The Red Scarf
I sit here in my cold dark cell looking up at the peeling paint reflecting back at the events that led up to this point.
It all began a few months earlier on a dreary October morning. My life had been coasting along uneventfully up until then. I was a good boy as a youngster and fairly sheltered as most of my peers were, then I went out into the world, got an office, a secretary and slowly settled into a new pattern.
The morning began innocently enough. If I had any idea how my life would change I would’ve just stayed in bed forever.
My vivid imagination always has me expecting the unexpected but I was not prepared for the sight that greeted me when I shuffled into the kitchen.
Sitting at the wooden table was me, calmly eating a bowl of cheerios. I stood there frozen in my shorts and undershirt, mouth agape and white as a sheet. It’s funny how one can recognize his own mannerisms and I was anticipating his every motion. No, this wasn’t some long lost twin this was me without a doubt.
The me at the table did not acknowledge my presence at all. He slurped down the milk as I’m want to and threw the bowl into the sink without washing it, the slob..
After that he simply left out the narrow door of the kitchen, the screen door slamming with a sharp thud, wresting me out of my reverie.
“Hey wait!” I yelled and ran to the door but he was gone.
I sat there for awhile not noticing the sunrays baking my back, at a total loss.
Was I losing my mind? Who can I possiby tell?
I looked into the mirror and patted my cheeks just to make sure I was still here. I decided then that it was nothing but a mirage, a dream perhaps. I’d forget it about it and continue with my day.
The day went pretty smooth and I somehow managed to push out of my mind the mornings occurrence and run my company.
The first indication of trouble came just 2 days later when people at work were looking at me funny. I was either getting paranoid or the whole place was whispering about me and the whispers seemed to be getting louder and louder until I could not take it anymore. I walked over to the water cooler where Mark was standing and cornered him, “alright what’s going on here?” I whispered menacingly. “As if you don’t know”, he replied with a smirk. “No I don’t” I shouted as half the office turned to see what the commotion was about.
I walked back to my desk feeling constricted and uncomfortable.
I looked around and spotted Jerry the accountant at his desk surveying the office from behind his thick plastic glasses. I immediately Imed him. “Hey Jerry..what’s going on?” What he answered made my stomach drop. Basically I had been out last night getting drunk, going to clubs and acting very uncharacteristicly. I was mortified.
Things would only get worse.
That night I decided to go out and track down my double and get to the bottom of this. I walked around peeking into clubs and bars until I was exhausted and headed home.
I came home to find 2 police officers at the door. “Sir can we speak with you a moment?”. “Sure”, I answered uneasily, “come in”.
The older officer walked in slowly his grey eyes scanning every inch of my living room.
He stopped at the coffee table, looked up at me from under his crooked cap and asked “where were you 11am this morning?”
I thought for a moment and then anwered..”I was at work sir..why do you ask?”
The junior officer a hispanic fellow named Vargas dropped a packet of surveillance pictures onto the table. I slowly lifted them, eyes intent and felt my knees give out under me. I collapsed onto the couch..”officer this man looks just iike me.., but I have a whole office full of alibis attesting to my whereabouts, and besides I’d never ever shoplift”.
After handing them a list of my co-workers phone numbers I walked them to the door and closed it behind them. I sat down poured myself a drink and fell asleep in my clothes.
The next morning I went to work and things seemed to be back to normal except for Lisa my secretary who seemed to be dreamily staring at me all day. At 1pm she got up, walked past my desk and dropped a small sticky note onto my desk that read “recover yet, stud?”.
I had to get out of here. I grabbed my jacket and raced home. My heart was racing now and I needed some kind of plan. That night I decided to go out and look for him again.
The streets were full of the usual late night revelers and I felt very uncomfortable, but I kept on looking. I rounded a corner and caught a glimpse down the block of myself rounding the next corner. I started running with total disregard to the people on the street who didn’t seem to care anyhow in their inebriated state. I actually grabbed someone and asked breathlessly..”hey did you see which direction I went?”
I returned home empty, alone and utterly exhausted.
The next morning I picked up the local paper and saw the headline “Local bank robbed”. Under that was a fuzzy surveillance picture of the perpetrator and there he was again. Luckily he was wearing a mask but I was able to recognize his physique.
I was thorougly frustrated and was about to pour myself another drink when I threw the glass across the room, the sound of the shattering soothing my nerves for a second.
Suddenly there was a frantic knocking at the door. I peeked through the peep hole and backed away..
My own voice rang out “come on I know you’re in there..please open up..”
I was silent..trying to quiet my thumping heart. Oh no, I suddenly realized the door was not locked as the knob turned slowly. The door opened and he tiptoed in closing the door behind himself. I was backing up slowly into the kitchen. He turned to me and started pleading “Hey you have to help me..I’m hungry, tired and the cops are looking for me”. He was wearing a simple black coat and a bright red scarf, not something I would ever wear. I reached my hand to the left out of his sight and groped around for a knife on the counter. I wanted to kill him and be done with this nightmare but I couldn’t do it. I actually felt some pity for him and whispered hoarsely “sure, come have something to eat”. Watching him was like an out of body experience. The overall mannerism was exactly me. There was, however, a cockiness about him that I didn’t recognize and found threatening. I watched him eat hungrily in silence. This moment was so strange it brought awkwardness to a whole new level. I coughed and then I asked, “where did you come from?” He started laughing and nearly choked on his food. “Where did I come from? I’m you..you silly man”. He then proceeded to brag about his exploits, things I would never dream of doing. I found myself fascinated and revolted all at once.
We shared a few drinks and fell asleep on the couch..
The next thing I remember, it’s 4:00am and the room is a mess. Empty bottles and leftover food strewn about the dimly lit room. I sat there looking at myself sleep so fitfully and actually felt bad for him for a moment. I stood unsteadily went to the kitchen, took that black kitchen knife in my hand and stabbed him 3 times in the heart. He slumped to the floor without ever having woken up. I then stood erect, fixed my red scarf and calmly walked out the door.