The Bradshaw Twins, Part 1
By Viktoria Pavlova & Nevin Mays
Oliver Bradshaw turns his twin brother Alaric’s life upside down when he exposes a scandal at Alaric’s firm. Can the two men find common ground? Part 1 of 2.
Chapter I: Oliver
The Beatrice Gazette, November 2020, Volume 5
RIDGECO. CEO CAUGHT EMBEZZLING
By Oliver Bradshaw
CEO Edward Fox, of the booming multi-billion dollar company RidgeCo., has been caught stealing money that belongs to the company. Inside sources at RidgeCo. claim to have witnessed Fox leaving the office with more than he should have. RidgeCo. is worth $4 billion as of last year, and with Fox retiring by the end of this year, could he be preparing for pension? It is estimated that Fox has taken a total of $500,000 over the past five months and it’s unknown how much more prior to that. He doesn’t appear to be planning on stopping any time soon. He boasts constantly about how enthralled he is with the company, but is it the company he really likes or is it the money bags behind them? During a recent television interview with Anna Monroe, Fox beamed at how proud he was of all of the employees and all of the hard work they’ve done.
The average UNPAID intern at RidgeCo. works about 13 hours a week, and for all that overtime, Fox is taking the money that he could be paying them. Next in line for CEO, Alaric Bradshaw, chose not to comment on these accusations. A spokesperson for the company claimed these allegations are nothing but rumors and people trying to demolish Fox’s character; however, we see Fox making purchases for things even out of his price range. Former employee Sarah Conroy says that she earned minimum wage when she was promised $21 per hour. Sarah is a single mother of two, who worked at least eight hours overtime every week in the year she worked there, and was never paid for those extra hours either. For a man who seems so fond of his employees, he didn’t mind taking their money and overworking them. Fox is sitting on extra millions that do NOT belong to him: The industrial era ended centuries ago, stop denying your employees the money they deserve.
What’s New in Beatrice
Jody Jackson, 9, wins 1st place for biggest pig at the county fair at 270lbs! … page 2
Oscar’s Diner celebrates 50 years … page 3
Chapter II: Alaric
“You have to post a retraction, Oliver. Fox is looking for heads and I’m standing closest to his ax arm.”
The voice at the other end of the call chuckled lightly. God, was that actually mirth? Alaric set his phone down on his desk and took deep belly-expanding breaths in and out while he looked down at midtown traffic nearly 30 stories below. Up here in his corner office with a city view, it was as quiet as the isolated home he grew up in. He usually enjoyed the quiet after noisy, crowded morning commutes. Just now, though, the quiet filled his ears and his lungs and he wasn’t sure if there was room left to bring oxygen in with each breath. Finally, he heard a small voice coming from his iPhone speaker.
He picked it back up. “I’m still here,” he said as he sank into his desk chair, putting the city view to his back once again.
“Look,” his brother said from his far-away vantage point. “The story is true. Your boss is stealing. I can’t retract it. Too many people are being hurt by that guy. I know you, Alaric. I know you’re not okay with that.”
Alaric’s jaw was starting to hurt. He took another deep breath, this time letting it out through his open mouth, directly into the mic of his phone. He was always good at making his feelings known nonverbally. Ever since birth, as their mom liked to remind them—often.
“I don’t know that, and besides, we can’t all be idealistic. Some of us have to support the family.”
The tense silence seemed to pull the walls closer to the desk he sat behind. “Oli—I’m—I didn’t mean…”
“I know,” Oliver said. “You don’t have to apologize. I’m not the one who feels guilty about my contributions to our parents’ lives. I’m here, Alaric. And the truth is, they don’t need your money. They’ve been through tough times and survived. They always will. But they’d sure be happier if they could just see your face. That’s all they need. To hug you.”
Alaric’s desk phone rang then. His shoulders jerked up toward his ears and he consciously drew them back down on a long exhale.
“I have to take this call, Oliver. But we’re not done talking about this.” Alaric hung up on his twin brother and set his iPhone face down. He didn’t need the family photo he used as his wallpaper judging him while he took this call.
He picked up the desk phone mid-ring and brought it to his ear. A voice was already booming down the line.
“Alaric, have you fixed this bad press problem yet? It’s all over the internet already. Get that simpering brother of yours to retract.”
The muscles around his left eye twitched at the description of his twin brother. “Mr. Fox, I promise I’m working on it.” He squeezed the bridge of his nose. “It would help if I could just share key account details with him and the rest of the press. Prove there are no secret accounts and all money is feeding into the proper corporate line items.”
“You’ve been my right-hand guy for a decade, Alaric. You know we don’t share any data with the public. And you also know I would not do what Mr. Bradshaw accused me of.”
It was strange hearing his own name spat with such contempt from the voice of his longtime boss and mentor. It made him pause, needing the moment to shake the feeling that he was back in Beatrice, Nebraska, answering for another of his brother’s pranks or misjudged crusades. In that pause, he could hear a woman in the background on his boss’s end of the line.
“Listen, Alaric,” Mr. Fox said, “I’ve got a call with sales. Let’s meet in the morning for a more positive update.” He hung up.
