoid their stares. How do you explain to the world that Barbie and Ken produced a native American princess and an Asian centaur? You don’t in this world, and that’s the beautiful point of it all.

Soon Carl Boy and I will fly out of here. One late night, or is it early morning? Carl Boy’s the Pied Piper and I’m following the bread trail. Claire, strumming the guitar, sits alone in the burning house. The bright blue, pyschedelic flames. Somehow I can hear her melody above their roar. Ma makes her getaway in the silver convertible. The unidentified man has wound it up and now they’re taking off. But Daddy still wields the remote control and she’ll be returning having made a perfect loop, like one of her glittery gold earrings.

But Carl Boy and I are traveling on the big infinity knot. Not to be mistaken for the useless bow I’m ripping out of my hair as I run, or the tied knot our parents had pretended at. It’s so much more universal than that, don’t you see? The journey’s just beginning and a golden horizon is meeting our blinking eyes and groping hands. The bright lights of this approaching city -- Leos, Geminis, and a Big Bear constellation on one of its billboards. I thought it had all been a hoax, doctored photographs, manipulated TV footage on our sets. Could such a place really exist?

Our Host
We’ve landed. Carl Boy kisses me and I come out of my slumber. The princess has awoken. I walk towards the City. The horizon is behind me now, the city walls hugging my sides. I feel parasitic, like I am entering the circulatory system of a much larger animal. I am single-celled, amoebic, a two-footed paramecium. The microscopic lens is capturing my arrival.

Carl Boy has disappeared for now. We both will make it into the city, along the same street he tells me later, but now I can’t remember who enters first. Inconsequential really. He and I are Gemini. Crickets. Their music faded many miles back. Excuse the pun, but this is Disney’s world after all.

Tracks 2
Boxcar Willie couldn’t have found a more perfect apartment than the one Carl Boy and I hitched onto. 60 ft long and 10 ft wide, my curtained off portion the caboose, I suppose you could call it. No tracks beneath our apartment, but this city is about a long, continuous train ride anyway, a constant state of motion , a pyschological range of emotion.

Coin Toss
Carl Boy and I flipped a coin. I was tails. He was heads, one coin. Carl Boy puts on his suit and enters a tall monolith. It has an endoskeleton of steel sheathed with stained glass. Glass stained by a million fingerprints, the fingerprints of those lucky cubicle workers with the window seats. Hands up to their prized views, peering out on the huge, vast organism that has ingested them. They are conscious of how mild and mannered they must be so as to not irritate the digestive track of their host. Being regurgitated from this Eden city would surely be a fate worse than death. Even a small belch or fart could send them whirling into the black hole that surely lies just beyond. They water themselves down, coating themselves with artificial sweeteners, ensuring that their place in the gastric whirl is maintained.

An apple tree stands in the heart of the city, larger than any I have ever seen. It is hung with huge, shiny red apples, but they are all bitten into or parts have been carefully sliced away. I spend idle hours trying to find the anomaly, the apple that is complete, round and delectacious. And when I find it, I think to myself, Carl Boy and I will surely share a sumptious meal of it.

The coin flipped and I was tails, the underside, the underbelly of the coin. No Trust in God or Liberty, no man’s profile, no specific year to which I can assign my fate. A coin tossed and landed, spread eagle side up for me. Somehow, I feel like the winner though, proud and glorious with a worth assigned to me at least. A quarter of the dollar, a piece of the apple pie in the sky, celestial city that this is. And then my country’s name encircles my wings, a protective arc above me. The Latin inscription of my Roman Republic forefathers just below. 3/4’s forefathers, as I am 1/4 Cherokee Indian. Quite honestly, the other 3/4’s of my heritage is a mystery. If I’m truly from my mother’s womb, it’s never been confirmed, I am most certainly Mattel, Mfg, MFG, factory assembled with completely movable parts. Anyhow, I am happy with my lot, the flipside of the coin toss. I feel that I am truly a native in this city.

