"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.


Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:36 am

Chapter 27

Theodore Roosevelt said that the right of popular government is incomplete unless it includes the right of voters not merely to choose between candidates when they have been nominated, but also the right to determine who these candidates shall be.

Three major methods have been used by the parties, in American political history, to name candidates: the caucus, the convention, and the direct primary. The caucus was discarded early because it gave the legislature undue influence over the executive. The convention method for choosing Presidential candidates was first used in 1831 by the Anti-Masonic party, but the basic flaw in any convention system is the method of choice of delegates to the convention. The origin of the direct primary is somewhat obscure but it is generally considered as having been adopted by the Democratic party in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, in 1842; however, not until Robert M. La Follette became governor of Wisconsin, early in 1900, was a political leader successful in pushing through a mandatory, statewide, direct primary system.

Because no public regulation exists to control it, the national convention has developed into one of the most remarkable political institutions in the world. In no other nation on this planet is the selection of national leaders, whose influence is to be felt profoundly throughout the world, and the formulation of ostensibly serious policies placed in the hands of a convention of about three thousand howling, only cursorily consulted delegates and alternates. M. Ostrogorski, a French observer of the American political scene, wrote in 1902 of the convention system: "You realize what a colossal travesty of popular institutions you have just been witnessing. A greedy crowd of officeholders, or of office seekers, disguised as delegates of the people on the pretense of holding the grand council of the party, indulged in, or were victims of, intrigues and maneuvers, the object of which was the chief magistracy of the greatest republic of two hemispheres -- the succession to the Washingtons and the Jeffersons. Yet when you carry your thoughts back from the scene which you have just witnessed and review the line of presidents you find that if they have not all been great men -- far from it -- they were all honorable men; and you cannot help repeating the American saying: 'God takes care of drunkards, little children, and of the United States.'"

The climate of welcome in which the convention of 1960 opened was like many of those that had preceded it. Hotels were festooned with bunting. Distillers had provided all saloons with printed partisan displays, the backs of which carried the same message in the name of the other party, whose convention would follow in three weeks. The midtown streets were choked with big-hipped broads wearing paper cowboy hats. Witty Legionnaires rode horses into hotel lobbies. Witty Legionnaires squirted friendly streams from water pistols at the more defenseless-looking passers-by. Gay delegates hung twenty-dollar call girls by their heels out of high hotel windows. Ward heelers issued statements on party unity. Elder statesmen were ignored or used depending on the need. The Pickpocket Squad worked like contestants in a newsreel husking bee. One hundred and four men's suits were misplaced by the dry-cleaning services of thirty-eight hotels. Petitions and documentations were submitted to the Resolutions Committee by farm lobbies, labor unions, women's organizations, temperance groups, veterans' blocs, antivivisection societies, and national manufacturers' Turnvereins. Two thousand one hundred and four hand towels over the minimal daily quota would be used, on an average, for each night the convention sat in the city. A delegate was arrested, but not prosecuted, for wrestling with a live crocodile in Duffy Square to call attention to the courage of a Florida candidate for the vice-presidency. The world's largest campaign button was worn by a bevy of lovely young "apple farmers" from the Pacific Northwest although their candidate came from Missouri (he happened to be in the apple business). At 8 A.M., two hours before the convention opened on Monday morning, Marco conducted a drill of two hundred FBI and Army Intelligence agents and three hundred and ten plain-clothes men and women of the New York Police Department, assembled in the backstage area of the Garden where they were briefed on the over-all assignment. Marco was so frantic with worry and fear that his hand shook as he used the chalk on the large blackboard, on a high platform. After Marco's briefing, more and more detailed briefings were conducted down through the units of command to squad level, until Marco, Amjac, Lehner, and the chief inspector of the New York police were sure that each man knew what he was to do.

