Author : Chris Peterson

I look down at the seat as I climb into the car.

“Well, get in honey,” says a lady entering from the other side. An attractive lady. She’s talking to another attractive lady in a familiar pink outfit, and the familiar pink pillbox hat that the whole world and I have seen for over forty years in some of the most unforgettable images ever.

Someone makes a quick quip behind me that I don’t catch. I turn and see that smile. Those teeth. That hair. Holy shit, my brain screams, that’s John Kennedy. He’s already seated. He’s smiling. He expects me to make a comeback to his friendly jibe.

I look down again at the jump seat, in front of the President.

“It’s called a jump seat so you can jump out of the car if you see a pretty girl along the way,” the President jokes again.

“Now, Jack,” the attractive lady climbing in to the seat next to me admonishes.

I look back at the President. He’s still waiting for me to come back at him with a real zinger. I am Governor Connally. I don’t know how I am, but I am. I remember nothing before putting my foot into the car. The car! Yes, that car.

Police on motorcycles are putting on helmets and people are filling the cars behind us.

Stop the motorcade! My brain screams. But no sound comes. Stop stop STOP!!! For the love of God, don’t go!

My brain flashes ahead to the waiting crowds. The waiting history. It’s not too late! My brain screams again. Again, I am mute.

I don’t want to be here for this! I don’t want this to happen! Stop! Stop now!

I remain frozen. It all seems so inevitable. So unchangeable. Crowds of people waiting to see the President. The planned route. The crowds. Dealey Plaza. Adrian Zapruder and his secretary on their lunch break. Mannlicher-Carcano. Babushka lady. Adrian Zapruder? No, Abraham. What a strange thing to correct myself on. Stop the motorcade! Everyone, out of the car! For the love of God, stop!

I am on a park bench. I am no longer Governor Connally. I don’t know how I am not, but I am not. It is raining. A steady, gentle autumn rain. Surprisingly, it’s not cold. The rain hides my tears. Has it happened? Have I prevented tragedy? I listen for the sound of distant gunfire, of screams, racing engines and screeching tires, howling sirens. Of course I can’t hear them. It is raining, and November 22 in Dallas was sunny. I may be 1000 miles away. I glance up briefly as a man and woman, middle-aged, walk past me in the park. Huddled together, in their rain slickers, they don’t look shocked. They don’t look alarmed. Maybe they don’t know yet. Maybe it didn’t happen.

In my heart, I know it is happening right at this moment, far away, as the rain soaks my clothes. I was nearly there for a few seconds, and the thought chills my bones. Nobody will ever utter the words “former President Kennedy;” only “the late President Kennedy.” Jackie will forever be Jackie O. The country and the world will not be shocked like this for almost another forty years, on another sunny day in a distant September.

That too, seems so large. So evil. So hopeless. The weight of Evil presses down on me. So much of it. I am so small.

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