Charley looked over at him. "About how much you and Jesse have in common."Jesse said, "Why don't you tell it, Bob; if you remember."Bob inched forward in his chair. "Well, if you'll pardon my saying so, it is interesting, the many ways you and I overlap and whatnot. You begin with my daddy, J.T. Ford. J stands for James! And T is Thomas, meaning 'twin.' Your daddy was a pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church; my daddy was part-time pastor of a church at Excelsior Springs. You're the youngest of the three James boys; I'm the youngest of the five Ford boys. You had twins as sons, I had twins as sisters. Frank is four and a half years older than you, which incidentally is the difference between Charley and me, the two outlaws in the Ford clan. Between us is another brother, Wilbur here (with six letters in his name); between Frank and you was a brother, Robert, also with six letters. Robert died in infancy, as most everyone knows, and he was named after your father, Robert, who was remembered by your brother's first-born, another Robert. Robert, of course, is my Christian name. My uncle, Robert Austin Ford, has a son named Jesse James Ford. You have blue eyes; I have blue eyes. You're five feet eight inches tall; I'm five feet eight inches tall. We're both hot-tempered and impulsive and devil-may-care. Smith and Wesson is our preferred make of revolver. There's the same number of letters and syllables in our names; I mean, Jesse James and Robert Ford. Oh me, I must've had a list as long as your nightshirt when I was twelve, but I lost some curiosities over the years.
For the man was canny, he was intuitive, he anticipated everything. He continually looked over his shoulders, he looked into the background with mirrors, he locked his sleeping room at night, he could pick out a whisper in the wind, he could register the slightest added value a man put into his words, he could probably read the faltering and perfidy in Bob's face. He once numbered the spades on a playing card that skittered across the street a city block away; he licked his daughter's cut finger and there wasn't even a scar the next day; he wrestled with his son and the two Fords at once one afternoon and rarely even tilted - it was like grappling with a tree. When Jesse predicted rain, it rained; when he encouraged plants, they grew; when he scorned animals, they retreated; whomever he wanted to stir, he astonished.
So it went. Bob was increasingly cynical, leery, uneasy; Jesse was increasingly cavalier, merry, moody, fey, unpredictable. If his gross anatomy suggested a strong smith in his twenties, his actual physical constitution was that of a man who was incrementally dying. He was sick with rheums and aches and lung congestions, he tilted against chairs and counters and walls, in cold weather he limped with a cane. He coughed incessantly when lying down, his clever mind was often in conflict, insomnia stained his eye sockets like soot, he seemed in a state of mourning. He counteracted the smell of neglected teeth with licorice and candies, he browned his graying hair with dye, he camouflaged his depressions and derangements with masquerades of extreme cordiality, courtesy, and good will toward others.