The twenty-seventh national convention of the party was opened by Miss Viola Narvilly of the great Indianapolis Opera Company singing the National Anthem. This one, as her manager explained, was a bitch of a song to sing, as any singer, professional or otherwise, would tell you, and, he said hotly, it like to have lifted Miss Narvilly out of her own body by her vocal cords to get up to those unnatural notes which some idiot thought he was doing great when he wrote it. Miss Narvilly's manager tried to throw a punch at the National Chairman -- he had practically begged them to open the convention singing the lousy song, then not one single television shot had been taken of Miss Narvilly from beginning to end, before or after, and they had spent their own loot to come all the way in from a concert in Chicago.

After the National Chairman got some help from two sergeants at arms in shaking Miss Narvilly's manager loose he called the first session to order. Nearly six hundred of the three thousand delegates settled down to listen to the welcoming speech by the party's senator from New York. The Chairman made his formal address following this token welcome and the hall filled up just a little more, and the business of permanent organization, credentials, rules and order of business, platform and resolutions got under way and filled the time nicely until the keynote speaker took over in the TV slot that had been bought on all networks for nine to nine-thirty that evening.

Although Senator Iselin and his wife did not attend the first day's session, an Iselin headquarters had been established on a full floor of the largest West Side hotel near the Garden. Also, the Loyal American Underground had established recruiting booths for Johnny in the lobbies of every "official" convention hotel and had rented a store opposite the Eighth Avenue entrance to the Garden; the store had been an upholstery store before the convention and would be an upholstery store again. One enthusiastic newspaper reported that these recruitment booths had registered four thousand two hundred members (Mrs. Iselin had thought it prudent to register the same one hundred people again and again throughout the days to insure the excitement of action at all booths), but the exact number of new recruits could not be determined accurately.

On the opening Monday, true to his word as an officer and a gentleman, General Francis "Fightin' Frank" Bollinger headed a parade made up of state and county chairmen of Ten Million Americans Mobilizing for Tomorrow, down Eighth Avenue from Columbus Circle to the Garden. They were two hundred and forty-six strong from the forty-nine states, plus an irregular battalion made up of loyal wives and daughters, various uncommitted New Yorkers who enjoyed parading, and a police squad car. They marched the nine short blocks with Fightin' Frank holding in one gloved hand the front end of a continuous paper petition that stretched out behind him for eight and a half blocks and contained at least four thousand signatures, many of which had been written by the general's own family to fill out the spaces and add to the fun. Many of the newspaper reports got the figure wrong, reporting as many as 1,064,219 signatures, although at no time did any representative of any newspaper attempt to make a count. The petition urged the nomination of John Yerkes Iselin to the Presidency of the United States candidacy under the general indivisive slogan of "The Man Who Saves America."

Mrs. Iselin arrived at Johnny's campaign headquarters at eight o'clock Monday night. For the next several hours she received the prospective candidates for the Presidency, together with their managers, in separate relays in her suite. At 1:10 A.M. she made the deal she wanted and committed Senator Iselin's entire delegate support to the candidate of her choice, accepting, on behalf of Senator Iselin, the assurance of nomination for the office of vice-presidency and losing for Fightin' Frank Bollinger the assurance of portfolio as Secretary of State.

The party's platform was presented to the convention on Tuesday morning and afternoon, together with many statesmanlike speeches. Professor Hugh Bone, when writing of party platforms as delivered at conventions said: "If the voter expects to find specific issues and clearly defined party policy in the platform he will be sorely disappointed. As a guide to the program to be carried out by the victorious party the platform is also of little value." The British political scholar Lord Byrce observed that the purpose of the American party platform appears to be "neither to define nor to convince, but rather to attract and confuse." The 1960 platform of the party committed itself as follows: for free enterprise, farm prosperity, preservation of small business, reduction in taxes, and rigid economy in government. The latter plank had been axiomatic for both major parties since 1840. Due to the insistence of Senator Iselin the platform also demanded "the eradication of Communists and Communist thought without mercy wherever and whenever Our Flag flies."

