I killed JFK so youze need to lay off Lee. It was me in the depository and I wasn’t checking out no schoolbooks. Clicking that windage dial like it was the wheel of history itself, I steered the projectile let’s say where time needed it to go.
Yeah I nudged the barrel once, for the fun of it, for the mystery of it all you could say, then I made the front sight true, as true as the guy at the lathe who turned it with a craftman’s pride to rifle that Mannlicher Carcano.
And I whispered in Sirhan’s ear and Jimmy Ray’s, call me the trigger finger of fate, the Zeitgeist, whatever that is, the djinni of the era, phantom of the age that moves in mysterious ways and animates all, floating node to node along the nation’s nerves (and the world’s) like a transfer truck freighted with the momentous. In my container there’s life and death enough for everybody. I dispense as I see fit. Rove and roam and no roadblock stops me.
Night Jayne Mansfield lost her head, my clodhopper punched the gas.
My kissing cousin is the grape-shaped exsanguinating tick.
I’m the fifth horseman. The bough that broke beneath the babe, cradle and all.
Andrew Jackson Borden and Abby Durfee Gray Borden, their little lumberjack Lizzie, 4 August 1892. I saw that house splashed, believe you me.
Fire in Chicago, that shudder in the Lindberghs’ nursery, the long knives in Whitechapel, Dahmer, Gacy, Wuornos, Olaf Palme, 28 February 1986, shot in the back coming home from the cinema, wonder what was the movie he saw, sawn off shotgun and twenty-one blows to Malcolm X, 21 February 1965.
I skittered with the Taliban nights we overran the villages and stabbed every songbird in its cage, tugging howitzers toward the big buddhas at Bamiyan with a grin grander than the Enlightened One could ever summon in nirvana.
Been experimenting with polonium, so much lighter than a pistol.
Franz Ferdinand, archduke, it was my hand in the black glove tossed the bomb as I capered through Sarajevo and led ol Franz down a blind alley into the textbooks boxed up in Dealey. Otherwise who would know a damn thing about him?
My thirsty blade struck the first blow twixt Caesar’s bones, showed the others how to drink. Of the twenty-three mine was the fatal thrust. Ides of March 44 BCE.
Gandhi, 30 January in ’48.
Yeah and I urged Jack Ruby to make his move and the rest as God knows is legend.
When you were six I was the magnifier in your tender little hand that noon you smote the ant, remember? The sole of your sneaker when you added that black cricket to the tread, the morning you kicked your dog, the midnight you yelled for your kids to shut the fuck up. Rubbing raw the pad of your forgotten fingertips, that’s us, mate, thick as thieves, the patina of civilization crumbling off your well-worn thumb.
Thomas McConnell’s most recent fiction has appeared in The Greensboro Review, Shenandoah, The Connecticut Review, Calabash, Split Lip Magazine, Yemassee, and The Cortland Review, among other places. His novel of the Czechlands in World War Two will appear from Hub City Press in 2018.