As I noted on the Richmond WriMos Facebook group page, I had three story ideas rattling around in my head and wasn’t sure which one to pursue. To that end, here’s the first one – tentatively titled “One More Shot”
Chapter One – November 23, 1963 – 01:30AM
Secret Service Agent Gerald Blaine’s nerves were on edge. Hell, the whole Vice Presidential detail was, ever since they had heard the fateful news from Dallas. Three words that had changed everything: “Lancer is down.” Those were the three words none of the Secret Service had ever wanted to hear, for they meant that the President of the United States was dead. The reality of it still hadn’t sunk in even now, half a day later. Blaine had seen the news footage from Dealey Plaza. He had watched the Presidential motorcade turn onto Elm Street, heard the three cracks that must have been rifle retorts. He had watched as President Kennedy’s skull shattered and pieces hit the First Lady, the Governor of Texas and the Governor’s wife. The sight had shaken him to the core. Blaine couldn’t imagine what it had done to the agents who were actually in Dallas at the time.
Blaine had been here in Washington as part of the Vice Presidential detail, preparing the grounds of the Johnson estate for the return of Volunteer and his family from Texas. Now, Blaine had effectively been promoted to the Presidential detail in the worst possible way. The Johnson estate was a dark, two-story building, lined with trees. Agent Blaine had drawn the perimeter patrol duty and was watching the entrances to the northeast of the house. As he filtered out the usual background sounds of the District of Columbia’s traffic, Blaine was convinced he heard something else, something out of place here. Footsteps. Someone was out here, and they were coming closer and closer. Blaine felt his body tense. Instinctively, he tightened his grip on the Thompson sub machine gun he was carrying. Now, Blaine could see the shadow of a man approaching from out of the night’s gloom. He worked the bolt action of the Thompson, the sound booming in his ears, as loud as it was distinctive. Still the figure approached closer and closer. Blaine pushed the stock of the gun into his shoulder and placed his finger on the trigger ready to squeeze off a burst of shots if the figure didn’t stop approaching.
“Who goes there?” Blaine asked, and immediately felt like a fool for saying something more befitting of a sentry at a medieval castle than a government agent at a modern house. The figure didn’t answer. Blaine squeezed the Thompson’s trigger and a short burst of automatic fire sent several bullets into the approaching figure, who dropped to the ground, dead. The noise of the gunfire had attracted the attention of several of Blaine’s fellow agents who were converging on his location. Blaine stepped forwards to examine the body more closely and all the blood drained from his face. There was no mistaking that face. Gerald Blaine had just killed Lyndon B. Johnson, fourteen hours into Johnson’s Presidency. Blaine thumbed the activation switch of his service issue radio.
“This is Agent Blaine,” he said, “Volunteer is down. I repeat Volunteer is down. Friendly fire. I killed him. Oh God, I killed him.” America had lost two Presidents in less than twenty four hours, and he, one of the men assigned to stop that very thing from happening, was directly responsible for one of them. Agent Gerald Blaine was violently sick, and retched the contents of his stomach into the short grass. He presented his wrists to his fellow Secret Service Agents, who cuffed him and led him away into custody.