Despite being tired, he dressed in his work clothes. He opened the drawer and took out a magazine of 6.5mm ammunition, which he then placed into his bolt-action rifle. He placed a long paper bag over the weapon. "Curtain Rods" he mumbled to himself, reminding him of what he should say when his co-workers ask.
He also placed a .38 revolver in his pocket - just in case, he thought.
He was thinking as he travelled to work. Finally he would get a chance to prove himself to be the strong man he knew he was. The Marines, the KGB - they dismissed him as being weak and stupid. Even his Marxist friends in the US thought he was weird.
"You gotta prove yourself" said Louie, the Mafia gangster he had gotten to know recently. "You can't just walk up to some Italian guy and ask him to become a hitman!"
It was embarrassing, he reminded himself. The Dallas Italian Restaurant where he had met some Mafia gangsters was not, he had hoped, full of people who were willing to utilise his services. "So da Marines gave ya a certificate 'cause you shot a rifle well" laughed one of the them "Well have ya killed anyone yet? huh?"
"^%&^% Italians" he thought to himself. Then the next day he opened the paper. The president was going to visit town. JFK, the guy who tried to invade Cuba, was going to parade his ass around Dallas as though he owned the place.
His workplace buzzed for a while about JFK's planned visit. Then, in the lunch room one day, a co-worker came in and told everybody the good news. "They've changed the route" he said "They'll be passing right by our building". Everyone became excited. Some even spoke of getting friends and family to come in so they could have a good view out of the depository windows at the President.
Oswald, too, had been stunned. "He's passing by our building?" he asked. "Yep!" they all said.
Oswald remembered going up to the 6th floor - a book storeroom and off-limits to the rest of the staff. He trembled as he realised that, if he used the rifle he had bought months ago, he could actually shoot the president if he chose to. After all, the floor was normally devoid of people, and most would go to the lower floors to get a better view.
Suddenly his thoughts returned to the present, and to the actions he was about to undertake. As he walked in to the depository, he was greeted by fellow workers - most of whom he ignored. He was slightly sweating with nerves as he carried his rifle in. He couldn't remember how many times he said "Curtain rods" to those who asked what it was.
Lou was reading. The phone rang. "Hey Lou, turn on the radio" said the voice on the other end of the phone.
Lou hung up and turned on the radio. The news reporters were babbling insanely about the president being killed - right here in Dallas.
Lou sniggered. "Who would have the balls to do that?" He thought to himself.
Half an hour later he walked into a bar. The atmosphere was dead. People were listening to the radio or watching the TV. Everyone was talking about it. One person even claimed to be there. Someone was weeping.
"^%^ Charles, give me a beer" he asked the bartender as he walked up to him.
"Sure thing Louie" he said, pouring the beer, "goes on yer tab like always"
"What's all this about Kennedy? Someone ice him or something?"
"You better believe it pal. Someone fired on him from somewhere. They just announced his death. Johnson's the new President."
Lou laughed. "Sheesh, who was the shooter? What did they do to him?"
"Ain't found him yet. Dallas police is all over the place"
"So the guy didn't walk up to him and unload? What's going on?"
"Louie, the guy was armed with a rifle. He was picked off from a distance."
The door opened, Rocco walked in. The bartender left as Rocco sat down next to Lou. Rocco didn't look happy as he sidled up to him.
"Hey Louie, I thought you were here. We gotta go, the boss is worried"
"The Dallas Police are everywhere, and man are they pissed!"
"What's to worry about? The boss has his people running the department!" Lou said, downing another mouthful.
"Louie, this is bigger than what you think. The boss is worried that they're getting pressure from above. We got the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service, even the &^^% IRS is getting involved."
"Hey! Turn it up!" yelled a voice in the bar. A voice on the TV became louder.
"...Dallas police have now arrested a suspect. A Dallas policeman has been shot and killed and the suspect is the same as that who killed the President earlier today..."
A few people in the bar cheered. Some shouted out that the guy should be killed.
