Author: Brooks C. Mendell

“Conspiracies require a lot of goddam work,” I thought, walking down the aisle of shipping containers. Each metal box, rather than stuffed with widgets or t-shirts, housed a humming transporter tuned to a predetermined time and place.

A rusty container to my left labeled “Dealey Plaza 1963” triggered a memory of slapping Lee Harvey Oswald hard across the temple. The nervous son of a bitch couldn’t take his eyes off my tits, but he still provided the distraction we needed. When Kennedy came around the corner, exposed in his convertible, the Support Team finished the job.

The blue box there, that’s “Ford’s Theatre 1865.” I taught John Wilkes Booth how to shoot Lincoln on the move. He could have escaped, but he lost the moment looking for me.

I recalled that morning’s briefing. “Patience but no hesitation,” said my handler. “No Support Team. You’re on your own.”

I took rapid breaths to steady my rhythm. The steel of the Maxim 9 clipped to my belt comforted me like the cyanide pill implanted in my mouth.

A brass plate on the black matte container ahead read, “Federal Hall 1789.” I grasped the latch and swung open the metal door. Holding my breath, I stepped into the portal.

# # #

I stood at the foot of a canopy bed and watched James Madison thrash in a vision. He woke and coughed violently into the sleeve of his gown. Seeing me, he sat up quickly. “Who are you?” he asked, reaching for the spectacles on a bedside table. “An angel of death?”

“I prefer guardian angel, Mr. Madison,” I said. “Tell me your dreams.”

Madison looked toward the window. “A man dressed in dark green walks through a school,” he said. “Doors slam shut as he approaches. Chairs and tables scratch across floors. Children whisper.”

“And then?” I asked.

“Then the sound of a thousand muskets firing. I hear screams,” said Madison, turning towards me. “The man is zealous and unyielding. He bloodies the school with a fearsome weapon. A fire stick from Zeus!”

I slowed my breathing. The retelling of dreams releases energy and self-control. I waited for the second thought. If Madison had doubts or fears, he would share them now.

Madison coughed again. “Tomorrow I address the House at Federal Hall regarding the Bill of Rights,” he said. “You are aware?”

I nodded.

“I use the power of words and clauses to pacify the opposition. The amendments, I must review again,” said James Madison.

I leaned forward. “I understand.”

Madison gestured. “What interests will control our militias and representatives?” he asked. “We worked to create a balanced system with checks, and yet I live in doubt.”

“Trust in God. He chose you as his messenger,” I said, and with conviction. “And me as your guide.”

Madison paused. He looked at me and tilted his head. “What do you suggest?”

“Secure your legacy. What you wrote protects a divine order. If we get carried away, we forever leave the future defenseless.”

“And if I change the text?” asked Madison.

I plucked the 9-millimeter semiautomatic from my belt, pointed the barrel with its integrated silencer at the oil lamp on Madison’s desk, and pulled the trigger. The lamp exploded out the window in a burst of glass and metal.

“Then, unfortunately, you will miss your speech at Federal Hall.”