The night the McGuire sisters were born, Mr. McGuire entered the Green River church, got down on his knees and thanked the Good Lord above for his generous blessing. On more than one occasion since, Mr. McGuire had stated over a cool beer at Henry’s that the Lord's generosity would someday put him in an early grave.
Madeline and Maura McGuire were not just twins, they were identical twins. Timing was the only difference that stood between the girls with Madeline being born two-and-one-half minutes before her sister, which Madeline insisted made her more grown-up and sophisticated.
Being spitting images, the girls found it great fun to play tricks on town folk by switching identities. Even their parents had difficulty at times telling their daughters apart. But as the young ladies matured and gave up baby dolls for beaus, having individuality in the eyes of young men became more important. It was noted during this time of transition to womanhood that Mr. McGuire’s telling tales of blessings and early graves stepped up in frequency at Henry’s.
The sisters remedied the awkward confusion by wearing engraved lockets of identification. Now a young man needed only downward cast eyes to read the girl’s name while admiring her blossoming landscape.
Shortly before the McGuire twins’ ingenuity with their signature accessories came about, the Lancer boys stepped off a stagecoach and began the journey from strangers to brothers. Word spread quickly at the Green River dress shop regarding the arrival of Murdoch Lancer’s handsome sons, making them prime targets for Madeline and Maura’s attentive adoration at social gatherings.
Fun but flighty kindly summed up Scott’s first impression regarding the McGuire twins. He found their personalities not so different from some of the young debutants he’d socialized with in the past. Scott had to admit, distinguishing the difference between the girls presented a maddening challenge, so he simply relied upon the proper etiquette greeting of Miss McGuire. Problem solved.
Johnny’s opinion was more direct.
Those two little chirpin’ magpies are amusin’ but I’ll be damned if I can tell one from the other. Not that it matters all that much when a fella stops and thinks about it.
And it was Johnny who, at the Annual Green River Town Hall Dance, discovered the girls’ eventual fix for any beau’s befuddlement.
Scott, I have the McGuire twins all figured out. Each girl’s wearin’ a locket with her name on it so a fella can tell ‘em apart. You have to look close to read the name and well, a man’s eyes just naturally drift down. And my brother, that view has certainly improved since the first time we saw the McGuire twins.
As time passed, Scott grew fond of the two young ladies and their adventurous spirit, but never considered either sister for a more serious relationship. Luckily, with regards to commitments, the twins’ attitudes concurred.
Kinsey, on the other hand, viewed the McGuires’ behaviors less as adventurous and more brazen and insolent, which Scott found rather funny considering Murdoch used those same words whenever butting heads with the auburn-haired, independent-thinking little Aussie. Kinsey ultimately shortened her description of Madeline and Maura to simply hussies. It saved time when dismissing the twins from any discussion regarding the young ladies.
Finding that reprimanding his cousin for her unfair judgment regarding the twins had little effect, Scott chose well-placed teasing to get his point across - the latest being that Seth Westcott’s best man would look quite dashing with McGuire bookends.
“...the Little Minnow from Sacramento. I figure she’ll be on your arm.”
“Yes. Yes, she will be.” Johnny’s reference to Emily Browning re-engaged Scott’s concentration back to the current conversation. “And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call her a little minnow when you’re introduced.”
“Goes without sayin’, big brother.”
An eyebrow raised at the grin sitting in a chair. “Right.” Chances were goes without sayin’ would need clarification more than once before Emily’s arrival. “I must admit, I pictured the Guadalupe Baker improving your dance step at Kinsey’s wedding. What was her name?” Scott snapped his fingers to come up with an answer that had already landed on the tip of his tongue. “I believe it was… Miss Lopez.”
“Leticia.” Mirroring Scott’s relaxed seating, Johnny crossed ankle to knee. “Yeah. She packed up her bags.” His eyes drifted to the window-framed, moonlit hills which had captured Murdoch’s attention earlier. “Val said he saw the girl climbin’ on board the stage with a well-dressed blackleg headin’ for San Francisco.” Johnny’s skewwiff smirk spoke of a past memory before the devil tickled its corners. “Guess that fella’s horno was more to her likin’.” A downed swig of scotch added an exclamation point to the humorously cynical conclusion.
Scott offered an understanding nod of the head, uncertain if his brother’s last comment reflected thoughts on Leticia or perhaps someone else.
“So tell me, you think Half-pint would get her bloomers in a bunch if I brought along the McGuire sisters considerin’ we’re talkin’ about an extra plate at the table?”
Pondering Johnny’s query, a fictional figure of reckoning surfaced from Scott’s childhood.
Oh, how Winnie relished in spinning the tale of the poor bastard with a pious angel sitting on his one shoulder while Lucifer planted his ass on the other, each whispering their own advice in the man’s ears. Every re-telling of the story would be a loose translation which strayed to certain degrees from the original text depending on the good or bad choices Scott had made. However, the moral always held true: Make the right Christian decision for the good of all mankind or burn in hell. Later in life, Scott thought it rather ironic that a woman who claimed penny dreadfuls rotted a young boy’s brain could describe an eternity in Hades so vividly.
So here Scott sat with his brother’s question hanging in the air. Calculating the number of champagne glasses needed would be the last of Kinsey’s concerns when learning both McGuires might be present: the catalyst for a tantrum of epic proportions from the bride-to-be. Sound guidance suggested avoidance of such a situation.
However, selfish revenge whispered in Scott’s ear of a relaxing hot bath sanctuary being reduced to sitting in a lukewarm water-filled tub for an unwanted and unnecessary discussion with the same young lady.
Scott sighed and finished his drink in one gulp. The thing to do presented itself quite clearly.
“Brother, I believe nothing would make Freckles happier on her wedding day than seeing you do a two-step with the McGuire twins.”