The Death of JFK - A work of honest fiction
The Death of JFK
The following is the story of a group of mental patients in a US asylum after weeks glued to the television watching media coverage surrounding the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy at Dealey Plaza, Dallas late 1963. All names of patients provided are that which they wished to be called, staff however go by their own names. Stories pieced together from eye-witness and personal accounts.
He continues to walk; drawn on by the unrelenting pull of the verdant mound opposite and its wild inhabitants contrasted by the mediocre buildings he passed. As he grows nearer the mound the insistent, repetitive quacking of the ducks becomes evermore present within Kennedy’s mind and it is these creatures which bring him to his fate!
However, he won’t be there alone.
There is A Man. Kennedy had been watching him as he dwelled amongst the birds, and he too had been watching Kennedy. The Man, as Kennedy passes him, gets up – or more correctly, heaves his oversized body from the wooden bench seat. James Tague is the name, and he is seventy percent country hick and thirty percent straight up brawn. He casually falls into step with Kennedy and so their journey begins.
And thus they walk – the feeble old gentleman and the burly young man – a peculiar pair pining over the same idealisms. As they meander amongst the Texan landmarks of utmost historical significance the ducks resume their adamant cry as the parks fountain trickles with melancholy.
As Tague and Kennedy reach the grassy knoll on Elm Street’s northern side, Tague launches into a seemingly well prepared spiel with little vacillation. All the landmarks correlated to the assassination of the former President of the Unites States are pointed out to Kennedy, with valour – The Texas School Book Depository, Dealey Plaza, the Triple Underpass – without a second guess as to their direction or their inexplicable significance. The only sound that surrounds the duo, aside from the distant roar of the automobiles passing by, is the ducklings, now sleepily waddling towards their mother, a sanctuary in the lily pads.
James Tague’s words, although they bear a palpable ring of reiteration, suggest an undercurrent of truth that appeals to Kennedy. This man must have been there and lived through the death of America’s greatest leader. The tourist’s obvious intrigue causes his unforeseen guide to stray from ‘the facts’ and move towards his personal recollections of the day JFK was shot.
He relives the ordeal as it happened, as though it was only yesterday the assassination occurred, with unquestionable sincerity. “I was a youngster, it all happened ‘round noon ya see…”, despite the normality and bleakness of the city they can both see the crowds anticipating the arrival of their president. The falsity and calmness of Dallas is gradually revoked with the sombre truth of the proceedings being revealed as they were.
… At high noon with the sun beaming down upon the citizens of Dallas awaiting the imminent arrival of their beloved president Kennedy, the streets were packed and Tague himself was situated upon the grassy knoll at the forefront of spectators. There were three shots fired, the first struck no one, whilst the second grazed Tague’s own cheek then followed through to shoot the president through the upper back. The third and final shot saw Governor Connally‘s lung punctured and President Kennedy’s blood and skull fragments covered the windscreen of his Lincoln limousine.
This tale, though it initially seemed accurate, began to fall apart somewhere along the way, but where? Kennedy found himself, once more, dizzy, just as he had at the Library of Congress. James Tague, the innocent middle man, begins to yell, cry, and scream over the injustices and uncertainty of that day, a tormented man, a victim of his own nation. Under the strain of Tague’s words Kennedy finds himself recollecting another day at Dealey Plaza, he had been hurt he knew that, but no, he hadn’t been killed with a headshot, the third shot missed, Tague was crazy! However his logic can’t stand. The words of Tague make some sense, with the exception of the president’s death, but Kennedy fights it, his reason falters and is nearly overwhelmed. He fights it; he suddenly breaks free from the captivity of his guide and interrupts: “The second shot occurred before the car reached the corner fool! ...”
James Tague stops short. In the quiet that follows, the ducks resume their insolent demands.
Now there are just two men walking the Dealey Plaza in twilight, concerned only with their outdated, irrelevant debate over the location of a president when he was killed by an American citizen. They both stand by their remarks. James Tague finds himself settling the argument cleverly with: “I should know. I was there.”
Kennedy squelchers, “Have you ever even seen President Kennedy?”
Tague retorts, “He was as darn near close to me as you are now!”
Jackie continued to scrub the floor, she scrubbed and scrubbed, as much to remove the grime built up from years of neglect as to remove the sense of hopelessness and despair that loomed over her as it had for many years.
She knew, she had to have known who he was. Perhaps she knew better than he did. The aura that surrounded him bore greatness that was irrevocable and undeniable. He was a leader. He was a legend. He was everything she could ever imagine in a man. Yet he barely existed now.
The man she loved had died quite some time ago, it felt like one day he died in haste, quicker than a bullet could pierce a skull, and instantaneously was reborn a changed man. Sullen, moody and entirely separated from the life they had forged together, it seemed as though he had lost his identity on the day of the presidential shooting and had taken on a whole new persona. Nothing had been the same since that day in Dealey Plaza and she’d spent every day since trying to construct a haphazard memory in her own mind of what truly happened.
A knock on the door barely revived her from her stupor, as accustomed as she was to that melodic tune that was consistent with this time of day. At three hours past noon every day the landlord stopped by to ensure his rent would be collectable on Friday. It seemed as though the man was more concerned by his vast income than by matters such as his own personal hygiene as he wore the same dirtied overcoat every day with no regard to the weather and even less regard to the looks he gained from the upper class passers-by on the street.
Feeling extraordinarily out of her mind Jackie called to the door, “yes, yes, I’ll have your rent, but Jefferson why don’t you come in for a while? I have enough mead to last us a short time and some company would certainly not be detrimental to my health! In fact without it I’m sure to lose what little is left of my mind!”
And to her great surprise he consented immediately, after all he was the only other man she ever spoke to!
They passed the afternoon in sociable companionship, both learning far more than they expected from the other. Jackie learned Jefferson was a scholar, intrigued by the alignment of the stars and planets who used the income of his rentals to fund his scientific research. And Jefferson had never seen a woman who could match him drink for drink through the entirety of a bottle of mead! Suddenly neither of them felt quite so lonely in their pursuits. As Jefferson left for home Jackie insisted he return the following day despite the damage their friendship would have upon the family cellar stock.
Thoughts of her husband’s useless and frustrating tirades had swept from the forefront of her mind for an afternoon and hence, when he returned barely in time for dinner, she felt refreshed and beckoned him to the kitchen with a cheery hello and the smell of fresh vegetables to welcome him home. She could tolerate this life, she decided. Fate had dealt her the responsibility of caring for the man that did so much for America and she resolved to do so with honour. She may not have the passion she once had, and perhaps the love wasn’t quite there either but there was respect and loyalty and that would have to do.
Jackie had been different tonight. Something wasn’t right with that woman and Kennedy couldn’t quite put his finger on it. During supper he would regale her with tales of the old days, election campaigns and dinner parties and, prior to tonight, she would spend the entire time trying to convince him that he was not President Kennedy and had simply been so stricken by grief at the ‘real’ presidents death that he assumed the role of the deceased President to fill a gaping hole in their lives. However, Kennedy knew that his wife was simply in denial that his team could have pulled off what they did and that he had escaped alive. According to Jackie, he had been a seal captain in a previous life? That woman, America’s first lady, was nuts!
But tonight, tonight had been different. Jackie had listened to Kennedy with a half-smile playing across her lips for the entire time and even managed a few encouraging nods when he’d pause for a breath. Finally, he thought, my wife is realising who we are! Soon she will give up this tiresome charade and come back to me as the First Lady I know she can be!