The roll call for the nomination got under way on Tuesday afternoon, July 12. Alabama yielded. The nominating speech, the demonstration following that, the seconding speech, and the demonstration following that, gave the convention the first aspirant in nomination at six twenty-one. The identical ritual for the second favorite son took up the attention of the convention to ten thirty-five. The third candidate proposed was nominated on the first ballot by unanimous vote of the convention, as had been ten candidates of the party since 1900, at twelve forty-one on July 12, 1960, when the convention was adjourned until noon the following day when it would meet to deliberate over its choice of candidate for the office of vice-president, then await the historic acceptance speeches by both leaders the following night.
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:36 am

Chapter 28

Raymond left the hotel in Newark, where he had been told to rest, at 4 P.M. Wednesday. He carried a nondescript black satchel. He took the tubes under the river, then the subway to Times Square. For a while he wandered aimlessly along West Forty-second Street. After a while he found himself at Forty-fourth and Broadway. He went into a large drugstore. He got change for a quarter at the cigarette counter and shuffled to one of the empty telephone booths in the rear. He dialed Marco's office number. The agent on duty answered. He was alone in the large house in Turtle Bay.

"Colonel Marco, please."

"Who is calling, please?"

"Raymond Shaw. It's a personal call."

The agent inhaled very slowly. Then he exhaled slowly. "Hello? Hello?" Raymond said, thinking the connection had been broken.

"Right here, Mr. Shaw," the agent said briskly. "It looks as though Colonel Marco has stepped away from his desk for a moment, but he'll be back practically instantly, Mr. Shaw, and he left word that if you called he wanted to be sure that he could call you right back, wherever you were. If you'll give me your telephone number, Mr. Shaw --"

"Well --"

"He'll be right back."

"Maybe I'd better call him back. I'm in a drugstore here and --"

"I have my orders, Mr. Shaw. If you'll give me that number, please."

"The number in the booth here is Circle eight, nine six three seven. I'll hang around for ten minutes or so, I guess, and have a cup of coffee." He hung up the phone and the newspaper fell from his pocket and flattened out on the floor showing the headline: MURDERS OF SENATOR AND DAUGHTER ENIGMA. Raymond picked the paper up slowly and returned it to his jacket pocket. He climbed on a stool at the soda fountain and waited for someone to come and take his order.

The agent on duty dialed a number rapidly. He got a busy signal. He waited painfully with his eyes closed, then he opened them and dialed again. He got a busy signal. He pulled his sleeve back from his wrist watch, stared at it for thirty seconds, then dialed again. The connection bubbled a through signal.


"This is Turtle Bay. Get me Marco. Red signal."

"Hold, please."

The booming voice of the platform speaker inside the arena was cut off from every amplifier throughout the Garden. The packed hall seemed, for an instant, like a silent waxworks packed with three thousand effigies. An urgent, new voice came pounding out the horns. It contrasted so much with the ribbon of pure silence that had preceded it, after two days of amplified fustian, that every delegate felt threatened by its urgency.

"Colonel Marco! Colonel Marco! Red signal! Red signal! Colonel Marco! Red signal!"

The voice cut itself off and another electronic flow of silence came through the system. Newspapermen immediately began to pressure the wrong officials about the significance of the interruption and the term red signal, and beginning with the first editions of the morning papers the term was printed again and again until it finally found itself on television variety shows as comedians' warning cries.

Marco sat backstage with an unleashed phone in his hand, within a semicircle of agents and police. Amjac was between earphones at one telephone monitor and Lehner was at the other. The recording machines were turning. Five minutes, eight seconds, had elapsed since Raymond had made his call. Marco dialed. He was sweating peanut butter.

The telephone rang in an empty booth. It rang again. Then again. A figure slumped into the seat to answer it. It was Raymond.

"Ben?" No other opening.

"Yes, kid."

