Suggested Audio Candy:
Tangerine Dream “Phaedra”
There’s no easy way to say this so I’m just going to blurt it out. I just killed a man. What I am about to divulge must remain between only us and I am banking on your discretion as loose trestles have been known to sink vessels and this cannot be allowed to go any further. Think of it as our dirty little secret and I trust you will not judge me on my actions, whether or not you can empathize. You see, I’m no villain. Granted, ten minutes ago, I engaged in something fairly heinous, but it wasn’t a calculated move on my part and neither is it something I’m looking to repeat in the foreseeable. The problem is that I have a body to dispose of and this is where you come in. Fret not as I’m not looking to implicate you; although I understand that I am doing so simply by divulging this. But I don’t know where else to turn right now. Hopefully we can get our heads together and find a solution that doesn’t entail a lifetime getting soundly buggered in the shower room.. I wouldn’t last five minutes behind bars and have no great desire to end up in one such institution. However, the fact remains that I have blood on my hands, and no court of law in the world is likely to overlook this particular misdemeanor.
Anyhoots, I guess I should start by coming clean. Funnily enough, when I woke up this morning, my first consideration wasn’t to snuff out a life and I’m still reeling that things have panned out that way. I never thought myself capable of murder and would never have entertained such a preposterous notion before now. It started like any other day and continued that way until around lunchtime. That is when I heard the knock at the door and my entire life was about to be thrown into utter disarray, unbeknownst to me. I had half a mind to ignore this disruption of the peace and wish that this half that had been in control of my decision-making process. However, curiosity got the better of me, and I answered the door in my normal sheepish manner. So you can imagine my alarm when I was greeted my none other than myself. This was no simple likeness, my visitor was an absolute dead ringer, and seemed far less shocked than I to come face to face with his mirror image. Here, I shall elaborate on how things played out.
“I know right? Your face speaks a thousand words right now and none of them would be repeatable in a nursery”
“Speechless? Can’t say I’m altogether surprised”
“I must’ve taken a knock to the head”
“Nope. No knocks. You can pinch yourself if you wish”
Needless to say, this was my next move. Alas, no numbness whatsoever.
“It’s a bit of a head scratcher I know”
“You could say that. Total headfuck seems more appropriate”
“So are you going to invite me in then?”
This was the million dollar question. I considered my options. Should I slam the door in my own face, then business could resume as per prior to this unsolicited interruption. However, I would be left none the wiser, have pissed myself off, and be left with a thousand burning questions that I simply didn’t possess the tool set to answer.
“I guess I better had”
“Good answer. Mine’s a tea with one sugar but you know that already”
Tak about make yourself at home. He wasted no time in getting comfortable, leaving me to ponder whether or not I had misplaced my morning marbles. At the very least, this had shaken them loose some.
“In answer to your burning question, you’re not crazy y’know”
“Funny. I’m feeling the hinges slackening as we speak”
“Fret not, I shall enlighten you in due course”
“You better had as I’m not entirely comfortable with this dynamic”
One sugar. Done. Now to get me some answers, although my grandmother always taught me to be careful what you wish for.
“Okay, so do you want to tell me what the not-so-merry fuck is going down here?”
“All in good time my good man”
“No. Right now would be preferable. I’m dying to hear your explanation. Are you my twin or something?”
“Well excuse me for pointing out the obvious but it sure as shit seems like it”
“It’s uncanny I know”
“Uncanny? Un-fucking-canny? Yeah, you could say that”
I may have negated to mention thus far but the symmetry was all-encompassing beyond looks alone. Not only was he my spitting image, but his dress code reflected my own also. Moreover, last night I cut myself shaving, and it appeared that he too was similarly lousy with a razor. Suddenly I was beginning to curse a wasted youth watching Twilight Zone re-runs. If only I’d stuck with good old Sesame Street, things would have been far less dubious right now. Where’s Snuffleupagus when you need him?
“As you may have realized by now, I’m you”
“You’re me? How am I supposed to even begin to compute that shit?”
“I understand that it is something of a trip”
“That is where you’re wrong. Something of a trip involves half an acid or a brief buffet of magic mushrooms. This is way beyond that”
“Fret not as it will all become clear soon”
“So make it so, please fill me in on why I am sitting here having a conversation with myself”
“Time for what? Time for a straitjacket? Time for my padded cell? Perhaps a dash of shock therapy or 500 mg of Xanax?”