"..vey Oswald is the name of the suspect"
Lou went cold.
"Hey HEY!: he yelled out. "What was that name again?"
"Lee somebody" was a reply.
"Oh &^%!" he said quietly
Rocco stared "You know the guy?"
"I think so. We'd better go"
Louie was sweating badly as he sat on the chair. It was Oswald, that Commie weirdo he met at the bar a couple of months ago. He was so full of himself and Louie almost beat him up. Then he started talking about becoming a mafia hit-man. Louie remembered laughing at the guy. He'd bump into Oswald once a week and they'd talk about odd things. Oswald was a commie, Louie had worked out, and he had spent some time in Russia "working for the KGB". Now he was back in America trying to make a living. "Hey, if Russia is so *#&ing good, why did ya move back here?" he remembers asking.
One night Oswald showed him his revolver - he was like a kid showing off a new toy. A week later he pulled a rifle out of his car. "I want to be a hit man" he had said. Lou had not told him he was a member of the boss's syndicate, but Oswald knew. The guy may have been pretty stupid, but he could work some people out.
Two weeks ago Oswald turned up at the restaurant. Rocco almost killed him when he walked in. The guy declared to everyone there - members of the syndicate all - that he was the best &^%&^ing hitman there was. Louie stood up and hustled him out as the others laughed. "You can't be a hitman" he said to Oswald outside the restaurant "Have you killed anyone yet? Huh?"
He didn't see Oswald after that. Not until he saw the police mugshot placed across the table at him.
Oswald - how did this loser end up shooting the most powerful man in the country?
Lou, like many minions in the syndicate, knew when to shut up and listen. When he was hauled in to see the big boss he was shaking. "Who the F&*^ is this guy?" the boss demanded.
He told the boss everything he knew about Oswald. People were not happy. The Boss screamed at him. "This guy is linked to you! If he starts squealing about the mafia then they're gonna get us"
"Hey Boss" Louie remembers saying "you gotta calm down. You got the chief commissioner on your payroll!". Bad move.
"You putz! That means S%##! We got the FBI invovled, the f&amp;^%&ing CIA and the Secret Service! I got no links with them!! If they think we're involved in this thing then they'll come out hunting. And then they'll suspect that the Dallas police are involved too! All of us are going to go down! Think about that!"
Louie shook. He knew that by incurring the boss's wrath he was in line for something bad.
The door opened. It was the boss. He was smiling and waved his hand. Lou immediately felt better.
"Hey Lou, it's okay. Forget about it!"
"Boss, what do you mean?"
"I had another think. It's not your fault. But we hafta get rid of this guy Oswald before he says anything. We're gonna send someone in to ice him."
"Who's gonna do it? He'll probably get iced himself"
"I know just the guy. You remember Jack Ruby?"
Lou remembered - Jack Ruby. He was lucky to be alive. The guy should have been knocked off weeks ago for the stuff he did.
Lou nodded in agreement "So you gonna get Jack to do it? How?"
"Payment", the boss said "Plus we'd tell him that by doing this we won't kill his family"
Officer Michaels was sitting exhausted in front of the TV. It had been another hard day. The FBI and Secret Service were going berserk, and there were rumours among fellow officers that the Feds were going to come down hard on the Dallas Police.
Michaels knew that Oswald did it - you could tell it from his face. He had shot Kennedy and killed J.D., a officer he knew and respected. Oswald was going to get the chair for this, no doubt whatsoever.
Like most in Dallas - like most in America - Officer Michaels was in shock. But while the words of shock and sadness that he had heard on the TV and over the radio were genuine, the fact that he was caught up in this mess himself was different. The Feds had set up their own temporary office in the station - East coast know-it-alls out of place in the south. He and the other Dallas officers felt that the G-men were sticking their noses where they shouldn't be stuck. He'll be damned if he was going to help them.
