The Eleventh Commandment

By Jeffrey Michael Kauffman

© 2006

As the child of a minister, I am uniquely qualified to know that the only commandment worth obeying is the little-known eleventh: Thou shalt not get caught. Certainly sitting through thirty years of my father’s trite and humorless sermons taught me the first ten commandments were nothing to worry about: both my parents had adhered to that vaunted decalogue, forgive the pun, religiously, and there were no two more wretched people on the face of the earth, unless one included my twin brother, Rupert.

I’m not sure how early in my life I realized that, though Rupert and I were cut from the same genetic cloth, there were vast differences between us. While I was ostensibly a well behaved, intellectual youth, Rupert was constantly in increasingly worse trouble, culminating in several arrests for petty theft, drug dealing, and even assault.

What really irked me, however, was my parents’ undying devotion to their prodigal twin, while I, the child who caused them no concern (literally), was relegated to a supporting role of consoling and posting bail. No matter how errant Rupert became, he could ultimately do no wrong in my parents’ eyes. “He’s battling Satan,” my father would intone gravely, and I would have to suppress a laugh. My mother would sigh and tell me, “You simply can’t understand someone of Rupert’s complexity.” Again stifled laughter. These kinds of comments were de rigueur during the formative years of my childhood.

I do remember quite vividly in our teens when Rupert and I both became involved with our first girlfriends. In typical fashion, my parents adored Rupert’s pony-tailed twit, fawning over her every monosyllabic squeal of glee, while they simultaneously decried the fact that I dared even bring my sweetheart home for a short visit.

No reason was ever given for this lifetime of insulting injustices, and I ultimately gave up wondering why, though I quietly seethed with a desperate fury that I had been treated so badly for so long.

It was when Rupert and I were in our early twenties that my frustration and resentment began to gel into a concrete plan, but it was not until Rupert began dating his eventual wife, Amanda, that the concrete was poured into fittings.

From the first time I saw Amanda, I knew I must make her mine: her grace, her haughty laugh, the way she flung her long golden hair around her shoulders, haunted my dreams and consumed my waking hours. And after all, considering Rupert’s and my similarities, Amanda could have all she had with Rupert with none of his liabilities, if I could simply present my case to her.

Matters came to a head shortly after my parents renovated the two bungalows on their church property and allowed Rupert and me to move into them. Of course Rupert and Amanda were given the nicer, larger bungalow, which my parents had newly carpeted and furnished. Rupert was as usual on probation and not working, while I had always been gainfully employed at my own business sculpting small fertility idols of the Goddess which sold amazingly well on the internet (causing, as might be expected, great consternation to my mother and father), so my parents left it to me to finish the much smaller second bungalow at my own expense. “You can afford it,” my mother sneered disgustedly, as if it were intuitively obvious to anyone. “Rupert can’t.”

One beautiful afternoon which I shall never forget, I looked out of my kitchen window to see Amanda next door hanging laundry on the backyard line, and I knew this was the moment I had waited for.

You can imagine my surprise when Amanda, instead of recoiling in horror at the suggestion of an affair, responded quickly and, shall we say, aggressively in a positive manner. Our moments of passion in those early days are times I shall never forget: trysts in the bungalows, behind the chapel, in the chapel, on the altar—need I say more? As our affection grew, so did our dissatisfaction with the rest of my family. It was obvious my parents and brother were holding us back from our destiny to be together. With them out of the way, I would be sole inheritor of an estate that, while not huge, was certainly large enough to provide for both of us for many years to come.

It was really quite easy to arrange the murder of Reverend Raymond and Mrs. Lydia Pyke, and to frame Rupert for that murder. On a glorious Sunday afternoon when my brother lay in one of his drug induced comas, I simply appropriated his stash of barbiturates and mixed them into my parents’ traditional Sunday evening sherry (which I had prepared for them dutifully every week since I had been 12). After they were unconscious, it was a quick and relatively tidy task to asphyxiate these hideous monsters with plastic bags tied over their heads (being very careful not to leave fingerprints).

My parents’ bodies were “discovered” by me early Monday morning. Amanda and I tearfully told the investigating officer that we had both feared Rupert might eventually snap and do something like this someday, considering his spotted history.

In court, as I placed my hand on the Bible and repeated the oath, I bit my lip to keep from laughing at the thought of swearing to a God who obviously was a figment of the collective unconscious: if there had ever been a God, no doubt my father’s monotonous droning had long ago sent Him to an early, and well-deserved, grave.

Since Amanda and I, according to our own testimony, had spent all Sunday afternoon with each other doing yard work (so to speak), and had actually seen Rupert enter my parents’ home late in the afternoon carrying a vial of tablets and two baggies, conviction was a foregone conclusion. When I tearfully admitted that Rupert had been the one to prepare their Sunday evening sherry for all these years, and his own defense attorneys, in a desperate last minute attempt to present an insanity defense, seized on that as a sign of his own “dissociative” behavior (since Rupert quite agitatedly screamed that it had been me, of course), there was no doubt that Rupert’s goose was, as they say, cooked.

As I look back now on the events of the last few months, from my vantage on the wraparound porch of the larger bungalow which Amanda and I now discreetly share, I must admit everything has turned out just the way I planned.

The above handwritten document was found in the personal effects of Ms. Rosalind Pyke, twin sister of Rupert Pyke, and daughter of Reverend and Mrs. Raymond Pyke, after Ms. Pyke was murdered by Amanda Harris Pyke, who has since been convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Rupert Pyke was paroled from the State Mental Institution, where he had been committed after his conviction.