When Dot and Rache turned twenty-one, they thought they were
invincible. Theyíd thought that way before, but somehow being
twenty-one gave them an edge, as if it were some feat like running a
marathon or hiking barefoot across the world. They were twins. They
didnít dress the same, but they didnít try to look different,
either. Dotís hair was always longer because it grew so fast. They
shared a wardrobe, which they kept in one big walk-in closet, with
outfits in sizes three and four, and forty pairs of shoes lined
neatly on the carpet.
They were still in college, and after their birthday theyíd
gotten jobs at a dance club called "The Heap." Dot was the "shot
girl," and Rache was a bartender, although she wanted to be the shot
girl too, but Dot got the job because she could sell a little more
with the way she sometimes flaunted, though she wasnít proud of it.
It was just the way she was. Rachel was more reserved, but wanted to
be like Dot. Sometimes, they envied one another. At the bar, guys
would ask about them being twins, and Rache was stuck behind the
bar, while the guys followed Dot on her rounds, going from table to
table carrying racks of test tubes filled with drinks with sexy
names Ė Blow Jobs, Screaming Orgasms, Watermelon Screws. Since the
shot girl could wear what she wanted, Dot wore short skirts and
skimpy tops. When it got late, she carried the tray above her head,
getting fondled along the way, which came with the job. Sometimes
she wished she were the bartender, just so she wouldnít always feel
invaded, and she pictured herself with Rachelís job, using the
counter as her barrier, her Great Wall.
One day they walked to a tattoo shop by their apartment. The
smell of the place reminded Dot of laundry detergent, and it made
Rachel think of the freshener in their motherís blue Toyota. They
wanted identical tattoos, so Rache told that to the tattoo artist,
the guy with his name, Frank, tattooed on his cheek.
He looked at them with their same blue eyes and thin dark hair,
but he didnít say anything about it because he was too anxious to
show them his tattoos. He took off his shirt, exposing the wispy
vines and circles that wound around his chest and biceps, and a big
red dragon that was spread across his middle. "Itís horimono," he
said. "Japanese tattoo art."
"We donít want to go that far," Rache said.
Dot sneezed and Rache said, "Bless you."
Since tattoos seemed so mainstream to them, they wanted something
different and unique, yet something that would make them more alike,
so they chose the Japanese character for friendship.
Afterwards they went home and freshened up before they had to go
to work, feeling proud of what theyíd done. Dot closed the blinds,
looking down at the passing headlights, wishing she had enough money
saved for her own car, and Rache flipped the TV to CNN, to a
broadcast about Dianaís death which wasnít new. People were crying
on the screen, and Rache wondered what was wrong with them. Dot went
to the end of the hallway to look in the full-length mirror,
straightening it before unzipping her jeans so she could see her new
tattoo. While she removed the gauze, Rache asked what she was doing,
then went to see her tattoo in the mirror, too. They stood
hip-to-hip, matching up their tattoos as if they were coded
birthmarks. They compared their new tattoos, and each thought the
otherís looked better.
"Yours is darker," Rache said.
"I think itís inflamed," Dot said, touching it.
"Iím really glad we did this," Rache said.
"Me too," Dot said, putting her arm over Racheís shoulder.
They stood there for a while, looking at their reflections in the
mirror, telling each other they made a perfect team.
That night, before going to work, they went to see their
grandfather, who had had a stroke a month before. The left side of
his face hung lower than the right, and he slurred his speech a bit.
Heíd lost weight, and stayed in bed a lot, although when Rache and
Dot came to visit him, his face lit up and he tried to look like he
was healthy. Since the stroke, heíd been staying with their mother,
who worked as a medical assistant, and lived in a small brick ranch,
where Dot and Rache had lived until their birthday.
They walked in without knocking. Their mother was sitting in a
chair beside the table, reading last weekís Sunday comics, sipping
on a cup of coffee, still wearing her blue scrubs.
"Thereís a fresh pot if you want some," she said, looking up.
Then she went back to reading and the girls sat across from each
other at the table, trying not to lean back on the chairs since
their tattoo sites were stinging. Theyíd decided they werenít going
to tell their mother about what theyíd done that day.
"Grandpa still alive?" Rache said.