Michaels, like many in the Dallas police, knew that if the G-men found out that the Dallas mafia had their claws into the department then he would be jailed for many years - probably with some of the low-life scum that he had put away himself. Officer Michaels knew he was a corrupt cop - but he still wore a uniform, he still had his beat, and he still arrested the bad guys. Besides, the mafia guys had not really used him much any more. A let-off here, a warning there - he was just a simple cop who got some pocket money for letting certain criminals get away with the petty stuff. Not murder though - he decided that he would draw the line at that one, something his mob "friends" actually understood.
There was a knock at the door. It was 9.30 at night... who could it be?
"Honey? Who's that?" his wife called from the bedroom.
"I don't know - I'll check" he replied. As he walked over to the door he grabbed his service revolver - just in case.
He opened the door. It was Silvio, his mafia contact.
"Out to the car.. now!" ordered Silvio, his voice menacing.
"Um... honey... it's someone from work. I'll be back in a sec" Michaels hollered to his wife.
Silvio and Michaels walked out to the car. Silvio sat in the drivers seat while Michaels sat next to him. In the back seat were two men. One of them he had seen before - he was mafia. The other guy looked tense.
"Officer Michaels. I have an order for you." said the man in the back.
"What do you guys want, huh? Have I done anything wrong?" Micahels stammered
"It's okay officer. " The man said "Silvio here says he trusts you. And if Silivio trusts you, I trust you, okay?"
"Okay, now - what time you on tomorrow morning at work?"
"My shift starts at 10.00am. I don't know exactly what I'm doing though. This whole Oswald thing has made everyone jumpy"
"That's okay officer Michaels because we know what you're doing. Tomorrow morning, some time after you start your shift, you will be guarding an entrance to the Dallas Police Headquarters. You'll be told to not let anyone enter. But I'm telling you that there is one exception to this rule."
"What do you mean?"
"Officer Michaels, at some point tomorrow the man sitting next to me will approach you. You will let him in, no questions asked."
"Okay, fine." Michaels nodded. But why would he be on guard duty at the police HQ? "Hey - hang on. If I'm guarding the HQ, then that means that Oswald is going to be moved..."
"Officer Michaels, you're a good officer and you have brains" the man said, "By doing us this favour, we will be giving you ten thousand dollars."
Michaels was stunned.
"Ten grand? But... Guys, is someone going to get killed? I have told you that I'm not gonna play ball if it ever comes to murder..."
"Hey!" the man yelled "We're killing Oswald! That piece of crap you've got in there is gonna fry anyway! He killed Kennedy didn't he? He killed J.D. didn't he? We have our reasons officer Michaels, and you've got to trust us."
"You're killing Oswald?"
Michaels exhaled in resignation, "Okay I'll do it".
"Now listen - you know what happens if you change your mind don't you?" said the man.
There was a pause.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Nice wife you got there." Silvio suddenly said. "I see you've got a baby on the way, too. I saw her shopping for baby clothes today."
He went cold
"You saw my wife... but wh"
"Ten gees can buy you a lot for your kid, you know. Maybe even a college scholarship? Private School?" said the man in the back
"I think you know what to do Officer Michaels. Turn around and look at the man. Look at his face."
Michaels turned around. It was hard to see in the car's limited internal light, but he could make out the face clearly. He had seen him somewhere before.
"Officer Michaels... this is Jack"
Jack nodded silently at the policeman. The man - Jack - looked very tense.
"So are we agreed officer Michaels?" The mafia man asked.
What else could Michaels do?
"Yeah. I'll let him through"
"That's good. One more thing officier Michaels."
"You do this service for us, we're never gonna talk again. Ever. You understand? After you let Jack in tomorrow, you're a clean cop. We aint gonna bother you any more. Okay?"
One year. That's how much this assassination had taken out of Philip Brady's life.
He wasn't on call that day in Dallas, but he had spent time before guarding the President's life. Now that he looked at it, it was obvious that the level of protection that they had given to Kennedy had been pathetic. They had failed in their duty, no doubt about it.
