A Quiet Night
Dallas, April 8th 1963
Cheap fans stir the air around a musty house in Fort Worth. Nothing is made cooler, the humid mood just gets slowly pushed around the living room.
Lee Harvey Oswald checks his watch. 11:43 AM.
'He should be here by now.' The one-time Marine thinks. 'He should be here by now.'
The man has reasons to be impatient. Firstly, Marina, the unhappy wife, was out with their new-born baby, Rosie. Out to see Ruth for tea and cakes, they could be back at any moment. And Lee Oswald could not have them be back at any moment. No. He needed them back after he was finished with today’s task. He stews.
Lee looked down at the living room table and what lay on it. A cheap Italian rifle
Another fidget, another watch check. 11:48 AM. 'He should be here now. George you whipped dog, where are you…'
Lee Oswald waits for his friend George de Mohrenschildt. Met through Marina and that walking gossip rag Ruth Paine, he was, to Oswald, the only sane person in Texas. Oswald didn’t smoke, if he were in that habit, (or if there were any cigarettes or tobacco in the house) then he’d be blanketing the Italian weapon in ash right about now.
“Make use of my time.” He mutters to himself. The bolt-action monster lies disassembled for now. Lee does not look at his watch this time. Instead he takes a quick trip the locked storage box hidden under the dry marriage bed. From that box, three new items are put on the table.
A 38. Snub nose revolver. Ready to go.
A carefully preserved bundle of communist literature (trashy fringe newspapers).
A camera that Oswald has been meaning to give Marina as a goodwill gift.
Oswald held the camera in his hand a few moments longer than everything else, before putting it next to the papers. 'Hopefully, she’ll like it. Of course she’ll like it…maybe a dishwasher can really perk her up…'
Lee swims in those kinds of thoughts for a while. Then a fresh noise snaps Oswald back into action.
‘The porch, the fuckin’ porch…’ Oswald scolds himself. How can a great man in history forget to lock the back door?! It took no time to decide what to do next. He grabbed the revolver.
A million potential follow-up moves went through his head. But they all went out the window.
“Lee, what the fuck.” George’s voice. Lee relaxes a little. Adrenaline still runs through his veins.
“Lee, are you going to turn round?” A pause, then, “Oswaldavitch!”
His nickname from those awful days in Japan. Oswald puts the 38. back on the table. Slowly.
George de Mohrenschildt walks fully into the light of the tiny home. Grey-white hair swept back with grease to hide a bald spot. An expensive, tailored suit jacked folded neatly over one arm, all casual style. Suspenders arch over a smart white shirt.
George de Mohrenschildt is nothing but cool, calm, and collected. Standard for someone with one foot in the grimy world of espionage.
“How’s your task coming along.” George asks Lee, rhetorically. He pulls out the only other chair. It scrapes on the floor while Lee sits with obvious tenseness. George looks at what’s on the table but goes out of his way to make it not obvious.
“My task.” Oswald repeats George’s words back him. Not sure whether he should shoot this red bastard right there and then. “My…task.” The new Orleans accent slips out, and that makes Oswald more pissed off.
Lee Harvey Oswald makes a fist on the table.
“It’s not that simple.”
“Sure it is Lee. It all starts with good old fashioned reinforcement. Now…”
George picks up the bundle of newspapers, running cold grey eyes over their faded words.
“Tell me your mission.”
Lee Harvey Oswald looked up, hands clasped together, arms, elbows, and knees jittering a bit. Just a little bit…
“My mission is to kill General Walker.”
Flies hummed lazily around the back porch. George’s sweat had evened out, now the fat man looked like a not-quite-ripe tomato. He wore expensive sunglasses, brows angled down and arms crossed. He watched his friend Lee. Silent and thoughtful.
Oswald sat on the porch, hunched over, rifle in hand, regretting wearing a blue polo shirt. Behind the thin door, Marina Oswald could be heard busying herself with cooking, cleaning, anything to avoid interaction with her husband.
“Do you regret it?” de Mohrenschildt asks the question, then lets it hang in the air. He makes sure to analyse Lee’s expressions.
Lee Oswald, to his credit, keeps a blank face . “Regret what?” As Lee says this, the marksman thinks to himself:
'The mission? The Gun? The plane to Russia? What is this fatso asking about?'
“The baby.” George clarified.
Lee Harvey Oswald did not answer.
The next night...
Oswald once again sat just outside his house, With three key differences.
One. A light jacket was zipped up, warming one hand with its side pocket.
Two. He sat in the front garden instead of the back.
Three, George had split for home that morning. After many hours of training for "The big event" in November.
That last difference made the Oswald family home silent. Lee and Marina weren’t talking, Rosie couldn’t talk. So yeah, silence.
His watch said the time was 11:40pm.
"Here you are Lee. Don’t fuck this up." He told himself. The rifle, wrapped in brown paper, felt formed to his hand. A cold night in Texas. Far away a dog barked. Lee made his grip loose, stood up, and walked.
General Edwin Walker’s house was only a few miles from Oswald’s. So much so that Walker had even been seen at a neighbourhood barbecue. A man of the people some had said. Not Lee Oswald, his words had been much different. Traitor. Liar. Coward.
As his steps hit the pavement, Lee’s confidence grew strong and stubborn.
I’m a hero for my country. Lee Oswald repeated the words in his brain over and over again. The same way he can dryfire the rifle he’s holding. Pure repetition.
I am a hero for my country.
I am a hero for my country.
I am a hero for my country.
One thing that the slight man did not want to consider as he crossed the railroad track, was which country his automatic mantra was sided with. Here in the states where even flies are fat and lazy, or Russia, where a licence plate factory and the occasional hall dance are the closest things to luxury. “Forget that.” He muttered. slightly frosted breath puffed out at pace with his words.
'I am a hero for my country. Here I am going to die for it.'
Lee reached the General’s house. It sat squat and reeked of money. Lee was positioned to the left of Walker’s front porch, a fence separated him from the stretch of lawn and Walker’s office window. A window both men had studied at. Walker behind the glass, signing off notes to powerful friends, and Oswald from the outside. Visualising this exact moment.
Lee Oswald took the rifle out of its paper wrapping. With care, he placed it down on the gravel. It made a noise. Then Lee stuck the Mannlicher Carcano through the fence gap. The scope lined up with his eyeline.
'Fuck. He’s actually there. Stay calm. Stay Calm!' He instructed himself.
There he was. General Edwin Walker, the mad fucker, was sat at his desk doing the same old shit. Signing off on letters and puffing on a cigar. His age and rich lifestyle made him look like a corpse anyway, Oswald noticed.
Oswald found Walker’s hairline through the scope and worked his way down. For a kill shot.
He shot the bastard. As soon as the bullet was let loose, Oswald ran like man under attack.
Before the smoke from the fence cleared, Oswaldavitch was gone. But Walker was not, he would live to the next day, Oswald had missed. Missing was the first of many mistakes that would lead to the death of this twenty-four year old marine, bleeding out on the grimy floor of the local police department. His last sight, an armoured van for his own protection, bright flashing bulbs from cameras, and the snarling face of Jack Ruby.
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