Mistaken Identity

Arian Knops

Mistaken Identity

3 mins
June 29, 2021

Many of us have been mistaken for someone else and it is usually someone who looks like us. I was once mistaken for a miscreant from my hometown. Of course, he was from one of the ‘Right’ families and I was a member of one of the ‘Wrong’ families.

Now George and I were both male and both Caucasian but after that the similarity ended.  He was tall, skinny and somewhat of a dork.  Okay, the dork part is another similarity, except I was about eight inches shorter than him.

One night George and some of his friends decided to get drunk and when young men get drunk their brains often shift into neutral. On this particular night well after mid-night George, and I guess the friends, got a wild idea that it would be fun to take the tractor, a ‘B’ Farmall, that the town used to mow along the roads at the fringes of town, for a short jaunt down the railroad tracks.

It’s a lot easier to get a tractor and attached mower onto railroad tracks than off. And then there are these things called trains that have the right of way on tracks. George had proceeded east from his entry point at the main drag in town that crossed the tracks, about two and a half blocks heading for an intersection a few blocks further down, where he could exit, when what should appear further to the east but the headlight of a freight train that would make it to the same crossing a goodly time before George and the tractor would, so George did the reasonable thing. He dove off of the still running tractor and headed for cover.

This is when the problems started for me. Problem A. Speeding trains don’t stop on a dime or four-hundred dollars’ worth of dimes for that matter and said speeding train reduced the tractor and mower to scrap metal by the time it stopped just beyond the western boundaries of the town. Problem B. Some old lying battle-axe, who lived near the railroad tracks told the self-appointed cop, a guy nicknamed Flabman, of our little burg that it was that youngest Knops kid, me, that she had watched drive the tractor down the tracks. So Flabman and his sidekick, an equally portly but hairless fellow named Curly, pounded on my dad’s door at about two thirty in the AM looking for me and the two morons quickly explained the predicament.

My dad pleaded ignorance since I was in the Navy and some eleven-hundred miles away and if I had stopped in town I had failed to visit him.  He gave the two nitwits the phone number of the barracks I was in.

The MAA, the man who was in charge of the barracks at night, roused me from my slumber and I trudged down to the office.  On the speaker phone the MAA told the two small-town idiots I was indeed standing next to him and that he had shaken me out of my sleep of the just that I had been enjoying.

Flabman quickly explained what had happened and then asked, “Has he been there all night?” Seriously, he asked that question. My Navy guy explained that he didn’t think I could get from Freeport, Minnesota to Meridian, Mississippi in a bit under an hour unless I had hitched a ride with an incoming Russian ICBM and if that was happening the country was having more problems than a farm tractor on some railroad tracks in some god-forsaken little backwater in Minnesota. I think that confused Flabman and Curly more than just a little bit and one of them finally said, “I guess the old gal was wrong”, and hung up.

What the hell kind of screwed up town do you come from anyway?” asked the MAA.  

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” I said.  “It’s one hundred percent Catholic, ninety-nine percent German and they are all related and I’m from one of the ‘Wrong’ families.  We, and kids from other ‘Wrong’ families have always been blamed for stuff we didn’t do.  I joined the Navy to get away from that place.”

Well, kid,” the MAA said.  “You make me happy I’m from Alabama, of English ancestry and a tee-totaling Baptist.  I’ve heard of some screwed up places on this planet, but that town of yours is at the top of the list.  Why don’t you go get some sleep?”

This article was orginally reported by
Arian Knops

Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.