After his little chat with Brian, Brendan clomped noisily up the basement stairs. He could hear Sonny snoring on the couch, still sound asleep. Brendan smirked at his friend and, plucking a feather from the pillow that was tucked beneath Sonny’s greasy head, ran it lightly over Sonny’s nose. In his sleep, Sonny’s nose wrinkled and twitched, and his hand came clumsily up to scratch it, knocking over the half-full beer can resting on his stomach. As the beer soaked through his shirt, Sonny woke up.
“What the hell’s goin’ on here?” he slurred, looking around with half-closed eyes. He spotted Brendan, snickering from a few feet away, and jerked himself up into a sitting position. “What the hell was that for, Graves?” he demanded, glaring at Brendan, who just laughed.
“Well, I gotta get going, dude. The wife’ll be home soon, and she’ll get suspicious if I’m not there before she is,” Brendan said. “See ya.”
Sonny didn’t respond, just scowled, as Brendan left.
Brendan was already back in Atlanta on his way home when he realized he had left his jacket in Sonny’s basement. “Damnit,” he cursed aloud. “I’m gonna have to go back for it.” Leighanne would surely notice if her husband’s jacket was not hanging on the hook where it usually was and would ask what had happened to it. After all, she had seen him put it on before he left.
Not wanting any suspicion as to where he had been from his wife, Brendan jerked his car around in a U-turn and headed back towards Sonny’s house, hoping he still had enough time to get the jacket and be home before Leighanne was.
Leighanne sat at a red light, examining her freshly manicured nails. She suddenly heard the screeching of car tires and looked up to see a silver BMW pull a U-turn on the road in front of her and head back in the other direction.
That’s Brian, she realized, watching the car speed away from her. She squinted, watching as his car got smaller and smaller in the distance. Where was he going?
As the light changed to green, Leighanne decided to follow him and practically gunned her engine, hurrying to catch up to him. Why is he going this way? she wondered, perplexed. This road leads out of town.
Her confusion increased as she followed him all the way out of Atlanta and into the rural area just outside of the city. Never taking her eyes off his car, she drove on, just far enough away from him to still be able to see his car but not be recognized when he looked into his rearview mirror.
Her mouth opened in surprise as he suddenly made a left turn, pulling into the driveway of a small house sitting all alone in a field. She had no idea who lived there or why Brian was going there. And it puzzled her.
Brendan climbed out of his car, slammed the door, and hurried into Sonny’s house. “Forgot my jacket,” he said quickly to Sonny, who looked at him in surprise, as he burst in. He ran down to the basement, taking the steps two at a time, and grabbed his jacket from the coffee table, not even bothering to make a mean comment to Brian, who also stared up at him in surprise.
“Uh… Brendan?” Sonny called, as Brendan hurried back upstairs.
“What?” Brendan asked, coming into the living room.
Sonny pointed out the window. “Ain’t that Littrell’s… I mean… yer wife?”
Brendan looked through the open window blinds to see a familiar car pulling over to the side of the road, just outside Sonny’s house. In the driver’s seat, he could see Leighanne, staring right at the house.
“Oh my God,” Brendan moaned. “She must of followed me! Shit, Sonny, what am I gonna do?! Help me!”
“Uh…” Brendan thought fast. “I know! You got gas, don’t you?”
“Gas?” Sonny asked. “Not no more, I don’t. I got me some Beano for-“
“Not that kind of gas! I mean gasoline, you idiot!” Brendan yelled. “Do you have gasoline?”
“Gasoline? Oh, sure. I got some out back in the shed,” Sonny replied.
“Go get some, quick. I’ll just tell Leighanne I was out of gas and stopped here for help,” Brendan said, pleased at his lie.
As Sonny scrambled out the back door, Brendan went out the front.
“Leigh! Boy, am I glad to see you!” “Brian?” Leighanne asked, looking around in confusion. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was just about out of gas and stopped here to see if this man had any. Thank the Lord he does. He’s goin’ to get me some now,” Brendan lied.
“What are you doing all the way out here though?” she asked.
“Uh… well, I can’t tell you, honey. It… it has to do with a surprise I have planned for you. Yeah, that’s it. A surprise.” He flashed her an innocent smile.
“A surprise? What kind of surprise?” Leighanne asked, not looking as if she totally bought it. “Well, I can’t tell you that, silly,” Brendan replied. “Then it wouldn’t be a surprise!”
She smiled, rolling her eyes. “Well, fine then. It better be good though, mister.”
Brendan smiled back, relaxing. She fell for it.
“Sonny, we can’t keep him at your place anymore. We’re gonna have to move him,” Brendan told Sonny on the phone that night.
Even though Leighanne had believed him that morning, he knew she could get suspicious and wonder what was really going on. And if she suspected anything, the first place she would go for answers was Sonny’s house. And that couldn’t happen. Brian needed to be moved.
