Johnny Lancer was listening closely to his wife Marla giving him a few instructions on how to take care of their twin boys. His brother Scott was over playing with the twins who were both lying in a crib set up in the Great Room.
Scott looked up at his wife Victoria noting her disapproving tone and look. “Yes?”
“Since you are helping Johnny watch the boys while we are gone don’t you think you should be paying attention also?”
Scott looked dismayed. Victoria sounded a bit upset. “Of course, you’re right Victoria.” He said in a conciliatory tone walking over to Johnny and Marla. Marla met Victoria’s eyes and they both giggled.
Victoria took Scott’s arm and pulled him down and kissed him on the cheek. “I was teasing you darling. Just listen to Johnny. He knows what he’s doing.”
Scott grinned and gathered Victoria in to his arms and kissed her soundly. “You little minx, what am I going to do with you?”
Victoria brushed back her auburn hair from her shoulder her green eyes shining. “What you just did works for me.”
Johnny kissed Marla “Keep Jelly with you. Be safe.”
Marla smiled at her husband who had the same dark hair and blue eyes as herself. “We’ll be back before dark Johnny. We just have to get a few things for Christmas next week.”
Johnny walked them out. Teresa was already in the buggy. Johnny helped the women into the buggy, said a few words to Jelly and then waved goodbye to them. When he came in the boys were gone from the crib their blankets piled in the middle. Johnny walked into the Great Room and Scott sat near the fireplace with a boy in each arm.
“Scott, what in the hell did you do?”
“They were fussy so I picked them up. Why?”
“You took their blankets off!”
“So? It’s warm over here by the fire.”
“Which baby had the blue blanket on?”
Scott looked down at the babies and back at Johnny. “I don’t really know. Why do you….Wait a minute. You can tell them apart can’t you?”
“Well I could. Robbie had the blue blanket on.”
“But I don’t remember who had on the blue blanket. Isn’t there any other way you can tell?”
Johnny shook his head mournfully. “I heard Marla talking to Robbie this morning about him having the blue blanket.”
“Well this is ridiculous. Isn’t there a birthmark, a different thickness of the hair…anything?
“No Scott! The blue blanket!
Scott took the babies to the crib and gently laid them down. He studied them for several minutes. “You’re right. I can’t see any difference. How about when they are naked?”
“I don’t think so
They both looked up as Murdoch came in to the room.
“Murdoch can you tell the twins apart?” Scott asked.
Murdoch came over and regarded the boys. “I believe I can with their clothes removed.”
“Fine. They need their diapers changed anyway. “ Johnny said undressing one while Scott undressed the other. Murdoch came over and looked at both boys. Within a few seconds of each other the twins each sent a stream of urine into the air. Murdoch stepped out of the way just in time. Scott was not so lucky even though Johnny tried to pull him aside.
Scott’s mouth dropped open as he looked at the spray on his sleeve. “Did you know they could do that?” Scott asked in an accusing tone holding his arm out with distaste.
“Well I reckon I saw it happen once. I kind of forgot about it though.”
“Well that’s just fine! You could warn a person you know! I’m going up to change.”
Johnny couldn’t help but grin as Scott trudged up the stairs. “Well Murdoch?”
Murdoch was smiling widely as his eldest left. “Sorry son, I can’t really tell anymore.”
Johnny hurriedly diapered them and dressed them and then cleaned up the mess on the floor. “Marla is going be upset with me. I’ve always told her I could tell the boys apart and at first I could but not now. I’ve been going by what she says for a while like this morning she was talking to Robbie as she wrapped him in a blue blanket. Everything was fine until Uncle Scott decided to take the blankets off.”
“You’re blaming me?” Scott said incredulously as he came in from the kitchen wearing a different shirt.
“You did take the blanket off!”
“Well you can’t tell your own children apart!”
“That's because they are twins!”
Murdoch laughed as he began to head for the door.. “Boys you have a 50/50 chance. Now have fun. I have some work to do.”
“I’m sorry Scott.
“I am too Johnny. So which baby gets the blue blanket?”
“Doesn’t matter. When the girls get back I’m taking the blankets off and hoping Marla gives me a hint.”
