by Christopher Acker
I stand on the same block of cement where Abraham Zapruder once stood. I try absorbing the significance of it all. Kennedy. Oswald. A grieving nation. But really, it’s my wife that’s on my mind. I think something is wrong with her.
Her six-hour lecture on the way to Dallas still haunts me. Phrases like “CIA motives” and “triangulation” sprang from her mouth like they were absolute truths. I asked her where this was coming from—her new obsession, I mean—and she would only smirk and tell me not to believe everything I’m told.
“Sometime today,” the tourist behind me hollers. He then points at his watch, as if I didn’t hear him.
I hop down from the cement wall, narrowly avoiding a tidal wave of visitors combing over every inch of Dealey Plaza for clues that have eluded experts for decades. Taryn is among family here.
My escape towards Elm Street is blocked by a crowd hovering around a table covered in books and leaflets on the assassination. A nearby easel displays photographs of a medical examiner poking at the President’s dead body.
“And this is where the cover-up begins, America,” the Texan behind the table says. The microphone attached to his black cowboy hat amplifies his voice throughout the Plaza. With a metal pointer, he explains how the government could’ve easily doctored the photographs to make it seem the fatal headshot came from behind.
I free myself from the mass and head to the Grassy Knoll. Entire sections untouched by shade are burnt to a crisp. The grass crunches under my feet.
They’re not even trying anymore.
Taryn and about ten others huddle behind the stockade fence at the top of the hill, as if waiting to receive the Host. Her eyes widen as she eavesdrops on a heated conversation between two men pointing at the School Book Depository. She nods her head to whatever nonsense the men have concluded.
Just as we crossed the New Mexico-Texas border yesterday afternoon, Taryn tried convincing me how a shooter could’ve easily fled the Grassy Knoll in a getaway car, and in fact, railroad dispatcher Lee Bowers spotted a mysterious car with out-of-state plates drive into the parking lot and three men get out and walk to the stockade fence, one of them carrying a rifle-shaped package.
Wouldn’t that seem a little suspicious? I asked Taryn.
She kept her head in the book she purchased right outside Dallas, searching for more answers. What would?
Three men fleeing the scene in broad daylight with no cover? Wouldn’t a trained assassin prefer to be a little more…I paused to see if my wife could follow my train of thought…low-key?
Taryn went on like this for another fifteen minutes, impervious to my aversion to complicated theories. It was like some bug she caught wouldn’t allow her to accept the simplest explanation. That a lone nut did in the President.
I pace up and down the sidewalk and wait for my wife. When she emerges from the crowd, the hope of a cool beverage and a dip in the hotel’s pool go by the wayside once a table containing a detailed model of the Twin Towers catches her eye. The woman behind the table flies a toy airplane close to the Towers. A gathering grows steadily, and in a few minutes, the crowd puts the small cluster around the autopsy presentation to shame.
Taryn scurries down the sidewalk holding what looks like a comic book depicting the collapse of the World Trade Center.
“You got to hear what this woman is saying,” my wife says, out of breath.
I answer almost immediately, “I’m getting hot out here. Why don’t we go back to the hotel and cool off?”
“Charlie, you’re not listening. She says 9/11 was an inside job.”
This isn’t the woman I married. The woman I remember marrying wanted to keep things simple. Small house, vacations to the Jersey shore, faith in our government, children when we’re ready. When did things get so complicated?
Taryn states the rest of her case. “A plane crash couldn’t weaken the towers enough to bring them down. Explosives placed in strategic locations better explain the methodical collapse.”
The ghost of a 1961 Lincoln convertible passes down Elm Street. When the President turns his head to the right and fixes his part, he might think I’m waving at him, but I’m only trying to get the assassin’s attention to put the crosshairs on me.
Taryn rolls up the comic book and smacks it on her open palm. “And get this. Your hero, Rudy? He ordered all the debris removed before any proper investigation could take place. Why would he do that if he wasn’t hiding something from us?”
“Maybe he just likes cleanliness.”
“You’re not seeing the big picture.” Taryn shakes her head and then stares up the Grassy Knoll. “I mean, doesn’t this all make perfect sense?”
At the top of the hill, a teenage girl drapes over the stockade fence a bed sheet with the words ‘We luv u JFK” poorly spray-painted across the front. Passersby stop and salute the banner.
“Well, doesn’t it?”