"You read what happened?"

"Yes. I know. I know."

"How could anyone? How could it happen? Jocie -- how could anyone --"

"Where are you, Raymond?" The men ringed around Marco seemed to lean forward.

"I think maybe I'm going crazy. I have the terrible dreams like you used to have and terrible things are all twisted together. But the craziest part is how anyone -- could -- Ben! They killed Jocie. Somebody killed Jocie!" The words came out hoarsely and on a climbing scale.

"Where are you, kid? We have to talk. We can't talk on the telephone. Where are you?"

"I have to talk to you. I have to talk to you."

"I'll meet you. Where are you?"

"I can't stay here. I have to get out. I have to get air."

"I'll meet you at the paper."

"No, no."

"In the Park, then."

"The Park?"

"The zoo, Raymond. On the porch of the cafeteria. O.K.?"


"Right away."

"They're inside my head, like you said."

"Get a cab and get up to the Park."

"Yes." Raymond hung up. Marco banged the phone down and wheeled in his swivel chair. Amjac and Lehner nodded at the same time. "The boy is in bad shape," Lehner said.

"I'll take him now," Marco said. "This has to move very normally. Raymond has to be allowed to feel safe, then he has to play solitaire, so this is all mine. Give me some cards."

Lehner took a pack of force cards out of a carton on the long work table supported by sawhorses and tossed them across the room to Marco. Lehner stuffed another pack into his pocket as a souvenir. A detail coming off duty straggled into the room. "Whatta you know?" the first man said. "They just handed the vice-presidency to that idiot Iselin." Marco grunted. He turned and nearly ran toward the Forty-ninth Street exit.


Raymond was sitting in the sooty sunlight with his back to the arriviste skyline of Central Park South, staring at a cup of coffee. Marco felt shock like a heavy hammer as he stared at him from a few feet off. He suddenly realized he had never seen Raymond unshaven before, or wearing a dirty shirt, or wearing clothes that could have been slept in for night after night. Raymond's face seemed to be falling into itself and it presented the kind of shock a small boy's face would bring if he had had all of his teeth extracted.

Marco sat down across from Raymond at the sturdy outdoor table. There were only eight or nine people on the long, broad terrace. Marco and Raymond had a lot of room to themselves. He put his hand on top of Raymond's dirty hand with the black rimmed fingers. "Hi, kid," he said almost inaudibly. Raymond looked up. His eyes glistened with wet. "I don't know what is happening to me," he said and Marco could almost see the ripping Raymond felt. Raymond's emotion was like that of a curate with his head filled with cocaine, or perhaps like that of a man after he has had acid thrown into his eyes. The grief that shone dully out of Raymond blocked out everything else within Marco's field of vision; it was blackness which threw back no reflection.

The seals in the large pool honked and splashed. Around the seal pond grew a moving garden of zoo-blooming balloons, their roots attached to bicycles and prams and small fists. The big cats were being fed somewhere in the area behind Marco and they were noisy eaters.

"They are inside my head like you said, aren't they, Ben?"

Marco nodded.

"Can they -- can they make me do anything?"

Marco nodded less perceptibly.

"I have a terrible dream -- oh, my God -- I have a terrible dream that my mother and I --"

Raymond's eyes were so wild that Marco could not look at him. He shut his eyes and thought of the shapes of prayers. A rubber ball came bouncing then rolling along the stone terrace. It lodged against Marco's feet. A small boy with a comical face and hair like a poodle's came running after it. He held Raymond's arm as he bent down to get his ball, then ran away from them shouting at his friends.

"Who killed Jocie, Ben?" -- and Marco could not answer him. "Ben, did I -- did I kill Jocie? That could be, couldn't it? Maybe it was an accident, but they wanted me to kill Senator Jordan and -- did I kill my Jocie?"