Johnson had personally bawled him out - an experience he did not wish to repeat. He could still remember the smell of the president's breath as he backed Brady up against a table with their faces only an inch apart. There was no choice. He dedicated the next 12 months to the investigation.
It was all secret - he couldn't even tell his wife what he had discovered. More than that, he wouldn't want to, especially when he discovered that the FBI had put him under surveillance. It was obvious, though, that Hoover still wanted a piece of the Secret Service - he just happened to be part of the internal politics between the two.
It had taken him time, but he and the other Secret Service officers assigned to the case had begun to break down some of the barriers that the Dallas PD had put up. He knew that the Dallas Mafia were involved somehow - and that some of the officers he had interrogated were as corrupt as anyone he had met.
It was strange. He had originally been ordered to investigate Kennedy's Assassination, but now he was following up the loose ends left after Oswald had been shot.
Everyone he worked with concluded that Oswald's death was a mafia hit. The killer, Jack Ruby, was as skilled as any in keeping his mouth closed. Even when he allowed some of his men to "lean" on him, nothing was forthcoming. But it was Ruby's background that gave it away - his criminal career was obvious. Nevertheless, there were still questions that needed to be asked, and no one had been asking them.
The FBI were furious at Brady's investigation after Oswald was killed. Everything he was doing was their territory, they argued. But he would argue back that his task was to investigate the assassination of the president, which is what he was doing, so tell Hoover to get lost. And on his work went.
He was certainly not a popular figure whenever he interviewed Police Officers at the Dallas PD HQ. Every time he went in a code of silence descended, even from the top brass. He had put a number of them under surveillance and knew that he had enough evidence to get three of them indicted for corruption. He never drank their coffee.
But it was the FBI that was the real problem. They were keeping information from him, and he knew it. Questions that he posed to them were given perfunctory or incoherent answers. FBI men he wanted to speak to were strangely absent when he walked into their offices. Hoover had trained his men well.
So it was simply a matter of retaliation - he kept things from them, too. He was proud of the traditions and work of the Secret Service and there was no way he was going to let the FBI get any advantage from this.
After all, it wasn't as though the killer was still out there. Had Oswald escaped, he knew that the Service and the FBI would work well together to track him down and bring him to justice. Now that the killer was dead, and there were loose ends to tie up, it was simply back to internal politics.
And there was no way Hoover was going to get any kudos from his investigation.
The phone rang.
"Phil Brady? This is agent John Asquith from the Bureau. How are you today?" Said the voice at the other end.
Great, Brady groaned to himself, another FBI man to deal with.
"Good morning Agent Asquith, what can I do for you?"
"I hate to interrupt your investigation, but I have something here you should see." The voice sounded bright, almost arrogant.
"Yeah? What is it?"
"Come down to the Bureau offices. I'll set it up for you..."
Brady was getting a bit annoyed at this guy. The arrogance. Just pop down to the Bureau offices? Give me a break.
"Look agent Asquith, I'm a busy man. If you'd like to make an appointment with my secretary, you can come here."
"Okay Mr Brady, if that's the way you want it. However, I need to warn you that what I have will turn your investigation on its ear."
"Okay, I'll just put you through to my secretary..." said Brady, and promptly hung up. FBI agents, he thought, were complete jerks.
Phil Brady shut the film off as Agent Asquith stood up and spoke.
"Anyone with any knowledge of the ballistic qualities of bullets can tell what happened here. The bullet that killed the President was fired from in front of the motorcade."
The gathered group of investigators looked horrified. A couple of them had their heads in their hands. A few looked angry.
"But all the evidence we have suggests that Oswald did it!" blurted out an FBI agent.
Brady stood up next to Asquith.
"I know about as much as any of you about Oswald. The evidence that he shot at Kennedy from the school book depository is overwhelming. But we are still faced with the Zapruder film."
"Is the film a fake?" questioned a Secret Service agent at the back.
"It would be so much simpler if it was... but no." said Brady "It's been tested rigorously and Zapruder himself has been subjected to all sorts of investigations."
