• Belinda Lane


September 24, 2021

Chapter Eight–The Two Who Are One

Written by: J. Anthony Spencer

Streets of cobblestones would be what you noticed first. On the major streets, they interlaced those cobblestones with ribbons of steel tracks followed overhead by an interlacing web coursing with electrical energy. This is the turn of the century Baltimore. The year is 1903 and its population had reached over half a million. Its major demographics were White, African American, and a large German contingency. Johns Hopkins Hospital had been around for 14 years and was on its way to being one of the most well known in the nation. Stepping from the hospital and walking out onto Broadway is a tall, lean gentleman dressed in a brown jacket and trousers with a slightly lighter colored vest. He has on a black derby hat and a matching black bowtie for his white shirt. He clutches a brown bag as a mother passes with two children. They look at him oddly, as he seems to have a conversation with himself. He presents a light smile and makes his way to the next corner to await a streetcar heading west.

Almost into downtown, he catches another streetcar heading north, and as it is his way, he exits the carriage some five blocks from his home. Moving at a brisk pace, he gets to the intersection of 21st and Maryland Avenue. Rising from a crouched position is an African American man looking to be in his late 40s. A well-dressed Caucasian with a handlebar mustache stands and pays him before leaving. He turns and, seeing the man walking towards him, smiles slightly “Mr. George?” “Yes Stan, it’s me, and I asked you to just call me George.” Stan looks left and right before answering. “I appreciate you treat me as a friend, but it’s only you, especially in this neighborhood. Few treat me the way you do.” “Mark 12:31, The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Is George’s response. “Shine, Mr. George?” Asks Stan. “Not, Today Mr. Stanley Bell. You deserve to be a mister too. I have some things I have to get home and do. But we will talk again soon.”

He reaches the building on the corner of Maryland and 25th street and as he walks up the of steps of the red brick home; he waves to a couple walking by. When he has entered, he climbs another set of steps to the third floor. Once there, he puts his key in the lock and opens the door to a spacious apartment. In fact, the entire third floor belongs to him. The unit is modestly furnished but very well laid out and clean. He walks to the dining room table and from the bag he removes a bible and a set of folded papers. After getting a drink of water from the kitchen, he returns, picks up the papers, and opens them. Dissociation with Multiple Personalities is what they were calling it. “Multiple personalities? Isn’t multiple over two?” Strangely, he answers himself in a slightly unique voice. “That is my understanding. But what do they know? That Boston physician was in the newspaper again referring to a young woman named Christine Beauchamp, who he claims has three distinct personalities.” George’s voice answers back saying “I’m glad we aren’t in Boston.” He picks up the bible and walks down the hallway to the bedrooms. Getting to the second bedroom, he inserts a key, opens the door and closes it behind him as he enters.

The following week George is sitting in the office of Dr. Raymond Sand and newcomer Dr. Terrance Branch. Dr. Sand is sitting behind an ornate wooden desk going over George’s medical records. “Mr. George O’Neal, 48. Mr. O’Neal has been referred to this practice by sister Mary O’Neal two years ago. Mr. O’Neal states he shares his body with Matthew, last name unknown or not used. Matthew doesn’t differ from George, especially in faith based interests. Matthew is a little more defensive in certain situations. Unless the two are having a conversation, the differing personalities respect the space and time of the other.” Dr. Sands closes the folder and runs his hand unconsciously through his salt and pepper hair. Dr. Branch, appears to be in his early 30s, immaculate black hair to go with the immaculate suit he was wearing. “Mr. O’Neal, when did your extra personality emerge.” George’s emotion shows more in his eyes than with his body. “Emerge? Matthew has always been here. Even as a child, he has been with me. In fact, he has kept me out of many pratfalls I would have walked into.” Both doctors take notes on this declaration. Suddenly the voice that issues from George changes. Throatier with more base. “George is too modest. He is the smarter out of the two of us. He is the one who nurtured my interest in religion.” Dr. Branch is suddenly and slightly taken aback while Dr. Sands just smiles, having experienced this change in personalities before. “Oh my, I think we startled him.” Says Matthew. “I think we did.” Replies George. Dr. Sand’s smile widens.

