Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Double Troubles Part 2: The Imposter

One would think that the most mundane version of the "doppelgänger" would be the imposter.  No supernatural hokum to contend with, no worries of neurological glitches.  However, the damage they do can haunt you for years.  It can't be undone.
My father was a police officer, as I've mentioned before on this blog.  On the police force were two other officers, one with the same last name, and one who bore an uncanny resemblance to my dad.  The latter was a friend of my father's.  Murdered in the City-County building, by a criminal he was taking to lockup.  My father tracked the killer to his hideout, then as was the right thing to do, called in the troops to make the arrest, and walked away, avoiding an explosive confrontation.  He shunned the credit for the catch.  I think that took a lot of will and professionalism.
One day when I was in junior high, my father was enjoying a day off when he received a phone call most parents hope they will never receive: "Your son has been arrested.  Come down and bail him out."  Not pleasant for any parent, but believe me, it's worse if you're a cop.  Understandably upset, my folks rushed to change clothes and get ready for the long drive downtown.
As they pulled out of the driveway, it occurred to my father to check by my school-it was only a block and a half away.  My folks stopped in at the principal's office first.  My schedule was checked, and they were escorted to the room where I was supposed to be.  When they peeked through the narrow window, there I was, sitting in my assigned seat.
When I returned home that afternoon, Dad was in a great mood.  He told me all about what had happened, and laughed with relief.  He didn't bother to call back and inform anybody of the mistake, but was determined to find out what had happened, during his next shift.
Mom, on the other hand, was fuming in the kitchen.  She was still angry, and eyed me with mistrust and suspicion for weeks.  It was bad enough that I tried to joke her out of her mood.  What had I done?  Did I break out of jail, escape with a jet pack (Thunderball was big at the time), and then slip into my seat moments before they peeked in my classroom?  Still, Mom treated me as if I had somehow gotten away with something.
Later, Dad told me that the other Stanton at work also had a son, who was a few years older than me.  Fearing his own father's wrath, he had bought himself only a little time by giving my name when he was arrested.  To this day, I don't know his first name, or what he was arrested for.  I can't attest to the fact that he was ever arrested, just what I was told at the time.
I do know that, when my father was up for a promotion he had hard earned, the Captain had said, "Promote Stanton, and transfer him to Internal Affairs."  Instead, they promoted the Stanton who was already in Internal Affairs.  Politics being what they are, Dad had to wait for the next promotion cycle.
Spin the clock ahead, to around the time Flo and I had been married for about a year.  We still lived in the tiny third-floor apartment on Central Avenue.  My father had retired from the police force, and for a time served as a Sherriff's deputy.  In uniform, he approached me as I was heading off to work.  He had a very serious look on his face.  I was told that he had received a distressing call from another police officer.  He was told that I had run up to a cordoned-off crime scene, and tried to push my way in, demanding to know what had happened to a murdered woman, with whom I was supposedly having an affair.  He was told that I was offensive enough to the officers that they were about to arrest me, when I told them I was Police Officer John Stanton's son John, and that I had made further demands per his authority.  My father was told that out of respect for him, I had not been arrested, but it was made clear how pissed they were at me.
Dad then said, "I'm only going to ask you this once, son, was that you?"
I told him the truth.  No.  I didn't have the vaguest clue what he was talking about.

(What about modus operandi? If it worked before...)
After that day, Dad didn't look at me the same.  He still loved me, but he didn't quite trust me.
To this day, I still don't know if the imposter was the other Stanton boy, or if someone else knew enough about both my father and myself to leverage the name.
As far as I know, that was the last time someone used my name when arrest was threatened.  My father has been gone for a long time, so there wouldn't be any advantage now.
At some point, the Imposter sheds its cocoon and takes flight as Rumor.
Rumor is a peculiar form of the Double.  If it is juicy, smarmy or threatening enough, it takes on a life of its own, mutating as it moves from mouth to ear, to mouth again.  It can overshadow and outlive both its creator and its subject.  Like some of its supernatural counterparts, there is no known way to kill it.
An extra shadow, one that often precedes me, and still follows wherever I go.

Double Troubles Part 3



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