Their mother looked up quickly, saying, "Jesus, Rache, donít be
saying things like that."
"Iím kidding," Rachel said.
"How is he?" Dot said.
"You could stay with him every now and then. I canít afford the
"Weíre in college, Mom," Rache said.
"We could come between a couple classes," Dot said.
"Weíre all heís got," their mother said, curling up the corners
of her paper.
They went into his room, where he was lying in the bed, clicking
the remote, switching the show to Lawrence Welk. "Your
grandma liked this guy," he said.
He was in his king size, which the twinsí mother had moved over
in a U-Haul, with all his other stuff. Now he had the twinsí old
room, traces of them still left behind, the picture of them in their
cheerleading uniforms, extending their arms to make a crooked W for
the West Side Wolverines. The Boys 2 Men poster was taped up behind
the bed, and a Brad Pitt centerfold was tacked to one side of the
door. The TV was on the white dresser that theyíd used since they
were babies, that held their small pink socks and training pants and
frilly Sunday dresses, although recently it held their pastel bras
and skimpy shorts and bright bikinis.
They sat on either side of him, and he smiled, the left half of
his thin lips slightly paralyzed, which made his smile crooked. "How
are my twin girls?" he said, slower than he used to, yet there was
vigor in his voice, and it was as clear as an adolescentís whistle.
He put his arms around them as they crawled in like they did when
they were younger and stayed with him, when theyíd wake up early in
the morning, smelling the coffee, scrambled eggs, and bacon that
their grandmother had made, and theyíd get under his sheets and
rouse him in his sleep, staring closely at his face, at the sleep
still in his eyes, at the curl at the corner of his lips that made
him look like he was smiling, which made them wonder what he had
been dreaming. He was always warm under the covers, and as they woke
him and he spoke, they could smell the newness of his breath, that
was sort of sweet, and they watched the wrinkles forming under his
green eyes as he smiled and welcomed them in his arms, into his
Now they still loved to cuddle under his soft covers, feeling the
warmth of his aging body, and they felt like they were ten again,
their grandmother scurrying in the kitchen, banging pots and pans,
and right now, as he watched Lawrence Welk, Dot thought she
remembered the melody that the band was playing, and not just that
but some tender moment, although she couldnít recall exactly what it
was. It was familiar to Rache too, but to her, everything about the
show brought the same reaction, and she didnít cherish the memory
quite like Dot, who had more affection for her grandfather.
They talked to their grandfather for a while longer, telling him
about their jobs, about their school, explaining to him they had to
find a major. He didnít understand since he hadnít even graduated
high school. Heíd been a welder.
At the bar, Rache made the shots, and Dot wasnít on till nine, so
she sat there smoking cigarettes. Rache looked at her sister,
envying her perfect body, although Racheís was identical to Dotís,
except she had longer arms, and she had on a pair of jeans and a
sweatshirt that said "The Heap" in crooked golden letters. Dot
shivered, and asked Rache if she could have a cup of coffee.
"Wear something for a change," Rache said, pouring the French
Roast, then going back to funneling Baileys into narrow tubes.
"Have you ever seen a shot girl with long sleeves?" Dot said,
flicking her lighter off and on. "Iím supposed to show my skin. Itís
"You can always bartend."
Dot lit a cigarette. "Maybe Iíll call Frank."
"Youíre not afraid of anything."
"Nu-uh," Dot said.
"I wish I was the shot girl," Rache said, putting the whipped
cream inside the silver compact fridge.
"No, you donít," Dot said. "You donít want this slutty job."
Later the place got packed, and Rache ran around behind the
counter, spilling drinks over her long sleeves. Dot got burned in
the face with a slender cigarette that a tall thin woman waved
around, and then a big-necked guy in a Giantsí sweatshirt grabbed
Dotís ass. Dot pretended that she liked it, and asked him, "Whatís
up, soldier? You want a body shot? I have a new tattoo."
He asked her where it was and she said, "In my panties," then he
dropped a hundred in her glass and told her she could show it to him
At shut down, Rache had her sleeves up, wiping up the counters
with a soppy rag while Dot sat at the bar. "We should find new
jobs," Rache said.
"Some guy dropped a hundred in my glass. He wants to see the
"No shit? Jesus," Rache said. She was jealous. "Keep that up, and
youíll be rich."
