Home > Jimmy & Jamie (short story, 2004)
Jimmy and Jamie was first published in the Spring 2005 edition of / Magazine.
Here's a PDF version that you can download, print, and read on your train journey home if you so desire.
If you'd rather read it here, then, please, go ahead...
Jimmy and Jamie
If you were to watch Jimmy Nye go about his days, you'd think he lived a fairly ordinary life. He would moan in his head when the bus was late, he'd fiddle with paperclips and stare out of the office window. Most days he ate slight variations of the pasta recipe he learnt when he was in his early twenties, and when he felt the urge he'd type in the user name and password which allowed him to look at small Windows Media Player films of Thai girls rubbing themselves.
He was there at meetings, lunches and the occasional party, but few people really noticed him. His friends were friends he made at school, and even they never invited him to dinner; he just met them in the pub now and again when the football was on the big screen. His only real friend was his brother Jamie, but no-one else knew about him. Jamie, you see, lived inside Jimmy's belly.
Jimmy had known something was going on in his stomach for most of his life, but it was never painful, so he'd not visited the doctor about it. Recently though, he'd become more and more aware that the thing inside him was trying to communicate with him.
Jamie knew he was inside his brother. He'd worked that out a long time ago. He would try to make his brother realise that he was there, but for a long time there was no reaction. One day, Jamie worked out that if he ran really fast, he'd bounce off the stomach wall and this would cause Jimmy to make a noise and rub his tummy. Jamie took to this task, knowing that it was his big chance to let Jimmy know he was there. Every day, he'd run at the wall over and over again until he could run no more. Then he'd sleep, wake up and begin his task again. Of course, for a while Jimmy just thought it was a stomach ache. This caused problems for Jamie too; those horrible fizzy tablets that Jimmy ate when his belly felt bad made him feel really quite woozy.
For a week or so the pains continued for Jimmy until one day he noticed there was a bruise on his stomach. A bruise that looked kind of gingerbread man-shaped. Jimmy thought this was just one of those things, like seeing a brontosaurus-shaped cloud or Bono's face in the carpet pattern. That night, he dreamt of a gingerbread man living inside his belly. He woke with a start, but could still hear a tiny voice shouting, "I'm in here! I'm in your belly!"
Jimmy scratched his chest and muttered, "H-h-hello? Is there anybody there?"
"In here! In your belly!" shouted Jamie.
The brothers spent the next days getting to know each other. Jamie learned that Jimmy liked eating Snickers, watching Marilyn Monroe films, reading biographies, and Sue who works over by the photocopier, next to that cheese plant and who wears Christian Dior's Poison which makes Jimmy light-headed. Jimmy learned that his brother liked jelly beans and ice cream, but hates coffee.
"What's it like in my belly?" asked Jimmy.
"Well, it's a bit sticky, to be honest, but I've made it quite homely over the years," said Jamie. "I've woven together some strands of spaghetti to make a little shelter to protect me when you go out drinking. And I made a sleeping bag out of some chewing gum you swallowed a few years ago."
"Really? That's a-amazing," said Jimmy, his mind wandering back to the day he accidentally swallowed the gum when his boss, whom he thought had already gone home, suddenly appeared at his shoulder while he was doing a little after hours research into certain entertainment industries in south east Asia.
"What do you look like?" asked Jamie.
"Well, erm, I've got dark short hair - side parting - a slight tan and a pencil thin moustache," said Jimmy. Jamie closed his eyes tight and tried to form a mental image of his brother. Standing there, in front of his mind's eye, was Zorro.
"And what do you look like, Jamie?" said Jimmy.
"Pretty pale and thin, frankly," said Jamie, "It's no picnic down here, brother."
Jimmy and Jamie soon became the best of friends. Only one thing could make their friendship greater, and that was for them to be able to see each other.
