Now that I am in the last few days of my life, I've decided I had better put down on paper the true story of the most important unsolved case in the history of the Secret Service.
It is the story of the asassination of President Wilmont.
"Assassination?" you ask, and I answer "Yes, no matter what was released to the media, or the public, it was an asassination, and not an aneurysm."
According to the Surgeon General, who was the third man on scene after the President's body was found, no aneurysm has ever actually forced a man's eyes out of their sockets, or caused blood to shoot through ruptured eardrums to splash against a wall more than 8 feet from the body.
Given the circumstances and the victim, a thorough forensic autopsy was performed, and it was found that not only one, but apparently every single blood vessel in the President's head had ruptured. The forensic pathologist stated that, as far as she knew, the effect could only be duplicated by moving a living man from the bottom of the sea to a complete vacuum in less than one second.
The autopsy report was never released, of course. I do not know where it might be today.
In any case, as Senior Agent of the President's Protective Detail, I asked for, and was assigned, leadership of the investigation into just what had killed the forty-fifth President of the United States, only 16 weeks into his first term.
To the press and public, we treated it as a routine, pro-forma investigation, although it was anything but that. We combed every piece of scientific literature. We asked, quietly, everyone we could think to ask. We even re-opened the files of the old CIA ESP projects.
For nearly three months we made no headway of any kind. There simply was, and is, thank God, no known weapon, no known drug, no known anything that can do that to a man.
And then, just five days short of three months into the investigation, a letter came to our office addressed to me. It was in the most common of computer fonts. There was no return address, no signature, no fingerprints, and it was mailed from the post office nearest our offices.
It simply said, "If you want to know what happened to the president, meet me next Wednesday at 7 pm. I feel a need to confess." It gave the name of a restaurant only about 12 blocks away from my home, which I will not identify here, and asked me to come alone, wearing a white flower in my lapel. The letter said that the person I was to meet would recognize me.
You realize, of course, that for every notorious crime, law enforcement agencies get many voluntary confessions, all of which are checked, and almost all of which turn out to be pathetic, desperate people looking for attention. My brother officers at the FBI keep a file of people who have confessed to everything from the Lindbergh kidnapping to being a surviving hijacker from 9/11. They pass the file around any time something new, and particularly funny/insane/pathetic or all of the above, comes in.
I figured the chances of this being just some poor loser to be about eleven out of ten, but of course, I had to go.
By 5:30 pm that night, Doane was at the counter, nursing coffee, Washington had already raised his ruckus about no soul food and was settled over a plate of ribs and a glass of beer that did not seem to ever need refilling. Carne and Liebenthal, our "hippie couple," would come in a few minutes after me, and sit as near the door as they could manage.
Just in case.
Anyway, at 7 pm on the dot of US Naval Observatory Atomic Clock time, I opened the door and walked in. I was exactly on time, because I had no idea just what sort of fetish my confessee might subscribe to. Cases have been lost for being one minute early, or one minute late, to a meeting.
I was wearing a dark blue blazer, so the white plastic rose blossom would show well against it. I have not worn a real flower since I was in high school, and tried to be cool with "A white sport coat and a pink carnation," and sneezed all the way through my first freshman hop.
I looked around, like I was meeting a friend I'd not seen for a while. The place was a classic middle-class DC eatery. The clientelle was mostly single guys who could not, or just did not want to cook tonight, sprinkled with the family from Iowa who were thrilled to be eating in any Washington restaurant, the off-duty cabbie, and the up-scale pimp who thought no-one knew.
I walked toward the men's room in the back to give everyone a chance to see me.
As I began to push open the men's room door, a surprisingly deep voice said, "Hello, Agent Coleman." I looked down to see a little gray man in the back corner booth. He was not really gray and not really little, but simply so nondescript that I doubt I could have identified him in a crowd of three.
"Please," said the little man, "have a seat." He was positioned perfectly to see everyone who came into the restaurant. He looked at my plastic flower and said, " I see you are allergic, too."
I sat, and pulled my badge and ID from my breast pocket, but he put his hand over mine before I could open the folder. "I know who you are, and I know you are investigating the death of our beloved president, 'Rock' Wilmont." I nodded, too surprised that anyone knew "Rock" as a presidential nickname to say anything.
"I knew 'Rock' from the time we were both about thirteen, and in junior high school." I was surprised, since the man before me looked at least fifteen or twenty years older than our dead president.
"We started calling him 'Rock' because we all thought that was what he had crawled out from under."
"Anyway, I know you are wondering. I killed him."
I nodded. Another damned nut-case.
"I'm not crazy," he said quietly.
"Uh-huh," I responded.
"Let me tell you about it. In junior high, 'Rock' Wilmont was never known to do the right thing, if the wrong thing would get him further ahead. He was known as the most self-serving, self-righteous and self-satisfied kid in school."
"Yeah," I answered. "Who all knew this?"
"Well, me," he responded in a voice so low I barely understood.
