"The Inside Job of all Inside Jobs"
A forlorn satire, torn from the pages of history.
by Matt Janovic
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
"It had been a dreary marriage to Mary Todd and a gloomy four years as president. I am feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders once again, but liberation is finally at hand on this lovely spring day of April 14th.
Had I finally enlisted the rebel sympathizer to kill myself just a day after my speech on granting negroes voting rights? I had. It wasn't as easy as that: I had to navigate through channels connected to the Confederate spy-networks that reached into Canada and, miraculously, and all at once, hit gold. It was a direct line to my nemesis, rebel Confederate President Jefferson Davis, partly by way of the nefarious Knights of the Golden Circle. This Booth is a strange character--and actor--and also a member of this peculiar abomination culled from the rituals and symbology of the beneficent Freemasons.
On our meeting yesterday the actor told me that after the speech he had vowed, "That is the last speech he will ever give." Our undisclosed and surreptitious meeting at a tavern outside of the nation's capital was...brusque. I could see the anticipation in his eyes, and I trembled for our nation, as President Jefferson once wrote, for our God is a just one. Richmond had already fallen a little over a week ago on that date. Just three days prior to our meeting at the tavern, the rebel General Lee had surrendered to that drunk, General Grant. What had it all been for? Yes, the slaveholders threw a tantrum over my winning the election, but the Union was and still is a phantasm. Why do I think this shall repeat itself in our history over a century from now over something so ephemeral as the Union? But the preparations for this were difficult and I could share my secret with no one within--or without of--the confines of the White House, certainly not my military or police sentry escorts.
Indeed, this was as baroque a means of avoiding sitting through that wretched, accursed play Our American Cousin, as anyone could imagine, but there were other issues at hand...
You see, Mary had run up an unconscionable and staggering debt--rivaling the cost of the war between the states--at the establishments of a number of prominent Washington dressmakers. Then, there was the dream that my own assassination had transpired and was viewing myself as some faceless spectator, displayed on the presidential catafalque, deceased. I awoke quite happy from such a phantasm as that! Now, this day of days, this morn, I happened upon my new Secretary of State, Mr. McCullough, and even he remarked that "I never saw Mr. Lincoln so cheerful and happy." Indeed I was this morn! He can never know how happy I have been on this day, the happiest of my life.
But, with her usual perspicacity, Mary chimed in, "Saying such things aloud could bring you bad luck." and I ignored it as I usually do. Why is it that everyone in my midst is either drunk or half-mad? Was it I that appointed them? I'm afraid so, and I don't even want to think about my grave error in appointing Schuyler Colfax. My melungeon ancestors are groaning, my heart yearns for the Appalachin, and perhaps, Portugal. Did I really have melungeon ancestors? Our family tree was a little unclear, but who could care but my political enemies and the now vanquished slave-holding contingency? I am still torn over the war between the states. Future generations will either lionize or scorn my legacy, but I feel assured that I will be mythologized as Cicero and Pericles were, and they will be just as wrong out of convenience...
Our plan--that of my assassin and me--comes tonight in Act III, Scene 2 after 10:00PM. A player will utter the line, "Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal—you sockdologizing old man-trap... ." I have no conception of what "sockdologizing" is, but am very familiar--as my assassin is of the play and its contents--with what a "man-trap" is, hence part of the motive behind my plans for escaping this vale of tears. He knows his part, and his lines, well, and has rehearsed them like any other play.
As I sit here in the final moments before these fateful lines are uttered by the players, when my drunkard police escort Frederick Parker has run off to the tavern with timepiece precision as he has been known to do, and why I chose him, I can only reflect on the humorous possibility that some Southern halfwits in the distant future will run for any exit, for any wild leap of reason, to explain my killing. The irony is inescapable. They will do so to make sense out of an event which has no sense to it because this life has no sense to it. Yet, I feel the strong passion for my fellow man...and the gams of Major Rathbone's lovely fiance, Clara Harris who has also joined us in the presidential box here, tonight at Ford's Theatre. Booth is a strange one, perhaps mad. The South has lost, they have no hope of permanent secession, yet this "man" thinks that he can somehow turn the tide of history. Perhaps he will, but at least I will not have to endure the final act of this accursed play or to face bankruptcy over my wife's addiction to finery.
Mary is wittily saying to me in jest,"What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?"
My timepiece says it is squarely 10:15PM, and I can hear myself saying, "She won't think anything about it," and I hear a sound coming from behind me."