One lazy Sunday afternoon, Jimmy had rested some headphones on his tummy as he lay in bed reading so that his brother could listen to Eminem's new album, when Jamie suddenly had an idea: If Jimmy got drunk, he might vomit and Jamie would come flying out too.
Jimmy went to the shop and bought some whiskey. He hated whiskey, and figured it was his best chance to induce vomiting. He drank a tumbler full in one big gulp. His eyes watered, he spluttered and inside his belly Jamie was legless. Jimmy ran to the bathroom, lent into the shower cabin and wretched. Plenty of stuff came out, but no brother. Jimmy puked several times that night, but Jamie didn't come up.
Jimmy too had an idea of how they could meet properly. He sat down at his desk and drew a simple diagram - like an Ikea instruction leaflet - folded it up really small then swallowed it. Jamie studied the diagram carefully. He liked it.
They agreed the operation should begin in the morning, so they both went to sleep earlier that night, and both dreamt strange but pleasant dreams: Jimmy dreamt of gingerbread man-sized Thai girls writhing around naked on his belly, Jamie dreamt of huge six feet tall jelly beans.
When the alarm clock went off in the morning both Jimmy and Jimmy sat bolt upright. This was a problem for Jamie, as Jimmy's bolt uprighting had already thrown him around a bit, so his own bolt uprighting threw him through a somersault onto his arse.
They got straight to work. First, Jimmy swallowed some short lengths of cotton thread, then some raw spaghetti. This was rather difficult to do, but his teenage fascination with sword swallowers on TV had prepared him more than he realised.
Jamie placed two strands of spaghetti against the stomach wall then began to break the other spaghetti into short lengths and tie them across the upright spaghetti with the thread. Whilst Jamie was busy building his escape ladder, Jimmy was tying knots into a piece of string, because the spaghetti ladder could only take Jamie so far.
Jamie climbed the ladder and waited for his brother to swallow the knotted string. He was so excited. He stood there with a giddy feeling in his chest wondering how his brother would look, if they looked alike, and what the world outside of the stomach was like. Soon enough, Jamie was using all his might to climb up the string. He was getting very tired by now, so Jimmy helped by slowly pulling on the string.
Jamie saw his world disappearing behind him. His dark red fleshy sticky world was becoming brighter. The higher he rose, the brighter things got. At the top of the throat, Jamie let go of the string and stepped onto his brother's tongue. When Jimmy felt the tiny footstep, he opened his mouth, put the heel of his hand against his bottom lip and opened his palm. Jamie stepped out of the mouth and onto his brother's hand. He turned around, looked up, and met the eyes of his twin brother.
"Jimmy, my big brother!" said Jamie.
"Jamie!" said Jimmy. "How do you feel?"
"Tired, but it's great to finally put a face to the stomach!"
They both laughed heartily, (although Jimmy thought his brother's laugh was more a wheeze).
As Jimmy gently dried Jamie with a handkerchief he studied him intently. He knew the feeling he felt for his brother as love, but he wasn't prepared for how disgusting he looked. His body was thin and wiry, his bones were visible like those of a whippet. His skin was off-white and clammy, and his hair was sparse and lank.
Jamie looked back at Jimmy in silent contemplation. He saw a chubby balding man with a wispy moustache and a shirt stained under the arms and strained at the buttons; Jimmy looked nothing like Zorro.
When Jamie was dry and clean, Jimmy took the camouflage clothes off his old G.I. Joe and carefully dressed his brother.
"They're a bit big," said Jimmy. "But they'll keep you warm."
"Thanks, Jimmy," replied Jamie.
"You should get some sleep."
Jimmy took Jamie over into the bedroom and put him on the bed. Jamie plumped the pillow as best he could with his tiny fists, lay down his head and drifted off to sleep.
Jimmy sat down on the edge of the bed and watched his brother for a while. Jamie started snoring and twitching like a dog dreaming of chasing a cat. Jimmy rubbed his eyes, took off his clothes, lay down next to his brother, and made a mental note to buy some ear plugs.