"So, you hated him?"
"Well, yeah. I had every reason to hate him after he stole my American History presentation."
"Huh?" I said, intelligently.
"When we were in the tenth grade, we were given an assignment to choose an event from American history, to dramatize. I chose the beginning of World War II, and the ship of Jewish refugees who were sent back to die in the death camps. I did a lot of research."
"Two days before we were to give our presentation, 'Rock' asked to see my presentation, in exchange for looking at his. You knew him, Agent Coleman. You know how persuasive he was."
I nodded, only partly to humor him.
"So, I showed him my presentation. He showed me his presentation. His was a jumbled mess. But the next day, he gave my presentation, down to the footnotes. He did it much better than I could have done. He got an "A." I failed the class."
"So, you hated him. So you imagine that you killed him." I started to rise.
"Imagine?" he hissed, and I sat back down. "I did not imagine anything!"
"You do not know,' he said, again so quietly I barely heard. "I can kill with my mind."
I wanted to laugh. I started to laugh, but something in his eyes stopped me.
"It started when I was eleven," he said, more calmly.
I cocked my head to one side and put on my best 'tell me all about it' expression.
"I used to deliver newspapers," he said. "One of my customers had a very vicious dog."
"If the dog was on his chain, everything was ok. But when he was off the chain, he would come at me like a starving wolf. One day, I walked around the house to put the paper on the back porch, and he was loose. He jumped up and started to chase me. I was scared to death. I ran across the street with him getting closer and closer. No-one was around. No-one to help me. I felt his breath on my legs, and I stopped and closed my eyes. I wished him dead, and he suddenly screamed like a tortured soul. I turned, and he was in the middle of the road behind me with blood coming from his eyes and ears. Then he fell down. I ran away. The next day, when I took the newspaper to the back porch there, the lady of the house was crying and told me how her sweet doggie had been hit by a car and his head crushed. Had I seen anything? I told her no."
"So," I said. "You killed a dog?"
He was silent for a few moments, then said, "Not only a dog."
I waited for him to say more.
"When I was twenty-four, I fell in love." His cheeks reddened as he mumbled this..
"And?" I responded.
"She worked with me at...well, that doesn't matter. She was perfect. She was small, quiet and dark. I've always liked dark girls. Brown eyes, black hair..." he faded off.
"AND?" I asked again.
"Oh, she already had a boyfriend. He was a nasty SOB. One day in the summer she wore a sleeveless blouse. It was a hot day, and the makeup she wore to cover the bruises he'd given her started to run. Some of the girls in the office were talking about it, how she had gone into the ladies room to lay down with a headache. I heard one of the girls say 'I'd shoot the bastard before I'd let him do that to me!' "
"I had met this guy at the office Christmas party, and talked to him for a while. He was big. He talked about how he would like to 'get into the pants' of almost every woman at the party. I could tell that Kath... never mind. I could tell she was embarrassed. After a while he started to yell at her. Then he grabbed her arm and pulled her out of the party."
"Well, the next day after we had seen the bruises on her arms, I was standing at the window when he rode up with her on the back of his loud motorcycle. When she got off, I could see her tears, and I could tell he was shouting at her."
"As she came into the building, I looked at him. Soon I could see the blood coming from under his helmet. I saw his head jerk back like he was screaming. Then he fell down, and I went to my office and started to work. A few minutes later I heard the siren of the ambulance. They said he had passed out and fallen under a bus. She never came back to work, after that."
I realized I had been holding my breath, and let it out. "So," I said, "if you can kill people with your mind, why don't you kill the really evil bastards in the world?"
"Do you think I haven't tried! After 9/11, I tried to kill Bin Laden. I thought and thought. I imagined his head exploding. I tried, but nothing happened. I realize I can only kill people I know. People I have talked to long enough to get a feeling for who they really are. I do wish I could be an avenging angel, and I guess I am, on a small scale."
"So," I asked, interested in spite of myself, "why did you kill the President?"
"Do you know what he was going to do? he was going to just stop fighting. He was going to appoint a commission to try to 'talk' to Iran! He was going to give more openings to Saudi Arabia to fund madrasses in the US. He was going to...Hell! He was going to give away the country!" He was breathing hard, now.
He calmed himself, finally, then gave a strange little half smile. "So, anyway. I thought about what he was doing for a while, and POP, Abra Cadaver!" I think he expected me to laugh.
I sat silently and looked at him. I was getting tired of it. "Avenging angel," my ass.
After a few moments of this, he stood. "Well, I can see you don't believe me," he said. "I'm going to go, now."
He picked up the bill and wormed his way out of the booth. Near the door, I caught Liebenthal's eye, and waved her off. This poor little man was not worth following.
Before he left, he looked at me and held out his hand. I shook it, and he said,"Well, Agent Coleman, I am so glad I had the chance to know you." Then he paid his bill and walked out.
The headaches are getting a little worse every day.
Oh, God! There's blood running from my ears.
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