THE FINAL RESTING PLACE
Never woke up on November 23 or 24
The Final Resting Place
She tossed very expensive bottles of scotch, sometimes daily, sometimes breaking them in the kitchen sink to protest her loss of the man she loved. He had convinced himself that his behavior dramatically changed only as November approached each year. I mean it made sense in a way, except for the reality everyone else was forced to live with. He woke up every day of his life on November 22. Never woke up on November 23 or 24, let alone some other year than 1963.
He could not remember when it was exactly that he also convinced himself that they had implanted something in his brain that would alert them immediately if he even thought about spilling the beans. And then they would inject him with cancer cells, and he would be dead in very short order. So he had chosen the only way out he knew. He would simply kill himself, slowly but surely.
He was quite aware that there was something miraculous about his liver still functioning, and he credited that miracle to going to daily Mass and communion. Oh yes, everyone knew when he walked into the small chapel at the rear of the church. Within seconds, the lingering scent of beeswax and incense was quickly overpowered and shot through by the eighty proof odor that seemed to exude, maybe even explode, from every pore in his body.
Unfortunately, there was no one in his life he could trust, not even Sara, and certainly not the people at morning Mass with whom he went to breakfast almost daily, the breakfast club. They seemed to admire and love him. The women, well, the widows were constantly hitting on him and the men, constantly seeking his advice on the stock market. He never did understand how that came about. He was hardly an expert, but it somehow happened like so many other things in his life. They just happen. Everything always just happens. There is never a rhyme or reason just like his fateful involvement some fifty years ago. He had no warning, no idea what he was getting himself into. He thought he was being loyal to his country.
So he lived a very measured life. Mass and communion in the morning and then the daily ritual with Glenlivet which began promptly at four o’clock with the first hour of the evening news. His hands shook so badly that he could barely peel off the foil around the cork top of the scotch bottle.
As each year kept drifting by, he kept drifting away. It had become a daily drift now, for a very long time, a daily drift now into oblivion. Here, he doesn’t have to figure out if any of it is true. The guilt from being a part of something so outrageous, so unbelievable, so inexplicable, so not suppose to happen in our country also drifts into that same oblivion. There is no internal or external judge to face, no bench to approach, no evidence to present, no witnesses. Yes, there are the agonizing hours that begin ticking as soon as he wakes up, the nausea in his gut, the constant paranoia of who knows what he is thinking, but it all evaporates, conveniently evaporates. And if they ever do come looking for him, he just hopes they do it after the four o’clock news begins. He will simply invite them in for a drink and will ask that they kindly shoot him with a silencer at the exact moment he is taking his last shot.
He remembers well moving next door to Oswald and befriending him. That was his part of the job, whatever the job was. They didn’t tell you the game plan, the goal, just your small part of it. He knew of Oswald‘s defection to the Soviet Union, and he knew he was a man of interest, well a man of great interest, to his employer. He was instructed to show Oswald any number of high powered rifles, and in his own mind, he had concocted the story that the CIA was preparing Oswald to return to Russia to take out top Soviet Officials.
He sat in horror on that fateful day, watching the news of the assassination unfold, and he saw the rifle which he had arranged for Oswald to purchase through a mail order company. A 6.5 mm Carcano rifle. He even remembered the model number, 91/38–the entire transaction ultimately arranged by his bosses who were important people, somewhere way up the intelligence food chain.
About ten years ago, he attempted to tell the entire story to Sara. He was certain that he would be dead within days. She insisted that he meet with a psychiatrist, but she had watched enough television to convince herself that such a move might cost both of them. They never spoke again of the matter. She had threatened to leave any number of times, but could never bring herself to actually leave. They have slept in separate bedrooms and basically have had no life together for the past twenty years.
Last week, a new priest arrived. When he asked him how a priest in this day and age can be celibate, Raul quipped, “Name one priest who is celibate.” He was stunned by his response. He kept thinking he wasn’t hearing correctly through Raul’s heavy accent, and he proceeded to repeat the question three times. Each time, Raul, smiling, gave him the same answer, “Name one priest who is celibate.” He began to get it, that Raul’s loyalty was to a higher power than even the Pope, that there was an honesty and an integrity here that was rare, and he began to wonder if this priest, well, this man, might be his salvation. Besides his medium height and his buff body, there was something about Raul that told him he was a seasoned man, that there were many more interesting pieces to his heart and soul than just being a priest. Although quite youthful in his appearance, his overall demeanor spoke of age and wisdom. He was definitely all “growed-up” and probably in his late forties or early fifties.
Sitting across from Raul in the reconciliation room and unfolding his own story piece by piece, he began to sob. Raul scooted his chair so their knees were touching. He then reeled him in and just held him.
