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Deja Vue

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The old red brick Victorian house at 134 Hillside Avenue in Meadville was much like any other turn of the century home in western Pennsylvania.  The former Kalamaras family home was now in a state of decline.  Marge Kalamaras, a single mother, had once raised her twin sons, Mike and Jesse, in the modest home.  Identical twins, Mike and Jesse were almost impossible to tell apart.  Only Marge could reliably tell the two boys apart whenever the twins were together.  Well, mothers are like that.  But for most other people, the twins were almost always impossible to distinguish from each other.  Both young men were the same height, same weight, same eye color, same voice and both had the same hair style.  So it was easy to understand why people could not tell them apart.  And this led to many tricks and pranks by the twins over the years.

When Jesse finally got married in 1985, he could not resist a wedding prank.  Pastor Mitchell was incensed when the guests at the wedding erupted in laughter when the couple knelled at the altar for his blessing.  Unbeknownst to the good pastor was the fact that everyone had just seen Jesse’s message to the gathered crowd.  The “I’m Mike” message taped to the soles of his shoes was just the kind of prank that people in Meadville expected from the twins.  Mike Kalamaras just grinned as the people around him howled at Jesse’s joke.

Jesse and Ann Kalamaras moved to Chicago shortly after their wedding so that Jesse could work for a large regional bank located there.  Life was good for the young Kalamaras couple and soon they adjusted to the new city.  A son and daughter added to domestic tranquility as Jesse rose to a managerial position at Greater Chicago Financial Corporation.

By contrast, life was not so kind for Mike Kalamaras.  A confirmed bachelor, he stayed in Meadville where he worked a series of menial, dead end jobs.  Bad acquaintances eventually led Mike into a series of mistakes, petty crimes and finally, a felony arrest for drug trafficking.  By 1992, Mike was incarcerated and serving 25 years for heroin distribution.

The twins had grown apart physically but remained close even though Mike was in jail.  Brother would not judge or condemn brother for choices the other made.  And often, Jesse would comment to Ann that he could “feel” that something must be wrong with Mike and he would call to check on his brother. More often than not, Jesse’s feelings would be confirmed when he checked on his brother.  But Ann never gave the occurrences much thought.  Life was too busy for the couple.

It was the fall of 1998 when Jesse and Ann decided to install a generator at their cabin on a small lake outside Chicago.  The cabin had primitive, unreliable electricity from old lines running into the property.  Frequent electrical outages made the cabin impractical for cold weather use.  His hope was to make the cabin more of a year round retreat, an escape from the pressures of work, with the installation of a generator to replace the aging electrical lines.

 

 

Jesse had thought the cabin electrical supply had been turned off as he started to work on the generator hookup.  But that was an oversight on his part.  A high voltage surge dropped Jesse to the ground with large black electrical scars on his skin which ran up and down his right arm.  Ann screamed and tried to revive him but to no avail.  A frantic call to 911 followed and the EMTs from a local town rushed to the cabin in an effort to revive the middle aged man.

 

Jesse Kalamaras arrived at Calhoun Memorial Hospital at 3:35 PM in a state of cardiac arrest.  The EMTs had tried to revive him but had been unsuccessful on the ride to the hospital.  He was immediately transferred to one of the Calhoun emergency rooms where aggressive electrical shocks from defibrillators where administered in an attempt to revive the man.

Dr. Charles McKnight declared Jesse dead at 4:45 PM and left the ER to notify Ann that nothing more could be done.  While trying to explain the death of her husband to the hysterical woman, Dr. McKnight was interrupted by an ER nurse who reported that Jesse Kalamaras had achieved weak but significant cardiac function and shallow breathing shortly after the doctor had left the room.  McKnight bolted back to the ER, followed by Ann Kalamaras who refused to leave when asked to make room for the medical assistants.  Instead, Ann stayed, constantly holding Jesse’s right hand and stroking his arm.  An arm that looked far less damaged than before.  But Ann made no notice of this.  She had been praying for a miracle and perhaps one had finally come.

 

 

In the Meadville Correctional Facility in western Pennsylvania, Mike Kalamaras was exercising in the open yard of the prison.  It was approximately 3:35 PM when he felt the shock.  The pain was excruciating and Mike doubled over immediately.  The prison guards reacted immediately and called for medical help immediately when possible cardiac arrest was observed.  The medical staff tried to revive Prisoner #EN87-963457 but without luck. External EMTs transported Mike Kalamaras to the Meadville Community Hospital where aggressive defibrillation and CPR were used in an attempt to revive the man.  The ER doctor on duty at the hospital declared Mike Kalamaras dead at 4:45 PM.  A note was made of the black charred skin on Mike Kalamaras’s right arm in the hospital notes which were passed on the prison. Subsequent investigations at the Meadville Correctional Facility failed to explain the skin damage and discoloration reported back to the facility.

 

Epilogue

The visits on September 27th of each year to the St. Luke Cemetery in Meadville, PA were trips that Jesse Kalamaras maintained vigilantly over the years.  Ann never fully understood while Jesse was continually compelled to make these annual pilgrimages but she never would stand in the way.  In fact, Jesse couldn’t completely explain why he continued to go.  It was just something that he was compelled to do.

The grave was modest, a simple headstone next to his mother’s grave. “Here lies Michael C. Kalamaras.  Friend and brother.”  To Jesse, this said all that needed to be said.  He knew deep down that Michael had always been there for him.  And he was convinced, as only twin brothers can be, that Michael was now at peace with himself.

 

The End

 

Author’s Bio: Tom Schmidt is a Chemical Engineer working in medical diagnostics in upstate New York.  He enjoys creative writing and has been published on www.short-story.me, www.fatherstars.com, www.short-humour.org.uk, and overmydeadbody.com in the past.  Tom can be reached at tschmidt_stories@yahoo.com.

 

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