"Maybe we can apply for scholarships," Dot said. "Or maybe Mom
will help us."
"Think again," Rache said.
"I guess it isnít all that bad," Dot said.
"Yeah, youíre right," Rache said, picking up a broken bottle from
a sticky tray. "It can be sort of fun."
Outside, the hundred-dollar guy was leaning up against the brick,
toeing pebbles with his boot.
"Thatís the guy," Dot said. "You can go ahead."
"Youíll be OK?" Rache said.
"Iím good at this. Iím a sleaze, remember?"
When Rache got to the corner, Dot turned to the guy. "Whatís up?"
"You want to see my truck?"
"Yeah, OK," Dot said. She knew she shouldnít be going to some
guyís car alone this late at night, but he looked innocent enough,
and she knew she was a tease, and then she thought about the hundred
dollars, figuring she must owe him something.
After they got to his truck, she pulled up her skirt and slid her
panties down an inch, as if she were showing her driverís license to
the Wal-Mart clerk while buying Camel Lights. "There it is," she
He lit a cigarette. "My wife left me last week. Iím real young,
separated. I donít want a relationship, just sex." He had nothing
else to lose.
Dot had heard all that before, "no relationship, just sex, no
relationship, just sex," as if it were some recording sheíd heard so
many times, a scratch on her favorite jazz CD, that kept replaying
in her sleep, and sheíd gotten used to it, knew when it was coming
and didnít even think to fix it. Now she felt obligated.
Dot looked at the moving shadows that the flailing branches made.
The streetlights shone past them, through the tinted windows of the
truck. He kept looking out the window, then at her, then down at the
floor, and Dot thought he was going to cry. She thought he needed
cheering up, so she leaned over and unzipped his pants. When she was
done, he took her home.
Rache was sitting on the sofa, watching a rerun of Threeís
Company, picking peanuts out of a jar of Skippy with a fork. She
had been worrying about her sister, and feeling lonely and left out,
when Dot walked in, dropping her purse and keys on the table by the
"How was the guy?" Rache said. The air conditioner hummed,
sending a blast of cold across the room.
"Just like all the others," Dot said. "Donít worry. You didnít
miss anything exciting."
The next night, he came back. He waited afterwards, leaning
against the building, playing with a stick. Rache and Dot walked out
together, and Rache leaned in toward Dot, telling her to ask if he
had friends to set her up with.
When Rache walked away, Dot went up to him. The moon was full and
bright, shining on his curly hair.
In the car he said she didnít look old enough to be working at a
bar, and she said he didnít care how old she was, and he admitted
that was true. He said he felt sort of revengeful towards his wife,
that the younger Dot was the better. He laughed to himself a little
bit, then leaned over, kissing her. They took off all their clothes.
His skin was hairless, smooth, like a sports car that had just been
shined with Turtle Wax. After everything was over, Dot said, "Iím
eighteen," pulling down her skirt and putting on her panties.
He rolled down the window and lit a cigarette. She watched him
blow smoke out the narrow shallow gap. She looked at him, noticing
his satisfaction. She didnít want to let him go.
When Dot got home, Rache was waiting, worried, anxious, just like
always, and she asked Dot how it went, and Dot said it was great,
that Doug was a super guy, and that theyíd had sex in the parking
"Oh," Rachel said. "Really?"
Rache and Dot rummaged through the kitchen at their motherís,
trying to find the chocolate cookies. "Shit," Dot said, looking into
the black and white cow jar. "I bet Momís boyfriend ate them all."
They made sandwiches with white bread, Miracle Whip, and fresh
tomatoes from their motherís garden, and they left their knives
sitting in the sink, then went to see their grandfather, who was
lying in his bed. He was sleeping, and the TV was still on. It was
MTV. They sat on the floor next to their dresser, close to one
another, their backs leaning up against the wall. "Heís not going to
make it, is he?" Rache said.
His chest rose and fell and as he exhaled, his breath escaped
through the gap in his front teeth, making a small whistle. It
reminded Dot of a toy Santa they had when they were younger that
whistled in his sleep. "Looks like Santa," Dot said.
"Iím serious," Rache said. She was almost crying.
"Heís only eighty-one," Dot said. "Grandpa Brunner died at 102."