“That’s a good idea Johnny and very sneaky.”
“Why thank you big brother. Scott? Do you think calling them the wrong name will confuse them?”
“I don’t think…oh hell Johnny…I don’t know anything about babies.”
“I’m going to call them son and you call them baby just to be sure.”
The rest of the afternoon the brothers played with the twins, heated up breast milk and fed them with little spoons. Sam had warned them off any of the feeding vessels of the day as they were hard to clean and often harbored bacteria. The twins had their naps and Johnny taught Scott how to change a diaper. The first Scott thing did was put a towel over the baby’s genitals.
“I’m not taking any chances.”
Johnny laughed and showed him how to put on a diaper. The girls would be home soon and he was a little nervous. Marla would be disappointed if she found out Johnny couldn’t tell his own children apart.
“Maybe you should just come clean Johnny.”
“I can’t do that. I’m going to try to avoid the silent treatment if I can. I hate that, don’t you?”
Scott gave a half laugh. “Victoria could never do that. She gives me a lecture immediately. I usually apologize because she is right 95% of the time. She could never hold it in for days and not speak to me.”
“Well it’s like the Yukon for days when Marla is mad at me so I will take my chances.”
“Okay, I hear the buggy so it’s show time.”
The women came in to the house laughing and talking carry bags. Marla went over and looked at the babies in the crib.
“It’s about time for them to eat again.” Johnny said.
Marla looked quizzically at the discarded blankets in the crib. She turned to look at her husband but he was looking down which usually meant he was hiding something. She had an idea, something she had suspected for a while. She went and put her jacket, hat and purchases away. She sat on the stuffed chair by the fire facing away from the Great Room. She often fed the babies there. Murdoch and Scott respected her privacy.
“Johnny could you please bring me Benjamin and his blanket?” She always fed Benjamin first as he did not have the patience Robert did.
Scott looked at Johnny and shook his head. His brother still had a 50/50 chance. Johnny frowned and picked up the green blanket and a baby and brought it to Marla. It was Benjamin but still Johnny seemed nervous and he looked guilty of something. Marla smiled as she got an idea. “Johnny! This baby is not… “ she began.
Johnny cut her off. “Alright Marla. I’m sorry…I admit it. I can’t tell them apart. I knew Robbie was in the blue blanket and then Scott took them off and I could not tell which was which.”
Scott took stock of Marla’s satisfied smile.
“That is Benjamin isn’t it?” Scott asked quietly.
“Why yes it is Scott.” Marla said sweetly.
Scott gave a hoot of laughter. “I’m sorry Johnny. I’m afraid your wife is more sneaky than you.” Victoria broke in to laughter with her husband.
“I had the right baby all along?” Johnny asked with his mouth open.
“Yes you did Johnny Lancer but it was just luck!”
“Now Honey, I am a lucky man. I’m very lucky you said ‘Yes’ to me. Are you disappointed in me?”
Marla looked at her husband who could be so disarming at times. “Johnny I could never feel disappointed in you. You’re wonderful to me. It is hard to tell them part. I’ll show you after I feed them.”
“Why don’t we give Marla some privacy? Victoria let’s go upstairs and you can show me your purchases.” Scott said lightly.
Victoria looked up at her husband. She knew that look and smiled. “Alright Scott. We’ll see you two in a couple of hours for dinner.”
Johnny nodded and grinned after them. “You know we could take the twins upstairs and we could lay them down after you feed them.”
Marla smiled. “I think that would be nice.”
Johhny went and scooped up Robbie and his blue blanket. “Now how do you tell these little guys apart?
“Well Robert’s little toenail on the right tends to point up instead of straight.” Marla said as they walked up the stairs.
“That’s all you got!?”
Marla giggled. “Well it works for me.”
“How about we give Robert a little haircut in the back?”
“Alright, then everyone could tell them apart. Scott just calls them nephew or baby. That’s a good idea Johnny.”
Johnny gave his wife a kiss as they reached their room. “I have them occasionally.”
Marla smiled at her husband. “Yes you do Johnny, you truly do.”