“Time to make your choice”
“I’m not particularly digging on the cryptic stuff. How about spelling it out for me?”
“By the time I have finished my tea, which you forgot to stir by the way, only one of us will remain”
Excellent. That’s like saying one of two baths being run contains sulphuric acid. Think I’ll stick to the trusty flannel wash thanks.
“I’m not drawing straws if that’s what you’re expecting”
“No need. Things have a habit of working themselves out in these situations”
“Humor me then. What happens to the loser?”
You ever asked a question that you have absolutely no desire to learn the answer to?
“They simply cease to exist. It’s as simple as that”
I just had to fucking ask.
“So let me get this straight, one of us is heading for the scrap heap?”
“If that is how you wish to see it”
“Not particularly but that appears to be what you’re driving at here and I’m merely a passenger remember”
“Then yes would be the answer to your question. One of us is heading for the scrap heap as you put it”
“Well no offense but I’m rather partial to my existence and have no intention of calling time just yet”
“Regardless of outcome, you will still be granted continuation. That is the kicker”
“I’m not sure kicker is the correct term here”
“You’re apprehensive, I get that. It’s not every day you meet yourself”
“You got that right. Something of a first for me”
“Let me pose you this question. Do you believe that I am you?”
“My belief is somewhat tentative right now”
“So ask me a question”
“Okay. What am I thinking right now?”
I purposely focused my sole attention on the arachnid making its way across the carpet behind my visitor, out of his line of sight.
“I never much cared for spiders either”
“Penny dropping yet?”
“So you already know how this is going to play out then?”
“I’m good but I’m not that good. You see, you haven’t decided that one yet”
“Well I’m not about to fade into insignificance while you pick up the reins”
“Then you know what must be done”
“Let me tell you what I know. I know that I need about a dozen stiff drinks right now. That I’m in no doubt of. Other than that, I’m pretty much in the dark here”
“Then how about I spell out the obvious?”
“Please do. I’d very much appreciate it”
“I have been watching you for forty-one years plus change now. Nothing is secret from me. I’ve been there for your highs and present for each of your pathetic lows. Call me a spectator if you will”
“Really? And I take it this has been an eye-opener for you?”
“It has been rather a frustrating affair actually”
“I apologize unreservedly for the inconvenience”
“No you don’t. You think I’m not aware of the sarcasm in that last statement?”
“So I suck then? I’m a failure. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Not particularly. Granted you have your flaws but, all in all, you’re a reasonably upstanding individual”
“So that’s it settled then. Why break the habit of a lifetime?”
“Because you could be so much more”
“And that’s where you come in right?”
“Listen, I know you from back to front and inside out. You pride yourself on human insight and it’s something not be sniffed at. But it all falls down when applying the same logic to yourself”
“I’m getting there”
“I have no doubt that you are. However, this is your one opportunity to fast-track”
“Leaner and meaner?”
“Keener more like. Should you surrender yourself to me, then I will make damn sure that the baton pass is seamless. Moreover, you will finally become the man you have always threatened to become”
“So what makes you such an expert? We’re not supposed to have all the answers. Perhaps I just prefer taking my sweet time”
“Which is why I waited so long before intervening”
“Thanks for that. But I’m not quite ready to pass the buck over quite yet”
“That’s fine with me. I’m not looking to muscle in where I’m not considered welcome”
“So it’s decided then?”
“Looks that way”
“So what now then?”
“In the top kitchen drawer is a bread knife”
“And that is where it shall stay”
“No it isn’t. In a few moments you will retrieve this blade and plunge it wherever you see fit”
“I will do no such thing”
“It is the only way of settling this”
“Great. So let me get this straight. In order to assume complete control, I will be required to do something I’m fairly assured I’m not capable of?”
“Uh huh. You are capable by the way”
This seemed more than a tad presumptuous.
“To take a life?”
“To grant one”
“And should I refuse?”
“Then neither of us will proceed from this tête-à-tête”
“We’ll both die?”
“In a sense yes. But there will only be one body”
“So what happened to cohabitancy?”
“Impossible I’m afraid”
“It worked for this long”
“Ignorance is bliss”
“Well I’m all for being ignorant”
“Too late for that now I’m afraid”
“So what you’re saying is that this is shit or get off the pot kind of deals?”
