Author : Peter Carenza
APRIL 14, 2065
The phone startled Lofton out of a restless sleep. He poked the speaker button.
“We’ve got a situation Delta at the compound, Rick…. It’s a runner. This is serious.”
“Do you have any idea where he’s headed?”
“We’re working on it.”
It was a little over an hour to curtain rise. Offstage, the producer fidgeted nervously with a pencil. Suddenly, he caught a glimpse of a hunched figure in what appeared to be a nightshirt holding a dufflebag.
“Hey you…” he shouted to the tall, thin gentleman whose garments had obviously been underfitted. Then he noticed, gave a slight look of disappointment, and said, “Oh, you must be our Abe. It’s about time… most important day of our lifetime, and I thought our Abe Lincoln wasn’t going to show. Dressing room’s upstairs, but hurry.”
The pseudo-Abe gave a nod of his head and disappeared up the stairs. For a second, the producer looked somewhat out of sorts. Casting sure picked a good one, he thought. This actor was a dead ringer for Lincoln.
Phone attached to his ear, Lofton was trying to make sense of it all with Desmond, the assistant director.
“So you’re saying it was Ronnie’s idea?”
“Swear to god, Rick. He confessed when we pressed him.”
“At least, it gives us a good idea where he’s headed,” Rick affirmed.
“Yeah I know…” Desmond paused briefly, contemplating. “Ironic, isn’t it?”
The ceremony started on time. The spotlight turned from the flag processional onstage, upwards and to the right, to a gaudily-decorated balcony with burgundy seats. The partition wall was, as it last had been two centuries earlier, removed. Within the booth sat four distinguished guests in period garb, actors representing the four who occupied the same luxurious space that fateful spring night: Major Henry Rathbone, his fiancée Clara Harris, and the Lincolns, Abraham and Mary Lincoln. The narrative continued, scenes from An American Cousin interspersed. Lincoln’s double, indeed a stunning likeness of the former President, slid his hand into his coat pocket and pulled out a white handkerchief.
Amid a thundering ovation, the president stood, still clutching his handkerchief in his left hand while he waved with his right. But as the applause died down, he didn’t sit. Rather, he slowly unwrapped the silk cloth and pulled from it an antique Derringer, glaring at the Presidential box, where President Clarke could only watch in stunned amazement, raising the gun from his side and pointing it at the Commander-in-chief.
In an instant, there was a loud crack. It was not the pseudo-Lincoln, whose limp body tumbled from the balcony to the orchestra below, following the dropped Derringer replica that Lincoln had stolen from the bound and gagged actor in the alley. The well-positioned rifle of Rick Lofton from a balcony above and across acquired its mark.
Minutes after clearing the crowd, Lofton stood outside Ford’s Theatre with a cigarette, watching the emergency personnel filter in and out like ants. Desmond approached him from behind.
“Is everything secure?” asked Desmond.
“Perfectly. Our men will divert the ambulance and recover the body.”
Lofton took a long, deep puff. “How’s the replacement coming?”
“Unfortunately, we’re running a little low on DNA… and the President will have to wait a few more years for a new advisor.”
“He’s a little too wily for his own good, so he’ll be terminated, replaced, and isolated… Imagine that… John Wilkes Booth, Clarke’s distant relative.”
“Yeah. Guess vengeance is genetic.”
He stomped out his cigarette and walked back inside.
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