Detective Grabowitz finished his cup of coffee with a sigh, looked at his partner and indicated the interrogation room with a nod of his head.
“We try him again?”
“Might as well,” said Jefferson. “See if we can make any more sense of it.”
They entered the room, closed and locked the door and sat down with the suspect. Grabowitz turned on the recorder and did the required introduction spiel with the date, time and name of suspect.
The suspect was a short, angular African-American man in his late twenties. His hands were clasped tightly together, and he was still staring at the table they were resting on. He hadn’t even looked up when the detectives came into the room.
“OK, then, Mr Baker. I want to go back over when you first believed you were related to…” Grabowitz hesitated. He wanted to be formal, but it seemed ludicrous with that name. Never mind. “…to Mr Megabuck Bhang?”
The suspect glanced up with a resentful look. “I don’t believe, I know,” he said. “He’s my identical twin. You can tell that just by looking at me.”
“All right, Mr Baker,” said Grabowitz. “Just go on. You were telling us about the posters.”
“The posters. Yes, they’re all over town, damn it.”
Indeed they were. Megabuck Bhang was one of the most popular recording artists in the world, and there was a big nationwide concert tour on, playing in Philly this week. The posters showed his dark, handsome face with a knowing, self-confident smile, and MEGABUCK in huge letters underneath it.
“Seeing the posters,” went on Baker. “That’s what made up my mind to do something about it, to make him pay for what he’s done to me. But I found out that he was my twin years ago.”
Jefferson cut in. “How did you find out?”
“I told you about that.”
“Tell us again.”
“Well, I knew I was adopted. Mom told me when I was a kid, wanted me to know. And then when Megabuck hit the scene, released his first album, you know, the one with his face on the cover, people kept telling me how much I looked like him. It was true. The more I looked at it, the more I knew.”
“Identical twins, separated at birth,” said Jefferson laconically.
“That’s it, that’s it. That’s what I started to tell people when they asked if I was related. Lots of people ask, all the time. It got worse the more famous Megabuck got. But it’s not fair. Not fair. He was getting all that money – he made up that name, you know…”
“You surprise me,” muttered Grabowitz.
“He made up the name because he knew one day he would be rich. And then they made that film, and his records took off, and he was. Rich. Rich. And I’m so…”
Grabowitz consulted his records. Baker had been brought up in a middle class home. His adopted parents had saved and were able to send him to college. He had had a reasonable job as an insurance assessor, but had been laid off during the financial crisis. The bank had foreclosed on his home, now worth only a fraction of the outstanding mortgage, and his wife had left him. Sad but very common story.
“And you tried to contact Mr Bhang?” asked Jefferson.
“Yes, yes. Sent him photos of myself. Told him I was his brother, his twin. Needed his help.”
“But you received no reply?”
“No,” said Baker with a half-sob. “It would have been his minders. Damn them. They wouldn’t have passed on my letter, would have thought that I was just some crank.”
Grabowitz took over again. “So when you started seeing the posters last month, you said that you came up with a plan. What was that?”
Baker shook his head and his hands, despite still being tightly clenched, trembled on the table. “I don’t want to tell you. I’m tired.”
“Mr Baker, you must talk to us. You’ve waived your right to have a lawyer present. Tell us about your plan.”
Baker gave another sob, paused a long, long moment, and then finally began. “It was when I was trying to figure out how to prove that I was his twin, his identical twin. I thought about DNA tests, you know. I mean, I thought, if I can get some of his DNA and show that it is identical to mine… But I couldn’t work out how I could do that. Then I got angry, really angry. And I thought of my plan.”
Stony-faced, Grabowitz said “Go on.”
“I… I found out the hotel he’s staying at. And I thought, I thought…”
Grabowitz and Jefferson were silent.
“If I could get him accused of a crime… he’s done time in jail, you know, before he was famous, beat up his girlfriend. His DNA is on record.”
Grabowitz glanced across at Jefferson, who nodded and flashed him a glance of the report he had brought in.
“So, if I didn’t leave any fingerprints… but left my DNA… he would get the blame. Jury would convict him based on the DNA evidence, bound to. I’ve never been arrested, never done any crime… well, until now… so my name wouldn’t be connected, no one would know. And even if someone saw me, you see…” Baker was excited now, and glanced up. “Even if they saw me, they would think it was him. Because we’re identical twins!”
“But someone did see you, Mr Baker,” said Jefferson grimly. “Saw you leaving the back entrance to the hotel, with the maid’s blood on you. And we tracked you down through that witness’ description.”
“But you couldn’t, you couldn’t…”
Grabowitz leaned across to Jefferson. “Want to try him with the mirror again?”
Jefferson shook his head. “Nah. Time to get the psych guys in.”
They both stared across at Baker.
There was only a slight accidental resemblance to the posters of Megabuck Bhang. And Baker was at least a foot shorter.
by David R Grigg
© Copyright David R Grigg 2012. All rights reserved.
Notes on the Story
This is a story I originally wrote last year as part of a series based on photo prompts from the Google+ Flash Fiction Project.
The original prompt image was a portrait of a particular person, but I didn’t want to impose a character of my own devising on the portrait, when that character might be entirely different to that of the real person depicted.
In the end, it was this dilemma which itself led to the plot idea. I started out with the idea of identical twins, my character not being the person depicted, but his identical twin. I thought about what it might be like to be one such twin, separated from his brother, but regularly confused with his twin as that twin became popular. That might cause resentment and jealousy. What might be the result of that? Some way of getting back at the more famous twin. Then I started toying with the idea that identical twins have the same DNA. What could be the results of that in a criminal case?
Finally, on the morning after I came up with this idea and was settling down to write the story, I suddenly saw that I could turn the idea through another twist. What if the poor twin wasn’t, in fact, a twin at all?