A Spooky Tale: The Dead Ringers

She danced to the music of off-the-wall songs, such as “Express Yourself” and “Another One Bites The Dust”. She was a dancing star who had developed a loyal following that included mayors, A-list celebrities and godfathers. There was no personal or physical contact with the followers. There was no buying and selling of any more of her time or services. There was nothing but the dance and there was no one who could perform the dance but her.

But on one fateful, dark and stormy night, her heart was ransacked and the contents stolen by a man who was so smooth, so worldly, and so urbane that she would dance her last dance (in public, anyway).

He was not a handsome man, but he radiated heat like an acute back injury. It was obvious that he came from a good background. because his top and bottom teeth lined up perfectly with each other when he smiled. His smile was actually a frightening smile, since very few people knew the details of what he did for a living. Whenever a person became too persistent in their inquiries, he simply would flash that smile and his eyes would go very still. No one would persist after receiving such a disturbing, yet genial signal that no more information would be provided.

She danced deep into the night and studied Law during the day. Not one person who knew her could ever have put the two parts of her life together. She had been that discreet and effective in hiding one disgraceful world from the other, respectable world.  Even law enforcement could not have put her in both places on the same day. That is, no one would be able to piece it all together unless she died under suspicious circumstances and the contents of her safe deposit boxes were released.

She did not die under suspicious circumstances, though. She was just a dancer who retired early and who had a splashing success in marriage, in her law career and as a mother. Over the years, she came to be regarded as a perfect example of a woman who could balance marriage, child rearing, and a career with no failure in any part of her overall life program. She worked for a law firm that handled legal matters so esoteric and ethereal that no one could understand it all if they studied for a thousand years.

He came and went.  (It was the nature of his work, you know). He was a doting husband who never complained about the kids, the cost of this, or the interest on that. He just came and went for about a week at a time. One day, he would be gone. A few days later, he would return, behaving as if nothing special or momentous had happened while he was away.

Their lives went swimmingly and without turmoil until that dark and stormy night when a low level mob wannabe decided to track down his favorite dancer who, back in the day, would never so much as waste any spit on him. The woman danced, then she was always hustled back stage, protected by the club owner’s goons. No one got close to her if she did not want them to. The mob low life never explained how he came to believe that America was ancient Rome, where women of low standing could just be snatched and forced into a life of servitude to men.

The low life was never allowed to explain much, having died after hours of torture and in a horrible way.

After breaking into the couple’s home and attempting to have his way with the helpless woman and her children, the mob wannabe discovered his mistake. He had figured that the husband would not be part of the equation, since all of the neighbors and other locals had volunteered the information that the man wasn’t expected to be home for another three days. After suffering the consequences of such a mistake, the low life’s body was tossed into a raging wash of flood water and was not whole when it was found.

The problem with the low life’s plan was that the husband had canceled his trip. He was a contract worker who was employed by a shadowy organization. He carried out missions and worked for higher powers than anyone could comprehend or know of.  Raging storms had caused all flights to everywhere to be canceled and there was no rescheduling going on. As a result, the husband decided not to rearrange the weather, but rearranged his travel projects instead.

Thus, he happened to be at home, rewiring a new home theater system by flashlight on that night.

The mob wannabe’s subsequent “disappearance” did not bring the expected response of “who cares?”  Instead, the disappearance became the ignition source for a mob war that was destined to happen if anything happened to him. As low as he was, he was the son of a major player. The battles spread to15 cities and then infected the gangs. The battles went on for weeks, with neither side ever gaining a clear understanding of what could have possibly triggered such a war.

With the mob wars, no one was as concerned that it stayed dark or that it stayed stormy for two whole weeks.

Amazing. It was the most catastrophic weather event in a hundred and thirty five years, yet  there were so many murders and gun battles going on all over the nation that the weather was the least of the nation’s problems.

What happened to the man and the woman? They lived together for another fifty years then “moved on”.  Both of them treated the catastrophic storm as if it never happened. Both of them remembered the previous storm of its type, 135 years earlier. Those two had either experienced or created all forms of natural disasters, including the separation of the continents. They “reproduced” by stealing and rearing other people’s children.

When one body wears out, they carefully choose new bodies. They thrive in countries where people go missing by the thousands every year. Whenever they grow too old to live convincingly in one community, they move on and start new lives. In such form, they have developed the patience of the centuries, the wisdom of the very old, and the gifts of being able to “do it all over again”.

Some times, they grow tired of starting over and spend some time in the form of pure energy for a while. We call them ghosts when they are on vacation.

Once every ten years, they attend a vast reunion and meet with the millions of others like them who live among us and who have always lived among us. We know when we have encountered one of them and we never realize it. We call such encounters “mistaken identity” and move on.

The Dead Ringers are the reason behind our lingering doubt and unsettling thoughts when we think that we have seen someone who we know.