out of hand. We get involved in Vietnam, and that goes on forever, and we lose, and that sabotages all the social reform projects, the economy goes in the crapper, and of course that brings in the conservatives. That revives the economy, but it also destabilizes it, and internationalism effectively becomes dependent on any one of a zillion factors not going wrong. Granted, the cold war ended, but that just let a flood of missing nuclear weapons on the world….”
The woman got up without him knowing it and moved to the back of the bus. He rattled on. A new passenger sat down next to him.
“…which resulted in 9/11 and the even worse collapse of the economy, as well as increased tensions and of course the environmental damage I told you about keeps getting worse and worse, and all of that, all of that, all of that stems from the death of Kennedy. If he was in the right place in the right time, and if he hadn’t been shot, the world would be a much, much better place.”
“The president’s been shot?” the woman said. He turned to look at her. Once again, he didn’t realize she wasn’t the same one he’d started off the trip with.
“Oh, yes” he said.
“When?” she asked, frightened.
“Forty seven years ago, but it’s not going to happen until tomorrow.”
She got up and walked to the back of the bus, where two other women were pointing at Jerry, and motioning her to sit with them. He hopped up in the seat, and looked at her as she walked.
“But don’t worry,” he shouted, “I’m going to fix it!”
A lifetime of obsessive study had convinced him that there hadn’t been a conspiracy. There had never been a shortage of gun-toting whack jobs in American history. Linclon, Garfield, and McKinley had all fallen prey to twisted men working alone, and later today, Kennedy would be killed. Again. For the first time. The mission, then, was a simple one: Save Kennedy, save the world.
He spent the night in a motel, reveling in the overwhelming ‘sixtiesness’ of it, the look, the feel, the smells, all unlocking vaults of memories. He marveled at how bad the picture on the TV was, on how slow and boring the news coverage was, how prim everyone, even the liberals, seemed.
He checked out early, then, on a whim, checked back in, went to his room, and climbed out through a window. What did it matter? It’s not like his timeline was going to last much longer. If he pulled this off - and he had to pull it off - then the world would be on a different timeline, a different track. While six-year-old Jerry Weeks in Ohio would live a long, normal life, he’d never become the shambling mess that the fifty-three-year-old Jerry had become. He’d have a nice life, a nice family, a son that wouldn’t die in a pointless war, effectively a new future would be created in an instant, and as the circumstances that gave rise to Jerry’s madness would never have happened, that crazy 2010 iteration of Jerry would never have existed. He thought it was a nice gift to give himself, saving the world as a selfish gesture. He broke into hebephrenic laughter.
He got to the area that would eventually become infamously known as “The Grassy Knoll,” because, since there was no conspiracy, he knew that was the one place no one would be. He knew there were no cops anywhere near it. It was curious: the weather, the smell of the plants, the gasoline tang in the air, the sounds of the bugs buzzing, the street chatter, all faded from his mind the closer he came to the knoll. It was as if it was a fulcrum about which all the world spun; as if all the million-and-one details were being spun out of his mind by the numinous whirlpool of time itself, roiling and boiling beneath that spot.
He had a folding sniper’s rifle, and a modified camera tripod in his briefcase. He found a ridiculously open spot, but no one seemed to notice, and he looked at the Book Depository. He knew which window Oswald would be shooting out of. How could he not? It was burned into his brain, everyone’s brain who lived through that awful day, endlessly repeated on the news as the details started flooding out.
He patiently watched the window through the hunting scope, a really top of the line