They sat there, eating their sandwiches, then wiping off their
lips with their paper towels, and they decided to let him sleep, so
they left him a note, telling him how much they loved him.
For a couple weeks Doug waited for Dot, and she started staying
at his motel room. He teased her, saying she was cheap, since she
did anything he asked. She wanted him to be her boyfriend, yet she
was content with having sex, figuring soon enough heíd divorce his
wife, and realize how good she was to him. Rache felt left out, and
she resented her sister for always putting her guys first. When
Rache did see Dot, she asked if Doug had a friend for Rache
to possibly go out with, but Dot said she could do much better.
One morning after Doug had brought Dot home, Rache and Dot sat on
the checkered sofa at their apartment holding bowls of Raisin Bran,
smelling the brewing coffee that had started automatically.
"So what if his friends arenít decent," Rachel said, stirring her
spoon, mixing up the sugar, scooping out a clump of raisins. "You
always get the fun."
"Iím a slut," Dot said. "You donít want to be like me. It can be
fun at first, but after a while, all you are is cheap. You can lose
"Well, I want some fun. Iíve only been with Roger, and that was
only high school. How many guys have you been with?
"I lost count," Dot said. She got up and went into the kitchen,
almost tripping over a stack of books. She set her bowl on the
Formica, and she poured two cups of coffee, adding cream and sugar
to Racheís purple cup.
A few nights later, after the bar was closed, Rache and Dot put
on their leather jackets and stepped out, seeing Doug leaning up
against the building in the alley.
"Itís set," he said. "I have a friend for Rache."
"Not a loser, huh?" Dot said, reaching in her purse and pulling
out her pack of smokes.
"Dot, stop it," Rache said, nudging her.
"Sheíll like him enough," he said.
Dot lit her cigarette. He said, "Come with me." After they walked
to his truck, Rache slid in the tiny seat in back, anxious and
excited, and Dot got in the front.
As he drove, Dot looked out the window, at the glowing lights, at
the letters on the billboards, at the cars that they passed by.
"Sheís sexy," he said to Dot. "Just like you."
"Be nice to her," Dot said. "Sheís not a whore."
"I still want some action," Rache said, leaning forward. She was
smiling, bright-eyed. She grabbed Dotís cigarette and took a drag.
"Donít worry," he said. "Youíll get your share."
He drove to the Days Inn and stopped the truck. His room looked
the same as always, shoes scattered on the floor, Ruffles bags and
beer cans sitting on the table, and the TV was still on. He grabbed
the ice bucket and said heíd be back, and then he left the room.
"I canít wait," Rache said, going to the mirror and touching up
her eye shadow.
"Jesus," Dot said. "Itís nothing special. You can get sex
anywhere." She sat on the bed and Rache sat on a chair beside the
table, toying with an empty beer can.
When Doug came back, he put ice in plastic cups and opened a Coke
and poured it before adding shots of Jack. "My friend is coming in a
minute," he said, giving Dot a drink, then Rache.
Dot took a sip right away, then slammed the rest, and Rache
sipped slowly, saying she didnít want to be drunk when she met his
friend. Doug opened a nightstand drawer and took out a joint and lit
it, then sucked on it and handed it to Dot.
"Where you from?" Rache said.
"Nowhere special," he said.
"Heís separated," Dot said, sucking in the joint.
"Yeah, Iím married," he said. "Dot takes care of me." He laughed.
"Like a Virgin" was playing on MTV. It was some Madonna marathon,
and Dot started dancing on the mattress, moving in sync with the
music, undoing the top button of her shirt, sliding a hand up and
down her curves, balling up her other hand, putting it to her lips
as if it were a mike. Doug told her she was crazy.
Rache sucked on the joint, then got on the bed and moved in front
of Doug as if she were a stripper. "Whereís my tip?" she said.
Another song came on and Rachel poured herself more Jack. Dot
felt dizzy and got down, leaning into Doug as he spun her around.
"Hey," she said. "You spike these drinks, or what?"
He laughed and then she laughed and then they started kissing.
"Hey," Rache said. "Whenís my guy getting here?"
"Pretty soon," he said.