Marco could not watch this any longer. Mercifully, he said, "How about passing the time by playing a little solitaire?" and he slid the force deck across the table. He watched Raymond relax. Raymond got the cards out of the box and began to shuffle mechanically and smoothly.

Marco had to be sure that his red queen would command the authority to supersede all others. He had never been permitted to read Yen Lo's complete instructions for the operation of a murderer. Therefore, the force deck, which had been enlisted at first as a time-saver to bring the red queen into immediate play, was now seen by Marco as his insurance policy which had to be seven ways more powerful than the single queen of diamonds that the enemy had used. Every time Raymond's play showed the red queen, which was from the first card set down, he attempted reflexively to stop the play. Marco ordered him to play on, to layout the full, up-faced seven stacks of solitaire. At last there was arrayed a pantheon of red queens in imperious row.

Where was Jocie? Raymond asked himself, far inside himself, as he stared at the advancing sweep of costumed monarchs. The seven queens commanded silence. They began to order him, through Marco, to unlock all of the great jade doors which went back, back, back, along an austere corridor in time to the old, old man with the withered, merry smile who said his name was Yen Lo and who promised him solemnly that in other lives, through which he would journey beyond this life, he would be spared the unending agony which he had found in this life. Where was Jocie? Mr. Gaines had been a good man but he had been told to make him dead. Amen. He had had to kill in Paris; he had killed in London by special appointment to the Queen of Diamonds, offices in principal cities. Amen. Where was Jocie? The tape recorder in the holster under Marco's arm revolved and listened. Raymond stared at the seven queens and talked. He told what his mother had told him. He explained that he had shot Senator Jordan and that -- that he had -- that after he had shot Senator Jordan he had --

Marco's voice slammed out at him, telling him he was to forget about what had happened at Senator Jordan's until he, Marco, told him to remember. He asked Raymond what he had been told to do in New York. Raymond told him.

In the end, when all Marco's questions had been answered, but not until the very end, did it become clear to Colonel Marco, what they would have to do. Marco thought of his father and his grandfather and of their Army. He considered his own life and its meaning. He decided for both of them what they would have to do.

They walked away from the terrace, past the seal pond, through the bobbing flowers in the garden of toy balloons. They walked past the bars marked YAK -- POEPHAGUS GRUNNIENS -- CENT. ASIA and they moved out slowly through the gantlet of resters and lovers and dreamers toward the backside of General Sherman's bronze horse.

At Sixtieth Street, on Fifth Avenue, Marco tried to anticipate the changing of a traffic light. He stepped down from the curb two steps in front of Raymond, then turned to hurry Raymond along so that they could beat the light, when the Drive-Ur-Self car, rented by Chunjin, hit him. It threw him twelve feet and he lay where he fell. A crowd began to collect itself out of motes of sunlight. A foot policeman came running from the hotel marquee at Fifty-ninth Street because a woman had screamed like a crane. Chunjin leaned over and opened the door. "Get in, Mr. Shaw. Quickly, please." Raymond got into the car, carrying his satchel, and as the car zoomed off into the Park, he slammed the door. Chunjin left the Park at Seventy-second Street, crossed to Broadway, and started downtown. They did not speak until they reached the dingy hotel on West Forty-ninth Street when Chunjin gave him the key stamped 301, wished him good luck, shook his hand while he stared into Raymond's tragic, yellow eyes, told him to leave the car, and drove off, going west.

Raymond changed clothes in Room 301. He entered the Garden through a door marked Executive Entrance on the Forty-ninth Street side, at five forty-five, during the afternoon recess while the building held only five per cent of the activity it had seen one hour before. The candidate's acceptance speeches were scheduled to appear on all networks from ten to ten-thirty that night, and after that the campaign would start.

