“Your Simon and I aren’t identical twins,” I point out. “If I set this up, how would I know she would think I was him?”

“How do you know you aren’t identical twins?” Mosley asks. “You look a lot alike to me.”

I explain about thousands of sperm going after the same egg and how unlikely it is that the same one would fertilize it, given all the difference between what dad and mom went through on real Earth versus US-53. They don’t buy it. Genetics is an eyes-glaze-over subject.

I try again. “We’re probably half-identical twins. Same egg. Different sperm from the same father. That makes us closer than normal brothers, but not identical. She should have seen the differences, felt the differences, smelled the differences. The odds of her not noticing some difference are astronomical.

No sale on that. I shift ground. “Even if we looked and smelled and felt the same, how could I know if your Simon had a scar or tattoo she would notice right away? The chance of me fooling her into having sex is so low I would have been a moron to try it.”

“And yet it worked,” Mosley says.

“Not for me. I’m sitting in a police interrogation room looking at a public relations nightmare.”

The interrogation drags on, with me refusing to answer their questions. They keep hammering away, ingratiating, kindly, ‘let’s straighten this out so we can all go home’ alternating with accusations.

I’m hungry, thirsty, tired, hot and having a catastrophically bad day. The lemur sausage Ella snuck into my breakfast still sits in my stomach, waiting for its revenge. I have visions of projectile barfing, hopefully knocking Mosley’s glasses out of his hands, sending them crashing to the floor and ‘accidentally’ stomping them so he can’t take them off and put them back on yet again.

Getting punchy here. Dangerously tired and uncomfortable too. I’m not giving them anything, but I understand how marathon interrogations wear a suspect down.

I mentally write scenes where both officers die slow and agonizing deaths. It’s amazing how many ways I can think of for a guy to die with pieces of his glasses sticking out of vital organs.

Plausible ways for him to die, that’s more challenging. Having him die with the glasses sticking out his butt at the end, that’s the ultimate challenge, especially making it all plausible. Inevitable would be even better, a finely choreographed set of action ending—no pun intended, in death by eyeglasses up the butt.

Yes, I know they’re doing their jobs and I don’t wish painful and embarrassing death on them, not wholeheartedly.

I figure out from their questions that Madison called the bookstore to tell Simon the Lesser that she was on her way but would be late. The teenage daughter took the call, wrote a note and put it at Simon the Lesser’s table. Before he read it, someone substituted their own note, the one Eastport’s finest were waving around.

Someone wanted Simon the Lesser out of the bookstore. Did they want Madison to hook up with me? I doubt it. Hot hotel sex was an unlikely outcome of luring Simon the Lesser away, unless Madison was in on the plan. Was she? I don’t think so.

She did take her wedding ring off though. Surprising her husband for their anniversary wouldn’t require that. Maybe she was going all in playing the star-struck fan for him, but I’m not sure I buy that. I want to. I can’t get memories of those moments in the hotel room out of my mind.

I don’t respond to the increasingly repetitive questions, tune them out mostly, with just enough of my mind monitoring them to tell me if the cops reveal something useful.

A couple hours in I start counting the times Mosley takes off his glasses. I lose interest in the high teens.

“You should be working with us,” Linde says. “Don’t you want to clear this up? Do you want a cloud hanging over your name?”

What I want is a lawyer who knows how the laws and the constitution mutated here in sixty-plus years of isolation. What laws did they pass in their panic at being cut off from the rest of the world?

They had a Red Scare that made ours look tame, but beyond that I know very little. Was I stupid to come here knowing as little as I do? Maybe, but no matter how much I researched I wouldn’t have looked up Rape by Deception. I didn’t know the crime existed. I would dearly love to know what they need to prove to convict. Do you have to actively try to convince the wife you’re her husband, or can you be convicted for being where the wife expects her husband to be?

A policewoman stops by and passes a note to Mosley. He reads it, looks disgusted, then passes it to Linde. They glance at each other and literally throw up their hands. Mosley puts his glasses back on and says, “Mr. Royale, you’re free to go.”

And that’s it for the scene. What do you think?  Famous author goes to an alternate reality, screws his alternate reality self’s wife in a case of mistaken identity and gets accused of deliberately deceiving her. And, since it’s an author’s responsibility to make life complicated for his characters, the condom broke and the wife is off the pill because she and her husband are trying for another kid. 

If you’re intrigued by all this, you can find the novel it’s in on Amazon.