Monday, September 24, 2012


But James Ladd is not a ghostly counterpart to me, and last I checked I was not dead, so I am not a ghost to him. But the instant I saw his face on the news I gasped, and when I showed the picture to other people their reactions made it clear: this dude and I look alike. A lot alike.

He's 51, like me, and a murderer, unlike me. He's on the run from North Carolina authorities. He killed two people on a farm in 1980. He was working on a prison farm when he rode his tractor — OK, the prison's tractor — to freedom.

I bet he looked happy as he escaped. Maybe happy like this:
Maybe even happier, though I don't see how that's possible.

More likely he's shaved his beard to a Van Dyke and donned a sports coat:
I decided to drop Ladd's photo into my iPhoto library, just to see if the magic facial recognition software would be able to discern the difference. Here, the result:
Sweet Baby Jebus. Even the Mac thinks we're the same dude.

I've seen one other person who looked a lot like me. I was riding the Metro in D.C. for Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993. The guy was reading the paper. I just stared. He got off at Crystal City and looked up as he stood up. Our eyes met. His widened and I could hear him in my head: Jesus, that guy looks just like me.

He gave a small wave. I did likewise. And then he was gone, his voice still clear in my brain, much as mine was in his, I'm sure.

They say we all have a double on this planet. Make mine a triple.

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