Austin’s Doppleganger

The following is a true account. When one treads down the path of knowledge loosening ties to the mundane and the familiar, often experiences will arise which fail to fit within the confines of one’s previous limited description of reality. This is ‘normal’ and expected! Also normal, is that when such things happen, they tend to slip away into obscurity, unless effort is made to remember them (writing them down). This is because without a context, or a ‘pigeon-hole’ in which to store them within our accepted paradigm of reality… they have no place in our psyche. Therefore, I feel it critical to write these down in a journal if and when they should happen, so that they don’t get lost. Doing this ensures that these experiences will help to forge your new, expanded reality. They should be embraced, and not left to wither like the final vacuous images of a dream, evaporating into nothingness upon awakening unless effort is spent in those critical moments to save it.

It was a humid, mild, not quite sticky Wednesday evening, in late summer, probably around 6:30pm, and probably about 2004. My friend Chucky knocked loudly on the front door to my condo. Chucky is a musician friend of mine, about the same age as myself…. he plays guitar and bass. Chucky is not the best guitar player I’ve known, his skills are a bit on the basic level, but I actually enjoy jamming with him more than with some advanced players. His simple, yet melodic chord backing provides an uncluttered slate over which I am free to improvise in a variety of styles. I pride myself on being able to work with musicians of all levels, there is always some common ground you can find, and sometimes beginners are easier to jam with than guitarists who think they know a lot, and try to impress you or themselves with playing beyond their skill level, when the proper thing might be to lay back, and get into a melodic or rhythmic groove, letting go of all your knowledge, and simply feeling the creative flow.

A bass player friend of ours, Austin was due to arrive as well. We’d planned on learning some Beatles tunes, and maybe jamming on some original ideas in my ‘home studio’, which was my office, with a computer, mixer, keyboards, and guitars situated in one half of the room. Chucky had brought in two cans of piss warm Bud Light beer, and he graciously offered me one, which I took more out of politeness than the desperation necessary in order to stomach this flat, nauseatingly lukewarm brew. I forced it down while we cranked the stereo and got in the mood for some music. A short while later, the beers were gone, so we decided to run out to the ‘packy’, as we call our “package” or liquor stores in New England…. before Austin arrives.

I run into the studio and turn off the music, which Chuck had up a bit too loud for a shared condominium complex on a weeknight, and we take a quick drive to pick up a 12-pack of beer. You can’t jam without beer! Fifteen minutes later, we get back to the condo. I turn the key to the outside door, and head up the half-stairway to the front inner door. When I open this, I hear loud music playing, and after a moment’s pause, a stabbing shock radiates from my solar plexus, which was panic.  “I turned off the stereo, right?”

“You sure did.”

“Then who the fuck turned it back on?” I exclaimed. I canvassed the entire condo interior, carefully, like a DEA agent entering a crack den, almost expecting to find an unwanted visitor who’d snuck in, and instead of stealing anything, turned on my stereo and for all I know was still in my condo, maybe some crazed psycho, or home invader not expecting us to return so quickly. Upon further inspection, however, there was no visitor, everything seemed in order. It was then that I noticed that lights were on, all of them, and I could have sworn I’d turned them off when we left for the store. Even if I missed one or two, which I’m fairly certain I hadn’t, surely they all weren’t on. They are never all on!

With no perpetrator discovered, my panic waned, transmuted to a dull sense of cognitive dissonance… pure confusion, actually. I was quite perplexed, and a bit freaked out. I had a break-in once when Alesia (now my ex-wife) lived with me, and this is the feeling I had… first one thing out of place, then another, then the sickly, growing realization that something is terribly wrong… then the requisite search of the household, and the inevitable discovery that things were missing, and someone had actually violated our private space, and gone through our personal stuff, and maybe they were still hiding in there! Or planning on returning with ‘friends’ for more… Your mind truly tortures you with the worst case scenarios when presented with such a situation. But despite the anomalies, nothing was missing or out of place now, excepting for the inexplicable music and lights being on. Ghosts? I’ve lived here over ten years by now, and granted there have been minor incidents of unexplained sounds, but this was an old building after all, that’s what old buildings do.