Dot plopped down on the bed. She felt funny, like things were
fuzzy and she figured it was the joint, and she thought it worked
rather quickly compared to the other stuff sheíd done. It all
belonged to Doug.
Rache was getting drunk. She took another hit, then laughed, and
she grabbed Doug, dancing close to him.
Dot tried to get up, but she could barely move, so she lay back
on the bed. She felt paralyzed. Then everything was black.
Dougís friend finally arrived, and Rache danced between the guys
like a sandwich. She said she wanted to have a little fun. They
talked to each other and to her, calling her a piece of trash, and
Rachel, said "Yeah, I am. Come and get me, hotshot." They kissed
her, took off her clothes and she got on the bed and danced around,
feeling like an exotic dancer, holding a beer in her right hand,
raising it to the beat of the song on MTV.
Dot woke up first. She didnít know how long sheíd been asleep.
Couldíve been seconds, minutes, hours. It almost seemed like days.
The place reeked of sweat and cigarettes and booze. She noticed her
shirt was unbuttoned all the way, her skirt hiked up past her
thighs. She pulled on her skirtís hem and as she buttoned her pearl
buttons, she looked over on the floor, and saw Doug sleeping, and
Rache lying next to him, naked, her hands tied behind her back, and
a thick gold rope around her neck. On the second bed was a guy
sleeping on his back, one leg hanging, his left toe touching the red
carpet. He was snoring, but just so slightly that if she hadnít seen
him, she probably wouldnít have noticed because of the racket coming
from the air conditioner. His hair was long and stringy and his
chest was hairless just like Dougís.
When Rache finally woke up, she could barely open her eyes. Her
whole body hurt, and she didnít know where she was until she saw her
sister, and then things started coming back to her. Dot untied her.
"What happened here?"
"Holy hell," Rache said.
"Jesus," Dot said.
Dot helped Rache get dressed, lifting her shirt over her head,
pulling up her jeans, then they sat around the table, on the plaid
cushions of the wooden chairs. The morning light shone through the
thick green curtains that were held together with shiny metal rods,
and the TV was still on, its volume low, and there was some program
on CNN, a pulled-together lady with bright lipstick.
The whole place smelled and looked like sex, like a porno movie
that had gone on too long, gotten out of hand, the director and
producer and the crew joining in even after the camera had gone off.
Polaroids sat on the dirty table, snippets of ash floating all
around them. In some of the photos, Dot was lying naked on the bed,
her arms and legs sprawled out, Doug lying next to her, his hands
between her thighs. In the other photos, Rache was naked, lying with
her hands tied, and Dougís friend was on top of her, his back to the
camera, his head turned with a half-grin on his face. Another was of
Rachel on her knees, Dougís jeans down past his hips, her legs and
hands tied with that golden rope. Her bunched eyebrows and widened
mouth that took him in made her look like she was screaming. Dot
sifted through the pictures, tossed them across to Rachel. "Jesus,"
Dot said. "We need to call the cops."
Rache shoved the pictures in her purse. "No way." She started a
cigarette. "Some friends you have," she said.
"Iím a slut," Dot said. "We all know that."
Dot picked up Dougís Leviís from the floor and rummaged through
his pockets. She took his wallet, cigarettes and keys. Then she
found the other guyís gray shorts by his feet and felt his pockets,
but all of them were empty.
"Over there," Rache said, pointing to the nightstand that was
filled with empty cups, and wet from melted ice cubes.
Dot picked up his wallet, letting the water drip. She looked at
his driverís license. "His name is Len," she said. "What a stupid
name. Guyís only twenty-one."
"Youíre not going to steal it, are you?"
"Like they didnít steal from you?"
"I said I was fine," Rache said.
Dot got the Jack, went for the beer, then grabbed their clothes
and put them in the bathtub and soaked everything with booze. She
opened the dresser drawers and dumped the catsup and the mustard
that sheíd gotten from the fridge on all of Dougís belongings. She
hiked up her skirt and pulled down her panties and urinated on the
bed where Len was sleeping. She wiped her crotch with a faded
pillowcase that looked a shade of yellow.
"Youíre such a freak," Rache said.
"Serves him right," Dot said.
Rache turned off the TV, and Dot stuffed all the wallets and keys
inside her purse. She messed up the sheets, and wrote on a piece of
Days Inn paper, "This isnít over," and left it on the bed.
