Let’s say … One bright winter morning, late in 1970, the ice is thick atop the Potomac. On a private Pentagon elevator, I place behind his ear a cheap, short-muzzled .38 and pull the trigger. I whisper a guiltless good-bye—softly, tenderly, gently—kissing him with a bark strikingly opposite cacophonous death in mad combat.
Let’s say … He is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, four-star honcho; high, holy suzerain of the U.S. military, appointed by Nixon. His blue-black jacket is thick with Navy stars and stripes, real gold, heavy braid, his mind filled with Southern fried right-wing politics—a Prussian fashionista who hadn’t smelled cordite or shit over a barrel of diesel fuel since World War II.
Let’s say … I am his Marine orderly, carrying a war-earned Top Secret clearance. I escort him into and out of this octagonal conurbation of callous delusion, carrying his briefcase, filled—no doubt—with US strategies for slaying more. My sole task is hailing his high-gloss limo each morning then adieuing it each night in the Pentagon’s shadowy basement, a devil’s den of mean American murderers.
Let’s say … I teach Sunday school at the Church of God on 16th Street, NW, looking for god amongst my Vietnam debris. It never occurs to me to kill Admiral-Golden-Braid though my combat is fresh and raw and wildly, raggedly breathing fire. I do not own or carry a weapon—not then, not now—no gun, no knife, no club; no vest wired to high explosives and rusty bolts of industry. While I have no idea if the Admiral is armed, his chauffeur is: handguns holstered at each ankle, one in the hollow of his back, a fourth on his hip, a fifth strapped chest high.
Let’s say … I join Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Defense Intelligence kicks me out as a security threat. Still to die: some 6,000 more Americans in the American war in Vietnam, and another 500,000 Vietnamese.
Let’s say, again … On a private Pentagon elevator, I place behind his ear a cheap, short-muzzled .38. One bright winter morning, late in 1970, the ice is thick atop the Potomac.
The reality was … I didn’t then. I had the opportunity no one else had. I might—today.
Copyright Tim Bagwell