“Hello?” said Leighanne Littrell, picking up the phone in her living room. No one answered. “Hello?” she repeated, pressing the receiver tightly to her ear.
She frowned, puzzled. She could hear muffled noises and voices on the other end of the phone, but she couldn’t make out what was going on. She could hear two voices, both male, and one sounded angry.
“Who is this?” she demanded. “Hello!?”
Suddenly, she heard a loud sound, then static, and then the phone went dead.
“Walk straight ahead, and don’t make any sudden movements, you got that?” Brian’s captor growled, holding tightly to Brian’s arms as he guided him forward. “You do anything to attract attention to yourself, and you’ll pay.”
Brian flinched as he felt something small and hard shove into the middle of his back. He didn’t even have to see it to realize what it was. It was the barrel of a gun.
The man walked swiftly along beside Brian, one hand behind his back, holding the gun up against his jacket. “This way,” he said suddenly, roughly shoving Brian to his left. Brian saw an exit sign and with panic, realized they were leaving the airport.
He wanted to spin out of the man’s grasp and make a run for it, but he knew what the consequences would be if he even tried. So instead, he cooperated, not knowing what else to do.
They walked to a pair of doors leading out of the airport. It was not the main entrance, some kind of side entrance, rather. There were no people around, no one to spot the gun and realize what was happening. It was just Brian and the man.
The man hurried Brian through the doors and outside. The bright sunlight caused Brian to squint, but the man gave him no time to let his eyes adjust. “Move,” he snarled, pushing Brian forward.
They walked on, and Brian could see that they were approaching a parking lot, with people nearby. He wondered what would happen next. Would the man keep his gun shoved against Brian like that, where people could easily see it?
No. He stopped and slowly drew the gun away from Brian’s body, hiding it inside his trench coat.
“Now, listen,” he said warningly. “Just cause I don’t got you at gunpoint anymore doesn’t mean I won’t use it if I need to. You just better cooperate and make sure I don’t have to use it.”
Brian nodded quickly, unable to answer verbally.
“Now come on,” the man said, dragging him on. They walked through the parking lot and stopped in front of an old, beat-up, black car. The man guided Brian around to the back and opened the right back door. He shoved Brian into the seat behind the passenger’s seat.
“Give me your hands,” he ordered, and Brian reluctantly held out his hands. The man grabbed them roughly and tied a thick cord around his wrists, binding them tightly together. Brian cried out as the cord cut into his skin, for it was too tight. The man showed no mercy. “Now your legs,” he barked, and, clenching his teeth, Brian swung his legs out of the car. The man bent down and tied his ankles together as well, then shoved him back into the car. He buckled the seatbelt around Brian and closed the door. Then he got into the front seat.
“Now, don’t even try to escape cause you won’t make it. Even if you could get untied, I’ve had child security locks installed in the backseat, so the door won’t open, not from the inside at least. So if you know what’s good for you, you’ll just sit still and enjoy the ride.” The man laughed evilly and backed the car out of its parking space.
Brian stared miserably out the window, as the man put the car into drive and sped out of the parking lot.
After a good half hour, at least, the car lurched to a stop. Brian glanced out the window to find himself in front of an old abandoned building, which looked like it had once been a convenience store, or some other small place of business. They must have still been in Atlanta, but in a much different part of town. This part was old and run-down, with clusters of tiny old houses squeezed between commercial buildings, many of which were in worse shape than the houses.
As the man swiped his key out of the ignition and climbed out of the car, Brian felt a wave of nausea. To say he was scared would be a gross understatement. Terrified would better describe the emotion, but even that word didn’t fully illustrate his fear.
The man came around to Brian’s side of the car and opened the door. “Okay, I’m gonna untie your legs now so you can walk, but I still have my gun with me, so don’t try anything funny,” the man said. Brian nodded, more afraid than obedient, and swung his tied ankles out. The man bent over and, pulling a pocket knife out of one of the pockets on his coat, sliced the cords.
Brian sighed inwardly in relief as the circulation came back to his ankles. His wrists still ached, but he decided not to mention that.
“Come on,” the man said, pulling Brian to his feet. He dragged him onto the cracked sidewalk and slammed the car door shut behind him with one foot. Then, gripping Brian’s upper arm tightly, he led him through the scraggly grass in front of the building. Instead of going in the front entrance, Brian was led around the building to a door in the back. He kicked open the door and shoved Brian in, quickly closing and locking it behind him.
Brian looked around and found himself in a large, empty room. It had a low ceiling, and the floor was covered with dirty red and white tiles. The man didn’t give Brian much of a chance to survey the rest of the room. Instead, he pushed him forward, leading him to a door on one side of the room.
He opened the door, and Brian saw a set of stairs. “Up,” the man grunted, and Brian miserably trudged up the stairs. At the top, there was another door. The man reached around Brian and opened it, shoving Brian through it.
They were now in another room, this one small. The wooden floors were old and dusty, and the room was empty. Across the room was a door. The man led Brian through it and into another even smaller room. This room contained an old twin bed with nothing but a bare mattress on it. Beside it stood a small wooden chest of drawers. And that was all, except for the heavy curtains that were drawn in front of a small window, which faced the street.
“Lie down,” the man ordered, giving Brian a hard shove that left him sprawling onto the bed. “Now hold still, or I’ll beat the living shit out of you,” he warned, pushing Brian down so that he lay flat on the bed. The man untied Brian’s wrists, but before Brian had a chance to relax them, he grabbed one and stretched it up to one of the posts on the headboard of the bed. Using a piece of cord, he tightly tied Brian’s wrist to the post. Then he did the same with the other wrist.
