Everyone in the courtroom gasped. “Boyd? What kind of fucking name is that?” Bruce cried.
“Totally redneck,” Jessica assured him.
“Who the fuck is that?” Elizabeth said.
The courtroom burst into chaos as the doors opened and a man who looked just like Bruce was escorted to the witness stand by two police officers. As he took his seat, he and Bruce caught eyes, and Jessica could practically feel the hatred radiating from Bruce.
She glanced back at Lila, who was on the edge of her seat, Marshall slumped behind her. Todd and Ken were still holding onto each other, their eyes wide. Even Winston had put down his iPhone and was now watching the proceedings with interest, his mouth dropped open. But worst of all was Alice Wakefield, who looked as if she were about to faint. Jessica wasn’t sure why her mother looked so awful, but it was clear she knew what was coming next.
The judge banged his gavel and called for order in the court.
“I’m just going to call you Boyd, if that’s all right,” Ned said, approaching the witness stand.
“Fine,” Boyd said, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Boyd, would you mind telling me a little bit about your family background?” Ned asked. “About your parents, for instance?”
Boyd smirked. “You seem to have all the answers,” he shot back. “You tell me.”
“All right,” Ned said, taking a deep breath. “You were adopted as an infant, correct?”
“Yeah,” Boyd said. “So what?”
“Boyd, have you ever met your birth parents?” Ned asked.
“Yeah,” Boyd said.
“And could you tell the members of the jury the names of your birth parents?” Ned said.
“Sure,” Boyd replied. “Hank Patman and Alice Robertson, I mean, Wakefield.”
“What?!” Jessica, Elizabeth and Bruce screeched at the same time.
“Everybody calm the fuck down!” the judge thundered, loudly banging his gavel. “We all know Hank and Alice were getting it on back in the day.”
“But that’s my mom!” Jessica cried. “She never would have done anything as trashy as have a baby out of wedlock!”
The judge raised an eyebrow in Jessica’s direction. “You had to have gotten it from somewhere, young lady,” he said.
Elizabeth nodded and put a sympathetic arm around her twin.
“It’s true,” Alice said, standing up from her seat near the back of the courtroom. She lowered her eyes to the ground. “I’m not proud of it.”
“Yeah, I’m not real thrilled about it, either,” Ned said, eyeing his wife before turning back around to face Boyd. “So, Boyd, since you’re a Patman, it stands to reason you’d be a date rapist, right?”
“Yeah, I’m into that sort of thing,” Boyd replied. “So what?”
“So what?” Bruce exploded, standing up. “So I almost got put in jail because you can’t keep it in your pants!”
“Hey, calm down,” Boyd said, throwing his hands up in the air. “It’s not like you haven’t dabbled in date rape, from what I hear.”
“Yeah, but I outgrew all that by the end of high school, like most normal guys do,” Bruce shot back. “I can see you didn’t.”
“Yeah, well, I’m pretty messed up!” Boyd yelled.
“Sit down, Mr. Patman,” the judge said loudly, once again banging his gavel in Bruce’s direction. Bruce reluctantly took his seat.
“This is way worse than finding out I had a cousinbro,” Bruce muttered under his breath. “Way worse.”
“Boyd, what kind of car do you drive?” Ned asked.
“A 1983 black Porsche,” Boyd responded.
“I see,” Ned said. “Just like Bruce’s car?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Boyd said.
“And what is your license plate?” Ned asked.
“2BRUCE2,” Boyd said. “1BRUCE1 was already taken.”
“And why would you have a license plate that didn’t have your own name in it?” Ned said. “Why not 1BOYD1 or 2BOYD2?”
“First of all, I think we’ve established that Boyd is a stupid fucking name,” Boyd said. “And I had an elaborate plan to kill Bruce and steal his identity.”
“Seriously?” Jessica said loudly. “I hate to tell you, but that’s already been done. Twice.”
“Kill me?” Bruce said, shuddering. “Not cool, bro.”
“Why did you want to steal Bruce’s identity?” Ned asked Boyd.
