White Shape

A man with a luxurious mane of long, swept-back blonde hair sits on a tan suede couch underneath a school portrait of a smiling ten year old boy that hangs between original paintings by Jasper Johns and Vija Celmins: “John and Jeremy Lappin were twins, identical in almost every single way except for the fact that John had poor eyesight (a lenticular astigmatism) and Jeremy had asthma (the intermittent type). When Jeremy was ten years old the asthma claimed his life, suddenly, much to the shock of not only Jeremy’s parents and brother, but the entire 4th Grade class at Paul Revere Elementary, where both John and Jeremy attended school. For years John had trouble processing the loss of his twin and remained genuinely tight-lipped about the experience, never asking for sympathy or engaging in public displays of grief, although in private he had indulged in some epic paroxysms of rage which left his room a disaster zone. After a few years lost in a haze of adolescent self-pity, John eventually righted himself, received an MBA from a second-tier university located in Southern California, and got a job working in the Pacific Rim financial and banking industry. It was through his job as a Market Analyst that John met another man who told John that years earlier he had also attended Paul Revere Elementary. The two met for lunch, and it was over Cobb Salads that the man, who had a luxurious mane of long, swept-back blonde hair, expressed to John that the death of Jeremy was one of the seminal experiences of his childhood. He spoke about where he was when he heard, from his mother, that Jeremy had passed (in the bathtub), and how for years he had a framed picture of Jeremy hanging on the wall next to his bed, and that the picture was still in his possession, albeit in a storage unit he kept in the City of Industry. John listened to the man and did not react to anything he said, which the man silently determined to be a lingering symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but which was anything but, as John had been born feeling nonplussed, with the death of his twin – and subsequent aftermath – being the only thing that had the ability to occasionally shake him up. John and the man said good-bye to each other, shook hands, and promised to talk soon about the financial opportunity that had brought them into contact with each other in the first place. As soon as John got back to work he began doing intensive research on the man, whom he had no memory of going to school with and whose name rang no bells, and it was through his contacts in the State Department that John was able to determine that the man had not attended Paul Revere Elementary, as he had been born and raised in Canada, where he went to an experimental school for children founded and run by a psychiatrist with ties to Dr. Ewen Cameron, the controversial Scottish-born psychiatrist involved in the Central Intelligence Agency’s MKULTRA mind control program, who worked in Montreal at McGill University around the same time the man was a child. John decided to keep this information to himself. When the man called to set up another lunch meeting, John said yes. Like before, they both ate Cobb Salads and John listened as the man talked more about Jeremy and the impact Jeremy’s death had on him as a person. However, this time John did not sit there impassively. This time, while the man spoke, John smiled and nodded his head. He wanted the man to know that he understood, but why he wanted the man to know that he understood was something John could not understand.”