Jack looks in the mirror in the hotel toilet and there he is, a reflection of himself; nothing unusual about that except that this ‘himself’ isn’t him. He turns.
The man standing in front of him says, Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Name’s John. He extends his hand.
I’m Jack. They shake hands. We’re doubles. John, Jack, almost identical names.
There’s the word for it, doppelgangers.
They study one another. Jack is, as usual, dressed casually in black jeans, black t-shirt, black denim jacket and DMs; John wears an immaculate tailored light grey and pink pin-stripe single-breasted suit, an open neck pink shirt and brown brogues. They are of the same height and lean. Their faces are identical: lightly tanned white skin, deep brown eyes, black shaggy eyebrows and clean-shaven. Both have closely cropped brown hair and their ears stick out.
Do you know what doppelgangers are supposed to be? John asks.
More than that – evil harbingers of bad luck, possibly paranormal.
You mean a ghost?
Do I look ghostly? John asks.
No. You look like me.
John laughs. I do, don’t I? Kindred spirits.
Have you been looking for me?
John laughed, What makes you think that?
Just odd that you show up here standing behind me. I didn’t see you come in, didn’t see you coming out of a cubicle.
Well, I’m here …. How could I look for someone I didn’t know existed?
Fancy a drink? Jack asks. It’s unusual to find oneself face to face with one’s exact double.
Yes, it’s new to me. John takes a pair of opaque black sunglasses from the top pocket of his suit jacket and puts them on.
Jack chuckles. In disguise, eh?
You can’t be too careful.
It is early evening and the bar is quiet but gradually filling with customers.
What’s your poison? John asks as they stand at the counter.
Vodka, thank you, Stoli, please.
Why don’t you grab that seat for us in the corner before someone else gets it? I’ll bring it over.
Jack is studying his phone as John arrives. Good spot, eh? John asks as he sets down a bottle of Stolichnaya in an ice bucket and two shot glasses.
I didn’t mean a bottle, Jack says.
A glass is only a means of emptying a bottle, John says as he fills the two glasses and raises his and toasts, Doppelgangers.
Jack smiles and repeats the toast.
Their glasses chink. They down their vodkas in one.
Jack chokes, his eyes bulge. He grabs at his neck. His purple face smashes into the table. A pool of vomit forms on the table by his mouth as he dies.
Bad luck, John says.
Jack is alone when the paramedics reach him.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
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© Phil Cosker 2021
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.