Raul finally broke his silence. “You know, Hombre, before we can sort through this, we gotta get you sober. And together, right now, we’re going to go some place to get you sober.” He was so surprised, so caught off guard, and so relieved that he did not resist, not even a little.
November and December were like a fog, and to make it even more confusing, it was foggy every day in real time. By mid-January, life began showing up each day with a clarity he was not used to, and was not sure was even real. It had been a long long time since his life and the world around him was this clear, this sharp even on a foggy morning.
His hands continued to shake even though he was as sober as he had ever been. The doctor told him that he had saturated his cerebellum one too many times, and it would probably be like this for the rest of his life. The doctor also told him that everything else in his body was good to go, maybe even for a long time.
It was January 22 that he woke himself up screaming. The nausea and nightmares had found their way back home. The nightmare was always the same. He is sitting watching television, watching the motorcade. The camera sweeps upward to the window in the book depository where he sees the rifle. The loud cracking sound echos through Dealey Plaza, and a heavy gavel reverberates against the gunshots. He cannot see the judge but only hears the voice that also echos through the Plaza. GUILTY OF ASSASSINATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. TAKE HIM AWAY.
He stood there like cement waiting for Raul to come out of the sacristy door. “It’s all back, Father. You gotta help me.”
The two walked over to the rectory where Raul fixed breakfast. At one point, Raul looked straight through his eyes into his soul. “Hombre, I believe you. You played a tragic role in the assassination of our president. No one will ever believe you, but together we will write it all down, and when you die, we will distribute it to the major news organizations. It will be up to them. They will have to decide what part they want to play in this assassination even after all these years.” And so for the next several months, they worked together on the story.
As they were reviewing the final draft, Raul could feel Hombre's eyes desperately wanting something from him. “You know, Father, for years, I have settled on the belief that life just happens. I mean how can I ever take responsibility for this or for how I got myself into this whatever it is. I mean, I’m not an assassin, or am I?”
“Well, Hombre, I think it is like this. That moment any of us decide that another person’s life is up for grabs, that is the moment we become an assassin. It was okay with you to prepare Oswald to take out Soviet Officials, right? So when we stand before God, what is the difference? We make choices, my friend, we make decisions. We can never take any of them lightly. We are responsible for them all.”
He shook his head and smiled. "Yeah, I can do that, Father. I can do that. You know it’s kind of a relief actually. Maybe I can forgive myself now too.”
He continued his daily trek to Mass and Communion. He ate breakfast each morning with the breakfast club, but now Sara sat next to him in the booth. They were sleeping together again, and she devilishly smiled each morning at the widows in the breakfast club. The big news was the trip they were planning, more like a pilgrimage.
On November 22, 2012, they will board a plane carrying with them twelve copies of a precious book detailing the story of that fateful day from the eyes of an eighty five year old former CIA agent. Upon landing, they will drive eighteen miles to a final resting place, where the twelve books will await their resurrection.
I think the books somehow know. When I look at them, they first of all are impressive, simple in appearance, but impressive, the cover, the colors on the cover. They seem to give off something, some kind of energy, as if they know what they are all about. They say words are alive, right? I think the books are alive.
So there they will rest, awaiting Hombre’s death and their resurrection, waiting peacefully in a safe deposit box in the Bank of America which towers above the city of Dallas and Dealey Plaza.
Webcam from window of Book Depository. A little creepy, but.....
- EarthCam - Dealey Plaza Cam
In cooperation with The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, EarthCam has positioned a webcam in the southeast window on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. This is the site where an assassin is alleged to have fired
Well, I will keep it short! A couple of things. I am still sort of appalled that, as a country, we seem complacent about what happened on that fateful day. I mean it defies "intelligence" to buy the conclusion that Oswald acted alone especially when Martin and Bobby are systematically assassinated in turn. So from time to time, I do my part to resurrect the questions. Especially since there may still be people out there alive who know something and hopefully will not die without giving us what they know.
The main character was never named except by Raul who called him Hombre, which, you probably know, means MAN. So Hombre represents all of us, and as Raul says, We make choices, my friend, we make decisions. We can never take any of them lightly. We are responsible for them all.
There are so many people in our country who still adhere to "I was just following orders....doing my job." It does not require anarchy for each of us to be willing to be aware of the choices we are asked to make by our country and government, by our employer, by our family, by our churches, synagogues, and mosques, and then hold ourselves accountable in our choices, and to have the courage to say NO when we are asked to make choices that do not fit our moral sensibilities.
It was "fun" for me to write this story. It did not take long. It just flowed. The assassination was a stunning moment in my life and the next two assassinations were equally stunning. Knock you on your ass kind of stunning! Take you to the brink of complete disillusionment kind of stunning. Never wanting to trust in your country or what your country tells you again kind of stunning. And yet going in those directions in not helpful either, and I am glad I did not go there. So instead, I keep writing about it. Hope you enjoyed the story.