Raymond was dressed as he had been told to dress; as a priest, with a reversed stiff collar, a black suit, a soft, black hat, and heavy black shell eyeglasses. He smoked a large black cigar from the corner of his mouth and he carried a satchel. He looked overworked, preoccupied, and sour. Everybody saw him. No one recognized him. He walked across the main lobby just inside the Eighth Avenue gates and climbed the staircase slowly like a man on a dull errand. He kept climbing. When he could go no farther, he walked along behind the top tier of the gallery seats, now empty, not bothering to look down at the littered floor of the arena, six stories below him. Carrying the satchel, he went up the iron stepladder that was bolted to the wall, climbing twenty-two feet until he reached the catwalk that ran out at right angles from the wall and led to the suspended box that was a spotlight booth, used only for theatrical spectaculars. He let himself into the booth with a key, closing and locking the door behind him ..He sat down on a wooden packing case, opened the satchel, took out a gun barrel, then the stock of a sniper's rifle, and assembled the gun with expert care. When he was satisfied with its connection, he took the telescopic sight out of its chamois case and, after polishing it carefully, mounted it on the piece.
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:36 am

Chapter 29

Marco was fighting to kill time. He stalled at every possible chance as they tried to help him dress. He needed time for Raymond to find his position, for the inexorable, uncompromising television schedule to pull all of the counters into play. Marco thought about the face of John Yerkes Iselin and he made himself do everything more slowly.

His right arm was in full sling; right hand to the left shoulder. The right side of his face seemed to have come off. The skin was gone and under the snowy bandage it was as black as the far side of the moon. Four ribs had crumpled on the left side of his spine, and he was tightly taped. He was under semi-anesthesia to keep the pain under control, and it gave him everything on the outside in parts of fantasy and parts of reality. Two men were dressing him as rapidly as he would allow them to progress, although no one there could tell that he was stalling.

Amjac and Lehner squatted on the floor around a tape playback machine and the only sound in the room, beyond Marco's labored breathing and his quick, deep throat-sounds of pain, was the clear, impersonal sound of Raymond's voice, backed up by children's squeals and laughter, the roar of hungry cats, the honks and splats of seals, and the gentling undersound of two hundred red, green, and yellow balloons as they cut the air at a tenth of a mile per hour. Every man in the room was staring at the machine. It was saying:

"No, I don't think the priest's outfit is supposed to have any symbolic significance. My mother doesn't think that way. Primarily, it will be good camouflage. She may have arranged to have me caught after I kill him, when, I suppose, I will be exposed as a Communist with a tailor-made record as long as a hangman's rope. Then, of course, the choice of ecclesiastical costume will keep a lot of people enraged on still a different level, if they didn't happen to plan to vote for the dead candidate. If I am caught I am to state, on the second day, after much persuasion, that I was ordered to undertake the execution by the Kremlin. Mother definitely plans to involve them, but I don't think she will purposely involve me because she was really deeply upset and affected for the first time since I have known her when she discovered that they had chosen me to be their killer. She told me that they had lost the world when they did that and that when she and Johnny got into the White House she was going to start and finish a holy war, without ten minutes' warning, that would wipe them off the face of the earth, and that then we -- I do not mean this country, I mean Mother and whoever she decides to use -- will run this country and we'll run the whole world. She is crazy, of course. There will be a terrible pandemonium down in that arena after they are hit, and I am sure the priest's suit will help me to get away. I am to leave at once, but the rifle stays there. It's a Soviet issue rifle."

Marco's voice, from the tape, said, "Did you say after they are hit? Did you use the word 'they'?"

