Mistaken Identity – Short Story by Debra Sherman

“2912 Riverview?” the library clerk asked, once her computer screen revealed account information for “Darcy Alexander.”

Darcy leaned forward to look at the screen.  “No, that’s not my address.”

“Looks like there are two Darcy Alexander’s in the system,” the clerk replied.  What’s your address?

“752 South Street.  Do you need my library card?”

“No, I’ve got it now.”

As the clerk renewed Darcy’s library books, Darcy found herself feeling discouraged that another Darcy Alexander has apparently moved into Lewiston.  It’s a common name, apparently, because Darcy has had numerous problems with someone of the same name.  When she purchased her wedding dress, for example, she’d made payment arrangements and had gone into the dress shop faithfully each month to make a payment, only to find when she went to pick up the dress two days before her wedding, the account was labeled seriously overdue.  Thankfully, she had kept her receipts, and it was revealed that every time she had made a payment, the amount was credited to another girl’s dress – another girl named Darcy Alexander.

When Darcy had a pretty severe car accident back in 1992, the insurance adjuster had come to the house with the purpose of making a compensation offer.  A ridiculously low offer, given the severity of Darcy’s injuries in an accident where she had been rear-ended and clearly wasn’t at fault.  When negotiations got heated, the adjuster pulled out a medical history for one Darcy Alexander, and pointed out that Darcy had had similar injuries in the past.

“You broke your collar bone in 1989,” the adjuster said.

“No, I didn’t.”

The adjuster pushed a medical report toward Darcy.  “It says right here, you had an accident in 1989 and broke your collar bone.”

“This isn’t me,” Darcy argued.  “I didn’t break my collar bone.”  She noticed there was a social security number on the document.  “Look,” she said, as she pushed the document back to the adjuster.  “This isn’t my social security number.”

Darcy produced her social security card to prove it.

The worst incident involving “another Darcy Alexander” happened just two years ago, when someone claiming Darcy’s identity had stolen her credit card information and charged more than $9,000 in jewelry online.  There was an investigation by the State Police which revealed the woman had actually produced a passport bearing her name when the online jewelry store required identification for such a large purchase.

I hope this girl returns her library books on time, Darcy thought, as she wondered whether there would be confusion regarding the two accounts and if she’d have to constantly argue now about what books she did or didn’t check out.

Two weeks later, Darcy was relaxing in her living room when there was a knock at the door.  She wasn’t expecting anyone, and hadn’t heard a car pull up, so before she answered the door she pulled the curtains back slightly and peered out the front window.

“Lewiston Police,” a voice sounded, and two thoughts immediately entered Darcy’s mind.  First, that the teenage boy next door was likely in trouble again.  A month or so ago the Lewiston Police had followed the boy and his friends home after they were spotted driving erratically on River Road.  They’d lined the boys up in the driveway while they searched the car, and all four were arrested for possession of marijuana.  Her second thought was that she was glad she was dressed and hadn’t yet changed into pajamas.

“Hello,” she said to the officer as she opened the front door.  She was surprised when the officer immediately stepped inside without an invitation.

“Darcy Alexander?” he said, and Darcy just stood there, shocked at this rude intrusion.

“Yes, officer, what’s the problem?”

Without responding, the officer removed a pair of handcuffs from his belt and turned Darcy around, grabbing her arm roughly.

“What’s going on!” Darcy screamed, as the handcuffs snapped closed first on her left wrist, then on her right.  “What’s happening!”

“You’re under arrest, Ms. Alexander.”

“Arrest!  For what!  There’s been some kind is mistake!”

**********

Darcy had seen the inside of a courtroom only one time before, as a result of a speeding ticket.  She hadn’t felt the need to have an attorney present and was able to get the charge reduced to a parking violation and a small fine without much effort.  Today, though, she sits at the defendant’s table with one of the area’s most expensive attorneys at her side.  You get what you pay for, she’d thought, when she’d been forced to hire an experienced, qualified attorney to represent her.  This was no speeding ticket.

“Not guilty,” Darcy said confidently, prompted by her attorney after the Judge asked for her plea to the charge of Grand Theft Auto.  “I’m not guilty, Your Honor,” she added, as if trying to reinforce her response.

“Your Honor, these charges are clearly false,” Darcy’s attorney began.  “The State has absolutely no evidence that Ms. Alexander had anything at all to do with this crime.”

“We have a witness who placed Ms. Alexander at the scene, Your Honor,” the prosecutor argued.

“Did your witness see Ms. Alexander actually steal this automobile?” the judge asked.

“Yes, Sir.  Ms. Sheehan will testify that she saw Ms. Alexander get into the car and drive off.”  He motioned to a woman sitting directly behind him on the first bench.  Darcy looked at Ms. Sheehan.  She didn’t recognize her.

“What’s the State’s position on bail or remand, then, counselor,” the Judge asked the prosecutor.  Before he could answer, the prosecutor was interrupted by a tap on his shoulder by Ms. Sheehan.  He leaned toward her.

“That’s not her,” Ms. Sheehan whispered, but it was loud enough that both Darcy and her attorney heard it.

Today, please, Mr. McEvoy,” the Judge insisted.

Darcy’s attorney looked at her and shrugged.

“Your Honor, may I have a moment to confer with the witness?” the prosecutor asked.

“You’ll have opportunity to present your case at trial, Mr. McEvoy.”  The judge was annoyed.  “Just a recommendation on bail for now, please.”

Ms. Sheehan continued to urgently whisper into the prosecutor’s ear.

“Your Honor, may we please proceed,” Darcy’s attorney insisted.

“What seems to be the problem, Mr. McEvoy?” the Judge asked, as the prosecutor turned his back to Ms. Sheehan and faced the Judge.

“It seems we have a case of mistaken identity,” the prosecutor said.  “Ms. Sheehan has just informed me that the Defendant is not the person she saw at the scene.”

“Are you or are you not Darcy Alexander?” the Judge asked Darcy sarcastically.

“I am, Your Honor.”

“That’s not the Darcy Alexander I know,” Ms. Sheehan blurted out.

“Mr. McEvoy,” the Judge began in a frustrated voice.  “Can we please…”

Darcy interrupted.  “There’s another Darcy Alexander who lives in Lewiston, Your Honor.  I know because the library got my account mixed up with hers.”

Without objection from the humiliated prosecutor, the Judge dismissed the case.

Outside the courtroom, Darcy could hear the prosecutor talking on his cell phone while she watched her attorney approach him.

“You guys never even bothered to confirm the identification?” he snarled.

“As long as you’re on the phone with the Lewiston Police,” Darcy’s attorney interrupted.  “You might as well inform them we’ll be filing suit for false arrest.”

**********

Darcy places three books on the clerk’s desk, and as she waits for the printout with the due dates, she’s relieved to be back at the library, checking out books to fill the time in a life she’s glad is boring again.

“Did you drop books off in the bin when you came in today?” the clerk asks.

“No, I haven’t checked anything out recently,” Darcy replies.

“You’ve got two books with late fees.  I’ll need payment before I can process the new ones.”

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