The Double by Dr. Mel Waldman

Donna was two separate people :
– the thrill-seeking gorgeous dame men died for.
– the cripple who retreated from the world after a tragic event.

It happened on a long, sultry August night. After boozing and making love to Johnnie Walker Red, she had driven 100 miles an hour on the FDR Drive, crashed, and demolished her old Plymouth Fury. Surviving the near fatal crash, but with a lot of broken bones, she moved in with her brother – Superstitious Bobby.

They lived together in their dead parents’ house on Ocean Parkway near Brighton Beach. Bobby’s ex-wife Lana, a stripper at Café Odessa, slept over three nights a week.
“Take me back, Bobby,” she begged. “I’ll be a good wife.”
No,” he said softly, wearing a wicked grin.
He screwed Lana every night she showed up.
In the morning, obsessive-compulsive Bobby performed sundry rituals. The scarred ex-boxer feared no man but needed fixed rules to survive. It was his father’s fault, an authoritarian bastard with a penchant for mental torture. Even though, he had learnt to control his irrationality, he had one phobia that fucked his mind up.
“If I see my double, he’s the devil and I’m gonna die,” he often muttered to himself, hence the name others gave him – Superstitious Bobby.
Like many OCD sufferers, he always took the same route home from work and once he thought he saw a familiar figure leaning beneath a lamppost across the street. Maybe he was going nuts, he thought afterwards, or maybe he was doomed and dying. Almost every day, he had bouts of nausea and dizziness and vomited his guts out. Fear, he believed, was killing him.
He worried about his pretty sister; a poor artist and bitter cripple. Who would take care of Donna if something happened to him? So big brother took out a policy on his life and made Donna his benefactor. His delicate sister, a special effects artist for B Movies with illusions of grandeur, stayed home and painted.
Even in his weakened condition, Bobby did construction work in Red Hook, Brooklyn. And when Joey the Snake had a bank job lined up and offered Bobby half the take, the weak and greedy ex-boxer accepted the generous offer and agreed to meet him Friday afternoon 2:30 P.M in front of the bank.

At 2:20 P.M. Bobby’s double sauntered into the bank and cased the joint. At 2:30 P.M. he drifted toward a bored looking dapper teller with no customers, and handed the young fellow a note.
It read, “I have a gun. Give me all the money you got. Do not press any buttons or I will blow your head off.”
The young man grinned nervously; his frenzied eyes darted and flitted across the room desperately searching for the old security guard. When their eyes met, he tried to warn the old timer with freaky grimaces. His head swung back and forth in a pendulum of terror, yet the pissed-off hood who was so enthralled by the show in front of him that he seemed not to notice that the young man had pressed an alarm.
“Hurry up, pal,” the thief mumbled.
The teller’s face began to twitch; in fact, his face became a jungle of tics. His lips twisted into an ugly grotesquerie as he collected the bills. The security guard gingerly approached from a distant corner, armed with a .38 he had never used. Grabbing a bag of money, the thug turned abruptly, saw the guard, and brandished his own firearm at him.
“Don’t fuckin’ move, grandpa.”
Rushing out of the bank, he fired three shots in the air for effect.

Bobby arrived outside the bank at exactly at 2:30 PM. Joey hadn’t shown. Then he froze.
His double dived out of the bank and hightailed up the street.
“The Angel of Death’s coming for me. I’m a dead man,” whispered the fall guy; waiting for the axe to fall.
The old guard ran out of the bank at the same time the cops arrived.
“Hands up, fella,” the old timer barked, but Bobby couldn’t. His hands had suddenly started to shake wildly. Maybe it looked like he was going for the gun he didn’t have, maybe not, but the cops started shooting and didn’t stop until Bobby was dead.

A figure entered Bobby’s place with a bag of money. When he got there, he took off the freaky prosthetic-mask and out popped Joey the Snake.
“Give me a kiss, sweetheart,” Joey said to his secret girlfriend.
“Sure, honey, after you tell me that Bobby’s dead.”
“Yeah, Superstitious Bobby’s dead. I watched the cops gun him down. Now, come over and give Bobby the Snake his just rewards.”
“Sure, honey. But first, give me the pretty green stuff.”
“Here it is, babe,” he said as he handed his doll the dough.
Lana took the bag, pulled out a .22 and shot Joey the Snake smack in the head.
“Mission accomplished,” giggled Donna, entering from the adjoining door, “They’re both dead. Yeah, they died for us. If the bullets hadn’t gotten poor Bobby, the arsenic woulda!”
Clutching Bobby’s insurance policy, Donna limped into bed with Lana.
“We’ll dump Joey in the river tonight,” Lana cooed, as their lips drew closer.


Dr. Mel Waldman, a psychologist, is also a poet, writer, and artist. His stories have appeared in dozens of magazines including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, ESPIONAGE, THE SAINT, and AUDIENCE. He is a past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in Psychoanalysis and was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature. He is the author of 10 books. I AM A JEW, his most recent book published by World Audience Publishers, is a collection of essays, memoir, short stories, poems, and plays about his exploration of his Jewish identity. He recently completed an experimental mystery novel inspired by Freud’s case studies.

2 thoughts on “The Double by Dr. Mel Waldman”

  1. This is a very clever story. The author did a masterful job of setting up the climax. I wasn’t sure where it was going, but when it got there, it all made sense, and I was genuinely surprised.

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