“In a nutshell”
“How delightful. Talk about Sophie’s Choice”
“This can all be over in no time and your life will pick up precisely where it left off”
“That is where you’re wrong. I’m fairly convinced that life will never quite be the same after this rendezvous”
“Wisdom is an incalculable gift Richard”
“Ordinarily yes. But I have no overwhelming desire to partake in the kind of tuition you’re peddling”
“Then we both perish. Easy”
“How about if I call your bluff?”
“Then you will learn that it is no such thing”
“Fuck it. Back in two shakes of a…”
“Lamb’s tail. Take your time, I’m not going anywhere”
Didn’t I know it. This was beyond insanity and I couldn’t believe the notion I was about to entertain. However, if you had told me at 8am this morning that I would be chewing the fat with my own personal doppelgänger, I would have dismissed it as the blathering of a madman, something I’m all too familiar with. As inexplicable as it seemed, this presented the only latitude for closure, and I was about done with procrastinating. One quick glance back into the lounge confirmed that I could believe my eyes and, as I gripped the serrated blade in my clammy palm, I felt primed to sort the wheat from the chaff. It was evidently him or me. Actually, it was more like me or me and, somewhat predictably, I chose me. Still, cold-blooded murder wasn’t my bag, and I had no inkling as to how to break this particular duck.
“Stop over thinking it. It will just happen naturally”
“Breaking your kill duck”
Fantastic. I couldn’t even enjoy a spot of inner monologue without me poking my wretched hooter in.
“And you don’t feel the least bit threatened by the fact I’m holding a weapon right now?”
“Why should I?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps the fact that you are about to be subtracted from the equation in no uncertain terms”
“I’ll be fine. You’ll see to that”
“You’ll cease to exist. How’s that fine?”
“My dear deluded man, forty-one years of simple existence has its drawbacks. Like you, I’m searching for well-deserved closure”
“Then you won’t think ill of me if I drive this blade into your abdomen and twist it?”
“Be my guest. You do whatever feels right and I certainly won’t be standing in your way”
One quick stab and this would all be over although there was still the elephant in the room to address. Unless I was mistaken, dead bodies have a tendency to funk up your quarters in no time and a lifetime of watching horror movies felt scant preparation for the prospect of disposal.
“You’re over-thinking this Richard”
“You think? I’d prefer to call it keeping things real”
“Just stab me you moron”
“And then what? Regrettably, I don’t have an incinerator on hand”
“Shit has a funny way of working itself out. You should know that by now”
“I’m not convinced that applies to first degree murder”
“Trust your instinct”
“That’s easy for you to say”
“Just do it! have the courage of your convictions for once in your sorry life”
So I did it. I drove that knife deep into its fleshy target and twisted it to tune of a full 360 degree revolution, just to ensure that it had the desired effect. It was then that grim realization dawned. It was the first and only time that my doppelgänger appeared truly surprised and can safely say that he hadn’t seen this one coming. Having taken the executive decision of plunging the blade deep into my own stomach as opposed to that of my opposite number, the writing was very much on the wall, and I felt my lifeforce begin to ebb away accordingly. In less than a minute, I had breathed my very last, and death was upon me.
So that pretty much brings us bang up to date. Richard Charles Stevens is no more and, in his place, is Richard Charles Stevens. To the untrained eye, I’m no different than before. Indeed, all of my memories are identical and goals the same also. There is still the small matter of a dead body to dump but I’m hoping you will assist with this minor detail. What do you mean there’s no corpse? Well I’ll be damned, you’re only right. Looks like I’ve dodged a bullet here. Perhaps it has all been some kind of twisted dream after all. That still doesn’t explain the second teacup but I’m not about to look a gift horse in the mouth when I’m on such a roll. The bottom line is that I am here in both mind and body. That has to count for something right?
Anyhoots, I would prefer if we keep this whole debacle to ourselves and, should you betray my trust, then good luck with proving a damn thing. To be held accountable for murder, damning evidence is pretty crucial, and it will ultimately boil down to your word against mine. As for me, well I see little reason for changing the habit of a lifetime in the foreseeable. They say that life begins as forty and, while a year or so off in their estimations, I actually think they may be onto something. Now, if you excuse me, all this excitement has left me feeling somewhat parched. Time for a cup of tea methinks, one sugar, just the way I like it. If I were you I’d go answer that knock at the door.