Friday, November 27, 2009

The Difference a Day Makes (part 3)

IV / The Difference a Day Makes
(part 3)

The good people of Dallas are going to church or, forgivably,
staying home this one Sunday to watch the TV coverage of America’s
ceremonial grief. Today the cortege will leave the White House,
making its darker, anti-motorcade way up Pennsylvania Avenue
to the Capitol Rotunda. There’s not a chance Jack’s staying home
to be any part of that. He waited hours by his phone for someone to call
this whole thing off, but he’s long gone now. He’s been to Western Union
wiring money to his pregnant dancer in Fort Worth. The entire Carousel crew
except for Jack is out of work for the weekend, and Little Lynn especially
could use the tiding over. Jack’s hoping to use his generosity later
as the reason he’s downtown at all coincidentally with his cash
and a loaded gun. Wherever he is right now, he’s only protecting himself.
He’s carrying two thousand dollars. He’s wired Lynn twenty-five bucks.
His Western Union receipt says 11:17, and he’ll say he wasn’t even thinking
about the police station one block away until he finished his transaction
and figured it was Sunday, what the hell, he had a little extra
time to kill and his surplus curiosity and how’s he supposed to know
that the ballyhooed 10 AM transfer of Oswald from the city lock-up
to the county jail had been delayed. Let them all think Jack’s too late
for any premeditation. This is his only chance: it’s got to play out
as a stroke of dumb luck – good or bad, depending as always
on where you’re standing. Spontaneous is the word he’s looking for.


Jack’s walking down from Western Union to the station right now.
The Preludin he’s swallowed no doubt quickens his step. He’ll be there
in ninety seconds. Not that Jack really needs the extra stimulation,
but for months he’s been telling his doctor all the good it does him:
I’m a positive thinker. I don’t have any inferiority, and my reflexes
are fan-fucking-tastic.
And Jack is positive no one’s going anywhere
quite yet. Finally there’s a party in Dallas that won’t be starting
without him.
He’s wearing a white shirt, black silk tie, his best
charcoal-brown suit, black shoes, and grey fedora. Pretty spiffy
for nothing more than a casual errand. He knows exactly where he’s been
headed all along. This is one of Jack’s special detective get-ups.
He read a sidebar in yesterday’s paper: in 1901 the Buffalo, NY police,
worried about a hostile crowd, sneaked out President McKinley’s assassin
by dressing him as a cop. Surely Jack can turn that around with ease.
He’s practically an honorary cop already, so what
could it hurt to take that approach himself today, sneaking in.

Appearances are deceiving, but only if you’re willing to work at them.
Jack bathes and shaves twice daily. It’s like getting one more crack
at the same gritty day. He pampers his skins with lotions and creams.
He swims and works out when he can at the Y. He’s always operated
on the notion that what’s on the outside makes or breaks a person.
in this world. What’s inside may be an entirely different story,
and even that one changes a little every time it’s told.


What’s inside Jack’s white, two-door 1960 Oldsmobile this morning:
two sets of metal knuckles, the holster for his pistol, a paper bag
stuffed with another thousand dollars, a stash of unpaid parking tickets.
Several white handkerchiefs, for the show of sweat Jack always manages
doing the simplest things. A white bathing cap, a left golf shoe,
a roll of toilet paper, one can of paint, a Lo-Cal chocolate shake.
Days of newspapers full of Kennedy’s impending visit, but folded open
to the pages with the nightclub ads. A notebook listing the names
and numbers of cops with lifetime free passes to the Carousel.
And Sheba, Jack’s beloved dachshund, who goes everywhere with him –
to work, back home, to favorite all-night restaurants: I call her
my wife. We argue and we make the hell up
. She’s his stroke-of-genius
ace in the premeditation hole: no one would believe he’d ever leave her
waiting in the car unless really he had no idea what he was about to do.
Part of him doesn’t believe it himself, and it’s all he can do to walk away
and not look back.

But the main thing Jack hopes anyone would notice
is the snazzy wash-and-wax job. As far as he’s concerned today,
anything beyond that is one else’s business. Anybody’s guess.

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