The Owl Bar at One East Chase Street had opened earlier in the year in The Belvedere, and it was here that George sat with his sister, Mary. Mary had invited him to dinner, wanting to know how his appointment went with the two doctors earlier that morning. “It went ok. I think Matthew startled Dr. Branch, but 30 minutes later we were all friends.” Mary was two years older and had always known of George’s extra personality but tolerated more than accepted it. But Matthew tolerated Mary as well, choosing not to manifest whenever she was around. “Will you be attending my wedding next month?” asked Mary. “We…. I mean I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Said George. “I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.” says Mary. She looks at the clock and says. “I have to go. Here are this month’s financials that dad wants you to look over.” She slides a large brown envelope about two inches thick across the table. She reaches in her handbag and removes a large sum of bills and puts the amount of the dinner with a tip on the table. “You can pay next time, Georgie. Again, I am so happy you will make the wedding.” George want to tell Mary that Matthew wanted to say Congratulations but stops. So well-tuned is the relationship that George and Matthew share that there is no discussion or apologies that comes between them regarding people’s thoughts on his condition. Because to him it is not a condition. It simply is what it is.

George never marries. Believing in honesty, he is open about his “condition”, but in doing so, the women he dated shunned him. The building that he lives in is owned by his family and in acting as the landlord and also handing financial chores for his father and other business associates, he has amassed a considerable sum without the monthly influx of money from the family. He and Stan maintain a close friendship despite what those around them think. When Stan’s shoeshine stand was destroyed beyond repair by juveniles, George had it rebuilt. Ever a creature of habit, he always locks himself away for hours in the extra bedroom each night before turning in. One of his father’s locations burns down in the 1904 Baltimore downtown fire. They rebuilt it on plans drawn up by George.  In 1917 the U.S. declared war on Germany and at 62, George is very vocal that German Immigrants were still the neighbors they knew. But this fell on deaf ears and though he did not know many of the immigrants, it made him sad the world had come to this.

On a cool autumn day in 1923, Stan is at his shoeshine stand. He doesn’t get many customers these days, so he is a bit surprised when he sees an older White female rushing down the street toward him. Stopping in front of him she asks “Do you know who I am?” George focuses on her face and despite the amount of gray in her hair, he recognizes who she was. “I saw yo picture in Mr. George’s wallet. You his sister.” “Yes.” She answers. “My name is Mary. Have you seen him today?”. “No ma’am. I ain’t seen him for a couple of days. Like me, he doesn’t get around much these days.” Says Stan. “That’s just it. We were to meet for dinner yesterday evening, and he misses no appointment with me.” “You check his place Miss Mary?” “I did, but there is no answer at his door.” She says with tears forming in eyes dulled by age. “Come with me, I need to get in.” Stan protests. “But ma’am, what can I do? I can’t be kicking in no doors. Especially in that neighborhood.” Mary looks at him with a look that is altogether questioning and pleading. “You are his best friend, and I’m willing to bet he has given you a key to his place. Just in case. You are his best friend, aren’t you?” Stan slowly stands. “Yes Miss Mary, I am. Let’s go check on him.”

The older White female and the slightly younger Black man gets looks as they walk to the building. On the third floor, Stan uses a shiny key on a large key chain of duller keys. The door creaks open and Mary rushes in. “George? Georgie?” She tries the first bedroom door, only to find it locked. She and Stan make their way to the master bedroom and slowly open the door. Laying in the bed is George, color drained from his face. “George?” Mary quietly says as she walks and sits on the bed. Stan stands in the door, wringing his cap that he has removed from his head. Suddenly he looks up in surprise, smiles, and then lowers his head. Mary, tears flowing, picks up the phone and calls the police. After hanging up, she picks up a piece of paper after recognizing his handwriting. It says.

