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"The part of my brain dedicated to involuntary and abstract thoughts wondered what TV show he had starred in…something on SciFi Channel, no doubt."

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13 – Classified

It was a Friday night and I was really looking forward to the evening.  I would be spending the night at the home of Serena and Sean Evans.  Serena was Sam’s much older sister, with whom she now lived.  Sam had a super-sweet set-up in the finished basement of the Evans’ luxury condominium.  Everything was cream and tan, elegant but understated.  It was a walkout to the lake in the middle of the development with huge windows that let in lots of light, and a really nice view of the water.  It didn’t look like the lair of an underworld Goth creature at all.  I liked it, especially with the fireplace going, all warm and inviting.

We were going to watch the three Bourne Identity movies in sequence.  I had seen parts of the first installment on cable, a long time ago, but now we would see all three, including the two movies I’d never seen, in a marathon. 

I never told Samantha this, but one of the reasons I was interested in watching the show was because the actor who played the main character looked very much like someone I used to know.  Although in truth, the real life person I knew was more handsome than the hero of the story, at least in my opinion.   I had seen this actor in a couple of other things, but in this show his unfailingly calm demeanor during disasters and the ticked off way he looked most of the time was eerily familiar to me.  It was like watching someone I know get trashed and do some trashing in return.  I knew it was silly, but it made feel slightly anxious, and yet still drawn to watching it.  And then one of the bad guys, played by another actor that I liked, had also been in another series that I loved, The Lord of the Rings.  So it was enjoyable watching him as well, though weird to see him being bad and Russian, instead of being heroic and Rohiran.

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What turned out to be not so enjoyable, for me at least, was the realization that I was being far too expressive in my reactions to the stressful scenes that kept rolling past.  To my chagrin I noticed that Trevor was watching me more than he was watching the TV and that was terribly embarrassing.  When we took a bathroom and snack break between the first and second movies, I planned to set up a new position on the floor, directly in front of Sam, with my back pressing against the couch.  That way they could have the space on top of the couch to themselves.  And then I wouldn’t be subjected to being able to see Trevor laughing at me.  Not that it would stop, just that I wouldn’t have to pretend not to notice.  

Trevor’s presence in my life was a double-edged sword.  I was flattered and pleased to be the unlikely recipient of his attention, even if most of the time it was uncomfortable for me.  But he made my dear friend happy—happier than I’d ever seen her—so he was a hero in my estimation, no matter how he made me feel personally.  And with the exception of his observation antics this evening, it seemed like he had backed down on the teasing somewhat, especially since our sledding episode where he thought his teasing had made me psychotic.  Every once in a while being crazy did have its advantages.  I’d rather be happy than crazy, though.  Just like I’d rather be clean than hungry, I guess.

During our break Sam got a call from her mom, who was re-married and living in Hawaii on a resort with her new husband, the resort owner, whom Sam did not get along with.  Conversations with her mom sometimes became unpleasant to overhear, so I went upstairs to investigate a more appealing prospect, the promising smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.  Since they weren’t quite ready, I took the opportunity to visit with Sam’s perpetually good-natured older sister, Serena, and her daughter, Kailee, an adorable toddler who looked like a mini-me of her mother.  I commented on that while I was sitting on the floor with Kailee, who was demonstrating for me the features and benefits of her antique ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ doll.

Serena was sitting on the floor in front of a coffee table.  She had an elaborate setup of beads and jewelry making paraphernalia spread across the top.  It seemed like a bold move or an invitation for disaster with Kailee so close, but apparently they had worked that out between themselves.  As she maneuvered a bead onto a metal string she replied, “You know who she really looks like is her Aunt Sammie…don’t you Kay-Kay?” 

I couldn’t be sure of that because Kailee wasn’t dressed in the Goth style at the moment.  Serena rose and went over to the bookshelf to retrieve something.  She made a show of sneaking over to look down the stairs before coming back to where we were on the floor.  She opened up what I could see now was a photo album and turned to a page near the front.  It was a portrait of Kailee…from the early 90’s, according to the gold inscription in the corner of the photo. 

Wow. 

The resemblance to Sam at the same age was uncanny.  Was Kailee a clone?  Serena got the reaction she was looking for from me and smiled hugely with satisfaction. 

“See?  Sam Junior, huh?”