"Well, yes. I am ordered to shoot the nominee through the head and to shoot Johnny Iselin through the left shoulder, and when the bullet hits Johnny it will shatter a crystal compound which Mother has sewn in under the material which will make him look all soggy with blood. He won't be hurt because that whole area from his chin to his hips will be bullet-proofed. Mother said this was the part Johnny was actually born to play because he overacts so much and we can certainly use plenty of that here. The bullet's velocity will knock him down, of course, but he will get to his feet gallantly amid the chaos that will have broken out at that time, and the way she wants him to do it for the best effect for the television cameras and the still photographers is to lift the nominee's body in his arms and stand in front of the microphones like that because that picture will symbolize more than anything else that it is Johnny's party which the Soviets fear the most, and Johnny will offer the body of a great American on the altar of liberty, and as you know, as Mother says, there is nothing that has succeeded in the history of politics like martyrdom, for now the people must rise and strike down this Communist peril which she can prove instantly lives within and amongst us all. Johnny will point that up in his speech he will make with the candidate in his arms. It is short, but Mother says it is the most rousing speech she has ever read. They have been working on that speech, here and in Russia, on and off, for over eight years. Mother will force some of the men on that platform to take the body away from Johnny because, after all, he's not Tarzan she said, then Johnny will really hit that microphone and those cameras, blood all over him, fighting off those who try to succor him, defending America even if it means his death, and rallying a nation of television viewers into hysteria and pulling that convention along behind him to vote him into the nomination and to accept a platform which will sweep them right into the White House under powers which will make martial law seem like anarchism, Mother says."

"When will you shoot the candidate, Raymond?" Marco's voice asked.

"Well, Mother wants him to be dead at about six minutes after he begins his acceptance speech, depending on his reading speed under pressure, but I will hit him right at the point where he finishes the phrase which reads: 'nor would I ask of any fellow American in defense of his freedom that which I would not gladly give myself -- my life before my liberty.'"

"Where will you shoot from?"

"There is a spotlight booth that will not be in use. It's up under the roof of the Eighth Avenue side of the Garden. I haven't been in it, but Mother says I will have absolutely clear, protected shooting from it. She will seat Johnny on the platform directly behind the candidate, just a little to his left, so I'll be able to swing the sights and wing him with minimal time loss. That's about it. It's a very solid plan."

"They all are," Marco's voice said. "There are going to be one or two important changes, Raymond. Forget what your mother told you. This is what you are going to do."

There was a click. The tape in the playback machine rolled to a stop.

"What happened?" Amjac said quickly.

"The colonel stopped the machine," Lehner said, watching Marco.

"Come on," Marco said. "We have seconds, not minutes. Let's go." He started out of the room, forcing them to follow him.

"But what did you tell him, Colonel?"

"Don't worry," Marco said, walking rapidly. "The Army takes care of its own."

"You mean -- Raymond?"

They crowded into the elevator at the end of the hospital corridor. "No," Marco answered. "I was thinking about two other things. About a General Jorgenson and the United States of America."
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:37 am

Chapter 30

A hush fell upon the delegations in the great hall as the Chairman announced that within a very few minutes their candidates would be facing the television cameras, when, for the first time together, eighty million American voters would see the next President and Vice-President of the United States standing before them. The convention thundered its approval. As they cheered the top brass of the party, made up of governors, national committeemen, fat cats, senators, and congressmen, were herded upon the platform, followed by the two nominees and their wives.

They moved with great solemnity. Senator Iselin and his wife seemed to be affected particularly. They were unsteady and extremely pale, which occasioned more than one delegate, newspaperman, committeeman, and spectator to observe that the vast dignity and the awful responsibility, truly the awesome meaning of that great office, had never failed to humble any man and that John Iselin was no exception, as he was proving up there now. When he sat down he was actually trembling and he seemed -- he, of all people, whom audiences and speeches had stimulated all his life -- nervous and apprehensive, even frightened. They could see his wife, a beautiful woman who was always at his side, a real campaigner and a fighter who, more than once, had looked subversion in the face and had stared it down, as she spoke to him steadily, in an undertone which was obviously too low-pitched and too personal for anyone to hear.