When Brian’s hands were securely tied, he began on the feet, tying each of Brian’s ankles to the short posts at the foot of the bed. Finally, he took a long piece of cord and lay it across Brian’s stomach. He looped the cord around the whole mattress and tied the ends in a knot beneath the bed. Brian was now stuck, unable to move hardly anything except his head.
“Please, why are you doing this to me?” he demanded, close to tears.
“You wanna know why I’m doing this to you?” the man asked, chuckling. “Well, I’ll tell you.” He grinned evilly. Then, slowly, he removed the do-rag from his head and pulled the sunglasses off his face, exposing his eyes.
As Brian got a good look at his face for the first time, he gasped.
Brian was staring at a mirror image of himself. The man that stood before him was an exact replica of Brian, with the same wavy, sandy blonde hair, the same bright blue eyes, the same facial structure, everything. They were identical.
“Wh-who are you?” Brian gasped.
The look-alike laughed evilly. “There’s a lot of things you don’t know about, isn’t there, Brian?” he asked, smirking. “A lot of family secrets.”
Brian stared at him with wide eyes. “What do you mean?”
“I’m your twin brother, Brian. Your own blood,” the man replied.
Brian’s mouth dropped open. “No way! I don’t have a twin!” he protested, but his voice was tinged with uncertainty.
“Oh yes, you do,” the man insisted, nodding. “My name is Brendan. Brendan Graves. My father was Don Graves. Has your mother mentioned him?”
Brian stared at him in shock, trying to comprehend. “No…” he said dumbly. “I-I don’t understand.”
“Well, it’s a long, long story, bro.” Brendan sneered. “But since it’s obviously been kept from you, I guess I should fill you in.”
Brian nodded, anxiously awaiting an explanation.
“You see, a long time ago, before we were born, your mother… our mother, that is, had a torrid affair with another man, our father, Don Graves,” Brendan started.
“No!” Brian screamed in protest. “You’re lying! My mother would never do that!”
“Oh, but she did,” Brendan replied matter-of-factly. “She did, and she got pregnant. By that time, she and Don had already broken up, and her husband, your so-called father Harold, didn’t know about the affair. She didn’t want to hurt him, I guess, so she kept it from him. She tried to keep the pregnancy from Don, but it didn’t work. It just so happened that Don was good friends with her obstetrician, and he knew of the affair.
“When he told Don that she was pregnant, Don confronted Jackie, wanting to know if the baby was his. Jackie secretly had Dr. Walters run a paternity test, and sure enough, Don was the father, not Harold.
“And then it was found out during a sonogram that Jackie was pregnant with not just one baby, but two. When Don found out this, that he had twin sons coming, he told Jackie he wanted one of them. She protested, of course, but he blackmailed her. He threatened to tell Harold the whole story if she didn’t give him one of the twins once they were born. And so, she agreed. She made a deal with Dr. Walters, and her whole pregnancy, they never told Harold that she was expecting twins.
“Then at 1:37, on February 20, 1975, you were born, the first of the two of us. Dr. Walters made a big show of giving you to Harold and escorting him out to let him show you off to the family. And then he delivered the second baby, me. A nurse took me out through another entrance to the delivery room so that no one would see, and I was taken to Don. And when we both left the hospital, you went with Jackie and Harold, and I went with Don. And that, my brother, is what really happened.”
Brian shook his head in shock. “No,” he murmured. “No way.”
“Yes way, I’m afraid,” Brendan leered. “And look who got the bad end of the deal. You grew up in a nice family. You got the big break. You’re the rich and famous one. And look at me. I grew up with just a father, who worked all the time and never spent any time with me. I dropped out of school when I was sixteen and got a job. I’ve spent the past ten years working at greasy, crummy, fast-food places. While you’re making millions, I’m making minimum wage, barely enough to live on. You’ve got a mansion, and I’ve got a roach-infested apartment. That’s fair, huh?”
“Is that why you’re doing this to me? You’re jealous?” Brian asked in disbelief.
“Jealous? Yeah, I guess that word describes it. It’s not fair. We’re blood… womb-mates, actually. What right do you have to get all this success when I work hard and get nothing?”
“Hey, I’ve worked hard too,” Brian protested.
Brendan snorted. “Oh yeah, you’ve worked so hard. Like singing and dancing and traveling all over the world is ‘hard’.” He rolled his eyes.
“You have no idea how stressful it can be!” Brian argued.
“Oh, I’m sure. Just like you have no idea how stressful it is to worry constantly about not being able to pay your bills, to buy food for yourself, to do anything! You wouldn’t have a clue about that, would you? Of course not,” Brendan said dryly, his voice filled with sarcasm and resentment.
Brian didn’t respond. He felt overwhelmed with this flood of information he had learned, which went against everything he had grown up believing. He couldn’t believe that his mother had had an affair, had cheated on his father, who was not even his real father, as it turned out. And most of all, he couldn’t believe he had an identical twin brother, who he had never seen or even known of.
“Look… Brendan…” Brian started, hoping to reason with this man. “You said yourself that I’m your flesh and blood… your ‘womb-mate’. So how could you do this to me? I’m your brother! I’m your family!” He paused, glancing at Brendan’s face, and added, desperately, “Please, let me go, and everything will be okay. I can loan you some money to help you pay your bills and everything if that’s what you want. In fact, I don’t even have to loan it to you. I’ll give it to you!”
Brian looked at Brendan hopefully, praying his bribe would work. Unfortunately, Brendan could not be reasoned with.
“No way. I don’t want your money,” Brendan replied, glaring at Brian.
“What do you want then?” Brian asked. “Whatever it is, I’ll give it to you if you let me go.”
Brendan snickered. “I don’t think so, Brian. You see, what I want is… your life.”