Alaric gently set the headset in the cradle. He counted breaths: one, two, three. Then he curled his fingers into fists on top of his desk, raised them, and then slammed them into the top of the desk, letting out a deep, frustrated grunt.
“Fine, Oliver. You want to see my face. I’ll bring it to you. Just don’t be surprised if it’s not as pleasant as you expect.”
He pulled up the company’s travel agency page and booked his first flight home in eight years.
Chapter III: Oliver
The booming reactions and new-found audience from my article on Mr. Fox had my boss and I very pleased. As I grabbed the ink for the printer, ready to print out my latest expose about designer Rachel Cory using third-party sellers, I heard the door chime. With a smirk, I turned around, already knowing who was at the door simply by how aggressively it was opened.
“Hello brother, long time no see,” I said as I watched the stuck-up version of myself glare at me.
“Oliver, I’m in no mood for your jokes. You wanted me to come here, I’m here. That article could cost me my job,” Alaric spat. An unnerving look was cast upon his face, as if he was restraining himself.
I put the ink in the printer and slowly pushed the buttons, watching my brother’s face get more red by the second. We had always enjoyed pushing each other’s buttons.
I cut him off, putting my index finger in front of his face, signaling for him to wait. He pushed my hand down and pushed “print” on the printer before grabbing me by the shoulders.
“Oliver, do not ignore me. Why would you write that article?”
“Why would you let your boss steal money from your company?”
He pushed off my shoulders and sighed. “It’s a lot more complicated than that Oli, it really is. Why would you publish that without telling me, without even warning me?”
Alaric’s jaw went taut and his fists were clenched. It was easy to see the way he was struggling to compose himself and his thoughts, and any urge to irk Alaric was expelled from my body. As much as I was bothered by his utter ignorance and lack of empathy, he was my twin, and I would walk to the ends of the earth for him.
“You’re right, I’ll admit that I should’ve called you. I’m sorry. But I won’t apologize for writing that article. Now Fox is actually being investigated!” I said as I compiled the papers that came out of the printer.
“Me too, Oliver! Did you ever think of that, huh? Your manifesto for righteousness is going to get me fired, and all of my employees are going to be left to suffer!” Alaric threw his hands up.
“They’re already suffering, Alaric.” I moved toward the door and held it open. “Please leave.” I gritted my teeth and clenched my fingers around the door knob.
Alaric huffed and walked out. He stopped for a moment and opened his mouth, but closed it, and pressed his lips together before storming out of the office.
I pulled out my phone and checked the time: 7:48 pm.
Damn, that means it was 1:48 am in Cameroon.
I found Jace’s contact and hit ‘dial’ anyway; I really needed to talk to someone right now. My face was heated, and my hands shook as I played with my black ring band.
“Hey Oli,” a raspy voice said through the speakers.
“Hey handsome. Sorry, I know you’re asleep.”
“I was … meaning that I’m not anymore. What’s up? You don’t sound like the bubbly, energetic guy I know.”
“Alaric showed up at the office.” There was silence on the other end of the phone. “He basically ripped me to shreds for writing that article, then told me I’ll be the cause of his ‘great downfall’,” I said, my venomous tone obvious.
“Babe, I read that article and if I didn’t know any better, I’d have a hard time believing you two were actually brothers,” Jace replied, and I could hear him stifling a yawn through the phone.
“He’s an egotistical jerk letting his poor employees suffer. He cares about no one but himself, Jace. I had to write the truth.”
“You know he doesn’t only care about himself. He cares for you immeasurably. What about when you came out? Remember? You told me you wouldn’t have made it through that without him.”
Of course I remembered. It was one of the most terrifying, yet clarifying and invigorating moments of my life. Alaric and I were sixteen when I had realized that I liked someone—a boy. I had been working up the courage to tell Alaric about it for a week before I was able to actually do it.
I closed my hand around the necklace that I wore under my t-shirt every day. A stainless steel, vertical bar, hung from a silver chain with rainbow jewels going down it. Alaric bought it for me the Christmas that I came out to him; it was his way of saying that he loves and accepts me, regardless of who I chose to love. I let myself reminisce in that vivid memory, as if it had happened yesterday.
To Be Continued in The Bradshaw Twins: Part 2
We decided to create identical twin brothers whose lives are very different, who don’t always agree, but in the end always support each other. We each selected a brother, then wrote chapters that alternated between the men’s points of view. Viktoria got us started with the initial newspaper article that created a rift for these two brothers, and she created the original plot outline as well. Although we wrote our chapters independently, we did edits and revisions cooperatively to ensure the whole novella would be cohesive.
Viktoria Pavlova is a lively aspiring author. Born and raised in New York, Viktoria is first generation, coming from a Russian family. She is an aspiring psychiatrist and writer who has been writing fiction for eight years. She lives at home with her inspiring and eccentric parents, grandma and golden retriever.
Nevin Mays is a children's book addict, dog editor and chocolate cuddler… and sometimes makes embarrassing malapropisms! She has worked in-house in audiobooks, ebooks and novelty books, and as a freelancer editor helping authors create and publish picture books, chapter books, and novels for kids and teens. In her free time she enjoys volleyball, Japanese yosakoi dance and tug of war with her dog—he pulls toward home and she encourages him to "walk just a little bit further, please!"