“I don’t know,” Boyd answered. “It just seemed like a cool thing to do at the time.”
“Wow,” Jessica whispered to Elizabeth. “This is some fucked up shit.”
“I know,” Elizabeth whispered back. “But I told you Bruce wasn’t the Sweet Valley date rapist!”
“The jury hasn’t made a decision yet,” Jessica said grimly. “There’s still time for this all to go to shit.”
“So, Boyd, are you or are you not the Sweet Valley date rapist?” Ned asked, placing his hands on the divider in front of Boyd.
“I guess,” Boyd said, relaxing back in his seat. “So what?”
Everyone gasped. The judge banged his gavel furiously, trying to get everyone to calm down, but it was no use. Alice had fainted and slumped off her seat, landing in the aisle; Enid, who had once again been released from jail because of overcrowding, was screaming hysterically, her hair and eyes wild; Lila had jumped to her feet, throwing Marshall onto the floor and was looking at Boyd with a mixture of lust and awe; and Winston had jumped over the wall that separated the courtroom from the audience, snatched Boyd off of the witness stand and began punching him in the face, all the while screaming “Where’s Maria, you fucktard?”
“Oh my god, it’s a fucking riot!” Elizabeth screamed, grabbing her head with her hands. “We need to get out of here!”
“Wait — it’s just starting to get good,” Jessica said, pushing her twin back into her seat.
The bailiff finally restrained Winston, but not before he had bloodied Boyd’s nose and given him a rapidly swelling black eye. Winston panted and strained against the bailiff’s hold, his plastic eyeglasses knocked sideways on his face. A small cut on his right cheek dripped blood right into his ironic beard.
“Wow, who knew Winston could be so … passionate?” Jessica asked.
“He must really love Maria,” Elizabeth observed.
After a few minutes, things had settled down, but there was still a palpable electricity running through the courtroom.
“Mr. Patman — Bruce, that is — you are free to go,” the judge said.
Bruce jumped up from the table and shook Ned’s hand. Elizabeth, too, jumped up and ran to meet Bruce. She gave him a huge hug.
“Calm down, Elizabeth,” he said, backing away. “We’re not dating or anything.”
“I know,” Elizabeth said, “but we’re BFFs. And fuck buddies.”
Bruce rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he grumbled, enveloping Elizabeth in a hug and trying to ignore the tears that had sprung up in her eyes.
“As usual, things worked out just great for us!” Jessica exclaimed, slathering suntan oil all over her lithe body and settling back into her reclining chair. She turned her face up toward the sun’s rays, feeling them baking the top layer of her already suntanned skin. “Can you believe it?”
“Actually, I can,” Elizabeth said, opening her paperback book and removing her bookmark. She set the bookmark on the table next to her chair. The twins were sitting out by the Sweet Valley Heights pool and enjoying the last of the late afternoon sun. “Hey, look, there’s Enid!”
Elizabeth waved to her friend. Enid gave a tentative wave back as she ascended the steps to her condo, Brandi and Nevaeh in tow.
“Oh yay,” Jessica said in a bored tone. “What a crackie.”
“Now, Jessica, that’s not very nice,” Elizabeth admonished her twin. “You know Enid has enrolled in that court-ordered rehab program. They’ve even given her back her kids, as long as she agrees to stay in rehab.”
Jessica snorted. “They were better off with Amy Sutton,” she said. “Everybody knows that.”
“Speaking of Amy Sutton, did you hear she’s receiving a special prize from Mayor Santelli for her investigative reporting on the Sweet Valley date rapist case?” Elizabeth asked earnestly.
“What’s the special prize? His dick?” Jessica asked.
“Jessica!” Elizabeth said, shocked.
“Oh my god, I really hope you don’t start crying right now,” Jessica said. “I really don’t think I could handle that.”
“No, I’m not going to start crying,” Elizabeth responded. “I do have my limits, you know.”
“Well, at least one of us does,” Jessica said. “All I’m saying is that Mayor Santelli is a bit of a perv. And after all these years of working at the Unicorn Club, I should know.”