Twin or Doppelganger?

Submitted into Contest #225 in response to: Write a story about someone coming across their doppelganger.... view prompt

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Contemporary Crime Fiction

Layla was awfully affectionate when I returned from work today. She had that postcoital glow about her. When I asked her what was up, she looked at me with those moony eyes, I only see after intense love making. She seemed to think that I should know the source of her bliss. Yet I was clueless, so I had to ask: “What’s going on? You seem to be on cloud nine.”

Layla gave me a warm smile and answered: “You know.”

I shrugged my shoulders and answered: “No I really don’t.”

“That was some gift you gave me at lunch.” Layla embraced me and kissed me on the cheek.

Now she really had me scared and confused. I was doing a geological survey at the river during lunch and didn’t remember sending her any gifts. In the ten years we had been married, I rarely sent gifts that I didn’t give to her personally. Also, I knew that flushed look and smile were definitely postcoital. Was she having an affair? She was rarely home at lunch. Her office hours usually spilled into the lunch hour and there were always patients to see at the hospital. Layla was still as attractive as when I met her in college. She had a lithe runner’s body, thick ginger hair and a smile that lit up every room. My friends could not believe that I could attract such a beautiful, well-adjusted doctor. After all, I was short stocky and neurotic. My income as a geologist didn’t come close to hers. It had to be my personality or maybe the way I played the song Layla on my guitar. Our relationship was solid, and I totally trusted her, so I had a hard time believing she was having an affair. Besides, she implied that I was an active participant in whatever happened during lunch. It was all very strange. I needed some answers.

“What is it you think I did?”

Layla gave me an affectionate push and laughed. “Come on, don’t put me on. It’s been years since you called me at the office and invited me to a noontime lovefest. I have to say you surprised me. That was some of the most intense lovemaking we’ve had in years.”

Either she was having a psychotic break or living in an alternative reality. Maybe I was dreaming. That’s it! I must be dreaming. Layla looked at me strangely.

“Why are you pinching yourself?”

“Because you are just part of my dream.”

Layla laughed again. “I don’t know about you, but this afternoon seemed very real to me. Here, does this feel real?” Layla put my hand on her left breast.

I began to sweat. Layla laughed some more and kissed me passionately. She led me to the bedroom and slowly undressed me. While pushing me on the bed she whispered: “Let’s continue where we left off.”

Still confused, I thought of asking more questions, but I could never resist Layla.

***

As lay in the afterglow, I was conflicted. That was the most intense sexual experience I had had in years. Yet, I had to unravel the mystery. I didn’t want to ruin the moment but couldn’t resist continuing my line of questioning.

“Honey, I love you very much, but something is bothering me”. We both rolled over on our sides and faced each other.

Again, Layla flashed that beatific smile and said sweetly: “What’s on your mind, my love?”

 I melted and almost changed the subject but had to proceed. “I was doing a survey at the river during lunch so…”

Layla pursed her lips and nodded: “That wasn’t you who phoned my office, invited me home, brought me roses and then ravished me at lunchtime? Of course, it must have been your doppelganger or clone.”

She gave me another affectionate push. For the first time I noticed the bouquet of roses by her bedside. Now, I was really spooked. Who bought her these flowers? Maybe Layla bought them for herself. Was she having a psychotic break? Wait a minute! Could it be? Last I heard he was still in the military somewhere in Europe. He hadn’t contacted me in eleven years. I know I told Layla about Chad. We had just started dating when I discovered his existence. She knows I had a twin who was raised by different parents. My mom had severe postpartum depression and couldn’t handle identical twins, so my dad put one of us up for adoption. Dad told me the story on his death bed just after Chad contacted me. He was skeptical that Chad was his son since my twin’s adoptive parents had told him that my brother had died at age 20 from some weird infection. I was shocked. Chad insisted he was my twin. His parents were poor and abusive. Our real dad was a successful banker and our mom a professor of English. He had recently returned from a tour of Iraq and needed money. Chad looked like me, had the same mannerisms and voice timbre and even wore the same brand of clothes. However, when I contacted my twin’s adoptive parents, they insisted he was dead. They seemed sincere and trustworthy. Chad was either my clone or doppelganger and probably a scam artist. Still, he was like a reflection in a mirror. It was hard for me to dismiss him. Yet I did and told him to stay away. I know I told Layla the story. How do I break it to her that she had been seduced by my doppelganger or maybe my evil twin?

I pulled her over to me, embraced her and while stroking her hair, began to talk.