"Iím telling you," Rache said. "It wasnít all that bad."
They opened up the door, and the new sunlight was dim, but it
made their eyes hurt. Rache and Dot looked back, then sat on the
lawn next to the pool and Rache leaned against a tree. They just sat
there for a while, staring at the uneven rays reflecting off the
water, at the dirty edges of the pool, at the blades of grass
drifting off in numerous directions. "I guess we better go," Dot
said. And then they got up, and walked arm-in-arm for a couple
blocks, and they knew they were close to home, but too far to walk
in the state they were both in. So they walked to an Exxon station
and Dot called a cab, and they waited on the curb in silence, just
sitting feeling the warm sunrise, watching cars pass by, ones driven
by people who looked as if they were on their way to work.
"We have to call the cops," Dot said.
"No," Rache said. "No cops. Whatís the difference between Doug
fucking me and fucking you? Same with the other guy? You would have
done it too."
"I asked for sex with Doug," Dot said.
"So did I," Rache said.
"Not like that," Dot said.
Rache told her she was fine, that everything was fine.
They got tired of waiting for the cab, so they got up and
strolled along the sidewalk. Trash lay on the curb, McDonaldís bags,
and broken beer cans, a pack of crumpled cigarettes. A loud truck
zoomed by and the driver honked its horn. The sun was hot, but the
air was still a little chilly. Small clouds wandered overhead.
They walked along the edge of the Bay, streetlights glowing down,
sunrise peeking up. Birds were singing over the drum of the distant
train that came through town at the same time every morning. Dot
took the wallets from her purse and counted all the money, about a
hundred dollars, and she gave Rachel half. Dot handed Lenís wallet
to Rache and took Dougís credit cards and tossed them in the water,
one by one, but all they did was float. Dot looked at the pictures
in Dougís wallet, one of him and his pretty brunette wife, and she
crumpled it and tossed it overhand just like a baseball.
"Look at this," Rache said. She handed Dot a picture of a young
girl in a purple swimsuit sitting on a swing. There were four
snapshots, each with different poses. "Thatís odd," Rache said. She
put the pictures in her purse, and then removed the photos from last
night and filtered through them, one by one.
"I wonder if heíll come back," Rache said.
"He never will," Dot said, tossing Dougís wallet in the water,
watching it splash slightly as it sunk.
"Heís going to need his wallet," Rache said. She studied the
picture of her on her knees in front of Doug. She handed it to Dot.
Dot stared at it, looking at Racheís face. Dot almost started
crying. She took Racheís pictures and threw them in the water. She
watched them as they turned with the small wind that made the water
"I guess that was pretty awful," Rache said.
"Are you kidding? It was horrible. A nightmare," Dot said. "Letís
not do that again."
She remembered how they used to dare each other to jump into the
Bay, how theyíd feed the seagulls tiny breadcrumbs, letting the
birds get so close they pecked the girlsí bare feet. Now Dot stared
at the falling moonís reflection on the water, and she thought she
saw a figure, like a girl, floating on the bay, moving in a quiet
motion with the gentle chilling waves. It was Rachel, it was just
the way she pictured things ending up, Rache floating in the Bay,
shining in the watery light.
They sat on a bench and rested, watching a small boat slither by,
sending a slight wave in the water. A bird landed on a wooden stump,
perching its beak upward, turning its petite head at a slender
angle. Then it spread its wings and flew away.
"I know why Grandpa loves you more," Rache said. "Youíve always
been the brave one."
"Thatís not true," Dot said. She heard a splash coming from the
water, a fish jumping like the jack-in-the-box they had when they
were kids. "Remember that time we went fishing in the lake? And you
and Grandpa did the breast stroke? Racing across while I stayed in
the boat? I was scared to death. And then you won, so he bought you
extra ice cream. I was so upset. I hated going fishing." She looked
at her sister. The air was getting hot.
Rache put her arm around Dot, feeling her lean arms, feeling the
strength in all their smallness. She said, "We are so alike."
Kim Chinquee's work has appeared in Noon, Denver
Quarterly, Conjunctions, Fiction, Notre Dame Review, The
Pushcart anthology, and several other venues. She teaches
creative writing at Central Michigan University.