I got arrested for impersonation of a doppelganger. I was sure it would get sorted. A clear case of mistaken identity. One of those things we’d laugh about later. It was scary when these things happen.
I bawled like a pensioner with bags under my eyes and grey skin from eating the worst the world could offer in diluted sugar form. Depression had worn a doughnut-sized hole in me. And I’d this bad cough like a comet’s tale. Other people could identify me by it. That’s when I decided I’d like to be somebody else. I wasn’t worth anything being myself. And I’d hoped that being somebody’s somebody else, squared, I’d somehow seed a better future for myself.
But no, I was brought before the beak the next day. The judge wasn’t your typical rheumy-eyed fellow with a fistful of new pennies in his mouth. Rather he was burly youngster, the kind that works out. Very polite. He was in a hurry, pronounced me guilty before the charge was read out.
‘I’m afraid I got mixed up with the wrong Calvinist kind of crowd,’ was all I could offer in terms of pleading. As we know the road to hell is predestined with good intentions. Frankly, I wasn’t very good at being a doppelganger’s doppelganger and that’s how I got caught. If I’d been better nobody would have noticed me. Well, nobody much, other than the doppelganger that was not a doppelganger, or was. I sometimes mixed myself up.
As we all know the person haunted by a doppelganger is meant as a kind of precursor, some howling life change that it sure to follow. Doppelgangers train there whole unlife so they don’t get caught out at that key moment, nipping out to the toilet, picking their nose, or farting loudly. No real intelligence required, just a verisimilitude and I wasn’t working so I took up the job offer of doppelganger’s doppelganger. You might have seen it advertised in The Sun, the kind of rag if you’re intelligent you wouldn’t read.
It was immediately apparent I was too intelligent for the job. I was to trail after, spook a young man that carried his dog’s ashes in a silver pot dangling from a string of leather around his neck, as he set off, guitar in hand to woo his girlfriend.
Tanya was regal in her imposture. So stunning in ugliness she was exotic. Her hair was piled up like a plastic tiara painted mock pink and then painted red again. She smiled as she shook my hand, mistaking me for her beau, but finding me irresistible in the way she found him all too resistible.
In the delicate matter of sex she was like Chairman Mao. It was immediately apparent she would not woo. But in a monosyllabic exchange of fluids some would call kissing, I would do.
A more serious challenge was what to do next. She made no sign that she wished me to remove my appendage, but dog-tooth man had begun warming up in the street below. You know the song he was crooning, yes, that one, that makes you want to rent a room and hide from humanity.
Well, plenty of time to think and read, not the Sun, exactly, but an undercover coverer of Sun surrogates that trusted its readers not to read it but look at the pictures and check out their horoscope on pages nineteen and twenty. The doppelganger was an Aries. I was serious Cancer. That was a bad start. But we’d create something together that would surprise each of us in our own sweet way.
It was a new dimension living my life by what the stars told me. And it was all so simple, you could just phone them. I did have questions, Wilfred Owen’s Futility, At home whispering of fields unsown, but the kind old sun will know. What did he mean by that? The kind old sun could now be contacted by landline at a special inclusive rate. I was tempted. But I was working, I had to show up and do the hours of authentic, inauthenticity. It’s a very powerful thing freeing yourself from yourself and finding that someone else is more of an arsehole than you, but the hours are better and you get paid for it (minimum wage, gig economy).
The truth was there was no truth and I didn’t deserve anything other than a zero-hour contract. One tramps from place to place, hoping not to be discovered and yet undoing the work of the universe at a quantum level.
I plead guilty your honour because I am innocent of nothing but another’s conceit.