We had little time to ponder the mystery, when we heard a car pull up outside. I peeked out the window; it was Austin, arriving in a blue, 4-door sedan. Chucky got uncomfortably close to me, as he peered out the same window over my shoulder, despite there being an entire, huge free window to my left. I could smell the rancid stench of his cigarette breath invading my personal space. While polite enough to smoke outside, I could not escape the effects of his nasty addiction. I ducked away, and then headed down the hall, and out the front door, to see if Austin needed help with his equipment. Chucky followed me closely, maybe a little too excited to get the jam started. We exited the condo, and stood on the porch, where we could see Austin, having parked out front by the curb.

“Hey Austin, what’s up? You need any help??” I yelled out to him, as he got out of the car. His recent crew cut hairdo was giving him away even from a distance. He bent over, reached in to the car, and grabbed his bass guitar, which did not have a case. He’d recently paid a friend who was an expert at building guitars to make a custom bass guitar for him. Austin had some input into the design, and this guy carved out a beautifully unique body from multiple types of wood, and built a one-of-a-kind instrument. Austin had waited months for the guy to finish it, and paid lots of money I suspect, and was using his old bass in the meantime. But when I saw the guitar he grabbed, I knew the man had completed and delivered the new bass to Austin, he brought it today for the first time. I was very excited to see and to hear it! “Yo, Austin!”

He seemed to be in a bit of a daze. He was only about 50 feet away, parked directly out front, and must have heard me clearly, yet he didn’t acknowledge my greeting at all. I yelled a third time to him. He seemed a bit weird, off, and didn’t even glance at us on the porch. Then, in a very strange mechanistic move, he took his new bass guitar, placed it back on his front seat from whence it came, and without even glancing at us, entered his blue sedan, with the deliberate actions of someone in a hypnotic trance, shut the door, started the engine, and drove away, staring straight ahead and not moving his head left or right, in order to check for traffic.

Chucky and I looked at each other in confusion. “Maybe he forgot something, or needs to run to the store”, I said. Chuck just nodded. We venture back inside, as I look for my cell phone. This time, the music and lights were just as we left them… music softly playing, with several lights on…thankfully. Just as I found my phone and was looking up Austin’s number in order to call him, Chuck shouted at me from my office, near the window, “He’s back!”

Not five minutes had passed, not even time to run to the nearest CVS. I was anxious to ask him what was with the strange behavior. So again, I venture to the front porch. Austin repeats his movements exactly as before. Eerily exact. He gets out of the front seat; I again see his crew cut. He then bends over and grabs his bass from the front seat of the car, again without a case, just as before. He shuts the door to the gold car. I yell to him, “Hey, you need any help?”

This time he looks up, and responds with the smile he’s well-known for, “No, all set, all I got is my guitar!”

It was then I felt a wave of dizziness come over me, accompanied by a brief but nauseatingly cool wave flush down from the top of my head, to my face, and neck, as if the blood had decided to drain briefly but nearly completely from my cranium. Austin was standing next to a gold four-door sedan. “What happened to the other car, the blue one?!” I asked, supremely confused.

“What are you talking about?”

“I just saw you pull up not 5 minutes ago, and get out of a blue sedan, grab your bass, then promptly put it back, and drive away, without noticing us!”

“Really? Weird, man. I just got here. I came from home and this is my dad’s car.”

There are many things that happen to us which we can’t initially explain in our reality. Usually, with some introspection and the use of logic, wecan figure out what happened or probably happened, and the world is once again sane, and predictable. This is one case where to this day, I have absolutely no explanation for this. Thankfully Chuck was there to share my experience because too often, when unexplained things happen to us, we have no way to effectively store them in our memory, and we forget. In order to store them solidly for later retrieval, we seem to need to be able to fit them into our current world view. When we fail to do that, they fade as quickly as a dream does upon awakening…

I personally believe that there are an infinitude of mysterious and things that we are unable to comprehend out there in the world. There has to be. I find the most mysterious thing of all, the seeming lack of mysteries in the world. But given that the truly unexplained seem to get filtered out of our recollections by our discriminating psyche, it shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, we share a basic human need to understand our environment. But should we not be actively attempting to expand and revise our world views to accept new data?