“Honey, do you remember the story I told you about my twin?”

“You mean the one that died?”

“Yeah, and about Chad who claimed to be my twin?”

“The scam artist?”

“Yes, the one who looked and sounded exactly like me? Do you think it could have been him who you saw at lunchtime?”

Layla shivered, sat up and exclaimed: “What? No! It was you! Everything about him was you-the touch, the smell, the voice. Even the little whimper you have when you reach climax. John, you are just trying to yank my chain. It’s not funny. You’re giving me the creeps.”

I sat up, pursed my lips and continued to stroke her hair. “Babe, I wish I was joking. I was not home with you at lunchtime. Either you are part of my nightmare or there has to be another explanation. I don’t think you are lying or taking drugs, so I am thinking outside the box. My research in the past indicated that Chad was a high school classmate of my twin. He must have heard his story and done his research. Before I met him, I had this eerie feeling that someone was watching and following me for months. What if he was studying me? I can’t be sure that he really was in Europe the last several years. He may have continued his research and included you. This guy may be mentally ill.”

Layla stood up and wrapped herself in a sheet before saying: “John, you are really scaring me. How could this guy know our most intimate secrets. He even knew our favorite foreplay. It’s impossible. You swear that wasn’t you?”

“I wish I was joking. It gives me the creeps too. In a way it was rape. I don’t know whether to contact the police or not. Was there anything that felt strange to you?”

“I’m embarrassed to tell you. There was something different about how he violated me. It was almost violent, more intense than usual. I took it for passion and received it lovingly. Now I feel dirty and sick. Also, I noticed a mole on his upper back, I had never seen before, but I was in the throes of passion so didn’t think much of it. If your suspicions are right, what can we do?”

“Let’s think about it and do more research. In the meantime, we have to have a code or something to verify that you are always dealing with me. I’m going to whisper one in your ear because I’m afraid our house might be bugged. How else could he know about our sexual tendencies.”

I stood and whispered in her ear: “Doppelganger.”

She took a step back and shook her head: “No, the word itself gives me the chills. Try something else.”

I frowned, thought for a few seconds and whispered: “You’ve got me on my knees.” It was a line from the song Layla. I had sung it to her many times. She smiled and nodded.

***

Dougie Henderson was a high school friend who had become a detective on the Los Angeles police force. I contacted him and asked his advice. He doubted we could claim rape since it was consensual, but he had a few suggestions. If we had any object that contained Chad’s fingerprints, he could run them through his data base. He’d check Chad’s military records for any clues. Finally, I would contact my twin’s adoptive parents and verify my brother’s death. Strangely, we could not find any notifications of his death during the given timeline.

I asked Layla if there were any objects that hadn’t been washed since the visit. Luckily, Chad or whoever had brought the roses in a vase, and it still sat on the bedside table. I put on gloves and immediately took it to Dougie. In the meantime, Layla and I tried to find my twin’s adoptive parents. They no longer had the same phone number or address as they did years ago. We checked all the listings in the state of Ohio, their last known address, without success. Once again, I turned to Dougie for assistance.

 Layla had become very distant. She seemed to recoil each time I touched her. Our conversations were superficial, and I found myself whispering ‘you’ve got me on my knees’ over and over. Something had to give. I was losing my wife. We both could not wait to meet Dougie and hear his findings. There had been no more noontime interludes and no sign of Chad. I contacted a security specialist and requested he search my house for ‘bugs’. I was becoming increasingly paranoid. My work and marriage were suffering.

The day arrived for our meeting with Dougie. We both took the day off work. We drove to downtown L.A. together and barely said a word. As entered the LAPD building, I reached for Layla’s hand, but it was limp. I was frustrated and angry.

“Come on Layla, you can’t punish me for what happened.”

Layla shook her head and said: “I’m sorry John. I am so traumatized that I’m emotionally bottled up. I don’t know who to trust and what is real. Give me time.”

I understood and empathized but I was still frustrated so I just nodded and proceeded into the building. Donnie had a small office. His door was open, and he sat with his feet on a large desk. There were stacks of papers and a large computer on either side of his feet. Donnie looked like a stereotypical detective. He wore a white shirt, a black tie at half mast, had thinning black hair and a thin moustache. He sat up and smiled as soon as he saw us.

“Well, John told me he married a beauty, and he did not exaggerate.” Donnie stood, came around his desk, shook our hands and gestured for us to sit on the two chairs across from his desk. As soon as we were seated, he sat behind his desk and turned on his computer. We were both eager for his news.