A Voice
And so when Carl Boy returns in the evening, I am just beginning my day. Rounds of events where I perform like a tragical, ironical muse to the beat of a computerized synthesizer and under the blinking eye of a digital recording device fed live to any Internet viewers interested in my re-enactments. Appalachian folk songs haunt me, I don’t remember why or when. Didn’t Carl Boy and I come from the plains? Or was it the mountains? A mournful ancestral voice plays over and over again in my head, so that I feel my performances can’t be that dissimilar to the speaking in tongues my grandfather performed. Like my grandfather, I don’t really take credit for my "performance voice" for it is a product of internal and external forces much larger, more intricately complex than I. But grandfather knew who to attribute his voice to, his had a father. My voice is illegitimate and bastardized. Moreover it is a hybrid voice, manipulated by external digital sound devices. I cannot accept the purety of the ballads that the mystery avatar sings in my head. For of what consequence is its’ unadulteratedness in this adulterated, syndicated, lacerated world? Artificial intelligence must be addressed. Who better to do it than a princess like me, suffering from partial amnesia? I imagine the huge, virtual audience I am performing for nightly. I am a shadow on the walls of their cave. I imagine the faces whose reflections superimpose me on their monitors. And I feel warm and secure in my own small cave, as the camera’s eye, fixed on me and my band of digital instruments feeds me live through so many cables, and phone lines, and satellites to you and you and you.

P & M
Virtually, he came into my life virtually. Our first acquaintance made in a chat room. An adoring devoted fan from one of the top floors of the monolith where Carl Boy was most gainfully employed. I was shocked and surprised that my live feed performances were at all palatable to his tastes. Friend of Carl Boy’s or not I was leary of him he was a "Mono", (as I referred to Carl Boy’s co-workers). I was a "Poly," polyglot, polyglutton, a polyslut. More was more for me. The monos generally co-opted the polys and transformed our work into something digestible, easily consumed and Puritanically strained,. The work of Polys was decentralized, its sources varied and pagan. Rich on content, poor on power. The Monos knew how to turn our pulse into power, but in so doing our multiple gods and goddesses were sacrificed at the altar of their one God.

And now a mono was apparently taken with me. You can imagine my fear. But Carl Boy, Mono that he was, was my twin brother. How could I be so judgmental? When a mere coin toss had decided our courses in life? Carl Boy I trusted, and Carl Boy trusted him, Milo. So, if A trusts B, and B trusts C, then A trusts C. A logical deduction one would assume.

It is here that you can add another suffix to my poly status, "Poly-anna." The self-proclaimed, self-righteous, self-protecting Poly was put in her virtual place by a Mono much more world-wise than she.

He carries me in his strong arms and gallops me down the beach my heart keeping time with his hooves clopping on the packed sand. Milo is like Carl Boy, with the same condition. A condition that goes unnoticed in the city, just another breed that’s all. In fact most of the Monos share Carl Boy’s condition.

Stately and regal, a perfect equestrian my centaur, lover Milo. 1/2 Clydesdale, 1/2 Chippendale I say. How was I to know he was nothing but an ass, a donkey, son of Midas himself?

How strange that a monolith rises from the center of this island, here among the palm trees and bamboo huts.

Milo is galloping along the shore. Suddenly he takes a sharp left. We are moving in the direction of the tall white building. Flashes of 2001 come to my mind oddly. I feel I am a part of something epic, Kubrickian. We reach the monolith and he carries me through the entryway like a bride over the altar. I am flushed with joy. We proceed to an antechamber, Milo and I. He holds my body in his arms like precious cargo.

Mr. Mick sits in a fine animal skin chair, possibly made from the hides of men like my Milo. When Mr. Mick looks at me, every system in my body comes to a halt and I turn to stone. He twitches his ears and adjusts his tie as Milo approaches the chair, still carrying me, but pushing me further and further out from himself towards this grotesquerie sitting, gloved and smiling in his Centaur skin chair.

I am hastily switched for a black leather briefcase. An adios from Milo, a blood curdling scream from me....

Cut to a screensaver.

