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"So you're saying that Kennedy was a dead man regardless, right? He was going to die that day, one way or the other." Jason asked.

"I'm afraid so. He'd just trod on far too many toes in a lot of important places. Kennedy was a very popular president, but to be that popular means that you have to piss some very important people off. The mafia was mad at him because he was cracking down on their businesses, even though there were rumors that some of the bigger mafia guys had helped him get elected in the first place. Long story short, Kennedy was bad for business, and they were looking for some way to either off him or blackmail him out of office. Integrity wasn't something the mafia were used to dealing with. Kennedy had a lot of that, plus, he knew Marilyn and the others would keep their mouths shut to protect him.”

“Then the rumors about Kennedy were true? That whole thing with Marilyn Monroe was legit?” Jason asked.

Heller smiled. “Jason, you have to remember that John F. Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world for several years. Not only was he powerful but he was charismatic, too, and a war hero. Despite his health problems, Kennedy was the kind of guy who walked into a room and got the attention of every single woman sitting there. That kind of power can go to a guy’s head, but, to be fair to Kennedy, he did his best to keep his flings as far away from his family as possible. Kennedy was basically one of the good guys.”

Jason nodded and said, “Not good enough to be kept alive though, right? The mafia wanted him gone, and who else?”

"Well, you had the military industrial complex looking for his head after the ‘Bay of Pigs’ fiasco." Heller said. "Plus, he was doing everything he could to wind down the war in Vietnam. The military guys wanted a president who was more pro-war, but Kennedy wasn't as eager for the slaughter out there as they were. By all accounts, he'd seen enough death and misery to last him a lifetime while he was fighting in the Pacific during World War II. Plus, he'd seen what happened to the French when they got their asses kicked at Dien Bien Phu. That wasn’t warfare, that was a massacre.”

Jason knew the war in Vietnam had never been popular, mostly because it wasn't actually a war at all, it was a policing action that grew into a conflict where over 50,000 American soldiers lost their lives. Kennedy had done what he could to scale the conflict down, probably for no other reason than realizing that America was never going to be able to win it without using nuclear weapons, and that would have meant war with China. And even at that victory against a trained, supplied, and creative guerilla army was almost impossible. History has proven Kennedy to be 100% correct on this subject several times since.

Jason was still absorbing all of this when Heller added, "Kennedy had also failed to weaponize the space program, which got a lot of military types angry with him, too. These guys wanted nukes mounted on space satellites, and on the moon, too. They wanted a war to test out their new nuclear 'toys' and Kennedy wasn't going to ever give them that, so they decided to stage a very quiet coup d'etat and take control of the United States by killing him instead."

Very few people know that the U.S. military had put together a number of different plans for putting weapons in space, and this included everything from testing nukes on the moon, to testing them in space just above the Earth’s atmosphere. This was back in a time when the full impact of nuclear weapons wasn't properly understood. That didn't stop projects like 'Operation Fishbowl' going ahead though, a project that resulted in 5 separate nuclear weapons being detonated in Earth orbit. It also allegedly didn't stop various factions from weaponizing space through a series of covert programs in the years that followed.

"Jesus...he never had a chance.”

Heller shook his head. "None. John F. Kennedy was a dead man a long time before that day in Dallas. That decision had been made months beforehand."

Chapter 7

Dallas, November 1963

The entire morning had been just like every other morning for him over the last few months. He'd gotten up around 6am, done a quick workout even though it was still dark outside, and then had breakfast. Eggs, bacon, and coffee - a lot better than he was used to, and it hit the spot every time. Sometimes, the simple meals really are the best.

After breakfast came two smokes to kick start his day. There’s been no excitement, just a lot of waiting around for a call he'd been waiting on for months. He was almost willing the phone to ring, but silently hoping that would never happen. The anxiety was starting to get to him just a little bit.

There was no sign of Marina this morning, so he figured she must have gone out early shopping for one thing or another. He was pretty sure he'd have left for work before she got back, but he'd catch up with her later on in the day. His job was boring as hell, but it was still a job. It was the job "they’d" given him, so he had no choice in the matter. He knew that boredom was part of his story, part of his cover to throw the scent off.

He knew that he had to play the part if he was going to stop what was about to happen. It had taken him years to convince these lunatics that he was one of them, and now, as a result, the very life of the president of the United States could be in his hands. It made him sweat like crazy every time he allowed that entire thought to form in his mind. The plot to kill President Kennedy had been uncovered a few months back, and he just hoped they’d made their move in time to stop it.

The entire world was balanced on a knife edge of nuclear violence right now, but only a handful of people knew where and when the button might be pushed. He was one of them, and having that stuff inside your head was enough to drive most folks crazy. Maybe he’d come close a few times himself already?

His coffee was just starting to cool down when the phone rang. His heart skipped a beat. Maybe it was just another of those new goddamned telemarketing people. I mean, who the hell buys washing soap over the phone? That whole idea was never going to take off, he figured.

He knew he was going to have to answer it, so he swallowed down the ball of fear in his throat, picked up the phone up, and said, "Hello?"

A single high-pitched tone played for several seconds, which was followed by some music. Was that 'Twist Again' by Chubby Checker? He'd always liked that tune. He liked hearing it now, too.

The music stopped and a series of words spoken in a monotone voice followed.

"63. Magic Dragon. Go. Go. Go".

That was the last he would remember of that conversation, or any other conversation that day. The next time he remembered anything, the whole world would have changed forever.

Lee Harvey Oswald calmly replaced the phone on the receiver, picked up his jacket, and left for work. Anyone looking at him would see a blank but relatively human look on his face. Almost like a robot wearing just the hint of a smile.

He never knew it but he'd been lied to on a scale he could never imagine. His programming wasn't to stop the president being killed. In fact, it was just the opposite.



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