by Phillip Temples
Dirty Shirley Temple
Janice and Wilbur Nottingham were twins conjoined at the pelvis. They shared a home in Newcastle upon Tyne. They were also best friends and literally inseparable.
Many might think that the idea of going through life stuck with one’s sibling would be insufferable and a living hell, but Janice and Wilbur took it in stride. They were mostly simpatico and shared a positive outlook on life. Occasionally, if some petty argument arose or cross words were said, the two would talk it out and forgive one another, or just agree to disagree. They rarely stayed mad at each other for any period of time. They had no other choice—that is, until the day the doctors in London contacted them and proposed that they undergo a complicated surgical procedure and be separated.
When he was first told about the procedure, Wilbur found the prospect of living apart intriguing. There wasn’t a chance to enjoy a normal sex life whilst stuck at the hip with his sister. Privacy was not an option. The two had long resigned themselves to living a celibate life, given that they both found the idea of polyamorous relationships to be blasphemous.
After heartfelt discussion, Janice and Wilbur decided to explore the separation procedure. The surgery would not be without its risks, explained the doctors. They would be admitted to hospital and their anatomy would be thoroughly studied to ensure that the connective tissue that bound them as one could be safely separated.
The first day in hospital involved numerous tests. The head surgeon came to their room that evening to have a frank discussion with the siblings.
“The good news is, the procedure is possible. There are the risks. But we find that no major organs or blood vessels will be compromised by the separation. There is something else I need to discuss with you, however.”
There was a hint of excitement in the doctor’s voice that he could not quite suppress.
“Your condition is even more rare than we thought. In addition to your conjoining, you also have an asymmetrical, or unequal conjoined ‘triplet.’ It’s quite extraordinary, actually! It’s… um, rather, ‘she’—is a small mass that comprises the bulk of the connective tissue. Surely both of you must have felt the unusual mass at one time or another? Your unborn sibling is not visible to the naked eye but we can see it readily using MRI.
“Oftentimes these unequal conjoined siblings are reabsorbed by the host—or hosts. In fact, there’s indications that this absorption has been taking place for many years. If left undisturbed, the process will likely continue.”
Wilbur and Janice were speechless.
“Look, I know this is a lot to take in. I’m going to give you time to discuss this with each other.”
The surgeon left the room.
“Well, this changes nothing. We should go ahead with the surgery,” opined Wilbur.
Upon hearing Wilbur, Janice could barely contain her anger.
“What kind of monster are you?! This changes everything. We’re not going forward with the operation. You heard the doctor. Our ‘sister’ is the glue that holds us together. I will not have her sacrificed for your convenience.”
“But she was never alive, Janice! You can’t possibly think—”
“And another thing, brother—you stop absorbing her this very instant!”
Janice was now adamantly opposed to the operation, while Wilbur strenuously denied that he was absorbing their little sister. They were at an impasse. Also, they were no longer on speaking terms.
The two (and-a-half) siblings checked out of the hospital later that day and returned to Newcastle upon Tyne. Two weeks later, Wilbur stabbed Janice in the heart with a steak knife.