“I have good news and bad news, maybe all bad. It depends on how you want to look at it. The fingerprints on the vase were indeed those of Chad Allen. His military records indicate he was dishonorably discharged but I couldn’t find out why. Interestingly though, he was charged with rape in Ohio recently, but the victim withdrew the charges. Our boy Chad is a piece of work. He has a long record of petty crime. Oh, by the way, your twin’s adoptive parents are not much better. They have left a trail of misdemeanors and felonies in several states. And get this-there is no record of your twin’s death.”

I felt a chill and Layla squeezed my arm. What the fuck! All I could do is take a deep breath and ask:

“What do you think we should do?”

Dougie pursed his lips and nodded. “There’s not much you can do now but knowing this guy’s tendencies, he’ll be back. I bet you he will try to extort money or blackmail you. I’d also be on the lookout for his ‘parents’. Unfortunately, this guy is either your evil twin or a doppelganger. Make sure your house is secure. Both of you need to be vigilant. I’ll assign some officers to keep an eye on you and your home. Contact me immediately if you see any sign of him.”

Layla and I left Dougie’s office, stunned by his news. We drove home in silence. When we reached our home, I noticed that Layla was trembling. I hugged her tightly, but she withdrew.  We entered the house and sat side by side on the sofa in the living room. Layla broke the silence.

“John, I’m renting an apartment near my office. I can’t stay here.” Her face was cold and pale.

I took both her hands in mine and asked: “Do you want me to join you?” I felt my world was falling apart.

Layla shook her head and looked down. “No, I can never be sure it was you.”

I felt like I was falling down a black hole and pleaded: “Honey, don’t let this guy destroy us.”

Layla continued to shake her head and I could see a few tears as she answered: “I’m sorry John. I know it’s unfair and irrational, but I’m frightened, and I’ve lost all trust. Maybe with time my fears will subside.”

“I’m going to have a security guy search our house for bugs. You heard Dougie. We’ll have officers watching us at all times. We’ll catch this asshole. I’ll protect you. Maybe I’ll buy a gun. We can take shooting lessons together. Please baby…”

“I’m sorry John.”

Layla moved out the next day and I bought a gun. When I was not working, I was at the shooting range. I was not going to let this guy destroy me, us. My phone calls with Layla were pleasant but distant. Dougie said there was no sign of Chad but his ‘parents’ had been charged with a Ponzi scheme in Arizona. Was Chad really my twin or a Doppelganger? Months passed uneventfully. My marriage was in a shambles. Then I received a call from Dougie. Chad had been arrested in Nevada on armed robbery and rape charges. I knew I had to see him.

I drove to Reno that weekend. Dougie decided to take a road trip with me. He seemed amused or intrigued by my twisted situation. With his help, I was allowed to visit Chad in jail. Accompanied by Dougie, I waited in a secure room in the jailhouse for my doppelganger or twin. He walked through the door wearing handcuffs, an orange jumpsuit and a wide smile.

As he sat across from us, he snickered and said: “Looky here, it’s my long-lost brother. And who might this other gentleman be? Let me guess. By the look of you, you’re a cop. Can’t have too many of them in a jailhouse, I guess. To what do I owe this visit? John, don’t tell me you’re here to thank me for showing Layla such a good time?”

I stood and was about to come across the table when Dougie restrained me. I couldn’t help myself. The words exploded from my mouth. “You son of a bitch! If you come near Layla again. I’ll kill you.”

Chad smiled, shook his head. “Tsk. Tsk brother. That temper is never going to win Layla back.”

I immediately realized that Chad had still been spying on us. I stiffened but I had to ask: “Are you really my brother?”

Chad snorted. “What do you think? Look at me.”

It was like looking in a mirror. I needed a DNA sample. We left the room I was angry and frustrated. Dougie knew what I was thinking.

“Maybe we can get a DNA sample off a glass. I doubt he’ll agree to a buccal swab.”

I wasn’t sure I could wait that long. I had to ask: “What about fingerprints? If he was my twin, would they be identical?”

Dougie shook his head. “unfortunately, no. You’ll just have to wait. In the meantime, Chad’s probably will probably be going away for a long time. You can reassure Layla.”

If only it was that easy.

November 19, 2023 22:48

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2 comments

Mary Bendickson
03:19 Nov 20, 2023

What a problem to deal with! Good story building.

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Rudy Greene
23:12 Nov 20, 2023

Thanks Mary. It was fun to write but I'm becoming too dark. Time for some sunshine

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