Author: Rebeca Madrid PM
President Lincoln has just won the American Civil War, but now he wants to end with slavery. John Wilkes Booth does not agree. One of the most famous assassinations of all history from Booth's POV. One-ShotRated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Drama - Words: 2,278 - Reviews: 3 - Updated: 04-28-12 - Published: 04-26-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3017098
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John Wilkes Booth
April 13, 1865
Suffrage to former slaves
I was on the crowd. He was on his window. The speech didn't matter until he declared:
"And I'm in favor of granting suffrage to the former slaves…"
You escaped the last time Mr. President. This time it will end differently for you. I promise.
The crowd cheered with excitement.
"Yes, and I am in favor of this being the last speech you will ever make." I left without looking back, knowing there was no turn over.
April 14, 1865.
Our American Cousin
The night was cold, the moon shone brightly over the theater. I was nervous, sweat dripped down my forehead. I was in an alley between the theater and the main street. I placed my hands inside my dark gabardine's pockets, and slowly lifted my head. With the corner of my eye I looked at the people walking by me. They seemed so casual and happy, laughing and walking as if every aspect of their insignificant lives was perfect. I looked at them with disdain and then I looked down. I saw the time in my golden watch, and a malicious smile glimpsed on my face. The time was coming.
I watched while the people entered through the main doors of the theater. The streetlights gave the scene a dramatic appearance. I could hear the music playing inside. I felt like the typical villain with the black mustache, maybe I was. I had seen the play many times, nothing special about it. Though it made me laugh. Suddenly, the gun in my pocket felt heavier. I swallowed and took a deep breath before walking toward the entrance.
The tall hat gave me a debonair appearance. Mark, the man in the entrance looked at me and thought that I was just another one of them. He was a tall man, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He smiled, maybe too enthusiastically to believe him. He had very long arms and when he lifted them and took off his hat to greet the guests he looked very comical.
"Good evening sir, welcome to the Fords Theater." He said with a welcoming tone.
I looked at him under my hat. "Good evening Mark," I said with a smile. "How's Mary?"
"Oh, Mr. Booth. I didn't recognize you." He said apologizing.
"It's all right my friend." I said smiling again. I kept on walking casually, hiding under my hat, trying not to call any extra attention.
While walking through the hall a woman in a red dress looked at me curiously. And for my bad luck, she recognized me.
"Mr. Booth?" she said, with a shy tone.
"Good evening miss," I said with gallantry. "Please, let me tell you how beautiful you look tonight."
I took her hand and kissed it looking into her eyes. She was beautiful, indeed. She remind me so much of my dear Lucy, my fiancée. Her dark hair fell elegantly like a waterfall in her smooth shoulders. Her blue eyes looked at me timidly with a strange brightness in them. Her cheeks turned into a reddish tone, while an adorable smile in her carmine lips appeared.
"My name is Claire, Claire Donovan." She said sweetly.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Claire, my name is John." "Though, I think you already knew that." I smiled.
She blushed again. "Well, maybe I did." She laughed.
They announced the first call. Damn, she is very pretty. It's a shame I won't be able to see her again.
"I have to go darling." I said, not very convinced. She looked at me with disappointment. I kissed her gently on the cheek., and then I caressed it. "You are a very beautiful woman." I sighed, I started walking toward the stairs that led to the balcony, not looking back.
I opened the door, and looked at the seats next to me. They were empty. I could see President Lincoln with his wife Mary seating on the state box in the balcony. The rest of the theater began to fill slowly. It was very crowded. The people all dressed elegantly. They were rich, "sophisticated people", or that's what they thought. But tonight, they were my audience. Good. I thought.
Suddenly a man and a woman arrived with Lincoln and his wife. They greeted each other and then they sat beside them. They were Mayor Henry Rathbone and his fiancé, Clara Harris. They began to converse happily.
I smiled. My plan was going perfectly.
"Excuse me sir." This time it was Harry. "Something to drink?"
"Yes Harry, that would be perfect." He looked surprised.
"Of course Mr. Booth, something else?" He hand me the wine glass.
"No thank you Harry." He smiled at me, and then he left.
I gave the wine a sip and then I looked at Lincoln, he was so calmed and happy. Enjoy the play Mr. President, while you still breathe. I laughed nervously.
They announced the second call. I began to get a little impatient. I turned my head down and looked at my left pocket. It's the right thing to do. I caressed the soft fabric and felt the cold metal behind it. Suddenly my pulse increased. My heartbeats felt like punches in my chest. I felt something strange in my stomach: fear.
The minutes passed, but they seemed like hours for me. Suddenly, the last call was announced and the lights began to fade. The music announced the start of the play and so it began. My breathing became ragged as I impatiently waited for the right moment.
I was playing with my hands trying to kill time when the first act finally ended. John Parker, the bodyguard of President Lincoln stood up and left the box. Strange. Maybe Lincoln thought he was safe, because Parker left the theater. I followed him with my eyes until he was gone. Maybe he went for a drink… Perfect. The intermission began. Mrs. Lincoln was talking with Mayor Rathbone while the President laughed of some joke. They were commenting happily the play and they seemed to like it. Too bad he won't know the ending…
I stood up calmly and began to walk toward the stairs. Good thing about being a famous actor is that you have unlimited access inside the theater. I went upstairs and I looked through the door. There he was, so unprotected. The second act began. I knew exactly the lines that were coming next. I reached my pocket and took out the gun with my right hand. It was beautiful, a round-slug 0.44 caliber Henry Derringer. I smiled for myself for the last time. I waited for the sign.
