Football begins to carve two distinct physiques as well. Devaughn starts jacking up monster weights and wolfing down monster bowls of frosted cereal to become the monster linebacker. Devard remains the whippet, uncannily strong but 30 pounds lighter than Devaughn by the time they graduate from high school.
At first their classmates find it strange that the twins talk funny and don't curse. Soon they too find themselves saying rawp instead of rap, and ting'um instead of thing and golleeee! or shoots! or, in a very wicked adjectival moment, freakin'. In the beginning they find it odd that the twins won't smoke or drink but will, at the mere loss of a football game, start sniffling, then dabbing an eye, then...weeping. By the ninth grade all their teammates are weepers too. Initially they find it hokey that the twins, at Mummy's urging, hang posters on their bedroom walls with a list of yearly football and scholastic goals beneath a Bible verse, but then the members of the G.C. Fam—the nickname for the twins' circle of friends that formed at Garcia Middle School—begin to hang them on their bedroom walls as well. Everyone wants to want something as dearly as the Darlings do.
Mummy gets a job taking care of a multiple sclerosis sufferer by day and a stroke victim by night, kissing the twins goodbye each Sunday night and not returning home until Thursday. No ma at home, no pa at home—guess what those two teen anarchists stay up half the night doing? Lying in bed clutching the cushion footballs Mummy bought them, hatching their blood-brothers pact: They'll both major in sports medicine at one of America's elite football colleges, then become the first identical twins from the Bahamas ever to play in the NFL, then buy matching black Lamborghini Diablos and houses a few doors apart, then start a youth football program in their homeland and make sure that Mummy never works another day in her life. They set the alarm clock for 7 a.m. in the dead of summer to make it all come true.
To the weight room. To the track. To the football field. To the VCR, combing their performances for flaws so many times it makes their friends groan. At a voluntary workout on a chilly morning during the Christmas holidays, nobody on the track team shows up—except coach Dennis Brantley, Devard and Devaughn. Unheard-of drive, says the twins' pal Reggie Berry. The highest integrity and character you can imagine—a coach's dream, says their football coach, Tom Stuart. I didn't know people could be like that, says their buddy Godwin Nyan.
Every teenager around them is burning so much psychic energy searching for his other, for the mirror in which to find his own identity. The twins were born possessing that, freeing them to funnel all their fuel into the engine of their dreams. Their grades? Up: 3.8 for Devard when he graduates, 3.5 for Devaughn. Their bench presses? Up: 305 for Devaughn, 275 for Devard. Their times in the 100 meters? Down: 10.31 for Devard, 10.50 for Devaughn. When the two co-captains of the football and track teams, the two humblest, fastest, strongest and damn near smartest kids at Austin-Fort Bend High, are out of earshot, the rest of the G.C. Fam says, "Man, their life's too perfect. Something bad gotta happen."
But how could it? Devaughn wouldn't allow it. Have you ever had someone grasp both your hands and begin jumping and screaming, telling you how much he believed in you and how quickly he'd be there if ever you got in trouble? Until you started jumping and screaming and believing too?
Devard did. Maybe that was where he'd find his missing half-soul, in the high school locker room where they jumped and hollered face mask-to-face mask before every game, or on the field where they fought three years of autumn wars together. He wandered back and stared. All the spirit they'd spilled here couldn't just evaporate...could it?
No, look, there goes Devaughn! Hitting that wall of flesh against Elkins High, spinning away somehow for that 65-yard run. Cramping up from playing both ways in the Texas heat, hobbling off and then back on to flatten blockers and quarterbacks in a single burst that ends in Devard's waiting arms as the crowd roars and recruiters from Kansas and Kansas State and Arizona and Purdue and Texas A&M and Auburn and Michigan State and Tennessee and Syracuse and Florida State rise to their feet, each awaiting a pair of nods.
Devard will choose their college. Devaughn insists on it, knowing that he can maul and maim anywhere but that his twin—an All-District jet mostly stranded on the tarmac in a landlubbing offense—needs to find a coach and a quarterback who believe in bombs away.