A grey-haired man sitting in the front row broke his silence and looked at the FBI agent.
"So, agent Asquith, are you saying that there were two shooters?" he said
"Yes" said Asquith "I am certain of it"
The investigators groaned, one even looked as though he was going to break down.
Asquith continued. "Remember early on the investigation when we were interviewing those in front of the president's car? Do you remember their testimonies that the shot came from behind them, from the grassy area? We just thought they heard an echo. We discounted their evidence because it was clear Oswald was the shooter. Well, it turns out that they heard another shooter."
"So what are we going to do?" asked one of the more shaken agents.
Asquith sighed heavily. "I'm sure that there are plenty of police departments around the country that would welcome our expertise."
"I have spent 30 years of my life working for the Bureau!" yelled an angry investigator "I can't accept that it's all going to end like this!"
Brady spoke up.
"Gentlemen", he said slowly, "It was our duty to do the best we could to bring this matter to a conclusion. But our best was not good enough. No matter how you look at it, when the politicians begin to realise what has happened, we will be the first in line to be punished."
"That depends" the grey-haired man said. His words silenced the entire room.
He continued. "It depends upon who else is going to lose their jobs over this. We're not just looking at you people here, but the Dallas P.D., the Governor of Texas, and also the President himself."
"I beg your pardon, sir, but if you're saying that the President himself may lose out because of this, then I'm not sure how that could be." said the Secret Service agent sitting next to him.
"Oh, not directly of course..." the old man continued "But consider this. When the report from the commission is tabled and it is discovered that the best law-enforcement organisations in the country let the President's assassin escape, what do you think will happen?"
More silence. The grey-haired man continued.
"I'll be honest with you, the Dallas P.D. can go to hell for all I care. But in this room we have representatives from all three major federal investigation services. Even though there is always a low-level war going on between each department, I know I can trust these departments to act swiftly and professionally when our nation is threatened. It makes no sense to destroy and humiliate good people and good organisations over such a mistake."
Phil Brady saw that all the eyes in the room were on this man. "What are you saying sir?" he asked.
"All I'm saying is that there are many on the commission who will take a realistic view - a patriotic view if you like. They know what this film can do to the United States of America if it comes out."
"Sir, the film will eventually be made public" interrupted agent Asquith, "we can't keep it secret forever. And if we destroy or lose it then..."
"The film WILL eventually be made public" stated the grey-haired man "but the findings that we have discussed will not."
People looked around in confusion. For the first time a hint of annoyance came to face of the grey-haired man. "All I am saying is that your jobs are safe, gentlemen. As soon as is possible I will get every single one of you to my office for some individual instructions. In the meantime I have a lot of work to do with the commission."
He stood up and looked at the group of investigators keenly.
"And, of course, do I need to remind you that loyalty will be rewarded?"
It was good to be back in the modern world again, with cars and hamburgers and beds. No more did he need to stay low, keep quiet and live off the land.
The locals in the Oregon town were at first puzzled when the Texan walked in. They were good, honest people - not like Kennedy of course. Nevertheless, he had found himself a job and he worked hard at it. He made friends and on weekends often went out hunting with THE rifle.
It was a secret he was telling no one. He still remembers seeing the president's face in the scope - and a few moments later the deed had been done.
The Dallas police were idiots - they must have been since his escape and disappearance were so easy to achieve. When he discovered that they had arrested and killed the wrong man he could not contain his laughter. But he kept low, just in case. He left Texas and travelled to Oregon, living off the land in the vast forests there. It was cold and wet, but too many people knew him in Texas for him to feel safe. No - he was never going to return, lest he give away his secret to a friend.
Often he would sit there and replay the events in his mind. He had often done this after he served in Korea, and discovered that his memories of events would often not match those of his colleagues.
But often he would catch himself - did he really hear the sound of a gunshot before he pulled the trigger? Did he really notice flashes of gunfire from the building behind the motorcade? No, he concluded, it was just his mind and his memories playing tricks on him.
From the Eye of ArgONE Department
© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.