I awake to find myself in a large room, dressed, painted, and perfumed. A variety of exotic women keep me company. Survival is in our performances, enacted before multiple surveillance cameras placed throughout the room. A rapt audience of cyclops, they are, each single eye watching intensely, registering unflinchingly, image upon image. But our voices fall on deaf ears with them. For sound recording of our performances is deemed unnecessary.

Incapable of having physical contact with us -- the dirtiness of it all, the molecules of ourselves that could defile his clinically white hands -- Mr. Mick has installed a virtual chamber. It is like some fantastical, fanatical holodeck, and it here where Mr. Mick has his way with us, our virtual selves. Often.

We are kept alive because Mr. Mick fears the creativity of the machine will never match our own human resources.

Our Heroine
Our heroine has escaped from the land of Mr. Mick, but upon her return to the city, Carl Boy is nowhere to be found. Carl Boy has set out on a quest to find our heroine, but he has employed the aid of some very unsavory types. Our heroine has gone underground, but her voice has not been silenced, her vision not obscured. Cyber ballads, techno folk, real players, quicktime -- it is here where fresh-faced mountain girls and internet based "naughties" boys dance together on the head of a pixel. One infinity to the next she travels, night after night, reaching a million people, alone in her cave, cautious glances thrown over her shoulder at any sound from the real world. Lonelier than a Monotheists God.

Appalachian Folk Ballad: Pretty Polly, Pretty Polly o’er yonder she stands, Pretty Polly, Pretty Polly o’er yonder she stands, Gold rings on her fingers her lily white hands.

The day of reconciliation comes for Carl Boy and Princess. Long embraces. Long silences. Tenderness for a remembered past, awkwardness over an unfathomable future, together. Had they been so very co-dependent before? Soror. Frater. Two sides of one coin. Joined back to back, her eagle wings to his Roman profile.

But she thinks: The eagle has soared, has flown without her other gravity bound half.

And he thinks: I have conquered, I have been victorious, without my back shaded by her over protective wings.

And Carl Boy can’t contain himself any longer. He has to share his victories with Princess. He has joined forces with one of the most powerful men in the world, he exclaims. His pride and happiness are uncontainable, and he assures her that his new ally will help her emerge from hiding.

She remembers his mouth in slow motion as it closed and opened, circled and ovalled, forming the sounds that would give a name to this newly found and highly regarded mentor of Carl Boy’s. MMMMMMiiiiiiissssstttttteeeeerrrrrrrr MMMMMiiiiiiiiiccccccckkkkkkkkk. She shakes her head violently from side to side. Her body is beyond her control, shoulder joint rotating, elbow pulling back withdrawing from her target, fingers curled beneath their knuckles forming a perfect secure fist, she is Lindsey Wagner now, she is Xena, she is Lara Croft. She is incredibly pissed off. The arm is traveling forward, in slow motion it sounds like the woosh woosh of a locomotive, the awakening noise when you first turn on your G-4. The fist, her fist, Princesses fist plants itself squarely into Carl Boy’s right jaw. It has now come to blows, to jabs, to slam dances, to caresses, to biting kisses, to embraces, to kicks, to blows, to love-making, to love hating, to death do them part. It out of focus here, they are one mass, a Texan tumbleweed.

Witnesses claimed that the scene was so frightening and savage, the screeches and growls so gutteral and blood-curdling, that they at first thought two wild lions must have escaped from the zoo.

Cut to a screensaver, one moment’s relief from the tragedy that has befallen these two siblings.

They All Agreed
Two motionless bodies are lying side by side on the street. The woman is certainly dead. Her face is covered by a sheet of blood. She lies limp and rag dolly. The man seems to be coming to. Yes he is stirring now.

And where did she come from? None of the witnesses had seen her before. This tall dark stranger, at first just a silhouette, walking forward, taking gradual form -- Her oddly shaped hat, it looked like some sort of English riding hat but with a very thick rim around it’s entire circumference. Spurs clicked on her platforms as she walked steadily forward. A vision of loveliness they all agreed, as she emerged slowly out of the hazy yellow sunset and entered the city.


Carla Gannis, 1999