"Sit still, you son-of-a-bitch! He has never missed with a rifle in his life. Johnny! Damn it, Johnny, if you move you can get hurt. Give him a chance to sight you and to get used to this light. And what the hell are you sweating now for? You won't be hit until after the speech is under way. Did you take those pills? Johnny, did you? I knew it. I knew I should have stood over you and made you take those goddam pills." She fumbled inside her handbag. She worked three pills out of a vial and placed them together on the adhesive side of a piece of Scotch tape, within the purse. Very sweetly and with the graciousness of a Schrafft's hostess she gestured unobtrusively to a young man who was at the edge of the platform for just such emergencies and asked him for a glass of water.

When the water came, just as she got it in her hand, the nominee was on the air and his acceptance speech had begun. His voice was low but clear as he began to thank the delegations for the honor they had done him.

Only the speaker's platform was lighted. Three rows in front of the speaker, as he faced the darkness of the hall, one of the men of Marco's unit was crouched in the aisle, with walkie-talkie equipment. He spoke into the mouthpiece with a low voice, giving a running account of what was happening on the platform, and if the delegates seated near him thought of him at all, they thought he was on the air, although what he was saying would have mystified any radio audience.

"She just got a glass of water from the page. She is handling it very busily. She's doing something with the rim of it. I'm not sure. Wait. I'm not sure. I'm going to take a guess that she has stuck something on the rim of the glass -- I even think I can see it -- and she just handed the glass to Iselin."

On the platform, behind and to the left of the speaker, Raymond's mother said to Johnny, "The pills are on the edge of the glass. Take them as you drink. That's good. That's fine. Now you'll be O.K. Now just sit still, sweetheart. All you'll feel will be like a very hard punch on the shoulder. Just one punch and it's all over. Then you get up and do your stuff and we're home free, honey. We're in like Flynn, honey. Just take it easy. Take it easy, sweetheart."


Marco, Amjac, and Lehner climbed the stairs. Lehner was carrying a walkie-talkie and mumbling into it. The nominee's speech was booming out of the speakers and Amjac was saying, as though in a bright conversation with nobody, O Jesus God, they were too late, they were too late. Marco moved clumsily under his bandages but he held the lead going up the stairs.

As they got to the top level they were scrambling and they started to run along behind the gallery seats toward the iron ladder as the nominee's voice reverberated all around them, saying: "... that which I would not gladly give myself -- my life before my liberty," and Amjac was screaming, "Oh, my good God, no! No!" when they heard the first rifle shot crack out and echo. "No! No!" Amjac screamed, and the sounds were ripped out of his chest as though they were being sent on to overtake the bullet and deflect its course when the second shot ripped its sound through the air, then everything was drowned out by a great, enormous roar of shock and fear as comprehension of the meaning of the first shot reached the floor of the arena. The noise from the Garden floor was horrendous. Lehner stopped to crouch against the building wall, pressing the earphones to his ears, trying to hear the message from the man in front of the platform on the arena floor. "What? What? Louder. Aaaaaaah!" It was a wailed sigh. He dragged the earphones off his head, staring numbly at Amjac. "He shot Iselin, then he shot his mother. Dead. Not the nominee. Johnny and his wife are stone cold dead."

Amjac wheeled. "Colonel!" he shouted. "Where's the colonel?" He looked up and saw Marco moving painfully across the narrow catwalk toward the locked black box that was the spotlight booth. "Colonel Marco!" Amjac yelled. Marco turned slightly as he walked, and waved his left hand. It held a deck of playing cards. They watched him come to the door of the booth and kick at it gently.

When they reached the catwalk, Marco had disappeared into the booth. The door had closed again. Amjac started across the catwalk with Lehner behind him. They stopped short as the door opened and Marco came out. He couldn't close the door behind him because of the sling, but they could not see through the darkness inside. They backed up on the catwalk as he came toward them, and then they heard the third shot sound inside the booth -- short, sharp, and clean.

"No electric chair for a Medal of Honor man," Marco said, and he began to pick his way painfully down the iron ladder listening intently for a memory of Raymond, for the faintest rustle of his ever having lived, but there was none.
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