illus. by Benjamin Bergman, https://bbergman.myportfolio.com/, IG: @spare.ink

What do you do when you meet someone so alike to yourself, that it stuns you? The answer to that is in the fourth chapter of our serialized free novel, “Dead Souls: An American Poem,” a continuation of Gogol’s 1842 classic set in modern-day America:

 

From a distance, the crowd writhed like one multi-legged animal, heaving as in the throes of either death or birth. Tchitchikov watched, entranced by all the passion out there, hoping to speak their truth to the powers that are. He was interrupted from his reverie by a young man. “Do you have a smoke?” he asked.

Tchitchikov sighed. “Do I look like a smoke-embalmed mummy? Does my breath smell like stifled embers? Everyone asks. No one thinks.”

The young man laughed.

“What is funny here?”

“You, I suppose.”

“Come now, you rascal—”

“No, wait!” The young man held his hands up. “You got me!” He laughed further.

Tchitchikov pondered the various options of engagement that lay before him. He sized him up: the young man was cleanly dressed, and sharply, with dress pants—though cheap—and a dark jacket over a pale shirt—also cheap, some bare threads at the elbows. The young man was cleanly shaved, apparently very cleanly, and recently too, that spoke to the care he took in quality toiletries. Most importantly, he wore a large, but slightly devilish, grin. The whole presentation before Tchitchikov was effective for its purpose. And what purpose was that? To remind Tchitchikov of a young doppelganger of himself, he was certain.

After a few moments he decided not to box him after all.

 

Come read Chapter Four at this link! Get yourself caught up already!

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