“Matthew and I have been seeing two figures around the building for a couple of weeks. They are wearing robes with hoods, so I can’t make out how the faces look. They have this illumination to them and appear non threating. And though I don’t know how I can tell, they remind me of angels. I feel like they are coming for me. I have lived a good life and have no fear of dying. If it is a family member that finds this note, remember, The Good Book is the key. If you are not family, please tell them that.”

Ninety minutes later, the police and morgue workers have removed the body and she and Stan are about to leave when she once again tried the locked door. “I will have to get someone to open or break the door to see what’s behind it.” Stan perks up as if thinking of something. “Ma’am? In the note George said the Good Book is the Key.” “Yes, that is what the note said. But what does it have to do with this door?” Stan smiles “Miss Mary, did you notice that each of the nightstands had a bible on it? Why would two bibles be in the same bedroom?” Mary goes back into the bedroom and picks up the first bible and thumbs through it, nothing. As she thumbs through the second bible, a key falls out into her lap. She looks at Stan in surprise and they both walk to the locked door, insert the key and hear the bolt slide back.

They step into the room. Covering the walls from top to bottom are papers written in a beautiful calligraphy script. “They are scriptures from the bible.” She marvels. On the tables along the wall are neat stacks of the same scripted writings. “I didn’t know George knew calligraphy.” She muses. “Maybe, it was Matthew.” Says Stan. Her head snaps around to chastise Stan but softens when she sees the smile on his face. “Perhaps it was Matthew.” She says, returning the smile. She notices an envelope in a closed glass case. On the front in the same beautiful pen it says. The Last Will and Testament of George O’Neal. She removes and opens it. Without looking up, she says. “Stan, do you live in a modest home?” He thought it was a strange question, but he answers. “Yes ma’am. It’s not much. But we keep it clean and Lord willing I will pay it off in about 5 years.” “No, I don’t think so.” Says Mary. Her response shocks Stan. “Ma’am?” She continues. “Of course, our lawyer will have to look at this. But my brother’s wish was to pay your house off. And I will honor my brother’s wishes. It’s time for us both to go home.” As they leave. Stan locks the door and hands Mary the key.

Four months later, Stan walks into his house, hugs his wife and hands her the deed to the house. She tells him to go into the living room and she will call him when dinner is ready. Stan sits on the sofa and lets his mind drift back to that day in George’s apartment. As he was standing in the door, it surprised him when two glowing figures in white and gold hooded robes appeared at the base of George’s bed. The hoods to each of the robes rested at the shoulders and their faces were clearly visible, and both were of a younger George. They both smile at Stan as they combine into one man. Scripture/Prayer pulls the hood over his head and fades. As he vanishes, there is a whisper in Stan’s ear. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Thank you for joining me for Friday at Sundown. Remember… Just Breathe!

Reference: The History of Baltimore: planning.baltimorecity.gov


(All Stories are original and has Copyrights)

Over the next months, I will be presenting mostly stories only, written by

J Anthony Spencer and myself. Again I appreciate your support (Likes, Share and Comments).

You can also find me on Facebook and Google under fridayatsundown4 and on LinkedIn

Resources Corner:

Psychological Trauma

GirlVictorious: Life After Trauma is a blog geared at helping women lead a meaningful, full, and victorious life after going through trauma.


Domestic Violence

National Domestic Violence Hotline can help victims, survivors of domestic violence. Call 1-800-799-7233. Chat w/an advocate on our website. National Domestic Violence Hotline: www.thehotline.org/

Aid for Military Veterans

In an attempt to cope with the pain of overwhelming emotions, sometimes veterans turn to unhealthy relationships, at-risk behaviors, or substance abuse.

Welcome Home is Celebrate Recovery's (CR) tool to help veterans stuck in hurts, hang-ups, and habits. (These statements are from CR’s Homepage). You are not alone! https://www.welcomehome.celebraterecovery.com

Victorious Living Faith: Not Your Traditional Church - Home https://m.facebook.com/TGS1820/ (Pastor Phillip A. Miller, Sr.)

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