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Shadowboxing My Doppelganger

by Gayla Chaney

I wrestled with my doppelganger last night. Thankfully, I won. Dominance has been re-established. Because my doppelganger and I occupy the same physical space due to some cosmic glitch at the time of our birth, we fight at night for daytime control of our shared flesh.

Most doppelgangers get their own bodies so they don’t have to constantly compete for corporeal reign. They may fight for each other’s identities, social status, spouses, or some other silly thing, but they have the luxury of not fighting, too. Each can retreat to an opposite end of the earth and avoid the other entirely. Alas, avoidance is but a dream for me.

Well, I am the victor for today, and I’d like to keep it that way for a while. I’ll probably take a box of NoDoz to ward off sleep for a couple of days, sidestepping the astral plane where that shadowy specter lingers. She waits there to challenge me for power over our shared territory, battling me for authority over our gross and fine motor skills. When I’m in that dangerous, somatic realm, I feel like a shuttlecock rallied back and forth over an ethereal badminton net.

I could just concede, I suppose, but to do so would surely jeopardize the state of my free world, a world labeled “chaos” by my uptight double. She’s a totalitarian bully, bent on absolute power. She wants everything in its place, and the place is always determined by her. Order, order, and more banal order! Her obsessive regimentation will be the death of me, I swear.

I’d swap slings and arrows with Hamlet any old time. Outrageous fortunes would be a cakewalk compared to her mundane rituals. When I’m not in charge, I have to witness the ab crunches, the dental floss, the tweezers, the dingdong dolor of disciplines my God never intended.

So, I write notes and leave them on the refrigerator door under a magnet. Sometimes, just to mess with my nemesis, I write them on the bathroom mirror in Crisco with green food coloring added. It’s a bugger to clean up, and she hates the color green. She claims it reminds her of pond scum. I gloat. Yes, my dear, I offer you words of revolt like thick, spreading algae. Anarchy reigns on my watch.

“Give me liberty, or give me a ski mask and a stolen car!” That one scares the daylights out of her. She’s not certain what I might do, but she’s seen enough to get nervous when I paste pictures of Pancho Villa on the wall. Frequently, I quote people with whom she totally disagrees, leaving their words on the answering machine so whoever calls gets an earful.

Because of my antics, her ex has now been granted a restraining order against us. I assure you, he is her ex, not mine. The ex part, I guess I am responsible for that. On my shift, I paid a little visit to his boss. After which, I went down the street late at night ringing doorbells and greeting our neighbors naked. I stayed up five days with a little chemical help just to make sure I covered all the bases before being stripped of my power.

Doppy went on medication after that, just to subdue my behavior. Ha! I flushed those pills down the toilet. She managed to get us hospitalized, and medication became unavoidable. I ended up in stasis for a while, thanks to Stelazine. But eventually, I wiggled my way around those synapses until I found the proper conduit. Then, I gleefully whispered in her ear: “I’m back!”

Whatever powers that be, the ones that screwed up and put us in the same body, can fix this problem any old time they want. I say, Come on, Big Shots, clone a body, will ya? Replicate! Or else I’ll put an alarm clock in a backpack and run screaming through the Capitol Building next week. Let her get us out of that one.

Incarceration doesn’t scare me. To the contrary. It’s more unknown territory, and I’m so into exploring a new frontier. If it is not all I hoped for, I’ll start forfeiting our nightly sparring matches. I’ll let Doppy land a sucker punch, or I’ll take a dive. If I don’t care for my surroundings, she can be in charge.

But I have a feeling that won’t be necessary. I’ve got a pretty strong hunch that if I’m awarded an expense-paid vacation to an exclusive club with security cameras and high-voltage fences to keep out the curious and the boring, if I find myself hobnobbing with the crème de la crème of criminals where we can freely share the delicious details of our adventures without fear of sedation, I’ll be okay.

In fact, if Doppy and I wind up behind bars wearing baggy, orange jumpsuits, she may feel like a duck out of water. She may despair that we’ve ended up there, but not me. If the other tenants are half as interesting as their rap sheets, I’ll fit in just fine.

Copyright © 2007 by Gayla Chaney

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