When I experience something like I’ve described, I make it a point to write it down, so I won’t forget. Then, loving a mystery, I’ll attempt to solve it using a scientific mindset. It’s not good to quickly label a strange event as ‘paranormal’, just like it’s also unwise to quickly dismiss it as being normal. I’ve toiled over this event in my mind, but always come to an impasse. The only explanation which makes any sense, is that it was a coincidence of grand proportion. Another bass player, who just happened to look quite like my friend, who had a bass guitar, without a case, parked in the exact spot my real friend did, having the same type of car, but of a different color. He also had a crew cut, and his bass also looked like a custom job, maybe Austin’s friend made two? Maybe he had a jam session, too? Maybe I have a neighbor who was also expecting a bass player, at the exact same time as myself. But… really… what are the chances of this being true? If coincidental, that would not diminish the mystery to me, as it would still be truly bizarre.

To speculate, it could have been something to do with consciousness, such as a shared hallucination, also very strange. Or maybe there are parallel worlds out there, and every now and again, the veil is lifted, and we gain a tiny glimpse into one of these parallel realities, which maybe are very similar to our own, with minor changes. Quantum theory and some of the most advanced theoretical physicists today are moving closer to this paradigm of reality, called the “multiple worlds” view. Intuitively, I believe that they are on to something, yet even that something will be out shadowed by revelations even more bizarre and hard to comprehend, as time goes on. And when those are understood, something even more mind-blowing will either replace it, or modify it to fit into a larger view. Isn’t that the way things have happened with regards to human knowledge in the past? Why would that cycle end here, this current worldview being the ‘one’ that’s true, needed only minor adjustments here and there? One thousand years from now, will that world view not be as incomprehensible to us, as our current view would be to those living one thousand years in the past?

Either way you cut it, it was a very strange happening, thankfully not forgotten, and most likely never to be explained. When I remember it, it reminds me of just how mysterious our world is, and that maybe, just maybe, we don’t have it all figured out yet. Some people freak out and get disturbed when their world view is challenged. I’m the total opposite. I love when my world view is challenged, and take measures to ensure that I don’t ‘gloss over’ events like this should they happen again. If for no other reason, it reminds us that the world is still a mysterious, awesome place, and that there is always more out there for us to learn.

Published in: on May 5, 2011 at 4:48 am  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I used to think I had a bad memory/bad focus, because repeatedly things like this would happen. Schedules would change the day after I triple checked them, the next day when I missed the plane or whatever, the ticket suddenly had a different time.

    People I saw or events I was certain I had witnessed would later be denied and/or show to have not happened by the other people present. Though I clearly remember seeing, hearing and speaking to the person visiting. “It wasn’t Elizabeth, are you crazy? That was Sharon. She’s blonde and Elizabeth has black hair, how could you even mix them up?”

    I’ve also seen this strange “trance” behavior. My friend drove me all over the city once, changing his mind about the address we were going to every few blocks. Every time he’d make a wrong turn I wanted to ask, “Why did you turn the wrong way? We were on our way there!” Instead, I just kept asking, as if nothing was out of the ordinary, what’s the address? Every time he responded with a completely different address and kept driving confidently as he usually did (this guy was not known for getting lost or being a bad driver). Then he’d almost reach the new address, turn the wrong way and when I asked him again, “What’s the address again?” He’d reply with another completely different address. When we finally arrived at our friend’s house, he never mentioned anything about it again. He didn’t even say, “wow, it took us two hours to get here”. It was a 20 minute journey at most.

    Though, and this I must keep quiet, we did drive through somewhere I believe I was meant to know the location of. Somehow, my friend was put on auto-pilot to show me.

  2. My aunt told the story about her ex-husband: He came home early one night (usually he’d phone and stay out drinking till later after work with his buddies). She made him supper, ate with him etc. etc. Later, they were laying in bed together when the phone rang. “Hey, babe. I’m going to be a bit late tonight, the boys and I are at the pub.” She recognized her husband’s voice, rolled over to look next to her in the bed and no one was there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: