Sunday, June 29, 2008

The search for the accomplice


When you meet your own double coming through the rye, you'd better take care to do a little rattle-shaking
and general conjuring to purge yourself of what surely is some kind of spell, and a portent of bad things to come.

There is, of course, the German idea of the doppelganger, "double-goer", ("secret sharer" in Joseph Conrad)--usually a very bad portent.

But this I fear, is my own doublegoer who is telling me, as to Melvin Mole, the elusive burrowing criminal escapee out in an old MAD Magazine: "YOU"VE DUG YOUR LAST HOLE, MOLE! YOU'RE UNDER CONTROL. WE ARE PUTTING YOU INTO SOLITARY CONFINEMENT!!

Well, I have been in something like solitary confinemen for the past few years. There has only been one relationship and poof! the dancing woman was gone again.

Back to your own devices and living inside your own head.

"WE ARE PUTTING YOU INTO SOLITARY CONFINEMENT."

I have not even a single toothpick with which to dig my way out of my prison, which was Melvin's sole talent in MAD #2.
("DIG!. DIG! HUH! DIG! DIG! DIG!)

I had written to Willie Elder, creator of Melvin Mole and he was gracious enough to say, "You are now one of us."

This, following my admission that I had written a thesis on MAD Magazine and specifically on the character Melvin Mole," A Man out of Control.

Kind, gentle genius, Mr. Elder.

But he wrote of the Underground Man.
Like Dostoevsky. Yeah.

Well, the only thing I have in commmon with either Melvin Mole or Dostoevky (and his own eerie sermon) is that I've been totally out of control all this week, and on top of it, sick as a shark with broken teeth.

Too many extractions are like a shot to the head.

I am hallucinating and frequently in pain.

But this afternoon is no illusion.

I met my doppelganger, or doublegoer, and this encounter has scared the daylights out of me.

On the surface, it wasn't much of an event. Just someone who happened to have the same last name as my own. First name was Leonid.

Here was someone the same age as me, with the same last name, and probably the same life experience.
Well, I really have to give my head a shake. Though my name is rather unusual, the woods out here are suddenly full of Prokopchuks, usually hard to find in a Wasp and Dutch comunity, but it is true that the nearby Holland Marsh, for the past two generations, had been full of hardscrabble Ukrainian and White Russian farmers.

"You are a "Boyar", a big-wig," Leonid has said, seeing the way I was dressed and the way I carried on.

"Used to be. But went for a dump."

"Well, that's how it goes. You make a fortune and then life changes."

Leonid Prokopchuk was a pharmacist, and he filled my prescription.


I came back to the apartment feeling as if I'd somehow seen ghost..

Saw my doppelganger?

I shuddered at the feeling of someone walking over my grave.

Could have been the vodka I'd been swilling to hold off the pain? Vodka can lead to flights of the imagination, images of Percy Bysshe Shelley and others who had fired magazinefulls of pistol shot at the doublegoer in the window; Thomas Mann.

Certainly not the fault of Leonid Prokopchuk, who looked a hell of a lot like me, and unlike me, an apparently very nice guy.

But draw a circle round him twice. And damn the pain killers. I'm reaching for another bottle.

I gotta have a talk with God.

Or maybe I will.

##

15 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I looked in the mirror. And the image bled from old scars. I could not say why. And I wondered, which side of the mirror was I on. What would happen if I broke the glass? Would I be trapped? Or freed?

the walking man said...

The Prokopchuk as mad scientist burrowing through medics bottles, only the live doctor and the master writer know which side the tale is told from.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I too have looked in the mirror. The image I saw was not that of my doule but rather of a face I did not recognize.
Perhaps my unrecognized self is my double and the image was trying to show me who I was and not who I thought I was. Or maybe it was merely saying it is time for a change.

Ahh Ivan, we are all so unimportant in the grand scheme of things and image is nothing if the heart isn't smiling. Okay I am going to stop here before I go on a rant.

Be well Ivan and smile at yourself even if the view isn't always what you want

Soft love,
T

Lana Gramlich said...

Feel better!
As for dopplegangers, Charles & I have noticed that everyone belongs to some group of "look-alikes."

ivan@creatrivewriting.ca said...

Muy intersante, Charles.

In an unrelated matter of identity, the Japanese sage wonders if it's you or the mirrror--or the space between you and the mirror.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Ditto, as to Charles, above.

ivan@creativewrting.ca said...

Tara,

Yeah.

But the face in the mirror today is the face of Spongebob Squarepants.
Hah. A funny thing happened on my way to disfigurement.

Gotta be real careful. All the homeless guys on the bus seem to look a hell of a lot like me.
...All I need to do is grow my beard down to my ass and ride a bicycle and carry a cell phone (all the hobos do now).
Gotta find that oral surgery money.
So easy just to let go and say hell with it, like the other bums.
The line is so thin.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Lana,

I can only offer the sage advice of
old fielder Satchel age...He had reached my age:

Avoid fried foods.

Walk with a slow androlling gait.

Don't look back.
Somethin' migh be chasin' you.

Something is chasing some of us.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Whoops!

Sh'd read Satchel Paige

Donnetta Lee said...

Oh, the doppelganger! Makes us look at ourselves and ask questions we do not wish to hear. Remember the Martin Milner Twilight Zone episode? His was taunting him. And that was in the end, not the beginning. Who am I? Where am I going? And why? OR, looking at self: Who are you? Where are you going? And why did you? Either chase him or run away from him. And risk catching him or losing him.
Donnetta

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

I'd say that's brilliant, Donnetta.

I have been for years thinking of writing a novel on the doppelganger, but when I discussed it with my late uncle, David Allenby Smith (of Audubon-- film) he offered that what I was talking about was really a negative self-projection.

I must say though, that your thoughts really help should I ever decide to write such a book.

Thanks.

Donnetta Lee said...

No problem. D

ivan@creatrivewriting.ca said...

Hey,

You might be an accomplice (as in my title). :)

Cheers

benjibopper said...

well, on the bright side, at least you have a handsome pharmacist.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

What a cool thing to say.

I see by your avatar, you no slouch either.