As the World Turns
"Skkch-Walker speaking from Dallas as we await the arrival of our president Joh-skh…"
The television frequency shifted and died out. Shaky hands adjusted the tuner.
"This television has some crap reception," Jenifer said, as she dabbed her fifth cigarette of the morning in spilled coffee. She sat in the gated patio of the small double bed motel that overlooked Dealey Plaza. "Just...one…more…hour," she said with each dab. "Give or take. Parades always have something break down. It is Dallas, after all." Ash drifted and became buried into her black Estrato fabric sleeve as she wiped it off.
"This crowd started gathering quite early this morning. I was out here at, uh, a quarter to eight, and already a few diehards had gathered to ensure seeing…"
"Stuff stains the hell out of these suits," said Jack, as he handed her a moist cloth. "I never can wear my jacket when I smoke. You think being in Secret Service, they would have some - I don't know - anti-smoke suits by now." They listened to the television broadcast in the room behind them. A high-pitched note of feedback broke in and out of the reporter's words. It brought a slight crack in his voice as if he was already devastated.
"And it's not a parade. There are no balloons. No marching bands," said Jack.
"The president is driving down an empty road with half the city lined up. It's a parade."
"Eh. You got me there. It's all fake anyway. This type of crazy stuff only works in those wacky new shows or kids' comic books," said Jack. "It's 1963, and I swear drugs are transforming this country day by day."
"You would think the guy was on drugs by doing this. Why like this though? How could this be the solution?" said Jenifer. She inhaled slowly to settle her hands as they trembled and took four swipes to ignite the match in her hand. "I know it's not real, but assignments like this just don't sit well for me."
"It's going to look pretty real. That girl they found looks just like Jackie. You think she's going too?" said Jack.
"Definitely. The government is hiding the real John and Jackie on some base. This new girl is her replacement. They couldn't kill them both. That would be too obvious. So, a lifetime of acting and getting paid some pretty big secret bucks to be someone else. What a life," Jenifer said. "What a lie."
"The crowd is now forming around the president and first lady here at Love Field. They should be brief, but then again, the president does love talking to his people."
"So, a hidden base where he's going to run space projects? It sounds like a joke to me," said Jack. "Are we really trying that hard to leave the planet? In the big scheme of things…it's not all bad here."
Jenifer stood up and looked back to the television inside.
"Well, with the president gone, the crowd sure can clear out in a hurry, can't they?"
"Do we know exactly when it's going to happen?" said Jack.
"No. We just need to make sure it does happen. If our man doesn't do it right…," said Jenifer as she held up a small remote. "We have a trigger that will blow his head right off to make it look like he was shot. In hopes they'll think there are two shooters," said Jenifer, she put out her sixth cigarette. The butt sizzled inside her empty coffee cup. "You're nervous. Remember, we're not killing the president. We're just making sure it looks like he got killed."
"It's 12:10 in the afternoon, and you've had six cigarettes, a pot of coffee, and no food. You're nervous. If not, those doughnuts would be long gone," said Jack. "So…space projects."
"The guy wants to do the whole 'New Frontier' thing, and I guess you're right…he probably likes comic books too," said Jenifer, with a half-smile. "He thinks it could be our salvation as a planet. Maybe, finding a new home as we destroy this one."
"Things won't get that bad. At least not for another thousand years, I bet," Jack said.
"We welcome you back to your television show: As the World Turns."
Jenifer poured herself a cup of coffee and said, "Things are changing. This country has been waging war since the start of the century. If we get ahead of everyone else, we could end up on top when things go really south."
"I mean, we haven't even landed on a planet. We don't even know how to land on the moon, and it's right there! The Russians beat us. They might even have the same idea we're having," said Jack.
"Exactly why we need a system to get there ourselves. If they attack us…at least we can find. a new home."
"Are you ready, Mom? It's almost time. Wait. What exactly is that you're making?"
"Oh, it's a 14-knit sweater for your son."
"You know, I sometimes wonder about you grandmothers. Why do you always have to be making something?
"It's about war. It's always about war. We're so scared…maybe he is right…maybe we do need to start over," said Jack.
"It's not an option a lot of people get. I doubt it'll come back for us to choose," said Jenifer. She walked back outside and lit a match on her first strike.
Jenifer looked at her watch and said, "It's 12:25. He's late. I bet he stopped to talk to some nuns or something. His picture-perfect image and he's running off to play with secret rocket ships."
"We make things so we can be remembered. Somehow, even the smallest things matter. A handshake, a moment, or the love put into a sweater. We just want to be remembered."
"Wouldn't you, given the option?" Jack said.
A cloud of smoke flowed out of Jenifer's mouth as she said, "If the world ends. No one would remember anyway."
"We interrupt, As the World Turns for a CBS News Bulletin. In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired…"
Leave a Reply.