"You sock-dologizing old man-trap" I heard.
There it was, the funniest line. The people laughter would muffle the noise of the gunshot, or that was my plan.
When the laughter began I jumped inside. The door slammed shut behind me and I aimed the gun to his head. Goodbye slavery? Goodbye President Lincoln. I fired at point-blank range. It took only five seconds for the bullet to reach his head. Five seconds to end him. Five seconds for the people to panic.
"NOOOO!" screamed Rathbone.
Suddenly I felt a twinge of pain in my head and I fell on the floor. While I was approaching to it, I saw Lincoln's face. The bullet had gone straight through his skull. He was bleeding badly and his eyes were disoriented. For one moment I thought he was looking at me, straight to my eyes. Four years of war had aged him a lot; he just came for a moment of diversion. And he ended up dead. When I reached the floor I hit my head again. The gun slipped through my fingers.
"ABRAHAM!" screamed Mary Lincoln. "TALK TO ME!"
Everything became blurry, I tried to stand up but I couldn't. Rathbone's foot kicked me one time after the other. He punched me in the stomach and the air escaped from me.
"HELP!" Mary was crying. "PLEASE! HELP ME!" she sobbed.
With all my strength I hit Rathbone on the face and he fell. I looked around disorientated. The screams were drilling my ears. Rathbone caught me. He surrounded me with his strong arms. I took out my dagger and stabbed him. A mourn of pain came out of his lips. A sticky crimson substance filled my fingers. It was warm.
I leapt to the stage. I heard a crack and suddenly my left leg began to ache fiercely. Damn! It was broken above the ankle.
I looked at the stunned audience and I lifted my dagger. I was an actor after all.
"Sic semper tyrannis!" I shouted. "Thus always to tyrants." What a better line than the one said by Brutus at Caesar's assassination.
She was sitting in the first row, Claire. She looked at me terrified. Tears ran down her cheeks. I looked at her for the last time and then I turned away and began to walk painfully to the exit.
I couldn't move my left leg without the agony coming back. But despite it I escaped. As arranged, there was a horse and an escape route waiting for me. By that time Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson should be dead too. Goodbye Union Government. I thought before getting on the horse.
Lincoln's funeral train carried his remains, as well as 300 mourners and the casket of his son, William, 1,654 miles to Illinois.
An army surgeon, Doctor Charles Leale, initially assessed Lincoln's wound as mortal. The President was taken across the street from the theater to the Petersen House, where he lay in a coma for nine hours before dying.
Several physicians attended Lincoln, including U.S. Army Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes of the Army Medical Museum. Using a probe, Barnes located some fragments of Lincoln's skull and the ball lodged 6 inches (15 cm) inside his brain. Lincoln never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 7:22:10 a.m.
April 15, 1865.
"Now he belongs to the ages…"
After Lincoln's body was returned to the White House, a brain-only autopsy was performed, and his body was prepared for his lying in repose in the East Room. He was the first president to be assassinated or to lie in state.
10 Days Later
I would later learn that I was the only one who succeeded on my mission. Powell was able to stab Seward, who was bedridden as a result of an earlier carriage accident; although he was badly wounded, the bastard survived. As for Vice-President Johnson, Atzerodt lost his nerve and spent the evening drinking, of course he never made an attempt on Johnson's life.
Soon there was also an advertisement reward for the capture of "Dear President Lincoln's murders" Illustrated, of course, with John H. Surratt, David E. Herold and my own photograph.
I was hiding with David in Garrett's tobacco barn when they caught us. He was a coward who obviously surrendered. But I wasn't going to please Conger or anyone.
"I prefer to come out and fight!" I shouted angrily at them.
"As you wish," said Conger. "Set the barn on fire!" he shouted to his soldiers.
The flames grew faster than I expected. Suddenly I was surrounded by fire. It was so hot. I was looking for an exit when I heard a shot. Suddenly, I no longer felt the warmth of the fire. Actually, I was cold. I looked down to my chest and saw my shirt slowly changing its color from white, to bright red. I sighed; I felt how I exhaled life painfully.
I saw a blurry silhouette coming out through the stifling smoke. It was Sergeant Boston Corbett. It took a moment for me to realize what had just happened. You bastard! I fainted into his arms.
"Damn it Corbett! I said I wanted him alive!" Conger shouted furiously.
"He raised his pistol to shoot!" he said, defending himself.
"There is no acceptable excuse Corbett, you'll pay for it."
With effort I opened my eyes. Everything seemed so bright, it was almost blinding. I tried to speak, but the words wouldn't come out. I coughed, and I tasted the oxide taste of blood as it drained through my lips. I breathed heavily, and took all the air that my lungs were able to take.
"Tell my mother I died for my country." I whispered.
With all my remaining strength I lifted my stained hands so I could look at them.
"Useless, useless" I said with my last breath. And I died as dawn was breaking.
In my pockets they found a compass, a candle, pictures of five women, including Lucy's, my beloved fiancée, and my diary. Where I wrote about Lincoln:
"Our country owed all her troubles to him, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment"
After my dead a letter of mine given to my sister Asia was published by the New York Times:
"I have ever held the South was right. The very nomination of Abraham Lincoln, four years ago, spoke plainly war upon Southern rights and institutions."
The institution of "African slavery", I had written, "Is one of the greatest blessings that God has ever bestowed upon a favored nation" and Lincoln's policy was one of "total annihilation".