I still remember my first range instructor telling me, "Always fill your head with positive thoughts and never worry about the shot."
I loosen my bolo tie, light my pipe and relax in the cushioned chair behind the table.
The view is wonderful. It's a nice day in November. I can see across to the book depository, and begin to ponder. Rumor has it that inside sits a patsy who will be left holding the bag. I don't agree with this, but it is beyond my control. I see the crowd around the curve of the road. It reminds me of the ribbons of flower bed my grandmother had hugging her garden pathways. These people await their hero, standing for hours just to get a momentarily glance, some with cameras hope to capture the special occasion.
My paymasters see the man as the ultimate traitor. I will never forget the image of the director at Langley, his round face resembled a ripping tomato as he ranted on ad nauseam, "JF ducks out from a stand up fight with Castro! Later he slinks away from Commie Kruschev. If we don't remove this yellow belly the Russians will be conducting everything from foreign policy to the World Series".
I relight my pipe and notice my hand holding the wooded match is shaking. I tell myself not to worry. It's an easy shot, an open car which is slowly moving. The President will be seated in the back seat, beside his wife Jackie.
She could get hurt, being so close to the target. I told the director we could do the assignment in Chicago. Kennedy would be alone there, stepping down the steps of the mayoralty building. It is most frustrating when you don't have the influence of the big wheels.
I draw my pocket watch from my suede vest and see that there are 12 minutes remaining. Worry is a nag hovering over me as I imagine myself missing the target and turning Jackie's beautiful face into a crimson smudge. That won't happen, I tell myself, struggling to keep positive. My score is 72 kills. The company sent me to all sorts of romantic places in the world, Latin America, Asia, and Africa to "rid America of its enemies". I recover my confidence when thinking of the difficult shots I had made in the past.
My thoughts wander to the other two shooters of this triangular team. Ulysses Grant at Delta position is an excellent shot and of sterling character. I remember him telling me, "No matter if I'm hunting white-tail deer or in the field of Uncle Sam, I never take a shot without being certain of a kill."
The shooter in Beta position - I have my gravest doubts. Topo Gigio is on loan from one of the Mafia families. They insisted they had to participate due to Kennedy's crackdown on their criminal activities. Topo can be best described in the vernacular of his peers as a greaseball. His black hair slicked back, he bristles with gaudy gold jewelry and he emits an overwhelming odor of macho cologne. He is the type of hoodlum that would take out a flock of school girls to get one man. If he hurts Jackie I will spend everything I earn on this mission to trace him and rectify the situation.
Another glance at my pocket watch tells me that there are five minutes remaining.
I ready the slender weapon to the firing position and carefully load in the special cartridge. The magnified scene though the telescopic scope is clear and crisp like the cool breeze through the open window. I watch the police motorcycles pass through the cross hairs. They remind me of children's toys, man and motorcycle forming one strange space man with their dark sun glasses as the robot eyes. Then the Car rolls into view.
Ignoring the beautiful woman with the dark hair in the periphery of the view I fix my sight on the forehead of the President. I slowly exhale and at the end of my breath I begin to squeeze the trigger. Then, to my horror, Jackie leans into the crosshairs. I see every detail of her pleasant face; her warm smile, twinkling eyes surrounded by feminine dark eyelashes. As I jolt in panic the rifle fires with a deafening report.
Shutting my eyes I imagine the worst. Forcing myself a second afterwards, I look over the rifle outside the window. The dagger in my heart is removed when I see Jackie is fine. In fact, both Jackie and the President seem to be completely unaware of the incident. I have the feeling of being ignored by the whole world as I realize I missed the sniper's Mount Everest of a lifetime.
Then I hear the shot from the greaseball. I grit my teeth and grapple with binoculars to see what has happened. Kennedy is clutching his throat. Ten inches too low, never have I seen such dreadful shooting, but at least he did not hit Jackie. The last shot is from Ulysses and it is fatal. The President's head is a smudge of red lipstick on a white tea cup.
Jackie, now in hysteria, is climbing out to the back of the car. I see a secret service man running to her. He grapples on, slips once, but manages to climb on to the back of the car. He covers the President with his body and tries to include Jackie under the protection of his bulky form. His being so close to that lovely woman - I momentarily wish I was that secret service man as I watch the car speed out of sight.
Mackin Oxendale, a resident of Canada, has a degree in economics.
His fiction writing involves science fiction, historical fiction
and speculative fiction. He has published two stories, "Times
Change" in the Evening Mews and "1812 Overture" in My