“Yeah, but where to?” Sonny asked. “Who else’s place could we put ‘im at?”
“Hm…” Brendan thought. He didn’t really have any other friends that lived nearby. In fact, he really didn’t have any other friends. He had always been somewhat of a loner. Sonny, who had grown up in the same trailer park as he, was his best and only real friend.
“I know. What about ol’ Doc Walters?” Sonny suggested, saying the name of the man who had been Jackie Littrell’s obstetrician at the time of Brendan’s birth.
“Doc Walters?!” Brendan asked incredulously. “But he still lives in Lexington, don’t he?” “Yeah. So? We can drive Littrell up to his house.”
“Yeah, but will he agree to this?”
“Why wouldn’t he? He’s yer Pa’s ol’ friend, ain’t he?”
“And he went along with that whole scheme when you two was born, din’t he?”
“So what makes you think he won’t go along with this one?” Sonny asked.
Brendan considered it. Sonny had a point there. Dr. Henry Walters had been a good friend of his father’s for years, and it was he who had helped Jackie Littrell keep the fact that she was pregnant with twins from her husband. He had risked his career for that. So why wouldn’t he agree to keep Brian in his basement for awhile?
“You’re right, Sonny. I’m gonna call him up right now,” Brendan said.
“Alrighty. Tell me what he says. Bye now,” Sonny said and hung up.
It was a cool April evening, and Dr. Henry Walters sat in his cozy living room, watching TV, when the phone rang.
Who could that be? he wondered, forcing his fifty-six year old body out of his armchair. He walked across the room to the phone, which sat on an end table beside the couch, and picked it up.
“Hank! How are you?” came a young male voice, tinged with a soft Southern accent.
“I’m just fine, thanks. Who is this?” Dr. Walters asked.
“This is Brendan Graves,” the man replied.
Dr. Walter’s brow furrowed in confusion. Don Graves’ son? He hadn’t spoken to young Brendan in years, since Don’s death. Why would he be calling now?
“Well, hi, Brendan,” Dr. Walters greeted. “Haven’t heard from you in awhile. What have you been up to?”
“Well, I’ve got this little scheme I’m involved in right now,” Brendan said.
“Yeah, scheme. It’s got to do with my twin brother.”
Dr. Walter’s eyes narrowed. Brendan’s twin brother was Brian Littrell, the Lexington native who had gone on to become a world-famous Backstreet Boy. “Oh yeah? What about him?”
Brendan snickered. “Well,” he said, his voice lowering, as if he were about to reveal something top-secret, “I kidnapped him.”
Dr. Walters gasped. “Kidnapped?” he asked, unsure if he had heard Brendan correctly. After all, he hadn’t heard anything about Brian Littrell getting kidnapped. He may have been in his late fifties, but he still knew what was going on in the world. Surely it would have been all over the news.
“That’s right,” Brendan confirmed. “And you wanna hear the best part?”
“No one’s ever gonna find out. You know why?”
“Why?” Dr. Walters asked weakly.
“Because,” Brendan’s voice dropped some more, “I’ve become him.”
“What do you mean?” Dr. Walters asked in shock.
“Literally, I’ve become him. I’m living in his house, having sex with his wife, talking to his friends, walking his dogs, everything. I’ve become Brian Littrell. And nobody knows.”
“Oh my,” was all Dr. Walters could say.
“Anyway, the real reason I called was because I need your help. See, I’ve been keeping Littrell in the basement of my friend Sonny’s house. But he only lives a few miles outside of Atlanta, and it’s really too close for comfort. We want to move him somewhere else. And you’re just the person to take him.”
“What?!” Dr. Walters gasped. “Brendan, are you mad?! I can’t keep your captive at my house!”
“But why not?” Brendan asked. “You don’t have to do much. Just keep him tied up in your basement.”
Dr. Walters shook his head. “No way,” he said firmly. “I won’t have any part in it.”
“Fine!” Brendan snapped.
Dr. Walters was about to hang up, when Brendan shouted, “Wait!”
“What do you want now?” Dr. Walters asked.
“You know not to tell nobody about this, right? It’s confidential.”
“I know,” Dr. Walters said.
“I’m serious,” Brendan went on. “You tell anyone about this, and you die. I will hunt you down and slit your throat. You got that, old man?”
Dr. Walter’s eyes were wide with panic. “I got it,” he whispered. “I won’t tell a soul.”
“You better not,” Brendan growled. “Or you’ll be sorry.”
“Sonny, what are we gonna do? Doc Walters won’t help us, and now he knows!” Brendan cried. He had gotten off the phone with the doctor just minutes earlier and had already called Sonny back. He was glad Leighanne was visiting one of her girlfriends that evening; otherwise there was no way he could keep making these calls without her knowing.
There was a long pause on Sonny’s end. Finally, he spoke. “Kill Littrell.”