Diane inhaled deeply, emptied her lungs slowly, a tenuous calm settling over her. She had known that the surgery to separate her fiancé Gary from his conjoined twin brother Jerry would be risky, but the doctor's assurances had propelled them this far. Now she was just seconds away from learning what kind of future she and Gary might have.
"Give me the good news first," she said.
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"Thank God." Diane's tensed muscles relaxed. "So what's the bad news?"
"Well," Dr. Benway began, "we had a bit of a complication during the procedure. We couldn't separate them in exactly the way we had planned."
"What do you mean?"
"From the outside, they were joined at the hip. Internally, of course, their bones and organs were convoluted in more complex ways. We thought we had everything charted out well with the x-rays and MRI, but once we got in there, things weren't exactly the way we though they were. In the end, we weren't able to divide them, well, evenly."
"I don't understand," Diane asked. "Are you saying that one of them has, like, both spleens or something?"
"In order to make the surgery successful, we had to —" Dr. Benway looked left and right, then lowered his voice, "— we had to give Gary both penises."
Diane stared into the empty space to the left of the surgeon. The elevator dinged open and a janitor pushed his cart onto the floor. A nurse filled a paper cup with fresh coffee and then sat in front of the computer at the nurses' station. A balloon-laden family crossed from the stairway to a patient's room across the hall.
"Sooo . . . " Diane looked into Dr. Benway's blue, embarrassed eyes. "So what's the bad news?"