“I’m the real one!” shouted the man who could be Henry at me. “No, I’m the real one! The man you married!” the other one who also could be Henry exclaimed.
I looked back and forth at them, hunting rifle at the ready. The news had warned us about duplicates showing up, but we never thought it would happen to us. Henry insisted I learn how to use the gun he had bought, even though he knew I hated the idea of guns. Looking between them, they both had the same haircut, same clothes, same stupid peekaboo pin-up necktie I always asked him to get rid of. Same eyes, filled with scorn. Same voice, sounding angry at me taking so long to decide. I took a deep breath and tried to steady my grip.
“Damn it, Emily, you can’t tell your husband from a fake?!” The first one yelled. The second one looked like he was going to yell as well, then spoke in a soft voice I hadn’t heard in years. “I won’t ask you to make Salisbury steak ever again. I know you hate it. I’ll stop comparing you to my mother; that’s not fair to you. I’ll apologize to Glen about kicking him out after he came out to us. I’ll work on being a better person, a better father, a better husband. Please?”
“You idiot!” The first one cried out in joy. “I had heard the duplicates were weak, but I didn’t think you’d be that weak! No strength in you, and now Emily knows which one of us is the real one!”
I blinked, and slowly nodded. “Yes, I do. I know which one is my real husband.” And then I shot him.
The duplicate winced at the sound, looking like he was expecting to be the one shot. He glanced over, and then let out a deep breath. He stood up and looked at me with concern as I threw the gun to the ground. He came over and put his hands on my shoulders, and asked in a voice I had longed to hear once again, “Are you all right?”
I nodded again, shaking, and looked at him. “I’ll report you if you’ve been lying about the changes you’ll make. I can’t imagine I’ll be the first to have made the ‘mistake’ of shooting the wrong one.”
The duplicate shook his head and smiled warmly. “No, of course not. It’s still risky, but so much easier for us when we become people that the old version won’t be missed. And we can always chalk up the change to having a different perspective after such an ordeal.”
He took off his tie and grimaced at it, then threw it to the ground.
“No one has complained so far.”