“Wow.  That’s amazing.  Is that weird for you?  I mean, you remember when Sam was a baby, right?” I asked.

“Yes and yes.  But it’s nice, too.  It feels like home, in a way.  I thought my parents had Sam just for me…she was my baby…still is.” 

She turned pensive as she looked at the pictures with me. 

“I was born at the beginning of their relationship, and she was born at the end,” she said with a sigh.

I continued turning the pages slowly, eager to soak up historical images of my friend.  She looked so different…so natural.  The Suns were beautiful people, and well off, apparently.  There were pictures of the girls playing in the driveway with a Porsche and palm trees in the background and what looked like a mansion for a house in the background of other shots.   There were pictures of them with either one or the other parent atop the Eiffel Tower (the real one in Paris, not the replica at King’s Island) and with Cinderella at Disneyland, and Shamu at Seaworld. 

Their mom looked just like them, except her skin was darker.  Their dad was dark haired, but of a much fairer complexion.  The four of them were never in any pictures together, though, and that gave everything a sad undertone.

  As I turned the pages and took in the fascinating collection of images documenting my friend’s past, I came across a section that I had to scrutinize very carefully, because at first I thought it might be some kind of photo-shop joke. 

It looked like Sam might have been eleven or twelve, and she was smiling beautifully holding three bouquets while surrounded by three identical boys.  Significantly, this was not a portrait from a studio, or a print-off from the computer—it was the carefully clipped cover of a celebrity magazine!

‘Me Three’ was a program that I had watched faithfully when I was eleven or twelve.  It came on at seven o’clock on weeknights.  It was my favorite show on my favorite network, ‘Nickelodeon’. 

Each week over the next few years millions of other tweens and I had tuned in to watch the crazy hijinx of identical triplets pretending to be identical twins, so that someone could always have the day off.  All three boys had a crush on the same beautiful girl next door…Kristy Kramer, played by Sarah Sun, or Sarah Samantha Sun, according to her birth announcement in the front of the album.

That explained a lot. 

Serena smiled big at the shock and awe playing across my face.  That was definitely the response she was hoping for.  Then she got down to explanations.

“Our dad’s a television producer.  He got her that job.  Turned out to be a blessing and a curse,” she explained, as she looked at the gossip magazine cutouts with me.

“After the show got cancelled she came to live with me.  The glamorous life is harder than it looks, I think.  You never know who your real friends are.  She’s so much happier here,” she said looking down at me with a beautiful but tired smile.

She was still on guard for the approach of my two companions downstairs.  Apparently I was being leaked some highly classified information. 

There were four or five pages dedicated to ‘Me Three’ memorabilia, including some photos of Sam with various famous personalities when she had been a presenter at the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards.  It was weird because I remembered watching that. 

Huh.  

To my deep gratification, the last page to be completed was a collage of Sam and me in our various exploits over the last few months, including a self-portrait of the two of us in Goth inside the handicapped stall at Tinsel Town.

This important new data was cool, but it didn’t change how I felt about Sam.  I couldn’t love her any more than I already did.  But it explained the whole obscuring herself thing.  She just wanted privacy, and being in Goth was how she achieved it, allowing her to hide in plain sight.  Plus it was a very good way to weed out true friends from false.  As far as that went, I put up with Trevor; she’d never have a truer friend than me.

Suddenly the album was gone and I was looking at the carpet instead.  Serena snapped it up and hurried to replace it back on the shelf.  I quickly jumped into a game of tickle monster with Kailee and Serena moved into the kitchen area to answer the call of the oven timer. 

Trevor and Sam emerged from the lower level hand in hand and made their way over to the floor where Sam Junior and I were still having an epoch battle of clash of the ticklers. 

Kailee’s demeanor changed immediately.  It was funny to me that even though Trevor and Sam were basically the same in their scary looks, the toddler regarded them each very differently.  She was terrified of Trevor and kept trying to pull Sam away, as though she was worried for her aunt’s safety, and could do something about it.  Or maybe she was just jealous—I knew how she felt. 

Trevor didn’t seem offended, but was amused, like me.  I’m sure he knew just how frightening he was and didn’t need someone thirty inches tall to confirm it.   The part of my brain dedicated to involuntary and abstract thoughts wondered what TV show he had starred in…something on SciFi Channel, no doubt.

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