Dreaming Of A Better Life
In cheap fiction, private detectives wear trench coats, smoke unfiltered cigarettes, keep a bottle in the office drawer and solve murders. In reality they wear faded anoraks, have bronchial asthma, masturbate frequently and mainly handle divorce cases. Some of them, anyway.
The case I was on was a typical suspicious housewife deal. Mrs X was starting to fear the worst about her husband due to frequent ‘late nights at the office’ and had brought me in to either clear or muddy his good name. After following him for two nights I had finally caught him in the act. I had followed him to his lady friend’s building and was stood against a nearby fence, debating whether or not to try and obtain some photographic evidence that night, or to drag it out and milk Mrs X for a few extra quid (it had been a slow month) when I noticed something more interesting.
A man who looked exactly like me was stood in the doorway next to the one Mr X had gone through, kissing a beautiful redhead. I stared open-mouthed, and would have dropped my camera on the floor if not for the strap. He looked exactly like me, right down to the haircut and build, but dressed in a much more expensive outfit. Not only that, but the woman he was kissing was pretty close to my idea of feminine perfection (think Gillian Anderson, but with a bigger nose).
Suddenly he turned to leave, and a crazy idea appeared fully formed in my head. I raced round the fence, getting to the residents car park a good two minutes before he did, then glanced around. I was in luck. On the ground near the edge of the car park there were a few loose bricks. I picked one up and, clutching it tightly, waited for my doppelganger to approach.
I had already started dreaming about the life I was about to steal when he walked up to his car. I pictured returning to the woman, using the excuse of a forgotten item, such as a wallet, and giving it to her right there in the hallway.
He was just turning the key in the lock when I delivered the first blow. He made a noise not unlike that of a bowling ball landing on a large bag of cooked rice, and fell forward. I brought the brick down a couple more times to be sure, and he slumped to the ground where he remained, face down and motionless.
It occurred to me that I had no idea what his voice sounded like, but that seemed like a minor problem. The important thing was that anyone looking at me would assume I was him. Smiling, I rolled the body over. After getting a better look at his face I let go of the brick, and the smile. He looked nothing like me. Dammit. That’s the last time I drop acid while on a case.